The funicular in Fira on Santorini is an alternative way to get to the old port – the other way is to go on foot (or on a donkey) up and down the long and steep stairs (the elevation here is over 200 m). Passengers of large cruise ships are frequent users of the railway.
Another advantage of the train is that during the ride you can admire the caldera of Santorini from a slightly different perspective. The ride lasts three minutes and each carriage holds 4 people.
The cable car has two stops:
- Upper – in Fira, near the Catholic Cathedral of St John – 220 m above sea level.
- Lower – in the northern part of the Old Port – 0 m above sea level.
The railway was built on the initiative of Evangelos Nomikos, a Santorini resident and benefactor from Messaria. The fund for its construction was established in 1979. It was from this fund that all expenses related to this investment were paid, which amounted to 140 million drachmas (. The construction began in the summer of 1980 and was completed two years later. It has greatly facilitated the movement of residents and tourists between the two sites.
The cableway was built as a donation from the “Loula & Evangelos Nomikos Foundation”. It is the work of Doppelmayr, which built it in accordance with Austrian regulations. The cableway has a capacity of 1200 persons per hour. This means that in one hour as many as 600 people can be transported upwards and 600 downwards. Officially, the railway belongs to 14 Santorini communities.
Train tickets for adults cost 6 euros and for children 3 euros. Additional luggage costs 3 euros. The cable car runs every 20 minutes in summer and every 30 minutes in winter. It is also worth knowing that the last run from the upper station in summer leaves at 22:40 and in winter – an hour earlier.
Note: In low season, the train only runs when there are cruise ships in the harbour.
Before the cable car was built, it was possible to get from the port to Thera thanks to mule or donkey carriers. Nowadays there is less interest in their services, as most tourists choose the faster and more modern railway. For this reason, the management of the railway pays the carriers a percentage of the sale of tickets on the railway. In this way, it contributes to maintaining this traditional form of transport (the editors of the website, however, strongly advise against it, for the sake of the donkeys). Another way to get from the port to Santorini’s capital is via a path made of steps. This is an old route that requires time and strength, but it is worth it – satisfaction guaranteed.