Where to Stay in Santorini: 8 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

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Beautiful Oia town on Santorini island, Greece

Santorini is known across the globe as one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. The unmistakable blue and white facades, legendary Aegean Sea, and delicious food make this Greek island a fantastic place to visit, whether you’re a couple on a honeymoon or an adventurous solo traveler.

When visiting Santorini and the Greek islands, there are a few things to remember. First, it will be crowded (and expensive) in the high season, July and August. Finding a spot at the iconic sunset spot in Oia is impossible unless you’re willing to wait for hours.

Despite this, the weather will be the most ideal at this time. You can count on sunny days and all restaurants and attractions to be open. Even if you visit during the unpredictable Meltemi winds, you’ll still have a good time on this magical island.

If you can, plan your visit in the off-season. I visited the island as early as May and as late as November, and the weather was perfect both times.

If you’d like to go swimming, I highly recommend planning your visit for June. The weather is warm, everything is open, and you can explore Santorini without many large crowds.

Once you’ve set your dates for your volcanic island vacation, you’ll need to figure out where to stay. That’s where we come in! When determining where to stay in Santorini, you’ll have your pick of magnificent mansions, luxury hotels, and traditional cave houses with private terraces or even your private plunge pool.

No matter where you stay in Santorini, you’ll enjoy incredible panoramic views, tasty Greek food and exploring the island’s traditional villages and beach towns. So let’s get into the best areas to stay in Santorini to make your trip memorable!

TL;DR: Places to Stay in Santorini

Areas to Stay in Santorini

  • Area for first-timers/tourists – Fira
  • Areas for budget travelers – Kamari & Perissa
  • Areas for luxury travelers – Oia & Vourvoulos
  • Area for safety – Akrotiri
  • Area for families – Imerovigli
  • Area off the beaten path – Megalochori

Where to Stay in Santorini

1. For Luxury Travelers: Oia

View of Oia Town from the Castle of Oia
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

Starting this list off is my favorite place to stay when I visit Santorini: Oia. Oia, also called Ia, is one of the main caldera towns on the island. It’s known for its small luxury hotels, amazing caldera views, and lovely small boutiques. Everywhere on Oia’s main drag is within walking distance to the Castle of Oia, where you can enjoy that famous Santorini sunset.

This is definitely one of the most scenic spots in Santorini. Oia is the best place to stay in Santorini for luxury travelers who want to stay in the most sought-after part of the island.

It’s also the most romantic spot for honeymooners or couples looking for a dreamy escape. The spectacular sunset views are unbeatable from Oia, and there are tons of restaurant and accommodation options. Oia has no beaches because it’s perched high on the caldera of a dormant volcano.

The town is tiny; there are just a few parking lots if you rent a car or ATV to explore the rest of the island. Your other options to get around include the local bus and taxi. I definitely recommend renting a car or ATV in the high season. The bus is extremely popular, so you may wait a while to get a seat. If you do take the bus, remember to have cash!

Oia is best experienced by relaxing from your private terrace or just enjoying a stroll through the town. There aren’t too many attractions here, but it is super scenic. There are a ton of spots for photographers, as well. Some of the fun and best things to do in and around Oia include:

  • Enjoy a romantic dinner and a cocktail on a rooftop terrace (my favorite is Strogili)
  • Trek down hundreds of steps to Amoudi Bay
  • Shop ’til you drop at all of the fabulous local boutiques
  • Have a photoshoot with Oia’s amazing backdrop
  • Enjoy a luxury sailing catamaran cruise with lunch and pick-up from Oia
  • Experience one of the best sunset views in the world at the Castle of Oia

Accommodation options include boutique hotels, brand-name luxury hotels, private rooms, and villas. My husband and I have stayed in a small hotel, a vacation rental (“cave house”), and a multi-level villa.

