The Greek Islands: Mykonos & Santorini

A visit to Greece is not complete without a visit to one of its many islands. We visited two of the most iconic islands: Mykonos and Santorini. In Santorini, we explored the islands unique beaches, before heading to Oia to experience what is arguably one of the most photographed sunsets in the world. The next day, after taking the ferry to Mykonos, we strolled through the white streets of Mykonos, before finishing up in style on the beach of Plati Gialos.


We arrived in Santorini at sunrise after taking the earliest flight in from Athens. Despite a short night, we had a busy day ahead. We booked a last-minute rental car, as we found that Santorini is quite big, and buses are infrequent so you will always find yourself transferring in Fira, the islands capital.

We rented a car from a local company, as the mainstream car rentals had high fees for dropping off in a different location (we flew in, but would take the ferry to Mykonos), it being last-minute didn’t help either. After a short wait at the airport, a representative of the rental car company arrived with our car. For 50 euros a day, we had the pleasure to drive an ancient Toyota, and off we went.

• Our rental car (in red), at the Red Beach parking lot.

Our plan was to find a nice beach, and try our hand at relaxing for a few hours. The first beach we tried was the Red Beach of Akrotiri, located in the southwest. The hike down didn’t seem particularly alluring as we envisioned our tired selves trying to climb back up with flip flops and the sun beating down on our backs, so we settled for the view.

• Red Beach.

We headed east to Kamari, and quickly went for a swim at the Kamari Black Beach. Most of this beach is owned by seaside resorts, but we got comfortable on a small stretch open to visitors towards the end, which also has an outdoor changing cabinet. Marking our territory with our towel, we hopped straight into the refreshing water and attempted to sunbathe for more than 15 minutes.

• Kamari Black Beach.

Around lunchtime it was time to move again. We headed to Fira, and joined the hundreds of tourists searching for a good place to have lunch. We opted for a quick meal, and bought two delicious gyros. Other than that, Fira is mostly the hub for tourists to take the bus to either the north or south-sides of Santorini.

• Fira.

The most popular place to visit on Santorini is not Fira, but Oia, in the northwest corner of the island. It is famous for its picturesque architecture, as well as its stunning sunset. As we arrived early, we had some time to stroll around, and take dozens of pictures of the white churches with blue roofs.

• Blue roofs of the churches in Oia.

Around 8:30pm, the sun finally started setting. It felt like all the tourists were in Oia, and all the terraces, stairs, and pathways were completely filled up. We found a fence to sit on, and waited for the sun to disappear in the ocean.

• Sunset in Oia (1).
• Sunset in Oia (2).


After a decent nights’ sleep in a typical cave hotel in Santorini, we headed to the port to catch our ferry to Mykonos. Thirty minutes later, the ferry finally arrived, and the next two hours were spent boating between the Greek islands before arriving in Mykonos. From the port, we took a bus to Mykonos town, and started exploring. No rental car this time, as Mykonos is much smaller than Santorini, and also has more frequent buses.

One of the most touristy sights in Mykonos are the Windmills of Kato Milli: seven windmills positioned on a seaside hill. In total, there are sixteen windmills on Mykonos, but these are by far the most famous.

• Windmills of Kato Milli.

The center of Mykonos is pretty similar to what we saw on Santorini: white buildings, blue and red roofs, marble pathways, and plenty of tourists, but minus the hills. There are a few churches scattered around the town, the biggest one being the Metropolitan Church, although still pretty small with room for roughly 100 people.

• Metropolitan Church.

Getting lost in the alleys of Mykonos is definitely one of the best things that can happen to you! Stop for a gyro, an ice cream, or buy a souvenir at one of the many small shops. Unfortunately, Mykonos town does not really have any good beaches, for that you will have to take a bus out of town.

• Streets of Mykonos Town.

From the central square in Mykonos town, buses depart every 30-minutes to a large variety of beaches. A return ticket costs 3.60 euros (about 4$), and most journeys take about twenty minutes max. We decided to visit Plati Gialos Beach, lined with up-scale restaurants playing lounge house music. We picked one of the many comfortable sun loungers, ordered a series of cocktails, and simply relaxed.

• Plati Gialos Beach.

We found Plati Gialos Beach to be very relaxing. If you are looking to party, you might be better off visiting Paradise Beach. We quickly stopped here on the way back to the airport, but after walking around for a few minutes we were happy with our beach decision; we felt old among the many drunk teenagers tumbling across the dance floor. Regardless, we couldn’t stay up all night partying, as our flight back to Athens was waiting.

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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