If you’re thinking of visiting the “prehistoric Pompeii”, you’ll also likely want to know where to stay in Santorini. Santorini is arguably the most famous of the Greek islands, thanks to its cosmopolitan atmosphere and distinct geography, but visitors should take the time to choose the right place to stay.
Where to Stay in Santorini
Santorini has a unique history and geography that attract over 500,000 visitors annually. People often come to gaze at the Caldera cliffs and explore the luxurious seaside towns. The island sits on the site of a large, submerged volcano in the Aegean Sea.
A major eruption in the 16th century BC is responsible for giving Santorini its one-of-a-kind cliffs and landscape. Santorini covers just under 30 square miles but is home to many towns and villages worth exploring.
Almost every area of the island offers great views and access to shopping and restaurants. Yet, the variety of places to stay in Santorini can also be overwhelming.
The Best Parts of Santorini
While all of Santorini is a beauty to behold, the island includes several distinct villages and neighborhoods, each with its own charm and things to see and do. Some of the main parts of Santorini include:
- Fira: Best for first-time visitors and families
- Oia: Best for shopping and visiting Thirassia
- Kamari: Best for beachgoers and nightlife
- Pyrgos: Best for hikers and panoramic views of the island
- Akrotiri: Best for history lovers and budget travelers
- Perissa: Best for relaxing on the beach and nightlife
Santorini’s Best Areas and Hotels
If you’re ready to start planning your trip to Santorini, you should first decide on a place to stay. Let’s explore Santorini’s top neighborhoods and towns to pick the perfect spot for your trip.
Fira (Thira) is the capital of Santorini and the largest town, making it the most obvious place to stay on the islands. The capital has everything that you’d expect from Santorini, including picturesque coastlines lined with beautiful white villas, hotels, and resorts.
Fira is on the west coast of the island. It’s built on the caldera cliffs opposite the massive volcano that changed the island’s landscape hundreds of years ago.
The area near the port includes a cluster of small public squares, terraces, and winding paths that take you to quaint little cafes and souvenir shops. You can see the volcano in the distance from almost any spot around the port.
The Caldera-side of the town is the main hotbed of activity. It’s where you’ll find the main nightlife and shopping areas. Further inland, Fira includes a mixture of residential and commercial areas with cobbled streets and constant activity. It’s a busy town that never seems to slow down until sunset when people stop to take in the view.
Fira is also a walkable town. A paved path leads you through some of the main sights in Fira, including the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, the iconic Three Bells of Fira, and the Santorini Cable Car Ride. The area also includes a long list of museums, galleries, and stunning cathedrals.
Fira is the best place to visit for first-time visitors, families, and those seeking the best nightlife in Santorini. It’s less than ideal for explorers wanting to get away from the tourist hotspots.
Things to Do
- Explore the history of the region at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira.
- Ride the Santorini Cable Car down to the Old Port below the town.
- View the caldera cliffs during sunset from the Three Bells of Fira, which is a church with a vibrant blue dome and picturesque views of the region.
- Hike the caldera path to the neighboring towns of Firostefani, Oia, and any of the other suburbs surrounding Fira.
Where to Eat
- Parea Tavern: Mediterranean cuisine with a view of the sea.
- Ouzeri: Charming Greek restaurant with outdoor seating.
- Syrtaki: Greek restaurant in the Old Port below the town.
- FalafeLAND: Vegan restaurant in the center of the town.
Fira Budget Hotels
- Lefteris Traditional Rooms. Budget accommodations with a private balcony. Convenient location in the center of the town.
- Anemomilos Suites. Affordable hotel. A short walk from the Three Bells of Fira.
Fira Mid-Range Hotels
- Lilium Hotel Santorini. Mid-range hotel with a view of the caldera. The hotel has its own bar and restaurant.
- The Majestic Hotel. A popular hotel in the center of the city with a garden view. Includes three swimming pools and a 24-hour front desk.
Fira Luxury Hotels
- Volcano View by Caldera Collection. Sits on the edge of the cliffs and overlooks the volcano. The luxury villas include private pools and incredible views.
- Villa Bordeaux. One of the top-rated places to stay in Fira. The modern suites include balconies with views of the surrounding landscape.
