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Greece, Santorini, Mykonos, Amorgos, Milos, Paxos

Which of the Cyclades islands should we go to?

My husband and I are in our early 30's and live in Brooklyn, New York. We love to visit historic sites, eat, drink, walk around and absorb the culture.

We're flying into Athens in late May and have 7 days to visit the Cyclades islands, so that's time for 2-3 of the islands. Does anyone have recommendations on which ones we should visit? We definitely want to go to Santorini/Thira and will likely fly from there back to Athens at the end of the trip, but are otherwise open. 

We don't want to go anywhere too quiet that we can't find much to do, but we don't want to go anywhere overrun with tourists and crazy partiers. We just want to visit some good sites, restaurants, bars, wineries/vineyards, etc!

Thanks so much!


8 Answers

top answer by
Margaritis from Volos

Santorini is my first suggestion.

All the villages of Santorini are impressive and each one has its own "personality". Fira is the largest settlement and the capital of Thera. Hotels, rooms to let, clothing and accessories shops, jewelry stores, galleries, gift shops, super markets, groceries, banks and ATMs, pharmacies, bars, clubs, restaurants, travel agencies, are located in the capital. Here you will also find some of the most important museums of the island. 

Oia Village is the most romantic destination. It is famous all over the world for the magnificent sunset visitors enjoy from the Goulas (watch tower) of St. Nikolaos. Walking around you will admire the carved-in buildings and the so called captains' houses ("kapetanospita"). In recent years the buildings of the picturesque village have become hotels, restaurants, cafes, galleries, stores.

Mykonos is my second suggestion.

Mykonos is famed as a cosmopolitan destination amongst the Greek islands and widely recognised as one of the great travel meccas. It is one of the most touristed islands in the Aegean. This means that you should be prepared for loud dance clubs.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santorini (island)
  2. Fira (attraction)
  3. Oia Village (attraction)
  4. Goulas (attraction)
  5. St. Nikolaos (attraction)
  6. Mykonos (city)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Laura from Buenos Aires

I've been to Santorini and Mykonos and they are both beautiful and different.

In Santorini I prefered Oia Village which has all the places you see in Greece postcards, it's simply wonderful. I stayed at Lauda Suites but whatever hotel you chose in Oia make sure it has a view over the Caldera. There's an incredible restaurant in Amoudi Bay called Restaurant "Tis Pandoras"

In Mykonos I stayed at Rania apartments, wonderful. There you can rent a car or a jeep to go arround the island. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santorini (island)
  2. Mykonos (city)
  3. Oia Village (attraction)
  4. Amoudi Bay (attraction)
  5. Restaurant "Tis Pandoras" (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Mimi from San Francisco

I would definitely stay in Oia Village in Santorini.  However, you should be aware that there are throngs of tourists walking around.  My suggestion would be to rent a villa.  We stayed in Vina Villa [through flipkey] and it was perfect to watch the sunset. I wouldn't spend more than 4 nights in Santorini, because there are so many tourists, it can be exhausting even in May.  I'd definitely recommend Mykonos as there are many beautiful beaches to go to.  Southern Mykonos is more of the party vibe with their music thumping beach clubs and clubs that run till 6am.  But staying North will require you to rent a car which in turn allows you to explore the island more.  With 7 days in the cyclades, I would highly suggest limiting to 2 islands.  Mykonos is well worth 4 nights.  While traveling via ferry from island to island is fun, you have to be mindful of the transit time and ferry schedules/delays.  It's not uncommon for ferries to be heavily delayed due to weather.  To really enjoy your time visiting sites, beaches and going out to restaurants and bars, 2 islands in 7 days is perfect.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Oia Village (attraction)
  2. Vina Villa (hotel)
  3. Mykonos (city)
  4. Santorini (island)
3 thanks

