Mule Path, Santorini Island
Yup they are everywhere. You see these Mules pulling kegs of beer, toilet paper and people. We took a mule ride to the top of a steep mountain where we had some dinner. They are clumbsy and hug the side of the path, not for the faint of heart or someone with height issues. Cost 4Euro.
Mind your step! There's is donkey doo on all the paths.
In the old harbour at Skala, directly below Fira, only small cruise ships, yachts, and excursion boats can dock safely. The cruise ships anchor between Fira and the volcano Palea Kameni and the passengers are moved with boats to the port.
If your ship berths here, you should do a 45-minute scenic uphill walk.
But if you are not completely out of your mind, since it is about one million steps, head to the village either by cable car which travels up in three minutes or by riding on the back of a mule.
The locals used mules to carry everything up and down. But today the mules are part of the native charm of the island and can be loads of fun. The highlight of your trip may be to ride them from place to place.
Our guide from the ship has recomended a mule up and the cable car down; and for those, suffering from acrophobia, only the cable car in both directions with eyes firmly closed!!
Walking seemed like it would be safer however, be prepared to share the tiny narrow street with the mules.
The price for both cable car and mule is 5€
Warning: The stepped way is littered with mule droppings, resulting a bad smells being noticeable during the entire way.
"Come On, Mullo!", yelled the gentleman behind me in glee. I suppose illusions of Zorro weren't that far from his head. Everyone was bypassing me on the trail up to Fira from Fira Port - and these stubborn creatures have minds of their own and they simply could not be rushed. (Stubborn as a mule is no misnomer!) Mine has a tendency to stop right the edge of the stairs so should I look down, it was either a fantastic giddy-ish view of the Caldera or a ticket straight down to Splat!-dom.
It took the master's yell to get my trustee-steed going and suddenly there was a sudden burst of urgency as it started to bypass every mule that had raced past it earlier on. Not that I was not thankful (for the sun was again merciless that afternoon) but it could do well not to sway me so close to the edge, for every turn seemed to teeter me almost off the edge. Not that I have a fear of heights; just the fear of staying in Santorini permanently. Then said, it was a fun (and admittedly touristy) way to explore Santorini.
Well, what goes up must come down. I took a cablecar ride down. Wasn't anything scary but you are rewarded with great views of the Caldera as you descend. Suddenly there was an explosion of clicks in my car as a family of 5 whom I shared the journey down (presumably from the British Isles) suddenly started taking photos like crazy pressed against the glass windows. I was trying my best to stifle a break out of laughters.
And for folks against all forms of public transport - hey, there are stairs for you to get down and then get UP the Caldera! Try doing that in the Greek afternoon sun....and I'm sure your recalcitrance will melt away like butter on hot toasts.
We had read about the donkey trail from the Old Port, cruise boat arrival point, to Fira Town but when we actually sighted it we immediately said NO to any suggestion we might walk these steep steps.
The donkey ride did not appeal at all, we preferred to have a coffee and watch the proceedings. The alternative is to take the Cable Car.
"Rent" a mule and get the chance to climb up the island on top of it.
Watch out your legs, the mule will go really close to the side walls and you can get hurted.
Is absolutely not expensive and it's a nice experience and the fastest way to go up/down the island.
It's a very steep and long pathway from the harbour to the city, and the mules going up and down are a very typical sight. But the dirt, smells and flies didn't invite us.
We preferred to use the common but effective funicular that runs beside the pathway.
The guides (?) failed in all circumstances in this island, we had to manage ourselves to move around, but without difficulties.
On my trip to Santorini, I had to participate in the infamous Mule Path. Years ago, I had taken the Mule up, but this time, I wanted to try a different approach. We opted to walk from our hotel, to the top of the village. We then paid a small charge, around $4 to take the Gondola down the mountain. The views were absolutley spectacular...and when we got to the bottom, we walked around the dock area.
We then opted to WALK...or you may call it "hike" up the mountain. I advise you to wear tennis shoes. This was a great experience, as you get a great workout, and are able to stop off at any time and take pictures of the different views. We were walking/climbing at a rapid pace, and made it to the top in about 30 minutes or so. I highly reccommend the experience....though look out for the herds of donkeys!!!
Fira is connected to its port by means of a mule path. Going down to the port is obviously easy (even if you have to be very carful not to trample on mule leftovers), but when it's time to go back to the city, maybe after a long boat trip, it becomes quite hard!
You can thus pay for a lift on a mule to the old men waiting for tourists at the port, bearing in mind that every man ownes a number of mules, and will not climb the path untill all the mules have a passenger, and will not care if you are in trouble with your mule!
Optionally, an efficient cableway is available for the same purpose:-)
There are 3 way to get up and down from Fira to the old port - walk 588 steps, ride the cable car or ride a donkey. You can ride the cable car anywhere, but where else can you ride a donkey like a cab? If you decide to walk, keep in mind that you'll be sharing the same path as the donkeys, so beware of the poop! We walked the 588 stair on the way down and then rode a donkey on the way up. Riding a donkey was a little bit scare but an the same time exciting, I definitely recommend it. It costs 4 EUR to ride the cable car, and 5 EUR (you can always bargain) to ride a donkey.
There is a smaller port that takes you to the village of Thira. There are two ways to get up this side of the island-walk or ride a donkey. It's pretty steep and long, so the best choice is teh donkey. It is aslo a fun experience. They only cost a few euros and it is worth the experience.
From Fira, one can hike, ride a mule, or ride the cable car down to the harbor. It's a long way down. I hiked it, since I really needed the exercise. Anyway, the harbor is a picturesque Mediterranean port. It's a pleasant trip. If you walk, do keep an eye out for mule droppings.
The donkey rides, which cost around €5, are a transport option that local mule owners provided for years before the cable car was installed. But animal welfare groups and even some cruise lines strongly urge travelers not to take the donkey “taxis” because the animals toil in poor working conditions and have been subjected to abuse and mistreatment by their handlers.
Some think that a memorable and “romantic” “traditional” donkey ride up the long path that links the cruise ship dock with the town of Fira, the island’s capital, which is perched atop the caldera cliffs hundreds of feet above the sea. After hearing stories; a simple word of advice if you’re thinking about doing the same thing: don’t.
Though the donkeys might look “cute,” and the rides might appear to be a harmless and fun tourist attraction, We heard stories from tourists in pain, bruised, and actually were thrown off.
You can ride a donkey up (or down) the caldera from the main port for 5 euro each way. FYI it is a long trip either way at 483 steps. My legs were shaking by the time I reached the bottom.
The entire path is caked in donkey dung, so if you're going to walk make the trip as fast as possible. It stinks!!
It's very nice but in the hot weather also very exhausting walk downstairs to the port and upstairs back to the Fira. But we had a lot of fun. You can also rent a donkey to take you down and up, but we love animals and we found this tourist attraction a bit stupid.
It's good to do this walk early in the morning when the sunshine isn't that strong.
It's easy to get to the top. The problem is getting down. A mule will help you, as long as you are not scared of heights and of getting your elbows and knees all scrapped along the way.