Thira, or Fira, is the main town on Santorini, one of the most visited Greek Islands. A rugged and unforgiving landscape born from volcanic activity, visitors stay in hotels cut into steep cliffs and clamber over volcanic rocks to get magnificent views over the caldera.
Tourism plays a big part in the economy here with visitors enjoying wine-tasting tours, self-proposed discoveries by rental car or sailing excursions.
For spectacular caldera views, put on some sturdy closed-toed footwear and traverse the trail from Thira to Oia. The pathway starts out paved turning to small pumice pebbles and winds through village backstreets, past solitary chapels and scrubland dotted with wild herbs and flowers. Take a hat, water and snacks especially in warm weather and find a restaurant to enjoy the sunset at Oia with a cold drink and plate of olives and Greek cheese.
Skaros Rock is an important element to Santorini’s protection and was inhabited in medieval times as the fortress offered protection from pirates. Wear sturdy footwear as the path has loose gravel and soak up the wide views as you can pass by a picturesque chapel and climb the actual rock, but take caution and watch your step!
Ten kilometers from Thira is the Akrotiri Archaeological Site, an excavation site that showcases urns, doorways and store rooms of an ancient civilisation. The site is covered so is a great place to visit on fine days or in adverse weather; we recommend hiring a guide to learn about the history as signage at the site is limited.
Save your energy walking up the steps from the port and ride the cable car to Thira that will transport you to the top. At €5 one way, it’s a bargain with unparalleled views and a much faster option than a donkey ride. Recommended on a hot day.
Make a reservation at one of the seaside restaurants at secluded Amoudi Bay below Oia; the setting is perfect for a romantic dinner as you dine on seafood looking out over the fishing boats and red cliffs of the caldera.
Stay in a cave hotel for a unique experience where you can indulge by sleeping in a cave carved out of the rock, with white-washed walls and domed ceilings opening out to an infinity pool and sun-drenched terrace overlooking the caldera.
Situated just 12 kilometers from Thira, the town of Emporio is a lovely escape from busy Thira or Oia. There are some attractions worthy of a photograph or two – the 15th century fortress, the blue-domed churches with striking bell tower and the black sand beach of Perissa.
Mesa Gonia is a quick drive from Thira and well known for being a past center of wine production. Here, you can see the Church of Panagia Episkopi, the most important Byzantine monument of Santorini and visit Canava Roussos Winery, one of the oldest wineries of the island that offers wine-tasting and a taverna with traditional Greek cuisine.