Thirassia is a sleepy volcanic island that sits a short jaunt from Santorini. Join a day tour to experience its natural hot springs, visit churches, and watch the sunset from a boat below Oia.
Originally part of Santorini, Thirassia boasts beautiful beaches and gorgeous hiking trails. Whether you stroll around Manolas or admire the Greek-painted houses of Korfos, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
The raw volcanic landscapes of Thirasia may not have the same wow-factor as Santorini’s cliffs, but what this rugged island lacks in size it more than makes up for in scenery. Embark on a thrilling hiking adventure along flint-strewn goat tracks spiked with purple thyme and lined with black volcanic rocks. Explore abandoned villages and discover secret swimming coves while escaping the tourist crowds of nearby Santorini.
Originally, the islet was part of the larger island of Strongili until a massive eruption in Minoan times. Now it’s an isolated sliver of land where time seems to have stopped in another era. Unlike its glitzy Cyclades sister, the village of Manolas and two harbor villages of Korfos and Riva are inhabited by only several hundred people. Here, you’ll find a slower-paced lifestyle that will likely remain unchanged 50 years from now.
Ahead, you’ll find a handful of low-key tavernas overlooking pumice-littered beaches punctuated by upturned fishing boats. They are the antithesis of Oia’s crowded sunset-cocktails-by-the-pool scene and, by 3pm, will be deserted as excursion boat passengers buzz back to their Santorini hotels.
The southwest tip of Thirasia is home to the monastery Kimisi Theotokou, which rises 200 meters above the sea level. You’ll also find the ruins of the abandoned village of Kera, which used to be a vibrant community until 1956. Whether exploring the wild terrains of the island or enjoying the calming waters, you’ll be amazed by this unique place in time.
Although the beaches of Thirasia are a great place to enjoy the sunshine, be aware that the water here has a medium level of cleanliness. If you are sensitive to this, you can bring aqua shoes to keep your feet protected when strolling the rocky shores. In addition, it’s advisable to visit the beaches in the morning to avoid the scorching afternoon sun and the sea currents that occur throughout the day. For your safety, do not swim in the dangerous riptides. The beaches of Thirasia are ideal for snorkelling and diving! There are also a few scuba-diving sites on the island, such as the Cave of Drachada.
The volcanic island of Thirasia has more to offer than just beaches and sunset views. You can also explore the rocky landscape on hiking trails that are not always clearly marked or well maintained. Nonetheless, these trails are a great way to take in the wild scenery and get a better sense of Santorini’s history.
The most popular hike in Thirasia is a long but fairly easy trail that leads from Fira to Oia via Firostefani and Imerovigli. This is the path most tourists take and the views offered during the hike are absolutely magical, especially if you do it right before sunset or in the morning when the caldera looks less hazy.
If you want to make the walk a little more difficult then consider adding in the hike to Skaros Rock, a giant rock situated behind the town of Imerovigli. The trail starts from the same place as Walk 19 but it goes around rather than over the rock so be sure to wear good shoes and bring water. The climb isn’t too bad but it does add a little extra effort and the view at the top is worth it.
There are also a number of trails that lead inland and into Ancient Thira, the ruins that were first settled by 9th century BC Dorian colonists. The quickest and easiest way to do this is on a guided tour but it can be done on your own if you have access to a hiking map of Santorini.
Most boat tours that go to the volcano islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni also stop at Aspronisi. This is a small inhabited island that’s best known for its green hot springs that are fed by the active volcano below. There are a few streams of thermal waters on the island that boat-trippers can swim in but the main draw is the picturesque church that’s found inside the cliffs. You can do a day trip to the island or choose to begin your journey later in the afternoon for a sunset cruise.
For those who want to watch the sunset with a view, you can’t go wrong with Santorini. The island’s clifftop villages are world famous for their cascade of whitewashed buildings that glow in pinks and oranges as the sun sinks below the horizon. The most popular sunset viewpoint is at the Venetian castle ruins in Oia. However, if you’re looking for a less-crowded view, consider setting up shop at one of the many restaurants in town that offer sunset views—such as Taverna Katina, Barbounaki Santorini, Ammoudi Fish Tavern, Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna, and Charisma Restaurant.
If you’re eager to explore more of the island, take a day tour to Thirasia. Located just across from glitzy Santorini, this sleepy island was once part of the larger volcano of Strongilis—but it was blown apart by a colossal eruption in 16th century BC. Today, the island is a rugged paradise that’s ideal for adventurous travelers who enjoy discovering hidden gems.
During your tour of Thirasia, you can visit a number of attractions, including the chapel of Prophet Elias and the monastery of Panagia—which is often referred to as “the balcony of Santorini.” You’ll also have the chance to see a few of the island’s beautiful beaches. Plus, if your excursion includes a cruise of the caldera, you’ll be able to visit Nea Kameni, which is a dormant volcano that last erupted over 70 years ago.
During your time on Thirasia, you can also take a short hike to the ruins of Kera, an abandoned village that once housed a few families. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of some wild ponies roaming around the landscape. Regardless of what you choose to do, be sure to pack a lunch and plenty of water. You’ll need it if you plan to take the hiking trail that leads to the summit of Mount Skaros, which boasts panoramic views of Santorini and its volcanic islands.
Unlike the crowded resorts of Santorini, Thirasia is dotted with traditional Greek tavernas where you can taste local specialties like fava, a puree made from split peas, and tomatokeftedes (delicious tomato fritters). Seafood lovers will also appreciate the region’s rich fish offerings. You can savor delicious traditional foods while enjoying the stunning coastal views.
The largest settlement on Thirasia is Manolas, which features quaint houses in the classic Cyclades style and a few churches. Stroll around the village’s streets and admire its beautiful gardens. Every 5th of May, the village celebrates Agia Irini in the church of the same name.
A highlight of the island is the natural hot springs at Agia Eirini, which are renowned for their healing properties. If you join a tour, you’ll have the opportunity to soak in the warm mineral-rich waters.
The crater of the dormant volcano Nea Kameni is another must-see attraction on Thirasia. You can take a hike to the top of the volcanic crater and imagine what it must have been like when the volcano erupted.
While the island is not a popular destination for travelers, it’s worth a day trip. Explore its beautiful hiking trails, traditional tavernas, and the picturesque Church of the Virgin Mary.
Originally, Thirasia was part of Santorini until a volcanic eruption created the caldera. Its untouched villages and stunning scenery make it the perfect place to relax away from the crowds of Santorini. Visitors often say that visiting Thirasia feels like traveling back in time, and it’s easy to see why.
There are many tours available that take you to Thirasia. Some are full day excursions that allow you to experience the island’s beaches, hiking, and sunset views, while others combine a visit to Santorini with a tour of Thirasia. Regardless of which tour you choose, be sure to bring a bathing suit and comfortable walking shoes for your journey. If your tour includes a cruise across the caldera to visit Nea Kameni and Thirasia, don’t forget a change of clothes for the evening as it can get cold if you’re still in wet swimwear.