Santorini is known for its epic sunsets and white villages but there are many different ways to explore this stunning island. Choosing where to stay in Santorini will depend on your budget, lifestyle and preferences.
The best place to stay in Santorini is along the Caldera – think beautiful villas with private pools and sunset views.
The island’s capital and largest town, Fira is one of the best places to stay in Santorini. It’s home to a variety of accommodation options, upscale restaurants, and high-caliber nightlife. It’s also the transportation hub of the island, with buses traveling to beaches, Akrotiri ruins, and other villages regularly from its central bus station.
Fira can be quite crowded, especially when a cruise ship is in town (cruise passengers tend to head back to their ships by early evening) but even at its busiest it’s still easy to find quiet spots for a meal or a cocktail. Plus, the cliffside hotels of Fira offer views of the caldera that are unmatched anywhere else on the island.
If you’re looking for a less-crowded place to stay, Imerovigli or Firostefani are excellent choices. Both villages are uphill from Fira and offer the conveniences of the capital with thinner crowds and more seclusion. They’re still within a short walk of the caldera and the best restaurants in town, but they’re slightly farther from the nightlife.
Other traditional villages to consider include Pyrgos, which offers sunset views from its perch at the highest point on the island. Its maze-like streets are lined with excellent restaurants, local boutiques, and picturesque churches, while its foothills are dotted with vineyards offering tours and tastings.
Santorini’s beach towns are fun, full, and busy from June to September, though the water isn’t consistently warm enough for swimming. They’re a good choice for travelers who plan to spend much of their time lounging on the beach and want the convenience of being able to easily travel into Oia or Fira for dinner and sunsets.
The island’s red, black, and volcanic sand beaches are great for relaxing and enjoying the sun from May to October. They’re also within easy reach of Fira, so you can easily hop between them for the day to experience different beach scenes on your trip. I particularly love the black sand beaches of Perissa and Perivolos for their great beach bars, restaurants, and overall atmosphere. They also have some of the best accommodations on the island with caldera views for a fraction of the price of hotels in Oia and Imerovigli.
Oia is one of the most picturesque and popular areas on the island. This picturesque little village is known for its iconic whitewashed houses with blue domed churches and awe-inspiring views over the caldera and the Aegean Sea.
It is also home to some of the best hotels in Santorini with caldera views and luxury accommodations. However, due to its popularity and status as a top place to stay in Santorini, it can be very expensive during the high season.
If you want to experience the beauty of Oia without the hefty price tag, then I highly recommend visiting during the off-season. The hotels are less crowded and you can still enjoy the spectacular views from the many caldera view hotels on the island.
Spending a day exploring Oia is a must for visitors to the island. A stroll through the cobblestone streets will allow you to admire the stunning architecture of the town and discover a variety of restaurants, boutiques, and charming churches. It is also a great place to shop for souvenirs and jewelry from local designers and artisans.
During the summer months, Oia can become overcrowded with tourists and cruise ship passengers. This is particularly true during sunset. If you want to avoid the crowds, then I recommend arriving super early around sunrise to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Oia.
As one of the most iconic towns in Santorini, Oia is well-known for its beautiful sunsets. Watching the sun disappear behind the horizon is a must-do activity for any visitor to the island. The best spot to watch the sunset in Oia is at the castle. The sweeping vista of the island and the surrounding sea speckled with other Greek Islands provides a stunning backdrop for this memorable moment.
Another option to consider for the best places to stay in Santorini is Akrotiri, a quickly developing town with stunning caldera views. Akrotiri is still relatively new and has not yet reached the level of fame and popularity that Oia has, so you can expect to find some lower-priced accommodation in this area.
If you want a more tranquil option to Fira and don’t mind being a little further out, Imerovigli is one of the best places to stay in Santorini. Sitting up high on the rim of the caldera with breathtaking views and impossibly romantic hotels and villas, this is where you’ll find those awe-inspiring sunsets and a laidback vibe that’s perfect for relaxing.
The most luxurious hotels in Santorini tend to be found here with incredible views, private pools and stunningly designed rooms that will make your holiday feel like a dream. You can also expect a level of service that is exceptional and will leave you feeling completely spoiled.
Some of the top luxury hotels in Imerovigli include Katikies Chromata Santorini and Astra Suites which both offer a divine experience that you’ll never forget. Both offer stunning volcano views and incredibly spacious rooms with some of the most unique layouts in the island including heated hot tubs on your balcony overlooking the caldera.
Other great options include Grace Santorini which has a modern sophisticated vibe and a lovely outdoor pool along with stunning views of the caldera. The hotel also offers a spa experience so you can really unwind and enjoy your time on the island.
For those looking for a more budget friendly option, Perissa is a good choice as it’s less busy than Oia and has a nice beach. However, you won’t get the same spectacular caldera or sunset views that you would from other parts of the island.
Kamari is another good pick if you’re traveling with kids as it has a nice sandy beach that’s suitable for swimming. You’ll also be within walking distance to a lot of restaurants, taverns and cafes.
The best times to visit Santorini are in the months of May and September when the weather is warm, sunny and dry. You’ll still be able to catch a beautiful sunset and will avoid the massive crowds that you’ll find in other months of the year.
In terms of a budget-friendly stay on Santorini, Akrotiri is the best option. This quickly developing town is home to a small number of boutique hotels with stunning caldera views without the lofty prices of Oia and Imerovigli.
While Akrotiri doesn’t have the beaches and nightlife of Oia or Fira, there are a handful of great restaurants with stunning views and delicious food. Moreover, the castle itself is a must-visit. It’s an impressive sight that was almost completely destroyed by a volcanic eruption and has since been rebuilt using traditional methods. It also houses one of the island’s best museums. Its exhibits include a rare Venetian pipe organ and an assortment of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures.
During the high season, from June to October, Akrotiri is fun, full, and bustling. However, it’s not recommended to stay in the area during the months of November to April as sea water is usually too cold for swimming.
The island’s most popular beaches are Perissa and Kamari and it makes sense to base yourself in one of these towns if you plan on spending the majority of your time lying on the beach. There are plenty of great bars and restaurants to choose from, as well as sunbeds with breathtaking views and amazing cocktails. Plus, the beaches are much quieter during the winter months when the weather is less warm and sunny.
The west side of the island is where you’ll want to focus when choosing where to stay in Santorini, especially if you are primarily interested in sunsets and soaking up those famous caldera views. Oia, Fira, and Imerovigli are the best choices for those seeking a luxury stay and the most famous photo spots on the island.