Deciding Between Mykonos and Santorini

Ah, the Greek Islands – sun-drenched landscapes, turquoise waters, and ancient charm. But when it comes to Mykonos and Santorini, two of the most famous islands, choosing the perfect one can be daunting. Which one is right for your travel style? Below we consider the vibe (atmosphere), pros, cons and key questions to consider when deciding between these two incredible islands.


What can you expect from a stay on Mykonos? Think endless stretches of golden sand, vibrant beach clubs pulsing with music, and cosmopolitan charm. Mykonos caters to the social butterfly: those seeking lively nightlife, trendy boutiques, and the chance to rub shoulders with celebrities.

waves and windmills in Mykonos Greece

Imagine yourself indulging in champagne showers at Paradise Beach, dancing into the sunrise at Super Paradise, or exploring the narrow, whitewashed alleys of Mykonos Town. Mykonos offers charming Mykonos Town, windmills, and scenic coastal walks. This island perfectly caters to diverse interests, whether you want to relax on golden beaches, indulge in luxurious spas, explore Delos Island’s ancient ruins, or hit the vibrant nightlife scene.


  • Perfect for short trips 3-4 days
  • Flatter landscape – better for those with mobility concerns
  • Lots of variety available
  • Soft-sand golden beaches


  • Not as dramatic scenery as Santorini
  • Fewer activities are available in the off-season – most of the island is closed.
  • Not very many wineries to enjoy

Questions to Ask When Considering a Mykonos Vacation

Who am I traveling With? – Mykonos is perfect for families, large friend groups with diverse interests, and multi-generational trips or folks with mobility concerns.

How do I feel about Crowds? – In the quieter “shoulder” season you can actually escape the crowds on Mykonos. The slightly wider streets and larger island also offer some crowd relief, so if crowds aren’t your thing Mykonos is the best option.

Do I want an Active Adventure or More Relaxation Time? – Mykonos offers more relaxing on soft sand beaches, go with the flow vibes. There is a greater focus on wandering, relaxing and indulging.

[Photo Credits: Courtney via Shared Adventures Travel]


What can you expect from an adventure to Santorini? Picture dramatic cliffsides crowned by whitewashed villages, breathtaking volcanic landscapes, and panoramic views that melt your heart. Santorini entices the romantic soul: those yearning for candlelit dinners with caldera views, intimate sunset strolls through Oia’s charming streets, and exploring ancient ruins steeped in myth.

A happy couple with the white washed walls and blue domes of Santorini Greece behind them

Witness the fiery magic of the sunset, sail around the volcanic caldera, or indulge in a wine tasting amidst the vineyards. Santorini offers volcanic hikes, wine tastings, boat tours, and cultural immersion. It’s the perfect destination for outdoor adventures.


  • Unbelievably stunning dramatic views and vistas
  • Perfect for hiking and outdoorsy activities
  • Romantic atmosphere which caters to honeymooners and couples
  • Over 20 wineries to enjoy
  • Plenty to do and see – could easily spend a week on the island


  • Lots of hills and stairs – challenging for those with mobility concerns
  • Longer tourist season – expect to find crowds from early April – November
  • Volcanic pebble, rocky, or course sand beaches

Questions to Ask When Considering a Santorini Vacation

How much Time do I have? – There’s enough to do to spend a whole week here and you can take your time to enjoy Santorini. It’s worth spending more than a few days, if budget permits.

sunset over the ocean santorini greece

Do I want an Active Adventure or More Relaxation Time? – You can, of course, spend time relaxing on Santorini but with its dramatic cliffs and volcanic landscape it’s great for active travelers who enjoy hills, stairs, hiking and water adventures like kayak and boating.

