Santorini Island Things to Do Tips by sandysmith Top 5 Page for this destination
Santorini Island Things to Do: 589 reviews and 1,400 photos
Some 30-40 min walk from Fira along the path following the rim of the caldera the traditional village of Imerovigli. The name comes from the word "vigla" which means "day". Here are boutique style places to stay in - a very upmarket resort with few restaurants and bars.There is a pretty windmill in the centre of the village. In front of the village is located an enormous rock called Skaros.
The largest part of Imerovigli was destroyed in the 1956 volcano eruption but has since then been restored and is home to some of the most beautiful hotels and traditional cave house settlements on the island.
Directions: 3 kilometres from Fira along the caldera
Prettiest cliff village at the far end of Santorini is Oia (or Pano Meria, Apanomeria, pronounced E-ahor La), facing south in a fishbone layout. The main pedestrian street connects its ends across the top of the cliff, with many local branches. There are interesting boutique shops and pretty churches to see. Many cafes have wonderful views over the water. The different colours in the buildings just seem to add that something extra to the cycladean buildings. Would love to spend more time here. Its a magnet for the tourists to see the sunset and can get overcrowded in the evenings just for this - really the sunsets are just as good as in Fira. In Oia there are steps down to AMMOUDI port. There is another small fishing port at the far end, near the windmills.
There were five fortified settlements on Santorini - the Castle of Agios Nikolaos (Oia), the Tower of Nimborio (Emporio), Pyrgos Castle, Akrotiri Castle & Tower and the most important one, Skaros Fortress. The rock was inhabited in medieval times, because the fortress constructed there offered protection from pirates.Today it is bare with a path down to the big rock below Imerovigli. It descends from the main walkway along the edge of the cliff, to a small church, in step form. Past the steps it continues as a dirt path. Eventually it leads to another little church, the Chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis, perched on the cliff edge dropping down to the sea. Allow about half an hour for the trip down and about an hour for the trip back up.
Firostefani is really a suburb of Fira, lying between Fira and Imerovigli. Its on the crest of a hill and thus has one of the spots with the best view on the island and especially looking back down to Fira. Its name means "crown of Fira". The pace of life is a bit calmer here than the hustle and bustle of the tourists in Fira - especially from cruise ship day trippers. Many people opt to stay here as opposed to Fira - there are many small luxury apartments with pools and views to die for.
on a donkey - poor thing
The main village on Thirassia is Horio or Manolas, is a pretty place with whitewashed houses, reached by a flight of 250 steps from the landing-place – or by donkey if you can’t face the steps in the heat as I did. This was quite an experience as my donkey insisted on overtaking on the corners - of the narrow steps! I didn't think there was anything special about the village - just enjoyed the view back down.
view of Thirasia
Thirassia, off Santorini near Ia, is the largest of a chain of islets that remain from the ancient Strogili (before the volcanic activity) and the only one inhabited. The harbour of Thirassia was not very attractive - a channel was being dug during our visit. There is supposed to be a beach - but it wasn't obvious and the water didn't look nice to swim in really. better to enjoy a snack/drink in one of the many tavernas or head up to the village if only for the great views of the harbour below - see next tip.
A popular question in the travel forum regards the volcano trip so I thought I'd give a brief overview and options here having undertaken this trip whilst in Santorini:
We used kamari tours for the full day tour> We were bused to the ferry port to board their large boat King Firas. It sails over to Nea Kameni, the volcanic island in the centre of the caldera which, at about 50 years old is by far the newest part of Santorini. It stopped here for nearly 2 hours and you have the option of climbing up the stony path to see the crater which still has steam and sulphur escaping from vent holes. Its a 3km round trip and you have to pay 2 euros to enter. Take plenty of water and wear good shoes as it can be steep and slippery . After this the boat sails to Palia Kameni for a swim stop for about40 minutes in the hot springs that release its waters directly into the sea. King Firas is one of the bigger boats so can't get as close to the springs near the shoreline, as the smaller boats - hence need to swim out further to them - something to bear in mind if not a strong swimmer. The waters are warm and you'll be able to walk waist deep to it. Next the boat sails to the island of Thirasia and stops here for a good 2 hours - you can lunch at a harbour taverna or explore the village of Horio or Manolas, above by climbing some 250 steps - or take the donkey taxi for 5 euros - quite an experience!
Finally the boat returns to Fira sailing past the beautiful town of Oia, calling into its port for those taking an extended tour to include the sunset - dinner is at your own cost. However we really enjoyed the sail back to Fira for the views from the water and had the luxury of another day in Oia. We left about 10.30am and returned about 7.00pm - the sunset option would be much later. For those short on time (such as on a cruise) you could skip the island of Thirassia and just sail to the volcano and hot springs for a half day tour - these take place at least twice a day.
Fira is the capital of Santorini (island is also known as Thira and not to be confused with Fira)
Santorini itself was formed when Volcano in the centre of it's crescent shape (the Caldera), erupted. in 1650 B.C. Today its a picture postcard holiday destination, much frequented by cruise ships, all of us wanting to see the white cubed buildings and blue domed churches cascading down the steep cliffs. The narrow streets are filled with souvenir shops - lovely clothes and a lot of jewellery shops. We had a giggle at a shop called Woman's Paradise and the men were sitting in comfy sofas outside! Other streets are quieter with lovely bell towers over them.
There are two ports serving Fira: Gialos "old port" at base of cliffs on which Fira is perched - serving the majority of cruise ship transfers. A cable car ride, donkey ride or a tiring 600 steps up to reach Fira - the steps are numbered too!. The other port is Athenios port used for ferry services to other islands. Some of the best views of Fira we had were from the water during the Volcano trip - really get the impression of how steep the cliffs are and the geology of volcano rock formation.
tower and domes of catholic quater
As a change from the usual Greek blue/white domed churches the Catholic Church in Fira is a lovely peachy colour and its ornate clock tower makes it really stand out. It a modern structure - rebuilt afetr the 1950 earthquake and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Its at the far end of Fira - a quiet part not on the normal tourist trail. Also in this catholic quarter of Fira is the Dominican convent - the home of twelve nuns who come from twelve different countries. As you stroll through the street that passes through the Convent you may hear the nuns singing Vespers.
Its the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral which is Fira's landmark - its large structure and can be seen from quite a distance. Its located at the bottom end of Fira town - just come up the hill from the bus station towards the bottom of the town and you'll be greeted with its arches and courtyard. The cathedral also has beautiful frescoes that were painted by a local artist named Christoforos Assimis. There is an art museum nearby - made for an interesting angled shot.
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