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Fira and Katerados in Santorini
Busy Fira, the capital of Santorini, is incredibly beautiful from a distance, but once there, one will be a little disappointed. Sure, the view over the caldera and the volcano is completely adorable - it does not matter how many times you have admired the panorama, you will never get tired - but the Greek charm seems to have followed into the depths in the last earthquake. Fira is partly a tourist trap, a bustling market or an amusement park where all the world's jewellers are in the front in the ring.
Note that the town is named Fira, not Thira as many people think. Thira is the Greek name of Santorini.
Fira as seen from the Caldera.
The narrow alleys are crammed full of tourists from all over the world in search of kitschy souvenirs or centimetre-thick gold links. It has become a bit too much of everything in recent years. But the view is the same and it is still as stunning as always. So if you have not been to Santorini yet, I can guarantee that you will forgive the brisk trade and let yourself be amazed by the scenic landscape.
One of several viewpoints in Fira. Nea Kameni on the right.
But my feelings for Fira is not omnipotent. On the contrary, Fira's shopping district is the reason to return for many people. And sure, I also think that it can be enjoyable to eat dinner at one of the tavernas along the cliff edge and watch the sun go down behind Thirasia. What's really disturbing me is all haggling and the stressed atmosphere that surrounds Fira, especially around the noisy square (Main Square).
Fira as seen from Firostefani.
What I like about Fira is, besides the view, the nice museums and the sunset, to walk down to the small port of Skala and the pleasant walk along the cliff edge towards Firostofani (which is grown together with Fira) and Imerovigli.
Below Fira lies the old port of Skala where luxury cruise ships basking in the glory reflected from the dark blue sea of the caldera. To get down to the port, you can choose to ride a donkey (please, don't), ride the cable car or to slowly stroll down. The latter is clearly the most pleasant option, and hardest. 588 steps takes on the forces, I promise.
Tavernas in Fira.
The port itself is not much to write home about - some snack bars with anything but reasonable prices - it's mostly the walk there, and from there, that makes the port worth visiting. The views are lovely in both directions. There is no problem to walk down, but to walk up can be strenuous, especially at midday when the sun mercilessly weighing on the poor top of the head.
Katerados, a few kilometres south of Fira, is a small village where hotels and pensions dominates. Many island hoppers who have not pre-booked their accommodation are sometimes tricked by capricious letters of rooms that the pensions they offer is located in Fira, while they in fact are located in Katerados. There is nothing wrong with Katerados, here is everything you need and it's much quieter than in Fira.
Fira just before the sun goes down.
But it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to walk along to Katerados, to say the least, a busy road to get to Fira. And non of the letters of rooms will tell you that. The prices of hotels and pensions are much lower than in Fira, so if you are not disturbed by a walk to Fira, then Katerados is a good option. Moreover, many Greeks lives in Katerados, so it is a living village where many shops and tavernas are open year round.
ACCOMMODATION IN FIRA
Fira offers an enormous range of accommodations, here's everything from super deluxe hotels to simple family-run pensions. The closer to the caldera you stay, the more expensive it is. Everything else would be strange. The suggestions I have for hotels that do not cost a fortune is Antonia Hotel, Hotel Leta and Hotel Thira.
Some of the many jewelry stores in Fira.
ACCOMMODATION IN KATERADOS
There are, as I said many hotels, studios and pensions in Katerados. There are around 30 places to choose from on Booking.com. I have stayed at Hotel Olympia twice and I liked it so very much. Popular places that I know that many readers of Kalimera (the Swedish version of Kalispera) like are Angel Studios and Babis Hotel.
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