Fira, Greece

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Fira Guide – Spend Less, Do More

BlueDomeChurchesYou've scaled the steps in and out of Fira (all 588 of them to be exact) on donkey back, precisely for the reason of avoiding the minefield of droppings. You've visited the wineries, sampling copious amounts of every wine that the region has to offer, and been dazzled by the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets dancing off the white dome-topped buildings that Santorini is famous for. For the discerning traveller, Santorini has much to offer beyond ticking off the typical bucket list. There's more to Fira than souvlaki, gyros and tzatziki!

Instead of braving the crowds at the Red Beach...

There are other beautiful beaches to choose from such as the Almyra, Kambia and Mesa Pigadia beaches – these are unique as they are black sand beaches, though you may find they are more volcanic pebbles than actual sand. Another option you have is the White Beach – surprisingly it is actually covered by white, grey and black sand and pebbles, its name derived from the enormous white rocks surrounding it. The sharp cliffs rise majestically behind the beaches, a ruggedly beautiful backdrop against the sparkling blue water. Some of the beaches boast astonishingly clear and pristine water, perfect for a dip. The best part is that it won't cost you a cent!

A unique hotel proposition!

When booking accommodation - consider staying a couple of nights in an yposkafo. An yposkafo is a cave house built into the cliffs of the Santorini caldera rim. One thing to take into account though, is that if you're claustrophobic, this may not be the best choice as the rooms are cut straight into the rock and the door and a window provide the main sources of light. There are different options ranging from the budget to the luxury traveller. If you're adventurous and aren't too sensitive allergy wise (there can be a characteristic rock smell), you will enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime cultural and historical experience.

For some quiet time...

Head out of Fira and explore the hidden city of Akrotiri. The casualty of a volcanic eruption three and a half thousand years ago, the site has been excavated and preserved. You will witness some of the oldest frescoes known to man, very old bathroom plumbing (if that's your thing) and antique pottery. Another option? Hike the caldera rim on one of the world's best treks snaking from Fira to Oia – it will take you roughly 3-4 hours.

Santorini calderaTo get a true taste of greek local life, catch a boat to nearby Thirassia, a small island separated from the rest of Santorini as a result of a volcanic eruption. There, you will find a quaint village dotted with cute houses with their clotheslines and stray felines, and a beautiful Greek church. The laid-back atmosphere with hardly a tourist in sight is perfect for a midday meal. Some of the smaller, more authentic places do not have table service and offer a rather limited menu, but it's these places where you will find some of the best food in town. Try some dolmades (minced beef and rice stuffed inside vine leaves), moussaka (a minced lamb dish) or Greek salad done right!

You've saved on your hotel so...

Why not treat yourself to an unforgettable evening meal on one of the most picturesque islands in the world. If you have been avoiding the ocean-side fine dining establishments due to their price, at least visit one during your time there. Santorini is considered to have some of Greece's best food and wines. A couple of award-winning recommendations are Selene, Argo, Sunset by Paraskevas, Atlantis Island and Elia.

If you have some free time, hope across to Crete and stay a couple of nights. Visit the Palace of Knossos, peruse the exhibits at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and hike through the spectacular Samaria Gorge.

Spend Less, Do More

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