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santorini steep steps

Climb the steps on Santorini up to Fira and Oia for spectacular views over the caldera

Climb up to Fira

Donkeys used to be the only way to travel from the Old Port to Fira, but now there is the option of taking the cable-car up the steep incline or climbing the 587 steps by foot. If you are walking up the steps be prepared it is quite a hike, but well worth it for the views on the way. Walkers follow the same path as the donkeys, so watch out underfoot!

Many cruise ships stop at in the bay, in fact during the high season there can be 5 cruise ships mooring near the port, below Fira. The visitors are tendered ashore by small boats. Consequently, during the summer months, there are many daytrippers making the journey up to the picturesque town of Fira. So expect queues at the cablecar station during the busy times.

cable carThe Old Port, also known as Skala Pier, is situated at the bottom of the Caldera cliffs. There are waterside cafés and restaurants, boat rental agencies and souvenir shops at the port. During the summer there are boat tours to the nearby volcano and hot springs.

The Cable-car at Fira

The Swiss made cable-car, also known as the teleferique, was made a few years ago and was a gift from a wealthy local boat owner. A percentage of the earnings that come from the cable cars are given to the donkey owners.

The cable-car operates daily, 6.30am-10pm, and leaves the Old Port every 20 mins.

The charge is around €4-5 and makes the journey in 3 minutes to the beautiful town of Fira, which is situated at an altitude of 220 metres.

Be warned there are still steep steps to climb up to the cable car station, and you will need a head for heights!

Climb up to Oia

To travel from the port of Ammoudi to Oia you can drive through the old pumice mines by road, walk up the 214 steps or there are the donkeys.

Ammoudi is a small port situated below Oia, where are several popular fish tavernas. This used to be a thriving and busy transit trade port. There is a rocky beach at Ammoudi, and it is popular for diving and snorkelling. As you make the climb up the steps to Oia you will notice the beautiful deep red cliffs.

A choppy spring day at the small harbour of Ammoudi


The steps can be seen zig-zagging up the hill behind the houses. Walking back up the hill is a great way to work off a delicious seafood lunch.

waiting donkeys Donkeys

There are donkey rides available up the many steps in Fira, Oia and Thirasia. However, there has been much concern about the treatment of the donkeys and mules used as a taxi service up the steps

Recently registration of the donkeys has been introduced, so that their well-being can be more closely monitored. Blankets and other equipment has been provided by various animal charities to help improve the donkeys' lives.

Donkeys are also used by the locals on the island during traditional Santorini weddings. The bride rides a donkey dressed in all its finery to the church from her home.

More info: the donkey sanctuary





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