How do I feel about Crowds? – Santorini is well known and its narrow streets don’t offer a lot of breathing room. While the shoulder season is less crowded there will almost always be crowds. But, as Santorini makes an effort to become a year-round destination, more hotels and activities are available in the cooler months. (The only thing you won’t find open in winter is beach clubs/ pools)

[ Photo Credits: Alicia & Jay via Shared Adventures Travel – read about their family adventure to Greece here! / Christina via Shared Adventures Travel]

No matter which famous island destination you choose – you’re sure to have an incredible time soaking up the sunshine and beautiful Greek culture! If you’re ready to start planning your Greek Island Adventure – or want to find out about some hidden-gem island options — let us know!

A Family Adventure in Greece

Long-time clients Alicia & Jay came to us for some help with a bucket-list trip to Greece with her mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law. The whole family wanted a mix of sightseeing, relaxation, luxury hotel amenities, gorgeous beaches, and incredible food! We were thrilled to put it all together for them. Here’s their feedback:

We can’t thank you enough for planning such a perfect family trip to Greece! We had an amazing time! We had beautiful, warm, and sunny weather for most of the trip.


As you already know, when we arrived in Athens on Saturday morning, there was a mixup with our transportation and we ended up just taking taxis to the hotel. However, after this, the trip was mostly seamless! The Athens Gate Hotel was wonderful and very helpful in confirming our transportation for the following day. When we arrived on Saturday, we had lunch and explored Hadrian’s Arch and Monastiraki Square. We had drinks and dinner at the Athens Gate rooftop, which had beautiful views of the Acropolis.

On Sunday, we had our tour of the Acropolis. When we got to the meeting point, there was no one there to meet us for the tour. We contacted the tour company and they arranged for someone to meet us back at our hotel so we could leave from there. The tour of the Acropolis was amazing and our tour guide was incredible. It was definitely good to do it early in the day because it was 90+ degrees, and it wasn’t too crowded as we were climbing up, but on our way down we noticed that the crowds had increased significantly.

After the tour, we grabbed lunch and headed to the airport.


We absolutely loved the Minoa Palace Resort in Crete! What a beautiful resort, which certainly earns its 5-star status.

We spent the next four days mostly between the beach and pools and walking to nearby restaurants for dinner. The hotel staff couldn’t have been nicer, arranging taxis and even salon appointments for us. We loved our rooms with the private pools!

The Cretan Cooking Class was an incredible experience and one of the best meals we had the entire trip. It was amazing to see the family’s villa high up in the mountains with incredible views.

We also explored Chania Old Town on Wednesday, which was beautiful. We stopped for lunch along the water at the perfect time because the skies opened up and gave us quite a storm. I think that was the only time it rained the entire trip in Greece!


I think Santorini was collectively our favorite place! The Petit Palace Hotel blew us away with its incredible views. Talk about a grand entrance – the hotel’s entrance is literally two doors on the side of a cliff and all you see is the water below when you walk through. Our rooms were again spacious and impressive – from the unique bathrooms to the balconies. We saw the best sunset of our entire trip from our hotel room balconies. The hotel had a shuttle that runs back and forth to Fira, and the staff was very helpful with arranging taxis for us elsewhere.

We spent time exploring both Fira and Oia, which was my favorite place, as well as the black sand beaches – we spent a day at one of the beach clubs called Wet Stories. Marissa, Joe, and Bob did a hike from Fira to Imerovigli, which they said was amazing! We also did a tour and wine tasting at Santo Wines, which was great!

The highlight in Santorini for all of us was the Sunset Boat Tour. The tour ended up being all adults and relatively small (we lucked out with a fun group). The crew was spectacular and the food they prepared was delicious. We all swam in the Aegean Sea and enjoyed drinks, good music, and beautiful views.


We all agreed that it was so nice to have one extra night in Athens at the end of the trip. We loved the Sofitel – the convenience of the two-minute walk from baggage claim was ideal. We had dinner at their rooftop restaurant and it was great to be able to freshen up and get a good night’s sleep before the long flight back to Boston.

