For the best area to stay in Santorini, it really comes down to having an understanding of its towns, what they have to offer, the prices, views, surrounding activities, and the kind of accommodations that are available.
When it comes to where to stay in Santorini, it can really impact your experience on the island. That said, there's no right or wrong answer and much of it comes down to your preference and travel style.
With that, let's jump into each neighbourhood and from there we'll do a breakdown of a few popular requests.
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Here's what we're covering:
- Best area to stay in Santorini
- Towns of Santorini
- Where to stay in Fira
- Where to stay in Firostefani
- Where to stay in Imerovigli
- Where to stay in Oia
- Where to stay in Pyrgos
- Where to stay in Megalochori
- Where to stay in Akrotiri
- Where to stay in Perivolos & Perissa
- Where to stay in Kamari
- Map of the the best places to stay in Santorini
- Additional Santorini hotel recommendations
- Frequently asked questions
Best area to stay in Santorini
Just like deciding when is the best time to visit Santorini, trying to decide the best area to stay in Santorini is equally as important and challenging especially if it's your first time.
Let this be your guide in learning about the different towns on the island, the pros and cons of each, and what there is to do and where to eat in each area.
Towns of Santorini
Santorini isn't a large island but there are a number of towns that are quite distinct with many pros and cons.
The primary towns recommended for your trip to Santorini are:
- Fira – Capital of Santorini and the center of action for shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and transportation. This is also one of the popular spots to see the sunset.
- Firostefani – Just next door to Firostefani, this is slightly quieter than the often busy Fira but has equally great views.
- Imerovigli – This is one of the quietest parts of the trail that connects Fira with Oia along the caldera that doesn't necessarily have many restaurants but has some of the best boutique properties and a few of the best restaurants on the island.
- Oia – Inexplicably tied to Santorini for the iconic sunset, Oia is picturesque with more of an up-scale vibe to cater to all of the type of travellers that stay here.
- Pyrgos – Inland, there are a number of charming towns. With its maze of pedestrian footpaths, Venetian castle, local boutiques, and churches, this is a tranquil place to stay where you'll feel more like a local.
- Megalochori – This traditional village has an awesome authentic feel to it with a number of great restaurants. While usually not on most lists, there's also a hidden gem of a 5-star resort here.
- Akrotiri – This is the southern peninsula of the island that is best known for being the site of the prehistoric town. You'll find many of the famous beaches here, lighthouse, and a spread of properties along the caldera.
- Perivolos & Perissa – A long stretch of black sand beach on the southern part of the island that's low-key and great for families.
- Kamari – This seaside village on the east coast of the island is the closest to the airport and has direct black sand beach access. It has a family-friendly atmosphere.
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE
You need to read the companion Greek Islands Travel Guide that dives into all the things we learned hopping the Western Cyclades including the ferries and beyond.
Where to stay in Fira
Fira is the capital of the island and is as central as it gets on the island. Fira (or often referred to as Thira in Greek) holds a prime real estate on the island which is why it has one of the most iconic and idyllic views on the island. With its convenience of location and position on the cliff, it's also one of the more expensive places to stay in Santorini.
Why stay in Fira?
When it comes to views, it may not be the #1 spot for sunsets, it is a close second. Facing down towards the volcanic island and the orange glow of the sun, it is a picturesque balance of the slew of white-painted buildings seemingly clinging onto the cliff meeting the Aegean Sea.
As the capital, Fira has the most number of shops, restaurants, hotels, and nightlife. Fira is also the primary hub for Santorini's local bus, which makes it extremely convenient.
Lastly, Fira is right above the old harbor in Santorini which is now used for many of the catamaran cruises and volcano excursions. There's a switch-back path where locals use donkeys to take tourists back up but there is now a cable car which is a better option to help eliminate the need for donkeys.
Disadvantages of the Fira
The flip-side to Fira being the most popular and central hub of the island is that it can get very hectic and crowded. You'll usually find large tour groups hang out here because this is where the cruise ship passengers usually end up hanging out.
Of course, those great views and convenient access also means that hotels in Fira lean more towards the expensive side of things.
Lastly, while there are a ton of restaurants to choose from, especially near Fira Theotokopoulou Main Square, but most are very “touristy” for lack of better word. That said, we had a good meal at Ouzeri if you're not looking for a restaurant with caldera views.
Best hotels in Fira
This might be one of the most affordable villas in Fira. Located a mere 20 meters from the sunset viewpoint, this modernly renovated boutique studio has a pool that's great for lounging. Rooms are spacious and comfortable.
“We enjoyed our stay – location is absolutely perfect for adventurers: at the edge of the inner city of Fira and close to the parking lot. Easy to reach any place on the island.”
If you're looking for a property with a location close to the center, is very affordable, and don't need the views, this is a great option.
Filled with colorful details, this is a modern hotel with comfortable rooms and opens to a balcony or patio. Property has pool and hot tub as well.
This is located in one of the prime locations of Fira where you have incredible sunset views but because it's located to the southern side, you also get an incredible view of the city.
Boutique villa is contemporary, includes private pool, and includes breakfast.
This property is perfect for couples.
Location is key and if you're going to be spending the money to stay in Fira, you might as well get one with an epic view. Located on the prime area of the cliff, you face out directly towards the volcanic island while also having a great view of the sunset to the right all while being in the infinity pool or hanging out on the terrace or private veranda.
Suites are extremely modern and pure boutique bliss. Breakfast is also included.
This property is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection.
Things you need to see and do in Fira
Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral – It may sound like Fira Theotokopoulou Main Square is where it's at but the most tranquil spot to sit down in Fira to see the views of the volcanic island, the sea, and the coming and goings of ships is here on one of the several wooden benches. The cathedral itself is a marvel to look at and you'll also find a few sculptures around it.
Museum of Prehistoric Thira – I wouldn't necessarily say this is a must-do but if you're interested in prehistoric Thira, there's a ton of fascinating information, stories, and artifacts.
Santorini Cable Car – This is mostly for transportation to and from the old harbor but many use it to get great views from top to bottom of the caldera cliff. This is the better choice than the donkeys which you really shouldn't be riding.
Wander the streets – The truth is, you don't really need to have much of a plan when you're in Fira. The capital is very much about feeling your way through the streets and alleys. Head inside shops that interest you, peek into the windows of galleries, and walk by beautiful architecture (including Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist). The best time to come here is close to sunset where when you're done wandering, find a spot to watch the sunset. The main square is a great spot but you can also wander along the cliff alleyways near Franco's Bar.
Suggested activities in Fira
Santorini Caldera Cruise with Full Meal and Drinks – One of the signature activities on the island is to see the island from the water in a catamaran.
Santorini Volcano Tour – Incredibly affordable 6-hour experience that takes you out to the volcano across the caldera, soak in the mineral springs at Palea Kameni, and the village of Manalas on Thirasia.
Sunset Sailing Catamaran Cruise – Similar to the daytime cruises, this one occurs right at sunset and includes BBQ and drinks.