answered by
Lawrence from Washington

Hi Kaydee,

You are going to Greece at a great time!  There's little fear of encountering any location that will be overrun with tourists.  Santorini is an excellent choice.  There is just nothing like it anywhere.  Consider staying at Perivolas Suites Santorini (Perivolas) or for a more traditional place check out Heliophos (Heliopolis).  While in Santorini, there are a couple of great places to eat.  One is called Koukoumavlos and found in the town of Fira and the other is 1800 Restaurant  (1800) in Oia. Get something to move around the island--either scooters or a car--to visit the great archaeological ruins (some think Atlantis) at Akrotiri and the black beaches on the east side of the island.  You won't be disappointed.

As for a second island, it's hard to go wrong with Mykonos.  It has awesome beaches and great restaurants along with the huge archaeological site on the nearby island of Delos.

Want a third island?  Try Tinos.  It's close by and lovely.

Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santorini (island)
  2. Perivolas Suites Santorini (hotel)
  3. Koukoumavlos (restaurant)
  4. Fira (attraction)
  5. 1800 Restaurant (attraction)
  6. Oia (city)
  7. Akrotiri (attraction)
  8. Mykonos (city)
  9. Delos (attraction)
  10. Tinos (city)
  11. Heliophos (attraction)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Robyn from Toronto

I loved Santorini (quiet but a ton of things to do and those sunsets! Gah!) & Mykonos (bit more of a touristy island but big enough to explore). I went to Ios when I was in my mid 20s and it was definitely a party island so avoid that one! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santorini (island)
  2. Mykonos (city)
  3. Ios (city)
4 thanks

answered by
Missy from Newport

Santorini is one of my favorite islands worldwide.  I would strongly recommend a hotel on the Caldera. I think just sitting at a hotel on the Caldera and watching the sun cross with the constantly changing views is a great experience alone.  I really like the Altana Apartments near Fira, in Imerovigli, where the rooms are the old style, carved into the hillside, with nice typical Cycladic decoration and lace window curtains.  We like to rent a jeep while there and drive all over the island, visiting Oia Village, and I love the Akrotiri Minoan excavation site.  On the very top of one of the mountains on a switchback road with hairpin curves is the remains of Ancient Thira, worth going up there just for the view, but also to see the ruins.  In Oia, head down the hill from the car park to the harbor, to the little tavernas right on the water at the bottom of the cliff.  The one furthest away is, in our opinion the best.  I do not really recommend Mykonos, unless you would like a great nightclub scene that continues to dawn and later, or chic beach clubs.   If so, then Mykonos is the Cycladic Island to visit as this island has the more nightlife than any of the Cycladic Islands, however it will be mainly visitors at the bars, nightclubs and beaches, with few locals.  A favorite Cycladic Island of mine is Syros, home to many sea captains in the 1800's.  Now the administrative island of the Cyclades, Syros is lovely.  Here is our blog:  All About Syros Island.  Lower Syros around the harbor filled with Neo Classic architecture from the mid 1800's when wealthy sea captains retired from the sea and invested in their island.  Up in the hills, hidden from ancient pirates, is Ano Syros, a little Cycladic village of walking streets.  Bouzouki Master Markos Vamvakaris was born in Ano Syros, and bouzouki music remains very popular in this little enclave still today.  Settle into a taverna where bouzouki music may be playing in the background and sample the local ‘fire water’ of Syros Island held in big kegs overhead.  I think Syros is a traditional Cycladic Island with an interesting and unique history. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santorini (island)
  2. Imerovigli (attraction)
  3. Oia Village (attraction)
  4. Akrotiri (attraction)
  5. Mykonos (city)
  6. Syros (island)
2 thanks

answered by
alberto from Madrid

Santorini is whitout doubt the best, if you want to enjoy from a party island then Mykonos especially on weekends.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santorini (island)
  2. Mykonos (city)
1 thanks

answered by
manvendra from Mumbai

You should also do Mykonos for sure

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mykonos (city)

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