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

14 Questions and Comments

  1. Where To Stay in Santorini / Day Trips from Santorini and Mykonos

    I don’t even know what to say. I like to think I AM the most informed person on travel and do my research but your blog has put me to SHAME. Awesome, just awesome. Ive been reading and reading though tons of questions and answers- my turn!

    I am in the EARLY stages of planning a trip to Athens/Greek Islands in late Mid/September for 2 couples in our Mid 30’s.Around 10 days. The goal is a bit of everything. Beach, nightlife, views, great food, ease of getting around, walking distance would be great for nighttime from bars/resturaunts/shopping. A really COOL place to stay would be great. Like the caves/private pool accommodations, something different, but with the caldera view? I would rather spend more money on a nice hotel in Santorini then in Mykonos. I’m still torn what area to stay in Santorini, i want it all. A little romance, great caldera view hotel, great food, night life, ease of getting around to a few towns. Based on the distance and what I have read, I think Oia would be a nice day adventure but it’s too far out. So I am torn between Imerovigli and Fira I guess.

    As far as Mykonos goes, still a great central location, walking distances as night. Near a great beach or ease of getting to and from the beach. Room with a nice view, but again, doesnt need to be as nice as Santorini.

    Id like to ATV/4Wheel, go hiking, go to the beach, explore the islands and get lost. If we have 3 full days on mykonos, I’d like to hop to 1 other island, which would you recommend for a day trip? beachy and adventure suggestion? same for Santorini, the best islands to hop to, I’d say 1 island recommendation for same, beachy/adventure.

    Fly from the US to Mykonos (overnight flight). 4 nights, 3 full days
    Take the ferry from Mykonos to Santorini. 4 nights, nearly 4 full days
    Take the ferry from Santorini to Athens. 2 nights, 1 full day (none of us are huge into history but feel we need to see the basics and are going to flat out see what we can in 1 FULL day) this MIGHT turn into 2 nights, but TBD.

    Thanks so much, I look forward to your reply.
    Kelly Hammick

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Imerovigli and Fira are about as different as you can get. Go with Imerovigli for romance, good restaurants, the best views. Go with Fira for shopping, nightlife, busy streets. The best (easiest) day trip from Santorini is Ios. The best (easiest) day trip from Mykonos is Paros.

  2. Remezzo, Alta Mare, or Andronis

    Dave
    My wife and I are planning to travel to Santorini and stay there Thursday, June 22 to Sunday, June 25. Having decided on taking this trip just a week ago due to a family wedding in Sifnos, we are a little behind in getting reservations and are trying to decide between a few places that are available to us right now with tentative reservations. If you have knowledge of these hotels, what would you recommend between staying at the Remezzo Villas in Imerovigli, or staying in Oia at either the Alta Mare by Andronis or Andronis Boutique Hotel. We are interested in the location and the caldera views from the hotel, and staying at a nicely kept up hotel with a pool that has some privacy from the passing crowds. If you have an opinion on these or other suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your time and expertise in advance.
    James Fahey

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      All are wonderful hotels with amazing views (though only Remezzo will have sunset views). The big difference is location. Remezzo is on the quiet end of the already quiet Imerovigli. Alta Mare and Andronis are on the main Oia walkway and get lots of walk by traffic (but the rooms themselves have plenty of privacy). Imerovigli has fewer restaurants (but all very high quality). Oia has more shopping and one small (but fun) bar.

  3. Where To Stay on Santorini, Greece?

    Hi Dave,
    We are a family from Sweden going to Santorini June 30th and we will stay for 3 nights with 3 kids/teens. We will travel from Crete with the ferry (perhaps from Chania which is where we will be the previous 4 days or from Heraklion depending on which ferry is running). Do you know where the ferries land in Santorini? Is it more convenient to go to Fira from there or is Oia also not too far away? I am thinking Oia is my first choice and I found two hotels with moderate pricing: Fava Eco Residences and En Plou Boutique Suites. Which one of these two would you suggest (or other alternative)?
    Hope you have a chance to give me some of your valuable advice!
    Many thanks for a great website!
    Kind regards,
    Sofia Selberg

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Fira is about 20 minutes driving time from the ferry port. Oia is about 40 minutes. If you bus the difference is a little more as you need to switch buses in Fira (for Oia). Neither Fava Eco Residences or En Plou Suites are in Oia but Fava has a much more convenient location (in the town of Finikia) than En Plou. It’s right on a main bus line and the walk into Oia is mainly along the caldera foot path (you will need to find it) and is much more relaxing/enjoyable.

  4. Oia Mare Villas or Tholos Resort

    Hi Dave,

    Hope you are doing great. I hope you will answer my email. We are coming to Santorini 7/15-7/18 and then off to Mykonos. What would you recommend between Oia Mare Villas or Tholos Resort. It is my husband, my son(16) and myself. As far as the hotel, we would like a nice place we can come back from a long day, have a cocktail/wine and hang for the beautiful view. Thank you Dave. Always grateful!
    Linda, Dan and Jack

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Both are nice places but Tholos has a far better caldera view. There’s a little more “to do” in Oia than Imerovigli but Fira is a wonderful 20 minute walk from Tholos.

  5. Keti Hotel in Fira

    How is Keti Hotel for 2 nights? Will it be good for caldera view before moving to Oia for 2 nights in a hotel without any view but just to enjoy the village? Is Ferry from Santorini to Mykonos safe?
    Wafa Khan

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Keti hotel is great. One of my favorite moderately-priced hotels in Fira. Wonderful views. Cons: very simple breakfast and lots of steps up to Fira’s shops, bars, and restaurants.

  6. Where To Stay Over Easter

    Hi Dave! Will be in Santorini 11th – 16th of April and trying to decide which village to stay in. Would really try Oia this time (been to Santorini twice before, stayed in Imerovigli both times), but according to some folks on tripadvisor it might be “dead” there bc of the off-season. While others say it should be fine on the Easter weekend. Do you have any information on whether restaurants and shops will be open during the week days as well? Or will we be better off staying in Fira? (We prefer Oia to Fira, but dont want to end up being the only ones there with no food-options etc.)
    Any advice will be much appreciated!

    Thanks in advance, Celina

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Fira will have the most activity and the most restaurants open but Oia will have plenty as well. Imerovigli will have the least open but there will still be something (and Fira, of course, is a walkable distance away).

  7. 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.

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