Are you trying to figure out if you should visit Santorini or Mykonos? This guide has you covered! I’ve spent a significant amount of time on both of these islands and this ultimate comparison guide will help you make this tough decision.
Santorini and Mykonos are two of the most famous islands in Greece. With gorgeous beaches, eye-catching architecture, delicious food, and friendly people, they’re both dream vacation destinations!
But sometimes you just don’t have the time or money to visit both Santorini and Mykonos, so you have to choose between the two. I love both of these islands, but I love each of them for very different reasons.
While it can be difficult to choose at first, both have features that outshine the other. Depending on your preferences, one will likely be a better fit for you and your travel group.
To help you make your decision on whether you should visit Santorini or Mykonos, this guide has everything you need to know! And before you go, be sure to read my guide about important things to know before traveling to Greece. It covers all of the ins and outs of traveling to Greece.
In This Post:
Santorini or Mykonos: The Ultimate Comparison Guide
Santorini or Mykonos: The Atmosphere
The overall atmospheres of Santorini and Mykonos are quite similar. After all, they are both two of the best Greek islands for couples and they attract thousands of visitors every year. That said, the islands do have their differences.
First, Santorini is considered to be the more romantic of the two islands. After all, Santorini is one of the most romantic spots in Europe, thanks to its beautiful sunsets, tasty wineries, and charming towns.
Mykonos, on the other hand, is known for its party scene. With some of the best clubs and DJs in the world, the party never stops! On top of that, Mykonos is known for being very LGBT-friendly. There are loads of designated gay bars and even a few drag shows!
Santorini or Mykonos: The Accessibility
Another factor that you might want to take into consideration while comparing Santorini and Mykonos is how easy it is to get to each island.
Both Santorini and Mykonos have international airports with flights from most of the major airports in Europe as well as Tel Aviv, Israel. If you’re traveling from the United States, keep in mind that you won’t be able to find direct flights to either island. You’ll have to stop somewhere in Europe and then catch a flight to Santorini or Mykonos.
If you’re considering going by ferry instead, Santorini is a five-hour fast ferry ride from Athens, while Mykonos is a three-hour fast ferry ride from Athens. A cheaper car ferry from Athens to Mykonos takes around six hours and the car ferry from Athens to Santorini takes around eight hours.
Don’t fret at the thought of the longer ferries. The longer ferries feel like a cruise ship because they have restaurants and shops on board. It’s a rather lavish experience given the long transport time.
Santorini or Mykonos: The Accommodations
When choosing between the accommodations in Santorini or Mykonos, you’ll notice that they’re very similar. Most of the accommodations on both islands are boutique hotels or villas that have stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. That said, there are a couple of noteworthy differences between the accommodations in Santorini and those in Mykonos.
First, Santorini is home to quite a few cave-style villas. Simply put, these cave accommodations are rooms, suites, or villas built into the mountainside! It’s quite a unique experience!
Some of the best cave-style villas on the island include the Perivolas Hotel, the Oia Castle Hotel, and the Tsitouras Collection.
The second major difference between accommodations in Santorini and Mykonos is the cost. While both can be quite pricey, Mykonos has a few more affordable options, whereas Santorini does not.
I rang in my 26th birthday in Mykonos and we spent around $90 per night at an adorable boutique hotel. A similar hotel was $150 per night in Santorini.
In case you’re looking for recommendations, a few of the best places to stay in Santorini include Grace Santorini, 1864 The Sea Captain’s House, and Incognito Villa. As for Mykonos, you can stay at lovely accommodations like Bill & Coo Coast, Boheme, Fresh Boutique Hotel, and Nissaki Boutique Hotel.
Santorini or Mykonos: The Beaches
Deciding whether Santorini or Mykonos has better beaches all depends on the type of beaches that you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for those picture-perfect beaches with golden sand and sparkling blue waters, Mykonos is where you want to go. A few of the best beaches in Mykonos include Psarou Beach, Platis Gialos Beach, and Elia Beach.
But if you’re looking for beaches that are a little bit different from the typical beach image, you should consider going to Santorini instead.
