Where to stay in Santorini
Still undecided on where to stay in Santorini?
In this guide you will find the best 7 areas that work best for couples or families, for a short or long stay and any budget
You will read not only about the usual towns of the island (Fira, Oia, etc) but also about other areas that are often underrated and that usually offer a great value for money.
Of course, the caldera view comes at a price and if it’s the trip of your life than just budget a bit more and get the right room, maybe facing the sunset as well.
But let’s move to the more juicy stuff.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
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Where to stay in Santorini – In a nutshell
- What are the best areas to stay in Santorini: very briefly, for the amazing view you better book on the west coast, facing the caldera. If you are on a budget, check out the villages in the centre of the island. For the beach, stay on the east side of the island. I dedicated a full chapter below describing every single area, with a mention to the best, and “not-best”, villages to stay.
- Where to stay in Santorini with a view: any town and village on the west coast will do. I love the area of Imerovigli. It has a bit of all and it’s so close to Fira for a crazy night out. Read more about Imerovigli below.
- Best place to stay in Santorini for nightlife: Fira is the most popular town on the island with an excellent selection of bars and clubs. You will not get disappointed. You can start the night with sunset drinks facing the caldera and spend the entire night changing bars and clubs till late in the night (or early in the morning). Read more below about Fira.
- Where to stay for a quiet time: the small village of Firostefani is the great alternative if you want to be close to Fira, but in a much quieter area. The view from most accommodations is still as stunning as ever. However, you will spend a quiet night, just a stone away from the hustle and bustle. Read more below on Firostefani.
- Best area to stay in Santorini for sunset: in true honestly, there are so many special places around the island. I feel, however, that the village of Imerovigli is located in the best spot, especially in June and July. Read more on Imerovigli below.
- Best for a laid-back stay: Oia, in the island’s north, is the second most famous town in Santorini, however, it misses the nightlife and overcrowded feeling of Fira. Oia is certainly popular during the day, till sunset, with day trippers, however at night it tends to get much more laid-back and chilled-out, still with a magical view and a lovely sea breeze. Read more below about Oia.
- Where to stay for a totally relaxed experience: I talked about Firostefani as a quiet area next to the bars and restaurants of Fira. I talked about the picturesque Oia as a laid-back destination, however still quite popular. The two small villages south of the island, Megalochori and Akrotiri, offer probably the most relaxed and out of the grid stay. You will not find whitewashed houses or a charming town, they are both more rural, authentic villages. However, you will be able to find a few amazing accommodations there, just off the cliff in a totally relaxed environment and almost on your own.Read more below about Megalochori and Akrotiri.
- Where to stay in Santorini on a budget: you have three great options. The first one is Karterados, close to Fira and so easy to get around by bus. Vourvoulos, close to Imerovigli, is another option, however you will be more isolated, better for a romantic stay. Pyrgos, halfway between the beach and Fira, for a more genuine Greek experience. I would consider renting a scooter if you stay in Pyrgos or Vourvoulos. Read more below for a budget stay in Santorini.
- Best place to stay in Santorini for families: I would consider staying in Kamari, a beach town on the east coast. It’s a quiet place with also an open-air cinema, great for a night out with kids. You can easily take a bus to Fira or alternatively grab a quick taxi (9km or around 20 minutes). Read more below about Kamari.
- Best for the beach: I just mentioned above Kamari, as a quiet beach town. Another nice beach place is Perissa, with more bars and nightlife (not as good as Fira however). This is the favourite town by the young crowd. Read more below about Perissa.
Best areas to stay in Santorini
What is the best area to stay in Santorini?
It all depends on your budget and the type of vacation you are on.
It has to be said that Santorini has a good public bus network (KTEL), you can check here the timetable. So it’s very easy to move around, it may be not as quick though.
Most of the photos you probably have seen are either from Oia or Fira (Θήρα), mostly facing the volcano. These are the most iconic areas to stay in Santorini.
There are however other areas that could be a great solution for your trip.
In the map below I drew the towns and the areas in a different colour:
- in red, the ones on top of the cliff, with the caldera view
- in green, the inland towns, still very traditional and possibly with a view to the other side of the island, towards the airport
- in blue the two main beach areas
You can also see the direction of the sunset, this will help you to select the best spot also based on the month you visit Santorini
Here below a list of the single towns with a brief comment. Later you will find a deeper description, including the best restaurants to visit.
Seating on the edge and with a beautiful view of the caldera area (“red” destinations on the map) these towns usually have the most expensive hotels:
- Fira: the “capital” of Santorini. The most popular destination on the island. Amazing view (if your accommodation is on the cliff), the best nightlife and the most famous restaurants.
