I visited Santorini in August 2016.
For a week I lived in a dream among windmills, white-painted houses, blue domes, pink sunsets, and steep cliffs falling into The Mediterranean Sea. Santorini was more beautiful than I ever imagined.
I fell in love with Santorini the moment I saw the windmills in the village of Oia.
Then I fell in love with Oia over and over as the setting sun and night lights changed the colours and mood of the scenery. Just walking around in Oia was breathtaking. Looking out at the caldera for the first time, watching the pink sunsets from the castle and getting that iconic postcard shot of the blue domes were all magical moments that I never will forget.
Santorini is a photographer’s dream. Bring a handful of memory cards and your best composition skills (and do bring your widest lens and a travel tripod), but don’t forget to put down your camera sometimes and just enjoy the beautiful sights.
This list is for everyone who ever fantasized about a magical vacation in blue and white.
1. Watch the sunrise in Kamari
Santorini is world famous for its sunsets, but few talk about the sunrises. You could have the beach all to yourself and watch the pink morning light turn to yellow. It’s a bit like sunset, but reversed and without the crowds (most people are still asleep). Set the alarm and get up early at least once. It’s worth it, even if you’re not a morning person .
2. Cliff jump at Amoudi Bay in Oia
Cliff jumping at Agios Nikolaos was so much fun! This place is easy to find, just walk down the 220 steps to Amoudi Bay in Oia (read: navigate between the donkey spillings that decorate the stairs) and then turn left through the beachfront restaurants. From here it’s a five minute walk and a short swim to the small island where the fun begins!
3. See the blue domes in Oia
It’s your dream about Santorini before you get there. It’s the iconic sight you find on all postcards from Greece. It’s the one photo you want to bring home.
4. Visit the volcano and hot springs
Join a tour ship and get to the top of the volcano. Then go to the hot springs where the water changes colour from blue to brown. Just make sure you don’t wear your favourite swimming outfit as the sulfur may change its colours.
If you’re lucky (or a great planner) the ship will also stay on the island of Thirasia where you can swim in crystal clear water.
5. Spend a day on the sea
I highly recommend a day tour on a catamaran. Yes, it’s expensive, but it feels so great to lay on your back on a boat and just soak up the sun.
6. Hike from Fira to Oia
This scenic three-hour walk is a must do. You will be treated to incredible views while you follow the hike at the edge of the caldera. It’s probably best to do the hike in the morning before it gets too hot.
Directions: start in Fira and walk north through Imerovigli. Just stay high at the edge of the caldera and continue north. You don’t need a map but you need your camera.
Pro tip: bring some extra water if you take a detour down the cliffs to Skaros Rock. Take even more water if you continue down to the chapel.
7. Watch the sunset in Oia
Everything they say about the sunset in Oia is true. It’s absolutely magical and most beautiful from the castle. Since everyone seem to think so you need to get there early to secure a spot with a clear view. I arrived two hours before sunset and could choose to sit anywhere on the upper wall.
It’s crowded everywhere in Oia at sunset. Walls, cliffs, cafés, alleys, and stairs are packed with people from all over the world who literally stand on each other. Having dinner at a seaside restaurant is a much more intimate experience.
8. Walk around in Oia at night
Avoid the traffic chaos that follows immediately after the sunset. Stay and watch the afterglow and turn your camera toward the windmills instead (this is the moment for your travel tripod to shine). Oia is almost as beautiful at night but much less crowded.
Santorini was a dream worth waiting for. My vacation in Santorini changed the way I thought about travelling and life in general. I realised the importance of living for your dreams and not settling for second choices. Oia was the most magical place I had ever seen. Ever.
Top 10 UNIQUE things to do in Santorini by Nicola Easterby (Polkadot Passsport)
A photography guide to Santorini – getting that postcard shot by Dave and Deb