Fira is the capital of the island, built on the edge of the Caldera, between the sea and the sky.
The western part of Fira, facing the Caldera, still maintains its unique colour and beauty despite the intensive tourist exploitation and the dozens of clubs, bars and shops. This is the pedestrian-only part of the town, a scenic area that you can explore by walking around the cobbled, narrow streets.
The best time for a peaceful wander around the town is in the afternoon. During that time you can enjoy every single picturesque corner of the settlement, from Kato Fira where the church of Aghios Minas is, to the Orthodox Metropolis of Ypapanti, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Belloneio Cultural Centre, or, from northern Fira, where the catholic quarter and the Metropolis of Aghios Ioannis the Baptist are located, up to Megaro Gyzi.
The main cobbled street in northern Fira unwinds along the edge of the Caldera, passing through Firostefani and Imerovigli, and ends up at the northern end of the island, in Oia.
The cable car terminal is also located in northen Fira. It is there to facilitate your transport from the top of the cliff to the bay of Fira (the old port), the departure point for various boat tours to the volcano (Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni) and Thirasia island. For your return to Fira, besides the cable car option, you may also opt for the adventure of hiring a mule to carry you up the winding stairway to the town.
In Fira you will find banks, post office, pharmacies, night clubs, super markets, patisseries, shops, as well as hotels, rooms for rent, tavernas, snacks bars and restaurants that satisfy every taste and budget. Make sure you stop off at the Beloneio Cultural Center, where painting and photography exhibitions as well as interesting lectures and conferences are often organised. Megaro Gyzi is also a cultural centre with a long history, housing extremely interesting exhibitions, lectures and music concerts mainly throughout the summer.
Head north along the main road and you will find Firostefani, only 1.5 km away from Fira. The view is equally magnificent as it is in Fira but the atmosphere is clearly quieter. It is a perfect choice for those who want to be close to the intense and cosmopolitan life of the capital, but not in the heart of it. The distance from Firostefani to Fira is not more than a 10 minute walk. There are places where you can eat or have a drink, and at the same time enjoy the view of the Caldera.
Walking up the road that passes in front of the cable car station you will see a neoclassic building with deep red colour. It is Petros M. Nomikos Conference Centre, which hosts the majority of international scientific conferences that take place in Santorini, as well as many cultural events.
If you take Fira’s lower road towards the North, you will reach Kontochori, where you can visit the Folklore Museum of Emmanuel Lignos and experience the Santorini of the past.