While we were planning for our recent Europe trip, we knew we had to visit Santorini. Santorini is a dream destination, with beautiful white villas, and gorgeous blue waters, how could one not fall in love? The only thing that was holding us back was the price tag. But, with a little (or a lot) research its easy to stay in Santorini on a budget. We wanted to maximize our time on a budget! It’s hard to narrow down the best place to stay in Santorini, as there are so many gorgeous villas and suites, but heres the ultimate guide on where to stay in Santorini.
Best Place to Stay in Santorini
This is where things get complicated! There are so many gorgeous white villas in Santorini with a private pool or outdoor hot-tub, it gets hard to choose just one! Trying to figure out where to stay on Santorini can cause a headache!
To help narrow your options, here are some things to think about when booking:
- Do you want a sunset and/or caldera (volcano) view? Only a few have both
- Do you want a busy town with lots to do or a quiet town?
- Be aware that most villas will require walking up many fights of stairs
The west side of the island is the most popular side, as this is where the cliff side villas and great views are. The east side of the island has the beaches. There are so many great options to stay, it can be overwhelming to choose which one would be the best for you. Here’s a breakdown of the best places to stay in Santorini, the best views of the caldera and the best hotels in Santorini.
Where to stay in Santorini
The capital and largest town on the island and also the center of the action. The bus hub is also in the middle of Fira. If you want to be in the middle of the action, this is the place to be to experience the nightlife. Most of the hotels in Fira Santorini have a great view of the caldera, but the sunset is often blocked.
- Budget- Keti Hotel– up high on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the caldera. Suites have a private balcony, air-conditioning, and breakfast served on the terrace. Only 5 minutes from Fira square.
- Luxury- Atlantis Hotel– panaromic views of the sea and caldera, the most historic hotel of Santorini, includes a pool and hottub. Located in the center of Fira for easy access to everything.
If you’re planning your trip to Santorini, heres a great guide of things to do in Santorini
The quieter younger sister of Fira. Its only a 15 minute walk from Fira, sharing the same amazing view with a more quiet atmosphere
- Budget- Villa Ilias– A friendly family-run hotel with a homey vibe. Almost all the rooms at Villa Ilias have a caldera view. A great pool terrace with great views and pool bar is available to all guests.
- Luxury- Hotel Ira– walking distance to Fira, features a spa, restaurant, pool with pool bar and magnificient sea views. offers caldera-view rooms, suites and traditional dwellings built across a courtyard with private terraces. Spacious rooms with balconies. Breakfast and wifi included. The hotel reflects traditiaonl greek style and has the feel of a small village.
At a higher elevation than any town, so you have great views of the caldera and the sunset. The quietest of the main towns with no nightlife and only a couple restaurants.
- Budget- Merovigliosso Apartments– apartment style rooms overlooking the caldera, close to Fira town. Free wifi, air-condiitioned apartments and stuidos with sea-view balconies, with fully equipped kitchens. Continental breakfast is included. Also a swimming pool for guests.
- Luxury– Grace Santorini – great location, incredible views and 5-star service. An adults only resort, which means more romantic with great sunset and caldera views. The largest pool of any hotel along the caldera. The perfect honeymoon hotel and probably the best resort to stay in Santorini.
Oia is the most romantic town on Santorini, with beautiful alleys and views around each corner. This is the city where people migrate in herds to watch the sunset. Oia has endless amounts of restaurants, but is lacking in terms of nightlife. Many people think Oia is the best area to stay in Santorini.
- Strogili Houses– includes a swimming pool with sun terrace and serves continental breakfast in the room. Includes air-conditioned studios and apartments, kitchenette, living area and private bathroom.
- Virginias Cave Villas – the most adorable little cave villas with the best view of the caldera. Right in the middle of Oia. There are 6 different villas, 3 with private outdoor hottubs, looking over the sea. All villas include Traditional cave structure, air-conditioning, fridge and breakfast amenities, including and coffee maker.
- Aspaki by Art mansion- situated in the heart of Oia, right by the famous blue domes. Suites offer an outdoor hot tub, and some rooms feature a private outdoor pool.
- Canaves Via Suites– luxury suites with views of the caldera and Aegean Sea, private plunge pools and world class service. Cliffside infinity pool that overlooks the sea, The suites have access to 2 restaurants, 2 outdoor pools, and a swim-up bar. One of the best luxury hotels Santorini has to offer!
Tips to book accommodation in Santorini
Whether you are planning to spend your holidays in Santorini or planning a honeymoon, we recommend booking a cave villa! We don’t usually splurge on hotels because lets face it, we really aren’t in the hotel too much besides to sleep. Santorini was an exception to this and we were so glad we had such a nice view of the caldera along with a private outdoor hot-tub! It allowed us to escape the crowds in our private villa, but still enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Even though it was crowded when we were there, our villa was secluded and tucked away from the crowd. We would book a private cave villa again when we go back! And there are plenty of reasonably priced private villas on the island!
- Santorini is a busy place, so make sure to book your hotel well in advance. Especially if you are coming between May-September, expect the most popular spots to fill up quickly
- Pick a hotel with breakfast included, it will save you money and time
- Do your research. There are plenty of gorgeous luxury hotels in Santorini, know where you want to stay and how much you are willing to spend.
