Visit and explore unique Santorini villages. There are 18 of them, each one is different and offers something special to every visitor.
Oia in Santorini is one of the most graphical and well known villages of the island. It is located at the north-west tip of Santorini, 11 km north of the island’s capital, Fira. In the past, Oia was also called "Pano Meria", which translates as "the upper side" in Greek. Local inhabitants of Santorini still refer to Oia as "Pano Meria".
Oia, as a picturesque village, is visited by thousands of travelers every year from all over the world. It hosts tourists of every age and culture. It is one of the most beautiful among Santorini villages.
In Oia, you will find everything you need for a pleasant and unforgettable vacation. The most luxurious hotels are located on the west side of Oia, offering a breathtaking view of the volcano and the caldera, as well as all the west side of Santorini and its spectacular cliffs. Oia also hosts luxurious taverns and restaurants that offer a fantastic view of volcano and sunset. There is nothing more romantic than having dinner during the world most famous sunset. In the alleys of Oia you will also find taverns which offer fantastic dishes, prepared the santorinian way, with local ingredience.
The second thing that will impress you, beyond the fantastic view, will be the Oia's architecture. The Cycladic white houses built the traditional way by the 19th century ship captains and sailors, a whole lot of churches, built in memory of sailors, almost everyone with a different colorful bell, will definitely be a motive for may photographs. As you explore the colorful alleys of Oia, you will discover boutique tourist shops where you can buy a souvenir, a gift for your family back home or jewelry. The present of art galleries in Oia can't bypass you. This village is one of the favorite places for artists. Painters and sculptors are overwhelmed by the beauty of Oia, therefore they want to share their work of art with visitors from around the word.
Oia is also a "place to be" for history lovers. By itself, Oia is a cultural monument, but beyond that, the village hosts a maritime museum, ruins of a Venetian castle that belonged to Argyri family and today, due to its location on a hill, is one of the hot spots of Oia because it offers a fantastic view of all Santorini.
This graphic village is built on a cliff, but it also has its port. Right below Oia there is Ammoudi port. A small but very beautiful structure that hosts traditional fishing boats that supply Oia taverns and restaurants with the most delicious and fresh fish and seafood. In Ammoudi there are also few taverns and cafes. From this spot, you will depart for your daily cruise that you can book via your hotel or one of agencies in Oia. You can participate in a sunset cruise, an unforgettable experience, or in a round Santorini cruise during which you will visit many of the island beaches.
Fira is the capital of Santorini. The correct pronouncement is Thira, which was the ancient name of Santorini. It's located on west coast of Santorini, in the central part of the island.
Fira attracts tourists from around the word. Its spectacular location, 200m above the sea level, built on the edge of Santorini cliffs makes it very popular among travel destinations. Fira is the biggest among Santorini villages, if you can call it a village!
The architecture of Fira represents the santorinian and Cycladic trend. White houses with blue windows and doors separated from each other by graphical alley, a large number of churches are just a sample.
Fira hosts luxurious hotels, most of them built on the edge of the village, offering a fantastic view of Santorini sunset, the volcano, Thirassia Island and of the cliffs of the island that stretch along the west coast. Most of them have external pools and jacuzzi, making your stay even more compatible and unforgettable.
In Fira you will find all kinds of taverns and restaurants. Some of them are considered as luxurious and some traditional, some of them are located at the edge of the village just before the cliff and some other in the centre of Fira. It is one of the unforgettable moments in Santorini, to have a wonderful dinner during the sunset.. We recommend that you try the traditional dishes of Santorini, cooked with local ingredients.
Boutique cafes on the cliffs of Fira also offer a unique sunset view and experience. This are the places you can just seat back, relax and enjoy the stunning view while having coffee or a cocktail.
Fira have also cultural interest. There are many 18th century buildings, Archaeological Museum of Santorini which host archaeological from all over Santorini and from the most spectacular archaeological site in the island, the ancient city of Akrotiri which was buried during the volcanic eruption, Megaron Gyzi Museum which is more an art and cultural center and one of the most interesting exhibits of Megaron are the old photos of Santorini, taken before the earthquake in 1956.
