Scegliere where to stay in Santorini it is not an easy matter. For this I have decided to write this detailed guide where I will help you find the best place to enjoy your holidays in Santorini.
The choice depends on various factors, mainly on what you are looking for but also on the budget you have available, in fact we are talking about an island known all over the world and considered as the most expensive in Greece.
In this article we will see what are the various options for a stay in Santorini, analyzing the different locations and their characteristics.
Where to Stay in Santorini: Sea or Caldera
The first big dilemma of those who are planning a trip to Santorini is if choose the area of the sea or if you prefer a town with a view of the Caldera.
If you choose Santorini purely for a seaside holiday then it is better to prefer the seaside areas, in particular the towns of Perissa e Kamari, which are also the cheapest areas.
In this case you can spend the days on the beach and a few evenings reach the famous towns of the Caldera. The ideal would be to have a means to move independently, but you can also move by public transport or by taxi, the distances are minimal.
Especially for a family stay with children the sea area is the best choice, however we are talking about lively towns with all the services and you will not need to go to the Caldera every night.
Keep in mind though that the real charm of Santorini is its breathtaking views and sunsets overlooking the Caldera.
So if you prefer to stay in a strategic area, a few steps from the best clubs and the promenade along the Caldera, then the best options do located between Fira and Oia.
Consider that from the Caldera the beaches cannot be reached on foot, but it will be easy to move towards the sea during the day and in the evening you will not have to use any means and you can walk around.
Especially for those coming to Santorini for the first time, staying in a structure directly on the Caldera is a unique experience, in fact it is here that you can admire the best sunsets on the island. Obviously we also talk about the most expensive and most sought-after locations, so I recommend booking well in advance.
I recommend the villages on the Caldera for a romantic couple's stay or even for a wonderful honeymoon. They are also perfect for those who reach Santorini in less crowded periods, when they can find prices that are not exaggerated.
Fira or Thira is the capital of the island, located in the western part is one of the most fascinating places both for the unique views and for the characteristic alleys. For those who choose the Caldera area, Fira in my opinion is the ideal solution to stay in Santorini, for several reasons:
- It is located in a strategic and central position, so during the day you can easily visit the beaches of Santorini, renting a car, a scooter (better 125 or 150) or a quad, while in the evening you will not have to move in the dark and you can stroll through the alleys of the town.
- It is also the city best connected by public transport, buses all depart from here.
- The evening is particularly lively until late at night, there are several restaurants and clubs where you can enjoy a candlelit dinner.
Fira is also the right choice for those who have to take the ferry to other islands, as it is located not far from the port.
In general, if you plan to move during the day and stroll through restaurants and shops in the evening, Fira is the perfect base to stop on the island of Santorini.
A valid alternative to Fira is Firostefani, it is located about 15 minutes walk from the capital, therefore close enough but in a quieter area and far enough away from the most crowded streets.
Firostefani is the right choice for those looking for a less chaotic and touristy but equally fascinating place.
About 2 km from Fira there is Imerovigli, it is located on the highest part of the cliff and offers a magnificent panorama. The location is also excellent for visiting Santorini, both to reach the beaches and to move to the other places of the Caldera, such as the beautiful Oia.
There are mostly high level hotels and restaurants, there is not much for the evening but it is also possible to reach Fira on foot, walking through the panoramic road over the caldera.
Oia is perhaps the most beautiful and picturesque village on the island, it is located 12 km north of Fira and is the one that most maintains the traditional architecture with houses carved into the rock.
With churches with blue domes and white houses with blue doors and windows, it belongs to the collective imagination of the typical postcard Greek village.
The strong point is the unique view of the bay and the volcano, do not miss the sunset with the cliff that turns red, it is no coincidence that the evening is filled with people who come here to admire this show. There is no shortage of typical restaurants, clubs and shops.
Oia can also be reached from Fira by bus that travels every half hour between the two cities from 7am to midnight, plus some night connections.
If I have to find a fault, the location is a bit off-center and uncomfortable for visiting Santorini, and the prices are really very high. If you are staying in Thira or its surroundings you can always go there in the evening for the sunset or for a romantic dinner, without necessarily having to stay there.
In any case, Oia is the ideal solution to stay in Santorini for a honeymoon, due to its quiet and romantic atmosphere and unique beauty.
If, on the other hand, you want to stay not far from the Caldera, but without spending too much money, Karterados can be a good choice in the high season, when the costs of hotels in Fira and its surroundings are higher. It is located about 1km from Fira and if you have a vehicle you can move easily.
Perissa is located along the south east coast of Santorini about 14 km from Fira. Staying in Perissa is the best choice for those looking for a quiet place near the sea.
However, there is no shortage of shops, bars and restaurants. The view from the town is pleasant, overlooking the open sea, surrounded by hills and the Mesa Vouno mountain where the archaeological site of ancient Fira is located.
The Black Sand Beach is 8 kilometers long and offers various water sports facilities. Perissa is close to the best beaches in Santorini: Red Beach, White Beach, Vlichada Beach and Agios Georgios.
Perissa has the advantage of being sheltered from the winds, so on very windy days it is the best beach to go to.
For those who choose a stay directly on the sea, the alternative to Perissa is Kamari. The two villages are very similar but Kamari is a little more lively, especially in the evening there are more clubs and it is full of restaurants on the beach.
Kamari to the advantage of being closer to Fira which can be reached in 10/15 minutes by scooter or public transport
Keep in mind that Kamari and Perissa are very close as the crow flies, about 1 Km, but they are separated by the Mesa Vouno mountain that you will have to get around in about 20/25 minutes by car.
If you prefer a place by the sea with more evening life, without having to go to Fira every night, Kamari is for you.
In summary: How to choose where to stay in Santorini
- Fair: first time in Santorini, view of the crater, wide choice of clubs and restaurants, convenient to reach the beaches by day;
- Imerovigli and Firostefani: less chaotic alternatives to Fira, but still not far from the capital, reachable on foot;
- Oia: the best sunsets on the island, spectacular views and a romantic atmosphere, ideal for a honeymoon;
- Karterados: for those looking for cheaper accommodation, strategic location very close to Fira;
- Pyrgos: it is located in an excellent position to get around the island, has a beautiful view and is not too overrun with tourists;
- Akrotiri: small historic center with spectacular views, a somewhat isolated and very quiet area, reasonable prices, you need your own vehicle;
- Perissa: for those who want to stay directly on the sea on a beautiful beach and in a quiet area but with all the services;
- Kamari: sleeping by the sea but in an area with a little more life and comfortable to go to the Caldera.
Article revised and updated on January 17, 2020
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