Santorini, formed by a massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, is living proof that magic can come from chaos – both in its birth and as the hub for terrible tourist etiquette.
Photographs of Santorini often ignite people’s wanderlust. I don’t blame them. Each house and hotel is carved into the side of the caldera, creating a dramatic and unique view from every edge of the island. It is as beautiful as people imagine.
But as the sun drops towards the horizon every afternoon, tourists descend on the tiny village of Oia, and jockey for position, to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
It’s a free-for-all as tourists abandon any sort of etiquette that they’ve learned over the years, turn a blind eye to signs that say “Private Property” and “No Climbing” in several languages, and climb on private rooftops and sneak past barriers.
The daily ritual is quite hilarious to witness: local residents shouting at tourists to get off of their property and tourists pretending that it was an honest mistake. Tourists being shooed away like unwanted stray dogs.
This photo looks serene, but on the other side of the camera and barrier, are tourists blocking the alleyway and being shouted at by the elderly Apanomerite, that’s been tasked to keep people away, except for residents (even temporary ones).
How to avoid bad tourist etiquette in Santorini
- Research where your hotel or AirBnb is located in the Caldera if you’re staying in Oia. We were lucky to find a cute studio right-off of the most popular alleyway for photographs, protected by a barrier for residents placed by the neighbourhood association. Try and find a place that is guarded, whether its by the neighbourhood or by the hotel.
- Visit towards the end of the summer season in October when there are less tourists. During off-season, Santorini is still a beautiful place but there may be some clouds and rain from time-to-time. Also some stores and restaurants may be closed.
- Explore the island and find some hidden gems. There are a lot of hiking trails where you can enjoy some epic views without the crowds. Definitely bring a pair of sneakers and don’t be afraid to walk a bit!