Oia is the second-largest town in Santorini. Locals refer to the Oia settlement as “apano meria”, which roughly translates to “the place on top of the world”. It sits at the northwestern tip of the main island, but it’s still a short drive from the capital of Fira. There’s also a hiking path you can take between the two towns.
As with Fira, the town of Oia offers access to everything you expect from a popular tourist spot. It’s got shopping, restaurants, and fantastic views of the surrounding landscape. The northernmost area of the island includes hills covered in white villas, churches, and market squares.
Visitors often spend time admiring the local architecture. Oia has many “cave houses”, which are homes built into the volcanic rock along the Caldera cliffs. Below the cave houses are the old ports of Ammoudi and Armeni. You can take a small ferry boat from Ammoudi port to nearby Thirassia island.
Thirassia is a great spot for a day trip. It’s a separate island with a collection of restaurants and other sites, but almost no accommodations.
Oia is one of the best places to visit in Santorini for those planning to shop and spend time sightseeing. It’s also a top destination on the island for water activities and water tours. If you want to get off the beaten path, you may want to explore one of the other towns.
Things to Do
- Take a ferry to Thirassia and spend the day exploring the nearby island.
- Ride a donkey down the stone steps from Oia to Ammoudi Bay and explore the old port town.
- Visit the Castle of St. Nicholas near sunset for amazing views of the bays and the Oia Windmills.
- Hike from Oia to Fira and take a pitstop at Profitis Ilias Church to explore a unique monastery and museum.
Where to Eat
- Elinikon Oia Restaurant: Greek restaurant with fresh seafood and views of the Oia Windmills.
- Anemomilos Traditional Greek Taverna: Greek taverna and popular breakfast spot.
- Charisma Restaurant: Greek cuisine and cocktails with views of the bays and the Castle of Oia.
- Kookoo Bar: Café/bar with burgers, beer, and a laid back atmosphere.
Oia Budget Hotels
- Marcos Rooms. Comfortable rooms in an apartment built in 1880 and recently restored. Located a short stroll from the center of town.
- Laokasti Villas. Collection of apartments, villas, and hotel studios near the beach. Many units include a private balcony and a kitchenette.
Oia Mid-Range Hotels
- Angel Cave Houses. Rentals with private balconies and views of the caldera and sea. Includes rooms inside an authentic cave house built into the hillside.
- Aplai Dome. Private suites with a living room and full bed. A short walk from the beach and just 650 feet from the center of Oia.
Oia Luxury Hotels
- Filotera Suites. Spacious suites with whitewashed walls and large arches. Each room includes a balcony. You can also choose a suite with an outdoor hot tub or a private pool.
- Oia Suites. Luxury accommodations just outside the village of Oia. Offers sweeping views of the volcanic islets and the caldera cliffs.
Kamari is a gorgeous beach resort town on the southeast coast of Santorini. Instead of hillside villas, Kamari has a more modern atmosphere. You’ll find a wide range of shops, supermarkets, restaurants, and bars.
Yet, the main reason to visit Kamari is the beach. Kamari beach is covered in black sand and beach chairs. It’s also surrounded by a promenade lined with cafes and restaurants.
Kamari is a short distance from the airport and home to some of the best wineries on the island. Visitors also typically carve out time to visit the Mesa Vouno mountains. You can hike up the mountains for a wide-open view of the surrounding coastline.
The mountains are also home to Ancient Thera. The top of the mountain includes the ruins of the ancient city.
During the daytime, Kamari is one of the most relaxing towns in Santorini. At night, Kamari becomes one of the best places for clubbing and partying on the beach.
Things to Do
- Hike to the top of Mesa Vouno and explore the ancient city of Thera.
- Soak up the sun, shop, eat, or party at Kamari Beach, which is the main commercial hub in the resort town.
- Hike through Zoodochos Pigi Cave to reach a hilltop vantage point with a sweeping view of the island.
- Taste the local wine during a trip to Gaia Winery or any of the other wineries within walking distance of the town.
Where to Eat
- George 2: Grill with tasty burgers and low prices. Opens in the afternoon.
- Seaside: Hotel restaurant with a selection of local dishes and burgers.
- Olive Oil Restaurant: Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.
- Souvlike: Fast food with dine-in and takeout options. Perfect for families.
