Where to stay in Santorini: best areas guide

Olga Sitnitsa

written by
Olga Sitnitsa

updated 19.12.2023

When researching where to stay in Santorini you'll discover a world of scenic wonders. From the cliff-top panoramas of Oia to the vibrant charm of Fira, the island offers enchanting areas to suit every traveller's desires.

Which area is the best to stay in Santorini?

Choosing the perfect place to stay in Santorini is a delightful dilemma, given the rich tapestry of the island, catering to a variety of travellers' preferences. 

Oia, known for its mesmerising sunsets and narrow winding streets adorned with white-washed buildings, captures the essence of romance. Fira offers a dynamic mix of shops, restaurants and a vibrant nightlife that appeals to those looking for a lively atmosphere.

If you prefer tranquillity, consider Akrotiri or Imerovigli, where serenity reigns, complemented by breathtaking views of the caldera. The island's diversity extends to the accommodation, from luxury cliff-top resorts to charming boutique hotels and cosy guesthouses in traditional villages.

Santorini's appeal lies not only in its stunning scenery but also in the diversity it presents for every type of traveller. Whether honeymooners looking for intimate moments, solo travellers craving tranquillity or socialites wanting an active holiday, an abundance of things to do in Santorini guarantees an unforgettable trip to suit your desires.

Planning a trip to Santorini? Create a unique itinerary with the help of our Greece local travel experts.

Santorini with sunset over Church in Fira town, Greece © Shutterstock

Santorini with sunset over Church in Fira Town, Greece © Shutterstock

Fira vs Oia

Choosing where to stay in Santorini is epitomised by the captivating choice between Fira and Oia, each offering a unique slice of the island's charm. 

Fira, the bustling capital, pulses with energy. It is a centre of activity, adorned with countless shops, restaurants and a lively nightlife. Its central location makes it a convenient base from which to explore, complemented by a varied choice of accommodation for different budgets.

On the other hand, Oia, located on the northern tip of the island, is a quiet harbour. Known for its romantic sunsets, Oia exudes a quaint charm with narrow winding streets and traditional architecture. This village is a haven for those seeking a more relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere and upscale hotels.

The choice between Fira and Oia depends on your personal preferences. Fira suits those who crave dynamic city life and cultural excursions. Oia beckons romantics and seekers of tranquillity, offering exquisite holidays with unrivalled sunset views.

Ready for your greek adventure? Check our fully customisable Santorini itineraries.

Santorini, Greece. Picturesq view of traditional cycladic Santorini houses on small street with flowers in foreground. Location: Oia village, Santorini, Greece © Shutterstock

Santorini, Oia village, Santorini, Greece © Shutterstock

Best places to stay in Santorini for couples

Santorini, with its romantic atmosphere and stunning views, offers many charming places for couples to stay. Here are some of the best options:

  • Oia: Known for its breathtaking sunsets, Oia is a top choice for couples. Luxury hotels perched on the cliffs offer private balconies with panoramic views.
  • Imerovigli: This quieter alternative to Oia offers a romantic atmosphere and some of the most luxurious and secluded accommodation options on the island.
  • Fira: The bustling capital combines romantic hotels, proximity to nightlife and panoramic views, making it suitable for couples looking for both excitement and tranquillity.
  • Akrotiri: A serene option with a calmer atmosphere, Akrotiri offers privacy and romantic retreats, often with stunning sea views.
  • Pyrgos: This charming village combines a romantic setting with a more authentic, less touristy atmosphere, providing couples with a quieter retreat.
Imerovigli, Santorini © Shutterstock

White houses in Imerovigli, Santorini @ Shutterstock

Best areas for first-time visitors

For those visiting Santorini for the first time, certain areas of the island represent the quintessential charm and must-see attractions:

  • Fira: Fira, the island's vibrant capital, takes centre stage with its energetic vibe, shops, restaurants and lively nightlife. Its cliffside location offers spectacular views of the Caldera.
  • Oia: Famous for its enchanting sunsets, Oia is a romantic choice with its iconic blue-domed churches and white-washed buildings. The luxurious accommodation will provide you with an unforgettable experience.
  • Imerovigli: Situated between Fira and Oia, Imerovigli offers a more tranquil atmosphere but also offers stunning panoramic views. It is also the perfect place for couples looking for a romantic retreat.
  • Perissa: Perissa, known for its black sand beach, offers a more relaxed setting with a variety of beachfront accommodation options and beachside tavernas.
  • Kamari: Another black sand beach, Kamari combines a beach holiday with a lively atmosphere: it has a promenade with shops and eateries.

