If there is one question that we get often it is; Which is the better place to stay in Santorini? Oia or Fira. And the truthful answer is it depends on what you are looking to get out of your vacation. Are you looking to be close to the action or are you looking for a quieter more secluded vacation?
If you are looking for the quieter option of the two then we would suggest Oia. Located on the foothills of an ancient volcano, Oia is straight out of a postcard. A mix of bright white and dense blues with a backdrop of earthy tones. It’s everything you would expect from one of the best places to stay in Santorini. The mix of blue-domed churches, turquoise plunge pools, and white homes with the sunset is one of the most memorable sights in all the Greek islands.
Of course, you’ll share this experience with hoards of travelers and cruise ship passengers but truthfully this mainly happens in the high season between 3 PM and 8 PM. Most of the other times of the day it is not too crazy. And at night you can enjoy the quiet streets and higher-end restaurants.
Choose to Stay in Oia if:
Budget is not a concern. Oia has some of the most expensive accommodations on the island and in Greece for that matter.
You want that famous Santorini Sunset view.
You are looking for a private luxurious experience. There are a lot of exclusive hotels in Oia.
Best Hotels in Oia
Luxury: Katikies Hotel
Mid-Range: Tramonto Secret Villas
Budget: Anemomilos Hotel And Villas
VRBO: Blue & White Cave House
If you are a couple that likes to have access to everything within close proximity then we would suggest Fira. Having a central location and the bulk of the island’s public transport, Fira is a great option for those wondering where to stay in Santorini. Fira is the biggest town on the island, and while it may lack some of the charms of Oia or Firostefani, it makes up for it in other ways.
The atmosphere in Fira rises early and maintains its momentum throughout the day. Here, locals and travelers alike mix in great numbers as they make their way around the busy town. With restaurants, bars, and attractions within walking distance, you’ll be able to get about on foot more often than not. Importantly, you’ll never have a shortage of things to do.
Fira is home to Santorini’s main bus terminal, which is in the middle of town. After exploring your local attractions, you’ll love having easy access to far-off destinations without the need for a rental car. Being such a huge hub for tourism means Fira will have more than its fair share of tour offices selling all sorts of island experiences for you to try.
This has also led the town to have an immense selection of restaurants, hotels, and the best nightlife scene in Santorini. The range of options and competition means life in the capital of Santorini is cheaper than other major towns along the Caldera side of the island.
Choose to stay in Fira if:
You don’t have a car and want to be close to the bus station to access other parts of the island
You want to enjoy the nightlife on the island
You are visiting in the off-season as most other parts of the island will be closed
You are not in Santorini for the beaches
Best Hotels in Fira:
Luxury: Celestia Grand
Mid-Range: Aressana Spa Hotel And Suites
Budget: Danae Villa
VRBO: Cave House
The major drawback of staying in Fira is the commercialization of the town. It’s a major destination for cruise ships, whose passengers flood the town, leading to a less authentic experience. Away from the historic landmarks and epic views, you’ll find rows of souvenir shops, the kind many travelers see and dread.