A photography guide to Santorini – Getting that Postcard shot

Planning on your dream trip to Santorini?

This Greek Isle is what dreams are made of. We had visions of taking a quiet retreat to Santorini, and the island didn’t disappoint.

We spent 7 nights in paradise and took our time taking in the beauty and all there is to see and do. But many people only have a couple of hours on the island as they make a quick stop on their Mediterranean cruise. Some people maybe have a couple of days if they’re lucky, but even that isn’t enough time to find all the best places to photograph. We searched high and low for many of these shots and after 7 days of wandering, here are the best photos we feel that capture the island of Santorini and how you can find them.

Pick up your Lonely Planet Guide to the Greek Islands 

Blue Hour from the Castle of Oia

oia after sunset

While everyone watches sunset, we turned out cameras to the city

Every night at sunset crowds form at Oia Castle to watch the sun go down. It’s a bit of a zoo and not the romantic experience one would hope for. But if you wait a bit and go to the castle after you’ve taken your photos at the domes, you can capture this magnificent view of the town of Oia lit up at blue hour showcasing the windmill. Don’t look out towards the sun, instead look back at the city.

More Photography: Making the Most of your Antelope Canyon Photo Tour

 Find the blue domes of Oia

Blue Domes Oia Santorini

Oia’s Famouse three Blue Domes

It’s the iconic postcard shot of the island. If you only have a limited time you may not be able to find the spot to take a photo of the famous blue domes. As you walk along the main marble streets of Oia back from the castle, look for a ritzy looking jewellery store on the main street. Walk down the alley towards the water and you’ll see the domes as you look out over the caldera. There will most likely be crowds there. They start to leave as sunset approaches.

The Three Bells of Fira

fira three bells and blue dome

Blue dome and three bells of Fira

Just up the stairs from Mama Thira’s house in the town of Fira, you will find this beautiful blue dome overlooking the Caldera. We searched all over for these three bells and it wasn’t until our second last evening on the island that we finally found it. So make your way to Mama Thira and walk up to the top of the cliff. You’ll come to a parking lot. Look over and there’s the dome.

santorini caldera at sunset

Sunset from Imerovigli

If you really have your heart set on a sunset over the caldera, (which you should) take that shot from Imervogili. There are no crowds and it is just as beautiful if not more than from the church. To us, crowds take away from the experience. Sunsets should be enjoyed in silence and this was a quiet private sunset with just the two of us sitting on a rooftop.

Infinity pools Oia

infinity pool santorini greece

Infinity Pool, view from Oia

When walking through the streets of Oia, you’ll see infinity pools dot the cliffside from luxury suites. It’s worth splurging for an evening or two to stay at one of these suites. They are truly a slice of heaven. We stayed at the incredible Andronis Luxury Suites and their views were second to none. It was an outstanding hotel right in the heart of Oia, but it had a quiet and peaceful feeling that you were away from all the hustle and bustle.

We’ve had a lot of people in social media ask us about this pool. To check out rates for the Andronis Luxury Suites here

Cross and Oia

santorini sunset

Rooftops of Santorini

If you walk a little farther East from the three domes, you’ll find this rooftop in Oia. It makes for a great vantage point for sunset and you can capture the sun going down over the city. The cross adds nice foreground interest to the photo.

The Caldera from Imerovigli

sunset imerovigli santorini

Caldera View Imerovigli

Between the towns of Oia and Fira is a beautiful town known as Imerovigli. We stayed here for two nights at the Iconic Santorini and it was heaven. Forget sunsets at the castle, Imerovigli is the place to watch the sun go down over the Calderra. It is a half hour walk from Imerovigli to Fira or you can take the coastal walk for three hours to Oia. Or you can drive to either. Parking is cheap and often free.

7. Sunrise in Imerovigli

Everyone always talks about the sunsets in Santorini, but the sunrises are pretty special too.

Book a sunset cruise of Santorini to really take in the island.

The place to capture a sunset is from the town of Imerovigli because as you look back you capture the high sea cliffs as well as the town and neighbouring city Firostefani. But to really take it in make sure to enjoy a Santorini sunset from a Catamaran.

8. The Historic tour boats

oia santorini

Historic tour boats coming in for the evening

Each night we would watch historic tour boats that looked like old Junk Boats leave for a sunset cruise. We caught this shot by walking down a hotel’s stairs in Oia as they came in from their afternoon tour just before heading out again for sunset. You have to capture a shot of these, they’re a staple of the island.This is a popular spot to photograph the caldera and it is along the main path of town.

