Updated May 2018
Top 5 things to do in Fira Santorini
There are so many things to do in Fira Santorini. It really comes down to how much time you have to spend, and whether you want to be adventurous or take a more sedentary approach.
Here’s my version of the top 5 things to do in Fira Santorini. These can all be done in a day, and they won’t break the bank either.
Whilst Santorini is one of the most well-known islands in Greece, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It’s beautiful, but it’s the geological nature of it being built on the caldera that makes it unique and very special.
There’s plenty to explore here, and we were very glad that we got to spend three days here, getting to know the island and its surroundings much better.
Take a walk down 587 steps
Part of the wonder of Santorini is that it is quite literally built on the top (and the edge!) of the caldera. Despite most of the towns being up on the top, there are several villages being built at sea level. There are a couple of ways of getting down there, but perhaps the most adventurous is walking.
It’s a must do. Walking on the old donkey trail from Fira down to the Old Port, in amongst all the donkeys is not for the faint-hearted, especially in the midst of summer. If the steps don’t get you, being on alert for the donkeys, and having to get close to the wall as they weave their way down, often laden with passengers, and having to sidestep their droppings will keep you busy.
Even though it is a downhill walk, in the full force of the Greek summer sun it can still be incredibly taxing, so before you commence the journey, make sure you have plenty of water. Take it slowly if you need to, there’s no race to be won. If you do manage to get the whole way down, you will be rewarded with amazing views across the caldera.
Catch the cable car
If the 587 steps on the way down was enough, then you should catch the cable car back up to the top. It’s only 5 euros and allows you to sit back and take advantage of the views once more, without expending all of your own energy, leaving room at the top for some shopping and browsing around the wonderful shops.
If you happen to be in Fira on the days that the big ships come into port, be prepared to wait a very long time in queues both at the top and the bottom. Large numbers of these tourists opt for the cable car instead of walking and I was stunned by the length of the lines.
If you like this sort of food then eat as many as you can whilst you are in Greece. Quite simply, there are no substitutes. I’ve eaten them in other locations, cooked supposedly by Greek people, but I always come away disappointed. Something is almost always different which just lets the whole thing down.
My faves are with chicken or pork, and always with hot chips on them. The freshly carved meat, fresh salad ingredients and tzatziki puts on a real show. The addition of chips escalates them into a league of their own. At only a couple of Euro, they are an absolute bargain. Eat them as a takeaway and they will usually cost even less.
Watch the sunset
I know it comes up and goes down every day, where ever you may be in the world. It’s one of those scientific facts that will never change. What does change however is where you can view it from, and location depending, could mean the difference between an ordinary sunset and a spectacular one.
In the case of Santorini, I would almost find it hard to imagine seeing anything less than perfect. The vision of the sun setting over the caldera, casting its red, yellow and orange hues over the clear blue waters makes for some special viewing. When I look at my photos I seem to have a never-ending stream of sunsets. I guess that tells me something!
Where ever you find yourself on Santorini around sunset time, make sure you are in a position somewhere on or around the caldera to be able to take full advantage of it. Even better, find yourself a lovely restaurant and maybe a good glass of wine to celebrate your day.
Walk throughout Santorini
Walk everywhere. Santorini is an easy place to walk around and it’s not a place you can get lost easily, but take plenty of water with you as it is hot and dry. You can wander through all of the shopping areas, and even from town to town. Walking allows you to truly appreciate your surrounds and to take in the smorgasbord of postcard images enveloping you.
Note: the streets above the Old Port get extremely busy when the large cruise ships are in town.
We walked from Fira to Firastefani via the roadways, a less attractive way to walk. This took us about 25 minutes, with some of it being uphill and in amongst the crazy drivers. On the way back to Fira, we chose to walk the dedicated pedestrian path which takes you along the edge of the buildings, offering amazing views of the caldera, and all the restaurants and hotels that line this area.
Firastefani is home to many of the more expensive houses and hotels and would be a great option to stay if you wanted to be right in the thick of everything.
These are just some of the things that are not always mentioned in lists of things to do in Fira. In actual fact, there are so many more. There are also so many activities that you can participate in from Fira, such as taking a boat out to the volcano, visiting other seaside villages and the beaches.
You might like to read more about these activities in the following articles
Where we stayed.
We stayed out of the main part of Fira. Whilst it’s obviously great being in the thick of everything, we chose to return to a quieter part at the end of each day. I can highly recommend a combination of these two hotels. For more detailed information read Save money staying in Santorini.