Mykonos or Santorini – Where to Go?
- Both Mykonos and Santorini are incredibly beautiful islands. It’s easy to visit both on the same trip. A ferry from one to the other takes about 3 hours.
- Go to Mykonos for beaches and nightlife. Go to Santorini for views, scenery, wineries, tours, and hikes.
- Both are great for a honeymoon, but Santorini has a more romantic atmosphere.
- Santorini tourist season: April to early November. Mykonos tourist season: May to September. (Santorini has far more to see and do in the winter, off-season months.)
- Tip: If you do visit both islands fly into one, ferry to the other, and fly out of the 2nd island so you don’t have to retrace your steps back to the first island to catch your flight home.
- Both Santorini and Mykonos have international airports with direct flights from Athens, Rome, Paris, London, and Amsterdam. And occasionally from Venice, Naples, Berlin, and Frankfurt.
Should I go to Santorini or Mykonos?
Mykonos is a fun island that has a great buzz. It’s capital, Mykonos Town, is as enchanting as any town in the Greek islands. Santorini is a stunning island that you’ll never forget. The views and the setting are among the most impressive anywhere.
- If you have 5 days or fewer then go to Santorini.
- If you have 6 days or more then visit both islands, but with 2/3 of your time in Santorini.
It depends on what your interests are and how you want to spend your time. They are very different islands and complement each other nicely – thus a trip that takes in both islands makes a lot of sense.
- Go to Santorini for sunsets, natural beauty, romance, fine dining, wineries, boutique hotels, sailing trips, and volcano views.
- Go to Mykonos for incredible beaches, nightclubs, dancing, shopping, and partying.
Santorini vs Mykonos – Summary
- Incredible caldera and volcano views.
- Over 40 phenomenal luxury hotels
- Pebbly, volcanic beaches but great swimming.
- 20 to 30 flights per day from Athens in summer; many direct flights from western Europe.
- 5 to 8 hours by ferry from Athens.
- Many tours, day trips, wineries, and activities.
- Very family-friendly but few kid-oriented attractions.
- Many great restaurants, several good bars and 2 dance clubs, mostly in the capital Fira.
- The ruins of Ancient Akrotiri are remarkably well-preserved and easy to visit.
- An expensive island, but good cheap food and great affordable hotels are surprisingly easy to find.
- Beautiful island but less dramatic views.
- 35 great luxury hotels.
- Golden, sandy beaches and great swimming.
- 10 to 15 flights per day from Athens in summer; many direct flights from western Europe.
- 2.5 to 6 hours by ferry from Athens.
- Fewer tours, day trips, wineries, or activities.
- Very family-friendly but few kid-oriented attractions.
- Lots of nightlife, beach parties, clubs, and live DJs.
- The vast ruins of ancient Delos Island are a 30-45 minute boat trip away.
- An expensive island but good cheap food and great affordable hotels are surprisingly easy to find.
Santorini vs Mykonos
- The scenery, views, sunsets, and natural beauty of Santorini are unrivaled by Mykonos or any other Greek island. Mykonos is not without its beautiful spots but for scenes that are truly jaw-dropping, Santorini wins hands-down.
- Santorini is more romantic and much better suited to a honeymoon or couples vacation.
- Mykonos has gorgeous beaches with golden sand and turquoise water. Santorini beaches do not have typical white or golden sand. Instead, they are made of black or red volcanic rocks, pebbles, and sand. Since the beaches are darker, they get very hot during the day – aqua socks or sandals are almost a necessity. But some visitors love the beaches of Santorini and treasure their uniqueness.
- Mykonos has more of a club scene and party vibe. There are plenty of places to drink and party in Santorini, but if you’re in Greece to hit the clubs and dance, then Mykonos is your island.
- Mykonos Town has an enchanting maze of narrow lanes and alleyways that is fun to explore. Shops and restaurants are tucked into the classic white stone buildings that the Greek islands are famous for. At night, when visitors flock to the clubs, the lanes are jammed with partiers. It’s a fun vibe and never too crazy, but it can be overwhelming for some.
- Both Santorini and Mykonos are very gay friendly, though Mykonos has more of a gay “scene” with plenty of gay bar, a handful of drag shows, and the famous Elysium Hotel. Not to stereotype but Santorini might be called the wine-drinking gay scene and Mykonos the club-going gay scene.