See Santorini from Below

Santorini sea cliffs

High cliffs of Santorini

If you can, try to go on a sailing trip of your own. It’s much more intimate than the large party boats and you have the opportunity to see Santorini from the sea. The cliffs are higher and more dramatic that you realize from below and the white cities can be seen like icing on a layer cake spread out over the high sea cliffs.

Gear Guide: Make Your Travel Photos better with the proper photography gear at our Complete Travel Photography Gear Guide. 

Perrisa

blue domed churches of Santorini

Blue Domes at Perissa, Near Black Beach

Oia, Fira and Imerovigli aren’t the only place to capture photos of the blue domed churches of the island. This one was taken in Perissa which is known more for its Black Beach. We drove to the South Side of the Island often to explore the quieter nooks. Perissa isn’t exactly a quiet spot as it’s the premiere beach on the island, but in October, it’s winding down for the season. Beach bars and cafés line the sand filled with beach chairs, but when we turned around we saw this blue dome. I think it is just as impressive as the others on the island, don’t you?

Black Beach

Santorini Black Beach

Horsing around on Black Beach

That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the Black Beach. You should definitely spend a day here. The water is warm and secluded, the sand is hot, there are a lot of options for food and drink and a chair rental costs €5 a day. Regular busses take tourists from Fira to Black Beach all day long.

Red Beach

deb at red beach santorini

Walking along the pathway to Red Beach

When visiting Santorini, you must make sure you rent a car. They’re cheap and it makes life so much easier to get around. We drove all over the place and had the freedom to come and go as we please. When driving along the coast on the west side of the island from Fira, follow the signs to Akrotiri. Take that left turn but drive past Akrotiri. You’ll come to a parking lot at a church. From here you walk along a rocky path to the beautiful red beach. It used to be a quiet haven, but now it’s quite busy. However, it’s worth the stop for a striking photograph.

Take a Sunset Cruise

Santorini Sunset

Sailing at Sunset in Santorini

You won’t get photos like this from land. You need to be out on the water at sunset. When all the boats start coming in, have your camera ready to snap shots. You’ll find that you’ll be side by side with many sailboats and you’ll easily be able to capture that classic shot. A trip to Santorini isn’t complete without a trip out to sea.

Hotels

cave hotel stairs santorini

A walkway to one of the cave hotels

Don’t be afraid to explore a little. The hotels may be private, but if they don’t have a gate across them, it doesn’t mean you can’t venture down for a view. Now to enter the pool areas or private balconies without asking is a big no no, but to walk down their steep steps for a closer view doesn’t hurt. We enjoyed just strolling to unknown places taking us to dead ends in paradise.

Calderra 

Santorini Cruise Ships

Cruise Ships Leaving Santoroini

Let’s face it, Santorini is a cruise ship mecca. We heard that during the summer months, up to 8 cruise ships can be anchored in the Caldera. We found two to be quite enough for our liking and to watch them leave the island was like a breath of fresh air. When the ships are in, it’s over run with people. It’s crowded, stifling and difficult to look at anything. But once they leave, it’s paradise and that is why you should stay on Santorini as opposed to cruising. But, it is one beautiful view isn’t it?

Beautiful Pastels

sunset santorini

Beautiful pastels

At sunset walk along the pathways of Imerovigli towards Oia. When you pass yet another church with a blue dome on an outcropping, you’ll see that the city continues and this makes for a beautiful view showing of the pastel colours of the buildings. Most hotels are painted white and blue in Santorini, but here, they have adopted the pastels and at sunset it’s gorgeous.

Santorini is one of the Most Romantic Destinations on earth, see more of our list.

Explore the Back Streets of Pygros and 

Dave and Deb in Pygros Santorini

Back streets of Pygros, a quieter side of the island

By having a rental car on hand, we had the opportunity to explore other cities rather than the very beaten path. We found Pygros to be a charming ancient town and we had the streets to ourselves. Located high on a hill, you can see a lot of the island from Pygros. Yes, there are blue domes to be photographed. But it was the back streets that caught our attention. They haven’t been painted or completely renovated like the other towns, this town feels like it is old and hasn’t changed…yet.

Have you been to Santorini? Did you find all the photography locations that you wanted to see?

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