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Where to stay in Santorini boils down to deciding whether you want to be on the beach or overlooking the caldera. The towns on the western side of the island are set on the caldera cliff overlooking the volcano, while the towns on the eastern side of the island offer direct access to beautiful beaches.
In general, the caldera towns are more stylish and upscale, and are littered with some of Santorini’s best boutique hotels, as well as posh clubs and fine-dining restaurants. The beach towns, in contrast, are more low-key, youthful and budget-friendly.
Set on the cliffs midway along the island’s west coast, Fira is Santorini’s largest town and its capital. It is the beating heart of tourism on the island and features trendy bars, eclectic shops, glamorous restaurants, a clutch of Santorini’s luxury hotels and of course, eye-popping views over the caldera. Fira is bustling, exciting and the best base on the island for those who want to be at the heart of the action.
If you have a quieter, lazier holiday in mind, consider staying in Firostefani. Although it’s only a 10-minute walk away from central Fira, the atmosphere in Firostefani is noticeably more tranquil. And while hotels along the caldera are almost universally pricey, it’s often possible to snag somewhat more affordable deals in Firostefani.
Oia is the swankiest village in Santorini, and offers spectacular sunset vistas to the north and views of the caldera to the south. More sophisticated and less crowded than Fira, Oia is a favourite with honeymooners. It’s home to some of the best five-star hotels in Santorini, including several distinctive cave hotels, which are carved into the caldera cliff. Expect high-end art galleries, upmarket boutiques and superb restaurants, but little in the way of nightlife.
Set at the highest point of the caldera’s rim, the town of Imerovigli has some of the best views in Santorini. The vibe here is fairly laid back and the sunset views are just as stunning as those you’ll see in Oia, but minus the crowds.
From nabbing the best views to sweet talking your way into an upgrade, improve your chances of getting the best hotel room – without paying through the nose – with these expert tips.Read moreabout Ask the experts: How to bag the best hotel rooms
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