Wondering where to stay in Santorini? Rich in heritage and tradition, Santorini (known as Thera in Greek) is one of Greece’s most desirable islands for a relaxed, scenic getaway.
Once a volcanic island until 1610 BC, a major explosion caused the centre of the island to dip and formed the famous caldera creating one of the most iconic views in the world today. The island offers so much for the visitor, from a maze of narrow streets to wander around, iconic blue and white buildings, views of the Mediterranean Sea, black sand beaches, and ancient sites to explore.
You’re bound to see the famous Santorini cats lazing in the sun and it’s easy to join them with countless outdoor bars and cafes to people watch from. One of the most romantic spots, Santorini is perfect for honeymooning couples but has plenty to offer everyone else and if you love to party the choice between the capital Fira or the infamous beach parties of Perivolos will be a challenge.
Winemaking is still a traditional trade in Santorini and one of the best things you can do on the island is to visit one of the many wineries, have a drink and enjoy the local way of life.
Where To Stay In Santorini [2020 Guide For First Time Visitors] - Contents
Where to stay in Santorini
Although, a small island the landscape on offer varies greatly as you go around and some of the most uniquely luxurious hotels in Greece are based here including cliff side accommodation actually built into the Caldera.
While the North and South peninsulas offer some of the most spectacular views on the island, the East and West offer resorts, beaches, and fun water-based activities. With over a dozen marked walking routes including the magnificent walk from Fira to Oita, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and see the whole island and if you don’t fancy walking then the bus routes from Fira are extensive.
Choosing where to stay in Santorini, one of the world’s most photogenic islands is never going to be easy but here are the main areas and what you can get up to there.
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Where to stay in Santorini - Stay in Fira for the lively capital
The capital city of Santoini, Fira is a great place for first time visitors who want to immerse themselves in the island’s relaxed lifestyle.
Great for shopping, restaurants and nightlife and the nearby beaches are perfect to get you tan.
Why stay in Fira
With plenty of accommodation to choose from and everything on your doorstep, the largest town in Santorini has a lot to offer visitors to the island. The real heart of the island and where the old settlement of Akritori is located, whether you want to party the night away or spend days relaxing in the sunshine you can easily do it here.
The sunset views are breathtaking and from here you reach everywhere else on the island since all public transport starts and ends in Fira. If you enjoy shopping, then most of the island's boutiques are located here as well as the famous restaurants and bars. For first-timers in the island or anyone who wants easy access to everything, Santorini has to offer then the bustling Fira is your best choice.
Things to do in Fira
- Walk the famous 9km hike from Fira to Oira for some incredible scenery
- Enjoy a sunset meal overlooking the Santorini Caldera
- Ride the cable car to the Old Fort
- Catch a boat from Fira to hike on the volcanic island Nea Kameni
- Relax in the hot springs on Nea Kameni
- Stroll the promenade for the best sunset view
- Head down and drink at the famous Santo Winery
- Visit the Art of the Loom gallery for Greek artefacts
- Catch the bus to the Akrotiri Archaeological Site and the nearby Red Beach
- Dance the night away at the popular Franco’s bar for cocktails and music with a view
Where to Stay in Fira
Where to stay in Santorini - Stay in Firostefani for a quieter, traditional spot close to Fira
Firostefani is the perfect place to stay if you are after relaxation and don’t want the evening partying to disturb you. Super close to the capital, Firostefani offers you the comfort of restaurants, bars within walking distance, combined with all the amazing beaches but without the hassle of the noisy nightlife.
Why stay in Firostefani
A perfect option for people who want to be near Fira but also want a quieter pace of life, you can walk to Fira from Firostefani village via a beautiful direct path in just over ten minutes. The area itself offers gorgeous Caldera views similar to Fira, has a wide range of boutique hotels to choose from, and offers enough local restaurants, bakeries, and shopping to keep you busy.
There’s a lack of nightlife so evenings are a lot quieter than elsewhere on the island but you’re close enough that you still enjoy all the action and transport options of Fira. For a more authentic Santorini experience and the opportunity to find some hidden gems, then you can’t do better than Firostefani.
Things to do in Firostefani
- Climb Skaros Rock, an old fortress and get a view of Imerovigli
- Visit the female monastery and folklore museum of Agios Nikolaos
- Learn about Ancient History at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira
- Wander the alleys and take pictures of the Caldera
Where to Stay in Firostefani
Where to stay in Santorini - Stay in Imerovigli for a remote getaway
If Firostefani is still too busy for you, why don’t you try Imerovigli, a sleepy town just 20 mins walk from Fira. In exchange for leaving the busy city behind, you will be rewarded with outstanding views of the bay.
Why stay in Imerovigli
Imerovigli is the quietest town in Santorini and a perfect spot for a private and idyllic getaway. Close to Fira, just 2km away on the local bus or around twenty-five minutes’ walk it’s one of the most expensive places to stay on the island but the payoff is breath-taking views of the caldera lagoons and sunset scenes that are unmatched elsewhere on the island. Many of the hotels are built into the cliff with views of the volcano and offer free shuttles into Fira so you can really make the most of Santorini’s dynamic nature and town combination. You’re most likely to see romantic couples on their honeymoon strolling around this area enjoying the total remoteness. There are a small number of restaurants to enjoy here but no nightlife or major attractions so make use of the buses to Fira.