They’ve all been fabulous. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be spoiled with breathtaking views and your private terrace. Here are our favorite accommodations in Oia for all budgets:

  • Budget Vacation Rental in Oia: Blue Sky Villa – This studio is the perfect budget-friendly solution to stay in Oia. It’s within walking distance from the main path through the town, along with the main bus and taxi terminal.
  • Mid-Range Hotel in Oia: Secret View Hotel – This stunning hotel features an outdoor pool, terrace, and restaurant. Most rooms have private balconies, while some even have private plunge pools or hot tubs.
  • Luxury Hotel in Oia: Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel – This hotel offers the ultimate luxury escape. All suites feature sea-facing private terraces to enjoy those famous Santorini sunset views. Many rooms have their private plunge pool. This is one of the best hotels in Santorini.

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2. For Budget Travelers: Kamari Beach

Beach Chairs on Kamari Beach in Santorini Greece
FotoHelin / Adobe Stock

Kamari is an awesome little beach town dotted with fun-themed beach bars and some of the best cheap hotels located on the island. Kamari’s beautiful black sand beach offers an amazing place to rest and relax all day. Kamari is easily accessible by bus, car, or ATV and is only 30 minutes from Oia, which is basically on the opposite side of the island.

The highlight of Kamari is the beach itself. While Santorini is an island, there aren’t too many sandy beaches along its rocky coastlines. Kamari is one of its few beaches, and it’s a surprise. You can even find pockets of warm water from volcanic heat vents.

When planning your trip to Santorini, you definitely want to block out at least half a day to enjoy Kamari fully. Get there after breakfast and enjoy a freddo espresso while strolling through the charming beach village. There are a few boutiques here and there, but you’ll mostly find restaurants, bars, and hotels.

For the rest of your time in Kamari, you can relax and lounge on a beach chair all day or explore some landmarks. Here are some of the best and most fun things to do in Kamari Beach:

  • Order drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) from Hook Bar and enjoy complimentary (and super cute!) beach chairs for the day
  • Enjoy cheap and delicious gyros from The Souvlaki Stop
  • Hike up to the Church of St. Nicholas for a stunning panoramic view
  • Rent a jet ski from Kamari Beach Watersports
  • Explore the ancient city of Old Thera

This little beach town is the best place to stay in Santorini for budget travelers. Even the most luxurious hotels in Kamari are a fraction of the cost of a hotel room in Oia.

Accommodations include luxury hotels, private villas, and charming studios. Here are some of the best hotels and vacation rentals in Kamari:

  • Budget Vacation Rental in Kamari: Narkissos – If you’re looking for a place to stay in Santorini on a budget, you can’t beat this holiday apartment. Guests can enjoy a private terrace, free breakfast, and air conditioning. It’s within walking distance of Kamari’s main road with the best bars and restaurants.
  • Mid-Range Hotel in Kamari: Santorini Kastelli Resort – This exquisite hotel features two amazing outdoor pools, a pool bar, a spa, and elegant guest rooms. It’s also just a short walk away from the beach.
  • Luxury Hotel in Kamari: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini – Get ready to be spoiled at Nikki Beach Santorini. This hotel features a large outdoor pool and a private beach area. The whole hotel is super modern and stylish. There is an on-site restaurant, fitness center, and spa.

3. For First-Timers: Fira

Fira town on the caldera of Santorini
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

When visiting Santorini, you’ll most certainly need to at least pass through the capital of Fira. Fira town is where you’ll find the most car rental and tour companies and the main local bus terminal. This island’s capital is quite a famous town known for its caldera views and some of Santorini’s best hotels.

Fira is the largest of the main caldera villages – the other towns being Oia and Imerovigli. That means there are many more boutiques, restaurants, and hotels to choose from than in the other villages. You can spend a full day exploring every corner of the town, from quaint souvenir shops to Greek restaurants with amazing views and luxury jewelry boutiques.

