Tired of the Paradise Beach parties? Want something different to the Little Venice eateries? Looking to escape the sunset crowds of the Mykonos windmills? Cue this guide to the best Greek islands to visit from Mykonos. It offers nine fantastic places that are just a quick hop by boat from the good-time party island of the Cyclades chain.
There’s certainly no shortage of enticing options. Some are pure bucket-list stuff, like the soaring ridges and crumbled volcanic rocks of Santorini. Others are more off the beaten path, like the historic compound of Delos or the untouched lands of Rineia – just wait until you see the color of the waters there!
Yep, our collection of the 11 best Greek islands to visit from Mykonos should have something for a wide variety of different types of travelers. What’s more, we’ve aimed to list only the places that you can get to in a matter of hours by boat out of Mykonos Town, so you won’t have to lump the luggage to the airport to drop these spots onto the itinerary.
Paros starts off our list of the best Greek islands to visit from Mykonos mainly because it’s sort of been accepted as the main ferry terminal of the Cyclades islands. That means you should find loads of boat connections going back and forth from Mykonos Town and the port in Parikia on the west coast. They tend to be pretty quick links, too, taking just 30 minutes on a high-speed catamaran and only 1h20 on a bigger passenger ferry.
The thing is, because Paros is widely thought of as just a place to change boats en route between islands, there’s loads here that’s been left almost totally undiscovered. Venture inland from the main harbor and you can hit quaint hamlets like Lefkes, a twisting maze of narrow streets and whitewashed homes emblazoned with bougainvillea. On the north coast, the historic fishing port of Naousa offers seafood joints and a touch of nightlife, too.
And let’s not forget the beaches. They aren’t the glitzy affairs of Mykonos. They are chilled and family friendly, with clean sand and unbusy waters. Check out Kolymbithres Beach, a rock-studded cove with fantastic snorkeling. Or head to red-tinged Faragas Beach in the south, where a smattering of salt-washed tavernas serves up dinner to the sunset.
Naxos is the big daddy of the Cyclades islands. It covers a mega 430 square kilometers of land immediately to the south of Mykonos, emerging straight from the heart of the Aegean Sea with its crumpled hills and idyllic mountain towns. Because it’s actually the next island over from Mykonos, you should find that there are plenty of ferry links – they can take as little as 30 minutes but most take about 50 minutes from departure to arrival.
You’ll want to start in the Chora, the main town. That’s a proper, lived-in town that doesn’t shut up shop for the low season (pretty unusual for these tourist-reliant isles). It unfolds under the gaze of a big Venetian fort known as the Kastro and offers charming rows of old Greek cottages set on steep diagonals as they roll down to the boats below.
Like all of its near neighbors, Naxos also presents ample opportunities for the beach bums. It’s got some of the whitest white-sand beaches in the whole region, which are exemplified by the almost endless stretch of Plaka Beach. For the clearest waters and snorkeling by the bucket load, we prefer Aliko Beach, a little stretch on the south-west coast. Note: Aliko is also nudist friendly.
Of all the best Greek islands to visit from Mykonos, Rineia is the one you’re least likely to have heard of. That’s largely because it’s not so much an island destination in its own right as it is a day-trip destination for folks staying in hotels on Mykonos proper. People don’t come here to holiday because they can’t – it’s totally uninhabited and there’s not a single place to stay on its shores.
But you can whiz across the strait to explore Rineia by booking onto one of the regular daytrips. They’ll typically run a ring around the whole island, stopping in the nooks and crannies of the west coast, and revealing some of the secret swimming lagoons that carve their way inland to offer uber-clear waters.
Also be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the small chapels of the Church of St George and the shrine to Agios Nikolaos. They speckle the northern shoreline of Rineia and are just about the only human habitation that it’s possible to find, save for a few rough-stone shepherd huts here and there.
Ios is the island to pick if you’re keen to keep the party of Mykonos going once you leave its shores. Yep, this one’s probably the only destination in the Cyclades that could give Mykonos itself a run for its money on the nightlife front. The vibes are a touch different – we’re talking thumping 18-30s bars and wild disco nights fueled by shots. But hedonism is the common denominator in clubs like Slammer and the Coo Bar.
