Where to Stay in Santorini for First-Time Visitors

In October last year, we had a wonderful week on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. From day one we had fun exploring the island on quad bikes, relaxing in the beautiful sunshine, and eating our body weight in Nutella crêpes (a holiday must!), all whilst overlooking the most stunning views.

Santorini is home to the dramatic and picturesque views of traditional Greek buildings and famous blue-domed churches, built within the cliffside of the Island. Quite literally a real-life postcard, we just couldn’t help ourselves to take hundreds of photos everywhere we visited, resulting in heaps of holiday spam on my Instagram stories (sorry everyone!). The views were surreal and lived up to all my expectations, I genuinely felt so lucky to be able to wake up and wander outside to this! ↓

What can I say about the island? The answer is, a lot! I’ll be sharing a series of Santorini blogs, giving you the inside scoop of visiting the Island and advice on where to stay as a first-time visitor, from my first-hand experience. So sit back, relax and prepare to read all things Santorini.

WHERE TO STAY (FOR THE VIEWS)

The first part of the holiday planning puzzle – where to stay?! In my opinion, you really need to do your research here. I started my series of guides with recommendations on where to stay in Santorini for this exact reason. Santorini is dreamy, there is no doubt. The photos, the selfies, the travel gram features – let me tell you, they don’t lie! But, as with everywhere, you have nice places and then your really nice places.

We made the mistake of booking a room in Imerovigli with the expectation that we’d be waking up amongst the idyllic white cliffside, facing the Caldera (volcano). When we arrived and got to know our way around Santorini, we realised that our room was actually West-facing, and on the wrong side of the village for THAT view. Don’t get me wrong, our room was lush, however it wasn’t quite the postcard surroundings we had initially expected!

So, if fully embracing the #SantoriniVibes, is the holiday fairytale you’re after, I recommend staying in Fira, Imerovigli, Firostefani or Oia, depending on your budget. You’ll need to check on the listing that the location has a view of the volcano, also known as the Caldera, to avoid making the mistake that we did!

Here’s a quick lo-down on each of these villages:

  • Fira (the capital)

    Fira is busy and has great bus links to tourist attractions and must-sees across the island, making it an extremely accessible location. There are so many cafés and restaurants in Fira square, and tonnes of quirky shops. Staying in Fira is ideal if you’re on a tighter budget, as it has loads of places to eat on-the-cheap, as well as cheaper accomodation options, providing that you stay a short walk from town.

  • Firostefani

    Approximately a 20-minute walk from Fira, this quieter village is ideal if you’re looking to stay somewhere away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the capital, with easy access to mini markets and a good selection of places to eat. 

  • Imervigli

    You will fall in love with this quieter village. As with Fira and Firostefani, you’ll be met with the most gorgeous views, but 10x the luxurious vibe. Here you’ll find exclusive resturantes including, Buddha Bar, so be prepared to splash out if you’re eating out or sipping some sunset cocktails here! 

  • Oia

    Out of this world sunsets. Whoever you ask on the Island, they will pretty much order you to visit Oia for sunset. The sunset looks absolutely stunning wherever you are on Santorini, but in Oia it was particularly special. Crowds flock there every single evening to get a glimpse, so be prepared for a flurry of people! Oia is also home to luxury stays and places to eat. If you’re on a budget, this may not be an ideal location, but it’s perfect for a couple of nights stay, and most definitely a visit or two! You can get a 30-minute bus from Fira to the village for just €1.60, or even better – take the quads. I will never forget the feeling of looking back on the sunset as we drove away from Oia, with the wind running through my hair. It looked and felt magical, a moment not to be forgotten! 

All these destinations have something similiar in common. The views come with a price tag if you tot them up over a weeks stay, especially if you’re looking to stay somewhere with a pool. But let me tell you, it’s soo worth it. People only go to Santorini for one reason right? The views! So you may as well do it properly. Plus, most stays will serve breakfast straight to your private balcony, which is naturally, delightful, and a massive bonus.

An alternative would be to take a short break to the Island. Or if you plan to stay a bit longer, it may be best to stay in affordable accomodation for part of your stay and indulge in a more expensive, exclusive stay for a couple of nights or so. 

WHERE TO STAY (FOR THE BEACH)

On the West side of the island, you’ll find Kamari, Akritori and Pervissa, which are all lovely beach towns. Most of the hotels have pools, access to the beach, and are generally more affordable.

WHERE WE STAYED

Villa Anto, Fira
Cost: £65 p/night (Oct)
Pros: Cheaps as chips! The rooms were pretty basic, and the view wasn’t amazing, but this served us perfectly since we ventured around the island most days on quad bikes! Breakfast was available in the hotel, so there was no need to head into town.
Cons: There were no shops or food places nearby, so if you needed something, you’d have to make the 20-minute walk up-hill into town.

Santorini View, Firostefani
Cost: £181 p/night (Oct)
Pros: Absolutely world-class views of the Caldera and sunset. It was an incredible evening watching the sunset from the balcony, with many of our neighbors doing the same! The room was newly decorated with everything you needed for a night’s stay, complete with robes and a yummy, high-quality breakfast delivered straight to your private balcony.
Cons:

Divelia East Suites, Imervigli
Cost: £113 (Oct)
Pros: The boho décor, stylish lights, and luxurious outdoor heated pool made this room so dreamy. This was our last night in Santorini so it was a really special, relaxing way to finish our amazing holiday.
Cons: Although the view was still beautiful, we were on the wrong side of the Island for the view of Caldera, which we were originally hoping for. Although, given that we established this a bit earlier in the holiday, we booked the room at Santorini View, so we were still able to enjoy the Caldera sunset from our own balcony the night before!

Want to see the dreamy views for yourself? Watch a video of our time in Santorini, complete with our quad bike adventures! Courtesy of @Virgyl

So there you have it. If you are looking for inspiration on where to stay in Santorini as a first-time visitor, or simply browsing future travel ideas during your time in isolation, I hope this helps you!

What destinations are on your post-lockdown travel bucket list? I’d love to know in the comments below! As always, be sure to keep in touch with me over on Instagram @thediaryofrebecca for regular updates and isolation ideas.

Until next time! Rebecca x

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