This amazing little town combines a relaxing cliffside atmosphere with many hotels, bars, and restaurants. It’s also the place to go if you’re searching for the best nightlife in Santorini. It’s not Mykonos, but there are many bars and nightclubs. Here are a few of the best things to do in Fira town:

  • Visit the Folklore Museum of Santorini to learn about the island’s history
  • Take the cable car down to the Old Fira Port
  • Enjoy the Greek Wedding Show at The White Door Theatro
  • Appreciate the art at Mati Art Gallery
  • Stop by the Archaeological Museum of Fira
  • Check out the Three Bells of Fira, one of the town’s most photographed spots
  • Admire the beautiful St. John the Baptist Cathedral
  • Take a cooking class with wine tasting and lunch

Fira is the best place for first-time visitors to stay in Santorini. It is centrally located and accessible from all parts of the island. Due to its size, it also offers a lot more variety when it comes to accommodation options. Most hotels here also come with breathtaking views. Here are a few of the best options:

  • Budget Hotel in Fira: Milos Villas Hotel – Located on the outskirts of Fira, this hotel gets you the most bang for your buck in Santorini. It features a large outdoor pool and is within walking distance to all of Fira’s attractions and best restaurants. The highlight of this hotel is its traditional Cycladic windmill that has been transformed into a guest room.
  • Mid-Range Hotel in Fira: Delion View Hotel – This hidden gem features stunning views of the Aegean Sea, an indoor pool, and free daily breakfast. Enjoy sunset views from the hotel’s lovely terrace with a glass of wine.
  • Luxury Hotel in Fira: Nefeles Luxury Suites – This luxury hotel offers guest rooms equipped with relaxing hot tubs. The hotel also has an infinity pool and free Wi-Fi throughout the property. The superior suite boasts an incredible river pool and stunning caldera views.

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4. For Families: Imerovigli

Whitewashed buildings and blue domes in Imerovigli, Santorini
Maurizio De Mattei / Adobe Stock

If you’re looking for a more low-key location or where to stay in Santorini with kids, add Imerovigli to your list. It offers the same stunning caldera views as Oia and Fira but with only a small fraction of the crowds that the other towns attract. Imerovigli is more of a residential town but is starting to get its share of luxury and boutique hotels.

Imerovigli is a quiet town on the caldera cliffs right next to Fira. This village embodies a relaxing atmosphere. Its name translates to “viewpoint,” and what an amazing one it has. It offers views of the entire caldera as well as the small volcanic peak just off the coast.

Even though Imerovigli sees fewer tourists than Oia and Fira, you’ll still enjoy the same exquisite Cycladic architecture and romantic sunset views. The whitewashed buildings make the perfect backdrop for solo, couple, and family photos and are just stunning to see in real life. Here are just a few things to see and do in Imerovigli:

  • Hike out to Skaros Rock for the most majestic views
  • Visit Anastasios Church, some of the most famous blue domes on the island
  • Eat at The Athenian House, one of Santorini’s most romantic restaurants
  • Reserve some sun loungers by the pool bar at Le Moustache Caldera Pool Lounge & Restaurant

Imerovigli is the best place to stay in Santorini for families and those who want to be away from the crowds of the bigger towns but still want to enjoy the same great views. This town offers the best of both worlds regarding romance and seclusion. It’s definitely not a ghost town, but also somewhere you’ll be able to have a bit of peace in the evenings. These are some of the best hotels and vacation rentals in Imerovigli:

  • Budget Vacation Rental in Imerovigli: Villa Ammos – This awesome villa is a great budget-friendly option for families. It features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a large terrace to take in the amazing caldera views.
  • Mid-Range Hotel in Imerovigli: Luna Rossa – This boutique hotel features affordable studios and apartments perfect for solo travelers and families. Enjoy the stunning surroundings with unobstructed views of the Aegean Sea. It is definitely one of the best cheap hotels on this side of the caldera.
  • Luxury Hotel in Imerovigli: Nobu Hotel Imerovigli – Nobu just recently opened this luxurious hotel, boasting an amazing private pool and incredible panoramic views. While you’ll definitely want to indulge in traditional Greek food while in Santorini, plan to have at least one dinner at Nobu’s signature restaurant.

