Choosing where to stay in Santorini, Greece is one of the easier decisions you might make in travel. Why? It’s simple – there is no bad place to stay in (or rather, on) Santorini.
Greece’s most popular island, known for its blue-capped domes and white-washed walls, is one of the most heavily photographed locations in the world, and a bucket-list destination for tourists. It’s one of those places that you think will be beautiful before you go, only to find that it’s far, far more captivating than in any photo.
Santorini is a Greek Island, located only about 45 minutes away from Athens, by air. The island’s unique shape, somewhat of a crescent rising out of the Aegean Sea, is really the remnants of what was once a larger, volcanic island. After millennia of catastrophic seismic activity, including the famous Minoan eruption in the 2nd century BCE, ripped the island apart – leaving Santorini as the remaining land that survived.
The island is separated into a several small towns, villages, and settlements. Most are only a matter of a few miles long, with little noticeably separating the borders of each. The most famous among these are Oia, located at the far north of the island, and Fira, the center of the town and the one nearest to the airport.
There are several other options in terms of where to stay in Santorini, however, and we’ll dive into not only Oia and Fira, but a few of the other well-known towns to stay in, and why you should consider those areas based on what you want to see and do in Santorini.
Oia is most famous as the location of the great sunset photo you see from visitors in Santorini – you know the one. The photo of the dusk-painted sea, the blue domes and white walls (actually a sanction for all buildings in the city is that they must be painted sheer white on the outside).
Oia is undeniably gorgeous, and one of the best places to stay in Santorini.
So, what’s the problem? Why wouldn’t everyone stay in Oia? Well, to get an ideal view, the kind you want if staying in Oia, you’re going to pay for it. Hotels range from $300 USD to $1,000 USD per night, and up. There are a handful of options that are less, but you definitely sacrifice the view.
Where to stay: Esperas Santorini is one of our favorite locations in Oia, and is modest (for Oia) from a price standpoint. Rooms start at around $250 USD per night.
Fira (or, Fira Town, as the locals call it)
Fira is more central to the island, located about 25 minutes’ drive downhill from Oia. While you don’t get the same sunset view from Fira, it’s a short trip to Oia to get your photos. Also, Fira Town is absolutely gorgeous, and one of our favorite places to stay in Santorini.
This area is a little more cosmopolitan, mixing high-end, luxury locations with very affordable (and still nice) hotels that give a great view of the waters off Santorini, and the volcanic caldera. Also, Fira is one of the best locations for food, featuring everything from sit-down, date-night establishments all the way to walk-up gyro shops that serve classic, delicious Greek fare.
Where to stay: We’re really partial to Theoxenia Hotel. It’s probably not the most luxurious of options in terms of the room being “fancy”, but it’s still attractive, spacious, and the service and value are incredible. In fact, when I was feeling ill in Santorini, they gave us a free upgrade to a Caldera-facing suite a bit lower down on the cliff. Now, that one was fancy!
Pyrgos offers a different view of Santorini, and is the highest village in terms of elevation on the entire island. While Pyrgos doesn’t have the view you’ll find in Fira or Thera, it’s only a 10-minute drive from Thera, and has a much smaller tourist footprint.
If you’re looking for where to stay in Santorini, and you want something a little more authentic that has the feel of a true Greek town, try Pyrgos. Why? Well, pay attention to the photo we selected and you’ll know! Pyrgos has some of the best restaurants on the island, and all run a bit cheaper than what you might find in Oia or Santorini.
Where to stay: The Art Hotel in Pyrgos is stunning, and can be had for a little over $100 USD per night.
If the name “Akrotiri” sounds familiar, it should be. This is actually the sight of a lost Minoan civilization that has been the site of intense excavation since 1967. In fact, some believe that Akrotiri may be the ruins spoken of by Plato as the Lost City of Atlantis!
Whether or not Akrotiri is a mythical city come to life is up for debate, it’s still a great place to stay. Akrotiri is a low-traffic, laid back area with beautiful black-sand beaches at the far south of Santorini.
Where to stay: While there aren’t a plethora of hotels in Akrotiri, the ones that are available are beautiful, cheap, and relaxing. Try the Mathios Village – a stunning complex that’s close to the beach and the ruins.
Megalochori is a place not normally thought of as being on the list of where to stay in Santorini, but it should be. Megalochori is actually an old, original, and authentic village that is primarily residential located a bit north of Akrotiri, but still definitely on the southern end of the island – below Fira. Its flower and tree-lined, cobbled streets are incredibly romantic, and a place in Santorini we really love.
It’s gorgeous, quaint, and like everything else in Santorini, close to everything you want to see. The food is amazing and the locals are incredibly friendly.
Where to stay: Villa Aegeon is a great, small, rustic location with a beautiful rooftop view of Santorini.
Ammoudia is a great place to stay in Santorini that is actually a very small harbor on the far north – even beyond Oia. The architecture and food are both amazing, as local catch brought in off the Aegean is caught fresh, cleaned, and served sometimes within an hour and brought to plate.
If you’re an animal lover, it’s also a great place for one of Santorini’s other features – cats! Santorini is known for the amount of stray cats on the island, with some areas having more than others. Don’t worry, fellow animal lovers, these cats are well-fed, happy, and absolutely adorable. Just see our little friends in the photo!
Where to stay: Ammoudia isn’t expensive, but the options are few. You can get into most hotels at around $50-60 USD per night, but they’ll be simple rooms (albeit clean and safe). We like Villa Ikaros as a very affordable, reasonably comfortable place to stay.
Karterados is the village behind Fira Town, a bit further away from the facing of Fira where the really nice hotels and restaurants are. It’s lovely, however, and there’s a road from Karterados that leads to Exo Gialos beach, a somewhat remote beach with black volcanic pebbles and beautiful, blue, waters.
Also, you get to see more of our feline friends!
Where to stay: Ikaros Hotel is small, comfortable, and affordable with immediate accessibility to Fira Town.
While there are other small villages and areas in Santorini, these seven should provide a great base for travelers of all budgets who are looking for where to stay in Santorini. Check out our recommendations, and enjoy your time in Santorini!