During the peak of tourist season, between June and September, Fira can get very crowded. That is why you should always consider e.g booking a table in a restaurant in advance, especially if you like to enjoy your meal during the sunset, or book in advance a Santorini daily bus tour. Some times, even getting a nice spot for the sunset on a street is quite difficult. But there is no better way to enjoy an evening in Santorini than walk along the tight alleys, which are full with souvenir shops, clothes shops, jewelry, art shops e.t.c.
Right below Fira is the old port of Santorini. Today it is used only by yachts and other small vessels. You can get to the port on foot, steep cable car or on a donkeys with is one of the "things to do in Fira". We recommend you take the steps down on foot and use the other two means for your return to Fira because walking up the cliff is quite exhausting, especially during the summer days.
Imerovigli is another beautiful village in Santorini, located just 2 km north of Fira, at the west coast of the island. Imerovigli is built at the highest point of central-west Santorini, more than 300 meters above sea level, that is why its name was born from a latin word that indicates observatory. Because of its unlimited view, local inhabitants were able to observe any threats approaching from the sea, like pirates. Imerovigli is probably the most unique among Santorini villages.
The most impressive monument in Imerovigli that stands out between the village and volcano view, are the ruins of Skaros castle on a tip of a dominating rock. This Venetian castle was built in 1207 by the ruler of Santorini at the time. Below and around the castle, inhabitants built a settlement called Kastelli of Skaros. Skaros was inhabited until the 17th century, when it was damaged by underwater volcano eruption in 1650. Evidence showed that inhabitants leaving the settlement took with them raw materials in order to built new homes in different parts of Santorini.
In Imerovigli you will find a lot of churches, the most well known are Monastery of St. Nicholas, located between Imerovigli and Firostefani, chapel of Theoskepasti built on the edge of Skaros cliff and Panagia Malteza church which was named and built in honour of an icon of Madonna that was recover from the sea near Malta by a captain from Imerovigli.
Imerovigli is also considered as a luxurious and romantic destination. Hotels in Imerovigli, built on the edge of the cliffs, offer a stunning view of the caldera as well as all the west coast of Santorini, from the north to the south. These luxurious accommodations, along with Oia and Fira, present the best that Santorini has to offer to its visitors.
The village also hosts taverns, restaurants and cafe-bars with amazing view of Santorini sunset. In the east side of Imerovigli you will find all kinds of shops, travel agencies, bakeries etc.
Romantic walks along the tight alleys of Imerovigli with your soulmate after the sunset will definitely stay in your memory for a long time.
Firostefani lies between Fira and Imerovigli. Due to its location, in a walking distance from north part of Fira, it's convenient for those visitors who want to be near the capital of Santorini but in much more quiet area. Firostefani is a less known settlement of Santorini, but it offers the same main attraction, a breathtaking view of the Caldera and the sunset.
Firostefani name is inspired by the elevation difference of the village in comparison to Fira (Firostefani is built higher than Fira).
Hotels in Firostefani are also luxurious with wonderful traditional design. Cosy cafes offer a unique view of Caldera and the Aegean Sea, restaurants and taverns serve dishes inspired by local cuisine and ingredients.
As we mentioned before, Firostefani is quieter than the neighbouring Fira, even during the peak of summer season. Therefore the climate is relaxing and the serenity is more obvious. A petite one among Santorini villages.
Megalochori is a quiet traditional village 6 km south of Fira, the capital of Santorini. All though it's built on the west part of the island, Megalochori doesn't reach the edge of the spectacular cliffs. Its architecture stands out, with fantastic churches with a spectacular bells which will definitely be a reason for many photographs, tight alleys between the white houses with blue doors and windows or small gardens with beautiful flowers.
In Megalochori, you will not see crowded alleys with visitors from around Santorini, it's more likely you will experience a traditional way of life with local saying "hello", even if they don't know you. The most "alive" spot of the village is the main square, where you will find traditional taverns and cafes.
The area surrounding Megalochori is cultivated with vineyards. In fact Megalochori is considered as one of the islands traditional wine producer among othe Santorini villages. The most traditional winery in Megalochori is Gavala Winery and the most famous is Boutari winery. You can visit both of them and try their products as well as take wine tasting classes accompanied with local finger food dishes, it's very interesting.
