If I ever have to create an impressive sounding street name, I’ve got myself covered. After a week in Santorini, I’ve officially been transformed from tame globetrotter to wild sunset hunter.
Hordes of tourists besiege the island of Santorini every year, eager to bask in the warm sunshine and the presence of their beloved one. What could be more romantic? Why, sitting down with a glass of something good and watching the sun shyly dip its underbelly into the sea!
Sunset watching seems pretty straightforward – you sit and you watch. Not so in Santorini! You have to find the perfect spot, fend off a hundred fellow sunset gazers and then try very hard to crop them out of your photos.
My aim today is to spare you that trouble – I’ve searched far and wide to find the perfect sunset-gazing spot… and I think I’ve found it! Here is the rundown of the places I’ve visited in the process and at the end the winner of the grand prix…
The village of Oia – sometimes referred to as Ia – is probably the most popular spot for watching the sunset. Some might argue that it’s also the most beautiful, but for me it is ruined by omnipresent pesky tourists shouting “OMG, selfie time!” in whatever language they speak. A self-proclaimed crowd hater, I did not even stay until the sun set completely.
If you do decide to delve into the mayhem and watch the sunset here, you should be aware of a few things. Firstly, know that the sunset can only be seen from the very tip of the island, which results in it being infested with Nikon cameras and lobster tans aplety. Secondly, you should be ready to secure a good spot well ahead of the sunset – an hour at least. Lastly, I should say that the village itself might not be the best spot to watch the sun – if you drive to the beach below, you will be by yourself and… well, on a beach, watching the sunset!
The good news is that Oia is just as gorgeous during the daytime (post forthcoming) – you can enjoy it then and drive to my personal favourite spot, which I will reveal at the end of this article. Way to keep you on your toes, I know…
The lighthouse near Akrotiri – known locally simply as “Faros”, the lighthouse – looks stunning in the warm light of the setting sun and even lovelier under the violet sky before night falls. There is something very romantic about lighthouses in general and on the island – or any island aside from “Shutter Island” – it’s intensified even further.
In my opinion, the sunset itself looks better in other places on the island but very few things can beat the way the lighthouse looks at the time. It’s pure magic. Combined with a much smaller crowd and the cries of seagulls flying overhead, Faros is an incredible sunset-watching spot.
I had the pleasure of watching the sunset onboard a sailing yacht, with soft music playing in the background and Greek delicacies being dished out by the kilo. Needless to say, the journey was as fabulous as they come and the only thing I was missing was Ryan Gosling by my side.
When you’re watching the sunset from a boat, you get to see more than you would from any of the islands – Santorini’s villages lit up in an orange glow, pink mist and violet haze. It’s as lovely as it sounds and it won’t cost you much more than a nice dinner on the rock.
But who is the winner of my “Santorini Sunset Award“? Why it is…
“Ugh, the capital city of the island?” I hear you sigh. “What a revelation, you must have searched really hard to find it.” Spare me your sarcasm, young one! I’ve worked really hard at this – I had to watch not one, but four gorgeous sunsets! Woe truly is me.
So, what does Fira have that the other places don’t? The simple answer is – it’s bigger. That may not sound like a good thing, but what it really means is that the crowds have a chance to disperse and find their own “secret” spots without exhaling with awe on each other’s necks.
My personal “secret” spot is “Mamathira”, an adorable tavern with an incredible view of the caldera. You can enjoy the sunset from one of the restaurant’s two floors or the terrace over a glass of Vinsanto wine, one of the best things to ever come from Santorini. This ochre-tinted dessert wine tastes like a million grapes bursting in your mouth while an angel strums a lyre on your shoulder. It truly does. I’ll post a separate article about the island’s delicious cuisine, so this non-hyperbollic imagery will have to do for now. If you’re not after a full-on dinner, I recommend you stop by “Palia Kameni” cocktail bar for a quick drink and, if you’re lucky, some live music.