Photography guide: Where to take the best shots in Santorini

Santorini is an amazing, dreamy destination. And it’s a great amusement park for both pro and amateur photographers. Repeatedly traveling to the island gave me the chance to see those traditional postcard-spot places Santorini is famous for. But it also offered me the chance to discover hidden gems and infinite blue shades so perfect that they look unreal. If you are into photography or simply into plain beauty, check this Santorini Photography Guide.

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The unique landscape of Santorini

We’ve all been astonished, at one point or another, by the stunning landscape of Santorini. A unique whitewashed landscape, rugged cliffs, and inspiring sunsets. 

As a photo aficionado, and way too far from being nowhere near a pro photographer, nothing amazes me more than how easy it is to take the perfect picture in Santorini. 

Despite the beautiful landscape, which of course is key when making a good composition, there’s certainly more to a perfect shot than just a nice view.

It’s a matter of light

Domes of Fira, Santorini.
Domes of Fira, Santorini.

After many visits to the island, and after checking thousands and thousands of shots once back home, I finally understood one thing, something that’s pretty unique to many islands of the Aegean and certainly remarkable in Santorini. That one thing that many fail to mention is the quality of its light. 

The coastal village of Oia, for instance, has a strong and powerful light. Here, the reflections define the different shapes according to the moments of the day.

While during the morning, the light in Oia is cold and white, the atmosphere gets warmer at sunset and almost blurry and misty at dusk. 

Light makes Oia the location where brides come to have the perfect wedding picture. 

Whether you are, just like me, an amateur photographer, all instinct and zero technique; or if you come to Santorini take pride of your pictures on Instagram, let me help you find the best spots for those famous postcard shots of Santorini!

To read more click on the picture.

What to shoot in Santorini… and where

Village of Fira, Santorini.
Fira, Santorini.

There is one thing easy to notice in Oia, everyone is carrying around cameras in what seems to be the quest for the perfect picture. 

Everyone wants to find the Three Domes, and at 5 pm every tourist is on the quest for Oia’s castle to shoot the sunset (even when the sun sets nearly at half-past eight in summer!).

We all want to take home that exclusive postcard shot however, it’s not always easy to find the best angles or buildings.

Looking for the 3 domes of Oia

To find this famous spot, walk along the main street of Oia, marble white and luminous, until you reach the Art Maison Aspaki Hotel – (don’t get confused, there are two Art Maisons, one directly over the Blue Domes, the other one is near the Castle of Oia).

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You will find a tiny path going down towards the sea. You’ll see the domes only from a lower level as you look out over the caldera, so go down those steps.

Three blue domes, Santorini.
Three blue domes, Santorini.

Posh, expensive and exclusive, it is a paradise for photo lovers. If you want a picture of the celebrated sunset, head to Oia early (finding a parking spot is hell!), set your equipment and be very patient.

I adored it in the early morning because that means fewer crowds and whiter light!

Church bell santorini
Very close to the three domes, another iconic Santorini photography.

Iconic Santorini: Blue-domed church

This iconic blue-domed church, perfectly matching the blue sky, has been the official face of Santorini in many publicity campaigns. When exploring Oia, you are likely to see blue domes everywhere, but you will also feel frustrated that the angle is not always the right one.

Blue-domed church, iconic sight of Santorini island.
Blue-domed church, the iconic sight of Santorini island.

Most domes will be high up and you will think there is no way to shoot down on them. But Santorini is an island to be over-explored, never miss that spirit when looking for the perfect pic!

Walk down the main street facing the caldera, always the marble one, and take the alley down next to the Minerali Jewelry store.

Sunset over the caldera

Some amazing sunsets can be seen from Oia, keep in mind that you won’t be alone, thousands of other tourists will be there too, get ready for the crowd and a reduced space to shoot.

Good sunset pictures are obtained from the old ruins of the Castle of Oia (don’t get confused with the Byzantine castle which is another fortress in the area) at the end of the stairs that come up from Ammoudi.

Photo shooting from the Castle of Oia.
Photo shooting from the Castle of Oia.

The Castle of Oia is the best place to watch the sunset! Most of the old fortification, Oia, was destroyed due to the earthquake, and now only the ruins remain.

Windmills in Oia

There aren’t many windmills facing the caldera, but the nicest one can also be perfectly photographed from the same place where you have set your camera ready for the sunset: the ruins of the Castle.

The two windmills are on the opposite tip of Oia and its shape stands out perfectly in the scenery.

Oia, Santorini, the windmills
Oia, Santorini, the windmills.

Once your photo tour is over it might be time to pamper the senses… taste the best of the local gastronomy in Oia. Go for one of the local beers and some Santorini fava, a staple of the local cuisine.

Finding the Colorful Domes of Fira

Chapels in Fira are not only white and blue but colorful and ravishing. Their yellows, oranges, and pinks also apply a perfect contrast against the blue skies of Santorini.