What else you need to know about Fira
Here are a few things that we learned about hanging out in Fira:
- Sunset viewing – What's different about sunset photography compared to Oia, it's challenging to find an angle that includes a view of Fira and the sun as well. As a result, you'll end up hunting for a spot and you'll end up getting just one or the other.
- Reservations required – It's highly recommended to make reservations at restaurants and bars.
- Agency to print ferry tickets – One agency that's often is located in Fira and it's called Nomikos.
- Touristy – Yes, the crowds can get a bit heavy and areas around the Fira Theotokopoulou Main Square is a bit more grungy.
- Restaurants with a view – A few of the best ones are Argo Restaurant, Volcano Blue, and V Lounge Cafe & Cocktail Bar.
WAIT HOW MANY DAYS DO I NEED IN SANTORINI?
A tough question requires another guide to help breakdown your options depending on the type of traveller you are, what your other travel plans are, and how many days you can afford.
Where to stay in Firostefani
The official border lines a bit blurry but directly adjacent and north of Fira is the town of Firostefani and translates to “The Crown of Fira“. It has this name because it is at a higher elevation and is right above Fira.
It used to be a separate settlement however it is officially part of the capital. What you'll find though is that it is different from the core of Fira and can be particularly attractive.
Why stay in Firostefani?
You'll want to stay in Firostefani if you'd like to be close to the center of action but would rather be away from the density of the crowds.
From here, there are still caldera views as well and you have the benefit of looking back at Fira. Hotels are also easily half the price of what you'll find in Fira.
Being sandwiched in the middle also means that you have great access to both Fira and Imerovigli.
Disadvantages of the Firostefani
There isn't too much not to like about Firostefani. Since it isn't Fira, you'll find that there aren't as many properties here so you'll have a smaller selection to choose from. Also, there are more properties here that don't have caldera views.
Convenience wise, you're about a 10 minute walk from the main path to Fira so you're not quite at the doorstep of the main bus station, restaurants, shops, and other attractions.
Lastly, something you should be aware of is that with the position of the town, you are mostly facing southwest which gives you great views of the volcano but because Imerovigli and Skaros Rock that sticks out, views of Oia are slightly obstructed.
Best hotels in Firostefani
ADULTS ONLY RETREAT
A modern adults-only retreat boasting an outdoor pool, poolside snack bar, lounge beds, suites with balcony/terraces, and included continental breakfast. Some suites even have their own hot tub.
While this property may not have a caldera cliff view, you get a highly rated property at a fraction of the price.
On the northern end Firostefani is this gem of a villa that has caldera views since it's situated along the cliff edge where you'll have views of the sunset and also Fira whether you're in the pool, lounge, bar area, or your room.
This boutique hotel includes breakfast.
“The Ira Hotel is located in a wonderful position, exactly in front of the caldera. Quite and clean.”
This is a lovely modern and chic property that gives you everything you want in a Santorini hotel. The view is stunning, it's romantic, the decor is posh, breakfast is amazing, and best of all, it's quite affordable in comparison to Fira.
All studios and apartments have private verandas or balconies. Some even have their own indoor spa bath. There's also a swimming pool.
The funny thing is that the most expensive property here is a fraction of the cost of Fira which is why Firostefani is such a great option.
This property gives you gorgeous views over the sea and volcano, rooms with private terraces, excellent breakfast, and access to their own restaurant and bar.
Things you need to see and do in Firostefani
Three Bells of Fira – One of the iconic churches (Assumption o the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church) that many will try to hunt to find. It's actually located in Firostefani and easy to get to once you know where to go.
Walk part of the Fira to Oia trail – Once you leave Fira northbound or south from Imerovigli is the easy-to-find walking path that follows the edge of the caldera. The views are incredible throughout in Firostefani as you look in all directions. The best views of Fira as a whole can be found here.
Suggested activities in Firostefani
Santorini Tour Session with Private Photographer – If you're looking to have a professional photographer capture you, this is one of the best options. You get the choose the locations you want to shoot. This is great for family portraits, anniversaries, and engagements.
Half Day or Full Day Private Tour – Experience Santorini on this half or full day tour where they put together a custom itinerary that includes villages such as Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostefani.
What else you need to know about Firostefani
You should also know this about Firostefani:
- Low key but popular path – While it is much quieter, you'll find that many people are on the main path connecting Fira with Imerovigli.
- Great handful of restaurants – Here are a few awesome restaurants that we recommend that you make reservations for: Taverna Romantica, Pirouni (cliff views), and Galini Cafe (great for breakfast).
- Mostly in-land properties – We've only selected one of these on the list but compared to Fira and Imerovigli, you'll find that a majority of the hotels and villas are boutique properties inland without a view. This isn't a bad thing especially if you're looking for a more budget but high-quality stay.
Where to stay in Imerovigli
The award for the quietest town along the caldera is Imerovigli. With some distance from Fira, you won't see large crowds of people and if you do, it's mostly other tourists staying here or those doing the hiking trail from Fira to Oia.
There's a reason it's known as “the balcony to the Aegean“. Imerovigli is built on the highest points of the caldera cliffs, making it a very attractive place to stay in Santorini. The easiest way to identify the town is by the large Skaros rock that juts out into the sea.
Dotted along the cliff edge are white-painted villas that offer incredible sunset views. This is is very much a residential neighbourhood where you won't find many restaurants, shops, or nightlife.
Why stay in Imerovigli?
When it comes to the best area to stay in Santorini, Imerovigli might be the most underrated but you soon realize it's the best balance of views, location, and price. Consider this – you can snag a caldera-view villa for under $200 USD/night.
The massive advantage that Imerovigli has is that it has unimpeded views outwards where you can clearly see Oia and the sunset right behind it while having clear lines of sight left and right.
While you could say that Oia has the best sunsets, but why Imerovigli is better is that it's much more peaceful, and more central, and walkable to the Fira whereas Oia is quite isolated.
Imerovigli is perfect for couples, those not interested in being near crowds of people, those wanting to see epic sunsets, and also not looking to break the bank.
Disadvantages of the Imerovigli
The disadvantage of being further north from Fira is that you're also away from its conveniences. This means that while there is a bus stop, it's not quite the same as being at the hub. You also won't find many shops here at all.
Restaurant wise, there are only a handful but I will say that they are certainly some of the best on the island.
Another thing to note is that many hotels are on the pedestrian-only walkway which means that you have to carry/wheel your luggage from where the car can park. This is where having a private transfer or hotel staff bellboy will be helpful.
Lastly, parking and driving is a bit of a nightmare here with trucks squeezing through alleyways and limited spots. If you're staying here, I'd recommend renting a car for just the day to make your life easier.
Best hotels in Imerovigli
AMAZING AND AFFORDABLE
We stayed here on our last visit to Santorini and loved it. The rooms themselves may not be over the top but liked that our suite had its own kitchenette and was quite spacious with its own living room. The views from the terrace are pretty amazing.
A full breakdown can be found on our 14 day Greek Island Hopping Itinerary.
