Last Updated on 26th February 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
With their stunning sea vistas, charming villages, and world-famous cuisine, the islands of Santorini and Mykonos top many European visitors bucket lists. Home to a plethora of world-famous attractions and lying in the heart of the Cyclades, a group of islands so-called thanks to the fact that they form a cyclical shape, here’s your guide on whether to visit Mykonos or Santorini!
Home to world-famous sandy beaches, historic windmills, and a main settlement known as the ‘chora,’ Mykonos is a Greek Island famed for its clubbing scene and party nightlife. Once on the island, some of the best things to do include paddling in the crystal clear waters (there are around twenty beaches to explore), shopping in the many boutiques across the Chora, and enjoying the sunset over Little Venice.
With some of the oldest vineyards in the world and many an iconic volcanic beach, Santorini is the kind of dream destination that has been frequented by tourists for centuries. Best-known for its volcanic beaches and historic wineries, the best known of Santorini settlements is the town of Oia, which lies to the West of the island.
Once on Santorini, there is no shortage of things to do. Some top highlights include hiking from town to town (Fira to Oia is one of the most popular hiking routes), going in search of the blue domes of Santorini, and scouting out breathtaking views over the Aegean sea.
Mykonos or Santorini: Which island should you visit?
If you’re after nightlife and a fantastic vibe post sunset, then hands down you should make your way to Mykonos. After all, the capital of the island, also known as Mykonos, is known for its many bars and clubs. And while Santorini, too, has its own windmills, the windmills of Mykonos are legendary and are a must-see when near Little Venice, particularly so at sunset as the sun dips below the horizon and candy colours dance across the sky.
You should also note that visiting Mykonos will guarantee some of the best beaches in Greece (the beaches of Mykonos are much better-reviewed than those of Santorini). Furthermore, if you’re looking to soak up some of the local culture and history, then this day trip to the nearby island of Delos will allow you to see some ancient archaeological sites up close!
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to sample some traditional Greek wine in one of the most beautiful settings you could hope to imagine, then Santorini is the place to go to! Head to the island of Santorini and you can also expect to enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets that all of Europe has to offer as well as plenty of incredible hiking trails offering stunning sea views.
If you’re looking to see plenty of picturesque villages and towns, then it’s worth noting that Santorini has several to discover and explore. From the capital city of Fira to the charming town of Oia, and many smaller settlements dotted all over the island, there’s no shortage of places to explore. It has to be said that this is not the case on Mykonos, whereby you’ll mainly be limited to the Chora (Mykonos City).
As you can see, both islands more than merit a visit and so I recommend booking a visit to both during your next Greece sojourn. And thanks to their proximity to one another, this is more than feasible over the course of a three to four day trip or more. With this being said, due to the sheer number on things on offer in Santorini, if you can choose only one island to visit, I would opt for Santorini.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for the ultimate honeymoon destination and are wondering whether you should be looking to visit Santorini or Mykonos, then Santorini has more by way of traditionally ‘romantic attractions.’ From sipping vine in a historic vineyard to staying in some of the most luxurious accommodation, Santorini truly is a honeymooners dream location.
Santorini to Mykonos: Is a day trip possible?
While it’s true that the high-speed ferry between Mykonos and Santorini is only three hours, a day trip between the two Greek islands is not recommended. During particularly rough seas, the journey is not pleasant and if you’re prone to seasickness then you may well end up spending most of your ‘day trip’ simply getting over the journey.
The best thing to do would be to fly into one of the islands (both Santorini and Mykonos have their own international airports), take the ferry to the next, and then fly out of the other airport. Alternatively, many companies offer cruises which comprise of a trip to both islands, as well as some smaller ones en route.
Differences between Santorini and Mykonos
Still not sure which Greek island to opt for when it comes to Santorini vs Mykonos? Well, the main differences and things to consider when booking a visit to Greece are as follows: firstly, whereas much of Mykonos is close to sea level, meaning that the water is always close by, many of Santorini’s village and towns are high above sea level (due to the volcanic nature of the island).
And while you might be further away from the sea, this also means that Santorini offers the kind of views that are pretty much unparalleled by any other Greek Island. After all, there’s a reason that it’s ever-popular. Though both islands offer similar climates, there are slightly more activities on offer in Santorini and the ‘peak’ tourist seasons for each island vary. Whereas Santorini’s peak season is from May through to November, that of Mykonos tends to be shorter, typically from June through to October.
Next, while Santorini has beaches which are more unique in their experience (a red sand beach, a black sand beach), the beaches of Mykonos tend to be more enjoyable in terms of how easy it is to walk on the sand, as well as their facilities. During my time in Greece, I particularly liked the vibe and stunning ocean views from the Super Paradise Beach. All in all, whichever Greek island you choose, you’re sure to have a good time!