From Therasia to Thera:
Geologic walking tour on northern Santorini

Program 2005: Therasia, Oia and central Thera (8 days)

Dates / Price:

on request

950 EUR (6-12 part.)



Difficulty rating: medium

Comfort level: high

Geology - Volcanism - Archaeology - History - Culture


In old times, the main island of Santorini - or even the whole group of islands - was often referred to as Therasia. Today, the main island carries the ufficial name Thera, while the opposite, lesser island is called Therasia...
As the name of the tour suggests, we take time to explore some hidden treasures not only of Thera but Therasia as well,- the largely unvisited sister island, which is undeservedly in the shadow of Thera. The tour is designed for a small group of people who enjoy walking, have an interest in Santorini`s fascinating volcanism, its natural beauty and history. It can be regarded as a continuation or as an alternative to the Fascination Volcano tour, but both have their own characters.

Oia, Santorini, Greece 40,000 year-old plant fossiles in volcanic ash tuffs

"Hi Tom, Thanks again for the super week on Santorini! It really was the experience I expected and I would heartily recommend your trip to anyone interested in combining a holiday on the Greek islands with geologically fascinating day walks. Well done!"
(Bob Davenport, Bremen, Robert-Anton.Davenport@astrium-space.com)

Program (8-days trip):

1. Day
Arrival and transfer to the hotel, welcome dinner.

2. Day
bus transfer to the pitturesque town of Oia and half-day walk (3-4 hrs total walking time, 8 km distance) along the spectacular caldera cliffs of the northern half of the caldera to the old venetian castle of Skaros near Imerovigli and from there to the island's capital Fira. Extensive lunch break in Fira (opportunity to spend time to visit the town). Free afternoon.
Facultative additional program: in the afternoon descend along the old staircase to the harbour of Fira, crossing magnificient outcrops of some impressive volcanic rock layers. Vulkans.  Back with the donkey or the cable car and bus-taxi transfer back to the hotel.

3. Day
Whole-day walk on the remotest part of Santorini,- the southern part of Therasia island (ca. 5-6 hrs total walking time, distance ca. 10-12 km): boat transfer to Therasia harbour, donkey ride up to Therasia town, then hike along the SE cliffs of Therasia and through an old abandoned settlement to a remote monastery on the southeastern tip of the island, lunch break (snaks), walk to the oldest pumice quarry (early 19th century) in a scenic setting at the SW end of the island and easy walk back to Therasia town through the traditional cave-house village of Potamos. Coffee break in a tavern above the cliffs and descend into the harbour, boat transfer along Therasia's cliffs (including a possible swimmming break from the boat at a nice spot if the water is calm) back to Oia. From there, bus or taxi transfer back to hotel (as on day 2).
Facultative extension: rest of the day in Oia, swimming possibilities in a secluded spot near the harbour of Oia, sunset and dinner in an excellent local restaurant, arranged transfer back to the hotel afterwards.

4. Day
Half-day walk (total walking time: ca. 3 hrs) through the typical terraced landscape of northern Santorini to a scenic beach where a volcanic tuff ring is exposed and remnants of Roman graves can be seen. After a swimming break, continue to a small harbour, where the deposits of a historic(?) tsunami wave can be studied. Lunch in a fish tavern. Rest of day at free disposal (arranged transfer back to hotel).

5. Day
Whole-day walk from the center to the south of Thera island (total walking time: 5-6 hrs, distance ca. 10-12 km): Bus transfer to the Bycantine church Panagia Episkopi near Kamari, from there walk uphill (ca. 350 m) through an old abandoned village to the town of Pirgos. Lunch break and possibility to visit the Venetian castle. Walk through an old erosion valley to the small medieval town of Emporio and from there onto a low scenic limestone ridge with several old windmills and great views over the southern half of the island. Descend to old Hellenistic graves cut into the rock and a beautiful black-sand beach with impressive ash tuff formations. Swim break, taverns etc. and transfer back to hotel.
Facultative extension: easy walk back to the hotel (1-2 hrs) along a magnificient coastlinie and through impressive pumice canyons.

6. Day
Half-day walk on Therasia (total walking time ca. 2-3 hrs, distance ca. 6 km): bus-boat-donkey transfer to Therasia town (like on day 3), then walk along Therasia's NE cliffs with spectacular outcrops of young volcanic layers and great views to the pristine beach of Millos Bay. Extensive swim and lunch break on the beach, in the early afternoon boat/bus transfer back to Oia and the hotel or extension program as on day 3.

7. Day
At free disposal or additional, facultative walking program (e.g. boat tour to the volcanic islands). In the evening, group dinner in a local fish tavern.