This is also great for families as they have larger suites available.
This is yet another beautiful and affordable villa in Imerovigli with awesome views, whitewashed verandas, pool, and modernly furnished rooms. A nice bonus is that breakfast is included.
One thing to note is that this property is above the main path which is why you won't see down the cliff but love that this has larger lounge spaces and more contemporarily renovated rooms compared to Prekas.
LUXURIOUS AND SPACIOUS
As you step up in price, you have villas such as this one which are luxurious all the way through.
“Absolute Bliss perfectly describes our stay, not just the name of the hotel. Everything from location to our room view to the service was absolutely perfect.”
This is an epic property that oozes with extras such as suites with their own outdoor plunge pool. Suite designs are contemporary and modern. Breakfast is also included. As a bonus, they also offer free parking.
Located closer to Skaros Rock and at an elevated position, you have full panoramic view of the island.
Things you need to see and do in Imerovigli
Overall, Imerovigli is very much a residential neighborhood and town as far as being packed with cliff-side hotels and villas without much else except its one defining feature.
Skaros Rock – This is a dominating feature in the town that was actually inhabited in medieval times as a fortress. Come here if you're looking to do a challenging hike. You need solid footwear to get to the base of the rock and a climb to the top which will require a bit of climbing. This is definitely not for those that are afraid of heights. Bring lots of water of attempting this as well as there is essentially no cover.
Walk part of the Fira to Oia trail – Imerovigli is a large stretch of this town to town trail that you'll no doubt be doing lots of especially if you're staying here.
Suggested activities in Imerovigli
Photo Session in Imerovigli – Imerovigli is quite photogenic and is actually a popular area for weddings. Book a walking photo session with this photographer.
Night and Astro Photography – Interested in learning how to photograph Santorini and the stars at night? Check out this workshop!
Guided Fira to Oia Hike – This starts in Fira but if your'e looking for someone to guide you through the entire trail, this is a great bookable tour.
What else you need to know about Imerovigli
Here are a few additional things that you should know about Imerovigli.
- Limited parking – There is public street parking in the labyrinth of streets but it's pretty competitive so again, I would not recommend renting a car for multiple days while staying here.
- Awesome restaurants – There are even less restaurants here than in Firostefani but there are some great ones you have to try whether you stay here or not. Reservations are mandatory, otherwise, you'll be waiting for awhile during prime time after sunset: Anogi, Avocado Restaurant, and Kapari Wine Restaurant.
- View changes based on where you are – Since Imerovigli covers quite a bit of distance along the caldera, choose the type of view you want. There are many properties right behind Skaros Rock which is unique because you can look left towards Fira and right towards the rest of the town but Skaros Rock will be right in front of you.
- Difference between above and below the path – Using the main walking path that's part of the hiking trail as the guide, you definitely want to consider whether your hotel is above or below it. Staying below means your property has more of an unobstructed view of the cliff below and water's edge. If you're above, when you look down, you'll see the tops of other villas.
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Where to stay in Oia
If you only know an inkling about Santorini or you've seen photos, than you most likely already know about Oia (pronounced “Ia“).
Oia is on the northern-most tip of the island and most picturesque town in Santorini where steep cliffs has buildings clinging on and whitewashed dwellings welcome visitors with open arms.
Overall, you'll find that Oia has a much different vibe compared to Fira. Where Fira caters more to the working class, you can't help but feel like Oia is a class higher. It might be the marble stone, and impeccably white buildings, and expensive boutiques but “fancy” might be the most appropriate word for it.
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Currently, Travelzoo has an amazing deal for Sole d'oro Luxury Suites in Oia with rooftop hot tub that starts at $675 USD for 3 nights during low-season. Deal expires June 23, 2021.
Why stay in Oia?
It's no secret that Oia is the number 1 spot to see the sunset in Santorini. What makes it such a magical experience is that the sun drops in a way that provides a perfect framing for a photo that includes the sea, sky, sun, and town.
You want to stay here because you don't want to fight the crowds for a spot on the Byzantine Castle and want to be able to watch the sunset free of stress and be more present in the moment.
Disadvantages of the Oia
Oia is far. On the far reaches of the island, you'll find it a major inconvenience to take the bus to Fira. It takes 30 minutes with multiple stops along the way. You could also hike it but that's a few hours and probably something you only want to do once.
While the views of the sunset are amazing, you have to realize that since you're facing out and away from the island, you actually don't get any views of the caldera itself.
Also, the reality of staying in Oia is that there are very few hotels here that have unimpeded views of the sunset. Due to how villas are constructed and stacked along the cliff, it's near-impossible to have a perfect view.
I also hate to break it to you, but if you want a postcard-worthy shot, you pretty much have to be amongst the massive crowds up on the castle because you can't be in one of the hotels if they need to be framed in the photo.
Lastly, since Oia is so popular, the prices of accommodations are incredibly high so be prepared to pay 2x Fira prices. That said, most accommodations certainly match the price with luxury and of course the view.
Best hotels in Oia
When you first enter Oia from the hiking trail, you'll pass by a number of great-looking properties and this is one of them. Extremely highly rated, rooms are modest but comfortable, and they do have a sunset view but from a different vantage point.
“Beautiful clean room, very nice views from the room (sea, sunset), good location (up to 10 minutes walking to the very center of Oia), quiet and calm, amazing owners! We will be back :)”
BE THE ENVY
When we were sitting atop the castle, we looked down at this specific unit that was right below. I remember thinking how epic the view must be from there. This must be one of the best spots to see the sunset.
This is a traditional fisherman's house with a private balcony and villa that can accommodate up to 6 guests with 3 bedrooms.
Art Maisons owns many properties scattered around and this one is the one that's right by the castle which means it has one of the best views in town.
The one you want is their honeymoon suite that is minimally designed with large balcony and outdoor hot tub.
Not all of the best properties have a sunset view. The underrated view is the look back towards the caldera and volcano island.
“Total luxury. Everything is perfect, the suite was amazing, the staff was very welcoming and helpful, the pool was incredible and the transfer service also worked really well.”
This is part of “The Leading Hotels Of The World”.
Things you need to see and do in Oia
Amoudi Bay – At the farthest tip of Oia is this working harbour where you'll see fishing boats nearby and is filled with character. There sare a lot of great restaurants down here and I recommend Ammoudi Fish Tavern for lunch. Just be careful, the switchback down and back up is quite steep so be prepared for a workout. You can also take donkeys here but try not to if you can.
The Castle of St. Nicholas – This is often referred to as the Byzantine Castle, the seat of the Argyri family under the Venetians. At sunset, this place is swarming with tourists but is honestly the best place to watch it.
Blue domed churches – There are a few of them but the one that everyone goes crazy for is the Saint Nikolaos Oia Holy Orthodox Church which you'll most likely walk by, and the other is Church Anastasis. The exact spots to take these photos are on the map.
Church of Panagia – Located in the main square of Oia, this is a beautiful church with a 6-bell tower on the left side.