5. Perissa Beach

Aerial view of Perissa Beach and town in Santorini
ververidis / Adobe Stock

The seaside village of Perissa Beach is one of the few beach towns on the island of Santorini. Like Kamari, it’s known for its beautiful black sand beach, beach bars, seaside restaurants, and some of the best cheap hotels on the islands.

If you visit to indulge in beach life, this is the perfect place to visit in Greece. The sandy beach of Perissa seems to go on for miles. It’s located on the island’s southern side, on the other side of Mesa Vouno from Kamari. Visitors often come here to bask in the sun and take in the stunning views of the black sand, contrasting with the deep blue water.

When spending a day on Perissa Beach, you can also explore the nearby beaches of Perivolos and Agios Georgios, which are just a short walk away from Perissa. This town can be as relaxing or adventurous as you’d like. You can spend a day lounging at one of many beach bars or hike up the mountain for gorgeous views.

Also, just because this is a beach town doesn’t mean there aren’t the famous blue domes that Santorini and the rest of the Cyclades are known for. Some of the fun and best things to do in Perissa include:

  • Flyboarding or jet skiing with Wave Sports Perissa
  • Spend a day at a beach club like Tranquilo
  • Hike up to Mesa Vouno
  • Eat at one of Perissa’s seafood restaurants (I liked Aquarius)
  • Visit the Museum of Minerals and Fossils

Perissa Beach is the best place to stay in Santorini for budget and solo travelers. There are plenty of cheap hotels to choose from that will give you that Greek island vibe without breaking the bank. It’s also one of the best beach towns on the island. Here are some of the best hotels Perissa has to offer:

  • Budget Hotel in Perissa: Margareina – This wonderful property is the best cheap hotel in Santorini. Its guest rooms are beautifully designed with a minimalist aesthetic that is perfect for travelers. The hotel has an outdoor pool just a short walk from the beach.
  • Mid-Range Hotel in Perissa: Sellada Beach Hotel – This stunning hotel will make you feel like you’ll never want to leave. It features a stunning outdoor bar and restaurant at a beachfront location. This boutique hotel has an outdoor pool if you want a break from the sandy beach.
  • Luxury Hotel in Perissa: Anastasia Princess Luxury Residence (Adults Only) – This romantic beachfront resort is the perfect escape for any traveler. It features not one but three lovely swimming pools. Enjoy lounging by your private plunge pool, at the pool bar, or the relaxing spa. The hotel is just a one-minute walk from the ocean if the private pools aren’t enough.

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6. Akrotiri

Akrotiri's Red Sand Beach in Santorini
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

As home to some of Santorini’s most historical and culturally important sites, Akrotiri is a must-see for everyone when visiting Santorini. The ancient city gets a lot of comparison to Pompeii, as you can visit its amazingly-preserved ruins created after the city was devastated by a huge volcanic eruption.

Some also believe it is actually the lost city of Atlantis. It’s a great place for history buffs and beach lovers alike. Akrotiri is also home to Santorini’s famous red beach, which gets its color from the island’s rich volcanic soil.

It’s an awesome spot to spend a few hours, but if you’re visiting in the summer, you might want to bring a small beach umbrella since there is no shade. There is a little hike from the parking lot and bus stop to the red-sand beach, but it’s doable for most people.

Akrotiri itself covers quite a large area, though it never gets crowded. It’s located on the southwesternmost tip of the island, filled with vineyards and substantial private villas.