While Santorini still has the gorgeous blue water, the sand is a little different. Most Santorini beaches have volcanic gray, black, or red pebbles or sand, all of which are rather unique. If you’re looking for some of the best beaches in Santorini, consider visiting Kamari Beach, Red Beach, or Ammoudi Bay.
Santorini or Mykonos: The Sunsets
While Mykonos might have the more traditionally appealing beaches, Santorini may have Mykonos beat when it comes to sunsets.
As a matter of fact, watching the sunset from Oia is one of the best things to do in Santorini! Just imagine it: dining on delicious Greek food near a blue-domed church while watching the beautiful colors of the sunset paint both the sky and the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s a pretty perfect scene, don’t you think? You’ll want to go earlier to snag your sunset viewing spot in Oia. It’s a very popular thing to do!
Santorini or Mykonos: The Shopping
Since both Santorini and Mykonos are rather small, the shopping areas on both islands aren’t very extensive. I personally preferred shopping in Santorini because there were more local and smaller shops and boutiques.
That said, Mykonos is known to have better shopping than Santorini, as it has a combination of local boutique shops and world-famous luxury brands. Celebrities love shopping in Mykonos so you might be lucky enough to rub shoulders with one of them!
Santorini or Mykonos: The Nightlife
When comparing Santorini vs Mykonos, the nightlife scene is definitely better in Mykonos. There’s really not much of a comparison.
Mykonos has made a reputation for itself as one of the best party islands in the entire world. Locals refer to it as the Greek Ibiza. As a matter of fact, many internationally renowned DJs come to Mykonos to perform! Some of the most famous clubs on the island include Super Paradise Beach Club and Nammos Beach Club.
Santorini, on the other hand, has more of a quiet nightlife scene, with the primary focus being on beach bars and cocktail bars. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few nightclubs, including Enigma Club and Koo Club, but they’re not on the same level as the clubs in Mykonos.
Santorini or Mykonos: The Attractions
While Mykonos wins first place for nightlife, Santorini wins first place for attractions.
Attractions in Mykonos
There aren’t many attractions – other than the aforementioned beaches and nightlife – in Mykonos. The three main attractions in Mykonos are Delos, Little Venice, and the Windmills.
As such, you can easily see all of the highlights of Mykonos in one day.
Delos is actually a little island off the coast of Mykonos that is known for its archeological finds. While at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can see the Sacred Harbor, the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Artemision, and the Terrace of Lions.
Then, there’s the waterfront area known as Little Venice. The best thing to do there is to book a table at one of these waterfront restaurants and watch the beautiful sunset.
And last but not least, there are the Windmills, which are arguably the most well-known attraction in Mykonos. Originally, these thatched-roof windmills were used to mill wheat. But now, they are one of the primary tourist attractions in Mykonos. As a matter of fact, one of them even houses an agricultural museum!
Attractions in Santorini
On the other hand, while Mykonos has a handful of attractions, Santorini has loads of things to do. On this little island, there’s the Akrotiri archeological site, the Santorini Volcano, the hot springs, and the many, blue-domed churches – and all of that’s just the start!
First, there’s the Akrotiri Archeological Site. Over 3,000 years ago, there was a huge volcanic eruption that made most of the island of Santorini sink below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. Does this underwater city sound familiar to you? That’s because it’s thought that this unique city became the inspiration for Atlantis!
Remember that volcano I mentioned? It’s actually not the only noteworthy one in Santorini. Just off the coast of Thera, the main island of Santorini is the little island of Nea Kameni. This tiny island came into existence with a volcanic eruption in 1573.
Now, you can tackle the thirty-minute hike to the peak of the volcano and see the amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea and Thera. And on your journey up the mountain, you can even feel the heat that the volcanic crater emits!
From the peak of Nea Kameni’s volcano, you’ll likely see another tiny island very close to Nea Kameni. This little island is called Palea Kameni, and it’s known for its soothing natural hot springs. So why not take a dip and soak for a little while?
