There’s no place that can light up your Insta feed quite like a Greek island; the houses of Santorini, with their whitewashed walls and ultramarine roofs, are some of the most iconic (and beautiful) buildings in the world. If you’re looking to party, the neighboring island of Mykonos is paradise, offering DJ-studded events rivaling those of Ibiza.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your ultimate Greek Island getaway.
When To Visit Santorini And Mykonos And How Long To Stay
It goes without saying that the Greek Islands are at their peak in the summer, and Santorini and Mykonos are no exception. All the hotels and restaurants are open for business, while parties in Mykonos, in particular, run all night long. Meanwhile, the Mediterranean sea has had plenty of time to heat up, making for the perfect splash of cool after a day in the sun. While direct ferries between Mykonos and Santorini only begin operations in late spring, by summer's high season they’re in full swing, making island-hopping a breeze.
For a relaxing vacation, you should plan on staying 3-4 days per island, especially if you’re equally into relaxation (Santorini) and partying (Mykonos). Otherwise, depending on what you’re looking for, you can spend more or fewer days in either. Most of our travelers will spend about 4 days in Santorini and then head to Mykonos for 2 days of beach club going and partying.
Transportation To And Within Santorini
Flying from Athens to Santorini National Airport takes less than an hour. Buses travel from the airport to Fira, the island’s capital, where you can then travel to another town within Santorini if necessary. Taxis cost as little as 10 euros.
Alternatively, you might choose to hop on a ferry from Piraeus, southwest of Athens, to Santorini. The trip takes about 4.5 hours.
Within Santorini, the bus service is inexpensive, with tickets costing between 1.60 and 2.20 euros. For short trips around the island, rent a bicycle or tour by foot. Consider renting a car if you wish to travel extensively; the drive from one end of Santorini to the other takes an hour.
Transportation To And Within Mykonos
As with Santorini, the flight from Athens to Mykonos Airport takes less than an hour. The bus to the city center costs 6 euros. If you take a ferry from Santorini, expect your trip to take around 3 hours. To get to Mykonos via Piraeus, the ferry takes between 3 and 5 hours, depending on the speed of your boat.
Mykonos is among the smallest of the Cyclades Islands, making it easily navigable by car, scooter, or ATV. If you don’t plan on renting a vehicle, there are only about 30 taxis on the entire island, so you're better off sticking to the bus or your own two feet to get around.
Santorini And Mykonos’ Best Beaches
Red Beach (Santorini)
Just steps from the ruins of Akrotiri, Red Beach is arguably the most famous – and the most beautiful – beach on Santorini. Framed by massive formations of red and black volcanic rock, it’s a small white sand beach that tends to get crowded. Get there early to take in the different colors of the cliffs as you wander down the path to the shore. It’s also a good spot for snorkeling.
Perissa Beach (Santorini)
On the southeast side of Santorini, about 15 kilometers southeast of Fira, Perissa is a black sand beach with crystalline waves and the massive Mesa Vouno rock in the background. From the beach, there’s a small path that crosses the rock and leads to the ruins of ancient Thera – explore it on foot or ride a donkey.
Platys Gialos (Mykonos)
Located on the southern side of the island - also known as the caldera side of the island, Platys Gialos is a gorgeous sandy beach lined with tons of restaurants, beach cabanas, and luxury hotels. Surrounded by hills, it remains protected from the strong winds, and offers full-scale facilities for water skiing, jet skiing, banana boats, and all kinds of other water activities.
Paradise Beach (Mykonos)
There's no sugar coating this one - if you want to spend an afternoon partying like it’s spring break gone wild, complete with dancing on tables and spraying champagne bottles - Tropicana is world famous for its high-energy rowdy atmosphere. Soak up the rays on one of the sun beds at Paradise Beach and have a few drinks before the beach party heats up at 4pm.
See The Ruins At Akrotiri (Santorini)
When you need a break from the pristine white and blue of Santorini, visit the archaeological site of Akrotiri. The Bronze Age settlement, which was buried in ash after a volcanic eruption in 1627 B.C., contains dozens of well-preserved frescoes and has been suggested as a possible source of inspiration for Plato’s Atlantis.
Explore The Lively Beachside Town Of Kamari (Santorini)
The black sand at Kamari beach is leftover from a volcanic eruption from thousands of years ago – and it’s now the setting for one of the trendiest party spots on the island. Lined with restaurants, shops, bars, and cafes, the beachfront is especially lovely on a moonlit night.
Take A Sunset Sail (Santorini)
See Santorini from every angle with a private yacht sailing tour. Sunset Oia sails depart from the port of Ammoudi in the picturesque village of Oia. Choose among three sailing options: premium semi-private, private and shared. Your Journy travel designer can help you book the best option. Just request your trip here.
