Santorini is such an incredible destination, one everyone should have on their bucket list and try to get to at least once. I also know after we spent one week in Santorini, that it might get tricky deciding on where to stay in Santorini.
The island is not huge, but the scenery changes a bit from North to South, and from East to West. With its croissant shape, there are plenty of places that offer stunning views.
Also, prices are slightly different from one part to the other, and there are many things you must take into consideration when you are looking for the best places to stay in Santorini.
As always, people travel differently and look at different factors when choosing the best area to stay in Santorini. But after one week of going up and down the island, I’m here to help you with insights and tips for making the right decision.
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Where to stay in Santorini
There are certain things to take into consideration when you think about a vacation in Santorini, especially when you look for hotels:
- The Western side is filled with houses nestled un hills, narrow steep streets and of course the most famous caldera view;
- The Eastern part is where you will find all the beaches and access to the sea, cheaper accommodation prices, but you’ll have to compromise on the caldera view from your room;
- On the North-Western part of the island is where all those famous cave hotels are located, thus that would mark a red dot on the map when talking about prices;
- However, there are also more affordable options when going towards the South-Western part of the island.
But let’s take it one by one, location by location and choose the best area to stay in Santorini depending on what you are looking for, duration, budget, and what you want to do on your trip on the Greek island.
From my experience when planning for our vacation in Santorini last minute, I would recommend booking as soon as you can. Especially when you don’t want to break the bank and find a stunning location.
Hotels with the best caldera views in Santorini
Let’s admit it, that famous caldera view is the reason why most people travel from all over the world to this small island in the Cyclades.
One of the most romantic places on Earth, it is also one of the most expensive especially when you compare it to other Greek travel destinations.
I’m from Romania and Greece for us means stunning beaches, amazingly clear water, delicious food, all at a decent price. Many people travel to the Penninsula or the Greek islands anytime from April to October.
But Santorini, like Mykonos, is a different type of destination. Especially the hotels with the best caldera view, that will make you take out of your pocket substantial sums of money.
But it is all worth it for the experience at the end of the day.
TIP: When you travel on a budget, you can always book only one or 2 nights in Oia or Thira, and spend the others in a more affordable location on the island.
Maybe the most famous location on the island, Oia is famous for its pretty white buildings, perfect caldera views, sunsets from the citadel, windmills, and those famous 3 blue domes you see in all pictures.
The main street in Oia is filled with pretty shops galleries, cats, coffee shops, and restaurants. I surely could have spent hours and hours exploring those streets and taking pictures of every corner, because it is one of the most photogenic villages I’ve ever seen!
For the most determined people, Amoudi Bay just below Oia is the place you’ll find plenty of fresh fish restaurants. There you can also dip your feet into the sea. Just know you will have to climb hundreds of stairs all the way back to town. And you don’t want to do that at noon.
The downside of staying in Oia
As you could imagine, a popular place like that is packed with tourists. Not only the ones that choose Oia as the best place to stay in Santorini, but this is where all the cruise ships will stop and bring tourists. On top of that, neighboring islands offer day-trips to Santorini, and Oia is the final destination as well.
Another thing to consider is that Oia is the most expensive village in Santorini. You pretty much cannot find any budget option here. When it comes to accommodation, but also to food.
And you will need a dinner reservation for most of the caldera view restaurants so you cannot just be spontaneous.
Finally, since cars don’t drive inside of Oia, you must think about the hotel’s location and your luggage size. I’ve seen many people who struggled with their huge luggage on the cobblestone narrow streets, climbing up and down.
Great Oia hotel options
- Katikies Hotel – mind-blowingly amazing, this hotel is one of the most beautiful in the world, but it also comes it a price tag. A stay in one of the 21 suites of this white cave hotel, with a private pool overlooking the caldera, is what dreams are made of.
- Perivolas Hotel – since we’re still dreaming, let’s dream about this exceptional 5* hotel and its 22 private houses in restored 300-year-old caves. Their restaurant is housed in a restored wine cellar and serves only the hotel guests.
