On the face of it, Mykonos vs Santorini could be an easy choice. If you’re in the market for an Ibiza vibe on a Greek island, then it’s Mykonos for you. Perhaps you’re keen to wine and cheese platter your way around a Mediterranean outpost? Then it has to be Santorini. But if you’re just mulling over the idea of a Greek getaway with no particular plans, Santorini and Mykonos are both VERY appealing.
Sun-drenched beaches, coastal cuisine and seas in just about every shade of blue are staples of both islands – so there’s little to separate them there. The only way to choose is to delve deeper into some island essentials.
Let’s delve into the toughest category of all to call. Both islands charge a premium for their best gourmet experiences, so it’s all to play for as we start to look at destination dining and what makes each spot unique. Well, Santorini has the farm-to-table market sewn up. That, coupled with the chance to wine and dine in famous Santorini vineyards, makes it an appealing island. But things also lean towards the rustic. No bad thing, but if you’re looking for luxurious and hip surroundings, Mykonos has that in spades. When it comes to ocean views? Again, it’s really too close to call.
So now we’re going to have to rummage around in the finer details of the menus. If you’re dining in the plant-based realm of eating, we’ve got bad news. Both islands are severely lagging behind on their vegan eats offerings. Santorini has just one fully vegan restaurant and while Mykonos is opening a vegan hotel, choices are limited.
Winner: Tiebreak – You’ll eat well on both islands, but anyone with dietary requirements could be limited on choice.
If your nomadic heart is easily won over by a soft, sandy beach – that just so happens to have the requisite azure waters nearby, you’ll love Mykonos. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Santorini. Not that its beaches aren’t still stunning, but the volcanic pebbles aren’t kind to tender feet. And while Santorini can weigh in with its multi-coloured coastline – the black, white and red beaches – Mykonos has another ace in reserve. Its beaches are eclectic – and welcoming. There’s a beach for all on Mykonos. Quiet coves, LGBTQ friendly sands, party beaches and family shores. Everyone gets a place to call their own. But Mykonos isn’t done with you yet. The island has another reason to lay your beach towel here instead of Santorini. Shallow shores. Crucial for families wanting a safe space for little ones to swim.
Winner: Mykonos – Those long sandy beaches are a clear winner.
Any location taking on Santorini in scenic terms faces an uphill battle. What can top one of the most recognised and iconic travel scenes in the world? Yes, we’re talking about those blue roofed, white–washed houses. Perched cliff edge – they are a photographer’s ultimate snap. You could argue a decent sunset could do the trick, but Santorini has those all sewn up too. By all means do sip cocktails by sunset in a chic Mykonos hangout, but keep in mind Santorini can – and does – equal it. So how else can we settle this one? Mykonos does have those sandy beaches we mentioned. But its best shot at competing with Santorini? Little Venice. When the light hits those houses on the water… that’s when the magic happens.
Winner: Santorini – There’s something about the town of Oia and Santorini’s overall look that just pips it.
Now, we’re fairly certain most people will assume Mykonos has this one in the bag. But you can’t dismiss Santorini quite so easily. On the surface it does seem to be a sleepy isle of churches, wine sipping and sophistication. But there’s a lively nightlife scene to be found too. Ok, so you won’t find international DJs flocking there to get the beachclubs buzzing, but you will find plenty of music festivals, chilled cocktail bars and cultured events. That said, if it’s late night DJ sets and jet set parties with the elite you’re after, Mykonos is the one. Every summer season, the DJ lineups get ever more impressive, the parties last longer and the event spaces get chicer. Bring your party stamina A-game. You’ll need it.
Winner: Mykonos for clubbing, revelry and swish cocktail spots. Though, Santorini shouldn’t be dismissed, it just can’t keep up with the Mykonos crowd.
Mykonos may have concentrated a little too hard on winning the nightlife category in our
Mykonos vs Santorini standoff. When it comes to daytime shenanigans, it just can’t compete with Santorini. Yes, it’s got some stellar beachclubs and a few cultural spots to poke around in, but its unique attributes are thin on the ground. So, what’s Santorini got that Mykonos hasn’t? Well, there’s a well-preserved Bronze Age settlement for starters. Think Pompeii in a Greek setting and you’re about there. That might be a little too staid, if you’re an adventurous exploring type – so we’ll just drop in a mention of Santorini’s underwater volcano rim. Here you can scuba dive for a closer look – which elevates your dive to way above average in experience terms. Then there’s Santorini’s neighbouring isle, which is so un-developed it gives you a chance to see what Santorini might still be like, had we not all flocked there for the summer.
Winner: Santorini – Yes, Mykonos has plenty of activities but nothing you can’t do on Santorini.
Both islands suffer a little on the affordability front. Santorini prices – especially near the port – certainly seem to be made with the big cruise ships in mind. Mykonos has long been a playground for the elite who tend to roll in on their yachts. But don’t let that put you off. There are affordable restaurants in Mykonos – and Santorini – you just need to do a little digging to find them.
Winner: Tiebreaker – both can be places to go for a luxe break in the sun, but you can track down wallet-friendly options on both islands, with a bit of help.
Mykonos vs Santorini: our verdict
You’ll have a fantastic holiday on either island. And, while our run down from the above hasn’t exactly made one a clear winner, if we had to decide between Mykonos and Santorini, Mykonos wins us over. There’s something to be said for jetting off to an island where the main attractions are the sun, sea and sublime service in swish spots. You’ll feel no pressure to overly explore Mykonos, but there are things to do if you feel like a change of scene.