Kamari Budget Hotels
- Kafouros Hotel. Low-cost hotel located right near the beach. Includes views of the sea, pool, or garden.
- Mythos Traditional Stonehouse. Affordable double studio rentals with kitchenette and fridge.
Kamari Mid-Range Hotels
- Hotel Andreas. Comfortable hotel with free breakfast, airport shuttle, and private balconies.
- Aegean View Hotel. Mid-range hotel with private terraces or balconies. Short walk to the beach.
Kamari Luxury Hotels
- Damma Beachfront Luxury Villa. Luxurious beachfront villas, an outdoor pool, and a garden.
- Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini. Full resort and spa near the beach. Offers a variety of high-end rooms at decent prices.
Pyrgos is a hilltop village in the foothills near Mount Profitis Ilias. It’s also at the highest point of Santorini, which means you’re never far from a viewing point with a panoramic view of the island.
Pyrgos is in the heart of the island and surrounded by vineyards. Many of the region’s wineries are within walking distance from the village. Gaia Winery, Artemis Karamolegos Winery, Canava Roussos Winery, and Argyros Winery are all short trips from Pyrgos.
Pyrgos was originally a fortress settlement and some of the early structures remain. The ruins of Kasteli Castle and several old mansions give you something to explore during your stay.
The area also has many winding paths that lead further into the hillside. As you navigate the steep cobblestone alleys, you’ll pass quaint wine bars, taverns, and boutique shops.
The central location of Pyrgos is also great for hikers. Many of the paths through the island connect to Pyrgos, allowing you to easily explore any area of the island.
Things to Do
- Discover the island’s best vineyards with a Santorini wine tour that includes stops at several wineries.
- Visit the ruins of Kasteli Castle, which is one of the five medieval castles built in the late 15th century.
- Learn more about the history of Santorini with a trip to the “Santorini of the Past” Traditional Village Museum.
Where to Eat
- Mythos: Grill and tavern with a family-friendly atmosphere.
- Rosemary: Mediterranean restaurant. Fantastic views of the island from the terrace.
- Rymidi: Cozy Greek restaurant with outdoor seating and friendly staff.
- Kantouni: Restaurant and tavern with breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.
Pyrgos Budget Hotels
- Zorbas Hotel. One of the only hotels in a village full of apartments and house rentals. Offers the lowest prices in the area, a swimming pool, and free breakfast.
- Sun View Villas. Affordable villas. Each unit has access to a garden and terrace.
Pyrgos Mid-Range Hotels
- Symphony Suites Santorini. Condo hotel with gorgeous rooms and private parking.
- Aegean Blue Luxury Suites. Apartments with views of the sea, private bathrooms, and hot tubs in some units.
Pyrgos Luxury Hotels
- Kastro Mansion. High-end accommodations. Each room has luxurious furnishings and includes a dining area and kitchen. Some units include an outdoor hot tub.
- Santorini Heights. Enjoy premium suites with views of the Aegean Sea and a private pool. With just five suites, this place tends to run out of vacancies early in the year.
Akrotiri is the site of one of the oldest fortress settlements on the island. It’s on the southwest coast of the island and the closest village to several popular attractions. At the tip of the island is the Akrotiri lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1892 and stands 10 meters tall.
It’s still operational and emits a bright white light every 10 seconds. The Akrotiri archaeological site is a well-preserved ancient city. As with Pompeii, the city was instantly covered in ash after a massive volcanic eruption.
Akrotiri is also the nearest village to several beaches, including Caldera Beach, White Beach, and Red Beach. The White and Red Beaches are only accessible by boat but are more secluded and less packed compared to other beaches on the island.
Akrotiri isn’t the most densely populated part of the island, which means it has fewer restaurants and shops. It’s not the top place for eating and shopping, but it’s perfect for getting away from the crowds and visiting historical sites. Prices also tend to be a little cheaper in this area of the island.
Things to Do
- Take a boat to White Beach or Red Beach to enjoy some quiet time.
- See more of the island from Akrotiri Lighthouse, which is especially breathtaking during sunset.
- View the buried city at the Akrotiri archaeological site and tour the adjacent museum containing artifacts from hundreds of years ago.
