- ⦿ Modern sailing boat
- ⦿ 8 stops: Red Beach, White Beach, Mesa Pigadia beach, Santorini Volcano, Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, Thirasia, Ammoudi Bay
- ⦿ Snorkeling & towels
- ⦿ Lunch, drinks
- ⦿ Duration: 5 hours
- ⦿ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (37 reviews)
Santorini is famous for its incredible sunsets and for its flying dress photo shoots.
As the sun slowly sinks below the sea, it casts a warm golden light over the island’s iconic blue and white buildings perched on top of the volcanic cliffs.
Watching the sunset in Santorini is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Greece, and one of the top items to tick off your Europe travel bucket list. Depending on your ship’s departure time, you may be able to enjoy a Santorini shore excursion with sunset views, even when visiting as a cruise stop.
Here are the 10 best places to catch those magical Santorini sunsets:
1. On a Sunset Cruise
A sunset cruise is hands-down the most romantic and iconic way to watch the Santorini sunset.
As your boat bobs gently in the crystal clear Aegean Sea, you’ll have a front-row seat to the golden sun dipping into the water, casting its glow over the sea and the island’s villages.
Most cruises take you past the volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni in the caldera before finding an ideal spot to drop anchor and take in the views. You can sip cocktails and enjoy a delicious Greek meal onboard as the sky erupts in a riot of color.
Some of the best sunset cruise companies in Santorini include Sailing Santorini, Imagine Tour and Travel, and Santorini Sailing Center.
Private and semi-private cruises are more expensive but guarantee a more intimate and exclusive experience.
Large group tours are very affordable but may feel crowded.
The village of Oia, situated on the northern tip of Santorini’s crescent-shaped caldera, is postcard-perfect with its cobblestone alleys, white washed houses, and blue-domed churches. The ruins of Oia Castle provide the ideal romantic backdrop as the sun melts into the Aegean Sea.
Crowds flock to Oia each evening to snap that iconic Santorini sunset photo I’ve posted above, so be prepared to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot.
The best places to watch the sunset in Oia are next to the old castle ruins, on the main pedestrian walkway through the village leading up to the iconic blue-domed churches, or from a cliffside restaurant like Ambrosia or Kastro.
Stop at a local wine bar like Melenio or Sphinx Wine Restaurant to enjoy the sunset over a glass or two of Assyrtiko wine – Santorini’s famous grape variety.
The elevated village of Imerovigli sits on top of the cliff looking directly out over the volcanic caldera. Its incredible vantage point means you can watch the sun sink behind the island of Thirasia – one of the most spellbinding Santorini sunset views. Due to its higher altitude, the sunset can be enjoyed a bit longer from Imerovigli before the sun dips completely out of sight.
Some of the best sunset viewing spots in Imerovigli are from the luxury hotels like Grace Santorini and Auberge resorts which have infinity pools and rooftop bars perfectly aligned for caldera views. Have dinner or cocktails at the laid-back Skiza Restaurant or swanky Anemomilos Restaurant to soak up epic sunset panoramas. Stop at the famous Church of Anargyri with its blue-domed roof which makes for a perfect sunset photo opp.
Neighbouring Imerovigli, the cliffside village of Firostefani boasts similarly stunning sunset vistas over the volcano and caldera. Without the bigger crowds of Oia, Firostefani has a more peaceful, relaxed vibe at sunset time. It may lack some of the quaint charm of other island villages, but sunset views surely impress with uninterrupted views of the colorful cliffside homes of Imerovigli and Akrotiri in the distance.
Head to Aktaion restaurant for sunset dining on their beautiful terrace or stop at Tango Champagne and Wine bar which hosts nightly viewings accompanied by smooth jazz or classical guitar music. The pool deck at Vedema resort is a sleek and stylish spot to soak up the sunset as you lounge next to the infinity pool sipping chilled cocktails.
5. Akrotiri Lighthouse
Located on the southern tip of Santorini, Akrotiri lighthouse is one of the most popular places for panoramic caldera views year-round, especially at sunset. Hike up or drive to the small white lighthouse perched on the edge of the rugged cliffs for sublime views over the entire semi-circular caldera, the island of Thirassia, and the perfectly-aligned sister islands of Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni. Watch as the red and golden light blankets the volcanic landscape as the sun sinks below the horizon.