Overall, you knocked it out of the park again! This was the most memorable family trip. Thank you from all of us for planning the best escape to Greece!


5 Movie & TV Inspired Destinations

Have you ever watched a movie or tv show and thought you really wish you were there? Of course you have! Especially during the last few years, when we were all binge-watching our favorite shows and using them as an escape into another world. 

We’ve rounded up five cool destinations that were catapulted into fame and put on countless bucket lists because of movies and TV shows. Whether you’re looking to visit the exact spot where your favorite actors stood, or just want to experience the vibe of the worlds they created, these destinations are unforgettable additions to any must-see list. 

New Zealand

This is perhaps the place that has capitalized on “set-jetting” tourism the most.

New Zealand is, of course, well known for the Lord of Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. And how could you not want to visit these incredible landscapes, lakes, mountains, and rivers? In addition to the over 150 filming locations of LOTR, New Zealand was the backdrop to other famous films like the Chronicles of NarniaKing Kong, and Avatar. The country exudes an other-worldly, larger-than-life atmosphere, and is well worth the long trip.

[Photo Credit: Nate Johnston via Unsplash]

If you are going to see Hobbiton in Matamata then you can expect crowds, tickets, and a bit of over-tourism. But the great thing about New Zealand’s on-screen inspiration is the wide open spaces and the multitude of locations utilized by different films. There are a wide variety of destinations within the country where you can explore filming locations and make the most of your stay.

If you don’t want to brave the crowds at Hobbiton, you can make your home base in Wellington for some of the most accessible LOTR locations, including Tongariro National Park. Skull Island (Lyall Beach & Shelly Bay) from King Kong is also near Wellington. If, instead, you’d like to step through the wardrobe into Narnia, base yourself around Aukland for the incredible forests, or on the South Island where you’ll find Elephant Rocks.  There’s plenty of space to enjoy it all.

[Photo Credit: Dario Mueller via Unsplash]


We’ve had a lot of requests for this incredible Italian destination thanks to White Lotus season 2. Much of White Lotus takes place in Taormina with picturesque seaside vibes, luxury villas and hotels and incredible Greek ruins. But Sicily is the Mediterranean’s largest island, with a rich history all its own, and there’s lots to explore.

We would recommend staying in two locations – Taormina (or the larger Catania) in the shadow of Mt. Etna and then Palermo on the other side of the island. This way you can enjoy the beach clubs and a few well-planned day trips to the quaint local seaside towns along the coast. While you can use a train to get across the island, having a car is extremely helpful for day tripping.

[Photo Credit: Flo via Unsplash]

While Sicily is not quite as packed with tourists as other parts of Italy yet, it is seeing an increase in travel over the past five years. If you’re looking for a similar vibe without the crowds we recommend Sardinia. An Italian island with stunning landscapes and unbelievable beaches. Or, Puglia for the quaint seaside villages and unforgettable food. Or you could try Crete for all the Mediterranean island flair and nightlife with a Greek twist.

[Photo Credit: Flo via Unsplash]


From fictional worlds like Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Dungeons & Dragons to real-world stories like Derry Girls, Once, and Vikings. Ireland is a very popular filming location! Lush green forests, dramatic cliffs, and seascapes combine to offer viewers unforgettable scenery. 

Kylemore abbey Ireland

Depending on which film or show you find most inspiring, you’ll either head to Northern Ireland (Derry Girls, Dungeons & Dragons), the craggy cliffs and stunning roads along the west coast ( Star Wars: The Force Awakens/ The Last Jedi, Game of Thrones, The Princess Bride), the forest of Wicklow County (Vikings, P.S I Love You), or the quintessential city vibes of Dublin. Each area of Ireland has something incredible to offer, but the more popular sites will also come with crowds at certain times of the year.  

