Mykonos Vs. Santorini Guide – Which Greek Island Is Best

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Should you visit Mykonos or Santorini? In this post, we talk about both Santorini vs. Mykonos, their top attractions, and the best each of these Greek Islands has to offer you.

In the end, you will be able to know which island is best for your Greek vacation. 

Are you in a rush and want to know how to choose between Santorini or Mykonos? Here is what we think you should know:

Santorini Mykonos
Known for luxury travel Less expensive destination
Ideal for couples Ideal for families & groups
Chilled-out nightlife scene Vibrant nightlife scene

When deciding on your summer destination, it can be challenging to pinpoint one particular area. You’re keen to have the very best time possible, and you’re reading about sun, sand, and colorful cocktails in all manner of spots.

It doesn’t make your choice very easy.

Greece is undoubtedly one of the most popular holiday destinations, and post-pandemic, it has seen a significant boost in tourism. The Greek islands are gorgeous, with sun-drenched landscapes, plenty to see and do, and delicious food to enjoy.

But then you have to choose which island you want to visit!

Two of the most popular are certainly Santorini and Mykonos.

So, if you’ve whittled down your choice to these two islands, how can you choose between the island famed for its blue-domed churches or the one with the uber-famous Super Paradise Beach?

Let’s help you decide and jet off on your Greek vacation.

Keep reading below for our in-depth analysis on weighing up Santorini vs. Mykonos.

Why You Should Choose Santorini Over Mykonos

Winter in Greece - Small town Oia on Santorini
Oia on Santorini

Santorini has long been a traveler’s favorite. It’s one of the most beautiful spots around, and if you Google it, you’ll see exactly what we mean! The downside is that its popularity means a higher price tag, but that may not be an issue if you can find a deal during the shoulder months.

The views over the island are stunning, including a Calder and an active volcano to gaze upon. The island’s capital, Fira, is geared toward tourism and gives you everything you could possibly need, although other spots, such as Oia, are also worth a visit.

Santorini’s beaches offer crystal clear waters, though they are primarily pebbly or are dark, volcanic sandy beaches. The beaches of Santorini are ideal for swimmers as the water is calm, and you have those stunning views as you enjoy a beach day. Many boat trips leave the harbor daily, too, so you can get the best views.

Cruising The Balkans - Greece -

Santorini is known for its luxury hotels; if you want a romantic trip, this is a great spot. That’s not to say that the island isn’t family-friendly, but fewer activities are geared solely towards children and families. Instead, you can look forward to visiting wineries and natural beauty spots.

There is also ancient history to take, with Ancient Akrotiri, one of the island’s most important archaeological sites, which is totally worth a visit.

Nightlife-wise, Santorini is far more chilled out than Mykonos, but that’s not to say you’ll be bored when the sun goes down. Fira, in particular, has a vibrant nightlife and a few nightclubs to check out too. You’ll also find all different types of food to enjoy, including authentic Greek cuisine and fresh seafood.

Santorini is a popular choice as it is well connected to major European cities during the summer months, and there are flights from Athens every day during the winter months. However, the island is extremely quiet during the winter, and flight numbers to Santorini International Airport are reduced.

MYKONOS VS SANTORINI - MAIN DIFFERENCES

Mykonos is better for:

  1. Vibrant nightlife and party scene
  2. Water sports enthusiasts, such as snorkeling and windsurfing
  3. Exploring the archaeological site of Delos

Santorini is better for:

  1. Captivating sunsets and breathtaking views
  2. Day trips to neighboring islands, including another volcanic island like Nea Kameni
  3. Family-friendly activities and attractions
  4. Longer tourist season, starting from Greek Orthodox Easter

Both islands offer budget-friendly options, with Santorini’s south coast and Mykonos Town providing affordable choices. Spending a few days on each island is recommended to fully experience their unique attractions and make the most of your visit.

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Why Is Mykonos Better Vs Santorini

How To Get From Mykonos to Santorini - Beautiful Mykonos
Mykonos

Mykonos has always been popular, and even more so now due to the countless celebrities choosing the island as their summer destination. It has always been a summer favorite and a great place to enjoy Greece.

Mykonos is known for its fantastic nightlife, but there is more to it than that. It has a more family-friendly vibe than Santorini and is a great spot for groups. Mykonos beaches are long and contain golden sand, with calm waters for children to swim. There are plenty of boat trips to enjoy, some of which are party boats.