Finally, there are the famous blue-domed churches of Santorini. While most people believe that there is just one blue-domed church on the island, that’s simply not true! There are actually about 365 churches on the island, and many of them have blue domes.
But, if you’re looking for the famous blue church – the one that has dotted postcards and Instagram feeds – you’ll want to head to Church Anastasis in Oia.
Santorini or Mykonos: The Food
Greek food is absolutely delicious! With gyros, moussaka, kataifi, and more, there are so many delicious Greek treats to try during your trip, regardless of which island you pick.
And if you’re looking for restaurant recommendations, I’m happy to provide them! A few of the best restaurants in Mykonos include Kikis Taven, M-eating, Pepper, and Hippie Fish. But if you decide to stay in Santorini instead, you should consider dining at Naoussa, Argo, and Remvi.
That said, if you’d like to pair your mouthwatering Greek food with some locally made wine, Santorini may be the island for you!
While Mykonos is home to just two tiny wineries, Santorini is home to a whopping sixteen of them, many of which offer tours and tastings.
A few of the best wineries in Santorini include Santowines Winery, Venetsanos Winery, Domaine Sigalas Winery, and Koutsoyannopoulous Winery and Wine Museum.
Santorini or Mykonos: The Romance
As I mentioned above, Santorini is the place to go for a romantic getaway. It’s actually a perfect bucket list destination for couples and a gorgeous honeymoon destination.
Not only do you have gorgeous sunsets in Santorini, but you’ll also find delicious food, adorable villages, epic sunsets, and more.
On the other hand, Mykonos is geared more towards singles. But, you’ll still find plenty of romantic things to do in Mykonos and you’ll still have fun here with your partner.
Santorini or Mykonos: The Pricing
I hate to break it to you, but both islands are equally expensive. However, it’s totally possible to vacation here even if you haven’t saved up for a lifetime. You can still visit either island on a budget and have a fantastic time.
If you don’t have an unlimited budget and are worried about finances, visit during the off-season. This season typically runs from November through mid-May. Not only will there be fewer crowds, but your tours and accommodation will be cheaper too.
If you’re traveling on a budget, I highly recommend eating out at restaurants once per day. This hack alone saved us quite a bit of money in Santorini and Mykonos. We ate at sit-down restaurants for lunch because they typically had lunch specials. In the evenings, we grabbed souvlakis and a Greek salad from a local eatery.
Santorini or Mykonos: Disabled Accessible Friendly
Not only does this section apply to people with disabilities, but it also applies to seniors. Out of the two islands, Mykonos is more senior and disabled-friendly.
For the most part, Mykonos is pretty flat and the beaches are sandy. This makes it easier to get around. Whereas, Santorini is filled with stairs and tougher terrain.
Are people with seniors and disabilities not going to enjoy Santorini? No. But, this is something to consider if it applies to you.
Santorini vs. Mykonos Conclusion
Even if you still can’t decide which island to choose after reading these comparisons, I think you’re only left with one option — why not visit both?
Both islands are amazing in their own ways and I highly recommend visiting both if you can swing it financially and time-wise.
You can get to and from each island very easily via ferry, which takes around two to three hours. But, don’t make the mistake of doing a day trip. You’ll be doing yourself a major injustice if you only spend a few hours in Santorini or Mykonos.
Resources for Your Trip to Santorini or Mykonos
Hotels.com is the best website to use for booking your accommodations in Santorini or Mykonos because they have awesome listings for every budget. Plus, your eleventh night is free!
Viator has the best tours on both islands with a variety of different activities.
Kiwi.com will help you find the cheapest flights to Athens or wherever you’re flying to in Europe.
I highly recommend renting a car in Santorini so you can explore surrounding areas. You can book your rental car here.
So, which one are you going to choose — Santorini or Mykonos? Let me know in the comments below!
Are you looking for more Greece travel inspiration? You’ll love these posts too!
- Best Greek Islands for Couples: 12 Most Romantic Islands in Greece
- 15 Important Things to Know Before Traveling to Greece
- How to Get from Athens to Santorini
- How to See Mykonos in One Day
Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.