Do you feel confused about where to stay in Santorini and you need a guide to assist you? Then, just keep reading. We promise to unravel all the pros and cons of each village in Santorini to make your decision a piece of cake.
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Overview of places to stay in Santorini
The towns of Fira, Oia and Imerovigli are situated along the caldera cliff on the western side of the island and definitely are the best places to stay in Santorini. They offer stunning caldera views with breathtaking sunsets and endless blue horizons. On the other hand, Pyrgos is the new hot must-stay place in Santorini due to its picturesque architecture. And let’s not forget Megalochori, Emborio and Kamari, villages that are mostly inhabited by locals and where someone can feel the contemporary local lifestyle of Santorini.
Useful information about where to stay in Santorini
Do you want to stay close to the beach or do you prefer somewhere close to the caldera with the amazing sunset views? So, this is the very first and most important question you need to answer before you start searching for a hotel.
💭Santorini Insider’s tip: The beach towns on Santorini are located along the island's eastern shore and do not offer sunset views, whereas towns such as Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia are situated on the Caldera, on the western side of the island.
Caldera villages or beach towns?
The villages that are on the caldera cliffs are more luxurious with quite expensive hotels. On the contrary, the beach towns are more relaxed, less expensive, and there you can feel a more authentic Greek vibe that other Cycladic islands are famous for. The beach towns provide great value for money if you’re trying to save money when researching where to stay in Santorini.
From June to September, the beach towns are lively and busy and from late May to early October, the weather is ideal for swimming. On the opposite side of the island, the beach towns can be very quiet outside these months and the temperature is generally not warm enough for swimming.
If you love fancy restaurants and sophisticated clubs, then Fira and Oia should be your choice, or at least make sure you visit them during your stay in Santorini.
How to get around in Santorini?
Santorini is a tiny little island and it’s fast and easy to get from one town or beach to the next, so you don’t really have to feel confined by the location you choose. To make it easier, just consider that from Fira to the beaches will take you approx. 30’ by taxi, and from Oia to Fira it is just a 20’ drive. So, no matter where you end up staying in Santorini you can always rent a car or grab a taxi and enjoy the island.
☑️ Read more about how to Get Around in Santorini and be well prepared for your upcoming trip to the beautiful island. Follow a detailed guide on how to get around the picturesque island of Santorini and learn how to use public transportation and rent your own vehicles.
Famous places to stay in Santorini
#1. Fira or Thira – the most lively and touristic place to stay in Santorini
Fira, today’s capital town of Santorini, is situated just 7 km from Santorini’s airport and its public transportation is well connected with the rest of the island. Perched high on the edge of a cliff, Fira gives an impressive view of Santorini’s famed volcano, the Caldera.
💡Historical fact: After Santorini was occupied by the Turks, Fira became Santorini's capital in the 19th century, replacing Skaros, which at the time was the capital.
Fira has several hotels with spectacular views of the caldera which are usually significantly luxurious and expensive, but also has a considerable number of hotels and houses that are located further back from the cliff, which means they do not offer caldera views. Simply said, these are cheaper hotels and make Fira a decent budget alternative for travelers.
Most of the buildings in Fira are inspired by the Venetian architecture and this is apparent all around the town. Some of the most famous buildings are the Catholic Cathedral and the Lazariston Monastery. The Venetian architecture is evident even on some of the houses of the town, mostly located on the main side of the town.
Finally, it is good to know when considering where to stay in Santorini that Fira, during the summer season, is the place where all cruise ships are anchored, and is typically full of visitors from May to October. Sometimes, it is difficult even to walk around on foot during the peak days due to the cruisers.
Fira, Santorini’s capital, even if it is a small village, should be among your top choices of where to stay in Santorini as it offers countless options for things to do in Santorini. You can go shopping at its marvelous souvenir shops, pay a visit to museums or galleries, explore its picturesque well-preserved monasteries and churches, party all night with signature cocktails, and last but not least, indulge in a delicious dinner overlooking the amazing Santorini sunset!
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#2. Oia – the romantic getaway to stay in Santorini
Oia, the shelter of the honeymooners of Santorini, is located 16 km from the airport and despite the fact that it is less crowded compared to Fira, it is actually more expensive and luxurious as some of the best hotels in the world are located there. If you consider Oia while researching where to stay in Santorini, you should definitely read further.
Oia is famous for its romantic scenery, premium cave houses with deluxe amenities, cubelike tiny paths and numerous little churches and chapels with blue bells. In addition, Oia is considered to be the cultural center of Santorini as a lot of designers’ ateliers, galleries and high-end restaurants are located there. If you love art, high-end gourmet restaurants, and top-class hotels, stop wondering where to stay in Santorini, Oia should be your choice.
Oia is situated on the northern side of Santorini and it is renowned for having the most spectacular sunsets all around Santorini as its southwest part looks directly into the caldera and the Nea Kameni island. If you are visiting Santorini dreaming to witness the magnificent Aegean sunset while sipping local wine from your private hot tub, then Oia should be your choice.
💭Santorini Insider's tip: There is an incredible hiking route connecting Oia and Fira which we definitely advise you to take early in the morning if you love taking instagramable pictures or you are just an adventurous type.
#3. Imerovigli – the best volcanic views of Santorini
Imerovigli is located in between Fira and Oia, a quiet village that is scattered with luxury hotels along its caldera road. When searching where to stay in Santorini, Imerovigli could fit in with your needs if you are seeking for affordable luxurious holidays away from the hustle and bustle of Fira or the over the top fanciness of Oia.
