Overall, Fira is the best town to stay in Santorini because it is the island's capital and has the most hotels, transportation links, and tourist infrastructure. Fira is also closer to the airport, ferry port, and beaches than Oia.
Is Fira A Good Place To Stay On Santorini?
Santorini, the jewel of the Aegean, is a traveler's dream, boasting breathtaking vistas and one-of-a-kind architecture.
At the heart of this dream lies the island's capital, Fira. But is Fira truly the best place for you to stay during your Santorini visit?
A lot depends on how long you want to spend in Santorini, and what you would like to see and do when there.
Having visited Santorini more than half a dozen times now, I personally think that Fira is the best location to stay when looking for hotels on Santorini.
As with everything of course, there are pros and cons to this to choosing Fira as your location to stay in Santorini. So, here's a quick look at them to help you decide whether Fira is the best town to stay when visiting Santorini.
The Pros of Staying in Fira
In my mind, what makes Fira the best location to start looking for where to stay in Santorini are its transport links. From Fira you can get everywhere on the island directly on public transport without having to change buses. In addition, there are more taxis in Fira, along with car rental offices.
There are also other plus sides that make Fira one of the best areas to stay in Santorini:
1. Vibrant Nightlife and Shopping Scenes
Fira is a bustling hub, offering a myriad of nightlife options to suit all tastes. Whether you're seeking an intimate bar to savor a cocktail or a lively club to dance the night away, Fira has it all. Moreover, the town boasts diverse shopping opportunities, from exclusive boutiques to charming local artisan shops.
While other areas (perhaps Perissa) offer nice places for enjoying an evening out for food and drinks, nowhere on the island has the variety that Fira does.
2. Unforgettable Sunset Views
Oia may be famous as being the place to see the sunset, but in my experience, I've always enjoyed the sunsets in Fira far more. The main reason for this, is that everyone travels to Oia for the sunset, leaving Fira relatively (I emphasise relatively) emptier of tourists.
Fira graces you with unparalleled views of the sun setting over the caldera, a sight that is bound to steal your heart. There's also lots of sunset bars and restaurants in Fira.
3. Strategic Central Location
Situated at the heart of Santorini, Fira's central location makes it an ideal base for exploring the entire island. From here, you can easily embark on trips to the southern parts of Santorini, including the captivating black sand beaches and the ancient ruins of Akrotiri.
It's a much shorter journey traveling to places like Red beach in Santorini from Fira than Oia. Fira is also closer to the ferry port and airport.
4. Proximity to Transportation Hubs
Fira enjoys convenient access to both the airport and the ferry port, making it an easily reachable destination for travelers. Additionally, the central bus station is nestled here, ensuring a seamless connection to various parts of the island.
All bus journeys around Santorini start and end in Fira. For example, if you wanted to get a bus from Perissa to Oia, you'd have to swap buses in Fira. By staying in Fira, you can get direct buses to all major tourist destinations in Santorini.
When it comes to transport, Fira is the best area to stay in Santorini.
5. Easier Beach Access
While Fira itself lacks a beach, its central location means it's closer to the coastal towns of Kamari and Perissa than Oia. This proximity facilitates relaxed days lounging on the distinctive black sands and taking refreshing dips in the crystal-clear Aegean Sea.
Of course, it's not as close as staying in the Santorini beach resorts themselves, but the problem with doing that, is these resorts have less facilities.
6. Essential Amenities
Fira is home to a wealth of ATMs and well-stocked grocery stores, ensuring you have hassle-free access to all the essentials during your stay.
7. Fira is the best place to stay for off-season travel
Between November and April, the beach resorts in Santorini close down, and Oia starts to resemble a ghost town. Fira is still open though, albeit not all the souvenir shops will be.
Fira is definitely the best town to stay for off season travel in Santorini. You'll find more hotels and places to eat are open in Fira at this time. The island's main supermarket is also in Fira.
The Cons of Staying in Fira
Despite its many advantages, Fira does come with potential downsides. It tends to be more crowded and bustling compared to some other parts of the island, especially during the peak summer season.
While this liveliness adds to its charm, it may not be ideal for those in search of a tranquil retreat. Moreover, some hotels in Fira sell out very quickly in the high season, leaving only overpriced or lower quality places to stay at.
1. Crowding and bustling during peak season
Fira is a popular destination in Santorini, especially during the peak tourist season. As a result, it can get crowded, especially in the central areas and around popular attractions. This might lead to longer waits at restaurants, packed streets, and a more hectic atmosphere. In particular, when cruise ships arrive (which is practically every day) the streets are very busy to walk through
2. Not as budget friendly as other areas
Accommodation is in short supply in Fira during the high season, and budget travelers in Santorini might prefer to look elsewhere. Perissa has cheaper accommodation options than Fira, but it is further away from all the action.
3. Parking can be an issue
Parking space (well, any sort of space) is also in short supply in Fira. It's worth checking out the parking situation before you decide whether or not to rent a car in Santorini.
In general, my recommendation for travelers who are not really sure where to stay in Santorini is to choose Fira. Unless a lot of beach time is a specific requirement of a vacation in Santorini, Fira is the best place to stay in Santorini when other factors are taken into consideration.
Looking for more Santorini travel info? Check out these guides:
- Santorini Travel Guide
- Best time to go to Santorini
- How to get to Santorini
- How to get around Santorini
- Where to stay in Santorini
- Santorini in May
- Santorini in October
- Santorini in November
- Random facts about Santorini
- Best Santorini hotels with a sunset view
- How to book a Santorini hotel with breaking the bank
- One day Santorini itinerary
- Two day Santorini itinerary
- Three day Santorini itinerary
- Day Trips from Santorini
- Wine tasting in Santorini
- Best Santorini tours and excursions
- Best boat tours in Santorini
- Santorini Island Hopping
Dave is a travel writer from the UK who's been living in Greece since 2015. As well as writing these insights into whether or not Fira is the best area to stay in Santorini, he's also written hundreds of other travel blog posts about the Greek islands and other destinations in Greece. Follow Dave on social media for travel inspiration from Greece and beyond: