Friday, April 28th, 2017

Chasing Sunsets in Santorini

53

Santorini

Over the past few years, I’ve made a habit of visiting my egregious travel oversights. Amsterdam and Berlin got checked off; Japan and Hong Kong were added to my tally; Chicago finally got a visit; I finished visiting every country in the Balkans.

But there was one oversight that had people screaming in incredulity.

“You’ve never been to Greece?!” my friends would yell. “How is that even possible?”

I shrugged, giving them the answer I give all my readers — “The world’s a big place, I’m only one woman, and it hasn’t happened yet. I’ll get there.”

Even so, I knew I couldn’t hold off much longer. So when I planned a summer of gallivanting around Europe, there was no question that I would be visiting Santorini.

Santorini

Exploring Oia by Day

Santorini is a small island, but it’s filled with a variety of villages. Fira is the main town, located fairly centrally; Imerovigli is a small town with incredible views; Perissa is home to black sand beaches and some of the cheapest accommodation on the island.

But forget everywhere else — people come to Santorini to explore the famous white village that dots postcards. This village is called Oia (pronounced EE-ah) and it’s at the northern tip of the island.

Basically, everywhere you go in Oia looks like a calendar shot.

Santorini FlowersSantoriniSantorini
SantoriniSantorini Flowers

Some uber-famous destinations inevitably disappoint you. Venice can be a sweaty, expensive mess in the summer; the Mona Lisa can barely be seen behind the mass of smartphones.

But Oia — and Santorini — does not disappoint. It’s just as beautiful as you imagine.

Kate in Santorini

This seemed like a great outfit at the time…until I realized that Santorini was incredibly windy. I basically flashed the entire island. Joke’s on them, though — I wore matching underwear!

Sunset at Oia Castle

While exploring Oia, I looked at every viewpoint with a critical eye — would this be a good spot to photograph the sunset? Or would I be better off elsewhere?

But by the time I got to Oia Castle and saw the view, I knew this was what I wanted to photograph at sunset.

Santorini

I was so determined to get that sunset photo, I decided to stake out my spot a full 90 minutes before sunset. I contorted myself against a wall and pulled my Kindle out of my purse. I was as happy as a clam.

(This is why I love solo travel. Not a lot of travel companions would put up with that!)

It turns out that 90 minutes was unnecessarily cautious — one hour would have been far more reasonable, even in the busy month of June. But as you can see, it got incredibly crowded.

Santorini Sunset People Santorini Sunset People

My stakeout paid off. Here’s my favorite shot from that night:

Santorini Sunset

Definitely worth the wait.

Other Sunset Views

As soon as I had this shot, the pressure was off — I had the freedom to go take shots elsewhere in Oia. And over the next three nights, I did exactly that.

It’s hard to pinpoint exact locations for these photos, as Santorini is a mess of curvy streets and staircases. Go scope out photo spots early and you’ll find some places you like!

Santorini Sunset

The windmill makes a great focal point. There’s a staircase behind it that makes a good point for shooting it.

Santorini Sunset

The view off Santorini.

Santorini

I love looking at the people as much as looking at the sunset!

Santorini Sunset

Shooting Oia Castle from the other direction can be interesting.

Santorini Sunset

And sometimes just the sunset itself is nice to photograph.

Santorini Sunset

This photo is my absolute favorite!

You can see Oia Castle in the far left — that should give you the ability to orient yourself.

Santorini Sunset

Tips for Photographing the Sunset in Santorini

Find some sunset photos you like before your trip. Save them to your phone — or print them out, if you’re old school — and make it a goal to visit the spots with these exact views.

Spend the day scouting our photo spots in Oia. Walk around, explore, and take out the photos you saved to see if you can find the spots where they were taken.

Check the sunset time. Just Google “santorini sunset time” and you’ll find it. (Keep in mind that the internet is awful in Santorini. If you don’t have good wifi where you’re staying, several cafes in Oia will have it.)

Arrive well before sunset. If you’re a serious photographer or going to a popular spot, I would recommend getting there at least an hour in advance. Bring your Kindle or a book.