Things to do in Imerovigli
- Watch the amazing sunset from Profitis Ilias Hilltop for an Oia alternative
- Visit Mezzo Restaurant for views of Skaros Rock, the caldera and authentic cuisine
- Hike the trails to Fira and Oia
Where to Stay in Imerovigli
Where to stay in Santorini - Stay in Oia for luxury with incredible sunsets
Who wouldn’t want to experience Santorini in luxury? If your wallet can handle it, Oia, the small town perched on the farthest Northern corner of Santorini is the perfect spot. When you book your accommodation, make sure you have a terrace which faces the sunset. You don’t want to miss the breathtaking views.
Why stay in Oia
Oia is the area most of the pictures of Santorini are taken, it’s one of the most scenic parts of the island and is well suited to couples on a getaway or people who want breath-taking views every time they leave their hotel.
It gets incredibly busy every evening when buses of people from Fira arrive to catch the incredible sunsets here but is very quiet most of the day and a perfect place to wander with narrow alleyways and winding staircases at each turn.
Accommodation in the area is generally more expensive and there are some beautiful luxury options here so choose Oia if you’re looking for that special getaway. There’s no nightlife in the area and it generally offers quite a sleepy pace of life but there’s no shortage of restaurants and high-end shopping to keep you busy.
Oia is also just a short bus ride to Fira, making it perfect for people who want to be near the action but mostly want a quiet beach escape.
Things to do in Oia
- Visit the Atlantis Bookshop for rare books and a beautiful view
- Head to Amoudi Bay for swimming and traditional food
- Visit one of the iconic Santorini blue domed churches
- Visit the nearby Sigalas WineryExplore the fifteenth-century Agios Nikolaos
- Devour gyros at the local favourite Pita Gyros
- Take a sunset cruise around the island
- Visit Lolita’s Gelato for weird and wonderful flavours
Where to Stay in Oia
Where to Stay in Santorini - Kamari best for families
With its long beach and many activities, Kamari is a great spot if you are travelling as a family to Santorini. The town is more budget friendly but still full of restaurants and bars with ample shopping opportunities.
Why stay in Kamari
A beautiful family-friendly village and much cheaper than other areas in Santorini, the main attraction is the famous Kamari Beach and the pedestrianised beach-front walk dotted with bars, restaurants, and shopping.
You’ll find small, family-run Greek tavernas and authentic restaurants dotted around. Many restaurants will even deliver food to your deckchair on the beach.
Always within easy walking distance of the sea, it’s ideal for people who want to enjoy water-based activities and have plenty to do waterside.
The pebble-beach isn’t the most scenic on the island but being only fifteen minutes from Fira by bus and thirty-five minute to Oia, this budget-friendly area is in a great location with more than enough.
Things to do in Kamari
- See a Movie at the Open Air Cinema
- Visit the below ground Santorini Wine Museum
- Explore the unique Art Space Winery, combining wine and art
- Visit the famous Donkey Brewery on the road between Fira and Kamari
- Explore the Ancient Thera ruins between Kamari and Perissa
- Visit the ancient village of Pygros
- Watch live Greek dance performances at Dimitri’s Restaurant
Where to Stay in Kamari
Where to Stay in Santorini - Perissa and the famous Black Beach
With it’s 3km long iconic Black Beach, Perissa is also a great place for families. Many budget friendly accommodation is available while there are plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes.
If you want to dive, Perissa has many diving schools where you can quickly learn how to dive and take to the open waters to check out the mesmerising underwater world.
Why stay in Perissa
Family friendly, Perissa and Perivolos beach (also known as The Black Beach due to the sand) are basically the same long beach, which has much nicer sand than Kamari.
Perissa also popular with backpackers. You will find hostels in this town, catering for the backpacker crowd.
Lined with restaurants, pizzerias, cafes, and cute bars, this area is no stranger to beach parties There are also plenty of water sport based activities, diving schools, and surfing so there’s plenty to do in the area making it an entertaining place to stay It is quite far from Fira and Oia so if you’re planning to spend a lot of time there then it’s worth bearing that in mind.
This area is particularly quiet out of season and offers some good accommodation deals.
Things to do in Perissa
- Catch the bus to Akrotiri Lighthouse
- Enjoy quirky cocktails at Yazz Bar
- Eat your way around the many tavernas
- Visit the Santorini Dive Center for easy access to the volcanic dive spots
- Wander the church of Timios Stavros
- Have fun at the Santorini Water Park
Where to Stay in Perissa
Where to Stay in Santorini - Stay in Perivolos for the best beach parties
Walking distance from Perissa, Perivolos is a great location for those who don’t fancy sleeping at night. With it’s live music scene, Perivolos is famous for it’s lineup of local and international DJs.
With its budget friendly accommodation and awesome party scene, Perivolos is attracting a young, energetic crowd.
Why stay in Perivolos
Located on the south-east coast of the island and a popular backdrop for weddings, Perivolos has a youthful vibe and offers a multitude of drinking, eating, and shopping options.
Much like the other beach areas (Kamari and Perissa), staying at Perivolos offers far more budget-friendly accommodation making it very popular with young people and families.
Perivolos also has a cosmopolitan side making it ideal for anyone looking for a resort-style getaway. Featuring the liveliest beach resort on the island and the most beachside bars - Perivolos still has more relaxed vibe than Perissa just 3 km away.
Sun beds and umbrellas are available free and there’s even wifi on the beach. Local and international DJs play in the area making every evening a party and granting an idyllic place to rest the next day.
Things to do in Perivolos
- Devour a fresh seafood dinner at one of the beachfront tavernas
- Drink in the unique Taxidi Bar, an ex-tomato factory
- Enjoy vegetarian and vegan food with a view at Tranquilo
- Walk the whole coast from Perivolos to Perissa
Where to Stay in Perivolos
We hope you have found the perfect accommodation on this beautiful island. After your visit, don't forget to share your tips with other readers in the comments section below.