Mykonos or Santorini For Your Next Trip?

You are here Home > Destinations > Greece > Mykonos or Santorini For Your Next Trip?

Mykonos and Santorini are possibly the two most popular islands in Greece. Just the names conjure up images of sun-bleached houses, impossibly blue water, and that quintessential Greek island magic. But beyond the postcards, these two Cyclades islands couldn’t be more different.

Mykonos pulses with the energy of its legendary beach clubs and all-night parties, a magnet for those seeking a taste of jet-set glamour. Santorini, on the other hand, is a lover’s dream – all whitewashed villages cascading down volcanic cliffs and fiery sunsets that ignite the Aegean Sea.

Mykonos or Santorini?

So, how do you settle the great debate – Mykonos or Santorini? Do you yearn for days fuelled by ouzo and dancing under the stars, or nights spent lingering over a caldera-view dinner as the sky turns molten? Let’s dive deeper.

Did you know that one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the islands is to charter a yacht in Mykonos?

Mykonos: The Heart of Cyclades Chic

For decades, Mykonos has been a magnet for those seeking an unabashedly fun, vibrant, unforgettable experience. And here’s why:

Psarou beach in Mykonos from above

Mykonos Beaches

The true magic of Mykonos lies in its stunning coastline. Turquoise waters lap at sandy beaches that transform into open-air nightclubs as the sun dips below the horizon. There are plenty of beautiful beaches to explore, but the Platis Gialos and Paradise Beach are truly, well… paradisical.

Platis Gialos

Considered one of the best beaches on the island, Platis Gialos strikes a delightful balance. Its golden sands are perfect for sunbathing, and the crystal-clear water is ideal for a refreshing dip.

Families will love the gentler waters and easy access to the best restaurants and amenities during the summer season. But don’t be fooled – even laid-back Platis Gialos boasts a touch of Mykonos’s famed party scene with lively beach bars playing chill-out tunes.

Water sports enthusiasts can rent jet skis, try their hand at parasailing, or even take a scuba diving lesson. As the sun begins to set, hop on a traditional fishing boat turned water taxi to explore nearby beaches or reach Mykonos Town in under 10 minutes.

Paradise Beach

Paradise Beach, with its Super Paradise Beach Club, is the epicentre of Mykonos’s high-energy beach scene. From the afternoon onwards, world-renowned DJs take to the decks, the music amps up, and the open-air club vibes kick in.

Dance beneath the warm Aegean sun, sip on expertly crafted cocktails and soak up the unforgettable atmosphere. For something extra special, book a VIP cabana or sun lounger for front-row access to all the action.

And hey, if you’re feeling wild, Super Paradise is clothing-optional, embodying the true island spirit.

Beyond the Iconic: More Beaches to Explore

Mykonos boasts a dazzling array of beaches to cater to every mood. If you crave a more secluded experience, venture north to the windswept shores of Panormos or Agios Sostis. 

For adventurous spirits, Elia Beach offers windsurfing and other watersports that harness the wind’s power. There’s a perfect stretch of Mykonian coastline waiting for you, whether you seek tranquillity or the heart of the action.

Waterside restaurant at night in Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos Nightlife

Mykonos nights pulse with an infectious energy that draws in revellers from around the world. Here, inhibitions fade, and unforgettable memories are born. Let’s explore why this island holds such a legendary reputation as a party paradise:

Iconic Beach Clubs: Where Legends Are Made

Mykonos’s beach clubs are more than just places to grab a drink – they’re centres of the nightlife scene, drawing world-renowned DJs and vibrant crowds.

Scorpios, nestled on a secluded bay, exudes a bohemian luxury with its sprawling terraces and sunset rituals.

Cavo Paradiso is an institution. Here, the energy ramps up as the sun sets, transforming the venue into a pulsating open-air club fuelled by world-class DJs and an insatiable desire to dance the night away.

For those seeking pure, unadulterated revelry, Paradise Beach Club and Tropicana reign supreme with their non-stop beach parties, pulsating beats and an anything-goes attitude.

Mykonos Town: Dusk Till Dawn

Once the sun dips below the horizon, the heart of Mykonos Town explodes into action. Cocktail bars showcasing innovative mixology pave the way for an unforgettable night.

Lose yourself in iconic clubs like Skandinavian Bar and Astra, where dancing on tables is practically a requirement.

As the night progresses, the energy intensifies – follow the crowds and discover hidden gems down cobblestone streets, each offering their unique spin on the Mykonian nightlife experience.

