The Best 10 Tips for Breathtaking Photos in Santorini, Greece
Hey Jetsetters and Photographers! Planning on making a trip to the beautiful Santorini Island in Greece? You may have seen some of those stunning photos of Santorini and thought “I want to get some of those shots for myself”! We went to Santorini for the first time and getting those shots are not always easy. We learned a lot about getting those shots while we were actually there that we had no idea prior. If you are not great with the camera and don’t have a professional camera, don’t worry. Alot of my photos were taken from my Samsung Galaxy 7 phone ! Rooftop photos such as the opening were all camera phone shots! So this post is to share the top 10 tips for breathtaking photos in Santorini Greece.
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“Photography is a story I fail to put into words!”
1.) RESEARCH LOCATIONS – This so important to do this research of spots or locations that you want to take before you go on your trip. Most people who visit Santorini go for 1-3 days or just a day trip from a cruise. Santorini is a walking city and you won’t be driving a car much especially since the scenic streets do not allow for cars. So it can take a while to get around. There are not really any signs indicating where famous spots are like you would find in Rome. So find the exact location whether it is a nearby street or store to give you a point of reference.
For an example: You will see a lot of blue domes especially in Imerovigli, but they are not the iconic blue domes that you are probably wanting or have seen on the internet. The famous blue domes are in Oia (Three Blue Domes). There is a small road that we missed several times that takes you to the iconic spot as shown in my opening photo. Find or GPS these stores shown in the photo below. Click here for direct GPS address of Bvlgari Alexandros jewelry store.
Also look up tours and their schedules. Tours all typically follow the same schedules or there may be a certain time of day when they will go to a certain spot. Usually its more than 1 tour bus at a time. Once you know what time that will be, just avoid that hour. It would be best to come before that hour vs after to have less people in your shot.
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2. ) WAKE UP EARLY – Yes, this tip is nothing new, but you can get some amazing shots in the morning without having to deal with crowds. When we went in June, it was one of the longest months for daylight which means it is completely bright and sunny at 6am. Perfect time to take photos. It may be a sacrifice for sleep, but waking up early and even catching the sunrise is the best time to get the shots and not feel rushed from crowds.
3. ) JUST ASK – HOTEL SHOTS – Did you know to get those iconic shots of walking down those grey and white stairs towards the sea are private property of the hotels? We were quite disappointed to be told that we could not take photos on hotel property if you are not a guest our first day. What should you do? Just ask!
If you ask during a non-busy time of the day (not during checkout or check in or sunset) and you are a blogger or photographer, just kindly approach the reception, present yourself, your website and give them your card and explain that you would like to briefly take photos for your website. All the hotels that I asked kindly agreed. They won’t let you get in their pool or anything but they will allow to briefly take photos on the grounds.
FYI: The famous cave pool of Katikies Hotel no longer exists! I was SO disappointment because I saved a photo of their cave pool for years. But they converted it to suites a couple of years back.
Another great tip is if you stay at a hotel that has sister hotels in Santorini, you may have an opportunity to take photos at one of their more pricier hotels of higher class. A lot of hotels in Santorini have “sister hotels” where they have both a reasonably priced hotel and higher class more expensive hotel in the same town or in another town such as in Oia.
Again because most all hotels in Santorini are private, you cannot enter the property or take photos if you are not a guest. My hotel had sister hotels and hotels that were actually on the caldera. The hotel that we stayed at called ahead of time to a fancier hotel on the caldera/sea view to ask permission to take photos and they agreed.
Other times if while walking I came across a sister hotel, I explained that I was a blogger working with one of their sister hotels and would like to take photos of their property for my blog. They said yes. Obviously if you are not a blogger or photographer with an actual website as proof, this tip does not apply to you.
4. ) GO 1 HOUR BEFORE SUNSET – Ok you may be thinking “of course I want to catch the sunset”. But the key is about 1 hour before and you may have better experience doing this in Imerovigli walking towards Firastefani. The reason being is we would come across hotels during this time period and take photos on the stairs and no one was around to say anything to us. We heard a lot of movement – dishes and plates. This is because sunset is such a prime time for guests that the hotels are busier getting champagne glasses and meals together and attending to guests poolside or on terraces that they are not paying too close attention to outside guests.
So we were able to get a lot of shots during this time. To be clear, I am not encouraging going deep within a hotel (you are seriously trespassing then), but just that first part of the stairs near the road. Also to watch the slow transition leading up to the sunset is just as beautiful as the actual sunset itself.