Domaine Sigalas Winery – An award-winning winery that's outside of the residential area of Oia but worth visiting for their tour and tasting.
Suggested activities in Oia
Oia Sunset and Traditional Villages Tour – Guided tour of Oia where they'll know all the best spots in Santorini and ends off with the idyllic Oia sunset.
Private Custom Santorini in a Day Tour – Build your own custom itinerary with a local guide.
Santorini Travel Guide and Vacation Photographer – Another take on a custom tour where your guide will not only drive and show you around but they're also your own personal photographer.
What else you need to know about Oia
I have a lot of opinions about Oia, so here goes:
- Better as a day trip – This might be unpopular opinion but I feel that Oia is great as something you hike from Fira to and stay for the sunset before taking the bus back. The steep prices (pun intended) just don't make it worth it. I feel that Oia is great to visit once during your stay but not the entire time.
- Can't be in a villa to take photos of the villas – What makes Oia such a great sunset spot is being able to see the full slope-side of Oia with the backdrop of the sun. If you're staying in a villa, you'll obviously want to be on your balcony which means you'll only see parts of the village and most likely have partial-view only.
- Yes, it's insanity – If you've read our piece on whether Santorini is worth it or not, you'll know how crazy the crowds get here. It's certainly still memorable but you really do have to camp out a spot 2-3 hours ahead of sunset. These kind of crowds also make it tough to stay here because it's always packed around those sunset hours.
- Lack of privacy – One thing that doesn't get brought up is the lack of privacy in Oia. There are so many people on the main and side footpaths that if you're on one of those open pools or balconies, someone's bound to see you and potentially photograph you.
- Restaurants to try – We really loved grabbing gyros from Pitogyros to go, Melitini (Greek tapas), 1800-Floga Restaurant (don't worry about the funny name, they have amazing views), Ambrosia Restaurant, and Lotza. Again, make sure to make reservations if you're looking for a table).
- Not many restaurants with a view – Unlike Fira, the best real estate is taken by hotels. For direct sunset views, my only recommendation is Elinikon which sits behind one of the windmills at a more elevated view.
- Recommended coffee shop – Check out Passaggio if you're in Oia.
- Parking lots – There is a relatively large public lot that you can use if you end up renting a car.
Where to stay in Pyrgos
Now we start down the path of lesser-known areas in Santorini to stay. Pyrgos (sometimes spelled as Pirgos) is a traditional village inland and is incredibly charming. This is a great place to be if you're looking to go a bit off-the-beaten-path and looking for something more authentic.
Located on a mountain top, this is sweeping views all around the island. It also has a number of beautiful churches, a Venetian castle, small boutiques, and local restaurants.
Why stay in Pyrgos?
Not many people get out of the caldera chain of towns that we've covered above. For those that end up doing a tour or rent a car, Pyrgos is a quick stop and you move on. However, it's a great place to be to have a calmer slice of life on the island of Santorini.
What you'll really like about this town is that it's incredibly beautiful and photogenic. With a whole mountain dotted with whitewashed buildings, idyllic churches, local artisan boutiques, maze of cobblestone alleyways to explore, and castle, you'll have almost all to yourself if you stay here.
From here, Fira is only 10 minutes away by bus and you have vineyards right below.
Being a less-popular area ultimately means that prices will be very affordable here.
Disadvantages of the Pyrgos
If you're staying in Pyrgos, you'll most likely need a car rental to get around which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it means you won't be able to conveniently walk to other parts of the island. Alternatively, you could book day tours and get daily pick ups.
While there are quite a few things to do and see in the town, your choices are a bit more limiting when it comes to restaurants, bars, and shops.
Best hotels in Pyrgos
This is a super affordable hotel right in the center of town and adjacent to the Cultural Village which is a museum to show Santorini's way of life in the past. Rooms here are basic but all very clean and comfortable.
“Perfect location – near the seaport, airport, one of the most beautiful places on the island, wonderful views from the terrace, including the famous sunset. Easy access to the famous black beach in Perissa by bus.”
Being up on the mountain has its advantages. This modern and spacious villa is a luxury property with amazing staff, terrace, spa, infinity pool, artwork, and delicious breakfasts. Some rank this the #1 property in Pyrgos.
Most guests remark at how surprised they are at the views from here where you can see the entirety of the island and caldera cliffs.
ADULTS ONLY VILLA
Cycladic-style villa with private pools and outdoor hot tubs where minimal decor and architecture dominate the design. Superb service is a common thread on all their reviews. You will also love their incredibly comfortable and large suites.
Far away from the buzz of the larger towns, you feel like you're on top of the world.
It's rare to find a loft in Santorini but this has it. Not only that, suites also have outdoor hot tubs, sea views, and prime positioning in Pyrgos.
While not your traditional luxury hotel, this has a more intimate B&B vibe that'll give you privacy, all of the modern amenities, and matching Greek-style architecture.
They also have a room for families if you need two bedrooms.
Things you need to see and do in Pyrgos
Castelli of Pyrgos – At the very top of the hill is this Venetian castle where you'll have near 360 degree views of the entire island. It's a vantage point like no other and awlso amazing for sunsets.
Santo Winery – This is hands down one of the best wineries on Santorini and a must-visit for any wine buffs out there.
Suggested activities in Pyrgos
Island Bus Tour – This tour takes you to the majestic spots of Santorini in a day including Akrotiri, Pyrgos, Fira, and the Red Beach.
Santorini Half-Day Sunset Wine Tasting – Watch the sunset accompanied by local wine and tapas in this 4-hour island tasting tour. On this tour you'll learn about the Greek varietals “Nykteri” and “Assyrtiko”.
What else you need to know about Pyrgos
- Surprising luxury – You'd think you can only find luxury properties along the caldera but there are some incredible luxury villas and resorts here.
- Look beyond central Pyrgos – The town on the hill is the main highlight of the area but expand the radius just a bit and you'll see that there are a ton of amazing hotels to choose from.
- Very different experience – The town is incredibly charming but outside of the bus-tour hours, it gets pretty quiet. It may not be for everyone but it certainly gives you a different look at what life is like on Santorini.
- Restaurants to try – There are tons of hidden gems here that people rarely get to go to because it's more convenient by living nearby. You have to check out Cava Alta, Kantouni, and Franco's Cafe (awesome views). Metaxy Mas is also nearby and a must-visit (might be the best restaurant on the island).
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Where to stay in Megalochori
Megalochori is another charming village that is similar to Pyrgos but different at the same time. Here you'll also find winding alleys, blue-domed churches, bell towers, and whitewashed architecture. What makes it different is that it's closer to the caldera and personally felt larger and more spread out, probably because it isn't located on a mountain.
A few defining features here are its large city gate on one end, examples of traditional cave houses, and town square. Megalochori is also unbelievably photogenic.
Wine lovers love this region as well with the vineyards that dot the surrounding hills. As a result, there are several popular wineries with tasting rooms inside the town.
