Fira is the capital of Santorini, a small island in an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Aegean. If you arrive by boat, you'll see a small town "hanging" off the side of a mountain that seems incredible. Keep in mind that you'll be sailing through the crater of a volcano! Once you arrive, there are three ways to get to the village: In cable car, up a steep and winding path, or by donkey, which is quite an experience. You will not believe the views you'll have as you head up the hill. The contrast of the blue Aegean with the white houses and chapels is incredible. Seeing the small ships in the distance is also a wonderful experience. From wherever you are, walking down streets, in a shop, bar, or restaurant, you'll have amazing views that you will never forget. You'll love it!
Red Beach is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches on Santorini. It has red fine sand and rocks and is located near the ancient village of Akrotiri. The beach can be reached by boat or by car. The beach gets its red color from the iron sedimentary rocks and the sand itself is actually red like the rocks. The sun is quite bright, but you can rent an umbrella and a sun chair for 7€. There is plenty of free space before noon so make sure to go early because it fills up with people. The first few feet of water near the shore are quite rocky, so you better pack some sandals. And when the evening comes, prepare to see one of the most beautiful sunsets on Earth.
There are three ways to get on and off the Old Port of Fira, but none of them are ideal: either climb the stairs, ride a donkey or a horse up the stairs, or take the cable car. We chose to walk down the 588 steps passing donkeys, horses, exhausted tourists climbing up, and dung, so we recommend wearing comfortable, close-toed shoes. We found the donkeys to be a toursit-trap because they were treated cruelly and they were very dangerous for those on foot. As for the third option, which might be the most comfy, it can also be hell to get on if a cruise comes at the same time that you want to get on. At the bottom we found a long line of tourists waiting to board the cable car and we recognized some people from our boat. Luckily we waited and all went well. In addition to the tour around the volcano, which is worth the whole trip, there was hardly anyone in the cable car and we could go up on the first trip towards Fira.
We all have the image of Santorini, the villages perched on the Caldera, Imerovigli,Firostefani, Fira or Oia on the west of the island, but the east of Santorini is fairly flat and there are towns like Perissa, Kamari Monolithos or the same with a more tourism geared towards relaxation, with much more extensive beaches. From Kamari you can say it's a town where tourists flock for its long beach, the largest of the island. We also can´t forget that only a few kilometers away are the most important ruins in Santorini, Ancient Thira, which have stunning views.
The highest point of the island of Santorini, about 560 m above sea level. Ascend via a very narrow road from Pyrgos (about 4 miles approximately). The Monastery can be seen from any point on the island. We saw it before going on a documentary of Santorini on the National Geographic channel where we were advised not to miss a sunset. But luck was not with us. Just an hour before sunset the sky clouded over and was thoroughly covered. But the views from there are amazing. You can see across the island from end to end. We did not enter the monastery of men which is Byzantine, and I read it was worth a visit and I think it has an Orthodox museum. But when we went it was closed. Perhaps a legend, but it is said that the monastery was founded by two monks to teach the Greek language and culture when the island was occupied by the Turks. The day was not clear, but we were told by the owner of a restaurant in Pyrgos, that if the day was clear you could see Crete from the Monastery. If you go do not miss it!
Santorini is one of the Greek islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. Along its coastline and in some places there are 400 churches and small chapels, most belonging to the Greek-Orthodox community. They are set apart by externally painted white walls and light blue domes, but some larger ones have light towers and an inside with Byzantine stained glass. Here are some examples so you can see what I´m talking about.
If you've never been to paradise (and if you want a taste), I'd suggest heading to this wonderful place known best by its English name, "White Beach." The White Beach gets its name from the white cliffs and sand which surround the beach itself. You can only get there by boat, which runs every half hour. It's cool to go by boat because you can enjoy the coastal scenery and run your hands through the clean Aegean water. It's not a long ride, only about 10 minutes. Yes, the beach is a bit rocky, so I recommend bringing flip-flops or shoes. One thing, when you arrive, you get off about 4 meters from the beach, so make sure you have your bathing suit on and your backpack is held high out of the water. I've seen many people go toppling into the water, backpack and all! It is within walking distance of Kokkini Ammos, and to the west you have Aspri Ammos beach. Have fun in this white paradise. And, speaking of paradises and paradisaical beaches, while you're in Santorini, you can't miss the Red Beach, Santorini . It's truly a delight for the senses. You'll see.
One of the most typical hikes when visiting the island of Santorini is the one that takes you to the volcano of Nea Kameni and then to the hot springs of Nea Kameni. Normally after visiting the volcano of Nea Kameni, the boat usually stops at Palea Kameni and drops its anchor next to the red hot springs that flow from the underground. The place is well worth a visit. The contrast of colors is very pleasing to see. With blackish tones of volcanic stones, gray sand, red from the hot springs and the pure white of a small chapel. Then you want you can get in the water of the hot springs. Mind you, I recommend that you bring clothes to change into because the swimsuit will end up very dirty and there will still be some hours left before the end of the trip.
The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral is situated in the south of the city, on the seafront. This place of worship was erected in 1827 but was rebuilt in 1956 after the last major earthquake that struck the island of Santorini. The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral is a rounded building, noted for its two bell towers. The cathedral is dedicated to the Ypapanti, which is locally known as the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. We liked the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral more than its Catholic counterpart, especially because of Christoforos Assimis' colorful frescoes. The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral is located on the seafront overlooking the caldera, is full of tourists eager to get to any of the restaurants and shops in the area.
