Fira the capital of Santorini

fira-santoriniFira, the capital of Santorini,  is situated on the island’s western side, perched 260 metres above sea level on the caldera’s edge, offering views over Nea and Palaia Kameni and Thirasia.

As the largest settlement and capital of the island, it lies 8 km from the port and 5 km from the airport.

Fira serves as the island’s commercial and administrative hub, hosting services such as banks, the main post office, and pharmacies. Moreover, it boasts a wide array of options for dining, drinking, and shopping.

The town’s architectural layout is linear, having evolved along the caldera’s main axis. Quintessential white houses adorned with domes and arches define its skyline, many of which feature windows facing the sea.

The narrow, cobbled streets and rooftops that morph into balconies for adjacent houses lend it a distinct charm. Depending on the inhabitants’ origins, the town is dotted with both Catholic and Orthodox churches and monasteries.

santorini-firaIn the Fragomahala district, one can find the stately homes of the old Catholic families, known to host grand musical evenings in the 19th century. Exo and Mesa Katokies are smaller settlements within Fira, which have a plethora of tourist accommodations and camping sites.

Katholika stands out as one of Fira’s most picturesque districts, boasting well-preserved mansions, Catholic churches, and monasteries.

Below Fira is Gialos, the old port. From here, boats embark for Nea and Palia Kammeni, and it also serves as the docking point for cruise ships and ferries bound for Piraeus and other destinations. Historically, the only connection between Fira and Gialos was the famed “Karavolades” stairs, comprising 566 steps. However, in 1982, thanks to funding from shipowner E. Nomikos, a cable car was established capable of transporting up to 1,200 passengers per hour.


History of Fira

The name “Fira” is believed to be a derivative of the word “Thera”. Its original site was the Goulas (tower) of the Bozzi family, which had fortifications and barriers at the entrance due to invasion fears. Where Fira now stands were once vineyards and ‘canaves’ (wine cellars), which facilitated wine production and served as summer residences.

Fira was founded in the late 18th century after a consensus was reached by the island’s authorities on its location. This move was precipitated by residents abandoning the old capital, Skaros castle in present-day Imeroviglio, which had suffered earthquake damage.

What to see

The caldera’s central path and its smaller alleyways house most of the shops, galleries, and the island’s vibrant nightlife. Fira claims the majority of Santorini’s restaurants and hotels, which are perpetually bustling with tourists. Notable attractions include:

archaeological-museumThe Archaeological Museum near Fira’s cable cars, which unveils the island’s extensive history; the Folklore Museum of A. Lignou,  the Gyzi Museum situated in the eponymous Spiritual Centre, showcasing six permanent collections that shed light on Santorini’s multifaceted history from the Venetian era to the present; and the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, touted as one of Greece’s foremost museums.

The Belonio Cultural Centre, set close to the central square, was founded to champion the island’s literary and arts scene. Meanwhile, the Santozeum displays Akrotiri’s wall paintings and hosts varied exhibitions, and the Petros M. Nomikos Conference Centre offers panoramic views of the caldera and volcano.

Like the rest of Santorini, Fira is home to numerous churches. The Catholic cathedral is the epicentre for both the Orthodox and the Catholic Metropolis of Santorini. Panagia Ypapanti, situated in central Fira, is the Orthodox cathedral, and the Transfiguration of the Saviour in Kato Fira, constructed at the dawn of the 19th century, served as the main church for the island’s Orthodox population. Finally, the taxi and bus stop for destinations like Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia is conveniently located at the start of the town’s principal street.

Where to eat in Fira

Fira, the capital of Santorini, Greece, is renowned for its stunning views, white-washed buildings, and delicious dining options. With countless restaurants, cafes, and eateries offering a variety of cuisines, there’s something for every palate. Here’s a detailed guide on where to eat in Fira:

Armeni Restaurant

Cuisine: Mediterranean, Greek, Seafood.
Highlights: Set at a picturesque spot at the old port of Fira, it offers a spectacular sunset view. You’ll need to descend many steps or take a boat to get there, but it’s worth the journey.
Recommendation: Fresh seafood and Santorinian wines.

Lucky’s Souvlaki

Cuisine: Greek, Fast Food.
Highlights: A popular spot for affordable and tasty gyros and souvlakis.
Recommendation: Chicken gyro and tzatziki sauce.

Volcano Blue

Cuisine: Mediterranean, Greek.
Highlights: Offers panoramic views of the caldera and serves fresh seafood dishes.
Recommendation: Grilled octopus and moussaka.

Naoussa Restaurant

Cuisine: Mediterranean, Greek.
Highlights: Traditional tavern ambiance with delicious local food.
Recommendation: Fava beans and lamb kleftiko.


Cuisine: Mediterranean, European, Fusion.
Highlights: A gourmet restaurant with creative dishes and an extensive wine list.
Recommendation: Try their tasting menu to sample a variety.

Pelican Kipos

Cuisine: Mediterranean, Greek.
Highlights: Set in a beautiful garden, the restaurant offers a peaceful ambiance amidst the bustle of Fira.
Recommendation: Greek salad and baklava.

To Ouzeri

Cuisine: Mediterranean, Greek.
Highlights: Casual eatery offering delicious traditional Greek dishes.
Recommendation: Spinach pie and saganaki.

Galini Café

Cuisine: Cafe, Mediterranean.
Highlights: Perched high on the cliffs, it’s an ideal spot for breakfast or a coffee break with a view.
Recommendation: Greek yogurt with honey and nuts.

Onar Bar Restaurant

Cuisine: Mediterranean, European.
Highlights: Offers great views and is famous for its cocktails.
Recommendation: Fresh fruit cocktails.


Reservation: Especially during peak season, it’s advisable to make reservations at popular restaurants.
Sunset dining: If you plan to dine during sunset, reach early or book a table in advance to get the best view.
Local Wines: Santorini is known for its unique wines. Don’t miss trying the Assyrtiko or Vinsanto.

Remember, one of the joys of travel is discovery, so don’t hesitate to wander around Fira and pop into any eatery that catches your eye. Enjoy your culinary adventure!

Where to stay in Fira

Fira is the capital of Santorini, Greece, and offers a range of accommodation options suitable for different budgets and preferences. Here are some general categories of places to stay in Fira:

Luxury Hotels

Fira, like much of Santorini, boasts some top-end luxury hotels, many of which have stunning caldera views.
Aria Suites: A boutique hotel offering luxury suites.
Cosmopolitan Suites: Offers an infinity pool with breathtaking views of the caldera.

Mid-range Hotels

These are usually comfortable and may offer some nice amenities.
Nonis Apartments: Offers decent rooms with a good view of the sea.
Kavalari Hotel: Located centrally and offers traditional Cycladic architecture.

Budget Accommodations

For those who are traveling on a tight budget.
Fira Backpackers Place: A hostel option that’s good for budget travelers and backpackers.
San Giorgio Villa: A more affordable option that’s still comfortable and centrally located.

Villas & Suites

These might offer more privacy than a hotel and are ideal for families or groups.
Nefeli  Luxury Suites: Combines traditional architecture with modern amenities.
Pantelia Suites: Offers traditional-style rooms with the modern comforts.

Apartments and Studios

Ideal for those who prefer self-catering options.
Anemomilos Suites: Located near the main square of Fira, it offers simple studios and apartments.
Manos Small World: This is on the caldera’s edge and offers a tranquil setting.

Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs)

These offer a more intimate experience.
There are various B&B options available in Fira, where you can enjoy a more personalized experience and often home-cooked meals.