hotel armonia santorini destinations
hotel armonia santorini destinations
hotel armonia santorini destinations
hotel armonia santorini destinations
hotel armonia santorini destinations
hotel armonia santorini destinations


The Villages of Santorini


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 part of the town is paved and you can only walk around it through the narrow cobbled streets. The best time for a peaceful wander around Fira 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 Ia.
The cable car departs from northern Fira as well, to transport you to the bay of Fira (old harbour), where you can take a boat tour to the volcano and Thirasia island. In order to return from the bay to the centre of Fira, you can choose among the cable car or the donkeys or you can go up the snake-like steps, for the most venturous of you.
In Fira, you will find banks, post office, police department, health centre, pharmacies, night clubs, super markets, patisseries, shops, as well as tavernas, snack bars and restaurants that satisfy every taste and budget. Make sure you stop off at the Belloneio Cultural Centre, where painting and photography exhibitions as well as interesting lectures and conferences are often organized. Megaro Gyzi is also a cultural centre with a long history, housing extremely interesting exhibitions, lectures and music concerts mainly throughout the summer.


As you go north along the main road, 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 the 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 no more than a 10 minutes walk. There are places, however, where you can eat or have a drink, and at the same time have a view of the Caldera. Walking up the road that passes in front of the cable car you will see a neoclassic building with vivid red colour. It is Petros M. Nomikos Conference Centre, which hosts the majority of the international scientific conferences that take place in Santorini as well as many cultural events. There you will also find an exhibition with life-size reproductions of wall paintings found in Akrotiri’s ancient settlement. You will be surprised by the Centre and the view will be an unforgettable memory for you, so we suggest that you visit the Centre late in the afternoon to experience another sunset from the top of Firostefani.


Imerovigli or the so-called “balcony of Santorini” is the next stop on Caldera’s eyebrow after Firostefani and before Ia. The largest part of Imerovigli had been destroyed by the earthquake of 1956 and its residents either built houses outside the Caldera or moved in Athens. Imerovigli is only 3 km away from Fira and its intense tourist development began in the early ’90s when it started to become the ideal place for couples in love. There are numerous lodgings with traditional architecture and view of the endless blue, as well as swimming pools in the edge of the cliff. Many civil weddings or vow renewals take place in their balconies, always under the romantic sunset. Imerovigli doesn’t offer night life and there are only few places to eat or go shopping, but you don’t have to worry about it. Fira is only five minutes away by car. The magnificent view combined with the tranquility that Imerovigli has managed to keep, creates an absolute romantic atmosphere. It is worth visiting the church of Panagia Maltese with the old wooden icon screen and the monastery of Aghios Nikolaos. As the sun sets, the neighbouring islands of Ios, Sikinos and Folegandros are being revealed, making Imerovigli’s sunset as captivating as the one of Ia.


If you take Fira’s lower road towards the North, you will come to Kontochori where you can visit the Folklore Museum of Emmanuel Lignos and experience the Santorini of the past. Enjoy a wander around the museum’s impressive interior admiring the owner’s labour of love. The second floor houses paintings and various exhibitions having as central theme the island of Santorini.
There is also an open-air cinema nearby. Walk around the narrow streets and admire the folk architecture and the churches such as Panagia of Langadi. There are lots of fig trees, prickly pears and pistachio trees in the area -you will miss out if you don’t taste their fruits, especially the prickly pears, but beware of the prickly thorns! Kontochori is a preferred spot amongst tourists as it is peaceful, has a lovely view of the eastern side of the island and the central square of Fira is no more than a ten minutes walk away.


The village of Vourvoulos is located approximately 4 km away from Fira on the road towards the island’s northern beaches. The residents are occupied with the cultivation of the land as well as with other activities, since nowadays only few of them have remained true farmers. The village is built amphitheatrically with a view of the plain in the north-eastern side of the island, as well as to the beaches of Koloumbo and Pori. You can get to Ano Vourvoulos by taking the road that descends from Imerovigli, at the crossroad to Ia. It is a very steep asphalt road, but you can have a panoramic view of the plain with the vineyards. In Kato Vourvoulos you will find the central square with the imposing church of Aghios Efstratios that celebrates its feast day on December 13th. At the same place, you will also see a monument in honour of the people died during the German occupation. It is also worth visiting the beautiful church of Aghios Panteleimonas.


The lower road of Fira that goes southwards, will lead you to Karterados, after 2 km. The settlement is built near a stream. In the central square you will find a traditional old mill and a war memorial in honour of the people died during the 2nd World War. Park your car there and get ready for a short tour of the traditional village starting from the “steps of Galaios”, as the locals call them, which are on your left as the road bends. You will be surprised by what there is to see... Traditional old buildings mined inside the volcanic rock, captain houses and picturesque cobbled streets that you can hardly make out from the main road as they have been constructed along the streambed. There aren’t many sights to see, but it’s worth visiting the church of the Assumption and being at its festival that takes place forty days after Easter. If you are on the island on August 15th, join the festival of the church Panagia Kokkini (Saint Mary of the Red) which was given this name as it was built with red wine instead of water.


Messaria is located at a cross point of Santorini and is close (about 4 km) to Fira, to the port of Athinios, and to the northern beaches and the north-eastern part of the island. The new part of the village is full of life with many shops, whilst a walk through the traditional settlement will take you back in time, when Messaria was the centre of the island’s industrial development. There you will find the remains of the imposing facilities of the Markezinis knitting factory, as well as the Saliveros and Markezinis mansions; dome-shaped houses built into the volcanic rock, picturesque cobbled streets, many churches and the restored Argyros Mansion that evidences the glory of its time. The most interesting churches are those of Aghios Dimitrios and Aghia Eirini, with big festivals on October 26th and May 5th respectively.


After Messaria you will find Vothonas. It is worth visiting this village in order to admire the distinctive folk architecture. Many buildings are built into the volcanic earth of a large gorge. These buildings apart from being cheap to construct, they also offered shelter from the winds and the pirates. Park your car for a while and cross over the river and the traditional little road on the river bed, in order to discover the church of Panagia Trypa which is situated high up on the rock. For the locals this is a very important church; that is why they organize a big festival on February 2nd.


Monolithos is located behind the airport of Santorini, 9 km away from Fira. It has a well organized long beach with smooth black sand and particularly shallow waters, a lifeguard and a playground. The waters deepen gradually, but if you wish to swim without touching the sea bottom, you will have to swim a lot. The beach usually is very crowded since it’s the nearest beach to Fira connected with the local bus transportation network. Don’t worry, however. There is plenty of room for everyone. If you prefer team sports such as volleyball, soccer and basketball, you are in the right place as there are especially tailored areas on the sand. You will also find a beach bar, while along the road there are many tavernas with fresh fish and delicious local cuisine. Also, in Monolithos, you will find the only tomato factory that is still operating in Santorini and belongs to the Association Cooperatives of Theraic Products-SantoWines. On the beach of Monolithos you can also visit the winery of Gaia Wines.

Exo Gonia - Mesa Gonia

Exo Gonia is a small, peaceful and traditional village lacking tourist infrastructure, built at the rear of Pyrgos. It is located 12 km away from Fira. You should visit it and walk through its cobbled streets. Admire the neoclassic mansions and more than ten ruined wineries that were full of life before the earthquake. Most of the permanent residents are farmers. In the area you will find few shops in the main road towards Kamari, a couple of tavernas, few lodgings and two hotels in Avis beach named after the old tomato factory A.V.I.S., which had recently been demolished. In the central road you will find signs concerning the riding club, in order to have an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to visit “Art Space”, the Antonis Argyros visual arts centre, which since 1830 was operating as a winery and a distiller of raki, and had the first facilities for tomato processing. At the restored rooms of the museum you will find exceptional works of art. In Exo Gonia you will also find “San…torini” winery, owned by Artemis Karamolegos.
Go to Mesa Gonia (7.5 km from Fira) once a great centre of wine production. Follow the signs from the main road towards Kamari and then turn right. Your first stop is in one of the oldest wineries of the island, Yiannis Roussos winery which operates since 1836. Taste the famous local labels in the winery’s beautiful traditional yard under the shade of the trees. Not far from Roussos winery, you will find an older winery (since 1903) that belongs to Yiannis Argiros. Tour the canavas, seize the opportunity and discuss with the wine producer, and don’t forget to taste the famous Vinsanto he produces. Leave your car for a while and walk through the traditional settlement of Mesa Gonia. The deeper you go into the village, the more controversial the landscape becomes, combing images of dereliction and civilization. Beautiful picturesque churches and few traditional houses are among the ruins that the earthquake left behind. The cobbled streets are full of flowers with heady fragrances that give life to the ghosts of the past. Let the landscape travel you in times where the island was untouchable from the tourist intervention. As you go further up, the view of the village, of Mesa Vouno and of the coast line becomes more beautiful, especially at nightfall. Go back to your car and follow the road towards the church of Episcopi of Gonia, which is quite close to the village. The church was built in the late 11th century by Emperor Alexios A’ Komninos and is an important Byzantine monument. In its special priedieu, you will see the icon of Panagia Glikofilousa, one of the three most priceless portable Byzantine icons in the world. Episcopi is one of the few churches with tiles and it offers a magnificent view of the eastern side of the island. The combination of the landscape, the tranquility and the scattered smell of basil in the entire place will definitely bring you peace of mind. If you ever been to the island on the 15th of August make sure to visit the festival that takes place there.