Just before choosing Imerovigli as a place to stay in Santorini, you need to know that Imerovigli does not offer a lot of options for dining, let alone partying. You will need to hire a car and visit Oia or Fira if you love vivid nightlife. We could say that Imerovigli is ideal for couples who want to relax and just stay in enjoying their love and the deluxe services of their hotel.
Finally, let’s underline the fact that Imerovigli offers one of the best Santorini sunset views due to its position, as it is located on the higher cliff of the caldera. And actually, its name stems from the word “vigla” which means “viewpoint”, as back in the centuries, Imerovigli used to be the perfect location to spot the pirate ships in the Aegean Sea.
✅ Santorini Tour Offer Join a spectacular Santorini horse riding tour and admire gorgeous landscapes and secret pathways that lead to the unique Eros Beach of Santorini. Ride your horse on the unique Eros beach and create beautiful memories to cherich forever.
#4. Megalochori – the homeland of merchants in Santorini
Megalochori is among the most popular villages in Santorini and one of the top places to stay in Santorini if you love experiencing the true local feeling of a destination. It is situated approximately 7 km from the airport of Santorini, close to many beaches and the port of Ammoudi where the famous Santorini catamaran cruises start from.
At Megalochori you can spend lovely evenings, discovering the village across narrow labyrinth-like streets and locating its charming churches with the traditional white facade and blue domes. Also, this is your place to stay in Santorini if you like encountering adorable tavernas and tiny local stores offering a wide selection of local goods.
Megalochori does offer some options to stay, but usually, they are either rental houses or cheap hotels. If you desire to unveil the contemporary lifestyle of Santorini, choose to stay in Megalochori and we are sure you will soon acquire a lot of new Greek friends.
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#5. Pyrgos (Kallistis) – the most authentic greek village in Santorini
Close to Megalochori, on the footsteps of mountain Profitis Elias and just 5.5 km away from Santorini’s airport, one of the most adorable villages in Santorini is located, Pyrgos – our favourite place to stay in Santorini.
Pyrgos is like a fairytale. From the instagrammable cafes with the amazing local appetizers to the picturesque churches with the impressive bells, everything is just stunning. Oh – and the locals who live there make the whole atmosphere so comfy and warm. You will be fascinated by chatting with them and listening to their funny stories.
✅ Santorini Tour Offer A Wineries and Wine Tour in Santorini is a fnatastic experience where you will try unique flavors and learn about the history and architecture of the island. During the wineries and wine tasting tour in Santorini you will visit three historical wineries and taste nine world-renowned wines paired with selected delicacies.
In addition, Pyrgos is the only village that offers 360 views of Santorini, for tourists who love views and would be disappointed by the fact that the village does not offer caldera views, just climb to Profitis Ilias Monastery.
Pyrgos is an upcoming destination for Santorini, meaning that despite the fact that the majority of the available accommodation in the village can be considered quite affordable, we lately see coming up some really upgraded hotels and airbnbs with high-end standards, putting Pyrgos on the map even for those who seek to find luxury places to stay in Santorini.
💭Santorini Insider’s tip: A must-visit attraction in Pyrgos is the Kasteli (Castle), a medieval castle which is well preserved until today. Kasteli is one of the remaining 5 “kastelia” in Santorini! The castle was constructed back in 1660 by the Venetians.
Pyrgos is suitable for all ages and types of travellers as it provides a combination of various different options, from breathtaking views and scenic places, to museums and galleries, and from traditional tavernas to gourmet restaurants, everything anyone would love to do and see while on the island can be found in Pyrgos.
❕❗️ Want to join tours and activities in Santorini? Check out our full list of tours and boat tours in Santorini and get ready for the adventure of your lifetime. From catamaran cruises and wine tastings, to hiking tours and cooking classes, find the tour that best fits your needs.
#6. Kamari – the coastal place to stay in Santorini
Kamari is located on the southeastern coast of Santorini and it’s just a couple of kilometers away from Fira. Kamari got its name from an arch, which belonged to a sanctuary for Poseidon, the god of the sea.
The village of Kamari has several beach bars to enjoy a refreshing drink in the hot summer days and a great number of restaurants and taverns to indulge in some traditional delicacies. It is also the only village in Santorini which has cinemas, providing a great opportunity to watch your favorite movie under the glimmering stars. Apart from the above, the airport of Santorini is closeby making Kamari easy to reach in just a couple of minutes.
Compared to other locations on the island, Kamari is quite affordable and ideal for families who prefer to relax and wash away the dust of everyday life. Take into account that Kamari is close to the airport of Santorini so if you decide to stay there, it will be easy for you to reach it. Don’t forget to visit the glorious black beach with the same name which is composed of volcanic sand that will inspire people of all ages.
💭Santorini Insider’s Tip: We suggest getting yourself a glass of Assyrtiko wine (the local signature wine) in one of Pyrgos’ wine bars!
❕❗️ If you're visiting Santorini for many days and want a biggger, more detailed travel guide, check out the incredible 'Best things to do in Santorini' travel guide with tips on where to eat, what to do and more.
🧐What are the most famous places to stay in Santorini❓
Fira or Thira
F.A.Q. about Where to Stay in Santorini
Is Santorini child-friendly?
Santorini’s villages Oia, Fira and Imerovigli are not very child-friendly because they’re full of cliffs and it can be quite dangerous. If you were to go to Kamari or Perissa you’d find more things for the kids to do.
Where should I stay in Santorini for the first time?
Fira and Oia are the top places to stay for the first time in Santorini as they’re the most famous villages on the island. There are also many resorts and hotels there with perfect views right from the balcony of their rooms.
Where is the best view in Santorini?
The locations with the best views in Santorini are Oia, Fira and Imerovigli. Oia might be the most famous location in Santorini for its views but Fira and Imerovigli don’t fall far behind.