Fira or Oia – Where To Stay

Updated: October 21, 2016

Summary – Fira vs Oia

  • Fira has more nightlife and shopping.
  • Oia is more romantic.
  • Both Oia and Fira have some places to eat (and some average ones), but I would give a slight edge to Oia for the quality of restaurants. Fira does have more cheap places to eat.
  • Both Oia and Fira have great views of the caldera – very different perspectives but I couldn’t say one was better than the other.
  • Both Oia and Fira have good sunset views (though the best are in Imerovigli). In Fira most hotels on the caldera have a pretty direct view of the sunset. In Oia, most hotels don’t have a direct view of the sunset and you need to leave your hotel and take a short walk to see the sun set into the water.
  • Renting a car: Slightly easier in Fira, especially if you book in advance but don’t pickup from the airport. If you do pickup at the airport (recommended) then it doesn’t matter which town you stay in.
  • Closer to the airport and ferry port: Fira is about 10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from the ferry port. Oia is about 30 minutes from both the airport and ferry port.
  • Easier to explore the island from: Fira is more central and makes getting to the southern parts of the island easier and faster. This matters more if you’re getting around by bus as Fira is the hub for all bus routes on the island which means passengers taking a bus from Oia to the beaches will need to change buses in Fira (a bit of a hassle). If you rent a car then there’s not as big of a difference.
  • Coser to the beaches: Fira is about 20 minutes closer than Oia to the beach towns. As I say, this isn’t a big deal if you have a rental car, but makes a bigger difference if you’re getting around by bus.
  • ATMs are easy to find in both Fira and Oia. Both towns have grocery markets but Fira has an actual grocery store. If you need to do laundry Fira is better.
View of Fira from a ship.

Fira is up a the top, Athinios port (only used for cruise ships, not ferries) is at the bottom. To get up to Fira there’s a choice of cable car, walking, or riding the donkeys.

View of Oia from a ship.

Looking up at Oia. Amoudi Bay (known for it’s seafood restaurants) is at the base of the hill below Oia. It’s a short walk down to Amoudi and a lots of steps back up.

View from Fira.

The view from Fira looking north towards Skaros Rock and Oia.

View of Oia from Perivolas resort in Santorini.

View of Oia, looking northwest from Perivolas Hotel.

View from Firostefani.

That’s Skaros Rock in Imerovigli which divides (to me, at least) north and south Santorini. I point it out because you can see Skaros from Oia and Fira and appears in many pictures on this page. It offers a good landmark to get your bearings.

View of Fira from Imerovigli.

View of Fira, looking south from Skaros Rock.

View of Oia from Imerovigli.

View of Oia, looking north from Skaros Rock.

View from Oia towards Fira.

View from Oia looking south towards Skaros Rock, Imerovigli, and Fira.

View of volcano from Santorini.

A view of the volcano from Fira.

Main street in Fira.

The main street in Fira is a fun lively collection of shops and restaurants.

Donkey rides in Fira.

Donkeys in Fira.

Best restaurant with a view in Fira.

The best restaurant with a view in Fira: Naoussa.

Cable car in Fira.

Cable car ride from cruise port up to Fira.

Donkeys in Fira.

Donkeys on the stairs down to the port in Fira.

Sidewalk in Fira is not very stroller friendly.

Sidewalk in Fira.

View of cliffs from Fira.

Looking north towards Skaros Rock from Kavalari Hotel in Fira.

Caldera view from Fira.

Lots of cafes, restaurants, and hotels look out onto the caldera in Fira.

Where to watch the sunset in Oia.

The main spot to watch sunsets in Oia. Bring a bottle of wine and have fun.

View of the sea from Oia.

View of the sea from Oia.

Watching sunset in Oia.

Oia Castle is the main spot to watch sunsets in Oia.

A view towards Fira from Oia.

View of church and Fira from Oia.

Best spot to watch sunset in Oia.

Best spot to watch sunset in Oia.

Large villa in Oia.

Large villa in Oia.

Sidewalk in Oia.

The main sidewalk in Oia (flat and stroller friendly) runs pretty much the entire length of the village (with one main interruption just past Canaves hotel).

View of Fira looking north.

View of Fira looking north.

Best cheap food in Santorini.

If you’re looking to save money on food nothing beats a gyro. Lucky’s in Fira has the best gyros and souvlaki on Santorini but there are several places in Oia too.

Bus stop near Oia.

Finikia is a village near Oia. No views but it does have several cheap hotels. This is the bus stop for Finikia. All buses between Fira and Oia stop here.

Oia is better than Fira for kids and strollers.

Both Fira and Oia have lots of steps but the main walkway in Oia is flat and much better for getting around with a stroller.

Amoudi Bay in Santorini – great seafood restaurants.