Pyrgos village is situated in the inland of Santorini, 7,5 km away from Fira, built on the top of the hill; it has a discreet, however, dynamic presence on the tourist map. It is said that Pyrgos vineyard is the most qualitative, so make a stop in Santo Wines winery to taste the local wines and to enjoy the magnificent view of the volcano and the rest of the island. Continue towards the square of the village and leave your car in the parking lot to stroll through the picturesque cobbled streets of the settlement that was declared listed monument in 1995. The going up may seem a bit tiring to you but the endless view of Fira, Ia and Messaria’s valley will bow to your feet and will offer you another unique sunset, if you be there at the right time.
Pyrgos has kept its natural beauty without any alterations. The stroll through its cobbled streets will reveal you some interesting marks about the local architecture as well as the remains of neoclassical mansions. It is a typical fortress settlement of the Cyclades, a relic of the Venetian rule age; on the top of the fortress stands the castle (Kasteli) that was ruined from an earthquake, almost half a century ago. Until then, approximately 70 families were staying inside its walls. You should visit the Icons and Relics Collection that houses hagiographies, wooden sculptures, embroideries and other items for ecclesiastic use dated mostly back to 17th and 18th century. In the village you will find more than 40 churches; among them the well known Theotokaki of Koimiseos built in the 10th century and Panagia’s Eisodia or Panagia of Kasteli which is the biggest of all. It was built in the early 16th century and has a magnificent wooden icon screen; it is open to the public only in fests. It is also worth visiting the traditional village of “Vanishing Santorini” where the tour will take you to another Santorini, not spoiled by tourist interventions. In the highest point of Pyrgos, and of the island as well, stands the monastery of Prophet Elias since 1711. From there you will realize what panoramic view means. Following the road to Prophet Elias in your left hand, you will see Hatzidakis winery that may be small but it is definitely remarkable and famous.
If you ever been in the island during Easter - we undoubtedly suggest you to do so - you should not miss the impressive ceremony of epitaph where the village fills with hundreds of lightened tin cans and, from far away gives the impression of a burning village! Furthermore, on Easter Sunday locals have the custom to hang Judas and burn him in the village’s square along with fireworks, roasted lambs and lots of wine. The settlement is inhabited by more than 700 residents. The region has been developed during the last few years and besides the local tavernas and restaurants that provide very good food, also find cafeterias, hotels and few rooms for rent, a gallery and a few shops.


You will find Megalochori on the way to the beaches of Perissa, Perivolos, Vlychada and Red Beach in the south of the island, 9 km away from Fira. It is a very beautiful village that remains still unspoilt from tourist activities. Leave your car and walk through it. Admire the cobbled streets, the yards that are full of flowers, the tidy houses and above all the fine bell towers of the churches that pop up harmoniously in the landscape. The settlement is built in the bed of a stream and in front of it stretches a valley with vineyards. It has almost 300 permanent residents, most of them farmers working in the cultivation of the plenty vineyards, tomatoes and barleycorns. In the centre of Megalochori stands the Gavalas winery, whereas out of the village you will find the wineries of Boutari and Antoniou. For those of you who like adventure, we suggest a visit to the remote beaches of Caldera, Plaka and Thermi that were named after the churches Panagia Plaka and Christ in Thermi. There is no access by car and therefore, we recommend you to wear sports shoes, a hat and to have water with you. It is also worth admiring the sunset with the view of Palea Kameni, Nea Kameni and Thirasia islands.