Everything is pretty spread out here, so renting a car or ATV is best. If you take the bus, you’ll only get to explore the ruins and the red sand beach. I do definitely recommend visiting either way, though, so here are some of the best things to see and do in Akrotiri:

  • Visit the Red Sand Beach
  • Check out the ancient ruins at the Akrotiri Museum
  • Visit the less-popular White Beach
  • Enjoy the view from the Akrotiri Lighthouse
  • Go on an Akrotiri winery tour

Akrotiri is the best place to stay in Santorini if you’re looking for the safest and quietest spot on the island. It’s quite a ways away from Oia and Fira, leaving you to feel like you’re on your private island. Here are some of the best hotels and vacation rentals that Akrotiri has to offer:

  • Budget Hotel in Akrotiri: Kalimera Hotel – This family-run hotel features a stunning caldera view from the outdoor pool. It’s in an amazing location right between Red Beach and White Beach. Room sizes range from standard hotel rooms to maisonettes.
  • Mid-Range Hotel in Akrotiri: Kokkinos Villas – If you’re looking for stunning views and amazing rooms at an affordable price point, look no further than Kokkinos Villas. The charming hotel is family-run, and they are always available to assist with your Santorini vacation needs.
  • Luxury Vacation Rental in Akrotiri: Le Grand Blue Villa – This two-bedroom villa is just steps away from the Akrotiri Museum and the red sand beach. It’s perfect for families or friends who want a ton of room and privacy. Guests can enjoy the caldera view from several different terraces on the property.

7. Vourvoulos

Sunrise over the blue domes of a church in Vourvoulos village in Santorini
passonitis / Adobe Stock

The quiet town of Vourvoulos is unknown to many, but I predict this hidden gem will become the next Santorini hotspot for vacationers. The up-and-coming seaside village is less than five minutes away from Fira and is home to many vineyards and farms. It offers amazing panoramic views of the vast Aegean Sea and a peaceful sunset spot.

Vourvoulos is the perfect spot to escape the crowds of Santorini’s bigger towns. There are cozy cafes, fresh seafood restaurants, and traditional tavernas. On clear days with calm seas, the beaches on this side of the island offer a super relaxing atmosphere unspoiled by rows and rows of beach chairs and bars. Right now, there aren’t a ton of attractions in Vourvoulos, but here are just a few of the things to do and see here:

  • Take a tour of Vassaltis Vineyards
  • Visit the scenic and secluded Vourvoulos Beach
  • Try traditional Greek taverna food with a view at Roza’s

Vourvoulos is the best place to stay in Santorini for travelers who appreciate understated luxury. If you’ve been to Santorini and experienced staying in magical Oia, I suggest trying out Vourvoulos.

It’s much more peaceful here with no crowds, even in the high season. Though, as I mentioned earlier, I suspect Vourvoulos will become quite popular in the next few years. Here are some of the best accommodations in Vourvoulos:

  • Budget Vacation Rental in Vourvoulos: North Villa – This peaceful villa can accommodate up to four guests and is spread over two levels. It features a lovely shaded patio with beautiful sea views. It also has a washing machine and air conditioning.
  • Mid-Range Hotel in Vourvoulos: Santorini Villas – This amazing hotel puts you right between Fira and the beach. Though you may not want to leave the hotel’s luxurious swimming pool and sun loungers. The guest rooms are dreamy and feature majestic sea views.
  • Luxury Hotel in Akrotiri Vourvoulos: Magma Resort Santorini, The Unbound Collection by Hyatt – If you’re looking to stay at the most luxurious resort in Santorini, this is the place for you. It features the most stunning infinity pool as well as an indoor pool. Many of the rooms feature private plunge pools or jacuzzis.

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8. Off the Beaten Path: Megalochori

View from the ocean of Megalochori up on the caldera cliffs in Santorini
Paul James Bannerman / Adobe Stock

Back on the caldera side of Santorini, we have Megalochori. This traditional village is located on the island’s southwest side, halfway between Fira and Akrotiri. It’s very similar to Imerovigli in that it features the iconic blue and white Cycladic aesthetic but attracts just a fraction of the crowds that flock to Oia and Fira.

