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Fira or Oia: Which One is Best to Stay in Santorini?

Santorini is an island located in Greece, nearly 200 km southeast of the Greek mainland, it’s a hotspot for an American tourist to visit and is also known as Thira. Santorini is popular for its white and gold house, clear water, and white sanded beaches, the island has amazed visitors for a long time and keep doing it, receiving a huge amount of tourist each year. Its main villages are called Fira and Oia, both are beautiful and have many things for you to do, but which one is better to stay at? In this post, I’m going to help you decide Fira or Oia, for your vacation.

The island of Santorini is one of the most significant sites in the world for many people, and it makes a great vacation destination for anyone looking for a beach and relaxation. But what to do in Santorini? There’s a wide variety of activities on the island and one of my favorites is the hike from Fira to Oia or from Oia to Fira, it’s priceless.

santorini greece

Fira or Oia in Santorini

These places are in Santorini, so, the fun and awesomeness will be there no matter what but, both villages are different and each of them has its pros and cons.

  • First, Fira is the island capital and the busiest village of the two, you can expect a higher nightlife scene and shopping scene there.
  • Second, Oia is on the luxurious side, with high-end restaurants, bars, and shopping.
  • Many of the activities and tours Santorini has to offer are accessible from Fira and Oia.
  • These two villages have a nice view of the caldera from different perspectives, both are worth checking out.
  • Both Fira and Oia offer nice places to eat, but Oia has more quality restaurants that are suitable for fine dining, and in Fira you’ll find more casual restaurants.
  • You can easily find ATMs in Fira and Oia, both villages have markets, but since Fira is the capital you can find it easier to do stuff like laundry, groceries, and other amenities.
  • If you are a sunset lover like me, no matter what place you choose, both Oia and Fira offer stunning sunset views, but when it comes to hotels, in Oia, many hotels don’t offer a direct view of the stunning sunset of Santorini (at least not on the caldera), but in Fira, most hotels located on the caldera have a direct view of the sunset.
  • Which one is closer to the beaches? – Fira is 10-15min closer to the beach town than Oia. But it may depend on if you have a rental car, or you’re using public transportation.
  • Which one is closer to the airport? – Fira is only 10 min from the airport and Oia, is 30 min away from it. A good draw is that Fira has a direct bus service.
  • Which one is closer to the ferry port? – Fira is only 15 min away from the ferry port and there’s also a direct bus service. Oia is 30 min away from the ferry port.
  • Which one is Easier to explore the island from? – In terms of getting around, Fira is your best option, since it’s the main village there are more transportation options. From Fira is easier to get to the south of the island.

Locations and Distances

Fira is more central than Oia (which is located at one end of the island), so depending on where you are going it will be easier from one village or another, but this doesn’t really make a huge impact on your trip since the island is small.

Distances from Fira

  • Fira to the airport is a 10 min drive
  • Fira to ferry port is 15 min drive
  • Fira to Kamari Beach is 15 min drive
  • Fira to Perissa Beach is 25 min drive
  • Fira to Red Beach is 30 min drive

Distances from Oia

  • Oia to the airport is 30 min drive
  • Oia to ferry port is 30 min drive
  • Oia to Kamari Beach is 30 min drive
  • Oia to Perissa Beach is 50 min drive
  • Oia to Red Beach is a 45min drive

As you can see Oia is further away from most of the beaches, ferry port, and airport. Also, you must consider that it can take you more time if you’re using the bus.

santorini white buildings with blue roof

Exploring the villages

One of the biggest draws about Santorini is its white houses that are located right on the cliff of the caldera. Both Fira and Oia are typical villages, with most of their houses painted in white.

Fira has a lot to offer since it’s the main town, you’ll find a couple more activities there but Oia is by far more photogenic, it has stunning blue dome churches, windmills, two bays, and doors leading directly to the sea.

When it comes to activities, besides admiring the views, enjoying the architecture, and walking the alleys, there’s a lot to do. Fira, has some museums about folklore and archeology and Oia, has a Maritime Museum.

Things to do from Fira or Oia

Hike from Fira to Oia

At first, there is no way you miss the hike from Fira to Oia. The best part about this hike is it is entirely free, and the views are mesmerizing. It takes somewhere between 2 and five hours to complete, depending on the walking speed.

Visit Perissa Beach

Then, Perissa is the best swimming beach in Santorini. It has black sand that does get hot in the summer. Perissa is about a 30 minutes drive from Fira and 45-minutes drive from Oia.

Take a Photographic Tour

You can try a photographic tour in Santorini to have some outstanding pictures of yours. A professional photographer arranges these tours either with a small group of people with similar interests or just for you! 

Visit Akrotiri

Akrotiri is the most interesting historical site in Santorini. You can explore the remaining of the ancient Minoan Bronze-Age village, buried by a volcanic eruption in the 16th Century BC. You can combine your visit to Akrotiri excavations, with the famous Red beach, which is nearby.

Explore the Countryside

You can quickly get away from the main towns and explore the true beauty of the Santorini countryside. As the island is small, you will always see the lovely sea.

Watch Open Air Cinema

Watch the open-air cinema in Kamari, voted as one of the best in Europe. You can try this unique way of enjoying a cinema when the sun sets and the sky grows dark.

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