Self-catering holiday apartments are plentiful on the Greek island of Santorini, where one of the biggest volcanoes on Earth once exploded. Here’s our pick of the best non-hotels in this rocky wonderland, including traditional Cycladic caves carved into the rock, suites in the clifftop towns of Thira and Oia, and peaceful inland accommodations far from the coastal crowds.
This collection of Santorini holiday apartments is just a 10-minute walk from Perissa Beach and its entourage of sea-view bars and tavernas. Room options include two- and three-bedroom apartments and a collection of maisonettes, studios and one-bedroom apartments with private hot tubs. Whichever you choose, you’ll get access to a shared swimming pool that’s circled by loungers and plump beanbags, and a plunge pool with hydromassage jets.
You get front row seats to the sunset when you book into one of these three holiday apartments in Santorini. The villas spill down the hillside in Thira, serving up wide-angle views of the island’s famous caldera, the Aegean Sea, and the place where the sun sinks into it at dusk. Every apartment comes with its own swimming space. The Noah and Mare villas have infinity pools, while Kivotos comes with one of Santorini’s iconic cave-style pools.
Nefeli Homes offers some of the highest holiday rentals in Santorini. The collection of apartments and suites is located 300m (984ft) above the sea, in the photogenic village of Imerovigli, so the views from the property – and its shared pool in particular – are eye-widening. For the best vistas, book a cave apartment or cave studio with a private outdoor hot tub, so you can look out over the caldera from the warm, frothy water.
There are five villas and a cave house at this cluster of holiday apartments in Santorini. They sleep between two and seven people and – between them – feature elements like vaulted ceilings, mezzanine bedrooms, antique beds, family heirloom furniture and terraces with caldera and sea views. The setting, meanwhile, is Megalochori – it’s one of the most traditional villages on the island and has a timeline that stretches back to the 17th century.
Located a 10-minute stroll from the town of Thira, Aura Caves offers some of the coolest rooms without views on Santorini. The caves were originally excavated at the close of the 18th century as a refuge from the bubbling volcano but were severely damaged by the earthquake of 1956. A loving restoration in 2016 has resulted in two delightfully curvy apartments – one sleeping four, the other six – cut into the hillside, combining traditional design with four-star mod cons. Each has its own kitchen and stairs leading up to private terraces with pools, jacuzzis and sea views.
Self-catering accommodations at the Four Seasons Mansion are housed in an elegantly refurbished complex of caves and apartments that were part of a 19th-century winery. All come with their own fully equipped kitchens and terraces with sea views, and two (the Senior View and Grand Family apartments) have private outdoor Jacuzzis. The Mansion’s location is another key draw: situated in the tranquil village of Vothonas, away from the busy coastal resorts, it’s only a 10-minute drive to Thira, the island’s capital, and even less to Santorini’s international airport.
Sophia Oia View’s luxury caves are found in the popular tourist town of Oia, on Santorini’s northernmost point. Accommodations range in size from the two-person Cave Rooms to a three-bedroom villa that sleeps nine, but all have private terraces with plunge pools and views of the sea and Santorini’s volcanic landscape. Oia itself is one of the island’s most-visited destinations, sought out for its cinematic sunsets and whitewashed cave dwellings. It’s connected to the capital of Thira by a 13km (8mi) clifftop path (allow three hours to walk it).
Aegean Melody Suites provides romantic self-catering accommodations outside the quiet village of Exomitis, on Santorini’s southern tip. The soothing blues of sky and sea dominate its three suites, all of which have private balconies with fizzing tubs and limitless views. When you’re not enjoying these in-room luxuries, explore the nearby beaches: the small cove of Exomitis is the closest and quietest, but the more spacious and lively black sands of Perissa and Perivolos are only a 10-minute drive up the east coast.
Rimida Villas is situated just outside the touristic centre of Oia, so you’ll get a good night’s sleep but are still only a 10-minute walk from the town’s attractions and amenities. Its sea-view accommodations shun hard edges in favour of flowing Cycladic curves, and all but one have their own outdoor Jacuzzis (there’s still an indoor hot tub in the Cave Villa, though). Other perks of a stay at the Rimida include breakfast brought to your door every morning, boat excursions to the volcano and surrounding islands and on-site massages.
Villa Adriani clings to the cliffs amidst the whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches of Oia, offering some of the best sunset views on Santorini. All its self-catering accommodations are west-facing – guaranteeing premium seats for nature’s early-evening spectacular – and have private terraces overlooking the caldera formed by the volcanic cauldron that’s created these islands over the millennia. Don’t miss the medieval Castle of Oia, a crumbling clifftop fortification located less than a five-minute walk from reception.
It’s all about the water at Thira’s four-star Dana Villas, which offers a selection of pool-orientated caves and apartments overlooking the caldera. Treat yourself to an Infinity Suite, and you’ll have at least a couple of swimming and chilling spaces to yourself, such as a mood-lit indoor plunge pool, an outdoor Jacuzzi with unbroken views and a river pool ready to pour out over the cliffs. After a hard day’s soaking, sample vibrant Greek and Mediterranean dishes at Orkos or sip cocktails around the Lounge Grand Terrace’s crater-shaped pool.
Pasithea offers six self-catering suites in the village of Megalochori, in southwest Santorini. They’re rendered in the colourful Cycladic style, and most have furnished terraces with caldera views, hot tubs and/or indoor Jacuzzis. Megalochori is known for its stellar wineries, two of which – Boutari and Gavalas – are within easy walking distance and offer tours and tastings. The nearest beaches are only accessible by a half-hour hike, but it’s worth it: both Plaka and Thermes offer hot springs and unforgettable views of the surrounding volcanic cliffs.
Oia’s stylish Amaya Villas are clustered around a 200-year-old windmill, one of the only buildings on Santorini to emerge unscathed from both World Wars and the earthquake of 1956. One is in the original building itself, and all seven have wraparound views of the caldera, terraces with open-air Jacuzzis and kitchenettes in which to cook Greek classics, although you won’t have to worry about breakfast, which is brought to you every morning. Spots for incomparable sunset views and the centre of Oia are both minutes away on foot.
Sarah Holt contributed additional reporting to this article.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.