TLFMagazine -TRAVEL DIARY: FIRA

TRAVEL DIARY FIRA

TRAVEL DIARY  FIRA

Unlocking a beautiful island in Greece

By Natascha Shah


The capital of the picturesque Greek island of Santorini, boasts of glorious sunsets, beautiful views and magical walks down winding streets. A look in any direction and instantly reminds one of the many white and blue images seen in travel magazines, websites and on television. This is where most of them have been clicked. Set besides the Aegean Sea, Fira is full of tiny houses, all painted white, with blue doors and yellow, pink or plain white roofs. The churches are white with blue tops and one can view the vast ocean with the Nea Kameni volcano, from every point—most of the hotels, resorts and the of course the Caldera.

Modern day Fira is the cultural and commercial center of the Santorini. Apart from the museums, galleries and cultural events, it has the island’s largest shopping center and the biggest choice of dining out and entertainment.

Nightlife is big here, with numerous bars and cafes, some on the caldera, some tucked into the quaint cobbled streets weaving through the town.

Summer is the busiest season for this picture-perfect town, with most of the hotels and resorts booked up to three months in advance! Not only is it a popular destination for family holidays,honeymoons and cruises but it has also become a backpacker’s delight with pocket-friendly stay options.





"Must eat the chicken/veg pita at Lucky’s, in the main square, it is Fira’s equivalent of Mcdonalds."

In and Around Fira
Take a walk through Firostefani, an old village just north of Fira. It has traditional houses, narrow paths and views of the volcano.

Faros, the lighthouse on the southwest tip of Acrotiri Cape gives a glorious view, try and spot the Indian Head rock formation on the south side

On your way back from Faros turn right and head to the Acrotiri excavations, walk further up to the St. Nicholas church and then turn around the cape to reach the Red Beach, which also has some seafood restaurants

The Perissa and the Perivolos Beaches are actually one long black sand beach, the North end by the mountain is Perissa and the one on the south is Parivolos Beach. There are restaurants and beach bars here.

Ormos, the old port of Santorini is at the bottom of the Caldera cliff. It offers restaurants, taverns and small shops. To reach the port, walk down 600 steps, take the cable car, which leaves from the top of the caldera or hop on a mule!

Megalochori, a little traditional village just south of Santo Winery, is walking distance, down the main road. It has a charming square dotted with restaurants.
Pirgos, a village built in 1204 by the Venetians stretches from the Santo winery all the way up to the Monastery of Prophet Elias. Enjoy a walk up the cute donkey paths buy some local products like Santorini tomato paste, honey and olive oil.

Oia, a spectacular town with charming sunsets and beautiful eateries. Anjeli Jolie supposedly has a house here!

Take a Catamaran tour of the volcano or rent you own Yacht and head for a sailing trip. You can swim in the hot springs and get a close up view of churches, the volcano, and the famous three beaches in Santorini. Try Sunset Oia:http://sailing-santorini.com emai: reservations@sailing-santorini.com
Plan you Trip

Getting there

Take a flight to Santorini (Thira National Airport). From May to October charter flights fly directly to Santorini from many European airports

From Santorini airport: by taxi, or shared-ride in a shuttle

From the old port, where cruise-ship passengers arrive, take a cable car (6:30 am – 10 pm), mule ride (around 5 euros) or climb by foot (600 steps) up the cliff face.

From the new port (Athinios), where all the ferries arrive by taxi (this is expensive) or by local bus (these can be crowded), or by shuttle bus (good value for money)

By Sea: Take the ferry from Piraeus past Paros and Naxos to the new port of Athinios on Santorini. There is also daily connection between Crete and Santorini during high season. If you prefer traveling by sea, your best bet is high-speed catamarans. The trip from Pireaus to Santorini takes 4.5hrs with a high speed ferry.

Getting around:

By Bus: The island has a public bus service, with buses costing € 1.60, € 1.80 and € 2.20. Buses run between every 30 minutes to every other hour.

By Boats: They run between major coastal towns on the island.

Rent a vehicle: Cars can be rented from up to € 45 a day from the airport itself or from the resort/hotel you are staying in. An international driving permit is recommended.

Scooters and 4-wheelers (quads or all-terrain-vehicles) are available to rent starting at about €15 or €30 per day, respectively. A drivers license is required to rent these 4-wheelers.

A popular method of getting around is to rent ATVs, though the “all-terrain” part is a misnomer, as most ATV riders are tourists riding on the paved road. ATVs share the road with other drivers and are usually all over the island. The island is small enough to travel around on an ATV, and is a cost-effective way to self-explore the further reaches of Santorini.

Note: Santorini is not very bicycle friendly and it is hard to find a place that actually rents a bicycle.

Stay:

Luxury: Celestia Grand

This property offers 7 VIP luxurious Villas, nestled at the edge of the volcanic Caldera cliffs. Enjoy sublime views of the volcano, the Aegean Sea and golden sunsets from your private swimming pool or thermal bath tub!

Address: Fira, Thera 847 00, Greece, Phone:+30 2286 025900

Backpackers: Fira backpackers

A budget place with private rooms and dorms at the down town area of Fira the capital of Santorini island. Located right next to the bus station and the main square, all private rooms have a bath, balcony,TV, fridge and air-conditioning and are cleaned daily , new towels are placed every second day and new sheets every third day. All dorm rooms have a bath, luggage lockers ,air condition and fridge.Wi-Fi ,to use of kitchen, the use of a washing machine, internet corner,daily , 24 hours hot water, living room with big screen for sports and movies,hair dryer ,iron and board are all free services

Address: Fira Downtown, Telephone: +30 2286031626

Currency: Euro

1 euro = INR 67.59 approx

Visa: Greece is a part of the Schengen states, thus a Schengen Visa is required. Apply here