7 quiet places in Santorini

Photo of Heidi Fuller-lovePhoto of Heidi Fuller-love
By Heidi Fuller-love

11 April 20245 min read

View of the whitewashed buildings and church of the hilltop town of Pyrgos

Pyrgos Pretty Pyrgos is Quiet Santorini at its loveliest.

Famed for its picturesque wax-white villages perched above its spectacular volcanic caldera, Santorini tends to be crowded in summer.

But tear yourself away from that over-Instagrammed caldera and you’ll find lost-in-the-past villages, tiny resorts and scenic interiors where it's possible to enjoy a peaceful Santorini holiday within easy reach of the Cycladic island’s celebrated sights.

Here, we round up seven quiet places in Santorini that should be on your radar.

1. Pyrgos

Once upon time magical Pyrgos, perched on the slopes of the island’s highest mountain and half an hour’s drive from Oia, was Santorini’s capital city. These days, with its narrow, cobbled streets, hole-in-the-wall bars, craft shops and cosy cafes, pretty Pyrgos, crowned by the haunting ruins of its Venetian castle, is time warp HQ.

Where to stay in Pyrgos

In recent years, as savvy travellers seek to escape the coastal crowds, more hotels have opened on the thyme-scented hillsides near Pyrgos town. Perfect for couples and families, who can watch the sun set over the entire island as they sip prosecco or play in their private pool, Santorini Sky’s villas are a great luxury option. Better for travellers on a smaller budget, family-owned Voreina Gallery Suites further down hill is a boutique gem with plenty of plush extras.

2. Imerovigli

For caldera views without the crowds, you can’t do better than Imerovigli. Halfway along the calderimi paved pedestrian path that links Fira to Oia, this picturesque town, with its winding alleys lined with sugar-cube houses, stylish bars and restaurants, is known as The Balcony to the Aegean because it sits at the summit of Santorini’s volcanic crater.

Surprisingly, given its spectacular position, Imerovigli is still one of the most peaceful places in Santorini.

Where to stay in Imerovigli

Home to some of Santorini’s most exclusive hotels, Imerovigli can be expensive, but there are a few kinder-to-your-wallet options if you know where to look. Make a beeline for Merovigliosso, a cosy apartment complex with air-conditioned studios, a small swimming pool and partial caldera views just off the main calderimi path.

3. Firostefani

Firostefani is another frontrunner when it comes to escaping the crowds in Santorini’s more popular areas. This serene hamlet has plenty of the picturesque, blue-domed churches, pretty paved alleys and breathtaking views that you’ll find in other coastal resorts, but because it’s out in the suburbs of capital Fira (the name means ‘Fira’s crown’), it tends to attract families and couples looking for a peaceful base to spend their holidays.

Where to stay in Firostefani

Within easy reach of Fira’s museums, tavernas and shopping streets, this laidback spot is peppered with boutique hotels and guesthouses to suit all budgets. Housed in an original 18th-century mansion, complete with domed cave suites decked out with tapestries and antiques, The Tsitouras Collection is an excellent luxury option for couples. Families looking to save money will probably prefer Ellinon Thea Boutique hotel’s budget-friendly rooms, which have bijou balconies and wraparound sea views.

4. Vlychada

With its tiny fishing harbour where catamarans leave on evening sunset sailing trips and the quirky Tomato Industrial museum, which celebrates the life and times of Santorini’s sugar-sweet cherry tomato, Vlychada is well off the tourist trail.

Apart from weekends when locals come to laze on the resort’s black-sand beach or lunch on brine-fresh seafood in a handful of tavernas, this laidback town on the island’s southern coast is about as peaceful as it gets.

Where to stay in Vlychada

Rarely on tourist radars, this tiny seaside resort only has a few boutique hotels and self-catering villas. Beach babes will love Aegean Melody’s spacious seaview suites with fully equipped kitchens. For a budget option, pick Villa Michalis to enjoy cosy rooms overlooking a good-sized pool and a restaurant serving drinks and snacks.

5. Vothonas

Bang in the centre of the island, Vothonas is known for its picturesque cave houses carved out of the surrounding cliffs that are still inhabited by locals. This lost-in-the-past hamlet straddling a deep gorge is also home to a unique wine museum housed in a spooky cave several metres below ground.

Where to stay in Vothonas

Hotels are thin on the ground in Vothonas but there are plenty of guesthouses, including The Captain’s Quarter, whose half dozen comfortable rooms at the heart of the village have stunning sea views. For slightly plusher – but still surprisingly inexpensive – accommodation, book one of Victoria Caves’ beautifully renovated cave houses, which have individual plunge pools.

6. Megalochori

Clustered around a main square ringed with traditional kafeneions, Megalochori’s peaceful alleys are packed with magnificent 19th-century mansions that were once owned by wealthy merchants who made their money from exporting Santorini’s iconic vinsanto wine.

Still surrounded by family-owned wineries where you can stop and sample, this atmospheric village well off the tourist radar is only a 20-minute bus ride from Fira’s bustling streets.

Where to stay in Megalochori

Five minutes’ drive from Santorini’s ochre-hued Red Beach, well-rated Grand View has cosy rooms and suites overlooking a pretty infinity pool. For something more traditionally Santorini, try superhost Anargyros’ Antonio Caves in the centre of the village.

7. Emporio

Topped by a medieval castle that affords fabulous vistas over windmill-spiked fields and bottle-green vines, this hard-to-find village sits in the centre of the island some 10km (6.2 miles) south of Fira town.

Whether you wander labyrinth alleys lined with tiny vine-shaded houses, sample local treats in a string of small tavernas or shop for intricately patterned ceramics in a string of craft shops, Emporio offers a big slice of serenity in the heart of Santorini.

Where to stay in Emporio

Far from the crowds that fill Santorini’s larger resorts, Emporio is great for families on a budget. With its fully equipped kitchen and outdoor jacuzzi where you can sip prosecco and enjoy distant views of Perissa’s sparkling bay, Latipi House is a superb low-cost option in the heart of the village. Minutes away from Perissa’s volcanic beach, Roula Villa’s highly-rated self-catering apartments also offer fantastic value.

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