With its thrilling blend of peaceful inland villages, lively seaside regions and buzzing towns perched on the island’s coast, sizzling Santorini is one of Greece’s most spectacular holiday destinations.
Although the dramatic coastline, fringed by a string of romantic boutique hotels, is the big draw here, Santorini isn’t just about its celebrated caldera.
Travellers who prefer peace and quiet – or have a shoestring budget – can stay in a string of traditional towns further inland, while party animals and beach-loving families will want to holiday in one of the Cycladic Island’s lively seaside areas, which are still within easy reach of Santorini’s best sights.
Whatever you’re looking for, here are the best places to stay on your holiday to Santorini.
Tumbling over the blackened flank of the world's most famous inhabited volcanic caldera, Oia is a magnet for couples who come here to experience the island’s famous sunsets and stay in one of the island’s celebrity-loved cave hotels.
Armed with a bottle of champagne, follow the crowds along winding marble-paved alleys to Oia’s lofty Venetian castle. Pop the cork (and maybe the question) as the sun descends in a blaze of fire over those panoramic views, and then celebrate Santorini’s signature sunset experience with a dreamy dinner at 1800 or one of the other ritzy restaurants ringing the caldera’s rim.
With its world-class museums and contemporary art galleries Fira, the capital of Greece’s best known (and most Instagrammed) Cycladic Island, is a treasure trove for culture vultures.
Set aside an entire morning to discover the magnificent collection of colourful frescoes and other Minoan artefacts from Akrotiri that are housed in the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, and then spend an hour moseying around the Archaeological Museum, where the island’s ancient Roman and Hellenistic finds are on display.
For a dose of more recent culture make a beeline for Fira’s Folklore Museum, which showcases Santorini’s traditional crafts, or take a deep dive into the capital’s lively tangle of backstreets to seek out a plethora of galleries showcasing contemporary Greek art.
With their jaw dropping views and ritzy facilities you can expect to pay top whack if you want to stay in one of the hotels grouped around the caldera’s rim. Savvy travellers on a budget seeking less expensive options should head inland instead.
Surrounded by vineyards used to make Santorini’s famous assyrtiko wine, hilltop Pyrgos is just a 20-minute bus ride away from Oia and other island sights.
With its labyrinth of cobbled car-free lanes climbing to the ruins of a medieval castle, this traditional hamlet is stunningly picturesque, yet far enough from the bustle to have plenty of affordable accommodation. For food, Cava Alta, Alchimia and other snug tavernas serve succulent local treats at half the price you’d pay for similar food near the crater.
Oia and other caldera resorts are ideal for romantic sipping and supping, but if you’re seeking something more lively, head for the beach. An epicentre of nightlife for tourists and locals alike, Perivolos’ strip of sand- and pebble-swagged beach on Santorini’s southern tip is packed with hip lounge bars and ritzy nightlife venues where party lovers come to dance until dawn.
Pick of the crop Wet Stories is a feet-in-the-water beach bar that regularly hosts big name DJs, Jo Jo is famed for its laidback pool parties, and plump-cushioned sofas, super-sophisticated cocktails and chilled sounds are on the menu at SeaSide by Notos.
Backed by the atmospheric hilltop ruins of Ancient Thera, Perissa’s endless stretch of black sand- and pebble-beach, which has been awarded a European Blue Flag for cleanliness, is perfect for families. Kids of all ages can enjoy splashy watersports ranging from banana boat rides to stand-up paddleboarding in Perissa’s shallow seas, while toddlers will have a ball building sandcastles from the beach’s black sand or playing on slides and swings in the resort’s small adventure playground.
Away from the beach, Perissa town’s tangle of streets are lined with laidback cafes and low key tavernas where children of all ages – from toddlers to teens – are welcome.
Perched on the highest point of the caldera’s black and red volcanic cliffs, Imerovigli’s famously scenic viewpoints have earned it the title of ‘Balcony of the Aegean’. With its narrow paved paths, whitewashed houses and string of stylish bars and restaurants, this high-flung hamlet, which is home to some of Santorini’s most exclusive hotels, is also one of the quietest places to stay near the crater’s edge.
The icing on the cake? Imerovigli is within easy hiking distance of Skaros, the huge chunk of wind-weathered rock topped by the chalk-white chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti. This elegant cliff-edge eyrie is also situated on Santorini’s calderimi walking trails, which means you can reach Fira in one direction and Oia in the other without using a car.
Far enough away from Oia to avoid the crowds but close enough to Fira to be within easy reach of the capital’s museums, tavernas and lively nightlife, Firostefani is the perfect all rounder holiday destination.
Linked to Fira and Oia via the calderimi hiking paths, Firostefani (which translates as ‘Fira’s crown’) is like a bite-sized slice of the larger resorts around the caldera’s rim, with blue-domed churches, tiny paved alleys, and narrow streets packed with chic boutique hotels and fine dining restaurants.
Since these stylish venues rub shoulders with budget-friendly, family-run guesthouses where kids are welcome and cosy tavernas serving local food and traditional mezedopoleio, a holiday in Firostefani is as affordable (or expensive) as you want to make it.
Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.
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