Of course, it’s not all party, party, party. Ios retains a pretty wild backcountry that’s ripe to explore on an ATV. Head up and over the hills and you’ll find spots like Homer’s Tomb (the supposed resting place of ancient Greece’s most famous poet) and fishing villages like Magganari (where tavernas serve fresh-caught red snapper doused in lemon juice and olive oil). The beaches are darn lovely, too, so make for Klima Beach or Mylopotas when it’s time to sizzle off the hangover.
Getting to Ios from Mykonos isn’t a chore. Like Santorini before it, this one’s a regular favorite among travelers hopping from isle to isle in the high season. There are multiple ferries each day, including fast boats that take less than two hours to make the crossing. We’d recommend booking your tickets as early as possible because seats can sell out.
If you’re a history buff, there’s no question that Delos is the best of the best Greek islands to visit from Mykonos. You simply have to come here. Located just a whisker over the narrow strait from Agios Ioannis Beach on the southwestern edge of Mykonos, this spot was once a major gathering point of ancient Greek city states. Naturally, that means there are oodles of day trips and organized tours on offer, most of which take about half a day in all.
The main attractions on Delos lie in the old sanctuary and forum area. That dates back more than 2,500 years, so the ruins and relics are pretty darn special. Guests off the boat are greeted by the proud Terrace of the Lions, which was constructed in the 7th century BC to honor the god Apollo. Pass under the Propylaia gateway and you’ll find the historic treasuries of various Greek cities, all topped by the towering temple known as the Keraton.
History done and dusted? Don’t be tempted to jump straight back on the boat. You can also hike to the top of Mount Kynthos. It’s the highest point on Delos and offers sweeping views of the ancient complexes, along with sightings of the Mykonos coastline back to the east and north.
Unquestionably the most famous of the best Greek islands to visit from Mykonos on this list, Santorini magnetizes millions of travelers every year with its eye-watering landscapes. Believe it or not, the whole thing was once the cap of a colossal underwater volcano. That’s since exploded (a long time ago now, don’t worry), leaving a rock-ribbed isle of soaring cliffs and coffee-colored boulders emerging straight out of the clear blue of the Aegean. Yep – you’ll want the camera charged for when you arrive.
Travels in Santorini are usually about wallowing in the jaw-dropping views of the caldera. They are best in the hilltop towns of the western coast. Choose between chic Oia, the bustle of Fira, or the charming village setting of Imerovigli, and make sure you score a hotel that has a balcony, or, better yet, a room with a private one! Once you’re done with the panoramas, there are excellent Greek wines to taste in the cellar doors here, along with ancient history in the old agora of Akrotiri.
Expect to cover about 64 miles between Mykonos and Santorini. That’s one of the farthest boat links we list here. Thankfully, it’s also one of the most popular connections among island hoppers in the summer months, so there should be plenty of boats to pick from and prices remain competitive.
Tinos has been very content to let the rest of the Cyclades islands do their thing while it remains firmly out of the limelight. There are one or two things that it’s known for, like the Orthodox holy site of the Church of the Annunciation and its marble-sculpting workshops, but they hardly bring a fraction of the crowds of, say, Santorini. The upshot? It’ll be quiet, it will be remote, and that’s the point…
Exploring Tinos can often feel like exploring Greece 50 years back. You’re more likely to meet herds of sheep than other cars as you tour the mountain roads. The villages – lovely little Volax, white-painted Komi – are truly time-stood-still affairs, where clocks seem to slow naturally and smartphones simply aren’t welcome. On the coast, handsome Panormos is the place to be for seafood and sleepy evenings.
The good news is that getting over to Tinos should be a cinch. A daily ferry runs from Mykonos Town in the high season months (May-September) and for some of the low season, but can be canceled due to rough weather. It’s only 16 miles from start to finish as the crow flies, taking between 20-35 minutes depending on what boat you take and what the conditions are like.
Often a popular second or third stop on island-hopping tours of the central Aegean and the Cyclades, Milos is a perfect place to escape to after hitting the nightlife venues of Mykonos. Ferries go direct and indirect throughout the summer months, costing about €70 ($78) per person, each way, and taking three to five hours in all.