Whether seeking chic lounges or all-out dance floors, Mykonos Town never disappoints.

Windmills in Chora, Mykonos at sunset

Main Town (Chora): Picture-Perfect Charm

Lose yourself in the enchanting labyrinth of Mykonos Town (Chora), a place where sun-bleached beauty meets vibrant energy. Amble along narrow streets – think quaint white-washed houses adorned with brightly painted doors and windows, bougainvillaea overflowing in vibrant pinks and purples. Charming shops and local boutiques tempt with treasures, from stylish beachwear to handcrafted jewellery.

As you wander, stumble upon hidden courtyards brimming with cafes and traditional tavernas. Indulge in fresh seafood and authentic Greek cuisine while soaking up the lively atmosphere.

Little Venice

No visit to Mykonos Town is complete without exploring Little Venice, where colourful houses stand on stilts above the Aegean Sea, reminiscent of its Italian namesake. As the sun begins to set, find your perfect spot along the waterfront and witness the sky transform into a breathtaking canvas of orange and pink.


For those seeking a glimpse into the island’s past, Mykonos’ history is on display at one of its fascinating museums. The Archaeological Museum is a great place to admire ancient artefacts, while the Folklore Museum offers a look into everyday life on the island throughout the centuries.

Luxury Experience: Live the High Life

Mykonos invites you to experience the epitome of island luxury. From world-class resorts to designer boutiques and culinary artistry, this glamorous destination caters to those seeking the finest things in life.


Indulge in pure elegance at one of Mykonos’s famed luxury hotels. Properties like the Cavo Tagoo and the Myconian Collection boast stunning infinity pools overlooking the Aegean Sea, impeccable service, and private villas with breathtaking views. Pamper yourself at their exclusive spas, offering revitalizing treatments that blend ancient techniques with modern therapies.


A shopper’s paradise awaits you in Mykonos Town. Discover the latest fashions from iconic designers like Gucci and Louis Vuitton or pick up handcrafted jewelry and unique pieces from independent boutiques.


As the night falls, allow yourself to be tempted by Michelin-starred restaurants helmed by innovative chefs like the Mykonos Social by Jason Atherton. Experience the freshest seafood, artfully prepared, or savour the vibrant flavours of the Mediterranean with a tasting menu.

Iconic white houses in Santorini perched on a cliff top

Santorini: Volcanic Beauty & Iconic Sunsets 

If Mykonos embodies energy, Santorini is the best place for a romantic escapade. The island owes its very existence to the fiery depths of a volcano, its dramatic caldera shaping a landscape of unparalleled beauty. 

Romantic Ambiance

Santorini whispers promises of an unforgettable romantic escape. Imagine strolling hand-in-hand through the town of Oia, its white-washed buildings cascading down the cliffside, the Aegean Sea shimmering below. 

Boutique hotels tucked into the caldera offer private balconies with breathtaking views – the perfect place to share a bottle of locally produced wine under a starlit sky.

Dine by candlelight on a clifftop terrace overlooking the sea or discover a hidden taverna offering authentic Greek cuisine and a warm, intimate atmosphere. 

Indulge in a couples’ massage at a world-class spa or witness the legendary sunset from the deck of a luxurious catamaran as you sail the caldera.

This volcanic island conjures a sense of magic tailor-made for honeymooners and those celebrating special occasions, destined to create beautiful memories.

Just a word of caution, though. Santorini is popular, which means that during the peak season, expect crowds, especially at the instagrammable photo spots.

Cliffs at Red Beach in Santorini, Greece

Volcanic Landscape

Santorini’s soul burns with an ancient fire. Forget the sugar-coated postcards and travel guides – this island is a raw, volcanic beauty, its jagged caldera cliffs clawing at the sky. 

Plus, Santorini’s beaches are anything but ordinary. Sink your toes into the jet-black sand of the Kamari beach, the volcanic grit a stark contrast to the turquoise water lapping at the shore. Imagine the heat radiating from the dark grains as the sun dips low, painting the sky in fiery hues. Craving a bit of drama? Red Beach beckons with its crimson cliffs guarding the restless sea.

Then there are the villages – cascading down the cliffsides like spilt sugar cubes. Oia, the crown jewel, stuns with its labyrinthine streets, white buildings clinging precariously to the caldera rim, and those iconic blue-domed churches that seem to peek out from every corner. 