Here, you won't find large swaths of tourists and in most cases, you'll be alone as you roam the many side paths that sprawl from the main street that cuts through Megalochori.
Why stay in Megalochori?
Like Pyrgos, this is definitely not on the tourist path when it comes to looking for the best area to stay in Santorini.
When you're in Megalochori, you'll actually see locals sipping espressos and reading a newspaper at the local cafe. Particularly in the evening, you'll feel a world aways from the hectic Fira and have more of the atmosphere of smaller islands such as Folegandros.
While most people discount Megalochori as a place to stay, the secret is that there are several luxury resorts here that make it worth considering in addition to the local B&Bs. The main town is in-land but it's easy to forget it has caldera views as well.
Staying in this area also gives you the advantage of eating at hyper-local tavernas that you otherwise wouldn't even consider because of the distance away from the other main towns.
Disadvantages of the Megalochori
Being off-the-beaten-path also means that you'll need to rely on the local bus or have your own rental car for the duration of the trip to be able to get to other parts of the island.
Lastly, you'll find that there just aren't as many choices when it comes to restaurants, shops, and bars.
Best hotels in Megalochori
Cozy and comfortable hotel in Megalochori with large outdoor swimming pool and plunge pool. Rooms are clean and have terraces or balconies.
“Big pool on a leafy yard. Jacuzzi. Clean and airy room. Breakfast with lovely small details (think greek yoghurt with honey and fresh fruits or coffee with hints of vanilla…). Considerate staff. Peace and quiet. Beautiful village of Megalochori just around the corner.”
This hotel is at the edge of Megalochori and thus has incredible caldera views from the rooms and pool. As a spa hotel, they also have a sauna and Turkish steam bath.
The property has its own restaurant and bar overlooking cliff's edge. Breakfast is also included here.
MARRIOTT LUXURY COLLECTION
There aren't many properties in the Greek Islands under one of the large hotel brands. If you hold a good cache of Marriott Bonvoy points, this is a good spot to spend it.
Built around a 400-year old winery, this 5-star resort features villas with private verandas, rooms of modern comfort, open-air hot tubs, spa, fitness centre, and 3 on-site restaurants. This is a true resort.
You might be looking at the most expensive villa on the island. This is essentially a private luxury home for rent that has 5 bedrooms and can accommodate 10 people.
This estate runs right up to the edge of the cliff which means you have incredible views whether at the pool, open terrace, or in the house.
There's private housekeeping twice daily and private butler and executive chef. This property even has its own private helipad.
Things you need to see and do in Megalochori
Traditional underground cave – This isn't necessarily an official sight but locals that own the property here have opened it up for visitors. Walk down into a cave used previously as a dwelling. This is marked on the map.
Lost Atlantis Experience – World's first digital and interactive museum dedicated to the myth of Atlantis which some say was based on the ancient city of Thera. While it sounds kitschy, it is highly recommended to understand the history of the island and helps set context of where you are.
Venetsanos Winery – The first industrial winery on the island and definitely the most popular to visit. They're located right above the port of Athinios and even if you're not into wine, come here for the views!
Gavalas Winery – Small 4th generation family winery that highlights particular characteristics of Santorini's terroir.
Boutari Winery – This is hands down one of the best wineries on Santorini and a must-visit for any wine buffs out there.
Suggested activities in Megalochori
Petra Kouzina Cooking Experience – Learn how to cook traditional Greek dishes in a traditional Cave House in Megalochori.
Small-Group Horse Riding – This is a horseback riding experience that starts in Megalochori and continues through fields and local vineyards with amazing caldera views.
Tour Santorini on an Electric Bike – On this tour, ride through volcanic vineyards, stop for wine tasting, have Greek coffee at a local cafe, and pedal along the coast.
Guided Tour of Megalochori – 4-hour guided tour of the village and also a visit to Arvanitis Antonios, another traditional winery.
What else you need to know about Megalochori
- Parking – This is not well-marked on Google but we found good parking on the northern side of town which is marked on the map.
- Restaurants to try – The best local restaurants are: Taverna Geromanolis, Tavern Tzanakis, and Restaurant Raki.
Where to stay in Akrotiri
If you look at Santorini as a large crescent moon, to the southern end is a giant peninsula that sticks out. Akrotiri is the name that roughly encapsulates this entire region.
Most of the area is quite rural but in the middle of it is the village itself. The town of Akrotiri is small with a handful of restaurants, church, and remains of a castle. It's quite the low-key destination that most people don't end up visiting.
The primary attraction is the Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri where there's a large archeological site that is often referred to as the Pompeii of the Aegean.
The southern end has a number of Santorini's beaches although they are not close to any accommodations.
To the western tip is also a lighthouse that has a great sunset viewing point.
Why stay in Akrotiri?
On the caldera side, there are a number of properties with cliff views although it is a completely different vantage point than what most people are used to. While different, the views are equally stunning as you can look back at towns such as Fira all the way up to Oia. You also can see the volcano island and Thirasia clearly.
The biggest thing you'll notice is that for similar high quality villas, Akrotiri is easily half the price. You can get a lot of value here while still getting great views.
You'll find that Akrotiri is a place that's on the rise as a more trendy side of the island to be here. It has the views, it's much quieter, and there are many plcaes that most visitors never get to go to.
Finally, what often surprises people is how good the food is in this area. Sure, the restaurants are pretty spread apart but if you have a car, you'll have an endless number of ridiculously good tavernas to choose from.
Disadvantages of the Akrotiri
It'll take some time for Akrotiri to grow (or perhaps it should just stay the way it is) because one of the challenges staying here is that everything is so spread out. It's the kind of place where you'll need a car to get to restaurants you want to go to, or certain viewpoints.
I've always found that it's nice to be able to step out and be within striking distance from the action. In Akrotiri, there's less of a town feel and more like a place with villas spread out along the cliff.
If you don't have a car, it takes roughly 20 – 30 minutes to get to Fira.
Similar to Pyrgos and Megalochori, there aren't as many choices for food, drinks, and shops, but there are still a bunch of really good local ones.
Best hotels in Akrotiri
For such a modern hotel with caldera views, you won't believe the price is as good as it is. Of course, that's the trend with properties in Akrotiri.
“This is an absolute gem in Santorini ! The flat is gorgeous, decorated with so much taste. One can see they do like their customers. The location is ideal ! A view on the Caldera without paying outrageous amount. It is close to the road so you can sometimes hear cars but honestly, I am very sensitive to sound and it didn't annoy me at all!”
An unexpectedly highly reviewed property on the cliffs of Akrotiri near Caldera Beach with breakfast included.
For the price, it's amazing that you get the kind of views you have here, private hot tubs, and each suite uniquely decorated.
“We had a wonderful stay here!! Quieter location on the island but easy to get to restaurants, shops and bus stop. Super friendly staff, breakfast was amazing and bed very comfortable.”
A recently renovated apartment decorated in the traditional village-style that features an amazing swimming pool that looks out at the caldera, includes breakfast, and private parking.
All suites are incredibly spacious and have awesome views from the private balcony.