The town of Thira is located just across the sea, at an altitude of about 260 meters. From here, you can easily reach the harbour which is now used exclusively for tourist purposes. This is a lovely paved road, which connects the port to Thira. The road is used by donkeys, transporting people around: I don't recommend wearing sandals, as the street is thick with droppings. In the harbour you can take a boat to the volcano, or swim in the clear waters. You can return to Thira by cable car, which offers dazzling views.
Everyone knows that the sunsets in Oia and Santorini in general are great, but I want to tell you about where I found the most beautiful sunset on the island: the Akrotiri Lighthouse. From the Akrotiri lighthouse. We went to dinner at Taverna Nicolas (which I'd also recommend) and as the sun started going down, we decided to hop in the car and head down the small, narrow to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is perched on the cliff throwing its light out to sea and below on the rocks were huddled a dozen or so couples just quietly enjoying the view of the sea. It was a welcome relief after the crowds of sunset-seekers we found in Oia. We sat in silence (seriously, no one spoke) and watched as the sun dip behind the sea and turned the sky from intense yellow to bright orange and finally a muted pink. I'm sure there are other great sunsets in Santorini, but for me this was the best.
Today, I want to talk about this small chapel, near Skaros. It's beautiful, and it's like a terrace to the sea. It was closed when I went and I could not find information anywhere. But it was beautiful, white with blue crosses, which defy the sky. If you go, you must go to the highest point of Skaros, for the view, and for this tiny little church and another located on the other side of the rock. They are beautiful!
Very close to the airport of Santorini you can find the beach of Monolithos. Although perhaps not the best beach on the island, it is not as crowded as Perissa or Perivolos. It also provides umbrellas and sunbeds (5 €). The black sand is very fine and shallow waters. There are only a couple of restaurants, but they have homemade food and fresh fish at a price more affordable than in other places of interest.
This traditional village is located in the southern part of the beautiful island of Santorini. Not far from this village, you can visit the Red Beach, arguably the most famous on the island. Just outside the village, towards the Red Beach, is the most important archaeological site on the island (in April 2010 was closed).
Skaros Rock is kind of a rocky outcropping that hangs above the Aegean on the volcanic caldera of Santorini. It's located in Imerovigli, a beautiful white village built into the rocks that has incredible views and some of the most expensive hotels in the world. To get to Skaros Rock, you have to go up down a narrow staircase until you get to the bottom of the crater where you'll find a white and blue chapel like you see all over Santorini. From there, you have a long climb up the steps until you get to the rock. Along the way, you'll see ruins of a medieval castle destroyed by an earthquake in the nineteenth century. Apparently, it was a Christian castle that remained unconquered for over 600 years. Once you reach Skaros Rock, there's a beautiful chapel overlooking the sea.
If you're visiting Santorini, I'd really recommend taking a walk out to Skaros Rock. The climb there isn't bad...in fact, going back is worse as you have to walk down lots and lots of tiny steps without tripping!
It is rather strange to travel in Greece and find a town with a population of only 1,500 inhabitants and which has not only one cathedral but two. This is Fira, the small and charming capital of Santorini, which we visited last summer during our trip to Greece. It is often said that there are more churches on Santorini than people. It may sound extreme but it is true that there are many churches of all types on Santorini. The two cathedrals in Fira belong to different strands of Christianity, one Orthodox and the other Catholic. Both were rebuilt in 1956 after the last major earthquake. The Catholic Cathedral is dedicated to St. John the Baptist and forms the heart of the small Catholic neighborhood of Fira. To reach this cathedral you have to climb the cobbled slopes. Travel will not be travel without visiting churches and Greece is no exception. However, the variety and simplicity of their churches is amazing. Except these two cathedrals, other places of worship in Santorini typically have the white and blue as the protagonists. Believe it or not believe, well worth a visit.
After climbing for about 5 kilometers along a dirt road we found the archaeological site of ancient Thira to be closed. Anyway the view from here made it worthwhile as you can see the villages of Kamari and Perissa. The operating hours are: Closed Monday, Tuesday-Sunday: 8:30 to 15:00 hrs Input: 2 euros (reduced: 1 euro).
Like all the best cities in Greece, the list of places to visit in Thira is rich with history and legends, and as you travel around the island, you'll feel like you're traveling back in time. One of the first things to see in Thira is the Akrotiri, a famous excavation with astonishingly well-preserved multi-story buildings, streets, and squares buried in the solidified ash of a volcanic eruption. Indeed, if you're interested in the history of ancient Greece, you'll find a wealth of Thira activities. The Archaeological Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Prehistoric Museum, and Archontiko Argyroy are all great Thira attractions for the historically-minded tourist.
But forget the history...what about the present? Modern day attractions in Thira tend to center around the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Red Beach is spectacular thanks to its fine red sand and the beauty of its rocks, so add it to your list of stuff to do in Thira. We also have the White Beach and Perissa Beach.
The Church of Vothonas, the Catholic Cathedral, and Akrotiri Lighthouse are all things to do in Thira if you're interested in monuments from a historical period later than Ancient Greece.
And of course, no list of what to do in Thira would be complete without mentioning the thermal hot springs of Nea Kameni and its red waters that flow underground. Travel by boat, passing Nea Kameni volcano, to reach them.