It is a quiet village and enjoyable to wander around in. There is an old fortress at the top of the town which was destroyed during the earthquake in 1956. This was the site of the town and instead of restoring it they rebuilt the town below the fortress. You can still go up and wander around. From the top of the village you can see the caldera of the volcano and miles of grapes. In fact you can see most of the island.
Akrotiri has the two best beaches (Red Beach and Vlichada), some of the best (and cheapest) tavernas, and is close enough to the popular Perissa beach too.
Santorini is considered to be an ideal location for filmings and shootings... Parts of movies like the "Summer Lovers", "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life", "Santorini Blue" and the "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" and its sequel were filmed here.
I consider the volcano of Santorini “the sleeping giant”, which is asleep for the time being, but not dead !!
It is believed that when the volcano erupted in the 14th century BC it caused a tidal wave that destroyed the cities of Minoan Crete.
It is an active volcano that erupted in 1956 and in the coming years it may do so again.
Nea Kamini in the centre of the bay, emerged in 1707 is a proof of the life that still exists within this giant hole filled with water.
Thirasia which is actually the other rim of the volcano and was once part of the same island is across the bay.
Both these islands can be reached by excursion boats.
They say that Oia is the place to go to see the sunsets on Santorini. I can't comment on that as we didn't do it. We'd already seen the sunset (more than once) from Fira and believe me, that's one good sunset! Is it better than this from Oia? Maybe one day I'll find out, but for now I'm quite content.
Fira is the capital of Santorini and the most important of all villages. It was built on the edge of the caldera, at a height of 260 meters and has a great view of the volcano and of the sunset.
The town is a typical Cycladic village with white houses, blue windows, doors and narrow cobblestone streets. Most of its beautiful blue domed churches were built during the Venetian rule.
The Orthodox Cathedral built in the 19th century is located in the centre. In the huge 1956 earthquake - 7.8 on the Richter scale - it has been seriously damaged, but has since been rebuilt in a quite modern form. Its dome is very impressive, and not blue!!
Fira tiny port is only used by cruise ships. Here the water is so deep that ships can not anchor; there are giant floating buoys and ships can moor to one of them.
From here you can visit the town either by cable car or by a mule ride and of course by a 30-40 minutes scenic walk.
Nevertheless, Fira is a fine place to stay, because it is really picturesque, and has an enormous offer of hotels and restaurants. However, restaurants with caldera-view ask top prices.
Whether you do so when you arrive or depart, make sure you take the ferry service to or from Santorini. Why? Because the view from the caldera up to the cliffs is very dramatic. We flew directly to Santorini from Athens, which I do not regret at all because it's a long ferry ride from Piraeus, but I took this photo during the ferry trip from Santorini to Naxos.
Should you wish to visit the Old Port at Fira there are 3 ways of getting there, either walk the steps, take the mule ride, or take the cable car. Walking looks tough , even the downward trek and out of the question on the upward journey for anyone without the fitness of a marathon runner.
Mule ride sounds good but I suspect you will be sore for a few days.
If you really have to take the experience, I recommend you walk down and catch the cable car back up.
The west side of the island is THE place to stay, because of the most spectacular sunsets on the planet. I saw sunsets in Tuscany, Cafe del Mar in Ibiza, other Greek islands, Paris, etc. NONE come close to the magic of Santorini. Maybe its because of the build up from hearing other peoples stories, maybe it because there isn't all that much else to do on the island, or, what I think is true, it just plainly is the most dramatic setting for the sun's rays to be captured anywhere on the planet. The two main spots, although anywhere on the west side will do, are Fira and Ia. Fira is great because this is where I stayed, and taking in a sunset from your own balcony is pretty cool to me. But, Ia has its perks too...
Santorini's beaches are a colorful mix, ranging from white, to black, to even red! Yes, this is a red sand beach, the only I have ever heard of, and its name is Kokkini, but everyone calls it the red sand beach. It is also called Akrotiri beach because of its proximity to the archeaological site. It is well worth the trip and additional walking involved, because it truly is spectacular.
It is a charming fishing village built on the southern coast of Santorini. It is the ideal destination for quiet and serene holidays, where visitors can relax at seaside taverns and cafes. If you are looking to slow it down a bit and get away from most of the action, consider this village.
You can enjoy a local Greek dish inspired by local fresh products, relax away from the crowds.
Part of the charm in Vlihada rests in the seaside cafes and tavernas.
Vlihada beach is a relaxing alternative to the busier beaches, like Perissa, and its black sand offers a perplexing experience. The dark sand takes a bit of time to get used to, and it is unique to see where the beach quickly meets the light pumice-stone cliffs.