The iconic shot is standing above the lighthouse looking out over the water with the stairs and lighthouse framed in the foreground. Be very cautious near the cliff edge especially if it’s windy. After sunset, the lighthouse and stairs are illuminated making for remarkable nighttime photography opportunities too. Grab a snack or cold beer at the casual Akrotiri Beach Bar nearby.
6. Perissa or Perivolos Beach
The long stretch of black sand at Perivolos Beach is lesser-known as a prime sunset watching locale but offers up unique sea-level panoramas. As the reddish-orange hue spreads across the sky and reflects off the crystalling seawater, you really get a sense of the sheer cliffsides and crescent shape of Santorini island from beach-level. Walk to the far southern end of the shore for uninterrupted sunset vistas.
Many of the beachfront tavernas and bars have happy hours lined up perfectly with sunset. From candle-lit wooden decks to cushioned lounges, breezy beach shacks like Tranquilo serve up boozy cocktails best paired with a fiery sky and peaceful sea at your feet.
For dining options try Mamacita’s, Ostraco or Mario No Name restaurant. Or grab a towel on the black sand beach and watch with a beer in hand.
7. Skaros Rock
The medieval settlement of Skaros Rock is an atmospheric hidden gem to experience a quiet, crowd-free sunset perched along the northern cliffs. You’ll have postcard-worthy views looking south over Imerovigli and Fira as the orange glow blankets the village homes. Bring good footwear for climbing and scrambling over rocks and uneven paths.
The hike up takes about 15 minutes from Imerovigli. Be extremely cautious near the cliff edges and supervise children at all times. Time it so you are at the peak for the final moments when the yellows and oranges stretch across the sky before fading to pink. For unreal landscape views as day turns to night, it’s one of the most unique sunset spots on Santorini island.
8. Pyrgos Village
The small traditional village of Pyrgos is centrally located near the highest point of Santorini island. Most tourists don’t make it here which means its cobblestone alleyways and blue-domed churches are delightfully peaceful and crowd-free come sunset time. Sit beside the old Venetian castle ruins to soak up sublime caldera views as the sky bursts into technicolour.
For front row seats, head to the village’s fanciest restaurant Franco’s Cafe which boasts panoramic terrace seating overlooking the island. The most vibrant pinks and purples often spread across the sky for a good 20 minutes making it a spectacular backdrop as you dine on fine Greek cuisine paired with local wines.
Nearby hilltops also make glorious sunset viewpoints over the patchwork of fields and vineyards.
9. Ancient Thira
The archaeological site of Ancient Thira sits high upon Mesa Vouno mountain south of Kamari providing supreme sunset watching opportunities. As golden hour sets in, Ancient Thira’s ruins of temples and homes glow under warm light with epic 360 degree views.
The ancient city-state was founded as early as the 8th century BC before being destroyed by an earthquake in the 7th century AD. Today you can still see intact buildings and staircases plus crumbled walls and streets that once formed this prosperous town. Entry costs only €2 and viewing continues until 30 minutes before the site closes.
Be prepared for crowds jockeying for the iconic shot framed through the Terrace Gate.
10. Onboard Your Sailing Catamaran
A chartered sailing catamaran ensures maximum flexibility to chase the best views and find a quiet mooring to drop anchor and indulge in sunset delight.
Most boats depart from Vlihada Marina on the south end of the island with various sailing tour options from half day to full day adventures. Popular routes sail past the volcanic islands and landmarks like White Beach, Vourvoulos Bay, Cape Columbo and Cape Plaka.
Relax on the trampoline nets at the front of the boat for unobstructed views. Multi-level catamarans give the chance for the perfect sunset instagram shot from various angles. Captains typically serve drinks and canapés like fresh Greek salads as part of the onboard experience. Sunset sailing excursions range from low key to outright luxury. Check companies like Santorini Sailing, Sunset Oia, and Athenian Catamaran Cruises for availability.
So there you have it – the 10 very best places to catch those magical golden hour Santorini sunsets!
With iconic backdrops from land or sea, you really can’t go wrong. Just be sure to arrive early to secure your ideal vantage point, camera ready. Watching the sunset is undoubtedly one of the top things to in Santorini, for good reason. Let the vibrant, fast-changing changing colors and scenic surroundings take over your senses.