Fira (also called Thira )is the capital city of Santorini island, located above the old port, on the western side of the island. It is built amphitheatrically hanging from the cliff, featuring a direct sight to the volcano and probably the best sight you have ever seen. It is the largest town on the island and has gained preference with visitors because it is central and access to other parts of Santorini is made easy by either taxi or bus. You also can reach the town by cable-car, donkey or on foot. It is a very attractive village, with white cubic houses, narrow walkways and impressive Venetian manors. In Fira, you can visit the splendid Archaeological, Prehistoric and Folklore Museums, as well as wonderful churches and cathedrals.
Fira caldera and Nea Kameni
View from Fira
Kamari is a seaside village on the southeast side of Santorini, located to 10 km to northwest from Fira. During the ancient times Kamari used to be the seaport and it was called Ia. Many ancient findings have been discovered here. Kamari was quickly developed because of the sea and its beach. It has a beautiful beach that looks to the east with black sand and protected on its south side by the vertical rocky volume of Mesa Vouno. Although there are many taverns, bars and clubs Kamari has a far calmer environment than Fira. There are all the usual water based activities plus a regular water taxi to take you round the peninsula to neighboring Perissa.
Sunset in Kamari
Kamari From Thira
Megalohori, located to the west side of the island, near the port, is a rock village in the interior of the island that is known to have existed since at least of the 17th century . A small place (its name means "big village" but that appears to be more euphemism), but a lively community with a fairly large permanent population. Megalohori fascinates a fair number of visitors, who choose it as a handy base for exploring the island: it is not to far from Fira (9 km), and within easy distance of both Akrotiri and the beaches of the Southeastern coast. The churches of Aghia Anargyri, Isodia tis Theotokou and Aghios Nikolaos Marmaritis on the road to Emborio are worth seeing.
Church at Megalohori
Karterados is a small village and is only 2 Km away from the town of Fira. The village is prominent for its innovative architecture, which causes the visitors spellbound. In addition to its architectural heritage, there are several vineyards around the village, which imparts an element of delicate beauty to Karterados. Karterados was erected inside two rivers, almost invisible from everywhere. It's name means the watching - hiding place. Here you can find the traditional Santorini architecture. The church of Analipsis is worth seeing.
The attractive village of Oia (Ia) is by far the most beautiful and picturesque village on Santorini, located on the north of the island, 11 km away from Fira, is renowned for its amazing Caldera and sunset view, and its traditional "cave" houses that are built into the side of the reddish cliff. It is ideal for quite vacations, walks around the alleys, romantic dinners, breathtaking views and elegant shopping. Oia gives you a different sight of the islands that constitute the volcano (Palia & Nea Kameni)and of the small island of Thirasia. In addition it has several cultural attractions like the Maritime Museum which houses a small library, items from the maritime life of the area, and the vestiges of a Venetian fortress. Many artists fell in love with the area and settled there. For that reason, the village of Oia has many art galleries.
Oia from Rocabella
Santorini has a number of sites where one can take impressive photos of the unique landscape the island proposes. But maybe the most exceptional is one featured at Imerovigli, at the highest place of the rim of the caldera (300 meters high). Imerovigli which means day watch is a picturesque village located at the north of the island, only 2 km away from the capital of Fira. In fact, it is the extension of Fira, but the village is situated on a higher cliff, built opposite the volcanic isles of Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni and Thirassia. A unique atmosphere: verandes hanging over the caldera, luxurios semi under ground apartments, swimming pools on the edge of cliffs. Imerovigli is an ideal "balcony " to the Caldera, and that explain the fact that it has developed into a "hotel-village" of postcard beauty. Couples in love actually create this village's profile. Romance, sight and peace.
The village of Perissa is a very tourist-crowded village, situated on the southern part of Santorini, beside the stunning black beach and crystal-clear waters, 15 km to southeast of Fira. The village of Perissa is not really a village but a mostly a tourist city, filled only during the summer holidays time. A number of hotels, restaurants, taverns, bars, discos and other facilities are available for the visitor. The area is newly erected and has been created only for the purpose of welcoming visitors, which explains the architecture, that is very different from the other villages, that are much more traditional.