Fira, domes of churches, Santorini
Colorful domes of Fira

It’s a great idea to go to Fira early in the morning to get the best light and empty paths you can explore freely.

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Otherwise, and if you are ready to face the crowds, or visit the village in the afternoon to see outstanding sunsets. I did both, and I don’t regret it.

The black sand beach of Perissa

Black beach, Perissa, Santorini.
Black beach, Perissa, Santorini.

Perissa is a seaside village on the southeast. Famous for the wide black beach and extreme deep blue waters, it is better discovered and enjoyed during the low season.

Great photos are obtained with the sun setting, it does not directly go down at the horizon from this point. However, you will get the reflections from the opposite side of the island, this creates a beautiful effect on photos.

Blue domes Perissa, Santorini
Perissa, Santorini.

For more blue domes head to the end of the main road. The blue domes of Perissa have nothing to envy to the ones you can spot all over the island. The church, very close to the beach, is small but very impressive.

The Red beach

Red beach, Santorini
Red Beach, Santorini

It’s fairly easy to reach the Red Beach (Kokkini paralia, Akrotiri area) if you rent a car. Once you get to Akrotiri, walk along this red rocky path uphill, next to the ocean.

Hiking to reach the Red Beach in Santorini.
Hiking to reach the Red Beach in Santorini.

There, striking beauty of red shades and rusty colors will amaze you. Always full of tourists, you will get the most of it during the lower season.

The best time to get a good photo of the red reflections is sunset when the lights of the hill get a stunning orange tint for a few minutes.

Great photos are taken both from the hill before the path descending towards the beach, or from the Lighthouse of Akrotiri.

Akrotiri Santorini, Lighthouse at sunset
Akrotiri Santorini, Lighthouse at sunset

Imerovigli

Imerovigli is a small village between Oia and Fira, and it is a beautiful, small town. Its position allows the most incredible view of the caldera you can get on the island.

Sunsets are stunning and more peaceful than in Oia. if you feel like walking, it’s possible to reach Imerovigli from Thira (it would take you about half an hour) thought the coastal hiking path.

Sunset here produces nice shades over the village in the caldera.

Imerovigli, Santorini.
Imerovigli, Santorini.

Pyrgos

Pyrgos, a traditional town offering impressive views of the rest of the island. The former capital of the island, traditional architecture and narrow paths together with tiny white houses and churches are there to make you experience the life of an authentic Greek village.

Pyrgos village, Santorini.
Pyrgos village, Santorini.

A visit during Good Friday is more than a good idea. Pyrgos is a great setting to get beautiful pictures of alleys and old constructions, like the castle and some of its churches.

Chairs and little table, Pyrgos. Santorini
One of Santorini’s most traditional settlements is Pyrgos.

Vothonas

Vothonas is six kilometers away from Fira, and it is built on a small and narrow valley. There you can see traditional houses carved out of rocks. 

White and blue churches are stunning, the view of the village, inspiring for photography but also for just a walk

Village of Vothonas, Santorini.
Village of Vothonas, Santorini.

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My equipment

My main camera is a Nikon D7200 with the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR while my secondary camera is the more compact Nikon D5300 (great for video and for its GPS) where I mount a very basic Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR. I sparingly use Adobe Lightroom for editing some of our photos.

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Everything gets packed in my Lowepro Fastpack 250 II if I travel with both cameras, or in the more comfortable Lowepro Passport Sling III if I travel with just one camera and no computer. 

Lately and for shorter trips, I’ve been mounting the big lens (18-300) to the smaller D5300 with great results. But in Santorini, I always use both cameras and both lenses.

This post has been recently updated to include the last details about the best places to take photos in Santorini.
Do you have any other information that this article might need? Let me know down in the comments

What’s your favorite place to take pictures?

Other useful resources to travel in Greece

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CAR RENTAL
When in Greece, I always recommend choosing a local rental company over an international one. With Rental Center Crete fees are more convenient, there’s a zero-excess insurance policy (as well as no hidden costs, free mileage, and extra driver). Check this car rental website and use my promo code to get a 5% discount.

ACCOMMODATION
Whenever I need to book accommodation in Crete I personally use Booking.com. Their Genius Loyalty Programme allows me to find better fees. As they say, the more you stay with them, the more rewards you get.

TOURS & DAY TRIPS
For organized activities, I usually book my tours through Viator and GetYourGuide. From transfer to cooking lessons, including archaeological site visits, skip the line attractions, and boat trips, both platforms help you save time and money.

FERRY TICKETS
Getting to Crete can be really comfortable with an airplane, but nothing beats the romantic experience of traveling by sea. Choose Let’s Ferry to visit several Greek islands or to travel directly to Crete.

TRAVEL INSURANCE
Greece, and especially Crete, is a fairly safe destination, however, you should never travel abroad without an insurance policy for complete peace of mind. My favorite? World Nomads, click here for a quote.