- View Hotel by Secret – a much more affordable option in Oia, with great views and classic Greek design. This hotel opened its doors in early 2019, and guests staying here loved everything about it: food, views, rooms, helpful staff.
Fira, unlike many might think, is Santorini’s capital. This means it has plenty to offer, even though it is still a rather small city.
Some of the best places to stay in Santorini with a caldera view are found here as well, and while prices might be a bit cheaper than in Oia, hotels are still pricey.
I found Fira to be less crowded than Oia, offering stunning views, great restaurants, and nightlife.
The downside of staying in Fira
As Oia, Fira can get busy and staying here can get to you.
Also, something nobody ever talks about is the smell of donkey poop you’ll feel in most places close to the road leading from the bay in Fira. I guess that shouldn’t be a problem because you don’t feel it everywhere, especially in hotels which are really nice, but it’s something worth knowing.
Great hotels in Thira
- Emfasis Villa – have a whole house to yourself in Santorini! Perfect for couples, you’ll have a balcony with stunning sea-views, bathtubs with views, and hammam, a hot tub, and a sauna.
- Petite Palace Suites – the location is perfect! And their beautiful blue doors caught my attention at first. But that’s not the only great thing about this place!
- Harmony Suites – a more affordable option in Fira. People staying here loved its luxury feel, the fact that it is new, and the perfect location.
Imerovigli is the go-to destination for most people looking to have a great view without having to break the bank. The village is also much more peaceful than its neighboring Thira or Oia.
On top of that, Imerovigli is within walking distance from Thira (1.3 km), and linked by bus to Oia (10km+).
Many people choose to stay here because it is cheaper and calmer, still on the caldera. Thus, make sure to book ahead of time to find that perfect room.
The downside of Imerovigli
It might not be suitable for people looking for fun and partying.
Great hotels in Imerovigli
- Luna Rossa – great studios or apartments, with balconies or terrace and stunning Aegean Sea view. All for a great affordable price when compared to many other locations.
- Whitedeck Santorini – a cave hotel that will make you feel suspended between the sea and the sky. A 5*+ location, and a great price.
- Nefeli Homes – located in the heart of Imerovigli, this is another stunning place with pools and views for days.
Also a few kilometers away from Thira, Firostefani is another great option with caldera views that is actually an extension of Santorini’s capital. The village is positioned on the highest part of Fira, thus offering stupendous caldera views.
I know a lot of people that chose this destination and I could easily put it on a list of the most romantic getaways.
Great hotels in Firostefani
- Chic Hotel – this stunning location caught my eye in the feed of one of my Instagram friends. That means this is another Instagram worthy cave hotel in Santorini, with sunset views, and a stunning tear shaped bathtub on the terrace ( you might want to ask for it because not all rooms have it).
- Blue Dolphins Apartments – another Greek gem worth looking at!
- Ambience Suites – on the lower side of the budget, without a caldera view, this place is still stunning. The small colorful terraces and the swimming pool are just perfect. And you’re still a few steps away from that view.
Cheaper places with access to the beach
When you want to have access to the beach you’ll have to make a concession on the caldera view. However, that comes with many advantages, and since the island is not that big you won’t have to travel far for a stunning view.
Especially since we visited in August (I would recommend avoiding that when you can), we chose to stay in one of these more affordable locations and we loved it! We would even consider going back for a long weekend and still staying in Kamari.
What I loved most about this place was the beach and the wide variety of restaurants and bars with live music at night. We never had to book a table and had so many incredible meals on the beach!
Plenty of cats around, our hotel had this huge fur ball sitting on the reception desk most of the time.
We really felt like being in Greece in this more quiet part of the island, and the fact that we could swim in the sea was a plus. Even though the beach is not a sandy one and you will need special shoes, that we bought from one of the many shops along the shore.
The plus is that hotels are more affordable and it might be easier to find a free room, the minus is that you’re on the other side of the caldera.