Perissa Large Church
Pyrgos is situated to 8 km southeast of Fira. The village was built on the top of a hill and presents an incredible panoramic view of the whole island. In Pyrgos you come face to face with medieval Santorini. The village still preserves the structure and characteristics of the fortified Venetian town, surmounted by its castle. Pyrgos was one of five fortified towns built by the Venetians in th 15th century. The village has a population of 500 inhabitants, and used to be the capital of the island until the early 1800s. It is one of the most impressive Santorini villages, with Venetian Castles and Byzantine churches; the most notable is the Theotokaki, with some interesting frescoes. Pyrgos offers a good selection of hotels and apartments that provide a lovely view of the island and the Aegean Sea. The beaches of Kamari and Perissa are located just a few kilometers from Pyrgos village.
View of Pyrgos
Akrotiri is located to 8 km south from Fira, near famous Red Beach and is the most important archaeological site of Santorini, known of course for the famous ruins from the Minoan period. There is not much to see in Akrotiri city. But it is a calm village and enjoyable to wander around in. There is an old fortress at the top of the town which was devastated during the earthquake in 1956. This was the site of the city and instead of restoring it they rebuilt the city below the fortress. You can still go up and wander around. From the top of the village you can see the caldera of the volcano and miles of grapes. In fact you can see most of the island. Also, there are two old churches in the village, Aghia Triada and Ipapandi tou Sotiros.
Red Sand Beach, Akrotiri
Most valuable thing left in Akrotiri
Firostefani is an area located to 2 km to north from Fira, which offers a spectacular sight of the capital town and the sea. A calm village, which is mostly constituted of hotels, traditional houses, villas, studios and rooms. There are a few shops. The area proposes just a couple of restaurants and cafe but Fira, where all the activities are concentrated can be reached on foot. It is also, one of the most picturesque and peaceful neighborhood which is poised on the cliffs of the Caldera.
Firostefani at dusk
A lovely village, centrally located, Messaria is surrounded by gardens and vineyards. It is located 4 km southeast of Fira; transportation is available toward and from every possible island destination. During the last few years the village of Messaria has seen the building of luxury accommodation and a variety of specialty shops. Messaria also produces the famous Santorinian wine. The churches of Metamorphosis tou Sotiros and Aghia Irini, both build between 1680 and 1700, are worth visiting, as is the Metropolis church. Messaria has a Cycladic charm with its attractive white washed houses and tiny winding street paths. One of the most impressive spots in the village is the Argiros mansion, erected in 1888 by winemaker George E. Argiros, and just recently restored.
Emporio is erected on a plane, and for many years was the island's commercial focus , the marketplace, for all its local produce. Today it is one of the island biggest villages, with the largest permanent population (many of seasonal businesses in Perisa are run by people from Emporio), several shops, a medical center, a newagent's and a school. Emporio also had a fortified castle during the medieval years, vestiges of which are still visible. North of the villages there is a strong, square building named "Goulas", in which the village people protected themselves from the pirates.
Beach near Emporio
Vothonas village is an existing testimony of a village built of rocks, sited to 6 Km away from the town of Fira. It is amongst the most attractive village of Santorini and the best part of Vothonas village is that it is uncrowded. You can be assured of peace and silence, two elements that are at premium in this jet set modern age. Most of the houses have been unearthed of the streams. A stroll down the main street of the village leaves you in awe of the wisdom and ingenuity of those village craftsmen, who knew how to build strong houses with the cheapest of materials and how to exploit the depth of the gully to protect them from the winds. Physically, this is the strangest village on the island, and is worth a visit just for that reason. No visit to Vothonas is ever whole without visiting the splendid church of St. Anna, which happens to be the oldest church of the village and was erected way back in 1827.
Exo Gonia is a small village erected at the slopes of Mesa Vouno (Profitis Ilias Mountain). It is amphitheater like and has in its center some wonderful churches. The biggest of these is red tiled with a bell tower that hovers over the city. The houses here are of the traditional Cycladean variety. In small Exo Gonia you are in another planet absolutely, with nothing to remind you that you are actually on the most tourist island in the Aegean. In the evening people gather in the patios of the houses, grandmothers sit gossiping on the stoops, friendly dogs rub against your legs. Drop in to the taverna foe supper, and enjoy the sight towards the sea and the flat land where airport are situated. You can either come down from Pyrgos or snake up the sandy road to Kamari, which continues to Perissa.