Fira Three Bells

Fira is the largest city of Santorini and together with the village of Oia, it is one of the most photogenic and beautiful places not only in Greece, but without exaggeration in the whole world. Fira (sometimes also spelled Thira or Thera) impresses visitors with its typical blue and white houses built on a 260 meter high cliff above the sea.

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The town is also the natural centre of all the action on the island and the best starting point for travel.

Views and sunsets

Fira's extraordinary location on the edge of a former volcanic crater makes it a city of views, and because it's on the west coast, you can also enjoy magical sunsets from here.

It would be pointless to list the best spots for views, as a pedestrian zone winds around the entirety of Fira along the cliff edge for several hundred metres, serving as one long viewpoint.

Sights and attractions

The best activity you can do here is to let yourself drift through the tiny streets, ascending and descending the many staircases and admiring the houses literally carved into the cliffs, which are usually several stories deep and connected by various corridors. Thanks to the almost perpendicular cliffs, however, each floor has windows and a view out.

Probably the most famous monument of Fira is the Catholic church from 1757 called the Three Bells of Fira with its typical blue dome, white facade and distinctive Greek bell tower with three bells. The church of St. John the Baptist with its untypical yellow facade is also beautiful.

The main Orthodox cathedral can be found in the more modern southern part of Fira, where a lively and bustling shopping promenade with hundreds of shops and restaurants also passes through.

Fira cable car and the Karavolades stairs

Although Fira is 260 metres above sea level, it has its own harbour from which cruise ships sail to the crater of Nea Kameni or to the island of Thirasia. Because of the almost perpendicular rock wall and the absence of any coastal road, you have to cover a very short distance to reach the port. And that means only one thing: a steep descent and a lung-busting hike.

In reality, however, you have three ways to reach the harbour:

  • Walking up the Karavolades Stairs - a very winding path of over 600 wide and long stairs awaits you. They offer beautiful views of the bay (former crater) and dramatic volcanic cliffs. The way down is quite easy, the steps are neither steep nor dangerous due to their winding nature.
  • Donkey taxi - if you don't feel like going up (or even down) the stairs, you can use the local "donkey taxi". There are always plenty of donkeys (although they are actually mules and mules) waiting at either end of the stairs to give you a lift or ride for 6 eur.
  • Cable car - an attraction in itself is the suspended cable car, overcoming a 220 metre height difference in just 300 metres of clear distance. This makes it one of the steepest gondola lifts in Europe.

The cable car runs from 7:00-10:30 and 14:30-18:00 at intervals of about 20 minutes. During the winter season, however, the operating hours are even more reduced, see the official website. The price of a one-way ticket is 6 eur.

Accommodation Fira

Due to its size, central location and the starting point of all buses, Fira is the best place to stay if you want to explore Santorini. Prices here are considerably lower compared to Oia, and you can get a smaller hotel or apartment from around 40 eur per night in summer, and from around 29 eur in low season. Most accommodation is priced between 1,600 and 92 eur, which is decent for such a touristy place.

As there are many hotels and guesthouses in town, we've picked out the best ones for you:

We would then specially recommend the wonderful Fira Getaway, a traditional Santorini house but very modern and tastefully decorated with the best ratings in Fira. And the rates are also very decent between 2000 and 110 eur per night.

If you're heading to Fira for romance and luxury, such as a honeymoon, we'd go for a superbly rated 4* aparthotel Pantelia Suites.


Fira is the central starting point for all bus routes on the island. Timetables can be found on the transport company's website, However, they should be taken with a large margin. However, they generally correspond to the number of connections on the routes and roughly to the interval.

The main bus station can be found in the southern part of Fira, see the location on the map. Ticket prices range between 1,60 eur and 3 eur and are payable at the kiosk at the station.

In Fira you will also find the main cruise ship dock (see Activities section) and ferries to the islands of Nea Kameni and Thirasia.

If you rent a car, expect to be unable to reach many of the accommodations by car. However, parking in Fira is available in the many public car parks along the main road, all of which are free. Be prepared, however, for an often lengthy search for a free space, which are scarce, especially in high season.

What to see around

Discover all the places to see in Santorini.

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