Don’t let this quiet town fool you, though. It offers many luxury hotels and vacation villas for vacationers to enjoy. While you won’t be able to enjoy the same sunset views as Oia from here, you’ll get amazing views during the day of the Aegean Sea, filled with majestic sailboats and traditional fishing boats.

This area, just like its neighbor Akrotiri, is home to wineries and small farms. You can enjoy horseback riding or tour some of Santorini’s most beautiful vineyards. Fun and best things to do in Megalochori include:

  • Hike the path to the Heart of Santorini, a heart-shaped hole in the caldera
  • Trek down to the old houses of Plaka, a secluded swimming spot
  • Walk through Megalochori village to spot the iconic blue-dome churches
  • Book a tour with Santorini Horse Riding
  • Explore Gavalas Winery
  • Visit the Lost Atlantis Experience Museum

Megalochori is the perfect place to stay in Santorini for those looking to stay a bit off the beaten path but still want to enjoy those glorious caldera views. Here are some of the best accommodation options in this beautiful village in Greece:

  • Budget Vacation Rental in Megalochori: Zoi’s Mansions Cave House – This eco-friendly cave house is perfect for couples and solo travelers. It’s decorated in a minimal style and features a private terrace and a fully equipped kitchen.
  • Mid-Range Hotel in Megalochori: Suites of the Gods Cave Spa Hotel – This sleek luxury hotel is the perfect affordable romantic escape. The property features a stunning infinity pool, free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and parking. Relax at the spa or enjoy the breathtaking views at the hotel’s on-site restaurant.
  • Luxury Hotel in Akrotiri Megalochori: Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort – Who doesn’t love staying at a luxury collection? While you won’t be close to the iconic sunset spot in Oia, this luxury collection is a fraction of the price of the other, with the same level of upscale amenities. The property was built around a 400-year-old winery and offers stunning views of the Aegean, vineyards, and the caldera.

FAQ

When is the best time to visit Santorini?

The best time to visit Santorini is during shoulder season, meaning the months of May, June, and September. You’ll still enjoy perfect weather and Santorini’s greatest attractions without all the crowds. Hotel and vacation rental prices are also much lower in the shoulder season than in the high season.

What are the best places to stay in Santorini for couples?

The most romantic place to stay in Santorini is Oia. You can splurge on a hotel or villa with a private pool and amazing views. If you and your partner like to party but still want a luxury hotel room to return to at night’s end, consider staying at Kamari Beach.

What’s the best area to stay in Santorini for nightlife?

Santorini’s nightlife scene is far less talked about than its sister island Mykonos. But if you love to party, Fira Town is the place to be. Most of the nightclubs in Santorini are concentrated in the island’s capital. If a beach club is more your vibe, there are a few on Perissa Beach.

How many days in Santorini is enough?

You’ll want to spend a minimum of three days in Santorini. This will give you enough time to see all of Santorini’s top landmarks and attractions but still gives you time to explore other Greek islands. Four to five days would be best if you want to relax and incorporate things like a sailing catamaran tour of the island.

What is the best way to travel to Santorini?

You have two main options to reach the island: fly or ferry. Prices fluctuate for both, so one might be cheaper than the other depending on when you visit.

If you enjoy slow travel, I recommend the ferry from Athens. You can rent a private room and enjoy Wi-Fi and a few restaurant options during the (up to) eight-hour journey.

If you’re on a time crunch, flying into the Santorini airport takes 30 minutes from Athens. Seasonal direct flights from major European cities like Milan or London are also available during summer.

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Brittney Liu
WRITTEN BY

Brittney Liu

Brittney is a lifelong traveler from Oahu, Hawaii. She has visited more than 35 countries and is continually researching new places to explore - even though she hates flying. Her favorite destinations have one thing in common: they're warm. With expertise in French Polynesia, Hawaii, and the Mediterranean, you can follow along as she checks out the cleanest beaches and clearest water on the planet. Brittney has also spent most of her 20s living in the South of France.

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