Braving the hike from Fira to Oia on a June afternoon was both the best and worst decision we made in Santorini. On one hand, every slight turn and dip in the road afforded us postcard-worthy views of the island and beyond; on the other, there was zero shade along the entire 6+ mile hike, at least half of which was barren, desolate wilderness. Thanks to the serpentine wandering throughout all the towns, we somehow ended up walking a good 12 miles (according to the Moves app anyway) — and experienced slight dehydration and heat stroke. (For the next week and a half, I also dealt with a burning and unsightly heat rash along my arms and around my neck.) Regardless, watching the sunset from the edge of Oia was so worth it, as was passing by the more isolated churches inaccessible by car.

We arrived late at night and stayed at a more inland hotel (without ocean views but still in/near Fira), so as we were walking to town the next day, I was eagerly looking for the picturesque views Pinterest users have come to recognize. Needless to say, I was initially confused and disappointed to come across a seemingly plain-looking town…

…until we walked a bit further and more toward the cliffs:

Then on we trekked toward the next cliff town, Imerovigli:

Pretty soon, Imerovigli faded behind us, though the road was still paved:

…and then it wasn’t.

The clear lack of people in sight should’ve been a telling sign that it was too hot to keep going, but alas, TripAdvisor said it was the best thing to do and we only had two days! …so we picked up the speed and kept going.

Pro-tip: After you pass this church, the road gets narrower, steeper, and rockier:

There was a point somewhere near here where the path got really narrow, my foot slipped a little, and my acrophobic heart started panicking…thus a gap in photos. The fact that I was able to take these snapshots meant that the road had already flattened out and widened up, and I felt somewhat “safe”:

Civilization!…for the briefest moment before the longest stretch of…nothingness.

Shade!!! …or not, because we kept pushing forward for water.

Never in my life have I been so happy to spot civilization!

We passed by a few small towns (and chugged water like nobody’s business) before arriving at Oia, our final destination and the northern-most cliff town on the island: