Santorini or Milos: differences and similarities

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Written By: Pavlos Inglesis

santorini or milos
Santorini or Milos? Both islands are perfect for holidays in Greece and have their own charm and character but they are very very different especially on how busy they get during the high season (summer)

You are probably trying to figure out which greek island is better for you to visit, right? Being Greek, I have visited almost all of the greek islands in so this is my comparison guide for Santorini vs Milos this year. What are the differences and similarities and which one is better depending on your situation or even the time of the year you are planning to visit (winter, summer or shoulder season)? I can only tell you this though: they are both volcanic islands with lots of history and geography with fascinating landscapes but Santorini is definitely not the quiet island you might be looking for.




For Luxury:

For Couples:

For Families:

For Private Pool:

Cave Hotel:

For Beach:



As you may know, Greece has no shortage of amazing islands to visit.  Did you know that there are actually more than 2,000 greek islands? But only about 200 of them are inhabited by people, which narrows it down a bit, but still… I know how hard it can be to pick one to visit for your next trip to Greece.

Santorini and Milos are two Greek islands that share lots of similarities but Milos is far more quiet than Santorini in general which makes it ideal for relaxing holidays. On the other hand, Santorini has lots of things to do and definitely much more impressive hotels and restaurants.

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Where to Stay in Santorini
Best Hotels in Milos
Best Santorini Boat Tours
Athens to Milos: all ferry options
Best Beaches in Milos

But what happens If you really have to pick one?
Which one should it be?

Santorini or Milos

sarakiniko beach milos greece
Milos has one of the most dramatic beaches in Greece with impressive moon-shaped white rocks: Sarakiniko

Both islands are amazing and I am sure you will have a great time in either one of them. But let me get this straight to you:

If there is only one greek island you can visit in your life, make it Santorini. You won’t regret it, and as I say to all of my friends “Santorini is literally the picture of Greece you may have in your head”. HOWEVER, Santorini can feel like a tourist trap these days with millions of people visiting every year and it can get extremely crowded in the summer months of June, July, August and September, so if you are looking for a quiet greek island, with impressive geology, long sandy (and rocky) beaches, a few cute fishing villages and overall relaxing vibes then go to Milos.

You also need to understand that Santorini is a relatively small greek island and Milos is double its size with many more areas and beaches to explore and visit. There are more than 15 different beaches in Milos while Santorini is super tiny.

Keep reading…

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If I could sum up the island comparison in one table, then it would be this:

