Most bucket lists include a visit to the distinctive Greek Islands. With turquoise water, dramatic views, outstanding food, and picture-perfect white cities the Greek Islands are one of a kind.
Over the years I have been constantly asked where my favorite place is. My answer is always the same: Greece. Greece is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been and probably unlike anywhere, you’ve been as well, especially the Greek Islands. Currently, my favorite islands are Mykonos and Santorini. Today, I’m sharing tips for having the best experience possible on both of these islands.
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How to Get to Santorini and Mykonos
Depending on where you are coming from, the islands are not the easiest place to get to. If you are flying in from somewhere in Europe you can likely get a direct flight to one of the islands on a cheap airline. We flew from Mykonos to Paris once for $37 per person.
If you are flying in from the United States you are most likely going to have to go through Athens. If you end up going through Athens you have two choices. You can take another flight or you can catch a ferry. Greece has an excellent ferry system that allows you to get around quite easily. Keep in mind that the main ferry port is nowhere near the airport, but the smaller port is. If you are taking a ferry, I recommend getting a private cabin room on Blue Star Ferries. This is an easy way to sleep off jet lag. From Athens to Santorini the ferry takes 8 hours.
Where to Stay
Your lodging should be based on the island.
In Santorini, staying in a cave is a fun experience. There are hundreds of little whitewashed caves tucked into the side of the mountain and staying at one is a one-of-a-kind experience. If staying in a cave is too expensive, consider staying one night in a cave and then moving to a cheaper hotel for the other nights.
In Mykonos, you should stay in Mykonos City or at a beach. If you prefer the beach, I recommend staying down at Plati Gialos. Plati Gialos is a fun little area.
How to Get Around
It can be extremely difficult to get around both islands, but not impossible. Oftentimes, the hotel you have arranged to stay at will also take care of arranging a car or ATV for you. This may seem odd but this is common practice on the islands.
In Santorini rent an ATV. You must have an international license to rent an ATV. In Santorini, there are areas that are borderline impossible to park in, which is why a smaller ATV is a better choice. For example, if you are staying on the side of the cliff, you cannot drive all the way down to the cave area you are staying in. Instead, you will have to find somewhere to park nearby and then walk down to find your lodging. If you have an ATV, it will be much easier to find a little space to park in. I’ve had to rent a car in Santorini as well, so if you have to, be sure and get the smallest car available.
In Mykonos rent a car. Mykonos typically has parking lots near the most popular areas, allowing you to easily park and then walk to where you want to go. Mykonos also has a bus system, which allows you to easily get from Mykonos City to other parts of the island. There are around 50 taxis on the island, which means if you need a taxi, it might be a long wait.
Must-See Spots on the Islands
There are certain things on both islands that you must see. Instead of diving deep into all the things, there are to do on each island, I am going to share some of the things that cannot be missed.
Santorini has world-renowned beaches due to a volcano explosion many years ago. Down south is the striking Red Beach, and on the east side is the compelling Black Beach. Both are worth seeing and both are rocky, bring water shoes. Oia is world-famous for having the most incredible sunsets and is obviously a must-see during sunset. The brilliant caldera during the daylight is also a sight to behold.
Mykonos City is spectacular, and you should plan to spend at least half a day there. Spend your time meandering down their iconic little walkways paved in stones winding your way through the whitewashed buildings shopping and eating along the way. At one end of Mykonos City, you will find the famous windmills.
Where to Party
Mykonos is a legendary place to party. But Santorini has excellent party areas as well. Both islands offer two unique nightlife options: beach and city. Keep in mind, you do have to be at least 18 years old to drink in Greece.
Head to Fira for the city experience or over Kamari Beach for beach. Both of these towns offer a vibrant nightlife, with plenty of nightclubs.
Hakkasan or the Toy Room are two popular clubs in Mykonos City. Down south Paradise Beach turns into a party around 4 p.m. with wild dancers leading the charge to get the crowds mingling and dancing. Not too far from Paradise Beach. There are a lot of beach clubs in Mykonos. You will have a good time at any of them.
The islands may be small, but in Greece size doesn’t count, there’s something for everyone. Whether you want to spend all your time at the beach, take in some culture, or party all night, Santorini and Mykonos will not disappoint.