This is also a family-friendly property with a children's pool which is rare to find and large suites for groups.
The luxury prices here are a fraction of other parts of the island. You get the Akrotiri caldera views, you're treated with breathtaking views from their 2 outdoor pools, private gardens, and private pools.
A locally made breakfast is served daily, and there's private parking which you'll need to use.
Rooms are modern, spotless, and can accommodate large groups with their family villa.
Things you need to see and do in Akrotiri
Akrotiri Archaeological Site – You'll get to see up-close the remains of an ancient city that was covered by volcanic ash in the late 17th century B.C.. This canopied site is an active archaeological dig area and is still be researched. There is signage in English but quite a bit to read through in one visit. They also don't have audio-guides so it's highly recommended that you come with a guide.
Lighthouse – Not something you expect to see in the Western Cyclades but this is a wonderful little spot to come and watch the sunset. The road is a bit rugged though so make sure you bring good shoes. Also note that it's more of a side-of-the-road makeshift stop here so you won't find a proper parking lot.
Red Beach – This is one of Santorini's most famous beaches where a stretch of pebbly beach leads to a backdrop of an angled bright red cliff, remnants of the island's volcanic activity. A heads up that after the parking lot, there's a short hike to get down to there so make sure you have good shoes. As with most beaches in Santorini, there are no facilities here. Be wary of landslides here so use caution and common sense.
White Beach – This is another cove further west from the Red Beach. The beach is mostly black pebbles and instead of red rock, the cliff face is white. Many people like this beach because it's fairly quiet because of its difficult access. Note that this is quite the small beach. You can only get here by boat through a special taxi service. Apparently there is a way to hike there from Red Beach or Kambia Beach but I have not been able to find any clear information about this trail.
Caldera Beach – On the caldera side of Akrotiri is this popular but secluded beach. As with all the other beaches, it consists of small pebbles and some black sand. This beach is great for tanning and also snorkeling.
Suggested activities in Akrotiri
Most of the catamaran cruises set sail from here although they do offer pick-ups from all over the island but I've picked the best ones here.
Semi Private Santorini Catamaran Cruise – 5-hour cruise around the coastline of Santorini where there are several beach stops along the way, the hot springs at Palea Kameni, around the volcano, and a secret northern cove. This package includes food, drinks, snorkel gear, and towels. You can choose between daytime or sunset times.
Alternative Catamaran Cruise – If you're looking to compare with another tour, this one is very similar to the above except they are limited to 18 people vs. 20. Their food is also slightly better whic his why the price is higher.
Sunset-Specific Catamaran Cruise – The others have sunset options but this one is only at sunset.
Akrotiri and Wineries Tour – Combine Akrotiri and wine together with this 6 hour small-group tour.
Horse Riding to Eros Beach – Start horseback riding at Caldera Beach that will eventually lead you to the black beach of Eros with promises of riding in and out of the water.
What else you need to know about Akrotiri
- Restaurants to try – The best local restaurants are: The Cave of Nikolas, Misteli Restaurant, Taverna Glaros, and The Good Heart.
Where to stay in Perivolos & Perissa
To the southern part of the island but facing away from the caldera are two large stretches of Santorini's famous black sand beach – Perissa Beach and Perivolos Beach.
It's very much a beach town vibe here where you feel like you're actually on a proper beach, a long strip of shops, restaurants, bars, and beach clubs. On the beach, umbrellas and beach chairs for rent are scattered all throughout.
The busiest part of the beach is by Perissa which starts at the base of the mountain and consists of a mix of black pebbles and sand. This continues southwards towards Perivolos and gets sandier and quieteras you go.
There's no clear line dividing the two towns combined in one.
Why stay in Perivolos & Perissa?
For the budget travellers out there, this area is simply one of the cheapest areas to stay in.
In fact, Perissa is where I stayed on my first trip to Santorini. We managed to find a very affordable family-owned hotel, Stelios Place, and while it was quite no-frills, offered to pickups from port, and had a nice pool.
What you'll like about Perivolos and Perissa is just how laid back it is here. Having the beach right there also means that it is so much easier to plan beach days because you can walk right out to the water from your accommodations.
This area in Santorini is also very family-friendly because of its calm beach, and overall being quiet as well.
Disadvantages of the Perivolos & Perissa
Ultimately, both Perissa and Perivolos are a bit far from Fira, and even further from Oia. As a result, how you plan your trip will be very different when you're based here. In most cases, you'll plan big day trips with a rental car, take the bus, or book a tour to be able to see other parts of the island.
To give you an idea, it takes roughly 20 -30 minutes by bus to get to Fira and another 20 – 30 minutes to Oia. Remember you'll also have to plan your day around the bus schedules.
While this is starting to change, there aren't as many luxury hotels or upscale restaurants here so this just isn't that kind of place if you're seeking those out.
Best hotels in Perivolos & Perissa
This was my first ever stay in Santorini when I was a backpacker and found it to be comfortable and convenient. You can't beat a stay under $100/night.
The rooms and grounds have been renovated since my visit. Rooms are air-conditioned and have private balconies. They also have triple and quad rooms. The beach is also mere steps away.
Awesome fullly equipped hotel has a newly built outdoor pool and whirlpool, gym, garden, restaurant, and bar.
They have a number of different suites, some large enough for 5 people which makes it great for families.
“The place was beautiful and well maintained. It was very clean everywhere, in the rooms and all the pools and communal areas. The staff were really friendly and welcoming and helpful.”
This hotel is right on Perissa Beach which means you have walkout access but they also have 3 outdoor pools including a kids pool, and gym.
The suites are spacious, modern, and have a balcony or veranda. Breakfast is also included.
“We loved the location of this hotel: right across from the beach, walking distance to tons of restaurants, and it was away from the craziness of Oia. The pools were nice and the bar had great cocktails. Also liked the breakfast buffet and restaurant.”
Ultra-trendy hotel in Perivolos that's a member of Design Hotels, a newly opened property with beautiful architecture and contemporary aesthetics.
Each suite has large king-sized beds, private terraces, and many have private outdoor hot tubs.
Exceptional breakfast is served daily, and they have a large main pool, spa service, and restaurant.
Things you need to see and do in Perivolos & Perissa
Perissa Beach – This is the best-known beach on Santorini. While many will say it's not a great beach because of it's hot, black pebbles, it's still a unique experience to be on a volcanic beach with the giant mountain to your left, and gentle waves of the sea crashing in. Most of the beach is lined with beach chairs and umbrellas which you need to rent but there are areas with no chairs that you can easily find your own private space. Certain areas of the beach also have lifeguards.
Perivolos Beach – The beach connected to the south from Perissa Beach that you'll find much sandier and quieter.
Suggested activities in Perivolos & Perissa
Transfer from Perissa to Oia – Oia is a bit of an effort to get to from Perissa. Book this transfer to save time.
ATV Tour – This is one of my favourite things to do especially if you're based in Perissa. With tons of open road to explore and other towns to visit.
