With gleaming white-and-blue buildings perched on a clifftop overlooking the glittering Aegean Sea, Fira (or Thera) is every bit the postcard star of Santorini. The island capital, the main port of call for holidaymakers, is famous for its stunning views, lively nightlife, and archaeological museums.
Fira is the starting point for Santorini shore excursions, and there are ample options for day trips, with the coastal town of Oia, the archaeological site of ancient Akrotiri, and the Akrotiri lighthouse all just a short drive away. Boat tours also set sail across the caldera from Fira, cruising around the volcanic islands of Palea and Nea Kameni and often stopping for swimming and snorkeling breaks.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wi-Fi and cell phone service can be patchy on Santorini, so check in advance with your hotel or tour provider.
- Temperatures can climb above 30°C (86°F) in summer, so be sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sunhat.
- Some boat cruises, hotels, and ferries are wheelchair accessible—check in advance.
How to Get There
Fira is on the west coast of Santorini, 6.5 miles (11 kilometers) south of Oia, about 25 minutes by bus or taxi from the island’s airport. Cruise ships will either dock at the New Port, a short bus ride away, or at the Old Port, which is directly below the town at the foot of the cliff. You can acsend by cable car, on foot (via 588 steps), and even by donkey.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit Fira is in summer, when sunny weather and warm waters make for a perfect beach vacation; at that time, tours, ferries, and accommodation book up quickly, so book in advance. If you’re visiting in winter, check ahead to be sure hotels and attractions are open, and be prepared for cooler weather and some rainy days.
A walking tour of Fira
Fira’s small size makes it easy to get around on foot; the town’s small center is full of handicrafts shops, family-run cafés, and traditional Greek restaurants. Visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thira to discover the ancient wonders of Akrotiri, then learn more about Santorini’s history at the Santorini Archaeological Museum. After exploring the museums, walk down to the Old Port, visit the 19th-century Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, or head to the Santos Winery for a tasting. In the evening, make your way to one of the seafront bars to sip cocktails as you watch one of Santorini’s famous sunsets.