Take A Morning Hike From Thira To Oia (Santorini)
Kick start your day with a morning hike from Fira to Oia. The scenic 10.5km (6.5 miles) journey takes you through the charming villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia. During the summer, temperatures can warm up quickly, so getting an early start and packing plenty of water are musts.
Visit A Historic Winery (Santorini)
Canava Roussos has always celebrated the unique characteristics of Thiran grapes. Their Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani, Mandilaria, and Mavrathiro faithfully adhere to classic winemaking traditions, but they also incorporate modern techniques that bring out each wine’s particular bouquet. Take a day trip and visit their old stone canava for a tour and a tasting.
Bike Through The Countryside (Mykonos)
Designed for all ages and fitness levels, Yummy Pedals bike tours are a great way to explore lesser-known parts of the island, taking you through the farms, villages, and splendid beaches of rural Mykonos that aren’t accessible with a car. Tours start and end at Vioma Organic Farm, where you can taste wine and other local delicacies.
Explore ‘Little Venice’ On Foot (Mykonos)
Effortlessly romantic, Little Venice is a seaside quarter on the western side of Mykonos town full of traditional houses built right on the water’s edge. Before it became a hub of chic bars, boutique restaurants and art galleries, it was a place where pirates loaded and unloaded their booty during the 16th and 17th centuries. Time your visit with sunset for an incredible view.
Top Local Delicacies To Try
You’ll likely stumble upon these addicting appetizers while dining in Santorini. Made from tomatoes, shallots, basil, and mint, domatokeftedes capture the fresh, bright flavors of a summer holiday.
The Greeks offer much more in the way of dairy than just yogurt and feta; try this cheese, considered a luxury product, that originates in Mykonos. Chili peppers and natural mold give it a spicy, intense flavor ideal for spreading on bread.
This sausage, which is cured and seasoned with wild savory and allspice, is a traditional product of Mykonos. It’s made from the prime cuts and intestines of pigs raised on the island, making supply limited and demand high.
Lycabettus Restaurant (Santorini)
A must-do for honeymooners, Lycabettus Restaurant at the Andronis Luxury Suites offers cliffside dining, with plates featuring the finest flavors from around the island. The 5-star restaurants touts a classic Greek menu - think scorpion fish with tomato, greek salami, parsley and black garlic and - along with meat dishes and indulgent desserts.
Kapari Natural Resort (Santorini)
This all-day fine-dining restaurant is set on a breathtaking seaside terrace, and features dishes that combine Mediterranean recipes with the finest local ingredients. The emphasis is on health as much as it is on taste here, and the views at sunset are unforgettable. Reserve ahead – there are just a handful of tables on the terrace.
This picturesque gem is nestled inside an open cave, and the closest you'll get to dining seaside without actually sitting in the water. The water does make its way into a tank in center of the restaurant, where the freshest lobsters and sea urchins are held before making their way onto your plate at this fresh Italian spot.
Kiki’s Taverna (Mykonos)
Located right next to Agios Sostis beach, Kiki’s is a small, outdoor eatery serving up authentic Greek food. The restaurant closes every night at dark, so get there early and be prepared to wait in line. You’ll find the wait is not all that bad – you’re offered free boxed wine in line, and the beach views are phenomenal.
Sea Satin (Mykonos)
From the owners of nearby Caprice, Sea Satin is situated on a waterfront peninsula in Little Venice, directly under the famous Mykonos windmills. Indulge in the catch of the day, complete with homemade dipping oils. Greek music and candle lighting add to the ambiance at this charming spot, which gives way to a bumpin' dinner party vibe.
Must-Experience Mykonos Nightlife
Nammos is widely recognized as one of the trendiest restaurants in Mykonos, attracting crowds of visiting socialites and well-dressed locals for the one of the best day to night parties on the island. Located on Psarou beach, Nammos contains a formal dining area, a beautiful lounge, and an outdoor beach club.
There's no better way to usher in the sunset than watching the stunning views with a cocktail in hand and live music in the background at this perennial hotspot. A mix of Burning Man and DJ-curated beach club, their summer parties lures some of the best music talent to the island. Spend the early evening hours swaying to the beats.
Located on Ftelia Beach, Alemagou boasts dedicated areas to dine, drink and relax, with views across the beach to the sea and sunset and an eclectic yet refined sensibility. The fare is traditional Greek taverna classics with a twist. Their Friday sundowner parties with electronic DJs in the summer are a must.
This legendary open air club is the place to experience electronic music in Mykonos. Cavo Paradiso is well deserving of its spot on the top international club lists, and attracts the biggest DJ names. The club's location on top of a hill overlooking a cliff adds to the dramatic backdrop for the most epic of parties.
Moni encapsulates the Myconian identity: rich in history as well as a modern, cosmopolitan hotspot. Moni is like walking into your friend's private villa party. Get ready for a late one - this intimate spot doesn't get busy until 2am - and don't be surprised to see the sun coming up when you stumble out!
This article is part of our series on Greece as a 365 day destination.