If all else fails, Oia Castle is the classic sunset spot — or just follow people with tripods. Multiple people with tripods is a sign that you’re at a good photography spot.

It’s not over once the sun dips beneath the horizon! Yes, everyone will be clapping, but only the amateurs will be leaving. This is when it turns into blue hour and the island changes color again. This is one of the best times to get photos — the photo above this section was taken during blue hour.

Santorini Greek Salad

The Takeaway

I’d be lying if I said my time in Santorini was deep or meaningful — it was nothing but eye candy.

I’d like to say that I was a good travel blogger and explored the island top to bottom, saw the harder-to-get-to beaches and the lesser-known towns…but nope. Did not happen. I pretty much walked around Oia and ate Greek salads. I did briefly go to see the black sand beaches at Perissa…until I got bored and had a Greek salad.

But there’s nothing wrong with that. As I flew on to Corfu and then got a ferry to Albania, I felt like I had experienced a wonderful first taste of Greece. Not the only taste — I know I’ll be back. There’s so much more to discover.

And now it’s time for me to work on my next egregious travel oversights: Poland. Austin. Portland. Mainland China. Anywhere west of Toronto in Canada. Who knows what will be next?

Essential Info: These photos were taken with my Fuji X-T1 with an 18-135mm lens. You can buy them together for a discount. If you’re looking for a mirrorless system, I highly recommend it.

In Santorini I stayed in an eight-bed dorm at Fira Backpackers Place in the central town of Fira for $23 per night, the result of waiting too long to book a place to stay in high season. Book ahead!

As far as hostels go, it’s decent — except they locked the lounge at 11:00 PM and the internet only halfheartedly worked around 25% of the time. It is, however, in a terrific location, a short walk from central Fira and the bus station, where you can get connections to all over the island. Bus trips don’t cost more than a few euros.

I had a terrific meal with a longtime-reader-turned-new-friend at Tsipouradiko, practically next door to the hostel in Fira. In Oia, Lioyerma Pool Bar is a great place to enjoy a dip and a champagne before sunset.

If you’ve got more than $23 to spend, check out hotels in Fira if you want to be centrally based and hotels in Oia if you want to be based in the gorgeous white village. If I went back, I’d want to be based in Oia! Preferably somewhere with an infinity pool like Hotel Katikies or Elea Resort.

Santorini has terrible internet. If you work online, save Santorini for when you can take a few days completely off. I found half-decent internet in various bars and restaurants in Fira and Oia, but check that it’s working before you sit down and buy a drink.

I flew in and out of Santorini on Aegean Airlines (check for the best rates on Skyscanner), but there are also several ferry lines connecting to other islands and the mainland.

The Planet D wrote a great photography guide to Santorini — check it out for more tips!

I saw several people take spills on the stairs in Oia, mostly when they were bumped by someone who wasn’t paying attention. Don’t visit Santorini without travel insurance — I use and recommend World Nomads. You never know if you’ll have to deal with a visit to a doctor or dentist after accidentally falling.

One last thing — Santorini, like many romantic and honeymooner-oriented destinations, can be a bit tough for solo travelers, particularly in Oia. Get ready to hear, “Only one?” with pity from lots of restaurant employees. It’s okay — just remember how fabulous you are.

Santorini Sunset Photos

Have you been to Santorini? What did you think?

Comments

53 Responses to “Chasing Sunsets in Santorini”
  1. Anna says:

    RUSSIA. MUST ADD RUSSIA TO YOUR LIST OMG COME ON :))))))

  2. Lovely sunset shots! Looks like you found some great places to shoot. The windmill is my favorite. I went to Santorini when I was 14, but would really like to go back again.

  3. NZ Muse says:

    Gorgeous! I absolutely adored Santorini. Just a great place to relax and indulge. And gorge on filo pie, lamb and of course delicious salads. I did do a bit of work there too and yeah, internet…

  4. Our Wanders says:

    Gorgeous pictures! We love the Greek islands so much and how funny, for us Greece was the first country we visited together. 🙂

  5. I loved the sunset in Santorini but GOSH I hated the cruise crowds. The streets were so difficult to navigate because of them. I didn’t really like Oia aside from the photography because I felt like it was a city entirely made for tourists, with tacky shops and overpriced restaurants everywhere. I much preferred the island of Naxos.