- Firostefani: just north of Fira, nowadays an extension of it. More residential, less crowded and no nightlife. More of a place to relax and walk down to Fira for everything else.
- Imerovigli: another amazing village 2 km north of Fira. It has also a reasonable amount of restaurants to keep you busy for a week. Best location for sunset in June (see map above for sun direction)
- Oia: far north in Santorini, more laid back than Fira, still as beautiful, if not even more (it goes down to a personal level here). Plenty of restaurants and fine cuisine, however, almost a total absence of nightlife
- Akrotiri: far south in the island, developing as an alternative to the above. You need a car as you will be quite isolated.
- Megalochori: right in the centre of the wine area. It has some remarkable resorts just outside the town centre and facing the volcano. It tends to be cheaper than Fira and Oia but also in this case you would need a car
Of all of the above, my personal preference goes to Oia, but I am not after the nightlife. Imerovigli is also a great alternative for a relaxed time.
Once you move inland you can find the best value accommodation and the low budget ones. Unfortunately, they all come with no view of the caldera.
They may have a view on the opposite side of the island, on the east side, which can be amazing but not as characteristic, not that postcard view you may have dreamed of.
The towns below are part of the “green” destinations on the map
- Vourvoulos: just inland from Imerovigli, it is a quiet town with a great view to the east coast, one of the best spots for sunrise. Walk to Imerovigli for sunset (1-2km) and for a nice dinner with a view
- Karterados: inland from Fira (15-20min by foot or 5 min by bus), it is a cozy village, much quieter and with a nice local life feeling, including a special bakery (Cretan Bakery) to die for
- Mesaria & Vothonas: these 2 villages lie between Fira and the beach area. They are both very characteristic of Santorini and very quiet. Perfect location to be closed to the nightlife and the sea for a swim
- Pyrgos Kallistis: on top of a hill, Pyrgos is an interesting maze of tiny lanes and alleys with narrow passages. The view is 360 degrees, especially from the Venetian castle (Kasteli)
Of all of the above, my personal preference goes to Karterados. Close to Fira and to the main bus station in Santorini. Easy to move around and with a nice local feeling.
And it’s now time for the beach, on the east coast, with a fabulous blue sea, typical of Greece.
Both locations have scuba diving options as well as other water sports, including windsurfing which can be quite challenging in the middle of the summer when the strong Meltemi wind kicks in from the north.
The towns below are part of the “blue” destinations on the map
- Kamari: just meters away from the airport, it is a beautiful long beach with black sand and pebbles. It’s a popular destination, especially for families. Plenty of accommodation, for any budget
- Perissa: south of Kamari and the Mesa Vouno mountain. Black volcanic sand and a much younger crowd with plenty of nightlife options to make it till sunrise
My personal choice would go to Kamari, although Santorini is not the best island for beaches. You can find better options in Ios, Naxos or even better in Mikonos.
Kamari was also the village I stayed on my first trip in the late 80s and I may be a bit sentimental here 🙂
Where to stay in Santorini for nightlife and lifestyle – Fira
Fira is the most picturesque town of Santorini, together with Oia, however its popularity comes at a price.
It can be quite crowded with people, especially when the tourists arrive on cruise ships.
The small port below the village becomes as busy as ever with the cable car bringing up visitors in sizeable groups.
This is not to say that you should not stay in Fira.
This town is so beautiful, with some of most scenic accommodations on the island, not to mention the grand lifestyle and nightlife, till the early hours of the morning.
You will be spoiled by the easy access to restaurants and bars, all with a majestic view
Fira has also another great advantage, the central bus station of the island. From here you can take buses to everywhere you want, very handy.
In 20-30 minutes you can go to Oia, to the beach or any other destination.
If you are not in Fira, you will be very likely to transit through this bus station.
Fira is surely the place to be in Santorini in the low season (November to April, check the weather here), the only town with some life
Keep in mind that in the low season also many restaurants and bars are closed in most of the island, less so in Fira.
The view is to die for!! And the price is a real bargain, I wonder for how long.
An amazing alternative is the Cori Riga Suites. They have a choice of rooms with sea view and without (at a great price).
The pool is just amazing, with an incredible view of the caldera. Breakfast to die for.
Where to eat and drink at Fira?
This is just a tiny selection of 4 names. Between June and September, you should book your restaurant in advance otherwise, you will be very unlikely to have a table, not to mention one with a view.
In July and August, things can get so busy that you may feel the service is taking longer than expected.
