Fira vs Oia vs Firostefani vs Imerovigli – Comparing Santorini towns

Traveling to Santorini, Greece, and wondering what’s the best area to stay on the island?

Well, the first and foremost consideration you need make is whether you want to stay on the beach or someplace with caldera/volcano view?

If you want to stay on the beach, Kamari and Perissa are the most popular choices.

If you want to stay someplace with caldera view, then you can choose from Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia.

I highly recommend staying in one of the caldera towns because you can find beaches almost everywhere in the world, but the white washed buildings hanging on cliffs, breathtaking sunsets, blue domed churches and nightlife in caldera towns are unlike any other place on the planet!




Fira is the most touristy town in Santorini. It is also the commercial capital of the Santorini island. The views of caldera from this part of island are simply stunning. There are a lot of restaurants, bars and pubs which makes the nightlife of Fira the most vibrant as compared to any other towns on the island. Being the commercial hub and party capital of Santorini, Fira is almost always very crowded and expensive.

  • If you’re looking for vibrant nightlife then Fira is the place for you.
  • Hotels in Fira are expensive. 
  • Fira is great for shopping, food and parties.
  • Sunsets from Fira are great, but pales in comparison to Oia and Imerovigli.


View of Firostefani from Nomikos Villas!

View of Firostefani from Nomikos Villas!

Firostefani is just short walk away from Fira. The footpaths between the two towns are paved, and there are numerous hotels, restaurants and bars along the way. The views of caldera from Firostefani are equally stunning.

  • If you want to avoid the crowds of Fira, but want to stay close to the action then this is the place for you!
  • Firostefani has got equally great views, and it’s cheaper to stay in Firostefani as compared to Fira.
  • People staying in Firostefani flock to Fira for nightlife.


A windmill in Oia

A windmill in Oia!

Oia is located on the north west part of the island around 12 kms from Fira. Because of this long distance, the walk from Fira to Oia takes considerable amount of time. However, people choose to take this trail for all the stunning views it has to offer. Oia is very well known for its breathtaking sunsets. Therefore, you will find it to be very crowded in the evenings. During other times of the day, it is much quieter than Fira. There are good restaurants, bars and pubs in Oia, but the nightlife here pales in comparison to Fira.

  • If you’re looking for a quiet and romantic place with some very nice hotels and high end restaurants then this is the place for you!
  • Oia is a perfect romantic getaway for honeymoon travelers.
  • There are plenty of shops and restaurants in Oia.
  • Oia is the second best place for shopping in Santorini after Fira.
  • Nightlife in Oia is virtually non-existent.




Imerovigli is around 3 kms from Fira, and is located at highest elevation when compared to any other caldera towns in Santorini. Because of this elevation, Imerovigli offers stunning sunset views. Imerovigli is very quiet as compared to Fira, Firostefani and Oia, and therefore, you will find fewer hotels, restaurants and grocery stores.

  • Out of all 4 caldera towns, Imerovigli is least expensive and least crowded.
  • Imerovigli is much cheaper when compared to Fira and Oia.


Kamari & Perissa

Kamari beach in Santorini!

Kamari beach in Santorini!

If you choose to stay near by beach in Santorini island (which of course I don’t recommend), then Kamari or Perissa is the place for you. These places offer volcanic beaches. That is, beaches with mostly black or red rocks and grit. Both the places offer lots of shops for shopping, restaurants and bars. Staying at any of these places is always cheaper as compared to any of the caldera towns.

  • Kamari and Perissa are among the cheapest places to stay in Santorini
  • There is no caldera view available at these places
  • There ain’t any white washed buildings and blue domed churches overlooking the turquoise water of Aegean sea at these locations
  • Stay at these places only if you can’t live without beach or budget is a constraint

Frequently Asked Questions About Where To Stay In Santorini

– Where did I stay in Santorini?
When I traveled to Santorini, along with my wife and other friends, we stayed at Nomikos Villas in Firostefani because of its value for money, close distance from all the action in Fira and incredible views.


– Did I rent a car in Santorini?
No, I didn’t rent a car during our stay at Santorini. I’d read a lot about parking nightmares in Santorini and how difficult it could get to drive on narrow roads there. Therefore, I opted out of renting a car in Santorini.


– Without a rental car, how I got around the island?
We were in Santorini for 4 days. In the first 2 days, we explored the towns of Fira and Firostefani. Since we were staying in Firostefani, it was very easy to get around this town. As for Fira, it is walking distance from Firostefani and therefore, we didn’t have any issues exploring Fira on foot either. On the 3rd day of our stay, we explored the town of Oia and we got there using public transport. The public buses serve the towns of Fira, Firostefani and Oia at least once every hour during peak seasons. You can get the bus schedule and bus stop information from the hotel you’re staying at. Bus trips are cheap costing just a few euros in cash. On the fourth day of our trip, we explored Kamari, Perissa and the prehistoric town of Akrotiri. Though public buses serve these towns, we opted for renting an ATV(All Terrain Vehicle) for this day. An ATV can accommodate up to 2 people and there are many ATV rentals in the towns of Fira and Firostefani. We’d not booked the ATV in advance and we didn’t have any issues getting the ATV at the last moment. But, please be aware that we’d visited Santorini during the shoulder season of May and situation could be different during the peak season.


– How to get to hotel in Santorini from the airport?
Public transport serve airport at Santorini. There are cabs available too. However, I would suggest contacting your hotel and see if they have complimentary airport pick up. Even if they don’t have it complimentary, I would suggest booking hotel transportation instead of taking a cab because cabs don’t leave you on the door steps of most of the hotels in Fira, Firostefani and Oia, which means you will have to drag your baggage and you may have issues finding the hotel. If you have hotel transportation, they can help you with your bags and directions. That’s the option we went with for our ride from airport to Nomikos Villas in Firostefani.


On our trip to Santorini, we stayed at Nomikos Villas. Refer to Nomikos Villas in Santorini – The Traveling Engineer’s Review to know all about it.

Traveling to Mykonos too, and wondering how Mykonos differs from Santorini? Then, refer to How Santorini Differs From Mykonos


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