On a flooded ancient volcano, Santorini is the crown jewel of the Cyclades islands. The mesmerizing sunsets and caldera views have long held a grip on travelers who can’t wait to experience this quintessential Greek destination.
Running along the volcanic-burnt landscapes are pristine white homes, with a scattering of blue-domed cathedrals. Cobblestone streets guide you through historic towns where romance and culture meet in equal measure.
Where to Stay in Santorini
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It’s an island of pure luxury, where the scars of the volcanic eruption have only recently been discovered. Stay in stunning Cycladic architecture with each hotel trying in earnest to elevate its surroundings. Where you can find private terraces and swimming pools to watch the sun fall over and over again.
Here are our choices for the best places to stay in Santorini.
Best Places to stay in Santorini
Got no time to waste and want to know where to stay in Santorini? These are the best hotels and vacation rentals to suit every budget.
Wondering what the best towns in Santorini are? Those making their way to the iconic island for the first time will love staying in Firostefani. With amazing views of the ancient caldera, shops, and restaurants, you’ll have everything that makes Santorini great right on your doorstep. Staying here will also place you close to the happening Fira, which is only a short walk away. From which you can make use of the bus network to move around the island.
However, each town around Santorini has something unique to offer. From families to solo travelers, you’ll find something that works for you. Whether that’s chasing the famed local sunsets, lazing on the black sand beach, or exploring the archaeological site in Akrotiri.
Best Luxury Hotel in Santorini: Andronis Luxury Suites
Carved into the prehistoric volcanic rocks that line the cliffside, Andronis Luxury Suites is an idyllic luxury experience. In the famous town of Oia, walk onto your private terrace with a plunge pool for impeccable views of the caldera. It is walking distance to all the main attractions in Oia yet your private villa is far away from the crowds.
Andronis Luxury Suites is one of the best honeymoon hotels on the island. With guests have access to their own private swimming pool or hot tubs.
At night, forget the crowds and witness the famous Santorini sunset from the comfort of your private balcony. Each suite is designed in the Cycladic style, offering lush bathrooms and spacious living areas.
Each morning, enjoy your complimentary breakfast inside your suite. While for lunch and dinner, you can head to the on-site Lycabettus restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Oia, for traditional Mediterranean cuisine that will blow your mind.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Santorini: Alta Vista Suites
Santorini hotels, especially between Oia and Fira, aren’t always easy on the wallet. But the Cycladic suites at Alta Vista provide immense quality and stunning views high on the caldera cliffs without breaking the bank.
Stay in Imerovigli, a part of Santorini with ocean views that rival Oia. Your room will come with a private balcony or terrace. From which you can enjoy the classic postcard-worthy scenery that made Santorini famous. The interior decor matches the natural and cultural aesthetics of the island. While each room features an ensuite bathroom, and some may offer a cozy fireplace.
Outside of your room, you’ll have infinity pool and glorious sea views. Where you can swim to the edge of the island and look down at the sea hundreds of feet below.
Best Budget Hotel in Santorini: Acqua Vatos Santorini Hotel
Enjoy a taste of Cycladic architecture and decor without paying top dollar at Acqua Vatos Santorini Hotel. This is one of the best cheap hotels on the island. The traditional hotel offers a peaceful experience in the quiet town of Kamari, close to the black sand beaches.
Each room at this beautiful yet cheap hotel offers your own private terrace or balcony. Each morning, enjoy your complimentary breakfast from the comfort of your own space or dine in the idyllic front yard. The gorgeous property is fitted with its own vineyard to explore. After which you can dive into the swimming pool.
For adventures away from the hotel, you’ll be well placed to enjoy the beach life being only 150ft from Kamari Beach. From there you can explore the tavernas, beach bars, and restaurants.
The 6 Best Areas to Stay in Santorini
On the foothills of an ancient volcano, Oia is straight out of a postcard. A mix of bright white and dense blues with a backdrop of earthy tones. It’s everything you would expect from one of the best places to stay in Santorini.
Oia is often the first town that comes to mind for those planning on visiting Santorini. The idyllic destination on the northern end of the island has spectacular sunset views. Such is the burst of oranges, reds, and purples across the western horizon that great numbers head to the cliffside town of Oia, and its old castle to capture golden hour.
The event is a photographer’s dream. The mix of blue-domed churches, turquoise plunge pools, and white homes with the sunset is one of the most memorable sights in all the Greek islands. But as we mentioned, this is hardly a well-kept secret.
You’ll share this experience with hoards of travelers and cruise ship passengers. If it fits within your budget, it’s worth enjoying the sunset views from your own private terrace.