Most of Megalochori hotels are located on the west site of the village near the cliff, offering to their visitors’ fantastic view of the volcano.
Pyrgos is the highest built village in Santorini. It is located 5 km southeast of Fira, the capital of Santorini. After the local inhabitants abandoned the castle of Skaros in 17th century, Pyrgos became the capital of Santorini. Pyrgos means "tower" and the village offers a 360 degrees view of Santorini and during the days with good visibility also the surrounding islands.
On the top of the hill where Pyrgos is built, there is the church of "Isodion Theotokou" where the most important celebration in Easter is performed. Further below the church there is the Venetian castle of Pyrgos. These facilities use to host the administration of Santorini when Pyrgos was its capital. One of the most impressive parts of the castle, which was destroyed and it is not available to see today, was the place where the inhabitants used to protect themselves by throwing hot oil on invaders. But still the castle is the main attraction of Pyrgos.
During the Easter celebration, Pyrgos tradition, which is celebrated on Good Friday, is the most spectacular one in Santorini. Locals light up small fire in lamps and cans all over the village. This sight is impressive enough to travel around the world and has been shown by the media.
Pyrgos also hosts one of the oldest churches in Santorini, Theotokaki chutch, which was built in the 10th century.
Pyrgos also plays its role in the wine tradition of Santorini. A couple of well known santorini wineries are located in the village and are visited by thousands of visitors every year.
The alleys in Pyrgos will also impress you. Artistic design with colors and hidden chapels are definitely worth walking and taking a lot of pictures.
There are some traditional and luxurious hotels in Pyrgos, offering stunning view not only of the volcano but all around the island. In the alleys of Pyrgos you will also come across tourist shops, clothing shops etc.
Akrotiri is located at the southwest part of Santorini, 12 km from Fira, the capital of the island. This small village is known for the archaeological sight that was discovered just 1 km to the south, in 1967. The world wide known archaeological city, was destroyed by the volcano eruption, between 1627 and 1600 B.C. The settlement, which had about 30000 residences, was buried under the ash, reminding the dominating role of nature in human history. Buildings of the ancient settlement of Akrotiri had two and three floors with many rooms. Archaeologists even discovered that some buildings had earthquake resistant devices built from lava rocks. Important findings from the sight like tools, plates, frescoes etc, were moved to Archaeological Museum of Santorini in Fira and Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Today's Akrotiri village is a small and quiet settlement consisting of beautiful white houses, traditional taverns and wonderful people.
Most of Akrotiri hotels are located inside the village and close to the spectacular cliffs, north of the village. The view from there is amazing because you can see all the west side of Santorini up to Oia as well as the volcano.
A stay in Akrotiri will definitely relax you, because "serenity" is the word that can characterise this area.
Kamari is located on the east side of Santorini, 10 km southeast of Fira, the capital of the island. Kamari can be characterised as a seaside resorts. In Kamari you will find all kind of tourist facilities but the main attraction of the village is its beach. Kamari extends along 5 km long beach which is quite impressive. It consists of black volcanic pebbles and crystal clear water. All kind of water sports are available.
Kamari hotels satisfy every taste. You can find luxurious accommodations as well as less expensive studios or rooms to let. This wonderful resorts host all kind of taverns and restaurants. Some of them are traditional and other more luxurious, but both offer fantastic dishes like fresh fish and seafood.
This coastal village doesn't have spectacular alleys like the villages in the west part of Santorini. Kamari’s graces are long walks by the beach accompanied with Aegean Sea evening breeze.
Perissa is located 14 km away from Fira, the capital of Santorini, at the southeast part of the island. Perissa can also be considered as seaside resort. Located along the impressive Perissa beach that stretches for about 6 km to the southwest, till it reaches Agios Georgios, you can definitely enjoy a long romantic walk. Perissa beach consists of spectacular black pebbles and crystal clear water. You can exercise by yourself or with others in one of the water sports that are available on the beach.
It is believed that Perissa was built on the exact spot where the ancient city of Elefsina was.
