Where to photograph in Santorini during Golden Hour!
When the sun dips into the Aegean Sea of Santorini you want
to make sure you’re in the best spot possible to capture this iconic scene in
the Greek Islands.
With millions of visitors filling the cliff top paths of
Santorini each year, it’s no wonder you’ve probably found this article by googling
‘Where to find the best sunset spot in Santorini?’, you may have even added ‘without
crowds’. If you did, I’m totally with you. I can’t stand photographing alongside
hordes of tourists and it’s the reason I wanted to write this article to steer
you in the right direction!
I’ve previously written a guide to the ‘Best Photography Locations on Santorini’, but this time I’m focusing on just the sunset worthy spots. Oia is the most popular location for sunset and that’s because of it’s location right on the north-western tip of the island. That said, most villages located along the rim of the caldera offer some kind of sunset views because they all face west, it’s just a matter of what time of year to visit Santorini to benefit from the direct sun falling into the sea scenario.
So, without further chatter, let’s get started with some great spots to photograph sunset in Santorini, Greece. Oh and if you’re keen to learn how to photograph during the golden hour light, be sure to also read my guide to ‘Golden Hour Settings + Tips‘ or the ‘Setting the Scene‘ series.
Oia’s Northern Alleys
While most of the crowds will be gathered at Oia Castle (see
further in this post), take the time to spend an evening wandering through the
back alleys of Oia towards the Lioyerma Lounge Café & Pool. While I’ve
never been to the café so can’t recommend it’s cuisine, the small streets
around are ideal for capturing the colours of sunset against the striking
white, blue and yellow painted houses of the village. There are even a few windmills
to compose within your shots too!
Because a lot of the tourists will be using the main thoroughfare through Oia towards the castle, head off in this direction to experience the glow of sunset without fighting for a clear shot.
It’s worth not only looking within the alleys themselves but more often than not a street will lead you to an unexpected view like the one below. Roof tops can be great subjects to use within your composition against the golden shimmer of sunset.
Santorini Sunset Photo Tip: Because these alleys don’t always have a direct view of sunset, aim to include details like cracked wooden doors, stones and patterns within your image instead. These alleys helped produce some of my favourite shots from Santorini so hopefully they do the same for you too!
This is included purely because it’s a great vantage point
for sunset, not because I think it’s a super safe path to walk. It’s definitely
not, or maybe I’m just over cautious and a scaredy cat. Loose rocks make the
path a little tricky to wander along so be sure to look where you’re walking at
all times, especially if you’re staying to photograph sunset and are walking
back in low light or darkness.
But, Skaros Rock does offer a stunning view across the caldera
and you can photograph the village of Oia in the distance with the setting sun
behind. If you happen to be staying in Imerovigli it makes for a great subject
to include within your photographs too.
The Fira to Oia Cliff
Now if you’re a photographer who likes to lug around a tonne
of gear, a tripod and lots of snacks, this might not be the best option for you
as this hiking trail is a pretty decent workout.
It stretches for 10.5km between the villages of Fira and Oia
and wow does it offer some incredible vantage points over Santorini. If you
have some lightweight camera gear like my Olympus OM-D E-M1 MKII, this path provides
endless vantage points to photograph the golden hour and sunset of Santorini.
The hike can take between 2 and 5 hours depending on your
speed and how much you like walking uphill so if you’re hoping to capture
sunset, you’ll want to time your hike so that you’re leaving Fira with plenty
of time to complete a good chunk of the path before sunset.
Alternatively, you can start in Oia and walk backwards a
little to complete a smaller section of the path, then turn around and wander
back. In the summer months buses run between the villages so if you’re hoping
to just do from Imerovigli to Oia or less, you’re able to jump off at a bus
stop and commence your hike at any stage.
Be warned that in the summer months it gets VERY warm
because there’s no protection from shade and that gorgeous Santorini sun just
keeps gazing down upon you.
This is where you can capture the iconic sunset image of
Santorini but only if you love the idea of sitting amongst hundreds of people,
being squished as someone leans over you to take a photo and getting stuck on a
path because there’s too many people blocking the way…this is the place to go.
Okay, that made it sound absolutely horrible BUT, this is
THE sunset spot on Santorini so you need to be aware that you won’t be alone.
