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A Photographer's Guide to Santorini, Greece

by Sebastian Vaida, August 2009 (updated June 2010)

Santorini is one of the most visited islands in the world (placed in the top 10 of most visited islands), a destination where tourists come to from all over the world.

They come to admire the cave houses built on cliffs measuring hundreds of meters, the rooftops painted in a blue more intense than the sea, the clear sky and great weather, or the donkeys waiting to carry the tourists from the harbor to the heart of the cities.

The pride of the Greek islands, Santorini is, simply put, a place of contrasts. A place where, during the touristic season (from late April to late October), one must struggle to find a place to hide from the crowd. And when the season ends, more than 80% of the islanders become inlanders and move on the continental Greece, mainily around the big cities of Athens, Salonic, Sparta, Kalamata, etc. Even at the highest peak, during the months of July and August, when the streets and beaches are overcrowded, you can still find places that seem deserted.

More than that, Santorini is a unique place to visit. The tourist visiting these places for the first time is faced with a strange feeling of confusion. It lacks the terms for comparison. With little exceptions (e.g. Cinque Terre, Italy), nothing in the world you have already seen in the world can compare to the sights that Santorini offers.

A very brief history overview

More than 4000 years ago, Santorini had the shape of a circle, more like the northern island of Thassos, until the volcano erupted (around the year 1450 B.C.) and created a tsunami that it is said to have destroyed the Minoic civilization. The former island was shaped to its present form, mainly consisting of the islands of Thira (the Greek word for Santorini), Thirassia, Paleo Kameni (the ancient island) and Nea Kameni (the new island). The latter is so new that it only has existed for 60 years. It actually emerged over night from the sea. Literally. The inhabitants of Santorini woke up one morning to discover a new island that had not existed the previous day.


Why does Santorini attract tourists, aside from its past surrounded by millenniums of myths, legends and history?

The answers are so many that it is hard to decide where to start.

  • It attracts because of the unique and panoramic sightseeing. It is almost as if you need to catch your breath every time you look around. The images are indeed breathtaking.
  • People and churches.
  • The inhabitants, whose behavior is as warm and welcoming as the places and the weather.
  • The olives in all kinds of shapes and colors.
  • And its wines, in a display of more than 35 types, red, white and rose.
  • And last but not least, the well known churches and houses for prayer, exceeding 250 in number.

A more appropriate question would be to ask if there is anything that Santorini does not impress with, for I have not found anything that I did not like.

How to get to Santorini

There are two ways to get to Santorini. The fastest one is by air. Santorini has a national airport situated near Kamari village, in the central eastern part of the main island, called Thira (the Greek name) or Santorini. For more details about the airport, visit www.hcaa-eleng.gr/santor.htm.

They offer regular flights from the capital of Greece, Athens, with two main Greek companies, Olympic Airways and Aegean Airlines, as well as charters from many European cities. The flight duration from Athens to Santorini is around 30 minutes. You can also get to Santorini by air from other Greek island such as Rodos (duration 40 minutes) or Crete (duration around 20 minutes). From the airport you can take a bus to Fira (Thira), where you can change to buses for other towns. There are also taxis waiting at the airport and the cost is about 20 euros (they differ according to the destination). They can be negotiated, but remember to have a friendly attitude and to put a smile on your face (it always helps).

The other option to get to Santorini is by sea. Either with a cruise or transport ferry line or with a fast ferry. The difference lies in the amount of time needed to get there and, of course, the price. Once again, there are several places that you can arrive from. Either from other countries than Greece, from the mainland (Athens) or many of the islands. From Athens to Santorini, the duration is around 10 hours, so a night time travel is most recommended (the ferries have 4, 5 or more decks and levels and the places to sleep are not a problem, for there are a lot of chairs that can be turned into a very comfortable bed. If you decide on a cruise ferry, the only place deep enough for such ships to dock is in the harbor of Athinios.