- Walk around the grounds of the Venetian Castle of Santorini, which is free to enter and often free of other visitors.
Where to Eat
- Aeolos Tavern: Greek restaurant and tavern with low prices and great food.
- Theofanis Food Experience: Offers traditional Greek food and views of the beach.
- Captain Dimitris: Bar and restaurant with Greek cuisine. Steps away from Akrotiri Lighthouse.
- Misteli: Family restaurant with WIFI. It’s a short walk from the main attractions.
Akrotiri Budget Hotels
- Adamasto. Surprisingly luxurious accommodations for a budget hotel. The rooms include balconies or terraces. The hotel also has its own pool.
- Kalimera Hotel. Affordable hotel with convenient access to the Red Beach and the White Beach. You can also see the volcano and the caldera cliffs from the hotel and some of the rooms.
Akrotiri Mid-Range Hotels
- Cape Sisu Suites. Each unit includes high-quality furnishings and a balcony or a terrace with a view of the pool, garden, or sea.
- Acroterra Rosa Hotel & Spa. The rooms overlook the caldera cliffs and the Aegean Sea. The hotel includes a large infinity pool, a bar, and an onsite restaurant.
Akrotiri Luxury Hotels
- Ambassador Aegean Luxury Hotel & Suites. A luxury hotel with rooms that overlook the island and the sea. Most rooms include outdoor balconies and pools.
- Santonero – The Philoxenia Project. A variety of suites with sea views and private pools. Guests receive first-class service and access to a 24-hour front desk.
Perissa is another village that provides a good balance between relaxation and fun. It’s got a laid back atmosphere during the day and a vibrant nightlife scene at night.
While several beaches on Santorini have black sand, the Perissa Black Sand Beach has the most distinct appearance. The sand is darker, which creates more of a contrast with the nearby white cliffs and whitewashed buildings.
Perissa offers access to many attractions, including the Mesa Vouno mountains. In fact, the path up the mountain is a little easier from Perissa compared to the path from Kamari.
You’ll also need to visit the central square, which is where most of the activity occurs during the day. It’s also where you’ll find The Church of the Holy Cross. The church was destroyed during a major earthquake in 1956 and carefully reconstructed.
Perissa is a fun village to explore during the day, as it’s typically quieter than the largest towns on the island. However, it’s also further from the caldera cliffs and volcanic sites.
If you want to escape the tourist traps, Perissa is a top choice. If you want to see more of the island, you should look for a more central location.
Things to Do
- Spend the day relaxing at the Perissa Black Sand Beach, which contains the darkest sand on the island.
- Walk around the central square and visit the Church of the Holy Cross.
- Book a tour with the Santorini Dive Center to explore the surrounding marine life.
Where to Eat
- Mama’s Food: Small family restaurant. Opens early and stays open late.
- South Wind: Beachside restaurant with a wide selection of food and drinks.
- Pepito: Greek restaurant on the north side of the beach. Basic menu and low prices.
- Taste of the Beach: Mom & pop fast-food restaurant at the southern end of the beach.
Perissa Budget Hotels
- Anna Maria Rooms Santorini. A beachfront hotel with a variety of room options, including low-cost standard twin rooms.
- Santa Barbara Hotel. Double and twin rooms with balconies. The rooms are available at under a hundred dollars per night.
Perissa Mid-Range Hotels
- Stelios Place. Just a one-minute walk from the beach. Several rooms have private balconies and outdoor pools.
- Studio Paul’s. Quiet hotel with quaint accommodations. Each unit has a balcony overlooking the garden.
Perissa Luxury Hotels
- Antoperla Luxury Hotel & Spa. This luxury hotel has an onsite restaurant, poolside bar, and spacious accommodations.
- Kouros Village Hotel. The hotel is just 500 feet from the beach. It’s also an adults-only hotel with a bar and an outdoor swimming pool.
Where Should You Stay in Santorini?
Santorini is known for its black sand beaches and breathtaking cliffs created by a major volcanic eruption. Luckily, no matter where you stay in Santorini, you’ll have no problem exploring other areas of the island.
It only takes about 40 minutes to drive from the northern tip to the southern coast of Santorini. The next step is to pick a village, book accommodations, and start plotting your itinerary.