That is the peak of the season, the most challenging for the people working there.
- The Argo is a great restaurant that should be on your list. Great selection of fresh food and typical Greek cuisine. Book a table in advance and ask for the sea view (on the upper-level terrace).
- The Metropolis Street is located in an unbeatable location, with almost every table having an amazing view. Gregory, the owner, will always try his best to make you feel as comfortable as ever.
- The Stoa Bar is probably the place to be for cocktails in a nice chilled out ambience. They do offer also food, mostly sourced from the island itself. It’s a great place for an after-dinner drink.
- The PK Cocktail Bar is another great alternative to the Stoa. The view is to die for. Best at sunset. Peanuts and popcorns are complimentary with the cocktails.
Where to stay in Santorini for a quiet time – Firostefani
Fira is so beautiful, however, if you are after a quiet place, still close to the action, then Firostefani is a better option.
In true honesty, Fira and Firostefani were and are two separate towns, however, nowadays you would find difficult to understand where is the end of one and the start of the other.
Firostefani may be the perfect place to be in Santorini if you are after:
- a caldera and sunset view
- a quiet time both during the day and the night
- fewer tourists around, especially when the cruise ships arrive
- still easy and walkable access to the Fira restaurants and nightlife
The walk from Firostefani to Fira takes around 15-20 minutes and can be done in two ways
- following the Maria Nomikou little path along the cliff (the link is to Google map, I suggest to zoom in and you will see it), with an amazing view that you will store in your memories for a long time
- through the central road called 25is Martiou, easier to walk however not as stunning as the cliff path. Probably safer at night, although even in the dark the view can be magnificent, especially on a full moon night
If staying in Firostefani, you can have dinner at Pirouni, a restaurant with international cuisine and an amazing view, straight to the caldera.
The Why Not! Souvlaki is a good value, low budget, alternative, but no view.
Breakfast is served at your room whenever you want. The owners, George and Katerina, are just amazing, always available, doesn’t matter what time of the day. What a great service!
Breakfast is, of course, served directly at your balcony. Really all you need for a unique experience.
Where to stay in Santorini with a view and sunset – Imerovigli
The village of Imerovigli is positioned just 2 km north of Fira.
It’s a great location for sunset, especially in June when the sun sets between Oia and the small island of Thirasia.
It’s one of the most charming villages in Santorini, with the typical whitewashed houses built on multiple levels of terraces, all facing the caldera and the sunset.
Most of the accommodations in Imerovigli have a magnificent view, in a more relaxing environment and local feeling, especially when you walk in the small maze of alleys and tiny streets.
You may also have a walk to the Skaros Rock, the ruins of one of the five fortresses of Thira (the old name of Santorini), for a majestic view.
Another great spot is the Ekklisia Theoskepasti, a few meters walk past Skaros; it’s a beautiful church with again an amazing view, a great spot for a few photos.
Imerovigli is also perfect for a romantic stay far from the popular, however busy, Fira.
The restaurants are more “local” and the architecture is really what you pictured from Santorini.
The Avocado is a great restaurant which, despite the exotic name, has a great selection of local food.
The Mezzo is another great choice, very traditional and with a fabulous view too.
It has absolutely breathtaking views and a special infinity pool. It’s luxury at its best. Book well in advance, it’s a popular choice.
Another great accommodation in Imerovigli is the Ira Hotel & Spa. The view is again breathtaking.
The breakfast is excellent and served right in front of the caldera (see photos here).
Best place in Santorini for a laid-back stay – Oia
Oia is the second most famous town in Santorini (Fira is still holding the crown), right in the northern area of the island.
How many times I heard the question:
Where is the best place to stay in Santorini, Fira or Oia?
These towns are somehow quite similar, both located on the edge of the cliff, both with an amazing view of the Caldera, both with a great sunset and both with a small harbour down the countless steps.
What Oia is missing is the nightlife and the high popularity of Fira. And this may be seen as an advantage if you after a more relaxed and chilled out experience
To my eyes, Oia is even more impressive than Fira, more of a boutique choice. But I am chilled out by nature 🙂
You can have a look at the few seconds of the introduction of the popular movie “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” to have an idea of where this town is seating, a real natural and unique amphitheatre (tip: skip to the second 51).
The story itself of Oia is actually quite interesting. At the start of the previous century (1900) it was one of the main Mediterranean ports.
The population was over 2500 people and the harbour was docking over 130 ships.
Following a big earthquake in 1956 (magnitude 7.8) and the decline of the local economy, Oia population scaled down to just 300 people in 1980.
Then things changed with the tourism arrival and it’s now a very popular destination.
