The hike to Ancient Thera in Santorini is a moderately challenging trail filled with views which are sure to satisfy your wanderlust desires.
The walk takes you high up to the partially excavated archaeological site of Ancient Thera.
“You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and a deeper appreciation for Santorini’s ancient past.”
Ancient Thera is located at the summit of Mesa Vouno, a mountain situated between the villages of Perissa and Kamari in the southeast corner of Santorini.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know before doing the hike and answer all of your potential questions, which we learned from recently doing it ourselves!
Distances and Durations
The route from Kamari to Ancient Thera is approximately 3.6 km (2.23 miles) each way (7.2 km in total). The typical duration is around 2.5 to 3 hours, but the actual time can of course vary, depending on your pace and how long you might wish to linger over the abundant scenic views along the path.
This makes it an excellent half-day excursion for those looking to immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes that Santorini is known for.
There is also an alternative path starting in Perissa. This trek is roughly the same in distance and time.
The elevation gain during the hike to Ancient Thera varies depending on your starting point.
From Kamari, the ascent is approximately 330 meters (1,082 feet), while the descent towards Perissa adds an additional 90 meters (295 feet) in elevation gain.
So be prepared for an upward climb and adjust your pace accordingly.
Best Time of Day to Hike Ancient Thera
To make the most of your Ancient Thera hike, it is recommended to start in the morning.
Beginning your journey early allows you to avoid the intense heat that can be experienced later in the day, especially during the summer months.
The morning air is cooler and more pleasant, creating a comfortable environment for your hike.
Starting late in the afternoon isn’t really an option as Ancient Thera closes at 3:30pm.
What to wear and bring for the walk
Proper attire is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable hike to Ancient Thera.
Here’s a checklist of what to wear and bring:
- Light, layered clothing: Opt for breathable materials that wick away sweat and keep you cool.
- Hat or Scarf: Due to strong winds, your hat may not stand. A scarf can be a good alternative.
- Sunscreen: Apply a high SPF sunscreen to shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
- Sturdy footwear: Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes or hiking boots with good traction to navigate the rocky and uneven terrain.
- Sunglasses: To protect your eyes from the sun.
- One or two bottles of water: Staying hydrated is key.
- Camera: Don’t forget spare batteries and film/memory card.
Walking Up to Ancient Thera
Yes, it is possible to walk up to Ancient Thera from various starting points. The hike allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Santorini while making your way towards the archaeological site.
This flexibility provides the opportunity to choose a starting point that suits your preferences and accessibility.
Common starting points for the Ancient Thera hike are Kamari and Perissa, two popular coastal towns in Santorini.
From these locations, you can begin your ascent towards the top of the mesa where Ancient Thera awaits. Choose the starting point that is most convenient for you and aligns with your travel plans.
We started in Kamari but came down the other side to Perissa after visiting Ancient Thera.
The hike is considered moderately challenging. While it may require some physical effort, it is achievable for most hikers with a reasonable fitness level.
The terrain during the hike to Ancient Thera varies depending on which route you take..
Terrain from Kamari
There is a wide paved road which winds back and forth all of the way up. Note that this is to allow vehicles up, so you will constantly be stepping aside for traffic.
Terrain from Perissa
This is a more typical hiking trail, with no traffic to worry about, is much more quiet and pleasant in our opinion.
But be rest assured that both options give you spectacular views all of the way up!
Areas with Shade during the Hike
While the hike to Ancient Thera predominantly offers stunning panoramic views, there are limited areas with shade along the trail. It is advisable to bring a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from direct sunlight.
Taking short breaks in shaded spots, if available, can offer a respite from the sun’s intensity.
Rest Stops and Viewpoints
Along the trail, you will find designated rest stops and viewpoints where you can catch your breath, hydrate, and admire the scenic vistas. These spots provide an opportunity to pause, recharge, and appreciate the beauty of Santorini’s landscape.
Take advantage of these breaks to fully enjoy your hike.
Options at the Top of Mesa Vouno
Once you reach the top of the hill, a circular plateau that lies between Profitis Elias and Ancient Thera, you will have three choices:
- Go left (your left if looking towards Perissa) to Ancient Thera Archeological Site
- For Perissa, go straight ahead and down the path
- Head up hill to the right for Profitis Ilias Monastery
Snacks and Refreshments
keep your energy levels up during the hike, bring lightweight, non-perishable snacks. Energy bars, fruits, and trail mix are excellent choices that provide a quick boost and wont melt in the heat. Additionally, pack a small lunch or sandwiches if you plan to spend more time exploring Ancient Thera before descending.
There is a snack van near the entrance where you can purchase drinks and snacks if needed (see the picture above for its location).
Toilets at Ancient Thera
There a no toilets at the Ancient Thera site, our advice is to go before you begin. If nature calls while en route, find a bush to duck behind before you reach the top 🙂
Ancient Thera opening hours & ticket price
Ancient Thera is open from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. It is open every day except mondays.
It is important to note that these hours may vary, so it is recommended to check with local resources or tour guides for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the opening hours.
The entrance fee for adults is 6 euros, which can be paid by credit card or in cash.
Completing the Hike
After gaining admittance to Ancient Thera, you will be rewarded with spectacular views over both Kamari and Perissa. As well as an amble around the sprawling ruins of the ancient town of Thera!
Ancient Thera itself is quite hilly, so I hope you still have the legs for it after your hike!
The Ancient Thera hike offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue.
As you ascend towards the partially excavated archaeological site, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and a deeper appreciation for Santorini’s ancient past.
Remember to plan ahead, wear appropriate attire, stay hydrated, and take breaks as needed. Immerse yourself in the captivating atmosphere of Ancient Thera and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Next: Once you get to the top, there’s plenty to explore. Here’s our guide on what will you discover at Ancient Thera.
Aside from this hike, click here if you’re wondering is Santorini walkable?