Following the road towards Perivolos and Perissa beaches you will find Emporio, the largest village of Santorini with approximately 3.000 permanent residents. It is only 12 km away from Fira and for many years it was the trade centre of the island; to that probably owes its today’s name (Emporeio is the Greek word for Trade). According to another assertion, Emporio took its name from the German word Neubürg, which means new tower and it refers to the Goulas castle.
Emporio is a traditional village with distinctive folk architecture. Goulas and Kasteli still bring in memory the Venetian rule age. Goulas is the square medieval castle in the village entrance and it was Patmos monastery glebe. In its entrance you will see the typical construction with the pots which were filled with hot oil and were spilt over to the enemies. On the top of the castle is Aghios Polikarpos. Kasteli is one of the five typical fortress settlements of the after Byzantine period of the island. Its walls are the external walls of the houses. All buildings communicate from their roofs and Palea Panagia or Panagia Mesani stands in the centre of the fortress. The church is dated to the 16th century with a unique architecture bell tower and with a priceless wooden icon screen (1883) presenting scenes from the Old and the New Testament. In a few meters you will find the church of Metamorphosis of Sotiros (Christ) dated to the early 19th century; a great festival takes place on August 6th. What is more, the icon of Aghios Averkios (protector of canavas) is hosted there and therefore another festival takes place on October 22nd. In the yard of the church there is a typical pebble precinct. It is worth visiting Aghios Spiridonas with its beautiful blue dome. Just before entering the village there is the small church of Aghios Nikolaos Marmaritis built upon an ancient sacred of the 3rd century B.C., an offering to the goddess Vasileia. During the Christian times the sacred became the small church of Aghios Nikolaos. It was named after the grey axed marbles of its exterior walls and also from the Saint’s marble icon. Go up to the hill of Gavrilos, which is considered archaeological zone due to the Byzantine period ruins and admire the eight windmills and the view of the rest of the island. The windmills are historical listed monuments from the early 19th century and they testify the traditional occupation of that time. Furthermore, carved tombs of the Hellenistic period were found in the limestone rock in the area of Vlychada. One of them is known by the name Ehentra which means viper, due to the carved shape of a snake found on the rock.


The beach of Perissa is located in the southeastern side of the island, 13 km away from Fira. Beside the rock you will find the Old Christian Basilica type church of Aghia Eirini, dated to 6th century. Perissa is one of the most developed and popular seaside resorts of the island along with Perivolos and Kamari. The sea waters are deep and clean while the beach has black sand. It is a settlement full of life during the summer months. A great number of Greek and foreign tourists visit the village, enjoying the comfort of a well-organized beach that provides water sports and a wide range of choices concerning accommodation, eating and entertainment. There is also a beach camping site with natural shade. The church of Timios Stavros is situated in Perissa’s square and it is the largest church of the island with a great festival on the 14th of September. In the square you will also find the Mineral and Fossils Museum that belongs to the Cultural Association of Thera. If you look in the rock you will see Panagia Katefiani, a small church standing up there by itself. Its festival is on the 8th of September.

Perivolos - Aghios Georgios

Perivolos beach is the natural extension of Perissa. There you will find an organized beach of many kilometers that as awarded with a blue flag. Perivolos has black sand or small pebble and cool deep waters. It has the most popular beach bars, restaurants and fish tavernas. Beach bars with loud music, team sports and water sports create a party atmosphere all day long. Aghios Georgios is the next stop after Perivolos, however, with a quieter atmosphere. There a part of the beach that it is not covered with sun umbrellas, yet.


Akrotiri’s settlement is in the southwestern and most distant edge of the island, 15 km away from Fira. Akrotiri became particularly famous the ancient city that was discovered buried under the volcano’s ashes by the well known archaeologist Spiros Marinatos. His work is being successfully continued by Professor Christos Doumas. Unfortunately, the excavation is not open to the public this time but you will have the opportunity to take a small taste if you visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira, as well as the life-size reproductions of the wall paintings in Petros M. Nomikos Conference Centre. From those settlements that have a view of the Caldera, it is the most recently developed and the less spoilt by tourist interventions.
From Akrotiri you can go on foot to the Red Beach or take the boat to the White Beach. Mesa Pigadia, Kampia and from the Caldera’s side, Apothikes and Gialos, are other beaches for swimming. There is also a Venetian castle in Akrotiri that was shattered by the big earthquake and it is worth paying a visit. There may not be enough shops and a wild nightlife, but you will definitely find good food. You will find tavernas in Akrotiri’s port, in the centre of the village and on the road towards Faros (lighthouse), which you should definitely visit. From there you will be able to observe the figure of an Indian, up in Mavro Vouno, that looks so natural as if it had been carved by a talented sculptor. According to the testimonies of local residents, this figure had been discovered by Spiros Marinatos as none had noticed it until then. Either in the morning or in the afternoon the view of the endless blue and the rest of the island, from the lighthouse, is magnificent and the sunset is like a dream. In the area you will also find the churches of Aghia Theodosia situated in the castle’s entrance, of Aghios Epifanios, of Aghia Triada and of Ypapanti that was reconstructed after the earthquake.

