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Thira is the town of cascading Cycladic white sugar cube buildings with the caldera view that probably pops into your head whenever you hear 'Santorini'. The cliffs here are steep and colourful, and many of the best places to stay in Thira perch on terraces and expand in whatever direction they can, often cutting into the rock in order to do so. Dramatic and beautiful, this is an incredibly spectacular spot to relax.
But peaceful and sleepy as it is, Thira is also geared up to show you a good time, with plenty for visitors to taste, try, see and buy. There's fine dining and wine-ing from local wineries, colourful beaches, interesting little boutiques amongst the winding lanes, and of course fascinating history and archaeology to come to terms with.
As well as exploring the beaches, explore Santorini's impressive history at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, which houses impressive finds from Ancient Thira and Akrotiri.
The site of Ancient Thira is also worth visiting for a different sort of a day, it's atmospheric and sprawling, with Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ruins. Ancient Akrotiri is also a fascinating place to stroll around. This Minoan city was buried under ash in the catastrophic eruption of 1613 BC.
Kids will also enjoy Thira's cable car, which takes you down to the Old Port where the cruise ships dock.
See Thira from below by hiring a boat, or joining a sailing party, and spend a relaxing afternoon bobbing on the waves? Tour a winery and taste the local tipples? Visit Thira's beautiful churches and appreciate their art?
If you're looking for something low key to do maybe a visit to a gallery may inspire? The Art Space is also housed in old wine caverns, so it's a cool and atmospheric break from the sunshine.
For something extra special take a private tour of the volcano and hot springs? Or a helicopter flight over the caldera?
- Zannos Melathron is a wonderful juxtaposition of an 18th Century mansion and the traditional homes cut from caves most common on Santorini. The decor is in places elegant, and in places charmingly rustic, but it really works. Each room has its own private balcony, there's a lovely pool and fantastic Greek restaurant.
- It's harder to find accommodation in Thira that isn't romantic looking, rather than one that is, but inside the romantic white sugar cubes houses of Aigialos are enough beds to comfortably sleep four or five - though of course there are also smaller houses just for two. As well as having the space to fit your kids, Aigialos is one of the best places to stay in Thira for famileis because they are actively welcomed here. Plenty of Thira's accommodation could fit families, but doesn't allow under 12s. Aigialos welcomes them, and is near the beach, and has a big outdoor pool and excellent Mediterranean food.
- Every view in Thira is spectacular, but Sun Rocks has some of the very best you can enjoy from the comfort of your room or pool, or private hot tub. Rooms are pale, cool and chic, but its the many small terraces and day areas dotted around which make this hotel feel intimate and romantic.
Thira on a Budget
Thira's views are free, the beaches are free, and in amongst the flash restaurants are some affordable tavernas and cafes. Once you're out of the small tourist centre, prices will begin to look much more reasonable. Thira also has some excellent bakeries.
- Thira's views look expensive, but they don't have to be. Not if you stay at Callia Retreat Suites which start from just £46 per night - most definitely one of the best places to stay in Thira if you've got a limited budget. Rooms are chic and white, just like in many of the more expensive resorts. The pool is large, blue and inviting, just like in many of the more expensive resorts. Plus you're near the beaches and the town and the views are superb.
For complete relaxation
- Homeric Poems is one of the best places to stay in Thira if you want to fly and flop with an unbeatable view. Built right on the cliff you don't even have to turn your head to get a wonderful view - it's spectacular in every direction. There's a great pool and cool, comfortable rooms. It's unfussy yet luxurious, with just the frills you really want and nothing more.
Still not sure which one's for you? Browse though our list of all the best places to stay on Thira, or call, or email, one of our gurus for advice. For more choice have a look at all our hotels on Santorini.
Best Hotels in Thira
Aigialos 16 rooms from $331Thira
Utterly romantic all white hotel with a collection of sugar cube houses on the cliff top. Each house, from super to mansion size, sleeps from 2 to 5 people. All have private balconies, white washed walls, and pastel blue furnishings. Lovely pool and Mediterranean restaurant.Views - Outstanding views of the calderaHoneymoons5* Luxury - Very high service standards.Romantic BreakRecommended by - Tablet, Fodors
Aria Lito Mansion 16 rooms from $131Thira (Main Street)
A stylish retreat, in the heart of the city. This mid-1900's renovated mansion offers creatively designed rooms, with chic contemporary décor, and lovely views of the sea. An outdoor pool, a cosy garden space, in room massages and wine tastings add to the charm. A classy yet modern vibe.Total relaxation - In a quiet and peaceful setting, its the ideal place to enjoy some time out, sit back and relax by the pool or on the terraces.Romantic Break - A perfect couples getaway with its chic and comfortable interiors, great service and food.Local exploring - Ideally located close to the centre of town as well as the beaches.Local markets - Explore the town area with several restaurants, cafes and shops.
Sun Rocks 17 rooms from $564Thira
A gorgeous hotel with wonderful day areas and terraces dotted around. Spectacular views, lovely restaurant, and creamy rooms. Intimate, very romantic, and oh so chic. A great spot for couples and honeymooners.Views - Fabulous sea and sunset viewsLuxuryRomantic - Good for couples.Romantic BreakRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Small Luxury Hotels
Homeric Poems 20 rooms from $382Thira (Firostefani)
A sophisticated cliff side hotel all in white with views over the ocean. Lazy terraces, luxurious rooms and suites, all the mod cons, lovely pool and splashes of modern art. A fabulous spot for couples, honeymooners and families with older children.HoneymoonsViews - Great views from hotelRomantic BreakSwimming Pool - Freshwater poolRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
Zannos Melathron 10 rooms from $274Thira
Sophisticated style and classical elegance in this 18th century mansion hotel. Sultry suites and some interconnecting rooms, cut from the cliff, have warm furnishings and private balconies. Fantastic Greek/Mediterranean restaurant, lovely pool, and lots to do in the villages and islands around.Foodies - Fantastic Greek cuisine.Views - Great views from hotelRomantic BreakHoneymoonsRecommended by - I Escape, Relais & Chateaux, CN Traveller
Tzekos Villas Hotel 25 rooms from $182Thira
Built amphitheatrically on the edge of the renowned Caldera in Santorini's capital, Tzekos Villas has breathtaking views over volcanic islets and the Aegean sea. Rooms are typically Cycladic - bright white interiors, tiled floors, with verandas overlooking the volcano. Peaceful and romantic.Romantic Break - Stunning views from which to watch the sunsetRomantic - Private jacuzzis with breathtaking viewsSwimming Pool - With amazing views of the volcanoRooms with balcony/terrace - Each have a private veranda
Callia Retreat Suites 17 rooms from $63Thira
Chic B&B in central Fira. Fantastic value, pretty all white rooms and suites, large swimming pool, and easy access to restaurant, sights and activities around. A great choice for a couple or family on a budget.Views - Great views from hotelValue chicRomantic BreakSights nearby - Located in the centre of FiraRecommended by - I Escape