The Beautiful Island of Santorini - 7.5 mile/12km Hike - 4K - with Captions
This hike begins in Fira, the capital city of the island of Santorini. The original name of the island was Thera, but it was changed to Santorini in the 13th century. It is a contraction of the name Santa Irini. In the 19th century, the name was changed to Thira which is currently the official name of the island. You can see the town of Oia in the distance where this walk will end, 12km/7.5 miles later. I was expecting this hike to take about 3 hours but it took me almost 5 hours to complete.
We are walking along the Ipapantis street, famous for shops selling gold jewelry, an ancient Greek craft. Lining this street, you can see multiple jewelry shops selling products that often still recall some of the styles and symbols of ancient Greek jewelry. Because of the numerous jewelry shops, this street is often dubbed “Gold Street”.
The settlement of Fira is built on the high ridge of the caldera of the island. The island was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption which occurred about 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. It is the most active volcanic center in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is this water-filled caldera. The island's pumice quarries have been closed since 1986, in order to preserve the caldera.
This ridge runs along the western edge of the island. This is a popular spot to watch the sunset. Santorini was ranked the world's top island by many magazines and travel sites, including the Travel+Leisure Magazine, the BBC ,as well as the US News. An estimated 2 million tourists visit annually. It would probably be best to start this hike early in the morning when the sun is low on the opposite side of the island.
I chose to do this hike in the middle of the day so the walk would not be filmed in the shade the entire time. From here, you can see how Fira is built high on the steep cliffside. The ridge is 400 meters (1,312 feet) high. We are looking down at the port. To access the city from the port below there is a cable car. On the left is the tiny church of Agios Stylianos which sits picturesquely on the rim of the caldera.
Sitting high on the ridge, Fira affords magnificent views over the Aegean sea. You can also reach Fira by climbing a steep zigzagging footpath of 600 steps. To reach the city, you can also ascend the footpath by donkey.
Mules and donkeys are part of the island’s tradition, used for traveling and transporting goods. However, a couple of years ago the island’s mayor appealed to tourists to stop using the donkeys to ascend the steep hillside. Because of an increase in tourists numbers and having to carry overweight passengers, the animals have been suffering serious spine injuries. Tourists are now encouraged to use the cable car instead. Fira’s other main access is by roads to the east.
From streets like this in Fira you can admire the panoramic view of the 18 kilometers (11 miles) long ridge of the caldera. The ridge stretches from southern Cape Akrotiri to northern Cape Ag. Nikolaos. On the right is the church of Saint Gerasimos, erected in 1807.
We are now on the outskirts of Fira, which is the most touristy settlement on the island. Fira's economy is based almost entirely on tourism. The high number of tourists in Fira means prices can be quite high here compared to other areas on the island. There are two small volcanic islands at the center of the caldera, Nea ("New") Kameni and Palea ("Old") Kameni. I thought there would be more places to stop and get water and food along the way....I was wrong. :)
Santorini has no sources of natural drinking water. You must bring bottled water with you everywhere. That being said, there are no fountains to fill a water bottle along this hike. I assumed there would be. :) You can drink the tap water, but it does not taste very good and is not recommended. Also, another unexpected fact about life here on the islands of Greece....their sewage system cannot handle any flushed toilet paper. Instead, there is a waste basket next to the toilets.