Ia - Finikia

From the hill of Prophet Elias in Ia, your gaze falls upon the dark waters of the Caldera, passes over the volcano’s petrified lava and then turns high up to the white line of houses that sparkle in the clear light. As you descend towards Perivolos, you will have the feeling that you are floating in the air amongst the steep volcanic rocks and the vineyards that spread out to the north in Baxedes next to the sea, climbing up the hillside to the first canavas of Finikia and westwards up to Tholos, the second farming village of “Apano Meria”. In Baxedes you will also find the winery of Paris Sigalas.
The main marble road with the imposing captain houses, the crew members houses built into the volcanic rock, the steps that lead down to the little harbours of Ammoudi and Armeni, the many churches dedicated to sailors, the canavas and the raki distillers are evidence of the history of this well-kept village when the wooden ships of Apano Meria would cross the Mediterranean carrying the heady sweet vinsanto wine and return with timber, porcelain and silverware for the mansions of captains.
If you fancy a swim, try out the Baxedes and Katharos beaches, or alternatively go for a dip at Ammoudi. Ammoudi is a little harbour in Ia where two centuries ago they used to load ships and wine for export. You can either get there by car, or by walking down 235 steps. We assure you that the walk down is not as hard as it sounds and the food served at the very few fish tavernas will definitely make up for it. Armeni, the second little harbour of Ia, is a little further on and was used for similar purposes as Ammoudi. You can get there by “lantzes” (private transfer crafts) or by walking down the 291 steps from the Skala restaurant. It is extremely peaceful and picturesque and there is only one taverna left. Armenaki is found between Ammoudi and Armeni. This is another little harbour where you can go swimming, but it doesn’t have any shops. The pathway that takes you there might be rough, but the landscape is completely virgin.
A magnificent captain’s mansion dating back to 19th century, restored to its original form, houses the Naval Museum. You will find many things to admire there, including old equipment, water- colours, photos and generally everything that has to do with Santorini’s great nautical past. A little further on, the rhythmical tapping of the loom will guide you to the traditional weaving-mill that produces fine hand woven textiles in a wide variety of designs and colours. At the weaving-mill you can also find traditional products including fava, capers, honey and books.
The traditional Santorini houses built into the volcanic rock are even more around the castle of Aghios Nikolaos where visitors gather to watch the enchanting horizon painting purple strokes across the sky as the sun falls upon Thirasia. Ia has a district clinic and a pharmacy that operate on a daily basis, some cash machines, a post office, a Citizen Service Centre and an array of shops for everyone. There are 60 churches in the area, many of which have been photographed for post cards. The largest festivals are those of Aghios Georgios, Stavros, Aghios Spyridonas, Aghios Nikolaos, Aghios Savvas and Panagia of Platsani.
Having overcome the catastrophes caused by economic decline, the earthquake and the volcanic eruptions, Ia is now bursting with life as a model community offering modern facilities. It has been relieved of the overhead electricity and telephone cables that once imprisoned the village and now boasts underground cable, electricity and telephone networks, a complete irrigation and sewage network, a desalting plant for sea water, biological cleaning units, high standards tourist facilities and a Conference Centre and an open-air amphitheatre that are under construction. Preserving the charm of other ages, the harmonious and peaceful community of Ia invites you to discover its secrets.


Even though Thirasia is located very close to Santorini, it is quite far from the frenzy rhythms of those who live in the opposite side. It is almost as if the eruption of the volcano in 1600 B.C. was so definitive that the two islands were kept away from each other not only in geological but also in cultural terms. By the time you arrive in Thirasia you will understand that you have come to a place that cannot be possibly conquered by tourism. As you walk through the island’s villages, Potamos, Agrilia and Manolas, you will come across narrow pathways where genuine islanders walk. The bell towers of the churches and the houses are coloured with bright shades of blue, yellow and green, and the landscape is complemented by multi-coloured flower beds.