Santorini Photography Location Guide

Blue & White Paradise 

Santorini, I could write for hours about this one, having spent months on its rocky shores through various seasons. From living on Crete many star-filled nights ago, to spending months at a time on the island of Santorini running photography holidays, it goes without saying I have come to know this little unique corner of Greece like the back of my hand. 

An expert guide to the best photo locations on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini 

Famed for its unique architecture, distinct typically Cycladic blue and white domed churches, uniquely perched on the red volcanic rock of the caldera high above the brilliant sparkling blue of the Aegean Sea, Santorini dazzles the eye on any approach to the island.

However, the most dramatic way to enter this realm of ancient history, crooked passageways, marble walkways, and culture veiled from the tourist trails, is by sea; it’s a sight to behold, one that will always be remembered by those who arrive this way.

The towering cliffs projecting from the Aegean, crowned by gleaming whitewashed villages, portray a totally different sense of scale from the sea compared to that revealed when wandering amongst the traditional vaulted architecture (following the building traditions of the Hyposkapha) and the occasional surviving Captain’s House (Kapetanospita) with an array of pink bougainvillea draping the walls.

Santorini has become an upmarket playground to the rich and famous, with its cave hotels with breathtaking infinity pools and luxury to boot, and frequented by super yachts and mega cruisers, and last, but by no means least, it is also globally renowned for its sunset spot on the old Byzantine castle ruins  (Saint Nikolas Castle) nestled within the picturesque village of Oia

Use the interactive map below to zoom in to the exact photography locations on the Isle of Santorini and scroll down the page for images and descriptions of the areas.

 

Interactive Santorini photo guide map

Oia

World Famous Sunset

Castle St Nikolas, or Oia Castle, the most famous sunset spot in Greece!

This location has become world renowned for its westerly orientation and lingering sunset from the Byzantine castle ruins, looking over Amoudi Bay and Oia’s picturesque windmills on the north western tip of Santorini.  Huge crowds gather hours before, from May to September, so be sure to arrive early for that classic sunset shot and the blue pool!

Passageways & Windmills

The spectacle of the glowing Mediterranean sunset ensures not only the old castle but the surrounding streets and passageways are filled with onlookers, though keep heading north-west toward Golden Sunset Villas and there are many other nooks and crannies hidden down the winding passageways with excellent sunset photography spots.

Castle Location

From the bus station you simply head left past Z’s Burger Bar and Lolita’s Geleto, keep walking until you are on the main street (Nik Nomikou) taking a right onto it and following it along to Terpsi N Oia, then take a left, walk a little further and you will arrive at the castle.

Lioyerma Windmill

Keep going past the castle and you’ll also find Lioyerma Windmill, further down is Lioyerma Lounge and Café Bar with a pool, refreshments and yep, you guessed it, sunset views from the terrace.

The Famous Church Oia

Walking back through the Main Street of Oia, just off Gold Street, you will find the popular church bells of Ekklisia Panagia Agion Panton, referred to by Google as “The Famous Church Oia”  with so many churches on Santorini, even Google struggles to name them properly!

Skaros Rock

Down the same passageway, you will also find spots to get in tight on the famous blue domes, be sure to show respect and you should have no problems; this area is in danger of being blocked off due to inconsiderate people trampling across, and falling through, roofs forcing owners to act to protect their properties, and their guest’s privacy.

Finikia & Perivolas

The easterly suburbs of Oia, allow yourself to get lost in the passageways of the old hamlet of Finikai away from the cliffs of the caldera for traditional Hyposkapha, crooked doorways, and a traditional feel.  Beautiful sunsets can also be captured from the adjacent area of Perivolas and its walkways.

Amoudi Bay

Amoudi Bay nestles beneath Oia Castle and the cliffs below the western tip of Santorini, a popular swimming spot with locals and tourists alike, with many a local lapping the church of Agios Nikolaos for their morning swim.   The turquoise waters, colourful cliffs, restaurants, and buildings of Oia perched along the cliff side above make for a worthy spot for photography, also amazing photographed from the sea when moored in the bay.

Oia to Fira Trail

A beautiful walk in the early and mid-spring when the flora is in bloom!

A tough walk in mid-summer heat, and it is strongly advised that this is undertaken in the spring, autumn, or winter, although it is a barren challenge in the summer that many undertake; provides different views of the caldera and whitewash towns nestling on the cliff side, with a number of churches dotted along the cliffside path.

Imerovigli

Away from the crowds

Pristine whitewash, contemporary staircases, the finest luxury hotels, commanding views of the caldera

 

Imerovigli defines the very meaning of luxury, quintessential blue and white wherever you look, fewer crowds and a laid-back feel, and luxurious bars and restaurants.  Enjoy the sunset on a luxury lounge, and the infinity pool at Le Moustache, where the purchase of a bottle of Champagne is mandatory.  If staircases are your thing, Imerovigli is where it is at!

Skaros Rock

The Castle of Skaros

 

Head towards the Grace Hotel and you’ll find a rock jutting out to the west at the foot of Imerovigli, this is where another of Santorini’s Venetian castles was situated, there is a small photogenic chapel, perfect lead-in lines through the steps, and you can follow a path right out on the rock.