  6. Janet says:

    I love how honest you are in your posts, especially how this trip was mainly eye candy. You should absolutely add Chile & Uruguay to your list. Valparaíso, Puerto Varas, Pucón, and Valdivia, Chile are all extremely beautiful. I also love Colonia del Sacramento (UNESCO World Heritage town!), Montevideo, and Punta del Este, Uruguay. I returned a month ago from a 4 month trip to the Southern Cone and fell madly in love with these places! I think you’ll enjoy them too.

  7. laura says:

    Nice article and resembles my 2015 Santorini experience pretty well! Santorini will indeed not dissappoint and I also ended up in Fira Backpackers place because of booking too late in peak season. However I have met incredible travel companions there (which would’ve probably happened in other hostels too haha). Anyway, I concur with Marie that Oia is really overcrowded with tourists during the high season, but it should not at all shy you away from visiting this magnificent island. The things I enjoyed the most im Santorini:
    – Taking a boat trip to the central island with volcanic craters, to the hot spring.
    – walking the stairs towards Manolas where I literally shedded tears from happiness for I found my true Santorini experience there being completely on my own walking around in this timeless village, this experienxe was truely incomparable to being in Oia
    – walking from Fira to Oia along the cliffside. I did this heat of the summer, but still would recommend this and you will be rewarded with breathtaking views (bring plenty of water though)

  8. Cynthia says:

    Man, totally did not know Oia had a castle (and I’d been there!!)
    Your sunset photos are fab! I just took mine from my hotel balcony and Imerovigli and was pretty happy with that too.

  9. Britt says:

    This post has got me so keen for June/July when I’ll be heading to Greece for just over a month including a week in Santorini. I was already excited enough because it will be the first time I see my sister in 7 months (she is meeting me there with her boyfriend). I’ll have a week so will hopefully be able to get to some of those beaches.

    But I doubt I’ll be able to get photos as good as these, they are simply incredible! But I’ll definitely bookmark this so I can at least try, especially some of the spots. I’m staying in Fira for the first three days and then Oia for the last four (we luckily got in early)! But it’s definitely above my usual budget for accommodation, I’ll just have to compensate with cheap gyros and greek salad, but who is complaining? 😛

    • In that case, depending on your Oia accommodation, I might actually recommend you go see the sunset while you’re staying in Fira — but when you’re in Oia, you can enjoy it from your hotel, depending on if you have some kind of view, balcony, pool, etc!

  10. Kate says:

    Stunning photos!

  11. Lili says:

    I had heard from other travelers that the greek islands were “ruined” by “sunset snapping tourists” and that it was just a crush of people waiting out every night for the same photo as everyone else. Thanks for sharing the photos you took of those tourists! Hilarious. (Although I too probably would be one of them!)

  12. Tamy says:

    I love Greece but have never visited Santorini!

  13. ellen Bak says:

    Thanks Kate for showing all the tourists waiting for the Sunset! Too often I look at all sorts of great photos and then when I get there it’s Oops! Someone forgot to tell me how there are a million tourists with you!

  14. Best tip: stay for the blue hour. Love the purple tones in your photos.

  15. Yes, I’ve been last year. I’ve seen só many beautiful sunsets on Santorini. Not only in Oia. I loved all those evenings. Stunning it was! Lots of Santorini pics on my blog as well. I’just got back from another Greek island this Sunday,which was also beautiful, but Santorni is also still on my mind.

  16. Gorgeous photos! Top of my must visit places. I love that you added those pictures with the tourists so that we can see some “behind the scenes” and know what to expect.

  17. Miriam says:

    Gorgeous photos, definitely a must see place 🙂

  18. Danny says:

    I’d love to make it to Santorini some day, even if it’s as touristy as people say. The last time I was in Greece, I didn’t have much time to do the islands (I was staying in Athens). In fact, I only made it to the island of Hydra.

    By the way, great photos! I love how vivid the colors are.