SizeSantorini is half the size of Milos.Milos is 2 times the size of Santorini with many more areas to explore and visit.
Easier to Get ToSantorini has an international airport with plenty of ferry options from Athens (5-8 hours)Milos does not have an international airport but only a domestic flights airport to connect it with Athens only (45 mins flight). There are lots of ferry options from Athens though but definitely less than the ones available for Santorini.
Most CrowdedSantorini is the busiest and most crowded greek island and it will always feel crowded and packed no matter the time of the year unfortunately, these days…Milos never gets too crowded and the busiest month is probably August when it even gets visited by Greeks too. It would feel empty compared to Santorini.
More attractions and sightsSantorini has plenty of attractions for an island of its size and things like the volcano views, the sunsets, Oia village, Akrotiri ruins and the Red Beach along cannot be found elsewhere in Greece.Milos has an impressive history and it is one of the most industrialized greek islands because of its minerally rich underground but in general it has less attractions than Santorini. The day cruise in Milos however, is one of the best things to do in Cyclades.
Best BeachesSantorini beaches are not that great (by greek standards…) and they are mostly covered with black and red pebbles but you can certainly have some fun days in them (like a hike to the Red Beach).Milos beaches in my opinion are some of the most impressive and diverse on any greek island with moon-like landscapes such as Sarakiniko and golden sand areas such as Achivadolimni.
HotelsSantorini hotels have more impressive views and have a more boutique feeling overall. They are also more expensive as they are high in demand and they are limited in number obviously. Milos is currently undergoing a surge in the development of beautiful modern hotels but Santorini has many more available and more impressive hotels overall.
Most RomanticSantorini is one of the most romantic destinations in the world with its stunning views and sunset tours.Milos is also considered a very romantic destination and us Greeks call it “Lovers Island” because it has always been considered a quiet and cute place.
Best NightlifeSantorini has some decent nightlife too but you will find mostly lounge bars and a few small clubs with a more relaxing vibe overall. There are also a few clubs that play mostly greek pop music that can also be fun. Milos has very limited nightlife only in Plaka and Adamantas and compared to Santorin or Mykonos you can say it’s non-existent pretty much. You can definitely find a place to have a drink though in the summer.
Best Beach ClubsSantorini also has some good beach bars and clubs with a less premium feeling but with excellent servicesMilos beaches are not that organized with lots of noise and sunbeds (which is a good thing in general) and the few beach bars of the island are mostly considered chiil and lounge places.
More wineriesSantorini is the winery capital of Greece with more than 16 wineries on the island that have been producing wine for more than 200 yearsThere is only one winery in Milos (Konstantakis Winery) which is very good and you should visit it if you are on the island.
Ideal forCouples, solo trips, first timers in GreeceCouples, solo trips, first-timers in Greece, quiet island
More ExpensiveSantorini is super expensive in accommodation and restaurants but you can make it more affordable (read my tips here)Milos is not that expensive compared to Santorini and everything would generally feel cheaper on the island.
Best thing you can do:Enjoy the dramatic views, the wineries and the sunset volcano cruises.Take the day cruise around the island which will allow you to swim alone in some incredible waters in volcanic sea caves such as in Kleftiko or Papafragkas rocks.
Best for off-season visit (or winter November to April)Santorini is also great to visit off-season and in the winter as there are still many things to do and see apart from the beaches (such as wineries, the volcano, Akrotiri etc) but nothing on the beaches.Milos would feel extremely empty in the winter months and I do not recommend visiting outside of the summer months of June, July, August and September.
Best tip you can give me:Rent a car to move around.Rent a car to move around.
Best island for first-time in Greece:Santorini is ideal if it is your first time in Greece and the combination of a live volcano in a sea lagoon with dramatic views and sunsets is a natural marvel you have to see once in your lifetime. You don’t have to visit it again in my opinion (unless you really want to…).Milos might not be ideal for people visiting Greece for the first time as it’s not an island with lots of amenities in general. Its main 2 towns (Adamantas and Plaka) are not that cute compared to other towns in Cyclades islands.
Best for Families:Santorini can be very good for a family with kids but you need to make sure you stay close to the beach (Perissa or Kamari areas) because Fira, Imerovigli or Oia might be tricky with smaller kids especially.Milos being a quiet island is ideal for family holidays, but it’s probably more suitable for older kids and teenagers because the island lacks a bit of amenities you might expect to have very close with a baby or a toddler.
Best For Honeymoon:Santorini is one of the best destinations in the world for a honeymoon with some of the most romantic hotels in Greece.Milos can be perfect for a honeymoon if you are looking for a very quiet island with beautiful natural landscape and you are not too worried about fancy hotels and pretentious restaurants with views.

So, let’s see which island is better in every case, shall we?

Best Island for Attractions, Museums & Sightseeing: Santorini

Akrotiri prehistoric ruins are one of the best attractions in Santorini, and for many, this lost civilisation was the famous Atlantis but Milos is also rich in history

If you are looking for a destination rich in history and sightseeing then Santorini is a better option than Milos in general. However, Milos is also very rich in history with an amazing Mining Museum and a super interesting Archaeological Museum.

Detailed Comparison:

  • Santorini is really diverse with lots of things to do while Milos has more limited options but still quite a lot of things as it’s a bigger island overall.

  • Santorini is a pretty small island but it offers pretty much everything such as watersports, Museums, 16 Wineries, lots of hiking trails and many cute and picturesque villages.

  • In Santorini you can do wine tasting in one of the 16 wineries of the island which is an impressive number for the size of Santorini, whereas in Milos there is only one winery.

  • Santorini has some amazing traditional cycladic villages like Fira, Pyrgos, Megalochori, Emporio and of course the incredible Oia town (which can easily be the only reason to visit Santorini anyways…).