There is a bit of a myth that Oia is the town of the artists. Probably it used to be in 80s when houses were almost gifted, but not anymore.
Still, there are plenty of art shops around with works of Greek artists. If you can, try to buy local.
Where to stay in Oia and where to eat
Although the Oia centre is quite small the town stretches on the cliff for almost 1.5km.
Nowadays the edge of Oia (on the right side of the map above) is almost touching the edge of Finikia making a unique long town.
The most scenic part is the one closed to the Maritime Museum (on the left side of the picture).
This is also the area with the widest choice of accommodation, although more on the boutique side.
If you are after a more “dramatic” accommodation with a sunset view and a pool overlooking the caldera then check on the centre-right of the map above.
The village of Finikia, bordering Oia, is also another option, especially if you are looking for a more budget friendly accommodation.
The Oia Suites have an amazing view, a good size pool and a private external tub.
They are so close to Oia but better value. The hard thing is to find availability here.
If you after a restaurant or just a drink in Oia you may check one of the below options:
- Sunset Ammoudi Taverna: located down at the Ammoudi port, this taverna has a great choice of the typical Greek cuisine, mostly fish. Lovely spot for sunset.
- Fino: there is no view from this boutique restaurant and cocktail bar. Maybe, for this reason, they work hard on the quality of the food and drinks, outstanding. It’s a bit of a hidden gem of Oia
- Feredini: one of the best view in Oia paired with lovely food. Book a table well in advance
- Lioyerma Lounge Bar: this is a real secret spot and one of the best tips for Oia. If your hotel does not have a pool go to Lioyerma for a drink and the free usage of the pool facing the caldera (what a view!). Ten Euros minimum spending (basically a cocktail)
Where to stay for a totally relaxed experience – Megalochori and Akrotiri
Both Megalochori and Akrotiri are villages in the southern part of Santorini, few hundreds of meters inland from the cliff.
In both cases, the centre of town is far from the beautiful caldera view and they lack the typical whitewashed houses architecture (the ones you have seen in the postcards).
Still, you can find also here a few amazing accommodations with infinity pools and the lovely view of the caldera. They are just on the fringe of the village.
They can be beautiful and lovely, surely better value for money, however, you will be isolated and this can be an advantage if you are looking for that.
Renting a car is a must, to explore the island and even to go for dinner.
There are a few local restaurants in both cases but you would need to walk a few hundreds of meters, sometime in the dark.
Megalochori is a real traditional village with the typical square, local cafes and local restaurants which will cost much less than in Fira or Oia.
They are more catered to a Greek clientele, therefore with more authentic food.
This is the wine area of Santorini, thus plenty of local wine options for a drink at sunset.
Akrotiri is a new development area, not as characteristic I must say, with just a bunch of restaurants.
Here is a good tip.
Walk down to the Caldera Beach. It’s not as busy as the beaches on the east coast and you will have also a fantastic view. It’s mostly black pebble and sand.
There is a scuba diving centre there, but based on my partner experience, it was a bit disappointing, not much fish around.
Is Megalochori or Akrotiri a better place to stay?
I would personally suggest Megalochori because it’s more traditional, a real rural Greek village.
There are also more restaurants options, here below a few of them:
- Pyrgos: upper-class restaurant with a stunning view of the winery areas around Megalochori. A mix of traditional and new Greek infused food.
- Geromanolis Taverna: traditional interior with traditional food and….traditional price (read on the low scale). Absolutely a gem
- Tzanakis Family Tavern: another very traditional place where they even provide a free dessert at the end (or fruit) as it used to be a normal custom in Greece.
The Caldera’s Dolphin Suites is one of my favourite places to stay in this part of Santorini.
It’s a quiet alcove with a beautiful pool and an amazing view of the caldera (see photos here).
It’s the best place for a relaxing stay on the island. It’s close to a few wineries, which comes handy for a tasty session.
Where to stay in Santorini on a budget
In my initial map, you may have noticed I marked in green a few towns. All inland.
These are all great low budget alternatives, still very close to most of the attractions of Santorini.
Here is my personal tip.
If it is the trip of a lifetime then book a hotel with a view (if you can afford it) and skip this area.
These are gorgeous villages but not like on the typical “Santorini postcards”, expect more of a medieval architecture.
If you are, however, on a budget then book at least one night in an accommodation with the caldera view (it will be the memorable one) and spend the rest of the stay inland, where it is more affordable.
These towns have a great advantage. You will have more of a local experience. You will feel more in Greece, with Greek people around you and not mostly tourists.