Allowing for time to get to Oia Castle and then enough time to walk away after
the sunset before your bus or dinner reservation is essential to avoid
To capture that iconic shot of sunset here I recommend
arriving at least an hour before sunset, even more if possible. Take some
snacks and find a good spot to sit on the walls because if you don’t, someone
will no doubt sit in front of you later.
Once you’ve secured your spot simply stare straight ahead and
look over the sprawling cliffs of Santorini before sunset dips directly into
the Aegean Sea in front of you.
From the castle there’s also the potential to photograph
boats below, the surrounding white Santorini villas on the cliff tops and the
Santorini Sunset Photo
Tip: Take your time zooming in to search for alternate angles and features
to compose within your image. Be sure to take a wide-angle lens to you can
incorporate the entire scene into your shot, then a zoom lens for taking photos
of the boats below and fancy hotels of Santorini along the cliff top.
On a Boat in the
As the water laps beneath the boat, gaze across the sea
towards the shimmering sunset of Santorini. The calm, quiet and relaxing atmosphere
of being on board a yacht in Santorini’s caldera during sunset is infectious and
you’ll no doubt capture some beautiful images from this alternate vantage
There are a number of boat cruises that depart the various
ports of Santorini. One of the easiest to access is at Amoudi Bay which is
located right beneath Oia. Here you can jump on board a catamaran or yacht to
cruise the caldera until your captain perfectly positions the boat for sunset
A major benefit of being on the sea for sunset in Santorini
is that you can gaze up at the villages and cliffs above. While the sun will
set over the sea, if you’ve got a wide-angle lens you can photograph the
landscape including water, villages and the setting sun…pretty magical!
Photo Tip: Because you’re on a boat be sure to have a lens cloth handy
incase there’s any splashes from waves as they won’t work well with the glow of
Your Cliff Top Villa
Surprisingly, there are some pretty affordable Santorini
villas that offer views over the Caldera and even sunset if you choose
correctly. A lot of people think that Santorini is only for honeymooners and
most of the villas are expensive but if you have a good search, there are some
gems to be found that provide a good mix of views, comfort and are budget
Some Santorini Villas I recommend are below –
Oia – Caldera Premium Villas, located opposite the iconic blue domed church these villas are an ideal base for photographing Santorini and are about half the price of the higher end hotels but have all the same features and little luxuries.
Oia – White Side Suites, with direct access facing towards sunset, you can stand on your balcony and photograph without having to worry about crowds. These suites get you in the right spot for sunrise, sunset and for general view gazing throughout the day.
Imerovigli – Remezzo Villas, all it might take is one look at what sunset looks like from these villas to be sold on booking a stay here. They’re located in the quieter village of Imerovigli and from here you’re treated to crowd free sunsets!
Imerovigli – Krokos Villas, I’d like to say that these villas should remain a secret because not only are they budget friendly, they’re beautiful and offer a gorgeous vantage point over the caldera of Santorini! Take a peek to see what I mean!
Firostefani – Vallas Apartments & Suites, just a short walk from Fira these apartments are possibly the most affordable with a panoramic view of the caldera. Seriously, the views from this spot are incredible! While apartments located in Fira don’t always get a direct view of sunset (due to the shape of the island, not lack of scenic views), you can still watch as the sky changes colours above the caldera, sea and surrounding cliff tops.
Splurge Alert – If you’re after somewhere luxurious, elegant and well located, the Astra Suites of Imerovigliare worth a peek. Stunning design features lead out to panoramic views where you can photograph until your memory card fills up with all the beauty of Santorini.
Otherwise, for a REALLY special stay there’s Kirini Santorini, listed as one of the Leading Hotels of the World, this beauty is one of those once in a lifetime places. Where everything is taken care of, your room is a haven and you can step outside to photograph not only sunset in Santorini but twilight when all the lights are turned on in Oia, a stunning place to capture landscape images from.
Have you visited Santorini and have a sunset photography spot to share? Feel free to include a comment below letting us know where it is, or even better, you can leave a link in the comments so we can have a peek at your photo on Instagram or your website!
Hello! I’m the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens. With 14+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it’s useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.
I'm Lisa Michele Burns, a professional photographer and founder of The Wandering Lens from Australia. Welcome to your guide to photographing the world, improving your photography and scouting unique and inspiring places to experience with your camera. Click here to start exploring popular guides + articles. After four years online, The Wandering Lens has turned into the leading publisher of photography focused travel guides!