The beach follows a smooth descent.
Be sure to have with you flip flop, sun-tan lotion, a hat and a pair of sun-glasses.
Moving towards the seacoast from the foot of the caldera between plantations of pistachio and of eucalyptus we reach one of the largest and most loved holiday resorts of the island: Kamari.
The favourite holiday resort of all the people being desired to a classic beach holidays, which was destroyed totally in the 1956 earthquake, was rebuilt along the seacoast.
The enormous Mesa Vouno, which reminds more of a steep rock that has accidentally fallen on the beach, the cosy promenade, the most various leisure facilities made the former fishing village a blooming recreation area.
From the hotels with different standard, the bars, and discotheques to cosy cafes you may find everything here.
Kamari is well known for its black-sand-and-pebble beach. The car-free waterfront promenade located on a length of about one kilometers is filled, with cafes and restaurants. The tourists come mainly from Germany and England. Behind the capital, Kamari has the most llively nightlife on Santorini.
The resort is particularly suitable for tanning, bathing and sun bathing. Most tourists are families and couples spending a classic beach holiday
The prices are like everywhere in Santorini, slightly higher than on the other Greek islands.
However, it isn't anything special (I mean absolutely nothing special!!), and this side of the island is interesting but not so picturesque.
There is much to see and do on the island and please do not be like most cruise visitors and just hang around the shops of Fira and Oia.
The map gives you an insight to the island, the shape of the calder, the old port of Fira, the Ferry Terminal known as Athinios Port, the best beach areas of Perissa and the upmarket Kamari located just around the headland in a very sheltered section of the island.
We visited Mount Profitis the highest point on the island as we drove from Perissa to Kamari. The view from Mount Profitis covers the whole island and is well worth visiting.
With our hire car we easily covered the island in a day including morning coffee at Perissa Beach, lunch at Kamari overlooking the beach, a stop at Akrotiri, a half hour at Athinios Port and then to Oia for afternoon refreshments and some shopping.
Plan you day before you arrive, keeping in mind that plans can be broken and you should have a wonderful time.
When walking the pathway from Fira to Firostefani from a distance you will see the windmill standing out on the landscape. This is a Greek traditional windmill which now operates as a restaurant & cafe. Stop for a few minutes and have a coffee or refreshing drink in this modern cafe which has nice views.
Thank goodness for Democracy! It was invented here in Greece. Thankfully you have the right to wear entirely inappropriate outfits and look absolutely silly. Going on a cruise? Going to wear a little white sailor cap with anchors or a Greek fisherman’s hat? You look silly and the crew of the boat laugh at you and/or plot your death. Tall black socks with sandals and shorts – NO! Do not do it. Provocative outfits for ladies that a supermodel would look great in? Are you a supermodel? I won’t even get into beachwear for men except to say – SHORTS ONLY boys!
I know if my Grandfather was going to buy a sailor cap I would either talk him out of it or hide it before he left. Families – PLEASE – give them some advice BEFORE they leave.
On the other hand, Greece and the European Union protect your Human Right to look dumb.
Walking through the streets of Fira , Oia or any other village on Santorini be aware that the location of craft stalls is not restricted to market places and often are situated where the best views of the calder can be obtained.
Mid morning we were walking from Firostefani to Fira and we came across this bead stall using the safety fence to display the beads. The background view was magnificent and the beads the best we had seen with price tags half of what you would pay in Fira.
My wife purchases 2 sets and today 2 months later remains pleased.
Many tour operators "do" the sunset cruise, wrapped up in many different packages.
The one I went on, was, a special charter cruise for a wedding party.
The ship was a beautiful sail boat called "Bella Aurora" which is a replica of the schooners used in the 8th and 9th century. It looked like it was straight out off the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean".
First we sailed out to the Hot Springs for a swim in the warm water and mud, these springs are heated from the heat of the Volcano, some people dived off the boat, but I chose to climb down the steps into the cold salty sea.
Then, we swam out towards the shore, to find the hot springs.
Not being a very strong swimmer, I did struggle a little, so make sure you can manage to get to the Springs and then back again to the boat.
We then sailed to the small bay of Nea Kameni, there we weighed anchor and had a small buffet including, Santorini wine and Greek hors d'oeuvres, such as, stuff vine leaves, tomatoes balls, bread and cheese.
The sails then went up on the boat, what a beautiful sight it was seeing the sails go up, and sail into the wonderful sunset.........................what a wonderful sight that was.
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