Wine and Food Tour – Learn about Santorini's history and gastronomy with this tour around the island that ends at Perissa Black Sand Beach.
ATV and Scooter Rental – All you have to do is let them know your hotel and they'll drop off the ATV right at your doorstep.
What else you need to know about Perivolos & Perissa
- Beach tips – The black sand gets incredibly hot so make sure you have good sandals or water shoes. If you don't want to lay out in front of the beach chairs, there are some stretches of the beach where there are no chair/umbrella rentals so just keep walking along the waterfront.
- Beach chair rentals – They're not as expensive as you think. You can rent them for the day for 7-10 EUR.
- Great for backpackers – The largest collection of affordable accommodations can be found here and they're not even hostels.
- Main street becomes pedestrian – After 2PM, a main part of the beach road in Perissa becomes closed to cars.
- Easy parking – It's pretty easy to find street parking near the beach so no need to stress about this.
- Restaurants to try – The best local restaurants are: Savvas Popeye Taverna, Mama's Food, and Fratzeskos Fish Tavern. Santa Irini Bakery is also nice spot to buy cookies and baked goods to go.
- Bars – A few local favourites are Dorians Bar, Tranquilo, and Margarita.
Where to stay in Kamari
Another coastal village just south of the airport and north of Mes Vouno mountain is Kamari. This is well-established village that's has a long promenade by the beach of shops, tavernas, cafes, and bars.
The name comes from a small arch that you'll find on the south end of its beach, the remains of a sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon.
The most popular feature is Kamari beach. It's comprised of black and and pebbles, with many beach chairs and umbrellas to rent, and is also very clean.
On the Mesa Vouno mountain, there's also the other important archaeological site in Santorini – Ancient Thera which has awesome panoramic views of the island.
Why stay in Kamari?
Kamari is very similar to Perivolos and Perissa in that it's anchored by a black sand beach. It's a beach village through and through that's lesser-known but well-suited for families, sun bathers, beach-goers, and anyone that loves getting in the water.
The advantage of Kamari over its counterpart in the south is that it's slightly closer to Fira, being only 15 minutes bus ride.
Something else you'll notice is that Kamari feels a bit more upscale and developed than Perissa and Perivolos. You'll get more of a resort vibe for better or worse compared to the latter which feels more traditional.
Out of all towns, I'd say this is the one that the least number of people stay in which is why you'll find fantastic deals on either 5-star resorts and also budget accommodations.
Disadvantages of the Kamari
If you're looking for romantic caldera views, this is not it. You come here for the beach experience and having a good time on the promenade.
Kamari is it's own self-contained village and so you'll need to rely on car rental, the local bus, or tour pick ups to get around to other parts of the island.
Lastly, Kamari has a good number of restaurants but I can't say that any of them are memorable.
Best hotels in Kamari
This is an incredible family-run villa with easy access to the beach and views of the mountain. What brings travellers here is its location in Kamari and also low price point.
Rooms are comfortable and equipped with a veranda looking out to the sea or mountain. Some even have their own hot tub. The property also has its own swimming pool.
“The staff are amazing and so friendly. They went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed. They are amazing people. The location is perfect and the pool area is very relaxing. We will definitely be coming back on the next trip.”
Amazing hotel that's as close as it gets to Kamari Beach. You'll be paying a bit more compared to the budget property but it's worth it.
Rooms feature arched rooms and whitewashed walls. Breakfast is included as well.
“The location of the hotel was just perfect ! Not too far from the bus station and super close to the beach which was exactly what we were looking for when we booked there. The room we had was beautiful, clean and huge, it exceeded what we saw on pictures.”
Exceptional hotel that's a short walk from the beach and as a resort includes both indoor and outdoor pool, hot tub, gym, restaurant, and children's playground which makes it great for families.
Rooms are charmingly decorated with accents of the iconic Greek blue. The suites are spacious and relaxing. Breakfast is included as well.
“The staff are excellent, they could not do enough for us, this is our second visit, the first being in 2012 & the place has not tired. It is a little oasis in Kamari.”
Kamari has 5-star resorts and the great thing about this area is that you can have it for a ridiculously good price.
All suites are elegantly designed with open terraces or balconies that look out into a garden or the main pool.
The resort itself offers 2 swimming pools, poolside bar/restaurant, and a spa. Breakfast is included.
“We were a bit apprehensive bringing an infant with us but the hotel staff and management were brilliant, so helpful and considerate. The location was excellent for us too and our room was lovely. We were easily able to manage an infant in the area. Would definitely recommend this hotel!”
Things you need to see and do in Kamari
Kamari Beach – Santorini's alternate black sand beach to Perivolos & Perissa. Most will tell you that they're almost identical even when it comes to the black sand. It's simply a mirror image, being on the other side of Mesa Vouno. The only difference I can think of is that Kamari is more compact and busier whereas Perissa and Perivolos is spread out and more laid back. Keep in mind that Kamari is also right under the flight path. Some travellers have also mentioned that there are more hagglers on Kamari Beach.
Ancient Thera – When Santorini looked very different, this was an 11th century BC settlement. You'll find remains from Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. The views are incredible from here as well. Cost is 6 EUR and closed on Tuesdays. Note that there are no facilities here.
Gaia Winery – Located on an adjacent beach north of Kamari is this contemporary winery that was built on what used to be a tomato factory. Come here for a quiet wine tasting experience by the water.
Outdoor Cinema – There's an open-air cinema in Kamari and it's a great experience for evenings.
Suggested activities in Kamari
Santorini Helicopter Flight – See Santorini from the sky with one of these once-in-a-lifetime helicopter flights.
Traditional Fishing Experience – Spend a day fishing off the coast of Santorini to catch fish, shrimp, and octopus which will then get cooked at the end of the day. You'll also have an opportunity to swim and snorkel.
ATV and Scooter Rental – All you have to do is let them know your hotel and they'll drop off the ATV right at your doorstep.
What else you need to know about Kamari
- Beach tips – Since this is also a black sand beach, I again have to recommend good sandals or water shoes.
- Get a free beach chair – If you buy a drink at one of the beach front restaurants, you'll be able to get a free sun bed.
- Massage ladies – The one annoying thing on the beach are these ladies that come by trying to sell you a massage so be prepared.
- Good value – Overall, Kamari is a great value especially for families where there are a ton of things to do in a nice compact area. Food, drinks, and stays are all quite affordable.
- Easy parking – It's pretty easy to find street parking near the beach so no need to stress about this.
- Restaurants to try – The best local restaurants are Captain's Corner Taverna, Almira Restaurant, Vinsanto, and Elias Grill (cheap eats).
Map of the the best places to stay in Santorini
Below is an interactive map of all of towns of Santorini together with all of the hotels, attractions, and restaurants mentioned above.
TIP: You can make your own copy of this by clicking on the expand icon. This will open the custom map in a new tab and from there, you'll be able to create your own copy on your Google account.
Additional Santorini hotel recommendations
We've gone through all of the major villages and areas to stay in Santorini but if we turn this around and focus on travel preferences and styles, here are the hotels that you should look at.