[Photo Credit: Lori via Shared Adventures – read about her Scottish and Irish Honeymoon here]

Here are some more off-the-beaten-path suggestions, if you prefer. Instead of The Cliffs of Moher, you can try the Sliabh Liag Cliffs in Donegal in the far northwest. Or, the Cliffs at Loop Head Kilkee in County Clare. If you’re looking for Star Wars vibes but not wanting to battle the crowds at Skellig Michael, you can try Malin Head in Donegal ( where many of the scenes were filmed). And a great alternative to the famous Ring of Kerry is the Skellig Ring Road just to the northwest of the Ring of Kerry, but with nary a tour bus in sight. 

[Photo Credit: Alicia & Jay via Shared Adventures — read about their Irish Adventure here!]

the cliffs of Moher Ireland


The city of light, art, and romance – Paris has been glorified in movies and tv since the beginning of film and has certainly inspired many travels.

a photo of the Amelie cafe in Montmartre Paris

Whether you’ve recently been inspired by Emily in Paris or Lupin, or you were inspired years ago by Midnight in ParisAmelie or countless others, the list of movies set in Paris is never ending and it certainly merits a visit.

[Photo Credit: Nicole & Paul via Shared Adventures — read about their Paris Anniversary Adventure here!]

While you won’t ever find the bustling city lacking crowds, visiting in the shoulder or off seasons will certainly help. Spring and Fall are beautiful times to enjoy the romantic narrow streets, wide boulevards, fabulous food, and unique architecture.

[Photo Credit: Kim & Paul via Shared Adventures — read about their first time in Paris here!]

Overlooking Paris at sunset from the Arc du Triomphe


If you’re looking for the Parisian vibe without the crowds, there are two other cities you can enjoy. Strasbourg is near the German border. It features a stunning cathedral, gothic architecture and narrow streets. And Lyon used to be the capital of France and has retained its remarkable heritage. You can take the tramway to glide above the Rhone river, or head underground for secret covered passageways. Lyon also boasts several Michelin starred restaurants and gourmet food. A perfect destination for a chic city break.


The Greek Islands have an undeniable visual appeal. Incredible turquoise waters, white-washed buildings, and charming seaside villages populate the movies as much as social media. Perfect for a beachy holiday, the Greek Islands provide every bit of those Mamma Mia vibes you’ve been craving since 2008. 

sunset over the ocean santorini greece

If you’re inspired by the wealthy private island from Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, then you’ll want to head to Spetses. With luxury and tradition, this is a favorite island of the rich and famous. Close to Athens, the Saronic Island is a perfect addition to a mainland Greece adventure. And those inspired by Daisy Jones & The Six can explore the quaint port and serene alleyways of Hydra – another of the Saronic Islands in the Aegean. 

On the other side of the Aegean, Mamma Mia fans will be taking a ferry to the Sporadic Islands of Skopelos and Skiathos, which are ideal for a peaceful laid-back vacation. With gorgeous nature, small fishing villages, and idyllic emerald waters, these islands are a bit more difficult to reach, as there’s no ferry from Athens. You’ll either need to take the ferry from Agios Konstantinos in central Greece or Volos in Thessaly. Or fly into Skiathos directly. 

For any Greek Island adventure, we recommend a little island hopping. While places like Santorini and Mykonos have gotten a bit crowded, there are plenty of islands to explore that have yet to gain a huge influx of tourism.  Why not get creative and check out Milos, Folegandros or Naxos instead.

Wherever you’re inspired to travel to, whether from the latest tv show or movie or a simple Instagram post – let us know! We’re always excited to help you realize your travel dreams and can offer options to fit the perfect vibe. 

A Cruise around Italy & Greece

Katie & Marcello wanted to do something special for their anniversary – something not only memorable but that covered multiple incredible destinations. We knew the perfect way for them to maximize their time (and experiences) in the Mediterranean was to take a cruise. And they had a blast! Here is their trip report and top tips from each port:

The Ship

Getting to and on the boat [The NCL Dawn] was very easy! We arrived about 1.5 hours early and they checked us in early and we were one of the first on! The club balcony suite was very spacious with a great bathroom but the ship overall is slightly dated. The best meals we had on the ship were La Cucina, Cagneys steakhouse, teppanyaki and Moderno (probably in that order). We loved the cruise experience, especially the staff. We’ve been on many Royal Caribbean cruises and in comparison we think the food and drinks are much better on Norwegian but the entertainment is better with Royal. 