While Santorini has those dramatic hillside views, Mykonos is more about the laid-back enjoyment on beautiful beaches. On a boat trip, you can also visit Delos Island and its ruins, which will take around 45 minutes to travel there.

Chora, also known as Mykonos Town, is where most people choose to base themselves during their stay, and you’ll find many hotels in the center and around it. There are also some luxurious five-star choices outside the main town, including all-inclusive options.

Mykonos To Crete - Crete To Mykonos Guide
Mykonos, Greece

While days are often spent swimming and enjoying the beach clubs, you can also walk around the Old Town’s cobbled streets and do a spot of shopping. When night falls, that’s when Mykonos Town, in particular, really comes alive. There are all types of nightlife to enjoy and some very exclusive nightclubs on the island, which may afford you the odd celebrity spotting or two!

Mykonos and Santorini are similar in terms of cost, although Mykonos may be slightly less expensive for food and other essentials. Despite that, you can find some outstanding deals for a Mykonos holiday during the spring and autumn months, thanks to a long season of good weather.

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Mykonos Or Santorini

Mykonos To Ios Ferry Info - Little Venice On Mykonos Island Greece

Now you know what to expect from both islands; which one wins?

Honestly, both.

It really depends on what you want your holiday to be about in terms of which destination you choose. Both islands are perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying fantastic scenery and beach time. You can see both islands’ rich history and views, and gastronomy is top-quality regardless of your destination.

Beaches On Santorni Vs. Mykonos

Both Mykonos and Santorini offer a variety of stunning beaches, each with its own charm and atmosphere:

Mykonos Beaches

  1. Paradise Beach: Known for its vibrant party scene, with lively beach clubs and music
  2. Super Paradise Beach: Similar to Paradise Beach, it’s famous for its parties and energetic atmosphere
  3. Elia Beach: A relaxed and family-friendly beach with crystal-clear waters and a good range of amenities
  4. Psarou Beach: Popular among celebrities and upscale travelers, offering luxury beach clubs and a fashionable atmosphere
  5. Platis Gialos Beach: A well-organized and lively beach with various water sports activities and beachfront dining options.

Santorini Beaches

  1. Kamari Beach: A long, black, volcanic sand beach with a range of amenities, water sports activities, and beach bars
  2. Perissa Beach: Another black sand beach located near Kamari, offering a relaxed setting with umbrellas, sunbeds, and beachfront tavernas
  3. Red Beach: Known for its unique red cliffs and sand, offering a stunning backdrop for sunbathing and snorkeling
  4. Vlychada Beach: Distinguished by its impressive lunar-like landscape, featuring cliffs and volcanic ash formations
  5. White Beach: A picturesque pebble beach surrounded by white cliffs, accessible by boat or via a short hike from the Red Beach.

Romance On Mykonos Vs. Santorni

For a romantic experience in Mykonos and Santorini, here are some options to consider:

Mykonos

  • Little Venice: A charming neighborhood in Mykonos Town known for its colorful houses and waterfront cafes. It’s a great spot to enjoy a romantic sunset
  • Agios Sostis: A secluded and unspoiled beach with a serene atmosphere, perfect for a romantic picnic or a leisurely swim
  • Private yacht or boat tour: Rent a private yacht or join a boat tour to explore the stunning coastline and nearby islands, enjoying privacy and spectacular views together
  • Sunset dinner at a beachfront restaurant: Book a table at one of Mykonos’s many romantic beachfront restaurants and savor a delicious meal while watching the sunset over the Aegean Sea.

Santorini:

  • Oia: Famous for its breathtaking sunsets, stroll through the quaint streets of Oia and find a spot to watch the sun go down while enjoying the stunning views
  • Santorini Winery Tour: Discover the island’s renowned vineyards and enjoy wine-tasting sessions together, surrounded by scenic landscapes
  • Caldera boat tour: Embark on a boat tour of the caldera, exploring the volcanic islands and hot springs. Many tours also offer a romantic dinner on board while admiring the dramatic coastline
  • Amoudi Bay: Located below Oia, Amoudi Bay offers a picturesque setting with waterside seafood restaurants. Enjoy a romantic dinner here, with cliffs and sea views as your backdrop.

These options provide opportunities for romantic moments and experiences in both Mykonos and Santorini, allowing you to create unforgettable memories together.