The good news is that the crowds in Oia tend to be transient. They arrive in the afternoon to explore the picturesque town and depart after the sun falls beneath the horizon. Those who choose to spend their days in Oia will have the serene cobblestone streets to themselves in the morning and at night.
Oia is lined with romantic restaurants, boutique galleries, and high-end shops. As you walk between them both, you’ll enjoy gorgeous early morning views of the Aegean Sea and the caldera. The narrow walkways with paved partitions will guide you from one end of town to the other.
But quickly the streets will become more crowded. The town’s best views are harder to reach and the shops aren’t nearly as peaceful. If you want to explore Santorini from Oia, you’ll need to hire a car as the northern town isn’t as well-connected via public transport.
Having a central location and the bulk of the island’s public transport, Fira is a great option for those wondering where to stay in Santorini. Fira is the biggest town on the island, and while it may lack some of the charms of Oia or Firostefani, it makes up for it in other ways.
The atmosphere in Fira rises early and maintains its momentum throughout the day. Here, locals and travelers alike mix in great numbers as they make their way around the busy town. With restaurants, bars, and attractions within walking distance, you’ll be able to get about on foot more often than not. Importantly, you’ll never have a shortage of things to do.
Fira is home to an abundance of sparkling white cathedrals. You can learn about its history from the Minoans and the volcanic eruption through to the modern-day. While every evening you’ll be able to capture the quintessential Greek sunset that you’ve long dreamed about.
Fira is home to Santorini’s main bus terminal, which is in the middle of town. After exploring your local attractions, you’ll love having such easy access to far-off destinations without the need for a rental car. Being such a huge hub for tourism means Fira will have more than its fair share of tour offices selling all sorts of island experiences for you to try.
This has also led the town to have an immense selection of restaurants, hotels, and the best nightlife scene in Santorini. The range of options and competition means life in the capital of Santorini is cheaper than other major towns along the Caldera side of the island. This is also true for accommodation with more mid-range and budget options to choose between. Along with solid access to public transport, Fira is great news for those traveling on a tighter budget.
The major drawback of staying in Fira is the commercialization of the town. It’s a major destination for cruise ships, whose passengers flood the town, leading to a less authentic experience. Away from the historic landmarks and epic views, you’ll find rows of souvenir shops, the kind many travelers see and dread.
Perissa & Kamari Beach
Most people come to the island for the famous Santorini sunset, but there’s more to life here than blazing dusk colors. Santorini is home to a famous black beach. Well, two of them. Born from a volcanic eruption that burnt the landscape and changed the nature of the soil.
Vacation in this part of Santorini is all about kicking back and relaxing. It’s a great opportunity to forego the rental car, put on your walking shoes, explore your local town, and chill by the ocean.
In the beach towns of Perissa and Kamari, you’ll come across rich black shorelines. Where the rocks and pebbles sparkle under the warm Greek sun and the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea creates a stunning contrast that you’ll never fail to appreciate.
The several beachfront hotels in Kamari are an excellent choice for friends looking at the best towns to stay in Santorini. Some of the best cheap hotels on the island can be found near Kamari Beach. Offering easy access to the black pebble beach, with beach bars lining the edge of the shore. While amazing caldera views can be found in Fira and Oia, a beautiful sunrise will greet you every morning from your hotel room.
Like Kamari, Perissa is much quieter and cheaper than the more iconic towns around the island. The budget-friendly destination is one of the best places to stay in Santorini. South of Kamari, Perissa welcomes you with that same warm, dark sand with ample cocktail bars along the beach. Just minutes from Santorini Airport, you’ll be lounging by the electric blue ocean in no time.
Aside from lounging under the umbrella, water sports are the thing to do. From your coy spot on the sand, you’ll see jet skis skimming across the water.
What makes Kamari and Perissa some of the best towns to stay in Santorini with friends, is also why it’s a magnificent spot for families. Those with younger kids can make the most of the laid-back lifestyle while getting more bang for your buck in terms of accommodation prices. Without the sunset and caldera, the prices here are lower despite offering such wonderful access to the best beaches on the island.
Imerovigli & Firostefani
Between Fira Town and Oia, the smaller towns of Imerovigli and Firostefani are teeming with whitewashed manors, private terraces, and cave hotels located with stunning sea views of the caldera and sunset.
Imerovigli is considered the Balcony of the Aegean. Built over 1000ft above sea level, you’ll enjoy a spectacular platform from which to admire the best natural features in Santorini. While many visitors flock north for the sunsets in Oia, the small village of Imerovigli remains peaceful and charming. Two characteristics that help elevate it to arguably the best area to stay in Santorini.