Where to stay in Santorini for nightlife

For those looking where to stay in Santorini for vibrant nightlife, these areas offer plenty of bars, clubs and atmospheric venues:

  • Fira: Being the capital and a lively centre, Fira comes alive after the sun goes down. Numerous bars and clubs catering to a wide variety of tastes make it a prime destination for night owls.
  • Oia: While Oia is known for its romantic atmosphere, it also has chic bars and lounges with mesmerising views, making the nightlife more sophisticated.
  • Perissa: The area is home to beach bars and clubs where the parties go on until the early hours of the morning. Enjoy cocktails by the sea and dance under the stars.
  • Kamari: With a lively beach promenade, Kamari offers a variety of beach bars, tavernas and clubs, creating a vibrant nightlife.
  • Imerovigli: Although Imerovigli is quieter than Fira and Oia, there are still stylish cocktail bars and lounges providing a more relaxed but refined atmosphere.

Get the best experience in Santorini by choosing the best time to visit Greece.

Imerovigli, Santorini © Shutterstock

Imerovigli, Santorini © Shutterstock

Best places to stay for budget travellers

For budget travellers, Santorini offers several areas with affordable accommodation options:

Best areas for beaches

Santorini beaches offer living neighbourhoods with easy access to the island's coastal gems:

  • Perissa: Perissa Beach, famous for its legendary black sand, is a popular destination with a lively atmosphere. The many beach hotels offer stunning views of the Aegean Sea.
  • Kamari: Adjacent to Perissa, Kamari has a long black sand beach lined with beach bars, restaurants and water sports facilities. It is a great choice for those looking for a vibrant seaside holiday experience.
  • Perivolos: A continuation of Perissa Beach, Perivolos offers a more tranquil atmosphere. The beach is decorated with beach clubs, tavernas and sun loungers, creating the perfect setting for a relaxing holiday.
  • Red Beach (Akrotiri): Famous for its unique red-coloured rocks and volcanic sand, Red Beach is a must-see. Although accommodation directly on the beach is limited, suitable options can be found in nearby areas such as Akrotiri.
  • Kapari Beach: Away from the crowds of tourists, Kapari Beach offers a secluded and serene location. Although accommodation options here are limited, upscale options can be found in nearby areas such as Imerovigli and Oia.
Perissa beach in Santorini © Shutterstock

Perissa Beach in Santorini © Shutterstock

Best places in Santorini for families & kids

Santorini has family holiday areas that combine fun, safety and facilities suitable for families with children:

  • Kamari: Famous for its black sand beach, Kamari is a family holiday destination with a long promenade lined with various restaurants, shops and entertainment. The shallow waters make it suitable for children.
  • Perissa: Adjoining Kamari, Perissa also boasts a family beach with a relaxing atmosphere. You'll find plenty of restaurants on the beach, as well as water sports.
  • Fira: Fira, the capital of the island, occupies a central location with access to shops, restaurants and cultural attractions. It is suitable for families looking to combine convenience and entertainment.
  • Oia: Although Oia is known for its romantic atmosphere, it offers family-friendly holiday destinations away from the busiest areas. Its stunning views and charming atmosphere can be enjoyed by all members of the family.
  • Imerovigli: Imerovigli, located between Fira and Oia, offers a quieter atmosphere with panoramic views. It is suitable for families looking for tranquillity and not too far from attractions.
  • Monolithos: Monolithos is known for its family beach with shallow waters and a children's playground. This area offers a quieter holiday for families looking for a more relaxed atmosphere.

Where to stay for caldera views

For those looking for spectacular views of the caldera, Santorini offers several areas known for their panoramic vistas:

  • Oia: Famous for its stunning sunsets, Oia is the premier destination for admiring views of the caldera. Many accommodation facilities, including luxury hotels and villas, are perched on the cliffs, offering unparalleled views of the Aegean Sea and the caldera.
  • Imerovigli: Located on the highest point of the caldera rim, Imerovigli offers a quieter alternative to Oia with equally spectacular views. Numerous boutique hotels and luxury resorts offer front-row seats to the Caldera panorama.
  • Fira: Santorini's lively capital, Fira, also has hotels and restaurants along the rim of the Caldera. It has a lively atmosphere with shops, and restaurants, proximity to cultural attractions, and the Caldera's picturesque scenery.
  • Firostefani: Located north of Fira, Firostefani offers a tranquil setting with uninterrupted views of the Caldera. It has everything from boutique hotels to charming guesthouses.
  • Akrotiri: Although not directly on the rim of the caldera, Akrotiri offers a unique perspective. Some rooms offer views of the Caldera as well as the charm of this historic village.
Kamari beach in Santorini © Shutterstock

Kamari Beach in Santorini © Shutterstock

Planning your dream trip to Santorini

Daunted by the prospect of planning? No problem! Talk to our local Greek travel experts.  We'll craft a personalised itinerary just for you.

Prefer to do it alone? Feel free to browse our pre-designed Greece itineraries for ideas, and remember that all can be tailored to meet your specific needs. For more inspiration, discover some of the the best things to do in Greece.

Prefer to do it alone? Get yourself a copy of The Rough Guide to Greece and start planning your trip with our Greece travel tips.

Olga Sitnitsa

written by
Olga Sitnitsa

updated 19.12.2023

Online editor at Rough Guides, specialising in travel content. Passionate about creating compelling stories and inspiring others to explore the world.

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