Great hotels in Kamari
- Hotel Sunshine – choose to stay here if you want to spend less and don’t mind staying in Kamari, on the Eastern part of the island. Traditional Greek decor, a great pool, sea view, and a private beach with small volcanic stones. You can easily get around and travel to the rest of Santorini.
- Santorini Kastelli Resort – also in Kamari, you’ll find it easy to take some stunning pictures in this all-Greek resort. 5-star accommodation, in a quiet location, and at an affordable price.
Another town with black lava sand, Perissa is larger than Kamari and offers many more accommodation options.
The beach here is fully-organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, beach bars, lifeguards and a playground and it has received the Blue Flag Award. This might be a destination when traveling with kids to Santorini, even though I haven’t seen many.
Great hotels in Perissa
- Villa Dima – a very traditional Greek villa, unlike the white caves on the other side of the island. Guests staying here appreciated most of the interaction with the guests, the fact that the villa is 4 minutes away from the beach, and the fact that it is in a quiet area.
- Villa George Santorini – rent an entire house with a garden and garden view, just a few steps away from Perivolos Beach. This place is perfect for relaxation and water sports.
- Thera Mare Resort and Spa – with a sea view, swimming pool, and sauna, this is another perfect place for relaxation at the right price.
The southern part of Santorini
Hosting hot only the most important archeological site in the Aegean, a place anyone visiting Santorini should pay a visit to, Akrotiri is also a great location for setting your base camp.
Right in the Southern edge of the island, Akrotiri is not far from some of the most stunning views in Greece.
Some great hotels in Akrotiri
- Apanemo Hotel & Suites – a typical white Greek hotel, which offers an incredible view over the caldera. It is not a big place, which will give you a boutique hotel vibe, and it is not in the most crowded area of the Island – being set in Akrotiri.
- William’s Houses – maybe one of the most stunning apartments in Santorini, the best part of this place, apart from the caldera view, is the fact that you can have if from your jacuzzi bathtub. The perfect honeymoon destination in Akrotiri.
One of my favorite villages in Santorini, I was stunned by these narrow white and blue streets. It might be one of the most picturesque little towns, especially the bell towers of Megalochori.
Apart from our group, there was hardly anyone around even on an August day. The region is also surrounded by vineyards, and that’s where we learned about the special way of harvesting it on a dry island.
Some great hotels in Megalochori/Skala
- Suites of the Gods Cave Spa – breathtaking view over the caldera and people staying here loved the breakfast in particular.
- Ducato Wine Hotel – a unique experience and apartment in the heart of the city, close to restaurants and all you need for a pleasant stay.
When to visit Santorini
We visited in August, and I wouldn’t recommend following our example mainly because it was super hot, crowded, and expensive. It might get difficult to find a nice hotel available, and even then you’ll pay much more than in the shoulder season.
However, I would always recommend visiting Greece and Santorini in particular anywhere from April to June, or from September to November.
Best tours to take in Santorini
When it comes to tours in Santorini, there are so many options, and in one week we got the chance to do them all! And I wouldn’t have skipped any because each has its charm.
However, when you only have a few days in Santorini, you must make the best choice.
Here are some of the best options, booking them online will help you get a better price than on location most of the time. Also, you can always cancel if something happens and you cannot make it.
Volcanic Islands Cruise with Hot Springs Visit – we loved to take a dip in the hot springs, climb the volcano, and see the Thirassia authentic villages.
Santorini: Morning or Sunset Cruise with Food & Drinks – when you don’t have time for a full day trip like the one above, you must not skip this iconic cruise.
Wine tasting tours – there are literally so many options, and this might have been one of my favorite things to do since I’m a huge wine lover. The wine in Santorini is very special since the vineyards grow on the volcanic stone, and the sun burns the ground.
Here are a few options you can choose from depending on your budget and time:
- 4-Hour Sunset Wine Tour
- Santorini Highlights Tour with Wine Tasting
- Guided Winery Tour
- Private 4.5-Hour Wine Tour
- Santorini Wine Roads: Tour of 3 Wineries with a Sommelier
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