  19. Iman says:

    In terms of electronics, do you have an all purpose power converter you recommend for hot tools? Like curling irons/flat irons etc overseas?

  20. Flavia says:

    Hi Kate! I love your blog and have been reading it since 2013! You really should(could?) add Russia and Brazil to your list….specially Brazil, because it has soooooo many different places.

    Keep rockin’

  21. Marvellous photographs Kate! My goodness. What a glorious piece of sky!

    I’ve never been to Santorini. In fact, I haven’t yet been to Greece! I know! And to make it worse, it’s such a beautiful country, and I can’t tell you why I haven’t even been yet lol!

  22. What perfect timing, I just arrived in Greece last night! I’m volunteering at a refugee camp for a month but then definitely heading to santorini. And there is nothing wrong with being a tourist and just eating Greek salads and looking at pretty places. 😉 Beautiful photos!

  23. Rachel says:

    So gorgeous!! Santorini is on my bucket list, but then again a lot of places are 🙂 Hope to get here in the next few years!

  24. I am planning to visit Greece too next month! Those photos are really lovely!

  25. I’ve never been to Greece yet either, but those views make me wish this so much!

    I would be really happy to see you in Russia:) And can also recommend Israel as an outstanding destination. Have you ever been there?

    Ksenia,
    thestylejungle.ru

  26. Our that gorgeous sunsets, the photos were incredible. I loved the tips!

  27. Dominique says:

    You are literally living my dream. I’m obsessed with your life and am so impressed with how bold and daring you are, quitting your job and traveling the world solo, seriously so inspiring. Get it girl!
    I love this this post because Santorini is at the top of my destinations to hit next list and I’m drooling over your pictures.. can’t wait to start reading more of your posts!

    Thanks so much for the inspiration, wish you all the best in your travels and I hope you continue living your dream!

    dabblingdominique.com

  28. Wow that stakeout was definitely worth it! Stunning photos =o) I haven’t been to greece yet but it’s definitely on my list!

  29. Vladu says:

    I like bloggers who don´t avoid kitsch or overcrowded places. Nice photos, Kate!

  30. Loving the honestly of this post as everyone pretends to not be a tourist in such places but still lines the horizon waiting for the sunset! We would be up there too but maybe a bit earlier in the year to avoid the madness. When we went to Malta last year there were offering day trips but I’d rather go and stay until after dark like you. Cheers C&K

  31. Patricio says:

    Love your blog Kate! Santorini is on my travel to-do list. I went to Athens a few years ago but regret never making it to the islands! Also want to do Mykonos

  32. Cate says:

    Love the photos! And awesome tips

  33. Laura says:

    You photos are AMAZING. But…all those people!! I’m so glad you showed all the people cramming together to take photos of the sunset. I would never have thought it was so crowded. Was Oia that crowded during the day too?

  34. Carl-Kruse says:

    Oh hey. You finally got to Santorini. 🙂

    Cheers Kate!

    Carl Kruse

  35. Salvatore says:

    Lovely photos. I have never been to Greek, now feel like it’s a must place to go!

  36. You have very technical stuff and it gives me information. Thank you

  37. Santorini’s gorgeous and it is truly eye candy. However in terms of the Greek experience, Santorini and Mykonos don’t come close. It’s filled with tourists and the food is not that good. There are so many more islands to see!!

  38. Nomadic Foot says:

    very beautiful place and you make it more beautiful by the way you write and post pics.
    come to India also Kate.

  39. sharon-guidetotravelling.com says:

    Absolutely love the Greek Islands ,there is no better place to relax and have a good time. I have never been to Santorini but now having read your great blog I know that this will definitely be my next destination, thanks for the inspiration!

  40. Very inspiring photos Kate! I’ve been to Greece but have yet to make my way to that part of the country. Your pictures are making my want to pack up my bags an go!

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  1. […] I headed to watch the sunset like everyone else. It was crowded, but not too much as I had been told to head there early. The captain of my boat advised me to walk further down from the fort where […]

  2. […] Want first hand experience of what Santorini is like? Read Adventurous Kate’s experience in Oia: Chasing sunsets in Santorini […]



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