Mykonos vs. Santorini: Which Island is Right for You?
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, then you’re likely in the process of researching different islands. And with more than 200 inhabited islands to choose from, knowing which one to select can be difficult. For many, it comes down to Mykonos or Santorini.
Get to Know Mykonos
Located in the southern portion of the Aegean Sea, Mykonos is one of the more famous and acclaimed Greek islands belonging to the Cyclades complex. You’ll find it nestled in close proximity to a number of other smaller islands, including Paros, Tinos, Naxos, and Syros.
Mykonos is believed to be the second-most visited Greek island each year – something that’s due in large part to its vibrant dual personality. During the daytime, Mykonos is a classic Greek island with all of the iconic views and experiences that travelers and tourists have come to expect: windmills, cozy paved alleys, trendy shops, Instagram-worthy architecture, and sugar-cube houses. But when the sun goes down, the island’s wild side comes out. The nightlife in Mykonos is renowned, and the Little Venice portion of the island comes alive on warm summer evenings.
Get to Know Santorini
Santorini’s iconic crescent moon shape is easy to spot on a map of the Greek islands. And whether you’re browsing a map or swiping through international travel pictures, there’s no mistaking Santorini when you see it.
Year after year, Santorini continues to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Known for its beautiful rugged cliffs, pristine white architecture, and carefully “stacked” homes overlooking the Aegean Sea, this island is a lively oasis that every world traveler will eventually want to experience firsthand.
“Breathtaking” is the only word to accurately describe Santorini. Neatly paved streets, one-of-a-kind architecture, and eclectic shops and cafes make this island a popular wedding spot and honeymoon destination. And because it’s so close to other popular Greek islands like Mykonos and Crete, it sees a steady flow of travelers from cruise ships and Greek gulets.
Which Island is Right for You
While it’s somewhat unfair to compare them, Mykonos and Santorini will forever be pitted against one another. Their proximity and popularity make them worthy “rivals” – though it’s a friendly and healthy competition.
As a traveler, you may be wondering which island is right for you? Well, it depends. Here are some factors to consider:
Best for Beaches: Mykonos
You can’t go wrong with any of the beaches on either island, but they offer totally different experiences. On Santorini, you’ll find volcanic pebbles and red sand. They’re pretty interesting and impressive, but not the kind of beach that most people think of when they imagine sticking their toes in the sand. Mykonos, on the other hand, has white sandy beaches with clear turquoise waters. Plus, you can find a beach for any style (family beaches, gay beaches, nude beaches, etc.).
With all of that being said, we give Mykonos the award for “best beaches.” We’ll put it like this: People visit beaches in both Santorini and Mykonos, but they come back for the beaches of Mykonos.
Best for Nightlife: Mykonos
As mentioned before, Mykonos has quite the nightlife scene. It has a surprising number of clubs and bars for people of every taste. It also happens to be an incredibly LGBTQ+ community that caters to people looking for a good time. (That’s not to say Santorini isn’t gay-friendly, but Mykonos is known for gay bars, gay beaches, and world-class drag shows.)
Santorini doesn’t exactly shut down at sunset, but you’ll only find a couple of bars worth visiting late at night, and there aren’t any clubs to speak of. However, if your version of “nightlife” is a bottle of wine with your significant other in a corner booth, Santorini has plenty to offer. It all depends on what you want.
Best for Attractions: Santorini
Santorini has one of the most diverse cultures of any Greek island. It’s beautiful, refined, and distinctly, well, Santorinian. You’ll find no fewer than 16 wineries on the island, amazing museums (like Akrotiri Prehistoric Site, Art Space Gallery, Ancient Thera Site, Maritime Museum, Archeological Museum, etc.), five Venetian castles, and an active volcano!
While Mykonos is known for its beaches and nightlife, you won’t find nearly the same attractions and culture. The main town of “Chora” is picturesque and has some good food, but there isn’t as much to “do” during the daytime (when compared to Santorini).
Best for Romance: Santorini
Romance can be found anywhere, but when it comes to romantic destinations, these two islands can be best described as follows:
Santorini is for couples. Amazing sunsets, incredible culinary hotspots, quaint villages, and best-in-class hotels and resorts all make for a romantic experience tailored to couples.
Mykonos is for singles. Party-friendly beaches, all-night clubs, and plenty of LGBTQ+ bars make Mykonos an amazing place for singles to hang out, mingle, and enjoy new experiences.
There are obviously exceptions to this – and it doesn’t mean that singles can’t visit Santorini or couples can’t have a great time in Mykonos – but you get the idea. One is more upbeat and carefree, while the other is laid back and luxurious. You’ll have to decide which version of romance you’re looking for.
Book Your Greek Gulet Holiday
If you can’t tell by now, both Mykonos and Santorini have so much to offer visitors. Whether you’re a solo traveler, honeymooner, or large family, these two Greek islands have so much to offer. And the best way to see them is by scheduling a Greek gulet holiday.
Sail in Greece is proud to be the largest gulet fleet owner in Greece. We own 9 luxury gulets and have the ability to arrange private excursions at the best rates on the market for all ages and group sizes.