Perissa churches are also interesting. The biggest of all, Timios Stavros church, is located at Perissa main square. On one side of Mesa Vouno, which is the impressive mountain that you see looking north of Perissa, there is Panagia Katefiani church and it was used by the local inhabitants as a hiding place during invasions and also in 1650 after the eruption of underwater volcano of Columbo. At the foot of Mesa Vouno, there are also the ruins of the Early Christian Basilica of St. Irene, discovered in 1992.
Accommodations in Perissa vary from luxury hotels to rooms to let and simple studios. In the area you will also discover traditional taverns and restaurants that serve fantastic seafood dishes as well as other Santorini recipes.
There are many spots in Perissa where you can rent a car, motorcycle or bike. We recommend the second option because when you enter crowded villages like Fira with its narrow alleys, it will be easier to park or pass the traffic.
Emporio village lies in south Santorini, 11 km from the island capital, Fira, at the foot of the mountain of Profiti Elia. This may not sound right but Emporio is the biggest village of Santorini, bigger than the most of the world wide known villages of the island. It also hosts more permanent inhabitants than the other villages and settlements in Santorini.
This is a wonderful place that you must definitely visit, which is easy because you have to pass Emporio on your way to Perissa beach or Agios Georgios beach.
In Emporio, there is one of the five Venetian castles that were built in Santorini. It's located on the village's hill, almost in the center of Emporio. The entrance to the castle, a tight arched alley, still remains today and it's called "Porta" (The Door) by the locals.
In Emporio you can also find the spectacular Tower of Goula. According to the myth, it was built by the monks of Monastery of Saint John of Patmos island in order to hide the treasures of the monastery.
You won't find many hotels in Emporio but you will be able to taste delicious dishes in the taverns of the village.
Ammoudi is located right below Oia. This settlement with only few buildings it's considered as Oia port. During the old days, Ammoudi was used as loading point and big amount of Santorini products were exported from this sight. Ammoudi facilities were used as storages and today they have been transformed to traditional fish taverns offering the highest quality of seafood dishes.
Ammoudi is probably the most picturesque port of Santorini. It is surrounded by the steep cliffs with reddish color, in the port there are anchored traditional fishing boats called "Kaiki" and uphill you can distinguish buildings of Oia.
Ammoudi is also used by sailing boats and yachts as a departure point for daily tours to Thirassia, volcano and other coastal sights of Santorini like beaches or even for a sunset tours, which are very spectacular and romantic.
There are two ways to get to Amoudi. On foot, using the steep steps from the west part of Oia or by car (or by motorcycle or bike) using the asphalt road that starts from the northwest part of Oia.
Next to Ammoudi there is also a small rocky beach, which is suitable for diving (there is a diving center in the port with professional instructors), where you can refresh yourself during hot summer days. In Ammoudi there are also cafes where you can relax and enjoy the sunset.
Exo Gonia Santorini
Exo Gonia is located in Santorini's inland, approximately 7 km southeast of Fira, the capital of the island and 1.5 km from Pyrgos.
Exo Gonia is a quiet and picturesque village built on a hill with many graphical churches. In fact, in the highest point of Exo Gonia, there is one of two churches with tiled roof in Santorini, which is the main attraction of the village.
Few hundred meters to the south, there is Episkopi Gonia village, called also Mesa Gonia, which is even smaller than Exo Gonia. In Mesa Gonia you can visit the Venetian church of Panagia Episkopi built somewhere between 1081 and 1118. Panagia Episkopi is considered the most important Venetian monument in Santorini. In Mesa Gonia you can also visit the beautiful Agia Triada church.
Mesa Gonia was always a wine producer through Santorini history due to its fantastic vineyards. Today you can visit two wineries, Argyros and Roussos.
Messaria village is located 3.5 km southeast of Fira, in Santorini inland. In Messaria is an intersection because you have to pass the village in order to proceed your trip to Akrotiri, Kamari, Pyrgos and other settlements and beaches of Santorini.
In 19th century, Messaria was the industrial center of Santorini. Some of the names of industrialists that remain unforgotten till today are Argyros, Venetsanos, Nomikos and Markezini. The last one's factory remainings can be seen today.
