The volcano and Thirasiá

Evaluation: This trip is not really a hike, but rather a day-trip - which might be a little touristy -, but still, it is a must. The trip brings you to the volcano, the hot springs, the island of Thirasiá and the town of Ia; it deserves an evaluation of  ***.

Estimated time: The hiking stretches are fairly short, although the path to the crater of the volcano can be very dusty and hot. You should definitely descend on foot to the old harbour of Firà; on Thirasiá you can go up the staircase on a donkey and go down on foot. Back in Firà you can opt for a donkey again to go up, but by going on foot you will have much more opportunity to enjoy the landscape... The boat leaves at 10am, so you should start your descent at about 9.15am. Around 6 o'clock in the evening you are back in Firà.

 Route description: It is a good idea to get the tickets for the boat a day in advance; you can buy them, amongst others, in the travel agency Santo Volcano on the Theotokopoúlou-square. Preferably you should take tickets for the Pígasos, a traditional boat, which departs from the ancient harbour of Firà. In this way you do not have to waist time to get to the uninviting harbour of Athinió – hence, your departure will be a little later, around 10am.

You can easily take your time to descend the "skalià", the old staircase with 588 steps - it will take about 20 minutes to get down.
Usually, the Pígasos first sails alongside the caldera till Akrotíri; this gives you plenty of time to marvel at the magnificent rock formations.

The Pígasos is ready to sail.

From Akrotíri it will take some 50 minutes to reach the volcano, where the boat usually stays for one hour and a half. The trail leading up to the craters is usually very hot and dusty, but in the end the 25-minutes-trip is not unbearable. Try not to walk amidst all of the tourists; it is much more enjoyable if you walk a little ahead of them. The most important crater is the Geórgios-crater, which came into being in the years 1866-1870 (the highest point is 127 metres high); on the way back you should also pay some attention to the Dáfni-crater, dating from the years 1925-1926.

The crater Dáfni.

After the hike (both the way up and the way down take about 20 minutes), the boat sails to the hot springs near the small island of "Paliá Kaiméni" – there is an opportunity to have a swim, although the ‘heat’ of this spot is often rather disappointing.

The boat continues to the island of Thirasiá, a part of Santoríni that has not that much been influenced by tourism, compared to the other parts of the islands. Over here, you can choose to stay in the harbour, in order to swim or to have lunch in one of the restaurants. The active and enthusiastic hiker though, takes the staircase up to the village of Manolás (or Chóra): this staircase has 150 large and sloping steps.

The staircase up to Thirasiá.

Going up on foot takes about 20 minutes, but also a donkey ride is quite pleasant. In Manolás itself you can have a look around, or you can eat something – the panoramic view from the outdoor terrace of restaurant Panorama is absolutely magnificent and the food is very tasty.

Panoramic view on the bay of Thirasiá.

Usually, the boat stays at Thirasiá for about two hours, which means that you have plenty of time to have lunch up there. In about 20 minutes you can then reach the harbour again.

The trip continues to Ia, where you have a great view on the reddish-brown rocks of the caldera. If you have not been in Ia earlier, you can ask the shipmaster to get off the boat here; usually it is then about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and you still have lots of time to walk up in order to watch the world famous sunset – before taking the crowded bus back to Firà.

Alternatively, you can also simply stay on the boat and return to the harbour of Firà; you are usually back at about 5.30pm. You can then go up to the village by means of the cable car, on a donkey, or on foot…when taking it easy, going up on foot takes about 45 minutes.

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