Amoudi Bay below Oia. Great seafood restaurants and there’s a good swim spot here – no beach you just jump from the rocks.

View of volcano from Fira.

Fira is busier than Oia but there are still plenty of quiet spots in Fira.

Oia or Fira best for sunset?

Oia Castle with Thirassia (another island that forms part of the caldera ring) in the background. This is the most popular spot to watch sunsets in Santorini.

Pool for swimming open to the public.

Lioyerma pool in Oia. Nice size and good views. It’s the only “public” pool in Santorini and nice if your hotel doesn’t have a pool. No fee, you just have to buy something to eat or drink. Strangely, it never gets all that busy.

View of Fira and volcano.

Looking south towards Fira. Fira is roughly up the cliff from the first (closest) ship.

Shopping in Fira.

A sidestreet filled with shops in Fira.

The hike from Fira to Oia.

The foot path between Fira and Oia. From Fira to Imerovigli you’re largely walking on town sidewalks. North of Imerovigli it’s more like a dirt path.

View from Imerovigli towards Oia.

Imerovigli is about half-way between Fira and Oia and has the best views of any town along the caldera (because of it’s higher elevation).

Best beach in Santorini.

Perissa is the best beach in Santorini. It’s definitely easier and closer to get here from Fira than Oia.

Shopping in Oia: Bookstore.

Atlantis Books in Oia is a fabulous little bookstore in Oia. Don’t miss it.

Katikies hotel in Oia.

The view from Katikies in Oia looking north.

Hasapiko is the only true bar in Oia. It's tiny but gets good and lively after midnight.

Hasapiko is the only true bar in Oia. It’s tiny but gets good and lively after midnight.

Watching outdoor movies in Santorini.

I love going to the open air cinema in Kamari. It’s quite a bit easier to do this from Fira than Oia.

Best swimming spot near Fira.

Kamari is the best swimming spot close to Fira. Oia is 20 minutes farther from Kamari than Fira.

The stairs from Athinios port up to Fira.

The stairs from Athinios port up to Fira.

Koo Club and Enigma are the big dance clubs in Fira. Oia has a few bars and places to drink but no clubs.

Koo Club and Enigma are the big dance clubs in Fira. Oia has a few bars and places to drink but no clubs.

Tropical Bar (along with Franco's) is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Fira.

Tropical Bar (along with Franco’s) is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Fira.

It's easy to get (happily) lost in the paths and stairwells of Santorini.

It’s easy to get (happily) lost in the paths and stairwells of Santorini.

One of the highlights of a trip to Santorini is walking the footpath between Oia and Fira. It doesn't matter whether you walk Oia to Fira, or Fira to Oia.

One of the highlights of a trip to Santorini is walking the footpath between Oia and Fira. It doesn’t matter whether you walk Oia to Fira, or Fira to Oia.

Another sign for the footpath along the caldera. This is in Firostefani (the village closest to Fira).

Another sign for the footpath along the caldera. This is in Firostefani (the village closest to Fira).

Ouzeri is my favorite restaurant in Fira. Both Fira and Oia have lots of great places to eat

Ouzeri is my favorite restaurant in Fira. Both Fira and Oia have lots of great places to eat

Fira is the hub for buses getting around the island. If you're in Oia and want to go anywhere on the island (besides Imerovigli and Firostefani) then you have to switch buses in Fira.

Fira is the hub for buses getting around the island. If you’re in Oia and want to go anywhere on the island (besides Imerovigli and Firostefani) then you have to switch buses in Fira.

Sunset view from Fira.

Fira is busier than Oia through the day but quieter than Oia during the sunset. Oia is the most popular town on the island to watch the sun set but unset views from Fira are still pretty great.

Nightlife in Fira.

Fira has far more nightlife, bars, and clubs than Oia.

Shopping in Fira.

There’s plenty of shopping in both Fira and Oia – but Fira definitely has more shops and more variety.

See Also

2 Questions and Comments

  1. Fira, Oia, or Imerovigli for Older Couple with Limited Mobility

    We are a couple in our early 70s trying to decide between Oia, Fira, and Imerovigli. We can walk short distances but more than 1 or 2 flights of stairs is a problem. Would you recommend Oia, Fira, or Imerovigli for us? We’d like a caldera view, what hotels would you suggest?

    Thank you,
    Bo and Stacey

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Imerovigli is great but most places have lots of steps and there’s no central area to wander around for a short flat walk – so let’s cross that off the list. Both Oia and Fira have plenty of up and down but that can be avoided if you’re strategic in where you stay and where you walk to. Generally, I would say Oia has more of a flat area to walk around but fewer hotels that have easy access. In Oia, a central hotel that has not-too-many steps and great views is Aspaki. In Fira the best hotels for you would be Cosmopolitan Suites, Atlantis, and Aria Suites.

Got a question? Ask it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *