Hike From Fira to Oia
To avoid the cruise-shippers one of the days, we got up early to walk the famous 'path' between Oia and Fira, the island's capital. Our concierge let us know that the first part of the 'path' from Oia was actually just along the main road sharing space with cars and ATV rentals (no thank you!). She advised we hire a driver to drop us at the place where the 'path' diverges towards Imerovigli on the dirt, which we did and were glad of it (25 euros one way...so honestly, it's a bit expensive).
Driving there, our driver said to Vishelly…i’m worried about your shoes (she was wearing a pair of leather Soludos espadrilles that were brand new). She said 'no problem,' but he persisted and told us he was afraid she would ruin them. To which she responded … 'no problem. If she did, she would just buy new shoes!' I was wearing white tennis shoes!
George dropped us off west of Imerovigli and instantly we thought we might have made a mistake! Lava rocks and gravel stared at us going what seemed like straight up. Trepidation and fear in our eyes neither of us said what each other was thinking (“maybe we should call our driver right back to take us to Fira and skip the hike”)
You'll note that I keep putting the word 'path' in quotations. This is because we had this vision of some flat pastoral path meandering through meadow-like areas high above the coast. Well it ain't none of that (unless it's a path for Big Horn Sheep)!
Slow and steady we plodded up the hill rewarded by postcard views of the Oia and the water, little churches with blue roofs. We came to call ourselves the ‘cruise ship girls”—just off the boat looking for the ‘gram wearing cute outfits and totally inappropriate shoes.
And, thus, we made the mistake of being very poorly dressed for the experience. We had this idea the 'stroll' would be good photo opportunities for our personal blogs/brands. The second we got out of the car, with our cute outfits, make up, soludos and no water bottle, we knew we'd made a mistake. This sense was only heightened when the first five people to pass us were wearing serious trail shoes, work out gear and carrying solid hydration.
Check out this video to see what the walk was like and how it had us huffing and puffing.
George said everything we would wish to see, we would see on our way through and he was right. The path runs through the middle of some stunning hotels, the village of Imerovigli and then winds down to the capital town of Fira.
Hike by the Numbers
Distance: about 6 miles (10 km)
Time Needed: 2.5 to 3 hours (5 if you are really strolling)
Which Direction is Best: Fira to Oia (the best views will always be in front of you)
When: Morning and Afternoon are the best times to avoid both crowds and the blazing midday sun
The Old Church
Almost immediately upon starting the hike (well...at the top of that first and only really big giant hill) you will come upon a very, very, very old Greek church. It was early morning, and no one was around, so (of course) we turned it into a photo opp. How could we resist the backdrop of the crisp white walls juxtaposed with the blue dome and window frames?
And then the coolest thing happened.
An old Greek guy came about, opening up the church. He saw us and invited us inside to look around. Then he told us a story, in very broken English, that his family has owned this church for 1700 years! He grabbed my arm and dragged me to a row of paintings hung on one wall so he could show me one who's eyes looked like they were following you even when you moved. He was SO proud of it all and I cherished the moment of his sharing his pride and love with me. What a gift.
Before you get to Imerovigli, you will pass another church--Profitas Illias. We walked by the day of a wedding so the bride and family were having photos taken and guests were beginning to drive up. It felt like a local moment.
From here walking towards Fira, you will past numerous gorgeous resorts whose pools and patios overlook the trail. I took a short video, you can watch here.
We got lost when we got into the village of Imerovigli. Just a little. It didn't actually matter because if you keep walking south you will eventually meet up to the single trail again. We found out later, this is common...multiple paths through town will get you there and it was kind of fun.
The white villages and modern hotels on the way were fun to scope out…pretty remote—maybe perfect for honeymooning. I wouldn’t have wished to be in those locations where the ‘path’ and sometimes crowds that populate it, pass within feet of your vacationing self (little privacy).
Feral dogs are a fun surprise as they frolick past you along the path. They are as happy as could be—freeeeeee. If you're afraid of dogs off-leash, this can be a bit scary. I saw people freeze in their tracks when a pup approached and only begin walking again once he'd past. Like in Athens, feral cats are everywhere on the island. Local Santorini merchants or residents unofficially ‘adopt’ them and informally assume the responsibility for keeping them fed. On the day of our Flytographer shoot, our photographer, Kimon, knew all the local cats, including which ones had recently had babies.
Stop Along the Way--Ergon Restaurant & Volkan Cinema
By the time we got to the village of Firostefani, we needed sustenance!
Along the trail, I saw a place I'd read about: Volkan Cinema. Here, you get to eat out under the stars and watch a big screen playing an iconic Greek movie. It was morning...so nothing was playing but I highly recommend you give it a try if you can. It's such a unique experience.
Adjacent is a wonderful outdoor patio restaurant overlooking the old port of Fira called Ergon. Here, we refueled ourselves with 3 espresso shots and a pair of hazelnut chocolate praline pancakes. It was a peaceful place to rejoice at our accomplishment of the hike (and rest our little feetsies), enjoy more fantastic view before heading down into the center of town.
This vantage point gives you a good view to the cable car (a 3 min ride really meant to transport cruise shippers up to town. The ride offers good views but is unnecessary. It's short and the hike up from the dock isn't that bad)
Walking down the path from Firostefani to Fira...we found this.
We were tired, but we made it to the busy square in Fira 2.5 hours later.
Fira is for sure a tourist town (The kind of place you’ll find a McDonalds Restaurant--and we know that because that is where the driver for our return ride home to Oia told us to meet him. If I'm being honest, I had to ask 3 different merchants where to find the place and was embarrassed each time.)
But there are great shops to be found if you hunt past the trinkets. For more detail, click through to my more comprehensive blog post about Santorini.
The short hand version is here:
Romance: comfortable leather sandals and a round rattan purse. The Lace: green fan earrings and long yellow dress. The O Bag store: A gorgeous, long red dress for 60% off
New Art—shops@fabrica-casablanca-enigma or email@example.com for hand-dyed men and women tee shirts.
This hike was a highlight of our stay on Santorini. It's not really that hard as my surprise and fear made it out to be in the beginning of this post, so i recommend giving it a try. Maybe just don't wear white tennies!