As Greece is getting more expensive every year, finding cheap and best area to stay in tourist hotspots like Santorini is crucial to save your bank balance.
Santorini is a 75sqkm big island has eight towns with many cliffside villages and few beachside towns. Not all the towns come with that Caldera view you have dreamt of seeing.
The strange thing is we both could not understand how the villages are divided geographically- The towns and villages merge spatially but vary with their vibe – Hustle to hush.
So choosing the perfect area to stay in Santorini is tricky.
After travelling in Santorini for a week, I proudly suggested Perissa to a friend for her three-day stays. After returning, she said they got bored with Perissa and feels Fira could have been better!
Surprised us, rethought the towns in Santorini and analysed who may like to stay in which neighbourhood of Santorini.
There is no verdict here, but we give you a checklist to cross-check so that you choose the best area to stay in Santorini as per your thoughts and wishes.
- Criterion to consider while picking the right area to stay
- Santorini Geography
- List of towns and suggested accommodations
How to pick the right area to stay in Santorini?
Budget for your Santorini Trip
Few of the world’s best luxury resorts are located on this Cycladic island. The cost of living for tourists is slightly higher when you compare it to Thailand or India. A mid-range hotel in Bangkok costs 22 €, and a similar room in Santorini will cost you 60€! (Updated on May 24 2023)
The Size of your Travel Group
Are you going with your kids and other family members who are older? You must check if the hotel isaccessible by road or if you have to climb down. Walking in Santorini requires a lot of climbing up and down. The rooms with views demand uphill and downhill walks. Some hotels, don’t allow kids.
How do you want to enjoy Santorini?
Ask yourself and answer these questions before you pick the area to stay in Santorini. One’s best can be other’s worst.
- Are you a night owl partying.
- Is lazing on the sunbed by the sea your idea of a vacation?
- Do you want to stay at a place filled with cafes and restaurants so that you can try out as much as authentic food possible?
- Are you thinking of spending a week-long vacation with a book in a quieter place that got a serene landscape around?
- Are you planning to isolate yourself from the world but meet people over lunch and dinner?
- Do you mind staying in real Cycladic villages which provide you with necessities and aren’t degraded by mass tourism?
- Do you prefer to stay in touristy places so that every amenity is easily accessible?
Your preference for accommodation
Starting from luxury hotels to Couchsurfing, everything is possible in Santorini. But each neighbourhood has its own identity regarding the type of accommodation. Hostels, BnBs, Villas, apartments – these are clearly divided among the areas and isn’t common everywhere.
Updated on May 24 2023 : Air BnB which was considered “Epitome” for budget travellers by many (including us) is facing serious security issues all over the world including Greece. So double check, before you choose any Air BnB property.
Whatever your neighbourhood preference, don’t think of commuting as a problem – Public buses are cheaper, faster, and more efficient. The buses may get crowded during sunset, but they are still worth every paisa you pay. Use booking.com to find both luxury and budget stays to avoid hassle.
Quick Review of Santorini Geography
The “Prawn-ish” Santorini
The shape of Santorini is like a shrimp or the letter “C” mirrored. The western part of the island is a cliff; the eastern side is the flat land. The west side is excellent for views, sunsets, and vineyards, while the east is about sunbeds, sunshine, and beach bars.
List of Towns in Santorini – which town suites whom?
1. Oia- everyone’s favourite
The most picturesque, most touristy and expensive of all the towns! Most Package tours offer accommodation either in Oia or Fira for multiple reasons. First, it is the northernmost town on C shaped island. So the views of winding cliffside villages by the sea are fantastic. Second, it is the hub of mass tourism – the neighbourhood has all hopping stalls, photo booths, dress rental shops for photoshoots and over-priced cafes.
Remember, Oia gets crowded than you can think of.
- Perfect for: Those who are in Santorini for a day or two and looking for the most amazing view of domes and windmills by the sea and those who don’t mind crowding all the time.
- Terrible for those in Santorini for Sea swimming, Those exploring the island at a slower pace for a longer time, for those who can’t stand mass tourism and are on a budget trip.
Best places to stay in Oia, Santorini.
Marcos Rooms – If you have decided that you want to stay in Oia, and want the cheapest I am almost certain that this is the cheapest option available.
The Arches : In the expensive neighborhood of Oia, this is one of the cheapest yet good accommodation
Anemi House & Villas : The cosy studio room is actually expensive But falls under “Mid-Range” in Oia’s expenses.