Where to Book Hotels in Santorini
Agoda– Agoda has lots of great options, and its easy to filter through results to find what you are looking for.
Booking.com– There are a ton of Santorini hotels available on Booking. Some hotels on booking also have great cancellation policy (i.e. cancel for no cost), but make sure you read the fine print and when you have to cancel by to get a refund.
Airbnb– There are plenty of great options, but luxury and budget, on Airbnb. You will find some villas will be on hotel sites and Airbnb. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, here’s $40 off your first booking!
If you need help booking your trip to Santorini, let us know- we’d love to help you decide!
Things to do in Santorini
- Hike from Fira to Oia (or vice-versa)- with beautiful views of the caldera throughtout the walk, its not too challenging, with phenomenal views the whole way. It will take 2-4 hours.
- Do a catamaran ride around the island– Sunset Oia Sailing is a great company with both day and sunset tours with snorkeling, swimming and food. Its a great way to experience the island.
- Get up to watch the sunrise– while the sunset is amazing, EVERYONE is smashed around trying to get the best shot. We hardly ran into anyone while we were up for sunrise, and the island was even more amazing with the calmness.
- Wine tour with Santorini Wine Adventure– The perfect combination of enjoying local wine, the scenery, and learning about the history of Santorini.
- Visit the best beaches in Santorini– the red beach and the white beach, located on the southern tip of the island are must sees when you visit.
How to get to Santorini
From Athens and other Greek islands the ferry is the best option. The ferry is surprisingly fancy, pretty quick, and relatively cheap. From Athens, the ferry can take 7-8 hours (in the slow season) to get to Santorini, so if you are in a time crunch, you might want to think about flying. If you are visiting any other Greek islands, the best option is the ferry. There are multiple ferry companies that run often, Hellenic Seaways and Sea Jets are the most reliable.
If you are on a time crunch, or visiting from outside of Greece, flying is the better option. A flight to Santorini tends to be more expensive than the ferry, especially if you are booking last minute. If you know you need to book a flight, the earlier you do it, the cheaper it will be. Sometimes it still might be cheaper to fly to Athens, and then ferry from Athens. Considering its a very popular holiday destination, it is still possible to find cheap flights to Santorini!
How to get around Santorini
The bus can get you pretty must anywhere on the island. Be aware that you no matter where you are going, you will have to change buses in Fira, as this is where main bus hub is. From Fira to Oia, the bus costs 1.80 Euros, and runs every 20 minutes. If you’re feeling adventurous you can rent ATVS for anywhere between 20-50 euros/day. This way you can explore the island on you’re own a little more.
Best time to visit Santorini
If youre looking for great weather, then May-September is your best bet. Also know, this is peak season in Santorini, so be prepared for large crowds. We went in early May, and the weather was in the 70s and perfect, but the streets were already uncomfortably crowded. There are sometimes several cruise ships that come into port, so the middle of the day tends to be busier. If you chose to go during the off-season, the prices will be cheaper but be aware that some businesses may be closed. If you don’t mind some restaurants and shops to be closed while you are there, Santorini in December is a great time to go. Because it’s off season, it will be less busy and cheaper, but keep in mind there will not be as many options for your shopping and eating desires.
Where to eat in Santorini
Because we came after visiting Crete, and we found Crete to be a little more budget-friendly, some of the restaurants struck us as expensive. If you are wanting a nice dinner overlooking the cliff, there are plenty of places to have that, but it comes with a hefty price-tag. We didn’t find it necessary to spend extra money just to have our meals with an “amazing view” as our villa already had a phenomenal view! If you want a nice dinner, try to steer away from the spots right on the water. There are so many great restaurants just steps away, the only difference is no view. But the food will be cheaper and taste even better! One of our favorites places was in Oia, right by the bus station, called Nikos Place. They have great gyros for only 3 euros! Its on a small alleyway, hidden behind some tourist shops, but this is where the locals go for souvlaki and gyros. We literally ate here everyday and we were completely satisfied and saved some money!
If you want to save some money, go to the grocery store and stock up on some snacks and drinks. A bottle of water at the store is 1 euro compared to 3 euros (minimum) at a restaurant. You can stock up on fruits and vegetables, drinks, and snacks for in between meals. We like to stock up at the market everywhere we go, so we don’t have to eat out all the time.
While Santorini is known as a luxury island, it doesn’t have to put a huge dent into your bank account. While there are a countless number of expensive luxury hotels in Santorini, there are also budget hotels around the island, you just have to choose wisely. You must narrow down all the options by figuring out what area you want to be based in and what amenities are important to you. Having a private outdoor hot-tub was number one on our list of amenities we wanted, but we did not not want to break the bank with the cost associated with such an amenity. Luckily were able to find a room with a private hot-tub for an amazing deal at Virginias Cave Villas. The best place to stay in Santorini depends on the type of experience you want to have on the island. Its a gorgeous island, with plenty to do, but don’t forget to enjoy the caldera view! Now, hurry up and book your ticket to Santorini! You won’t be sorry you visited Santorini.
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