You’ll be dropped off at the main town and port of Adamantas. It’s the only real town on the island and sits nestled in the main central bay where the waters are still and calm. From there, it should be easy to explore both sides of the island – and there are two distinct sides…
The north and west are home to most of the main draws. They include ancient theatres and catacombs, but also blinding-white rock coves where the water is a pure turquoise. Then you get the south and east. That’s best explored on a boat outing, which can whisk you to the rugged caves of Sikia and Kleftiko to see fantastic rock stacks and more.
Sikinos has managed to keep a very low profile in the midst of the Greek Cyclades. It’s nowhere near as popular as others that are just on the doorstep – iconic Santorini and party-pumping Ios are just a stone’s throw away. But that’s part of the draw. Come here to see a part of the central Aegean that not too many people see. Come to tread off-the-beaten-path Greece.
Ferries (which only come in from Naxos or Paxos, not Mykonos itself) will take you to the port and sole town on Sikinos’s southern coast. That’s the gateway to the island and the start of the single road that goes north up to the mountaintops to the white-painted Zoodochos Pigi Monastery, a 17th-century Orthodox shrine that has spectacular views.
From there, a web of ancient donkey trails and hiking routes fans out to link blink-and-you’ll-miss-them hamlets and small shrines carved into the hills of the north coast. It’s a dusty, lunar-like region that hosts probably the biggest draw on the island: The upcoming Manalis winery, where you can sample the local goods while watching the sunset behind the larger Cyclades isles on the horizon.
Syros has to be one of the most overlooked of the Cyclades chain. That’s probably because it has more lived-in buzz than many of the places here; is more of a workaday island with a proper port town at its heart. However, that’s also part of the charm and sitting with a morning Greek coffee on the port quays watching the world go by is a window onto how real islanders live in the Aegean.
Mykonos is actually the obvious starting point for a trip here as it’s the neighboring isle. Ferries, taking about 40 minutes to make the crossing, go relatively regularly in the peak season months, but they are pricy – at around €67 ($74) per person, each way.
The top things to see on this less-visited part of the Aegean include a particularly enthralling industrial museum that reveals the trading past of Ermoupoli (the enthralling island capital), a grand town hall structure, and the soaring Church of the Resurrection of Christ, with its blue-tinged dome.
There are also beaches aplenty, but not many that are developed and built-up like you get on Mykonos. The best are probably Kini, a super laid-back beach in a deep cove with a taverna-dotted village to its back, and emptier Galissas, with its light waves and good swimming spots.
From May to September there are about two ferries a day running between Mykonos and Greece’s largest island. It’s not a short trip, sometimes lasting as long as eight hours from start to finish, and it’s usually done as part of a longer journey that begins in Piraeus in Athens. However, it is a ticket to one of the most enthralling destinations in the whole Aegean…
Crete measures 155 miles from east to west. It feels more like a whole country unto itself thanks to its unique cultural history and vibe. The first thing you’re likely to notice as you approach in the boat is just how rugged it is. The glimmering Lefka Ori (White Mountains) can be seen soaring into the clouds behind the north shore. They are a great phalanx of rock and stone that host mountain goats, hardy villages, and even deep gorges like UNESCO-tagged Samaria.
Most travelers will stick to the northern coast. That’s where you find the two main towns of Chania and Heraklion; the first a maze-like medley of Byzantine and Venetian buildings, the latter a buzzy modern city with bars coming out of its ears. We have a real soft spot for the south coast, though. It’s one of the southernmost regions in Europe, gets very hot, and has clearwater beaches like Glyka Nera, Marmara, and Matala.
So, what are the best Greek islands to visit from Mykonos?
You’re certainly not short of options here. From the hedonistic towns of Ios to the remote lagoons of Rineia to the rugged backcountry of Tinos, you’ve got all sorts on the menu when it comes to picking that next pitstop in the Aegean. You could even opt for a jaunt to Santorini to shorten the bucket list by one more line – it’s got what many say are the most incredible sunsets on the planet! What’s more, this guide offers just a taster of the various places that you can get to from Mykonos. There are plenty more, including lesser-known Ikaria and sleepy Donoussa.