Canaves Oia Epitome – Like the name, epitome of luxury! Luxury and expensive. (1600€/night/couple onwards in summer)
2. Imerovigli – Town of Bougenville and churches.
A quiet, calm and peaceful town much cheaper than Oia. The cliffside village view is fantastic but without windmills. The walk on the grey lime plastered footpath amid pink Bougainville is the best part of Imerovigli. The place is so quiet that you may feel the locals have vacated the home. Most restaurants are expensive here, and you need to book the tables beforehand.
- Perfect for –Those who prefer luxury resorts, models and couples wanting a photoshoot, silence seekers who are ready to pay more for solitude.
- Terrible for – For those in Santorini for Sea swimming, Party lovers, Night owls, Budget travellers and those who prefer hustle over hush.
Best places to stay in Imerovigli
Belle Etoile Villas – The cheapest villa overlooking caldera
Remezzo Villas – Mid-range budget.
Kapari Natural Resort – Luxury.
3. Firostefani – the cliffside beauty.
The town is a combination of luxury and mid-range hotels. It is cheaper than and as quiet as Imerovigli. The options for restaurants may be limited, but they are great. Because of its proximity and affordability, many locals come here to spend the evening time. I felt Imerovigli was like a ghost town without people, but Firostefani received the right size of the crowd. The views here are different as most houses/hotels are flat-roofed.
- Perfect for – Midrange budget ambiverts like us, adding a pinch of luxury sometimes. Good for families. For those seeking a laid back vacation and who like to go for long walks.
- Terrible for those in Santorini for Sea swimming, Night party owls, shopaholics, and foodies.
Best places to stay in Firostefani
Afrodete Hotel – Budget hotel
Sunset Hotel – Mid range hotel with common pool overlooking Caldera
Dana Villas & Infinity Suites – This is where we stayed for a night and it remains the best hotel we have ever stayed in our life- You get to experience Cycladic cave living in luxury if you pick Cave pool villa or Honeymoon suite. Read why we had such an amazing time at Dana Villas in a separate post here.
4. Fira – the capital of Santorini.
The bustling capital town is most famous for its nightlife. It is a typical capital town with a zillion eateries, many shops, and thousands of hotels and lodges. This place is a hotspot for tourists on package trips with lots of shopping arcades. The Fira port is where Cruise ships halt. A significant chunk of hotels here is mid-range. This town is the focal point when it comes to public transport. Bus routes to all the other towns and villages start from here.
- Perfect for –Mid-range budget travellers who prefer commercial places, shopaholics, Nightlife seekers, party people, foodies, city lovers, and convenience seekers.
- Terrible for -Budget travellers, Sea swimmers, solitude seekers, Introverts and Ambiverts! Personally, Fira was just a transport transit point and a Yoghurt eating place for us. We prefer small towns over bustling cities.
Best Places to stay in Fira
Antonia Apartments – A room in apartment in the heart of the city is one of the most affordable yet great choice in Santorini.
Mantilaria– Mid Range budget hotel with city view.
The Last Sunbeam – Adults Only, Luxury hotel with Caldera View and closer to city centre.
5. Pyrgos – Away from the crowd
Unpolished Cycladic Hilltop town- unadulterated by tourism. This place gives you the real essence of the Cycladic Islands. At a distance, you see a terrace tomato farm on a cut hill. Behind that lies the blue Aegean sea glittering in silver during afternoons. The narrow shaded alleys open up to the endless mountains and sea at corners. From behind, you hear “clip-clop. That is a villager taking down the dried tomatoes downhill on his mule! When you wonder if you have gone back thousands of years, you see the asphalt road at the end of the village.
The place was so quiet that we were whispering to each other than talking while we strolled. Most of the house doors were shut- it looked as if nobody was inside. That is because most residents work either in Fira, Oia or the vineyards. An older man welcomes you to their community church smilingly. When we felt we were in an abundant village, we would bump into an artist doing paintings on the canvas.
Pyrgos would have been our place for a five-night stay in Santorini if we didn’t want to stay near the beach.
The quietest and most beautiful neighbourhood of Santorini is Pyrgos
- Perfect for – budget and mid-range budget travellers, Introverts, ambiverts & authenticity seekers.
- Terrible for – Sea swimmers, Luxury travellers, convenience seekers, party people and those who are not ready to change two buses to get to Fira or Oia.