The mansion of Argyros, built in 1888, is one of the main attractions of the Messaria. It is a spectacular and well preserved neoclassical structure in the center of the village in which the ground floor functions as hostel and the first floor as a museum.
Something that was characteristic about Messaria is that in the center of the village, there was an area of buildings and structures, that was called "formal architecture".
Vineyards that surround Messaria produce the largest amount of wine which is the main occupation of local inhabitants. There are two wineries in the village where you can taste the varieties of this traditional Santorini drink.
In Messaria you will find accommodation, shops, supermarket etc as it is crowded and very much alive place.
Finikia is located only 2.5 km east of Oia village. It is a small quiet and one of the most beautiful villages in Santorini. Finikia wasn't so much affected by the earthquake in 1956, therefore numerous traditional cave houses are still standing and reminding to visitors the village's past. Till 1930 the main occupation of local inhabitants was wine production.
The alleys of Finikia are colourful and breathtaking. A characteristic spot of the village is the Agia Matrona church, built in 1859, and from there you can enjoy the unlimited view of the Aegean Sea and the sunset.
Despite the size of Finikia, small, quiet and unexplored, there are hotels in the village as well as in the surrounding area near the vineyards, where you can enjoy a relaxing vacation.
Karterados is another picturesque village of Santorini. Although it is located only 3 km south of Fira, the capital of Santorini, it is not built near the impressive cliffs. Karterados offers fantastic view but to the east side of Santorini. It is believed that because of its location, local inhabitants use to hide in the area when the pirates were approaching to invade Santorini.
Through 19th century Karterados was known as the biggest village of ship captains in Santorini. Therefore the area was quite wealthy.
Like in the most villages in Santorini, the architecture here is impressive to. A peaceful evening walks among the alleys of Karterados is something that you will enjoy. In the Bounitso area of Karterados (the village is divided to two parts), you can visit the old settlement with its cave houses.
Something that stands out in the village, is the church of "Analipsis You Sotira" (Ascension of Christ) in the center of the Karterados. Its impressive bell will definitely catch your attention. There are also other beautiful churches in the village like Agios Nikolaos and Isodia Theotokou.
There are many hotels and studios in Karterados, offering a quiet stay and fantastic view of the east coast of Santorini as well as the huge vineyard located on the east side of the village.
Ask a local to give you directions to the Kalisperi bakery, where you can buy bread or barley rusks made like in the old days!
Armeni is located right below the east part of Oia. It was the main port of Oia where the passenger ships anchored few meters off the coast. The passengers were transported from large ships to the port by smaller boats and then they were using donkeys to reach the Oia village. Today this picturesque port it's used by small boats and you can access it on foot, descending the steep stairs or by boat during the daily cruise.
Vothonas village is one of the most beautiful villages in Santorini. It is located 4 km south of Fira, the capital of Santorini and few hundred meters to the south of Mesaria. Vothonas architecture always leaves an impression on everyone that have visited the village. It has quiet and beautiful alleys that divide Vothonas colorful houses, some of them, which are the legacy of the village, are craver out of the ravine side rocks, mansions that were built in 19th century with noble entrance gates.
Vothonas, like the most of the villages in Santorini, has many spectacular churches, which are always a magnet for many photo.
The church of Agia Anna built in 1827 is quite impressive with its towerlike bell and wooden panel, but the most beautiful church is located outside the village. It's the chapel of Panagia Tripa (tripa=hole) and it's carved out of volcanic rock. Locals were using the chapel as a hiding place during the Ottoman occupation. To get there, you should ask a local inhabitant for directions because the chapel’s location is quite isolated. Some people may say that this is one of the most beautiful places in Santorini.
There are some hostels in Vothonas that you can stay but many more you can find in the nearby Messaria village.
Athinios is the main port of Santorini where all the passenger ships arrive. Athinios it's not a village but it is worth to mention that it offers one of the most spectacular arrivals to destination worldwide. After you embark to a bus or other mean of transport to get to your hotel and start travelling uphill, you will get the first "feeling" of Santorini. Athinios is located about 9 km south of Fira.