8. Day
Departure or prolonged stay on Santorini.

Note: the order of days and the exact program might change slightly.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Fira, Santorini, Greece

A volcanic pumice bomb from Nea Kameni

walk onto Profitis Ilias mountain in spring

Fumaroles on the active crater of Nea Kameni

Sulphur crystals in the active Georgios crater on Nea Kameni

Price: 950 EUR*
(6-12 participants)

The price includes:

- 7 nights in double room traditional cave appartments with private bath and terrace, incl. breakfast (Greek breakfast buffet). Single room supplement: 130 Euro.
- 2x dinner (incl. all drinks and extras) on days 1 and 7.
- All necessary transfers by land and sea on Santorini (incl. pick-up from and to airport/ ferry) as described in the program (sea transfers wheather dependant)
- Accompanying material
- The English-German-Greek speaking geologic guide
- Travel cancellation insurance

The price does not include:

- travel to Santorini
- extra meals and drinks

*Combination discount:

If this tour is booked together with the preceeding tour (7-15 May 2005, Fascination Volcano) 5% discount on the tour price is given.


Individual arrangements:

For complete groups (tourist groups, school classes, hobby geologist groups, etc...) and individuals with specific interests (e.g. geological excursions, filming etc.), I can help to or arrange individual programs. 
If you are interested, please contact me directly at: tpfeiffer@decadevolcano.net.

Additional information:

Arrival to Santorini:
In order to let everyone plan his trip individually, arrival to Santorini is not included, but we will be happy to assist you with flight booking, information for flight and ferry schedules etc.

Our hotel is a charming family-run pension. The building with superb views over the caldera is located in the traditional village of Akrotiri far away from the crowded tourist centers. All rooms have terraces and view onto the sea, and a nice beach is just about 50 m down the cliff (private stairs) inviting perhaps to an evening swim at sunset...Its location, the familiar ambience and the friendliness of the keepers provide excellent surroundings for small groups.


Preceding/ additional days:
Santorini as well as nearby islands have a lot to offer for a much longer stay. This tour is an excellent departing point to explore more of it. If space available, previous or following nights at the same hotel can be booked without problems. Also, recommendations for other places to stay/ activities can be given.

Recommended reading: Fire in the Sea
Previous participants have suggested to mention Walter Friedrich's popular bestseller at this place . Fire in the Sea is not only by far the best and pleasantly written book about Santorini's natural history available, but it can be used as the perfect introduction to this excursion. Since I have worked with Walter on Santorini (and a little bit on the book), they are closely connected.

Walking boots or similar, sun and wind protection, a day-backpack, light dressing, a pullover or jacket for the evenings.

Walking boots or similar, sun and wind protection, a day-backpack, light dressing, a pullover or jacket for the evenings.

Physical requirements (Important):
Good general physical condition is required. You should preferably posess a minimum hiking experience in mountains and have no problems to hike over loose ground including climbing/descending on smaller steep passages (although no real climbing, i.e. use of hands necessary). Most important, you should have a secure step, a good feeling for balance and no fear of altitude.

The difficulty of the hikes varies from easy to intermediate for alpine mountain standards. As a rule of thumb, distances of up to 10-12 km and climbing of up to 500 m during a full day (i.e. 6-8 hours) but in hot weather should not represent a problem. The tours include frequent and sometimes longer breaks and the pace of walking is very relaxed. However, individual tours (i.e. the total time spent outside the hotel, including all breaks and transfers etc.) can range between 6 and 12 hours, depending on the season (longer days in May!), weather and the program. The following is the maximum hiking effort that you might be confronted with:

Hike 1: horizontal distance ca. 8 km, total climbing down and up ca. 180 m, total walking time ca. 3-4 hrs.
Hike 2: horizontal distance ca. 10-12 km, total climbing up and down ca. 200 m, total walking time ca. 5-6 hrs.
Hike 3: horizontal distance ca. 8 km, total climbing down and up ca. 180 m, total walking time ca. 3-4 hrs.
Hike 4:  horizontal distance ca. 10-12 km, total climbing up and down ca. 400 m, total walking time ca. 5-6 hrs.
Hike 5: horizontal distance ca. 6 km, total climbing none, descending ca. 300 m, total time ca. 2-3 hrs.

Note: Keep in mind that the hiking program is flexible; some parts of the hikes are facultative (usually at the end, when a part of the group can return by car, whereas others might like to enjoy hiking back with the guide). Also, in case of excessive heat or otherwise unpleasant conditions, the walking routes would be shortened significantly. Even during the hikes, it is usually possible for individuals to shorten a piece and/or take alternative routes, in combination with transportation by bus or taxi, and then regroup with the rest later.

If you have any doubt, please contact me personally and I can advice you.

Booking / Contact information:

If you are interested in this programs or want to make a booking, please contact me directly (preferred via email):

Tom Pfeiffer, volcanologist - your field guide

Tom Pfeiffer, volcanologist, Ph.D.
- Volcano Discovery Tours -
Department of Earth Sciences,
University of Aarhus, Denmark
Tel: +45 86198387 (priv.) - 86422570 (uni.)
Fax: +45 86139248

Email: tpfeiffer@decadevolcano.net