Readers' Comments

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Deepak Ghosh , August 18, 2009; 03:47 P.M.

Santorini Comments


Nice article and beautiful photographs. Santorini is truly a photographer's delight and one could easily spend 2-3 weeks taking shots of this beautiful and very large island with varied landscape.

For all of you who want to see more photos of Santorini, I went to Santorini in 2008 and my galleries of Santorini are at www.kanchan.smugmug.com.

Scroll down the home page to see galleries named as Santorini-Fira, Santorini-Imerovigli, Santorini-Oia, Santorini-Megalochori and Santorini-Pyrgos. I also have a Mykonos gallery.

If I go there again, I would take two cameras and have a wide angle mounted on one and a telephoto mounted on another. I did spend time switching lenses. Don't forget to take an extreme wide angle lens to shoot really wide. I would also recommend that you shoot some color slide fil such as Provia or Velvia because of the rich colors of the island and never go anywhere without a circular polarizer. All my shots were taken using Nikon D300, Nikon 17-55 MM f2.8, Nikon 80-200 f2.8D and Sigma 10-20 MM f/4.5-5.6.

Donald Weston , August 18, 2009; 03:51 P.M.

Ditto - this is wonderful and brought back lots of good memories from my trip in March this year. Wish I had been able to see this before I went....well done. Don

Janusz Z. , August 19, 2009; 02:14 A.M.

Yes, Santorini is the very beautiful place. I've been there for 9 days only and I'm looking forward to come back. And the Greek way of life is something you really need to experience. You are forced to slow down, which is really good. Thank you, Sanorini!

Couple of my photos

Staśkowiak Andrzej , August 19, 2009; 04:39 A.M.

It,s amazing place with temperature 40 -45 the Celsius degree in dark when the life flows slowly. Remember the Greek, s maxim: no pressing,no stressing. See my photoos: [url]http://www.flickr.com/photos/26570226@N07/sets/72157621903630850/[/url]

Joseph Zammit , August 19, 2009; 10:50 P.M.

Thank you for that article, I visited Santorini and I was very happy although it was a short stop from a crouise we were taking. Your pictures are faboulus, thank you for sharing them with us. I would like to send you a copy of a friend of mine's visit to Santorini or a link for that matter, where you can view them. Where can I send them so you can view them. Thank you, Joseph Zammit

Sebastian Vaida , August 20, 2009; 03:29 A.M.

Thank you for your kind comments. I really love that you liked the article and the photos. Indeed, Santorini is a unique place to see and feel. Hope more tourists and photographers go there and feel the same thing. Enjoy.


PS - my email adress is seby_vaida@yahoo.com (for anyone interested)

Victor Carmelo Sciberras , August 21, 2009; 06:13 P.M.

Brilliant island, very photogenic, stayed at Perissa, only downside in 2002, I only had the original Digital Ixus with only 2MB memory plus one 64MB card. But I still got some good holiday shots but next time i will be better equipped. Thanks and regards


Catherine Pahou , September 04, 2009; 02:47 P.M.

"A line seek for a shape" is indeed a wonderful concept reffering to Santorini. :) All the little curvy shapes, the unique perspective of the island, make Santorini for me a completely surrealistic scenery. If you go there once, it stays in your heart forever. I went with my Nikon stayed at the camping and truly enjoyed it ;)

Nox Edge , April 09, 2011; 05:10 P.M.

I have heard many things about Greece especially the ancient architectures. I can't wait to visit the country this summer and takes some very memorable pictures and tell the Greek people about Nox Edge Reviews that I have been using to keep my body in top shape.

Randi Parniske , April 13, 2011; 01:49 P.M.

Very useful informations. I think that your website will be much better if you use templates to make your design more individually.

Franko Damian , April 25, 2011; 04:23 A.M.

I'd love to visit Santorini one of these days as soon as I get my student loans application approved. I'll be heading to that place. Great shots by the way!

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