Fira

The Central Hub

The Cosmopolitan capital perched on the western cliffs overlooking the caldera and Nea Kameni, the volcano

 

Hustle, bustle, convenience, an array of restaurants, bars and nightlife, however, like most towns perched on the cliffs of the caldera, it certainly doesn’t lack in its photogenic qualities.  The town boasts an array of white and blue church domes alongside stunning twilight vistas over the Aegean.

 

Firostefani

The Three Bells of Fira

Firostefani, a village in its own right, though more like an extension of Fira, famed for its iconic blue-domed church and bell tower

 

Walk along the main cliffside path from Fira, back towards Imerovigli and you end up in Firostefani famed for “The Three Bells of Fira”  (church)  the iconic bell tower and blue dome, a striking shot any time of day, correctly framed against the deep blue Aegean makes for a quintessential picture-postcard Santorini image.

Akrotiri 

Still referred to by locals as, “the sticks”

In spring, along the cliff side facing north into the caldera, an array of purple Hottentot Fig flowers provide excellent photo opportunities

Akrotiri, a remote (in Santorini terms) quaint village overlooked by La Ponta, one of Santorini’s five Venetian castles (Kastelia), and not far from the famed Red Beach and archaeological site of ancient Akrotiri; well worth a stroll around, alongside lunch in one of the traditional tavernas, on a lazy afternoon away from the crowds.

Faros Lighthouse

Faros (Pharos) otherwise known as Akrotiri or Santorini Lighthouse 

Precariously positioned on the southwestern tip of the island. commanding views of this entrance into the caldera, and naturally guiding vessels into the ports safely away from the rocks, due to its orientation it has become a popular spot for sunset viewers and thus makes for a photogenic subject.

Astrophotography in Santorini

Night, Day & the Milky Way

Not everything is as it seems in the realms of photography 

The image to the left is my version of a composite of the Milky Way over Oia, it is the only composite I have ever done where I have input a Milky Way into a scene that was not actually shot on location.  Unfortunately, this composite is passed off as real all too many times in the realms of social media.  It’s unfortunate as it is such a beautiful image, though it is not actually technically or geographically possible. However, it is possible to photograph the Milky Way on Santorini, as my many previous workshop clients will testify!!!

Night Sky Photography on Santorini

Fortunately, night photography is possible on Santorini

Santorini suffers from chronic light pollution as it is almost completely urbanised, though there are very small dark sky pockets on the island as the image above, and the one of a photographer working with me on one of my Santorini photo tours, which include astrophotography; but I’m afraid these locations are for the in-depth guide on its release, please subscribe to my newsletter here for updates, and keep reading for some further, lesser-frequented photo locations.

Pyrgos and Emporio

Two often overlooked traditional towns

Brimming with traditional crumbling buildings, quirky architecture, iconic doorways, and a maze of twisting passageways. 

Both boast Venetian castles now integrated within the architectural design of the town, so much so in Emporio, people live in apartments within it; well worth meandering around with a camera for a few hours.  Pyrgos boasts traditional eateries at the foot of the town and chic restaurants towards its peak, also boasting almost unrivalled views over the isle.

Profitis Ilias

The islands highest point near ancient Thira

From here it is possible to gain a panoramic of the entire north and west of Santorini

Keep going through the town of Pyrgos toward the south-east of the island heading up a stunning drive toward the monastery of Profitis Ilias, and the military bases on Santorini’s highest point at roughly 567m.  The islands crescent shape and caldera rim reveal themselves from this position; it’s up here that you really get a sense of scale and form and realise this really could be the remnant of a giant super volcano, responsible for wiping out the Minoans, and some claim, the city of Atlantis….  Oh, and let’s not forget, you can achieve some stunning imagery from this vantage point!!!

Other recommendations

See the island from a unique perspective via the sea, there are many cruises available, though I highly recommend Sunset Oia.

Kamari, Santorini is not renowned for its beaches but this one tops the table with an array of excellent tavernas serving traditional and cosmopolitan cuisine at reasonable prices.

 

 

14th – 21st September  2019

Discover cliff-top villages, the Caldera, volcanic rock formations, black sand beaches, emerald waters, culture, cuisine, shoot from a yacht, and venture into the starlit night under the Milky Way; whilst capturing all of the magic of Santorini on camera with expert tuition and guidance.

 

Read More …

Cape Columbo, unique rock formations, good for seascapes, and a spot of nude sunbathing if you fancy?!

Theros Wave Bar, the roads leading to this beach bar, and surrounding area, have some of the most unique rock formations in the Mediterranean, a truly lunar landscape.

The beach and bar aren’t bad either!

 

Ollie has spent months on end on the island, the wider Cyclades, and has lived on Crete. He is currently writing an in-depth photography and travel guide for Santorini and the Cyclades, to include exact locations and maps, recommended eateries, where to find hidden culture, the best wine, and tasting, nightlife, and hotels and villas from budget to lavish.

For updates on travel and photography guides, or for updated information on months Ollie is in Santorini offering private tuition, please subscribe to the mailing list below.

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Recommended Santorini Accommodation

Hotels, Villas, Apartments 

From high-class villas to family apartments, here are a few recommendations from personal experience

2018-07-23T19:59:46+00:00