If this is your first trip to Greece, you probably don’t want to miss two most famous Greek islands – Santorini and Mykonos. You may want to capture your own shots of the picture-perfect Santorini blue-domed church and Mykonos windmills. Visit both Santorini and Mykonos in 5 days following our itinerary which allows time to explore and also to relax. Delos is a not-to-be-missed day-trip from Mykonos for those who love archeology and history.
Day 1: arrive Santorini Island
Either arriving by plane or ferry, book a ride or pickup with the hotel prior to arrival for two reasons: 1. There are only 36 taxis on Santorini to serve 2 million tourists per year. 2. Most Caldera-side hotels are somewhat distant and hard to find from where taxi must drop you off. Let the hotel know when you will arrive and they will send staff to pick you up and help you with the luggage.
Instead of staying in Fira, consider staying in Firostefani, a very small town between Fira and Oia. While it is much quieter than both Fira and Oia, it is not lack of high-quality lodging, restaurants or shops. We loved our stay at the Chic Hotel Santorini in Firostefani. It has exceptional reviews from many travelers.
After checking into your hotel, start exploring around Fira along the cliffside walking path. Have a cold cocktail in one of the outdoor bars with a breathtaking Caldera view.
For dinner, make a reservation for a table with a sunset view. “Venture” into some Greek delicacies like saffron rice stuffed squid and grilled octopus with mashed fava beans. YUM!
While sipping your cocktail, watch the sun start setting behind the Caldera. Even though the Oia sunset is the most famous on Santorini, the sunset from Firostefani is far more impressive with this interesting background, brilliant color contrast, and far less tourist crowd.
Day 2: explore Santorini Island from Fira to Oia
Wake up to a beautiful spread of made-to-order breakfast with a Caldera view. Don’t get too used to it… Below is a breakfast included in the room rate of the Chic Hotel. All ingredients taste so fresh. And picture below speaks for the view!
After the breakfast, start walking toward Oia. From Firostefani to Oia, the distance is just short of 6 miles but plan on three hours with stops to take photos. Wear sun protection and good walking shoes. We saw people struggling in their TOMS and sandals.
If around lunch time just before entering the town of Oia, take a downhill detour to Amoudi Bay where a tiny fishing villiage sits by the sea. Enjoy a fresh seafood lunch watching boats go in and out of the bay. Maybe dip your toes into the sea to reward your feet after the long walk.
After lunch, follow the steps straight up to Oia. It is a good exercise to burn off a few calories from lunch. Start hunting for the famous blue-domed church that shows up in every picture online. Try to catch bright sunlight to get the most vibrant color contrasts. (We got there a bit late so the domes are partially covered by shadow, but still beautiful and magical.)
Roam among stores and cafes in those unique alleys. Now, it is almost time to find your viewing spot way before the sun starts setting. Be aware that almost everyone around you is heading to the west point of the town too. It is very crowded around every corner.
Getting back to your hotel could be challenging by taxi due to availability. Know the bus schedule ahead and get there earlier. The bus lines are very long because everyone is heading back toward Fira during that time. There are also “black vans” trying to make 20 euros per person in cash. It may be your quickest option.
Day 3: travel from Santorini Island to Mykonos Island by ferry
Head to the ferry station in the morning by a reserved taxi. Book your ticket ahead online and activate at the ferry station at least an hour prior to departure. The Greek ferry system is well developed and runs multiple trips between these two popular islands daily between April and October. It is a 2.5-hour ride with stops to couple more islands on the way. Keep in mind that the Greek ferries are not always on time. The boarding process and the luggage handling is a bit hectic. Our ferry was delayed for an hour and half. Other than that, it is an easy way to travel.
The taxi situation is even worse on Mykonos Island – only 30 in total. While we don’t recommend renting a car on Santorini on a two-day stay, renting one on Mykonos makes a lot of sense.
If you visit Mykonos because of its nightlife, stay in Mykonos Town. Otherwise, stay in a small town by nice beaches and quiet restaurants. We stayed near Ornos Beach on the southwestern side of the island. The area is very laidback and the hotel staff is friendly and helpful.
Head to Ornos Beach to swim or enjoy a cocktail before dinner. Watch the boats roll into the harbor and their lights come on reflecting on this tranquil water. And just chill….
Day 4: explore Mykonos Town and day trip to Delos Island
Spend the morning roaming in the colorful narrow alleys in Mykonos town. Every corner has a photo opp waiting for you. Only camera can describe the color contrasts of white walls, blue doors, red windows, and the sapphire-blue Aegean Sea.
The smell in the air will call for your stomach to follow. Find a restaurant with a million-dollar view of Little Venice and the windmills. How about some fresh seafood and a Greek beer sound on top of it?
After a lunch, wander more or do some souvenir shopping. Make your way to the Delos tour departure spot.
We booked a half-day guided tour to Delos online with Delos Tours. From May to October, they run two tours (10AM and 5PM) per day for 50 Euros per person. The tour includes a 30-minute ferry ride each way. So, the actual time spent on the island is only 2 hours. You can also do a self-guided tour. Take note the tours and ferries only operate seasonally from April through October.
We took the 5PM tour as we read about taking the later tour to avoid the heat. However, we wish we had taken the AM tour, spent the rest of the day on Delos and caught the PM tour’s return ferry back to Mykonos. We chose Mykonos among all the interesting island mainly because of its easy access to Delos. There is so much to explore on Delos and we felt rushed. Delos is uninhabited so there is not much commercialization other than a museum with a small shop. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and water. Wear comfortable shoes to walk and hike the ruins.
There is also a museum on Delos. Most of the real artifacts are kept indoor in the museum. The archeological digging is ongoing on Delos. Only a small part of the island is above ground and restored. Explore the island and imagine how ancient Greek traded with other cultures.
Return to Mykonos Town just around dinner time. Join the crowd into the night scene. Little Venice is waking up as the sun drops behind horizon.
Day 5: swim in the turquoise water of northern Mykonos Island
Pack a beach bag. Drive toward Agios Sostis Beach on the northern tip of the island. The water is the most beautiful and the beaches are quiet. So far, it is still kind of “a well-kept secret”. There are a few high-end villas and more construction seems to be planned.
Drive along the dirt road to the very end. There are small beaches have no one on them. On a nice day, the water is still and you can see the bottom.
Enjoy another fresh seafood dinner on Mykonos followed by a night swim under the starry Ionic sky.
Depending on weather, you can switch day 4 and 5 around. A cloudy day is good for Delos while a sunny day is good for swimming. Plan your next vacation to these beautiful Creek islands!