Best area for caldera views
You can get caldera views spanning Akrotiri all the way to Oia but if you had to chose, Firostefani and Imerovigli are the best areas to stay in Santorini because it's near the center of the island and you can get a panoramic view that includes the volcanic island, Fira, Skaros rock, and Oia.
Best area for honeymoon
For honeymooners looking for an area that is absolutely stunning, luxurious, quiet, has romantic sunset views, and is convenient, Imerovigli is hands down the best place to be.
Recommended: Sophia Luxury Suites
Best area for families
When travelling with kids, your style of travel will certainly be different from honeymooners. The first thing is you'll be needing a villa that can accommodate for more people. This can be more challenging than you think since so many properties are geared towards couples.
You'll also need somewhere that is close to activities and restaurants. Ideally, the property is set up more like a resort so on off days you can be at home and use its own pool for instance.
With that said, the combination of Perivolos and Perissa is a great area to be in with its laid back nature, beach access, and accommodations set up for families.
Recommended: Meltemi Village Hotel
Best area for solo travellers
If you're a solo traveller, most likely you're looking for somewhere that is affordable and central to the action including nightlife, restaurants, and activities. If you're a solo female, somewhere safe is also important. With that in mind, Fira is the best area to stay in Santorini.
I know that sounds contradictory because of the skyrocket prices there but if you look, there are affordable accommodations in town.
Recommended: Loizos Stylish Residences
Best area for backpackers
As a backpacker, you're going to be a bit more price sensitive and if you were like me, willing to stay a bit farther from the hot caldera area.
If you're like me in my backpacking days, you're used to working a little harder to see and do the things that you want to. Perissa and Perivolos is the perfect great choice. Kamari is also a close second.
Best area if you're short on time
If you only have a few days to work with, you should try to stay as central as possible. This'll make your life easier so you don't have to rely completely on the bus. With that, the best area for short trips to Santorini are Fira and Firostefani.
Recommended: Trieris Villas & Suites (Fira)
Best affordable area with caldera views
For some reason, you don't hear too many people staying in Akrotiri. It's not your prototypical view of the caldera but it's still a pretty epic view. For those on a budget and ok to take the bus or rent a car, you'll be able to snag a villa with a view for a good price.
Recommended: Apanemo Hotel & Suites
Best area for nightlife
It's no secret that Fira is the most lively part of the island but if you are looking to party and afterwards, stay somewhere that's a bit quieter, I'd recommend Firostefani, which is an easy walk away.
Recommended: Homeric Poems
Best area for sunset views
This is a tough choice because there are so many incredible sunset views from all over the island. Obviously, the top two spots to watch the sunset are Fira and Oia.
If you can afford it, finding a hotel with the picture perfect view of the sunset in Oia can't be beat.
However, I personally love the sunset view from Imerovigli which doesn't get advertised as often. When you balance the sunset view with the location and price, this area is better.
Best area for absolute luxury
Looking to get the best-of-the-best and be pampered the entire time? Fira has a number of top luxury properties. Expect to pay a pretty penny but it'll be an epic stay.
Recommended: Cosmopolitan Suites
Best area that nobody's talking about
You'll really like the Megalochori area. As far as going off-the-beaten-path, this traditional village is somewhere you don't expect too much from but has a tremendous local feel while surprisingly offering world-class accommodations.
Recommended: Vedema, A Luxury Collection Resort
Best area for first timers to Santorini
We've gone through all of common questions you'll have but if it's your very first time to Santorini, what's the best area you should consider?
Remembering my first time to Santorini, there's a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out) and wanting to do everything. Firostefani has the best balance of what all travellers are looking for.
Recommended: Chic Hotel Santorini
Best place to stay in Santorini overall
Best of the best? The impossible question.
If you want it all – location, views, price, food, privacy, and convenience, I'm totally biased in saying that Imerovigli is the best area to stay in Santorini if you had to pick one.
Recommended: Remezzo Villas
Frequently asked questions
Yes, Santorini is safe throughout the island as crime is at a minimum. Of course, you should always employ travel safety smarts to avoid being targeted. The biggest risk on the island actually comes from vehicle accidents (ATVs, scooters, and donkeys) and things like landslides.
Overall, it's better to visit Oia as a day trip to watch the sunset mainly because there are very few hotels that have the perfect view of the sunset and for those that do, the prices are incredibly high. The other thing about Oia is that it is far from other villages on the island which should be considered. Lastly, privacy is a challenge here because there are so many people try to photograph it.
Overall, the best areas to stay in are the trio of Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli. Out of those 3 locations, Firostefani and Imerovigli are highly recommended for their close proximity to Fira, better prices, and excellent caldera views.
If you're considering whether to include Santorini in your island hopping itinerary, make sure to read this article on whether Santorini is worth it or not.
For budget stays, Perivolos, Perissa, and Kamari are where you'll find extremely affordable family-run villas.
While typically thought of as a destination for couples and honeymooners, Santorini is great for families as you'll find many properties with suites set up for large groups and families with kids. The beach villages of Perissa, Perivolos, and Kamari are great areas in Santorini for families.
This could make sense if you really want to squeeze in a few nights at a hotel with caldera views and spend the rest of the trip at a more budget accommodation. That said, factor in the additional time needed to check-out, check-in, pack, and unpack. Ideally you stay in one hotel to maximize your time on the island but it's not to say it's not possible.
It's not absolutely mandatory but this will depend on where you're staying and how much you'd like to take the local bus. In villages such as Oia, Akrotiri, Pyrgos, Megalachori, Perissa, Perivolos, and Kamari you will inevitably need to find a way to explore other towns. However, that's not to say the central caldera area of Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli won't need car rentals but parking here is a bit more of a challenge so if anything, I'd recomend renting for day-use only. ATVs and scooters are also a possibility but you have to be careful and may not be as suitable for long distances.
Fira is the capital and lively. It has great sunset views but not as iconic as what you'll see in Oia. Between the two, Fira is cheaper and from a crowds perspective, Fira is busier throughout the day but Oia gets insanely packed at sunset. However, what makes Fira ultimately the better area to stay in Santorini is that it's the central hub of transportation, shops, and other businesses which make it the most convenient.
You need to book Santorini hotels at least 6 months in advance and at least 1 year for some of hteh popular villas during high season.
There are a lot of areas in Santorini to choose from. It can be overwhelming. I think it really comes down to what you're looking for, your budget, and your travel style.
Another question you need to ask yourself is, “do I want to to stay somewhere with caldera views”? That'll narrow down your options quickly.
At the end of the day, you honestly can't go wrong no matter where you stay in Santorini.
The beauty of the island is that there are always ways to get around so no matter what, you can see and do everything that you want. What you need to decide is whether you'd be okay to work with the local bus schedule or have a rental car.
The key is to then plan your itinerary according to where you're staying and choosing the right combination of taking public buses, renting a car/ATV/scooter, and booking tours with hotel pickups.
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