  • Milos has really only 1 typical cycladic and picturesque town which is Plaka. Adamantas is mainly the port and Pollonia is just a small fishing village.

  • Santorini has an active volcano with one of the largest craters in the world, where you can actually take a tour on (!). You don’t get to see that everyday and it is the characteristic that makes Santorini’s landscape so dramatic and impressive.
  • Milos is also a volcanic island with a very unique geology and landscape that is evident on the north-east side of the island on beaches such as Sarakiniko and the Sulphar Mines beach.

Best Island for Beaches: Milos

papafragkas beach milos greece
Milos in my opinion is one of the best Cyclades islands for beaches because they are very diverse

If you are a beach person and you imagine your holidays to be spent on the beach with your toes in the sand, then Milos would be ideal for you. Let’s be honest here. Santorini is awesome but it’s not famous for having nice beaches and I personally don’t like its beaches (Perissa, Perivolos and Vlychada mainly). Milos on the other hand has some of the most interesting and diverse beaches on any greek island but the thing is that they are kind of wild and not necessarily organized or with sunbeds and umbrellas on them (which is good in my view).

Detailed Comparison:

  • Santorini has only volcanic pebble beaches (there is a red, black and white beach). These are very impressive to be honest but you won’t find any fine sand beaches in Santorini due to the volcanic stones that are scattered all over the island.

  • Milos has more than 30 amazing beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters. You can find quiet beaches, beaches for families and even moon-like rock beaches such as Sarakiniko or Papafragkas. Some of them can only be reached by boat and that is why I believe taking a the day cruise around the island (like this one) is one of the best things you can do in Milos.

  • Santorini’s sea waters can be quite deep. It is the kind of sea, where you take one step, two steps… and you are in! No time to think about it.

  • Milos’ sea waters can be quite shallow and are perfect for kids or seniors in most of the beaches (like Achivadolimni or Firiplaka). But there are so many different beaches al over the island with pebbles, with golden or white sand, with rocks or just thick sand.

Most Romantic Island: Santorini

Santorini is one of the most romantic places on earth

This one is easy I think. If you are looking for a romantic destination, well…stop looking. You found it. It’s Santorini. Milos can be a great destination for a couple but being 100% honest here, it’s nothing compared to Santorini.

Detailed Comparison:

  • Santorini is considered one of the most romantic destinations in the world and one of the top destinations for honeymooners. For a lot of good reasons: sunsets, views, food, cute villages…what else do you need?

  • Milos is also considered a romantic destination with a more wild feeling and vibe to it. If you are not worried about fancy restaurants or even looking for a more affordable destination then Milos is an excellent destination.

Best Island for Partying & Nightlife: Santorini

santorini club
Santorini has quite a lot of clubs and bars for its size

If you are really looking for the best nightlife during your holidays then you shouldn’t look at any of these two islands in my opinion. Santorini does have a few nightclubs and bars nowadays while Milos nightlife is not even existent to be honest other than a few tavernas and a few bars in Adamantas and Plaka towns. If you are really worried about nightlife then you would better look at other greek islands.

Best island for wine lovers: Santorini

santowines winery santorini
The volcano views from Santowines winery are stunning

If you are looking to combine your holidays with wine tasting or any other thing wine-related, go to Santorini. Santorini is one of the best wine destinations in Europe and home to the oldest vineyard you will find on the continent. Milos is home to only one winery but it’s a very good and cute one.

Detailed Comparison:

  • Santorini is considered the most unique (and underrated I have to say…) wine destination in the world

  • Santorini has more than 16 Wineries and Wine Tours you can take. The wine tasting experience usually includes amazing views, amazingly refreshing local wine and greek meze/nibbles.

  • Santorini’s wineries are top world venues for weddings because of their romantic settings and the stunning views

  • The most famous local wine of Santorini is “Assyrtiko” variety which has received hundreds of awards all over the world. You can also taste the sweet port-like wine of Santorini called “Vinsanto” 

Best island for foodies: Santorini

The amazing food is combined with unparalleled views in Santorini (La Maison Restaurant) but Milos only has some good greek tavernas.

