Fira is the capital of Santorini Island since the 18th century and the most cosmopolitan settlement on the island. Before that, the capital had been Skaros in Imerivigli, which used to be one of the island’s citadels. When Skaros was gradually abandoned, the inhabitants settled to Fira which was then established as the new capital. The town is located in the middle of the west side of the island, just over the caldera and opposite the volcano, with a view to the sunset. It is a city of picturesque alleys, white-washed houses carved on the foot of the caldera, numerous corners with spectacular view, rich history and enchanting beauty. The volcano can be seen from every point, as can the mesmerizing sunsets.
The central square of Fira is called Plateia Theotokopoulou, where the bus and taxi station are as well as banks, pharmacies and various other shops. The port of Fira below, is where the cruise ships anchor. Small boats come and get the passengers and take them to the small port where they have three choices: to take the cable car up the mountain, go up by donkey or walk which is done only by people who are fit enough and in perfect shape.
Besides the beautiful scenery around every corner, in Fira you can visit a couple of outstanding museums like the Museum of Prehistoric Thera with important exhibits from the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri and the Archaeological Museum with artifacts mostly from ancient Thira as well as stuff from around the island from the various historical periods from the 5th Century to Roman times. There are several other smaller museums in town including the Megaro Gyzi Cultural Center that presents a variety of collections and organizes several cultural events, located near the cable-car entrance and the Folklore Museum of Emmanuel A. Lignos which holds six rooms-exhibitions that depict the way of life in the 20th century. The town also hosts a number of churches, including the Cathedral of Ypapanti, built on the site of an earlier church destroyed in the 1956 Amorgos earthquake and the Three Bells of Fira, probably the most photogenic church in the Aegean.
Fira today is the liveliest place on the island, offering breathtaking views, exquisite shops, delightful restaurants and exciting night life. There is a large selection of shops, from classic souvenir shops to art galleries and high-end venues where you will find all the modern trends, as well as delis and wine stores where you can buy the traditional products of the island such as the famous Vinsanto wine. When the night falls, Fira turns to a romantic destination with lots of bars and clubs, waiting for you to dance and have fun all night long. Fira offers accommodation of all categories and budgets, from luxurious hotels with outstanding views of the volcano to a camping area.
Fira is the one of the most visited places not only by tourists staying on the island, but also by many visitors who arrive by cruise ship and flock to the capital for a few hours. Busy but never overwhelming and modern without losing touch with its tradition, it’s the perfect introduction to the island.