After 4 days in the beautiful southern town of Akrotiri, I decided to make my way north to the new pastures of Fira, which is Santorini’s capital and largest city on the island, with Oia (pronounced e-ya) being the second largest and busiest with tourists.
For those who want to dive straight into the excitement, Fira is the place to be. Packed with fine dining, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and an amazing view of the caldera, Fira is definitely a tourist attraction with plenty of things to do. The downside to this is that it can get incredibly crowded – especially considering how narrow the steep streets are, combined with the scorching heat. This also applies to the town of Oia which – due to its famous sunsets – has bumped into road tourists trying to get their picture perfect.
For this reason, I suggest visiting the island during the low season which falls between November to April. Not only will the weather be cooler, the hotels will be cheaper and there will be far fewer tourists moving around!
Fira – like Oia – is a city built on cliffs and so it stands to reason that access for those unable to work is incredibly limited. As easy as it would be to find someone to blame for this, after I’ve walked the city at length, it’s very hard for me to think of how they’re going to start making the city 100% wheelchair accessible. As I said earlier, due to the layout of the terrain and the steep and narrow roads, there are stairs all the way.
Lots of major roads have wide ramps where wheelchairs can get around, but they are few and far between. If you are someone who does not like climbing hills and hundreds of stairs at once to get from A to B, Santorini might not be the place for you. You can get around by taxis, buses, 4×4 bikes, and even cable cars, but since the vast majority of hotels and restaurants are cliffside, the roads are mostly pedestrian-only. Something to consider before booking!
Things to do
While there, I did a lot of walking on different hills to be honest. I maintained the sunset and panoramic views for many hours, and just being able to climb to different viewpoints to enjoy the splendor was enough for me. Not too far from my hotel was the Museum of Prehistoric Thera (actual name of Santorini) which was really cool and contains Neolithic and Cycladic artifacts, mostly from Akrotiri in the south. The Minoan civilization left a huge imprint on the island, so there were a lot of amazing pottery pieces and things like that to learn about.
There are also several hotels that can coordinate sunset yacht tours, including dinner on board which I thought was amazing and great value for money (starting at around £60 per person) considering you were cruising around the volcano on Board a semi-private yacht (maximum 15 people), dinner for you on board using fresh seafood. Bit of a bargain!
There is also an opportunity to move forward Four hours of wine tasting tours, And 2 hour horseback riding adventuresHowever, yacht and boat trips around the caldera are the real draws here, and I would definitely encourage you to budget for those tours when deciding whether to come here.
This time, I decided to book a 4 star hotel Adamant Suites (Hey, you wanted to indulge at least once okay?!) A cliff is located in the middle of Fira. The Adamant suites consist of nine rooms all named after the gem, which I thought was nice. I stayed in the Aquamarine Suite, which I believe is the smallest of the nine, and the only one that doesn’t have an outdoor hot tub. The suite includes all the standard amenities one would expect from a hotel room, including slippers, a robe, a fully stocked minibar, toiletries in the bathroom and great air conditioning.
I also had a hammock rope randomly in my room, which I guess was there to make up for the lack of a sofa or armchair?? I think it was nice, but I couldn’t trust the weight limit because it was hanging from the ceiling, so I just left that alone. Opposite the bed was a huge window leading to a small balcony offering amazing panoramic views of the caldera and volcanoes. Honestly, waking up every day to those opinions was something really special. The bathroom had double sinks, a large shower, and an indoor hot tub, which was great to dip into after long days of sightseeing.
One of the main things that Santorini is known for are its whitewashed cubic building structures and ‘cave houses’. It is one of the features of the island that makes it applicable to Instagram. For this reason, there is a law that states that homes and structures cannot be more than two stories high, due to uneven terrain and the general anxiety you know… being on the edge of a slope.
I say this, because I think it’s important to note that lifts and escalators are not very common here, so if you book a hotel room with the goal of amazing panoramic views, be prepared to walk up hundreds of ramps to get there. My room was below the main reception desk and so I had to go down a few steps to get there.
The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant either, but being in the midst of the nightlife drama it was easy to find somewhere to eat during the afternoon and evening and if you wanted room service for dinner you could call the restaurant next door (in this case, the restaurant was amazing 1500 BC) where they will deliver food to you a-la-Uber Eats style, collecting plates and cutlery from your room afterwards.
The staff were incredibly friendly and hospitable, especially the receptionist Antonia who made me feel incredibly welcome. Unfortunately, I had an ant infestation in my room, and despite the staff doing their best to find and destroy the nest, the room being carved into a hill meant they kept finding ways to get back every night. Another thing to consider if you are considering dining in your room.
All in all, I would give the room 7/10. The hotel is located in a pedestrian-only street and is approximately 6-7 minutes walk from the nearest car park. Carried two heavy bags up several stairs and ramps to get into the building, then had to push them down several steps again to get into the room, and do some work on my knees, I’ll tell you, LOL.
Restaurants and bars to check out
Probably the part most people want to know! Here are some hot spots that I highly recommend, if you are looking for a nice place to have dinner and drinks in the area:
OMMA Santorini In Imerovigli: OMMA is a luxury boutique hotel located in the nearby town of Imerovigli, featuring not only beautiful villas and suites with fantastic sea and caldera views, but also a fine dining restaurant serving good meals using high quality local ingredients. Besides this, there is an all-day pool bar that offers stunning panoramic sea views.
1500 BC In Vera: So good, I’ve been back twice! 1500BC is a great seafood restaurant next to my hotel that serves not only traditional Greek food and pasta dishes, as well as fresh seafood including swordfish, calamari and lobster. The atmosphere and service are sublime, and the view of the sunset is to die for when dining on the top terrace. I’ve lived for their dessert tbh: Strawberry Pavlova is amazing and incredibly plump. Definitely recommend!
Barolo In Fira: Barolo is right across from 1500BC so very convenient! Another restaurant with beautiful panoramic views of the caldera, Barolo offers great Greek food and a solid list of local wines.
Some of the other nearby restaurants that I highly recommend include: pleaseAnd Just (They are very creative in how they reimagine traditional Greek food!) and Cheese and black pepper (If you’re looking for beautifully original Greek salads.)
to Psariki: Quite possibly one of the best seafood restaurants on the island, To Psariki is located in the main fishing port of the island and has a wide selection of quality and affordable seafood dishes, along with some what I suppose (because I don’t drink!) great wine!
Overall, I had the most amazing experience in Santorini. It was a long awaited stay – not just coming to the island, but getting away from London in general and relaxing on my own. This trip was a little different for me as I am used to having a complete itinerary of things to do and discover when you are on vacation, but this relaxing and cool experience will definitely be an unforgettable one. It was perfect.