Karterados, close to Fira
Karterados is a cozy village 2 km east of Fira. If you like walking it can take 20-30 minutes, based on your hotel location.
Of all of the low-budget towns, Karterados is the one I prefer because:
- it’s walking distance to Fira and the Central Bus Station or just 5 minutes by bus (every 20 minutes on high season)
- it has a good selection of restaurants, bars and bakeries
- a wide choice of accommodations for every budget
- there is overall a nice Greek local feeling
The Anna Pension is one of the best value for money accommodations in Santorini with modern clean rooms and a pool
It’s located just 25 minutes walking distance from the caldera view in Fira and just 10 minutes from the bus station. So convenient and such a great price.
Looking for a places to eat?
- Κυρά Νίκη Taverna or just Niki: family-run restaurant with mostly home cooked food
- Bara piato: if you are after American food like burgers. They have also an extensive breakfast list
- Milottetra bakery: for the great coffee and the fresh pastry
- To Fagopoti: home cooked food and a great service, all at a very affordable price, a gem in Santorini.
Vourvoulos, close to Imerovigli
In Vourvoulos you will feel quite isolated and indeed there is not much happening.
It’s an old traditional village with still a few houses in the caves and a maze of small streets, most of them with no car access, just donkeys.
The view to the east side of the island can be really magnificent.
There are a few accommodations, mostly with traditional interior design.
You can always walk (20-30 minutes) to Imerovigli for the beautiful sunset and dinner at Mezzo.
In Vourvoulos you should try the Aedani restaurant, great fresh food, a greek cuisine experience and non-touristy price
The Loulaki villas is a very well priced villa (3BR) that works great if you are travelling in a group or with a family
Mesaria, Vothonas and Pyrgos
These towns are all located between Fira and the beachside on the east coast (Kamari and Perissa).
They are all great locations if you plan to experience Fira & Oia as well as spending some time at the beach.
You get a bit of both with usually great deals on the accommodation side.
Of the three towns probably Pyrgos is my favourite.
It’s located on a hill with a typical medieval architecture, so easy to get lost when you walk inside the town. A real maze of tiny streets
Also, in this case, you can feel more part of a Greek experience.
The view to the east side is really majestic, to the wineries, in the foreground, and the Aegean see in the background.
Head to the Ouzeri Penelope for lunch or even better for dinner. Great selection of mezedes (tapas) with the typical ouzo to drink, or the local wine as an alternative.
The Ladas Accommodation is one of the best value in towns, especially considering it comes with a spa bath.
Where to stay in Santorini with kids – Kamari
Kamari is probably the best option to stay in Santorini if you are travelling with kids.
It is a small village located on the east coast with a long beach and mostly black sand and pebbles
Kamari is perfect for a trip with kids, quiet and with restaurants more committed to a family clientele.
You will find here also a beautiful open-air cinema that it can be magical in that warm summer nights.
The mini golf is also a great fun for kids, and not only.
The town’s literally next door to the airport. It can also be the perfect place to be if you have a very early flight in the morning.
Here are 3 of the best Airbnb/Holiday Homes in Kamari that work very well for a family trip:
Where to stay in Santorini for the beach – Perissa
Let me say first that Santorini is a magical destination, however, the beaches are not the highlight.
They are ok, but surely not the best in Greece.
We talked already about Kamari, which works perfect for a family trip.
A great alternative is Perissa, where you can find the beach party.
I still remember myself on my first trip in Santorini staying there in a semi-organised camping area. But that was a looong time ago 🙂
Is Fira or Perissa better for the nightlife?
Fira is better for clubbing but staying in Perissa has the great advantage that the morning after you can wake up and literally jump in the water.
You can always take a bus from Perissa to Fira for 2-3 euros and back by taxi late in the night (you would save money anyway considering how expensive can be Fira).
The Tristhenia Hotel is a fantastic option in Perissa, close to the beach and with a pool too.
A great alternative is Villa Kalamia Dolphins, one of the best value for money in town.
Travelling around Santorini
There are a few options:
- by public bus, KTEL: check the website for the timetable. Tickets cost 2-3euro based on the destination
- by taxi: do not expect working taxi meters. Just ask for the price before starting the trip (fares are fixed). Call +30 22860 22555 to book a ride. Expect around 15euro for a Fira-Airport ride. Double the price if the ride is after midnight.
- by rented car: it’s the best solution if you feel comfortable driving non-automatic and on the right side of the road. Expect to pay 40 euro and above per day.
- by rented scooter or motorbike: this works great, especially for daily excursions. Budget 30 euro/day