Discover Our Destination Guide to Mykonos and Santorini
With over 200 islands, the thought of island hopping in Greece may be, well, overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll focus on two destinations that are world-renowned: Mykonos and Santorini. Both Mykonos and Santorini are home to compelling history and mythology, reflect iconic Greek architecture, and showcase dynamic Mediterranean cuisine. Whatever your travel vibe, there is truly something for everyone in the Cyclades.
We offer various tours that include multiple-day stops in both Mykonos and Santorini. Island hopping, then, is more like island traversing: itineraries with enough time to truly gain a sense of place and savor an island sunset. Here, you’ll find insights on archeological destinations, local cuisine, plus travel tips to help you maximize your time in the Cyclades. Let’s dive in!
Unearthing Museums and Design Marvels In Mykonos
In recent years, the island of Mykonos has made a name for itself amongst jet setters and celebrities. But there’s much history and culture to discover away from the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle. Throughout Mykonos, there are plenty of opportunities to explore history, connect with nature, and dine on traditional dishes. And if you happen to be an architecture buff or a photography aficionado, Mykonos is a dream.
In Mykonos, you’ll find enchanting examples of Cyclades architecture. Brilliant white walls, cubed houses, and bright blue doors create a gorgeous skyline along turquoise seas. Combined with centuries-old windmills, domed churches, and cobbled pathways, you’ll find beautiful sights at every turn. Grab your camera at sunrise or sunset for a truly awe-inspiring photo session (and don’t forget a solid pair of walking shoes!).
Mykonos is also home to several museums that provide an in-depth look at life in Greece throughout the ages. The Aegean Maritime Museum displays historical photographs, artifacts, and replicas of ancient ships, while the Folklore Museum features artwork, textiles, and musical instruments from the 1800s.
The Archaeological Museum of Mykonos is one of the oldest museums in Greece, and houses artifacts dating back thousands of years. And for another architectural and historical gem, visit the Panagia Paraportiani. This centuries-old church, which is actually several churches joined together, is an iconic sight in Mykonos.
Discovering Mykonos Flavors and Folklore
Of course, all this exploring builds quite an appetite! Throughout the island you’ll find staples of Greek cuisine, from grilled octopus to honey pie. Be sure to save some room for kopanisti: this salty, peppery cheese is a staple in Mykonos, and is often served atop bread with fresh tomatoes and olive oil.
While you’re exploring local restaurants and cafes, be sure to snap a photo of the pelicans that call the island home. They’re considered a mascot of sorts in Mykonos, in honor of a now famous pelican rescued in the 50s by a fisherman, who the locals endearingly named Petros.
A couple other interesting tidbits about Mykonos: legend says the island was formed by the petrified remains of giants defeated by Hercules! And for more history (plus a truly remote Greek experience), head to the island of Delos, located just a few miles from Mykonos. The island is literally one big archeological site, and is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
Discovering Volcanic Beaches and Delightful Cuisine in Santorini
Next stop, Santorini. Santorini is home to exquisite sights that are truly quintessential Greece: brilliant waters, blue-domed churches, and coastal towns carved into the terrain. Santorini actually consists of a group of islands, and is not only a popular tourist and wedding destination, but a locale immersed in fascinating geological and historical gems.
The region where Santorini is located has experienced extensive volcanic activity throughout history. One particular eruption – over 3,000 years ago, during the Minoan Age – created a massive, underwater crater known as a caldera. Fun fact: locals and researchers alike have suggested Santorini may be the location of the lost city of Atlantis.
Out and About: Activities in Santorini
With all this ancient geological activity comes much to explore! If you love the beach, you’ll find picturesque shorelines of red, white, and black sand, along with volcanic rock. Scuba diving enthusiasts can navigate beautiful underwater formations and clear, turquoise waters (while keeping an eye out for signs of Atlantis, of course!).
There are an array of routes to discover Santorini, from horseback riding to sunset cruises, guided hikes to ATV excursions. Just remember that wherever your day’s travels take you to, you’ll most likely encounter steep or rugged terrain. Even if you have a beach day in mind, you might want to leave your flip flops at home.
On the foodie front, you can dive into classic Greek fare throughout Santorini, but be sure to leave room for some of the island’s acclaimed local ingredients. Fava beans, capers, and cherry tomatoes are all trademark ingredients in Santorini, as is the whimsical white aubergine (eggplant). If you’ve never been much of a fan of eggplant, give white aubergine a try! They’re celebrated for being much sweeter than most aubergines.
Unlocking History in Santorini
A visit to Santorini offers many opportunities to learn about the vast history of the region. Reflecting Santorini’s ancient history is Akrotiri. Remember that massive volcano eruption, circa 1600 BC? Although Akrotiri was buried in volcanic ash, it actually preserved much of the town’s structures, and even artwork. An exploration of the archeological site reveals remarkably intact, centuries-old houses and frescoes. At the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, you can examine artifacts that have been excavated from Akrotiri. And no trip to Santorini would be complete without visiting Oia. The village is one of the most photographed locales in all of Greece. While in Oia, visit the Naval Maritime Museum, where you’ll find a treasure trove of seafaring relics inside a renovated 19th century mansion. The museum displays collections of historical maps, masts, and naval equipment. Just make sure to leave your evening clear to catch the Oia sunset: a brilliant way to cap the day, and a sight that has mesmerized travelers from around the globe.