Hike to the caldera rim – the endless Aegean panorama is a constant companion. Descend into the heart of a dormant volcano on Nea Kameni, the ground still warm beneath your feet. Seek out hidden hot springs, their mineral-rich waters a soothing balm for weary muscles. Here, with every step, you connect with Santorini’s untamed spirit, a fiery energy that simmers just below the surface.

History & Culture

Santorini’s natural beauty isn’t just skin-deep. Peel back the layers, and you’ll uncover a history as rich and tumultuous as the island’s volcanic origins. Step into the ruins of Akrotiri, a Bronze Age city frozen in time after a devastating eruption – like a Greek Pompeii preserved beneath volcanic ash. This “Minoan time capsule” offers a glimpse into a civilization that thrived centuries ago.

Santorini is also a haven for wine lovers, with vineyards flourishing in the mineral-rich volcanic soil. Its signature grape, Assyrtiko, produces a crisp white wine. Embrace the island’s winemaking tradition with a wine-tasting experience at one of its renowned wineries. Many have open-air terraces with sweeping views of the caldera.

For deeper cultural immersion, delve into Santorini’s fascinating museums. The Museum of Prehistoric Thera showcases artefacts unearthed at Akrotiri, bringing the ancient city vividly to life. Other museums offer glimpses into the island’s maritime history and rich artistic traditions.

Sunset over the town of Santorini in Greece


There’s a reason people flock from every corner of the globe to witness the sunset in Santorini. As the sun begins its fiery descent, the sky transforms into a canvas of breathtaking colour. Dazzling pinks and oranges bleed into deep purples, reflected in the still waters of the caldera. Villages perched on the cliffs shimmer like jewels as the last rays of light fade.

Find your perfect vantage point on a terrace overlooking the sea or snag a coveted seat at a cliffside bar. Raise a glass of local wine and savour the moment as nature puts on its most extraordinary performance. For a truly unforgettable experience, set sail on a sunset cruise – witnessing the fiery display from the water will take your breath away.

Mykonos or Santorini: Side-by-Side Comparison

Choosing between the two most popular destinations in Greece – what a delightful dilemma! Both islands offer the allure of the Cyclades, but they cater to different travel desires. Let’s break down the key factors to help you decide which Grecian paradise is your perfect match.

Getting There

Getting to these iconic Greek Islands is a breeze, and both are easily accessible from Athens. 

Mykonos and Santorini each have their own international airports, offering direct flights from various European cities, especially during peak season.

If you’re flying from further afield, you’ll likely connect through Athens International Airport. While you’re there, check out our guide to the unusual things to do in Athens.

For an unforgettable start to your island adventure, consider taking a ferry. Ferries depart regularly from Piraeus port near Athens, offering a scenic journey through the Aegean Sea.

High-speed ferries offer the quickest connections, while traditional ferries provide a more leisurely (and often more affordable) experience.

Generally, Mykonos has a slight edge when it comes to ease of access.

It has more frequent ferry connections and potentially a wider range of direct flight options, especially during peak season. However, both islands are well-connected and easily incorporated into any Greek Island itinerary.


Mykonos caters to a wide range of budgets, but it carries a reputation for being on the more expensive side. Its iconic beach clubs come with a hefty price tag, and during peak season, even modest hotels can command premium rates. However, savvy travellers can still find charming guesthouses tucked away in Mykonos Town or self-catering villas with stunning views.

Santorini tends to be slightly kinder to your wallet, especially if you visit during the shoulder season. While luxurious caldera-view hotels exist, the island offers a greater selection of affordable accommodations.

Think family-run pensions with warm hospitality, cosy studios with kitchenettes, and traditional cave houses tucked into the cliffsides. Those seeking the ultimate Santorini experience, however, might want to splurge on a caldera-view suite with an outdoor pool – the sunsets are worth it!

Regardless of your budget, both islands offer something special. Mykonos has a touch more exclusivity when it comes to its high-end properties, while Santorini boasts a wider range of charming, budget-friendly options.

Woman on a scooter by the sea in Mykonos


Getting around Mykonos and Santorini requires a slightly different approach. But hey, half the fun of exploring the Greek Islands is figuring out the best way to navigate their unique landscapes!

Mykonos has a reliable bus system connecting Mykonos Town to popular beaches like Paradise and Elia. Taxis are also readily available, but keep in mind fares can add up, especially during peak season. Renting a scooter or ATV offers freedom to explore the island at your own pace, but be cautious of winding roads and the occasional chaotic traffic.

