While in Santorini, we explored Fira the capital of Santorini and the ultimate Greek Island village, Oia. Here I share the top things to do, to see, to eat and to drink in Fira and Oia.
Fira is a vision of dramatic cliffs and pristine whitewashed buildings. It is only a short walk (about half an hour) from the village of Imerovigli where we stayed (Kapari Natural Resort). From Fira there is a panoramic view of the 18 kilometres long Caldera. We had a wonderful time exploring the shops and cafes along Fira’s narrow footpaths. It was a leisurely way to spend our afternoon.
See & Do
Fira Cable Car – Take a breathtaking cable car ride down to the old port. The cable car soars off the edge of the volcano and floats down 300 metres past extraordinary solidified lava flows and rock formations. It is certainly a sight to behold!
Santorini Wine Tour – Visit 3 traditional wineries and try wines made from indigenous grape varieties of Santorini. There will be an expertise Sommelier to guide you through the tasting.
Santorini Sailing – This was one of the highlights of our trip. What better way to explore Santorini than from the water! We booked the catamaran tour through our hotel. We chose a half day tour (95 euros) which includes pick up from/to hotel and also a “snack” on board, which turned out to be an extremely filling and satisfying Greek lunch. There was about 15 people on the tour that day. We first sailed to the Red Beach, White Beach and then past the Indian Rocks to the tip of the island where the Lighthouse stood. You get an amazing view of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding Greek Islands. From there we cruised onwards to private bays where we enjoyed a refreshing swim and snorkel. We then made a stop at the famous hot springs at the volcano where we went for a dip! As you swim closer to the hot springs, you can feel the water gradually getting warmer. To end a fantastic day we enjoyed a delicious lunch paired with local wines. The staff are fluent in both English and Greek. They were very oraganised, highly energetic and made sure everyone was well looked after. Make sure you bring swimwear, sunglasses, hat, camera and lots of sunscreen!
Eat & Drink
Koukoumavios Restaurant – If you are looking to enjoy a fine dining experience in Santorini, this is the restaurant to go. Menu highlights include lobster and monkfish terrine and grilled beef with bergamot-spiced mash and parmesan ice-cream.
Sphinx Restaurant – This restaurant is housed in a restored mansion. It has a unique view over the Caldera and is the ideal place to have a romantic dinner and watch the breathtaking Santorini sunset. The chef uses fresh local produce and Aegean Sea fish.
Nikolas – A local eatery preserving traditional Hellenic cuisine. This is a good, local and no-frills taverna and it is one of the best. Must tries here include Greek salad, moussaka and beef stew.
Oia (pronounced “EE-ah” not “OY-ah”), high up on a cliff on the northern tip of Santorini, provides sublime views of the Caldera and the Aegean Sea. Like Fira, it is also accessible by foot from Imerovigli, however, it is a two and half hour trek. The other option is taking a taxi which was a easy 20 minutes ride (costing about 20 euros) or a much cheaper bus option which costs a few euros.
See & Do
Blue dome churches – These blue dome churches are perhaps the most recognisable buildings in Oia, yes they are the ones that appear on a million postcards. It is located in the heart of the village. You won’t be able to miss it, just look for the crowd of tourists trying to get that perfect snap!
Windmill – Don’t forget to visit the wind mill at the end of the village. It is picture perfect with the sunsetting in the background.
Sunset at Oia – Oia is famous for its sunsets. The most popular spot to watch the sunset is by the Kastro walls.
Eat & Drink
1800 – Like its 200-year old premises, this resturant has stood the test of time. After two decades it is still the top spot in town for dinner. It is housed in a restored mansion.
Dimitris – After sightseeing in Oia, enjoy dinner at Dimitris. It is located below the village of Oia. Of the half-dozen fish tavernas packed along the waterfront at Ammoudi, this has the freshest fish and friendliest service.
Lolita’s Gelato – If you have stomach room after dinner, this place is a must! It is located near the bus terminal in Oia. You can either choose to sit in or take away. If you want to try a traditional taste ask for ice cream made with vinsanto.
GOOD TO KNOW
While we were there we noticed that there was a huge line for the last bus and a lot of people ended up missing out. If you’re not staying in or directly around Oia, I would highly recommend checking the departing bus times and making sure you getting to the bus stop a little early to line up. There is still a taxi service running after bus hours but you will be subject to their mercy as they don’t use meters and a bit of haggling is to be done upfront. We also found that taxi’s ended up being shared and you ended up being on a mini bus service, dropping people off along the way.
If you have dinner down the cliff at Dimitri’s it can be difficult to get a taxi from the bottom of the cliff. We ended up not being able to find one along the road up and had to back track to climb the thousands of stairs back to Oia town as the donkey service had ended by the time we had finished dinner as well! It ended up being a pretty good way to work off our delicious meal! We did reward ourselves with ice cream when we finally made it to the top!
Read a guide to Santorini Part 1 – where to stay and climbing Skaros Rock.