Located in the north of Santorni, 12 kms from the airport and 22 kms from the port, Oia is the island’s most beautiful and famous village. The stunning caldera views and the legendary Oia sunset have been mesmerizing people for ages. People flock from all over, occupying every inch of space to experience them (the Kastro Walls is the most popular spot to see the sunset). The architecture in Oia is traditional, with cute, narrow alleys, blue domed churches and white washed houses that hug the cliff side. Oia has two so called beaches, Ammoudi and Armeni, both rocky and hard to access. It also has a host of restaurants, cafes and galleries. Oia lacks the nightlife of the capital Fira, which makes it a lot quieter. It’s perfect for people, especially couples, looking for a peaceful holiday.
Perched on a cliff on the west coast of the island, the town of Fira is the capital and transport hub of Santorini. It’s located 8 kms from the airport and 10 kms from the port. The views of the caldera and the Aegean Sea are as breathtaking as the ones in Oia. And like Oia it’s blessed with narrow pathways, blue domed churches and cliff hanging white washed houses with blue doors and windows. But Fira can get crowded and noisy since the cruise ships dock here. But it does have its share of calm areas. Other than the great views there are a number of monasteries and an Archeological Museum to explore here. Fira is less expensive than Oia and is packed with of shops, restaurants, cafes and has a bustling nightlife which is the best on the island.
Karterados is a tranquil village 2 km south of Fira with good bus connections to the capital and Oia. There isn’t much to do or see here and the views aren’t great compared to the other villages. But its close proximity to Fira and the peace and quiet it offers makes it appealing option. The rocky beach of Exo Gialos is close by. Karterados has its share of restaurants which serve up some good local delicacies. It also has some of the best bakeries on the island. Bonus: Cheap prices.
Imerovigli, a quaint and picturesque village, sits on the highest cliff on the island. Naturally, the climb is steep but the rewards are worth it: breathtaking views of both, the caldera and the sunset. In fact, some people think it has the best views on the island. And they may be right. Another plus is that it’s located just 2 kms from Fira, so it makes a quiet and convenient base between Fira and Oia. On the downside, Imerovigli doesn’t have too many eating options and accommodation here can be expensive.
The village of Perissa lies in the south east of Santorini and is home to the longest beach on the island. It also happens to be one of the best on the island. It’s located 10 kms from Fira and about 14 kms from the airport and the port. The architecture in Perissa is newer than in the other villages and not as traditional. This is because it was built in recent times to attract backpackers and a younger crowd. The village is filled with restaurants, cafes, bars and night clubs, the best of which line its beachfront. The long, black sand beach merges into Perivolos beach further along the coast. Perissa has a laid back vibe but it does feel a bit touristy. If you like beach parties or just lazing on the beach, you’ll love the place.
Separated from Perissa Beach by a giant rock called Mesa Vouno, Kamari Beach mirrors Perissa in spirit and landscape. Recently built to attract the young charter flight tourist, it has a long gravelly beach with a host a water sports and a beachfront peppered with bars, restaurants and cafes. It’s as touristy as Perissa but is a bit more upscale and has a more impressive promenade. It’s also popular with families and couples. Kamari’s nightlife is probably the best on the island after Fira and it hosts an annual jazz festival which takes places in an open air theatre. Both, Kamari and Perissa, are well connected to the rest of the island by a bus.