Say hello to another great hike on Santorini – the hike to Skaros Rock!
If you’re looking to do a hike when you’re in Santorini then I would recommend Skaros Rock. It’s a large rocky outcrop that protrudes into Santorini’s famous caldera and it brings alllll the drama.
If the rest of Santorini is about pretty whitewashed buildings all neatly stacked on the cliff top, beautiful sunset views, and the shimmering Aegean Sea, then Skaros Rock is a different vibe. It’s rough, wild, and untamed, and comes with its own kind of barren beauty.
In fact, we saw one couple getting their wedding pictures taken on the edge of Skaros Rock. When I say wedding pictures I mean a full-on photoshoot, but it was pretty spectacular. The landscape is such a stunning contrast to a floaty, ethereal wedding dress.
Here’s my guide to Santorini’s Skaros Rock…
Where is Skaros Rock?
The rock is located just opposite the village of Imerovigli in Santorini. If you walk out to the rock you’ll be able to see the village from a completely new perspective, which is cool.
How to get to Skaros Rock
You need to get to Imerovigli. As you walk along the main path through the village you’ll see it veers off down to the right. This is the pathway down to Skaros Rock.
What is Skaros Rock?
OK, so we know where Skaros Rock is and how to get to it. But what is it?
Well, it’s a prominent landmark – or a large rock – located just off the caldera in Santorini. Its formation was most likely created by volcanic activity dating back to 68,000 BC. It has a few names – it’s also known as Skaros, Fort Skaros, and Castle Skaros.
The history of Skaros Rock
In the 13th century, Skaros Rock was home to a fortress. In fact, there were over 200 homes on the rock with several hundred inhabitants and at one point it was the largest settlement in Santorini. Which seems wild considering how empty and desolate it is now!
So how did it fall into disuse? It’s all to do with the Ottoman Empire. The position of Skaros meant that it was in a prime location to defend itself from raids by the Ottomans.
This was until 1566, when the island fell into Ottoman possession. Without any further risk of raids, the need for the fortress lessened while other towns on the island – Fira and Oia – grew in popularity.
Finally, a series of volcanic eruptions in the 18th century led to the rock being abandoned by inhabitants, who fled to the village of Imerovigli. The fortress fell to ruin and this is why the rock now stands empty, as it does today.
How not to do Skaros Rock – go and see the chapel!
Remember I mentioned that Skaros Rock was one of the largest settlements in Santorini at one point? There was a harbour and a chapel built there during that time. And the interesting this is that the chapel, the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti, is still there.
Unfortunately… we missed this completely. The chapel is located beyond the tall rocky outcrop at the front of the rock and you have to descend some steps to see it. However, us being us, we turned around to go back just before this descent. Lol! Never listen to me for any travel advice!
It was only afterwards that I read about the chapel that was like, wut. And ffs, why did I not read this before. When we were on a day trip we went past the rock on a boat and we were able to see it for the first time. Like it was taunting us or something, ha!
So don’t be like us, make sure you actually see the chapel on Skaros Rock.
FAQs about Skaros Rock
How tall is Skaros Rock?
It’s about 20 metres high in total.
How long does the Skaros Rock hike take?
It didn’t take us too long. Around 45 minutes in total. However, I don’t think we saw all of everything there is to see – as I just mentioned – and we didn’t climb to the top of the rock that some people apparently do! I was more than happy to stick to the base camp level.
How many steps are there to Skaros Rock?
I read one review on Trip Advisor that said there are about 500 steps from the chapel on the hillside. There are a few more once you get down to the rock itself but that’s about it.
Why so many steps, Santorini?
There are a lot of walks in Santorini that involve climbing a lot of steps. Exploring Ammoudi Bay in Oia. Going down to Gialos, the old port of Fira. I guess it comes with the territory when everything is perched on the top of the cliff. At least Fira has a cable car!
Skaros Rock follows suite with the steps. There are a lot to descend to get down to it… and a few more on the rock itself. It’s a great thing to do and you’ll be glad you’ve done it. But, wow, you will be cursing when you have to climb back all those steps back up!
Can you watch the sunset at Skaros Rock?
Yes you can. We actually wanted to do this. Well, I rephrase, I wanted to do this. Especially once I found out that we’d missed the chapel on the far side of the rock. I read other blogs that said you get some of the best sunset views from Skaros Rock.
However, we decided against it in the end. One, because we were pooped after all the walking we’d done on the holiday in general. We’d also had to speed walk along to the three bells of Fira to catch the sunset one night, and arrived, sweating, with minutes to spare. So another sprint to catch the sunset seemed a little exhausting!
However, the sunsets were also a bit hit and miss during our trip, which was mid-October. I think if you’re there in the summer Skaros Rock would be a great spot for sunset!
How fit do you need to be?
I would say reasonably fit. When you look at Skaros Rock from Imerovgli it doesn’t look that far away. It looks like you could do it all pretty quickly. But there are a lot of steps on the way back up. If you’re not panting by the time you get back you’re not doing it right.
What to take on the Skaros Rock hike?
Do not under any circumstances attempt to do this in sandals or flip-flops. I mean, you can if you like, but the path is pretty rocky and uneven in places. I wouldn’t recommend it.
2) Sun cream
If you’re doing to walk in the middle of the day in summer I’d make sure you have sun cream, sunglasses, and a cover-up, because there isn’t any shade.
You will be thirsty on the way back up if not before! Remember what I said about all the steps. Make sure you have water packed in your rucksack.
All the climbing is hungry work so you might want to stop for a picnic on Skaros Rock or take a seat on a wall on the way back up. Sandwiches from the hotel breakfast, yum!
5) A sweater
We travelled to Santorini in the shoulder season and it was a bit chilly. Skaros Rock is about as exposed to the wind as possible so a jumper or cardigan is a good shout.
Are there any other hikes you can do in Santorini?
Yes there are. The hike out to Skaros Rock is pretty short. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging then I’d recommend the hike between Fira and Oia. It’ll take you about three and a half hours and there are some amazing views of the caldera along the way!
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