Best places to stay in Pyrgos
Cultural House – Budget One-Bedroom Apartment with Village View
Flora’s House & Cave Winery – Wine and view on midrange budget
Aegean Blue Luxury Suites – Luxury in the lap of quietness
6. Perissa – Beach and locals.
A village with more locals and fewer tourists is Perissa. The main road is lined with Bougainville plants and a flat roof white painted house with a blue door. Smaller+tastier+affordable coffee shops, bars, bakers and two or three supermarkets make it a heaven for backpackers & flashpackers.
Why Perissa is the best area in Santorini to stay?
This is the town where you have plenty of options for BnBs and hostels. There are hardly any expensive restaurants here, even if you want to shell out your money. It gives you more of a community feeling than the town. And staying in this neighbourhood for five nights is the best decision we ever made.
Most local bars and bakers knew the other villager who came to pick the usuals. The cafe may have a name, but locals call it by the owner’s name. After staying here for two nights, a local “Boulangerie” baker began to recognise us every time we went to grab some pies.
The small town Perissa and its perks
One perpendicular road to Perissa’s main road takes you to the black sand beach. Again, this road is full of BnBs and hostels. One word for Perissa after staying there for five nights is – “Homely.” There is no cliffside village with blue domes here. Most houses are flat-roofed and come with a balcony. The village suffices all your touristy needs – vehicle rentals, direct bus from Fira, Supermarkets, ATMs, cheap cafes and local bakers.
- Perfect for: Sea swimmers, beach vacationers, cyclers, backpackers, flashpackers like us, ambiverts, and people with walking disabilities as the village is not on the cliff but at the mountain’s base.
- Terrible for – party people, nightlife seekers, city lovers, convenience seekers, shopaholics and those who want their country cuisine and not local food.
Best places to stay in Perissa
We had chosen a property from Air BnB hosted by Sami for just 40Euros/night in 2018 which is no longer operating.
Your other options are –
Youth hostel Anna – If you are a hostel junkie and don’t mind the bunker beds, this is your budget saviour.
Agios Antonios – If you are like us, who aren’t much of a hostel junkie yet budget conscious, this is a great choice for budget travellers in Santorini.
Marianna Hotel – An awesome Mid-range place where you pay the same amount as you would pay for a crappy place in Oia.
Atlantis Beach Villa – If you want to stay on the beach on a moderate budget, a little away from Perissa main town at Perivolos.
Anastasia Princess Luxury Residence & Spa- Adults Only – The beach vacay with luxury.
7. Akrotiri and Kamari
Akrotiri is a prehistoric village ruin protected under a modern roof to preserve the mudbrick buildings. If you are an archaeology enthusiast, you may like to stay near this place. Plus, the red sand beach is closer to Akrotiri. However, not every tourist who comes to Santorini would visit Akrotiri or red sand beaches. So staying in one of the few hotels may be useful if you stay away from the crowd and closer to the red beach. From Fira, buses run to Akrotit regularly.
Kalimera Hotel or William’s Houses are a good option on mid-range budget if you want to stay in Akrotiri.
One more black sand beach town. I have heard from the locals at Perissa that Kamari is a combination of Perissa and Fira. You got beaches and party places with lots of cafes and bars. If you love to party on the beach but not in the city, Kamari may be a good option for you.
Zacharakis Studios is one of the budget friendly yet good property.
Or you can try Ifestia Hotel also.
FAQ while choosing a suitable area to stay in Santorini
Where should I stay in Santorini for the first time?
We stayed in Firostefani and Perissa as a first-timer. Everything is organised and easy to go around. You need not stick to Fira, just because you are a first-timer in Santorini. Choose Fira if only you are a party animal and convenience seeker.
Is it better to stay in Fira or Oia in Santorini?
Neither! According to us, Oia needs a break from tourists. You have the best views of blue domes and windmills in Oia, but the “Over crowd” overwhelmed us.
What is the best area in Santorini to stay in?
According to us, it is Perissa- Cheaper. less touristy, closer to beach and yet lively.
Which is the quietest area in Santorini?
Pyrgos! The charm and warmth make it the quietest neighbourhood in Santorini.
Is there a tourist tax in Santorini?
While booking the rooms, check if the hotels are wheelchair friendly, there may be many uphill downhill walks. Few resorts may even restrict the rooms to Adults only. Remember that Greece imposes 5 Euro/ room, not per person stayover tax for tourists. It will not be part of your online payment; it is collected during check-out.
Which area of Santorini do you prefer to stay in after reading our post? Let us know in the comments below.
Heads up – we are very honest and keep it no secret.
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