In the mornings, you can take your time exploring the quaint streets with a greater opportunity to mingle with local culture. You won’t find a vast array of shopping and attractions.
Life here is slower and you’ll have room to breathe and roam as you discover this part of Santorini all to yourself. Importantly, facing west, Imerovigli has equally spectacular sunset views while the caldera remains ever-present. At night, Oia dazzles along the ridge to the north.
Both Imerovigli and Firostefani are home to some of the best luxury hotels on the island. With the spectacular views, peaceful nature, and upscale restaurants, traveling couples can enjoy a romantic escape without sharing their experience with hoards of strangers. This, of course, comes with a higher price tag as they are both two of the more expensive places to stay in Santorini.
Imerovigli is around 30 minutes from downtown Fira, however, Firostefani is a brief 10-minute stroll away. This allows visitors to pick and choose when they want to experience the bustling action of Fira, including its more extravagant nightlife. Likewise, you’ll have an easier time getting to Fira’s bus terminal in order to explore Santorini. While a rental car may come in handy, many hotels do not offer car spots, and street parking can be hard to find.
Most hotels in Firostefani are in the center of the colorful town, surrounded by a charming shopping village. The village also boasts a better dining scene than Imerovigli. Here, you’ll have your choice of cozy cafes by day and several delectable restaurants by night as you bask in the sunset.
A quickly developing town in Santorini, Akrotiri, is the best area to stay if you want those stunning caldera views without the lofty price tag. Boutique hotels continue to pop up in Akrotiri as the town’s popularity grows. However, its distance from Fira (a 25-minute drive) allows the seaside town to remain without crowded streets and a touristy experience.
The trendy town is also home to the Red Beach of Santorini. Although popular during the day, the striking beach is peaceful come sunset. Allowing you to enjoy the uninhibited views with just your friends and family. From the red sands, you’ll find a dock, where for a small fee you can venture around to the black beaches on the eastern coasts.
Although Akrotiri may be considered off the beaten path, it’s a historically significant village. During the Neolithic Age, the first inhabitants of Santorini settled on the cardinal shoreline. Over time, the settlement grew into one of the most prominent commercial centers in the Aegean, allowing the local community to develop a fascinating culture. Until a historic volcano eruption covered the town.
With ample warning time, residents were able to evacuate, and Akrotiri was written off the pages of history. No one knew what lay beneath the surface until the mid-19th century. Making Akrotiri a more recent and potentially more fascinating discovery than Pompeii.
The town is now a captivating archaeological site with fresco buildings from 1600 BC having been frozen in time under the hardened lava. It’s said that only 5% of the town has been excavated with many more amazing discoveries waiting in the wings.
Aside from lounging by the beach and enjoying the spectacular sunsets, Akrotiri provides an intriguing look into the first communities that were created in Santorini.
With new hotels, great views, and an incredible history, Akrotiri is an amazing place to stay when visiting Santorini. However, its distance from Fira will mean you’ll need to rent a car to explore the rest of the island.
Megalochori & Pyrgos
Like Akrotiri, Megalochori and Pyrgos are a great way to experience Santorini away from the crowds. Pyrgos is a charming hill-top town close to the highest point in Santorini. From your hotel room or restaurant terrace, you’ll experience amazing views in every direction.
Look to the west to see the ancient caldera enveloped by the Aegean Sea. Capture the towns along the cliffside surrounded by lush green landscapes. To the east, see the black sand painting the edge of the coast while enjoying the crisp mountain air.
The west coast may have a greater concentration of blue-domed buildings and chalky homes, but Pyrgos has a traditional Greek feel. Here, only 1000 residents go about their daily lives, driving up and down the windy roads that caress the mountainside.
On your explorations of Pyrgos, you’ll pass neoclassical museums, rows of vineyards basking in the warm Greek sun, and charming cafes surrounding the town square. At night, kick back from your elevated position and take in the sunset at any of the hillside restaurants offering unbeatable vistas.
Like Pyrgos, Megalochori has a rural vibe untouched by the movement of time. While not quite Akrotiri, the village hails back to the 1600s where pirate dens popped up, traditional cottages arose and wine caverns first made an appearance.
There is an aura of history as you wander around town. Much of this is because of the efforts of locals who have maintained a reverence for the historic buildings, keeping them in excellent condition for you to admire.
Here you can live like a local. Wake up each morning and make your way to the village square where you can join the community in sipping on a coffee as the sun soars ever higher.
From Megalochori and Pyrgos, you can catch the bus from the main streets to explore Santorini. While the cheaper accommodation should leave some room in the budget for a car hire and plenty of day trips.
