Where to be in Greece when the sun sets?

sunset in Greece overlooking the sea island in the back an rocks and tree silhouette in front
And the answer is not the Greek sunset in Santorini.

Whenever I travel through Greece, no matter how busy my itinerary, I always make time for the sunset. Every day and during every season. The magic of the sunset is that every time and in every location, it is unique. You might think otherwise since it happens every day. However, going to the same spot before nightfall daily, you will always find something different. Making each end of the day a truly exclusive experience.

For me, every sunset is a special moment. Like fireworks on New Year. The fall of the sun marks the end of the day and the beginning of a new one. It is the moment I use to reflect on the things I have done and seen that day, and make a plan for the next one. A time to remind me to cherish the beauty of our world and remember how blessed I should feel to be a part of it.

What makes a sunset special?

Greece’s most famous sunset is in Santorini. In the village of Oia, thousands of people gather here daily to share this special moment. Although I must admit seeing the sun fall in the sea behind the white houses on a cliff is marvelous, I disagree that it is the best sunset in Greece or even the world. Especially not during the summer months. The picture you take in Santorini might be breathtaking. Yet I believe the experience while taking that picture is far more valuable. And fighting over a spot with thousands of other people is not the most romantic circumstance.

All throughout Greece, there is the opportunity to enjoy a magical ending of the day. So why stick to one spot and be amongst many others? As I said before, for me, experience comes before the picture. And the real sunset experience is in the ability to connect with your surroundings. Either the Greek culture or the nature. Not tourism and crowdedness.

Taking in the beauty of the descending sun surrounded by quiet is the most peaceful thing I can think of. It is like the sun says to our world, ” take a breath, rest, and rejuvenate. Tomorrow we will continue.” And while nature listens, I allow myself to breathe with her. The red and orange light helps me to find inner peace because that is what nature around me does together with me. This all might sound a bit too meditative for you, but I dare you to try and feel the same. It is an amazing feeling!

And for those of you who want a more practical guide to a good picture while not having to fight for a good spot amongst many other tourists, keep reading.

What makes a sunset beautiful?

What makes the Santorini sunset in Greece a tourist attraction? It is not so much the sun itself. It is the orange and pink light that changes the color of the picturesque white-washed villages. The sun is the same everywhere, but it is the foreground, your direct surrounding, that makes a difference.

The image below shows two similar sunsets. In both, the sun falls over the sea, behind the mountain of Athos. And both pictures are taken less than one kilometer apart and with a 24-hour difference. However, the foreground is what is missing in picture number one. And although the angle of the sun behind the mountain is slightly better in this picture than it is in the other one, the lack of close-by context really turns this one into more of a snapshot.

Sunset nr 1
Behind Athos over the sea but without a foreground reference. Although the setting is perfect, the lack of a context makes this picture quite boring to look at.
Sunset nr 2
Mount Athos and sea like in picture number 1. But now combined with a foreground showing the walls of a hundreds of year old castle and the silhouette of a deer.

How to find the right location to watch the sunset in Greece?

There is a variety of applications available to help photographers find their perfect lighting conditions. An example is Golden Hour. This app can tell you when the sunset starts and points out where the sun will fall. All you have to do is find the spot where the lines of the app align with a beautiful landscape. And be at this spot at the right time.

In the image below, you can see how the blue line, the direction of the sunset, perfectly aligns with mount Athos in the top left corner. Combining this line with old castle walls in the foreground results in the beautiful picture above. But more important is that I was alone when I took the picture. Observing the sky turn to gold while being surrounded by deer and hundreds of year-old structures, was what really made this experience unique.

A screenshot from Golden Hour, an app that shows you everything you need to know about the sunset.

Another great location to watch the sun go down is where the foreground consists of multiple peninsulas. One behind the other, with water in between. Every piece of land will reflect a different shade of orange sunlight. Again these spots are pretty easy to find using the application.

It might also be a good idea to watch the sunset in Greece either on the beach or close to a little harbor. Standing, or even swimming, in the golden water while the day ends is a unique experience. The reflection of the sun on the waves makes for a perfect picture. The same goes for the harbor. Here you might also have the chance to capture a traditional fishing boat heading out to sea.

Lastly, definitely go out at nightfall when it is just partly cloudy. These clouds turn the orange sunlight into all shades of pink and purple. The perfect dramatic end of a day.

Inspiration:

If you have any question about where these sunsets took place in Greece, please leave a comment below! We would also like to know your idea about the daily sun’s descent and your best experiences of this moment.

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