View of Thira from the Volcano in the center of the Caldera
The possibility to make guided tours is guaranteed by the myriad of small tourist agencies located in each village of the island. However, not a few are those who venture, "bookguide under the arm", to discover the great hidden secrets of the "Mother of Cyclades".
One of these secrets is certainly hidden in the remains of an ancient civilization, the Minoan, so prosperous and rich that more than ones Plato called it Atlantis.
From Firà take the road to Perissa and after 10 km turn left towards Akrotiri. After 5 km, on the left-hand-side, right before the beach, is situated the entry of the archaeological site.
The excavations of "Akrotiri" (in greek "Cape") began in 1967 and they were sensational since the beginning.
An entire Minoan town with 2/3-storey buildings came to light!
Among the discoveries made in Akrotiri, south of the island, the most fascinating one is a mysterious fresco lying under layers of volcanic ash.
The fresco depicts a green island, with plants and crops, rich of animals, populated by an advanced civilization, with gorgeous city and sumptuous palaces, an intense traffic of ships, ... An imagine that recalls the description of Atlantis in Plato's narration: rich in commercial activities and prosperous in natural products.
The most beautiful frescoes are: "The ship procession", "The Spring", "Young men boxing".
If it is possible to visit the result on such a civilization of a catastrophic volcanic eruption, on the other hand is much more fascinating to visit the "cause". So many touristic guides organize the tour of the Caldera with typical middle size boats.
The departure is always in the morning from the Old Port, reachable by cable car or, what's more exciting, by donkey.
The "Big Boat Trip" allows you to navigate from one end to the other of the bay with stops at the lighthouse, Thirassia (the largest island, also inhabited), Palea and Nea Kameni (the last to emerge at the beginning of the 1900) and, above all, the impressive stop at the Volcano.
Here is possible to make a truly unique experience: the Hot Springs, diving in a sea that reaches high temperatures because of the presence of sulphurous water. The excursion may then finish by returning to the old port of Firà or can continue by reaching the northern port of Oia.
Once in Oia, you can go back up the slope by donkey, and take a walk through the narrow alleys of the village, also visiting jewellers and artisan shops until the apotheosis of a spectacular and unique sunset.
In Oia yo can visit "The Rock" or you can relax in a rooftop bar of a typical greek white house. Here you can have just a cocktail or a dinner and stare at the sun setting behind the line of the horizon while on the opposite side the full moon is rising at the same time. In this precise moment you can get the optical illusion that the line of the horizon is bending and you are now sure that the earth is round. The tour then finishes in Firà.
Other places to visit are:
- Ancient Thira, located on the top of Mt. Mesa Vounò, the mount dominating Kamari;
- Pyrgos, a village built on the top of a hill, far from the sea and still surrounded by ancient defensive walls. Here you can visit the monastery of the Prophet Elijah.
- Here are some of the itineraries we highly recommend: