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Firostefani vs. Oia?

For those who have been to Santorini, where do you prefer to stay Firostefani or Oia? I'm torn because I like the idea of being able to walk into Fira, however, I've read some people like the feel of Oia... but maybe Oia is too crowded?

My husband and I are going in mid September.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Posted by
1199 posts

When will you go? We stayed closer to Fira (walking distance). They are both crowded, but Fira is bigger and feels like more of a town, whereas Oia feels like a ... museum ... with fewer entrances and exits from the walkways, and less hustle and bustle of daily living surrounding the town. But yes its crowded - we got there first thing in the morning and were able to stroll for maybe an hour without too many crowds, but by midmorning it got much more crowded and by lunch it was shoulder to shoulder shuffling! Since we were ready to leave by then it didnt matter. I did not have that experience in Fira. But in Fira there are the cruise ships that unload just below it and a trail of mules that carry passenger up to the town :/ The intensity of the crowding wasn't as severe, because there was more geographic area to explore. For me, Oia felt too polished-for-tourists. I know Im a tourist (ha!) but Im someone who cringes at the very tourist-focused experience. Oia is very aesthetic - I mean, all the postcards of Santorini - but it didnt feel like a real place, if that makes sense. It felt like it was designed for tourists, like a museum. But a beautiful one...
So that was no help at all - lol

Posted by
65 posts

Oops, just updated it, sorry, mid-September. Thanks! So you stayed in Fira? Or Firostefani?

Posted by
3329 posts

We stayed in Firostefani and liked it a lot. Oia is way more expensive. Go to booking.com to compare hotel prices, and you’ll see what I mean.

Posted by
3457 posts

We were in Santorini 2 years ago in mid September and stayed in Firostefani. We were very happy with the location. We prefer a less touristy area to stay. Same Caldera view as Oia without the cruise ship crowd. Great restaurants in walking distance. Our two favorites near our hotel were Aktaion and Mama Thira. It was a 10 min. walk to Fira. I also recommend a lovely view restaurant in Fira called Stani. All of these restaurants require reservations. We took the bus to Oia in the morning and enjoyed the beauty and charm before the cruise ship crowd landed. The bus was conveniently located 5 min. from our hotel.

Posted by
2950 posts

Firostefani is good if you want easy walking-distance access to all that Fira has to offer without being in the middle of the chaos there. Oia is the most beautiful and romantic village. It does get crowded but there are plenty of places you can stay that are away from where the crowds congregate, and the village is small enough that you can still walk from one end to the other in a short amount of time. Mornings in Oia before the crowds arrive are magical.

Posted by
145 posts

We just left Firostefani this morning after 3 nights. We liked it much more than other towns- great restaurants and fewer hubbub - We walked to Oia and found its Main Street off putting- very commercialized- fancy shops- fancy people doing lots of photos for their instagrams.

It was fun for lunch and people watching but not as charming and real as Firostefani.

Posted by
136 posts

I am torn between Firostefani and Oia, also. Lee - I've been going back and reading your posts (and have bookmarked quite a few) and checked out your hotel recommendations. I've also been checking out Janet's posts and recommendations as she seems to prefer Firostefani and has given so much information on the Forum, too. I was leaning towards Oia but was wondering if Firostefani would be a better choice in the second half of October when things sound like they are shutting down a bit. I hate to admit I'm doing all this research for October of next year already but I'm waiting for the new Rick Steves' books for Budapest and Vienna to be released for my trip this October and I thought I'd start planning next year's vacation while I waited! Thank you all for your help! With all the time I have, I'm sure you'll see me again!

Posted by
2950 posts

I think you'd enjoy staying in Oia during the 2nd half of October. Yes, some businesses begin to close for the winter then but not everything all at once. There will be plenty of shops and restaurants open then. Firostefani's close proximity to Fira makes it a very good choice for avoiding the crush while still being able to take advantage of the "scene" without having to be right in the middle of it. It really just depends on the sort of environment makes the most sense fitting into your personal travel style.

Posted by
136 posts

Thanks, Lee! Every time you post how wonderful Oia is, I think that is where I should be ... just kicking back and enjoying the scenery!

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks everyone! I'm still torn and might just base it off of which hotel we like the best. Maybe I should base the decision on how much I want to do in Fira also? And restaurants? I booked Agali Houses in Firostefani with free cancellation a week ago. I'm looking in Oia to see if there's anything comparable for under $350/night (max under $400).

Posted by
2051 posts

I have the same feelings as Jessica. We, too stayed in Firostefani within walking distance to Fira and we did just that most of the five days we stayed. There are a couple of well done and very interesting museums and several good places to eat, or just to have a drink and chill. We rented a car so also spent some time exploring the rest of the island, visiting a winery, beaches, Akrotiri and Oia. My feelings about Oia reflect Jessica’s. While beautiful, it didn’t feel “real”. That said, I did enjoy our short visit and seeing the iconic white buildings with the blue roofs! I expect whichever you choose will be just right for you. It’s a beautiful island. If it makes a difference, we were then mid October, a perfect time, I thought!

Posted by
65 posts

thanks everyone! I'm going with Firostefani and am choosing between Belvedere and Agali, leaning toward Belvedere. If you have any hotel suggestions in the $300-475 range, I'd love to hear them.

Posted by
17 posts

We stayed in Firostefani as well, and stayed at the same hotel – Agali House. We LOVED Agali House. We got a room with a private balcony overlooking the caldera, which is more than we like to spend for a hotel, but we wanted exactly that – private balcony overlooking the caldera – and just accepted the cost. The balcony became our own little excursion. In five nights, we had one dinner at a restaurant. We ate at Momma Thira’s (also mentioned in this thread) and liked it very much. The owner was this pleasant, charming Greek man with a cap and a scarf, and the whole place exuded more charm than you could imagine. The food was excellent. The other 4 nights, we bought bottles of rose, gyros from a small shop just up the walkway from the hotel, fried cheese, baklava and ate and watched the sunset. It was all just perfect. Safe travels and enjoy your stay.

Posted by
65 posts

Thank you for all the tips Sadavey!! I'm going to stick with Agali then! I just checked and I booked a Superior Double Room Caldera View and it says it has a balcony, do you happen to know if that's a private balcony? Is that the room type you booked?

Posted by
65 posts

oh crap! It looks like I booked Belvedere a few weeks ago with a non-refundable rate (I usually don't) so I'm stuck there. boooo. I'm sure it will be nice though!

Posted by
56 posts

I booked Agali house for 3 nights in September....Superior room, private balcony. It looks beautiful and a great location. Good to read a great review! I am sure the Belvedere is a nice place too! I did look at that as well. It's all good!

Posted by
3457 posts

I believe either the Belvedere or Agali are great accomodations. We walked by both when we were there in 2016. The views in Firostefani are exquisite. We were at Dana Villas. It was nice, but there were 192 steps to our room! September was lovely in Santorini. Enjoy!