Sunsets have the stuff of childhood dreams. There’s a kind of magic at dusk when the skies turn color-mad, and you watch the indescribable enveloping the world in a cocoon of purples, oranges, and reds. The sea moans in the distance like a hetaera, her beauty reflecting the zenith with murex waves crashing against the rocky shores of Thira.
It’s finally here – the moment when time stands still, and we remain pleasantly frozen in awe watching the spectacle that no one will ever capture in words. No picture I’ve seen does it justice, and no painter has yet managed to create that Santorini Sunset masterpiece to be remembered by forever.
But the world knows of the legendary Santorini sunsets and tourists flock to the island to see it. There’s enough to do on Thira: swimming in the caldera, hiking, learning about the Minoan past, shopping, diving, and I could go on. I don’t err to say that most people come here to enjoy the pure hedonistic pleasures of life, that dolce far niente that heals the soul and fills up the heart with the joys of carpe diem.
Sunset gazing in Santorini, Greece is just such a pleasure. You can follow the crowds up to the Sunset Serenade point in Oia to see it in full glory, or you can ignore the whiffs of donkey pee on the steps to the old port of Naoussa just to take in what you will believe to be a one-time-in-a-lifetime celestial spectacle. And you will be right because each sundown over the caldera is unique, mesmerizing, and heavenly, but you will see an equally beautiful the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and you will always raise your eyes to the skies like a sunset addict. It would not matter where on the island you are – for Thira is small and easy to explore on foot. Since it emerges from the Aegean with high, rocky shores, it will always give you the perfect vantage point to gaze at the perfect sunset view over the sea.
But when you see the spectacle in reverse, from a boat sailing the caldera, Santorini sparkles like amber and rubies under the heavens above, and Oia’s white-washed cliff houses are the jewels. In front of the magnificent sight, you’ll get a unique understanding of why the locals call Oia Apano Meria, the heaven on Earth.
The active traveler will take the hike from Fira to Oia at least once at sunset. Some of the most fascinating seascapes and landscapes in the world will stretch before you across the caldera from Fira to Oia, and in the colorful tunes of the early evening, the hike will become one of those special memories to take back home with you from your vacation on Santorini.
If the ruins of the kastro in Oia prove too busy, there’s always Imerovigli, the balcony of the caldera, and Skaros Rock, where only the ruins still whisper of the ancient capital of Santorini lost in the 18th century. There’s a mystique about the place, reminiscent of the old glory of the castle, and you will almost feel the spirits of the ones who once inhabited these rocks.
“Around this crag are the houses of the now ruined town of Skaro, a most extraordinary group, perched one over another where a crevice in the sides of the precipice will admit of it, and in most frightful positions, the out wall of the buildings being in a line with the perpendicular rocks. I sprung a covey of partridges among this mass of ruins, and was once near falling into a vault full of skulls and other human bones; now a living soul now inhabits this place.”
This is how E.M. Leycester described Imerovigli sometimes around 1850.
Closer to Oia, Finikia is a farmer’s village, perfect for sunset gazing. The best spot here is at Kyra Panagia, a picturesque little church, the favorite backdrop for many wedding photos.
Lastly, if you are just too lazy to go anywhere, if the hedonistic pleasures you are seeking are just rest, eat, and sip Vinsanto, book a hotel with sunset views and spend a lazy evening staring at the skies. Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa is just next to the Sunset Serenade point in Oia, and it offers spectacular views with 5-star comfort.
Or dine out – there are a few traditional taverns that are in high demand for sunset seekers, but make your reservations well in advance, because they tend to be busy and overbooked.
My tip: try Mama Thira. They promise to be the restaurant with the most spectacular sunset view and they overdeliver on their pledge.
About the author
Mihaela Lica-Butler is travel writer and travel public relations consultant, lover of cultures and cuisine. She has built a fun career while chiming in on many topics, from relating the trials and tribulations of the people of Kosovo to experiencing, first hand, the heroics of the Romanian soldiers serving for the UN. But she thrives in conveying her love for travel and places in written word, and she is happy to be a constant contributor for some of the world’s best travel sites.