Where to Stay in Santorini for the First Time:
For the ultimate Santorini experience, with ample privacy, Firostefani is the perfect spot for first-time visitors. You’ve come to Santorini to enjoy impeccable vistas of the caldera and to gaze upon unforgettable sunsets, so why not do it away from everyone else?
Firostefani is somewhat off the tourist path as most arrive in Fira and venture to Oia for the views. Get comfortable in your up-scale accommodations and explore a quaint town with lovely shopping. All the while, have a simple walk to Fira whenever you feel like it.
Best Place to Stay in Santorini for Nightlife
For those chasing adventures after dark, then you’ll have the best time staying in Fira. After the sun goes down, attention quickly turns to the array of dim-lit cocktail bars, boisterous pubs, and pumping dance halls.
Santorini may not be famed for its nightlife. You shouldn’t stack it up against other notable party spots around Europe. But that’s not to say you won’t enjoy life after dark in Fira.
In fact, the island’s biggest town has a little bit of something for everyone. Enjoy quiet and romantic bars by the Aegean Sea or venture to where the music is loud, and the night doesn’t end.
Where to Stay in Santorini for Families
Depending on what you want to get out of your Santorini experience, families should stay in either Akrotiri or along Kamari Beach.
Both destinations offer cheaper accommodation, meaning you’ll be able to fork out for that extra bedroom. Without large crowds, you can enjoy your surroundings without feeling rushed, perfect for families with younger kids.
From Kamari Beach, you can enjoy the ocean before kicking back at a beachfront bar. The relaxing atmosphere is primed for families. While in Akrotiri, you can make the most of the famous caldera views without paying top dollar.
Where to Stay in Santorini for Shopping
Fira and Oia have the bulk of the island’s shopping. With rows of shops and boutique stores catering to tourists, you’ll be able to spend your afternoon browsing the shops or picking up some mementos and gifts for those back home.
Fira caters to a wider audience with more budget offerings and souvenir stores. On the other hand, Oia leans towards high-end stores with a greater number of international brands.
Between the two, Firostefani has a lively shopping street in the center of town that travelers should experience. With a greater number of locals, the walk down the street is an authentic experience. Similar shopping can also be found in Pyrgos.
Where to Stay in Santorini for Sightseeing
Owing to its central location and its transport hub, Fira is the best place to stay for sightseeing. If you hire a car, you’ll be well-placed to explore the four corners of the island. Whether that be the coastal towns of Akrotiri and Perissa or the mountain villages around Pyrgos.
Without a rental car, you’ll also have an easier time exploring from your base in Fira. The main bus station is in town with a greater number of services around Santorini.
But no village on the island has as much to do within its boundaries as Fira. Visitors will have many attractions nearby, including the Three Bells of Fira, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, and the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. Not to mention the jaw-dropping Santorini Cable Car.
Our Money-Saving Tips for Santorini
Santorini isn’t a haven for budget travelers, thanks to its popularity and incredible views. But what makes the island such an iconic destination also opens the door for budget travelers to save money.
Unlike other Greek islands, Santorini remains open during the winter. During this period you can enjoy cheaper accommodation.
If you’ve arrived in peak season, you’ll notice it isn’t cheap to eat out. Especially if the restaurant has a view. Forego the view for lunch and dinner to help balance the budget.
Getting Around Santorini
Driving around Santorini is not only a great way to explore the forgotten villages away from Oia, but it will save you time and patience. Check out the best car rental prices here.
Santorini has a decent public bus network that services all the major villages on the island. But unless you are in Fira, you’ll be restricted by the limited offerings, especially if you wish to go to the east coast.
In peak season, you’ll be sharing the buses, not just with locals but the mass of travelers who all had the same idea as you. If you want to see all of Santorini and it fits the budget, we recommend picking a car up for the trip.
How to Get to Santorini
You can fly or take the ferry to Santorini. Daily flights leave Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos) and take 40 minutes to get to the island. Once there you can catch a taxi to your hotel.
Ferries also operate daily to Santorini from the Piraeus in Athens. Santorini is also connected by ferry to other Greek Islands. We flew from Athens to Santorini and then continued on the Crete by ferry.
Best Time to Visit Santorini
The busiest times to visit Santorini are during the summer months. This is the best weather as Santorini has a Mediterranean climate however, it is also the most crowded with cruise ships. However, if you are staying in a luxury hotel with a private pool, you may not care about the crowds. You can relax at the pool bar away from the crowds and wait for the cruise ships to leave.
If you are staying in one of the beach towns, the best weather is from June to September.
To avoid the crowds you will want to visit in shoulder season either September and October or April and May. We visited in October and the weather was still very warm.