That’s an easy one to be honest because Santorini has such an amazing modern restaurants scene and Milos mostly has some really nice tavernas and good old fashion greek restaurants such as O Hamos. The great thing about Milos is that it is quite rich in local produce of vegetables and meat.

23 Best Restaurants in Santorini
10 Best Restaurants with views in Santorini

Best island for families with kids: both

family hotels in crete
Many people would think that Santorini is great for a family with kids (and it is to an extend) but Milos can also be a great destination, but for older kids and teenagers, in my opinion.

In my honest opinion, Santorini is a great family destination. There is no shortage of incredible family hotels with lots of things for kids to do and explore, especially if you stay as close to the beaches of Perissa and Kamari as possible. Milos can be great for much more quiet holidays and in my opinion the best place for a family in Milos would be Pollonia, which is a small fishing village with nice and cute tavernas on top of a beautiful beach which is very family oriented.

Best island for shopping: Santorini

santorini shopping
Santorini has thousands of small and even some bigger shops in both Fira and Oia with lots of small and cute galleries or traditional souvenir shops

Santorini does have some interesting Art Galleries and boutiques to shop around (that can be quite expensive) while Milos has very few shops overall. If shopping is important to you then Santorini is your destination.

Best island for seniors or people with disabilities: Milos

Santorini’s towns have lots of stairs (not everywhere, though)

Santorini’s difficult terrain and thousand stairs villages are not the best for people with disabilities or seniors… Milos on the other hand has a few fairly flat villages such as Adamantas or Pollonia but in general fewer amenities for seniors. I wouldn’t recommend either of the islands to any senior or older people, to be honest.

Which one is finally the best island: Santorini or Milos? 

In my opinion, both islands have their own charm but they are abit different in what they offer. On the one hand, Santorini is the most viral, famous and crowded greek island, whereas Milos is a quiet and naturally gifted island with more chill and calm vibes.

Read Also: How Many Days Do You Really Need in Santorini?

Now if I had to choose just one island between the two I would probably go to Santorini for a quick trip (especially if it’s my first time in Greece) but I would also make sure to spend a few days in Milos to enjoy the beautiful landscape along with some of the most interesting beaches in Greece.

Besides Santorini and Milos?

best paros beach bars greece
Paros is one of the most hyped greek islands the last years

The great thing about Greece is that there is no shortage of amazing island to choose from and if I ahd to pick somewhere else then I would probably choose Paros or Naxos islands. They are both ideal for families with amazing beaches and they are larger than Santorini and Milos.


I hope this comparison helped you out. As I said previously on this article, if it’s really your first time in Greece you should visit Santorini for a few days but if you are looking for a more quiet greek island then Milos is your destination. The other thing about both islands is that unless you stay locked in your hotel (which something I hate personally) you would probably need a car. Yes, there are some very good bus services on both islands but a car will always allow you to explore the island in a much better and more flexible way.

Photo of author
Pavlos Inglesis
Greek, born and raised in Athens. I have been to almost every greek island and pretty much in every region of mainland Greece. I have also been eating souvlaki and gyros since the 80s. I love being a dad to my 2 beautiful daughters and also taking great photos of the places I visit. This is my blog to help you out explore the places I have visited with my inside tips as a Greek, knowing the ins and outs of my country and culture. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section under the post you are interested in and I wIll try my best to respond asap.

🛏️ is the website with the most available rooms and Private Villas in Athens, Santorini , Mykonos & Crete (more than Airbnb!)

⛴️ Ferryhopper is the best website to book your ferry tickets or check the timetables for Santorini, Mykonos , Crete & all greek islands

🏺 Get Your Guide has the best and largest variety of Tours in Athens and the greek islands (Santorini, Mykonos, Crete etc)

🚙 Rentalcars is the easiest way to rent a car or a quad for Greece with thousands of available options

✈️ Flights has all the available flights to and from the greek islands

🚕 Book Your Driver (Taxi) directly with's large and safe platform of available certified drivers

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