Santorini’s bus routes can get quite crowded during the summer months, making journeys a bit longer. Taxis offer a way to skip the bus queues but be prepared for higher prices. The most charming way to explore Santorini’s villages, especially those perched on the caldera, is on foot. 

Oia and Fira are incredibly walkable, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere and stumble upon hidden gems. If you’re feeling adventurous, renting a car or scooter is a great way to see the entire island, from volcanic beaches to hilltop villages.

Both islands are well-connected by ferry, making island-hopping a quintessential Greek experience. High-speed ferries provide the fastest connections, essential when you don’t have too much time on your hands. For a day trip, opt for traditional ferry tickets – grab a seat on deck and watch the islands of the Cyclades pass by.


The question isn’t whether there are incredible things to do on Mykonos and Santorini; it’s how you’ll choose between all the exciting possibilities! Don’t forget to download our Greece packing list before you go.

Day Trips

If you are interested in ancient history and Greek mythology, then set aside a day to explore Delos. This small island near Mykonos was a sacred sanctuary in ancient times and is now an archaeological wonder filled with temples, ruins, and fascinating stories. Santorini holds its own archaeological gems, like the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, offering a glimpse into the island’s ancient past.

Beach Activities

Beach lovers will find their own slice of paradise on both islands. Mykonos boasts countless stretches of sand, from party-centric to laidback and family-friendly. Santorini stuns with volcanic beaches in unique colours – think crimson cliffs at Red Beach or the stark beauty of black sand beaches like Perissa.

Sunset Cruises

No trip to Santorini is complete without a ride on one of its sunset cruise ships. And for a good reason! Sailing the caldera as the sky transforms into a masterpiece is pure magic. And while boat trips are popular on Mykonos too, you’ll find the island caters more towards sunbathing on idyllic beaches or taking high-speed boat excursions to different islands. Hikers will find more diverse and challenging trails on Santorini, with epic caldera vistas at every turn.

Church in Imerovigli in Santorini, Greece


The vibe of an island sets the stage for your entire vacation experience. Choosing between Mykonos and Santorini is about understanding what kind of atmosphere you crave and finding the perfect match for having a great time.

Mykonos exudes an infectious energy that intensifies with the arrival of the night. It’s a magnet for those seeking an unabashedly fun, lively, and sometimes over-the-top experience. Families with young children might find a better option in quieter stretches of sand, as the island’s heart caters to an adult crowd.

Santorini, on the other hand, is the undisputed queen of romance. Couples flock here to admire sunsets from caldera-view terraces, dine in intimate cliffside restaurants, and have a good time in an undeniably beautiful setting. The island has a serene and relaxed pace, making it perfect for those seeking to unwind and connect with their loved one.

While both islands offer something unique, Santorini might be a better choice for a peaceful family holiday. Think gentle walks through beautiful villages like Firostefani or Imerovigli, a boat trip to the volcano, and relaxing days at family-friendly beaches like Monolithos.

Of course, everyone’s idea of the perfect island vibe is different. For some, the pull of Mykonos’s legendary nightlife is irresistible, while others crave the peacefulness of Santorini’s quiet corners.

Colourful houses on the water in Mykonos, Greece

Best Time to Visit

The best time to experience the magic of Mykonos and Santorini depends entirely on the kind of vacation you’re dreaming of. Let’s take a closer look at the seasons and how they shape the experience on each island.

  • Peak Season (July – August): Both islands come alive during the summer months. Mykonos bustles with energy fuelled by beach parties, buzzing restaurants, and crowds descending on its iconic streets. Santorini welcomes visitors from all over the world eager to witness those bucket-list sunsets. Expect higher prices, more limited availability for accommodation, and lively crowds. 
  • Shoulder Season (May-June & September-October): These sweet-spot months offer the best of both worlds. Pleasant temperatures are perfect for exploring, the crowds are thinner, and average prices tend to be more appealing. This is an excellent time to experience the islands’ charms without sacrificing beautiful weather or the lively atmosphere.
  • Winter Months (November – April): Santorini remains open year-round and takes on a quieter, more introspective charm in winter. You’ll have the island’s beauty largely to yourself, allowing for a more intimate experience. Mykonos, however, tends to shut down significantly during the winter months. Many businesses close, and the island’s legendary party scene takes a break until the summer returns.

Ultimately, there’s no single “best” time to visit. Think about your priorities – are lower prices and fewer crowds a must? Do you love the excitement of high season, or do you prefer a laid-back island experience?

More About Travel in Greece