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Best photography ideas for Santorini, Greece
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About the Author

Hola! I’m Gabi. I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round.
I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.
I’m a beach freak and on this island, I’ve found heaven on earth!

Gabi Ancarola
The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog

Discover the best of Crete with The Tiny Book

23 thoughts on “Photography guide: Where to take the best shots in Santorini”

  1. Hello Gabi, I love to read about your adventures.
    Congratulations on your book “Two Weeks in the Cycladic Islands”, where is it possible to get it?

    I live here on the island for 11 years and till this day I find new places to explore, so I would love to get a great book and maybe see this island form another perspective 🙂

    Kindest Regards
    Anna Sulte
    Santorini Vacation Photography

    Reply
    • Hi Anna,

      Thanks for reading this and leaving a comment. Unfortunately the book is only in Italian, but if you want, copies are available here. In any case, I’m planning to have it published in English, hopefully soon, so stick around the blog for news!

      Reply
  2. Those pictures are so inspiring! This and the winery tours have been added to the list of things we have to do some day (hopefully soon) I will take my family to Greece. Your comments about Greece all through your blog have made me so curious!
    Kim

    Reply
    • I am such a big fan of Greece that your comment can only make me smile in happiness. I am happy when someone tells me she/he wants to visit a place simply because I managed to show all the beauty that place has to offer. And with Greece, believe me, it’s so simple. You will love the country, the landscapes and most of all the people. So happy to read your post and welcome you to our blog. Have a great day, Kim!

      Reply
  3. looks fantastic gabby just like pictures you see on Tv. the white washed walls are everywhere, blue sky and water white sand what a paradise. your pictures are amazing

    Reply
  4. Absolutely loved the blue and white themes which are typical of Santorini. Calming, serene and romantic. Those three words sum up how we feel about your photos of the place. We’ve never been to Santorini and have always wanted to but you’ve certainly rekindled our interest in going as soon as possible. What time of the year were you there? Was it peak tourist season?

    Reply
    • Hi! Thanks for commenting! I was there for Greek Easter, this year it was the last week of April. After seeing the most famous places on the island quite full of visitors, and after reading many posts on “perfect time to visit”, I’d say yes, better to reach Santorini in May or September/October, the weather is quite good (for the beach I mean, obviously for sightseeing as well) during that period. I even got a very deep tan! I deduce Peak months (June/July/August) would be madness, and definitely prices less affordable.
      Let me know if you need any more details about ferries, car rental or whatever you need.
      Gabi

      Reply
  5. Gorgeous photos! I want to go to Santorini so much. I’ve only ever been to Athens and when I was there I came across a shop that had a bunch of paintings in it. Your last photo of OIA reminded me of that shop. I need to go.

    Reply
    • Oia is so iconic one normally tends to associate it with all that’s Greek. Santorini is generally what most people think about when they think Greek, and I must admit the island is beautiful. The whole country is amazing, but there must be a reason why Santorini is so loved… I guess its beauty plays a big role in giving an answer to that. 😉

      Reply
  6. I’ve painted Oia and Perissa so many times, but only from photos. I need to actually go. I need to be there in person. Thank you for the great descriptors of the towns and sites. A great piece for inspiration.

    Reply
    • Guys!! Hi!! Nice to welcome you here 🙂
      You must take those two beauties there, and get those perfect family pictures one just needs to hang on the wall. I know you would love it so much! (maybe waiting till both of them can actually walk on their own would be a nice idea, a stroller would be a mess, I must say, so many stairs and ups and downs were not simple).
      Thank you for passing by. Kisses to the 4 of you

      Reply
  7. Wow, this looks amazing. I have always wanted to go to Santorini. I can see why you are having a love affair with Greece!

    Reply
    • My love affaire started a while ago, but Santorini was butterflies in my stomach all the time to be honest. You have to go if you can!

      Reply
  8. WOW! I can see why you got carried away clicking that shutter! These photos are amazing – I definitely have to get myself to Santorini.

    Reply
    • I really got carried away, it was incredible how everywhere you looked there was something impossible to miss, you want to capture every shade of blue, every piece of the sea. I’d love to go back soon. Thanks for leaving your comment.

      Reply
  9. Love, love, love the photos. Felt like I was there. I visited Santorini many years ago and it was as beautiful an island that there is on earth. Nice job capturing it.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! The part I enjoyed the most of the trip was, indeed, carrying around my camera to photograph the island. I am so happy to read your comment. Thanks a lot!

      Reply
  10. If your goal was for me to book a ticket, it worked. I am now officially going to Santorini. Your photos are amazing!

    Reply
    • Oh my God! This is such a beautiful comment. Indeed my goal is to make people travel, to make them see what I see. Your comment made my day! I appreciate it so much. Thanks again, in full honesty.
      Gabi

      Reply

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