Mykonos and Santorini are the absolute giants when it comes to a holiday on the Greek islands. Pictures of the two islands are often on the cover of tourist guides to Greece, while the names of famous people who visit the country are very often connected to one of the two pearls of the Aegean.
Both are part of the Cyclades cluster of islands and both have fanatical visitors. Yet, there are many differences between them that often baffle one who absolutely has to choose between the two.
Greek Reporter will try to give you the scoop on the pluses and (very few) minuses of the two Cycladic jewels.
When one visits Greece, to swim in the cool, crystal-clear waters of the Aegean and then lie on the beach is an absolute must, almost next to a visit to the Acropolis.
Here Mykonos has a slight advantage. There are plenty of wonderful beaches with golden sand and blue waters, stereotypical of the Greek islands. At the same time there is easy access to them.
Beaches like Psarrou, Elia, Paradise and Super Paradise are world-famous will give you all that you wish from a beach on a Greek island and more. The Super Paradise beach, for instance, turns into a huge party with loud music and cocktails starting in the afternoon and continues until exhaustion.
Mykonos’ vibrant beaches are mostly party areas. They are places to see and be seen and not ideal for families. They cater mostly to younger people who visit the island to party and flirt.
Santorini beaches are different. After centuries of volcanic activity, the island has beaches with red sand, others with black sand and others with pebbles. In fact Santorini has the most atypical Greek beaches because of its geology.
Red Beach is the island’s most famous, with red sand and a huge, imposing red hill in the background. Then there is the pebbled Kamari beach and Perissa beach with black sands and calm waters. However, due to the mountainous terrain, access to the Santorini beaches is not as easy as it is on Mykonos.
Eating and dining
Pictures of a plush dining table with the sunset in Santorini’s Caldera in the backdrop are cherished the world over. A romantic dinner on beautiful Santorini is something all couples
wish to have at least once in their lives.
In this aspect Santorini has a great advantage: Locals grow many vegetables and the island is known for its great wines. The rocky, sloped, volcanic terrain is ideal for vineyards and local wines are famous the world over. So, food in Santorini is fresh and light Mediterranean, overall. And the service is warm and friendly.
On Mykonos, on the other hand, most restaurants try to impress with their cuisine, often falling in the trap of serving dishes that are too complex, and pricey too. Also, many Mykonos restaurants seem to care more about how many celebrities they will serve, and not so much about the quality of the food. As for the service, in Mykonos we found several snobbish waiters who did not contribute to an overall pleasant dining experience.
Mykonos’ night life is famous all over the world, competing with Spain’s Ibiza in attracting great DJs and performers. Wild parties are common on a nightly basis, with revellers stumbling to their hotel rooms when families go out to have breakfast.
The party on Mykonos starts when the sun is up and ends when the sun comes up again. Party animals start on the beach bar with their swimsuits on, take a break to have dinner and wear their stylish clothes, and go out to one of the island’s many clubs to dance, flirt and drink.
The Antonis Remos annual parties are famous for their extravagance and exorbitant bills, with magnum bottles of champagne selling for thousands of euros. Mykonos is the island where rich people compete with each other on the show of wealth.
Santorini is almost the opposite of that. The island is ideal for quiet romantic getaways, or traveling with kids. Here the highlight is the sunset, with many visitors planning their day around where to watch it each night, whether from Oia and Fira, or on a yacht out at sea.
Night life on Santorini is more quiet, but that doesn’t mean that the island lacks clubs and people don’t party. On the contrary, the island has its share of good clubs for those who want to go wild and pubs for a drink or two.
The two islands are very different in several aspects and the choice depends entirely on what one wants. For a family vacation, Santorini is preferable as it is more quiet and has several places to visit. The Thira Archaeological Museum, the Prehistoric Museum of Thira, or the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum are worth visiting. The geology of the island could also be educational for older children.
Santorini is also the choice for a romantic holiday for couples. Sipping a good wine and watching the sunset on Santorini could be the cover of a romance novel.
Now, if your idea of a holiday is to party, party, party, watch celebrities letting loose, mingle with the rich and famous, or you are single and wish to meet a like-minded partner, Mykonos is the island for you, hands down.