- Santorini has more sightseeing and activities: excavation sites to explore, day trips to traditional villages around the island, winery tours, and boat tours around the volcano. Mykonos has some fine scenery, beautiful walks, and picturesque windmills – but in general, Santorini has more to see and do. Mykonos does have the nearby island of Delos (one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in the Greek islands) to explore by day trip.
- Both islands are very quiet in winter. The beach towns shut down, and even in the main towns many hotels and restaurants close. That said, Santorini gets more off-season visitors and is never as quiet as Mykonos. Plus, without the beach and party scenes, Mykonos doesn’t offer much to do. On Santorini, the cliffs, views, and caldera don’t go away in the slow season.
- Both Santorini and Mykonos have airports which only a handful of Greek islands have. Both islands have direct flights from Athens and northern and western Europe – they’re the only islands in the Cyclades that have international flights.
- Neither Santorini nor Mykonos have direct flights from the USA (nor anywhere outside of Europe). All visitors originating outside of Europe will need to stop somewhere in Europe to catch a flight bound for the Greek islands.
- Mykonos is a couple of hours closer to Athens when traveling by ferry. Ferry from Athens to Mykonos takes 3.5 hours (high-speed ferry) or 5.5 hours (cheaper car ferry). Ferry from Athens to Santorini takes 5 hours (high-speed) and 8 hours (car ferry).
The weather in Santorini and Mykonos
There is no appreciable difference in climate between Santorini and Mykonos. The best weather for both islands is from late May to early October.
Since Santorini is more of a sight-seeing island than Mykonos, visits in spring and fall still offer lots to see and do (the views don’t go away with the hot weather). The tourist season on Santorini is from April to early November.
Since most people go to Mykonos for the beaches, a visit outside of the warmest months has less to offer. The tourist season on Mykonos is from late May to early October.
Visiting Both Santorini and Mykonos
Santorini and Mykonos are so different that visiting both is a great choice. The two islands complement each other very well. They are 3 hours apart by ferry so getting between Mykonos and Santorini is fairly easy.
Some summers there are direct flights between Santorini and Mykonos. And some summers there aren’t. Flights take about 30 minutes and cost between €30 and €80. There are many more flights (that run throughout the year) via Athens but these cost 3 times as much and take 2 to 5 hours (so if there’s no direct flight, it’s best to take the ferry).
The most popular way to get between Santorini and Mykonos is by ferry.
In summer, there are multiple daily high-speed ferries that run from Santorini to Mykonos and then return from Mykonos to Santorini. The ferries leave Santorini (for Mykonos) about noon and leave Mykonos (for Santorini) in the mid-afternoon. The trip takes 2.5 hours and the ferry stops in Paros and Ios in between and in both directions. You can also take a larger and more stable Blue Star Ferry between Santorini and Naxos, and a high-speed ferry for the short distance between Naxos and Mykonos.
Ferryhopper.com is the best and easiest way to search for and buy ferry tickets for the route between Mykonos and Santorini. You don’t need advance tickets outside of July and August, but because it is so easy to do online, we recommend booking before you go. If you’re already in Greece you can buy tickets from any travel agency a few days in advance of your ferry trip.
Day Trip to Santorini or Mykonos
We do not recommend doing a day trip from Mykonos to Santorini or Santorini to Mykonos. Depending on the ferry schedule, some years in July and August it’s just possible to get 5 to 7 hours of time at the destination island. But this is after spending 3 hours each way on a high-speed ferry. The high-speed ferries can be rough and unpleasant rides on windy days – so you could find yourself “recovering” from a bumpy journey for the better part of your visit, only to have to get on it again in a few hours for the ride back.
If you’re interested in seeing both islands then you should visit both islands for at least a few nights. Visiting either island for a few hours in the afternoon is not a good way to appreciate each island’s highlights.
Santorini and Mykonos in Photos
Santorini: A Photo Guide
Mykonos: A Photo Guide
- Best Hotels on Mykonos
- Best Hotels on Santorini
- Maps of Santorini
- Videos of Santorini
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- Athens to Mykonos
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- When to Visit Greece
- Mykonos Tourist Maps
- Videos of Mykonos
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