5. ) WAIT FOR BLUE HOUR – This is MUST! I have heard of blue hour but never experienced it before. Our first blue hour was in Kefalonia, Greece. I have never seen a sky so blue/purple/pink in my life. It is soo beautiful. The key about blue hour is most non photographers don’t know about it. So after the sun goes down, people begin to leave. But just want for that hour when the sky turns a royal blue and the lights from the hotels and pool begin to light up and you get an amazing shot.
These are my shots of blue hour in Kefalonia below. No edits was done to the sky! Isn’t it amazing!? During our visit of Santorini, it rained each day and so the sunset set was not the best which resulted in not the best blue hour. Night shots in Santorini are always quite beautiful especially the period before it gets really dark.
6. ) PHOTOGRAPHY IN IMEROVIGLI VS OIA – I personally love taking photos in Imerovigli vs Oia. It is less people and it is positioned in front of the island Nea Kameni. A lot of boats and cruises ships pass in front of this island which gives your photos more character. My best photos all were in Imerovigli. I love the path trail that the boats leave as the pass in front of this town. In Oia, you can take the same shots, but in my opinion it was less of a “wow” factor. The last photo below is me redoing the shot that I did in Imerovigli. Which one looks better to you??
Roof top shots! Stunning right?! I had seen so many shots of people getting a roof tops. I beleivethey were able to get these shots from waking up early when no one is watching. In Oia, that shot I took the hotel person was telling me to get down! Lol You are not suppose to climb on the roofs of hotels. If caught, they will tell you get down.
Also me being a lover of photography sometimes I spot a beautiful shot/moment to take a photo. Before taking it especially if it means going on a hotel grounds, look to see if there is a group of tourists standing around nearby. From our experience, whenever I found a cool shot that involved me perhaps going on hotel grounds like the stairs, they want to do the same shot.
With some cultures of certain tourists, they may not view it as rude to squeeze themselves in someone’s shot and then take up time to take various shot combinations with everyone in their group (singles, groups 2 then 3 then 4 then a different group of 2, etc). By then, hotel workers would see what is going on and ask everyone to leave.
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7. ) PHOTOS ON RAINY DAYS – Unfortunately during out trip, we experienced rain. However though it was wet and cloudy, we took some amazing photos. The walls are white acting like a natural light reflector. So the lighting was always perfect on cloudy days. So don’t fret, sunless days in Santorini is not a bad thing. Your photos will still come out great. During our trip, it never rained that long either.
8. ) WEAR BRIGHT COLORS – As a lover a color, this was no problem with me. Some people who go want to wear white since it’s all about the whiteness of the buildings and the blueness of the sea. But to really make things pop, wearing bright colors is the best! It is a beautiful contrast against the white walls.
For guys, wearing the white shorts with the fedora is always a chic look, but try to add a pop of color – red, yellow, green or plum. Also long flowy bold color dresses is a must! I loved the dress that I brought to Santorini. Also Lulus dresses are perfect because you can get multiple styles in multiple color options!
9. ) MAKE RESTAURANT RESERVATIONS EARLY – The best to catch the magnificent sunsets of Santorini is enjoying it bar side. Check out my Santorini Travel Guide for some of the best restaurants and bars to catch the sunset. A lot of these cliff side spots get booked months in advance. It is best to make a reservation ahead of time especially during high season (late June through August). If you just show up, they may have a spot available, but with reservations, you are guaranteed the best table without any other table obstructing your view. If you are not plan on eating, don’t expect the best table. Those are reserved for those who are actually going to eat and just sip on cokes, waters or just one glass of wine.
10.) GET A DRONE – Drone shots are beautiful to get a different perspective of Santorini’s beauty and have a different angle of shots. You get a wider view. However beware that some towns drones are banned like in Oia. We saw this sign in Oia (see below) and really did not hear any drones around. It looks like you have to get special permission for flying drones in Greece. I did hear drones flying in Imerovigli.
I am not sure if the same sign was in this town too and I just never saw it. If you google it, there is a lot of talk whether flying drones in Greece is legal or not. I read one article that you just have to register it and fly within a certain distance. Click here for more information. Below are also some good photography gadgets to have when taking photos in general while traveling.
I hope these tips help you to get those postcard worthy shots in Santorini! It is definitely a must see stop if you are visiting Greece. Remember traveling here during non peak season (April – early June) is the best bet for a smaller crowd. There will always be a crowd but things are lesser than normal during these months. Also double check local and European holidays as well! For my Santorini Travel Guide and hotel options, click the link. For other Greece Travel Guides and hotel reviews, click here! Thank you for reading!