Mykonos Or Santorini For Architecture

Here’s a list of 5 architectural highlights for both Mykonos and Santorini to help you choose:

Architectural highlights of Mykonos:

  1. Windmills of Mykonos: These iconic white windmills overlooking Mykonos Town are a symbol of the island
  2. Mykonos Town (Chora): The town features charming narrow streets, whitewashed houses with colorful doors and balconies, and traditional Cycladic architecture
  3. Church of Panagia Paraportiani: This unique church is a notable example of Cycladic architecture, comprising several smaller chapels combined into one complex
  4. Little Venice: Located in Mykonos Town, this picturesque neighborhood features old fishermen’s houses with balconies hanging over the sea
  5. Ano Mera: A traditional village on the island with a central square featuring the 18th-century Monastery of Panagia Tourliani.

Architectural highlights of Santorini:

  1. Oia: This charming village is famous for its blue-domed churches, cave houses, and narrow streets perched on the edge of the caldera
  2. Fira: The capital of Santorini showcases a mix of traditional Cycladic and neoclassical architecture, with whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches
  3. Akrotiri Archaeological Site: The ancient Minoan settlement of Akrotiri was preserved by volcanic ash, and visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins and discover its architectural remnants
  4. Pyrgos: A medieval village with a Venetian castle at its center, Pyrgos offers panoramic views and traditional Cycladic architecture with whitewashed houses and blue domes
  5. Megalochori: This traditional village features narrow streets, traditional wineries, and beautifully preserved neoclassical mansions.

These are just a few architectural highlights of each island, and many more structures and neighborhoods exist to explore. Both Mykonos and Santorini offer distinct architectural beauty, showcasing the unique charm and character of the Cyclades islands.

Wrap Up On Mykonos Vs. Santorini

Greece Travel Blog_Santorini Vs Mykonos How To Choose

Some tiny details set them apart, which may help you make your final decision.

Mykonos may be a better option for you if you’re traveling with friends or family. Here, you’ll find more variety in terms of nightlife, and the best beaches are long, wide, and golden.

However, Santorini is an excellent choice if you travel as a couple or as a solo traveler. It has a very romantic atmosphere and could also be a perfect choice for a honeymoon destination for newlyweds.

It also boils down to this – if you want to party, go to Mykonos. Suppose you want to see jaw-dropping, rugged scenery, to go Santorini.

Or, you could choose both! Both islands are close together, and a high-speed ferry ride should only take 2-3 hours during the summer season. In that case, you can visit both islands during the space of one holiday (ferry tickets are easy to get) and then you don’t have to choose!

MYKONOS VS SANTORINI FAQs

Mykonos and Santorini are undoubtedly the Queens of the Aegean Sea, and choosing is hard; maybe these FAQs will also help you choose.

What makes Mykonos a popular destination?

Mykonos is known for its vibrant nightlife and party scene. It offers many clubs, beach bars, and entertainment options that attract many tourists.

What activities can I do in Mykonos?

You can enjoy water sports such as snorkeling and windsurfing. Another must-visit attraction is the archaeological site of Delos, which is just a short boat ride away.

Why should I visit Santorini?

Santorini is famous for its captivating sunsets and breathtaking views. The island’s unique volcanic landscape provides a stunning backdrop for relaxation and exploration.

What can I do in Santorini?

Santorini offers a variety of activities, such as day trips to neighboring islands, including volcanic islands like Nea Kameni. It also has family-friendly attractions and a longer peak season starting from Greek Orthodox Easter.

Which island is better for lively nightlife?

If you’re looking for a vibrant party scene, Mykonos is the better choice. It has a reputation for its energetic nightlife, with numerous clubs and bars to enjoy.

Where can I find budget-friendly options?

Both Santorini and Mykonos offer affordable choices. In Santorini, the south coast and areas outside the main towns tend to have more budget-friendly accommodations. In Mykonos, Mykonos Town also provides options that suit different budgets.

How can I make the most of my visit to these islands?

To fully experience the attractions on both islands, spending a few days on each is recommended. This way, you can enjoy the unique offerings of each island and have a comprehensive experience.

Which island has better traditional villages?

Both Mykonos and Santorini have charming small villages that offer unique experiences. However, Santorini is particularly renowned for its picturesque villages. The most famous village is Oia, known for its iconic blue-domed churches and stunning sunset views. Fira, the capital of Santorini, is another delightful village with scenic cliffside views, narrow streets, and a vibrant atmosphere. Santorini’s other villages, such as Pyrgos and Megalochori, also showcase traditional Cycladic architecture and a tranquil ambiance. While Mykonos also has beautiful villages, Santorini tends to be more widely recognized for its enchanting villagescapes.

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