We had an easy time picking up the trail for the Fira-Oia coastal hike in Santorini and started walking at 9 a.m., advised to get going before the heat of the day. There’s a lot of signage between the central bus stop and the cliffside restaurants, shops, and rentals. The hike is 9.8km (or 6 miles) and 2-5 hours. To hit the 2-hour mark, you’d really have to hustle. If you’re like us and feel compelled to stop and look out at that stunning caldera view every twenty feet, then it’ll take you longer. We walked into Oia at noon, three hours after starting in Fira.
If you have good mobility, the walk should not be difficult for you, but there are a few steep inclines and also a stretch near Oia where the loose gravel and descent caused me to slip a little and another small stretch where the dirt and rocky terrain slowed us down some.
The first part of the hike takes you through the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli, and there are many places to stop for water, wine, and snacks (or a meal if you’re feeling really hungry).
We purchased a Lazy Ass beer (Santorini Brewing Co.) and a small bottle of a dry red with a twist-top from Santo Winery to open at an opportune time along the hike. Shops and restaurants become rarer on the last part of the hike, so make sure to restock in Imerovigli.
I also bought a few €1 bracelets with charms to protect against “evil eye” (mati) from a vendor set up along a wall.
The caldera views are unreal. We took more pictures on this leg of the trip than anywhere else.
Happily, on the day of our hike, the water wasn’t pocked with cruise ships, though, on our last full day, three or four cruise ships were anchored.
We arrived in Oia and stopped into a bakery/pastry shop for more water and a take-away lunch for under €5: stuffed ciabatta (for me) and a ham sandwich (for Perry). Then we winded through town, paid €0.50 for a W.C., and walked down the 260 steps to Amoudi (or Ammoudi) Bay to swim.
To get to/from the bay, donkeys are another transport option, and a lot of people arriving in the bay by water-taxi took a donkey up, holding their luggage in their laps or over the heads.
Unlike the beer, this is no lazy ass.
The donkeys are very committed to their walking path, so don’t expect them to go around you—move to the side they’re not on.
You walk through one of the fish tavern’s patios to get to the swimming area and have to make your way over some rocks—we saw a few people turn around because someone in the party had on the wrong shoes.
Perry was very excited by the salinity of the Aegean Sea—he gleefully floated for one of the first times in his life (he tends to sink). The water was cool and refreshing.
After swimming, we went to Ammoudi Fish Tavern and ended up with an amazing seat on the side of the patio, which jutted out into the water. Good luck on our part. We ordered fava-yellow split pea dip, a Santorini specialty, along with some bread, beers, and sparkling water.
The walk back up was a bit intimidating, especially after a long day of hiking and swimming, but we made it and wandered through shops until we were ready to sit down again for some wine and raki, an anise-flavored apéritif that turns milky when you add an ice cube. For generic items, like linen towels, shop in Fira, where most items in stores are significantly less expensive than in Oia.
When you walk into a café, you typically seat yourself, so don’t lose out on a good table because you’re waiting to be seated—the next people in will walk up to (and sit down at) your dream table, now only previously available.
Our 7 p.m. dinner reservation arrived—this is the reservation I made a month in advance of our trip, reading online that it has one of the best sunset views.
Most sunset dinners are by reservation only, as these seats are in high demand. (The bartender at the pool bar at our hotel recommended Santo Winery for a sunset dinner, too.) At first, we were a little disappointed—people outside the restaurant were gathering at the stairs and rail, and we considered just having a quick drink and going to look for a less obstructed view. Lucky for us though, unprompted, a server came and told us he had a better table, moving us to a table along the rail, a table that made every part of the meal better.
We ordered a vegetable tart, pasta with seared fish, and a bottle of wine, and waited for the sun to start its show.
From the clapping and hollering as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon, you would have thought the sun was a pasty removed during the sky’s striptease.
After, we caught the bus from Oia to Fira (€1.80) then got straight onto the bus from Fira to Perissa (€2.40), where we ended the night with tropical cocktails at Dorian’s Pub, a seemingly beloved establishment. By this hour in the day, I realized I should have reapplied sunscreen to my shoulders and back over the course of the day—but, happily, linen towels hold moisture well, so I was able to turn my new swim towel into a cooling shawl.
A great first full day in Santorini.