The Best Hiking Trails in Santorini, Greece

Hike from Akrotiri to Balos Cove and discover a prehistoric town that was buried beneath volcanic ash in the 17th century BCE
Hike from Akrotiri to Balos Cove and discover a prehistoric town that was buried beneath volcanic ash in the 17th century BCE | © Nicolas Chan / Alamy Stock Photo
Konstantina Pyrnokoki

Santorini is laced with scenery-rich hiking routes, many offering a crowd-free insight into this snap-worthy Cycladic isle. Walk on cobbled streets past quaint settlements, amid lush vineyards or on top of an active volcano. Whether you’re after a challenging or more relaxed walk, the following trails unveil the island’s sublime landscapes and rich history, every step of the way.

1. Fira to Oia

Natural Feature

Couple hiking along the volcano rim from Fira to Oia on the Greek island of Santorini on a bright warm sunny day
© Nicolas Chan / Alamy Stock Photo

This 6mi (10km) hiking route is the most popular one in Santorini. Starting at the old port in Fira town and walking along the rim of the caldera, you’ll traverse the traditional villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli, while gazing at the vast blue of the Aegean. Take in Fira’s opulent beauty, pass by the blue-crowned Church of Saint Gerasimos in Firostefani and marvel at Imerovigli’s fortress-topped Skaros Rock. Continue north amid white-blue chapels, caldera views and paved alleyways until captivating Oia village is in sight.

2. Pyrgos to Prophet Elias Monastery

Natural Feature

Looking toward the monastery of Profitis Ilias, Santorini, Greece. Image shot 10/2016. Exact date unknown.
© Christiaan May / Alamy Stock Photo

On the west coast of Santorini, the island’s highest village, Pyrgos, will win you over with its narrow, winding paths that run past Cycladic stone houses to green valleys in the surrounding hinterland, offering panoramic views of Santorini from up high. Somewhere between Pyrgos and Kamari village, a 1-mile (1.6km) cobbled path will lead you to Santorini’s highest point, the 1711 Prophet Elias Monastery. This spiritual site overlooks the entire island, while allowing you to indulge in local delicacies prepared by monks.

3. Megalochori to the Thermal Baths of Plaka

Natural Feature

Home to lush vineyards, neoclassical mansions and cave houses that once acted as secret hideaways from pirates, Megalochori is one of Santorini’s most authentic villages, with spectacular volcano views and a longstanding tradition in the production of Vinsanto wine. Walk past the elaborate chapels and follow the two-mile (3.2km) downhill path on the caldera side; this will lead you to the old thermal baths of Plaka. While the site is now abandoned, you can still dive into the hot, therapeutic waters of Plaka or Thermi beach.

4. Akrotiri to Balos Cove

Building, Museum

Start this 6-mile (10km) hike from Akrotiri’s Bronze Age archaeological site and discover a prehistoric town that was buried beneath volcanic ash in the 17th century BCE. The excavations that took place in the late 1960s eventually brought most of it to light. Explore the village’s tiny churches, before walking towards Balos Beach, which is rather difficult to access, but worth the effort. Part of a magnificent rocky landscape, Balos served as a commercial harbour in the 19th century.

5. Ancient Thera to Perissa Beach

Natural Feature

View from Ancient Thera on the summit of Mt Profitis Ilias of the coastal village of Perissa, Santorini, Greece. Located on the east coast of Santorin
© Sklifas Steven / Alamy Stock Photo

On top of Mesa Vouno mountain, the civilisation of Ancient Thera (inhabited from the ninth century BCE until CE 726), comes alive through well-preserved ruins among which are a theatre, cemeteries, markets, pagan temples, Christian churches and baths. Bask in history, before following the two-mile (3.2km), downhill path to Perissa Beach, that’s bound to reward you with views over the cliff. Perissa’s black sand and pebbles are dramatic – ideal for after-hike relaxation or watersports in clear waters.

6. Nea Kameni volcano hike

Natural Feature

Greece, the Cyclades, Santorini, volcano island Nea Kameni,
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Get on a boat from Fira’s old port to reach Nea Kameni, the islet created by a volcanic eruption in 1573. Upon arrival, hike all the way up to the edge of the volcano (a 20- to 30-minute walk) and feel the sulphureous heat emanating from the crater. The hike is rough and the ground is warm so wear proper shoes instead of flip flops. Before returning to Fira, make sure to swim in the hot springs of Palea Kameni, the older volcanic isle next to Nea Kameni.

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