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Santorini or Mykonos? Which will it be? There’s still a lot of debate amongst travellers which is better and which you should visit first. Travelling, like most everything else, is subjective but let us try and help you make the best decision with a run-down of what makes each of these stunning Greek Islands brilliant for a summer getaway.
A whitewashed paradise, Santorini attracts visitors year-round because of its two principal towns, Fira and Oia. Both clinging to cliffs above an underwater crater, the towns overlook the beautiful blue sea as well as the small islands located to the west that comprise black, red, and white lava pebbles.
The island was demolished in the 16th century BC by a volcanic eruption which has forever shaped the rugged landscape that can be seen today. Santorini is well-known for its dormant, yet still active, volcano. The last eruption happened in 1950 but it now only shows fumarolic activity. Curving around a majestic caldera, Santorini is undoubtedly one of the prettiest of the Greek Isles.
There’s so much to do here too… hop on the tender boat ashore, where the cable car will whisk you up to the cliff-top village of Thira with its quaint streets filled with restaurants, bars, and shops. Be sure to walk around as much as you can to really appreciate Santorini’s feel and postcard-perfect scenery. We’d recommend you take plenty of water though as it gets very warm and dry! As the evening approaches, tuck into some delicious Greek gyros (freshly carved meat, fresh salad, and tzatziki) and wash it all down with a fruity glass of wine.
You could also pay a visit to the cave houses at the beautiful village of Oia on a donkey ride before heading down the steps to Ammoudi Bay to feast on fresh seafood. Wander the charming stairways and hidden paths nestled between the whitewashed houses and vibrant plants or shop for local crafts and trinkets at the many shops. Time here is not complete without watching the ever-so-famous sunset right next to the famous cliffs of the Sunset Seranade point. Alternatively, you can take in the spectacular sunset colours from the vantage point at the Castle of Oia too.
The black pebbled sands of Kamari Beach are a great place to get a taste for unique beers at the Donkey Brewery of if you’re a history lover then you’ll be itching to explore the island's history at the Akrotiri archaeological site.
For caldera views you simply won’t be able to forget, head to Santo Wines Winery in Pyrgos and settle by the cliff edge as you enjoy a wine flight of the island’s best white, rose, and red blends accompanied by a platter of tasty nibbles.
Nestled beautifully in the Aegean Sea, Mykonos is also talked about for its whitewashed houses as well as the turquoise blue waters surrounding the island.
Mykonos Town is the island’s capital and is popular because of the tiny streets filled with quaint shops and boutiques, churches, and 16th-century Venetian windmills that give the island its nickname ‘Little Venice’.
You’ll quickly discover that at every turn there is a photo opportunity and plenty to keep you occupied. Take a seat in a trendy beach bar for a fruity cocktail or find a charming Greek tavern and sample Mykonos’ famous cheese known as kopanisti that’s loved for its spicy and aromatic taste. Pause at a café for the opportunity to try Greek coffee or shop for souvenirs, olive oil products, and quality leather sandals.
For an insight of the island’s architecture and culture you’ll want to visit the Church of Panagia Paraportiani; an important monument not only for Mykonos but for the whole of Aegean islands.
Roughly seven miles from Mykonos Town you’ll find Armenistis Lighthouse; standing at 19 metres tall. The attraction offers scenic views of the Aegean Sea and in the background you’ll be able to spot the neighbouring island of Tinos.
The most popular beach among tourists is Platis Gialos Beach in the southern part of the island; known for its deep white sand and stunning waters. You may also like to take a short boat ride to the holy island of Greece – Delos.
Here you’ll be able to tour the ancient city and its temples, theatres, stadiums, and gyms.
The summer party atmosphere is what attracts most of its visitors; the Paradise and Super Paradise beaches boast thumping music and huge dance clubs that welcome world-renowned DJs. It is often referred to as Greece’s equivalent to Spain’s Ibiza because of the countless bars and clubs. Tropicana Mykonos Club is the place to be for the best cocktails and epic parties that start at 4.30 in the afternoon and finish late the next morning.
However, the island can also be a great family holiday destination if you stay in one of the quieter resorts, such as Agios Ioannis. The beach here is completely gorgeous and is the perfect base to sunbathe, build sandcastles, and read your favourite book.
Have you decided yet? Here’s what we think…
Santorini has more of a romantic setting that’s perfect for couples holidays and honeymoons, whereas Mykonos is home to a lively nightlife scene that’s popular for friends and singles getaways. Mykonos boasts many golden sandy beaches, where you’ll find that Santorini is defined by its black sand and pebble beaches that aren’t typical of Greece.
Both islands have plenty to enjoy but deliver very different meanings of what a holiday could mean to you. Basically, if you want to party until the early hours with a drink in-hand then we recommend Mykonos. If you’d like to watch breathtaking sunsets and learn about history and architecture, get yourself booked up for a trip to Santorini!