Cruising Crete

As for the ports. In Crete we did not make plans and did the hop on hop off when we got there which was the best choice. We hopped off at Knossos which is where all of the cruise excursion buses were and we did not pay nearly as much as they did. Knossos was amazing to see and read about. Then we walked a few minutes to a restaurant Pasiphae which was just far enough away from tourists to feel local and had a delicious and authentic Greek lunch! We bought a combo ticket at Knossos so hopped back on the bus to the architectural museum and were able to skip that line and see amazing artifacts that were often hard to wrap our heads around. A great stop! Then back on the bus to the boat.

Tip: Caution here that the late hop-on bus seemed to be around 430 pm so watch for times. 

Santorini & Mykonos

We tendered for Santorini and also did not have formal plans. When we arrived the line for the cable car up the cliff was extremely long but well worth the wait. Walking up the steps should not even be considered an option and we did not support the donkey option.

Once at the top, it’s pretty hard to navigate with tiny streets at different levels but we found a spot called Rastoni and it was one of the best meals of the trip. We did some walking and shopping and I had previously booked a sunset table online at one of the bars which was the right move because it gets very busy at sunset. It was Pk Cocktails which had a gorgeous view but meh drinks.

[Photo Credit: Andrea via Shared Adventures – read about their Greece & London adventure here!]

View of Santorini Greece on the cliff

Then back to the ship but the line for the cable car was over 3 hours so we had no choice but to walk.

Tip: Walking down the stairs was not bad at all however it is very steep, slippery, and covered in donkey poop. Well gripped shoes are a must and I can’t imagine how slippery it must be in the rain. 

Next was Mykonos where it was very easy to walk into town do some shopping and grab a bite to eat. Nothing overly recommended for us but everything we saw was great

Stop in Athens

I had booked a tour of Athens through Viator (Athens city highlights half day private tour) for only $200 and we had a private guide pick us up at the port and bring us to the Acropolis, Olympic stadium, changing of the guard and he even stopped and got us baklava. It was well worth the money for his stories and insights into the city. It was nice not feeling like one of 100 people on a large tour.

Tip: Highly recommend a tour for Athens. There also isn’t much to do directly near the port so some kind of transportation is necessary 

Final Greek Stop: Corfu

greek olives

I did something similar in Corfu through Viator (taste of Corfu private tour) for $270 which also had a private driver and we stopped at a very local olive oil and wine producer where we were the only ones there and had a private full tasting of everything they made. We went to a beautiful garden monastery and then to a beach where we took an almost private boat ride through caves and watched the sunset. This was many people’s least favorite port because without a plan there isn’t much to do but we had an amazing day.

[Photo Credit: Eberhard Grossgasteiger via Unsplash]

Tip: The boat ride through the caves was the most memorable and difficult to get to without a guide like we had. A tour like this is most recommended for Corfu.

Cruise to Naples

In Naples, I chose a food tour through Viator (the 10 tastings of Naples with locals) which was a private tour that I might not recommend. The guide was lovely and we ate some great food but we walked much more than expected and I wasn’t sure we received all the stops we were supposed to. We saw a lot of the city which was nice but I’m not sure I would do it again. Naples is all about food and it’s such a big city that some type of navigator is preferred but maybe not this one. The city is very close to the port so transportation is not needed.

Florence & Pisa

Florence/Pisa was our only ship shore excursion and it was amazing. It was a very large group (almost 100) but it was okay for what we were doing. We chose Pisa and taste of Tuscany for $250pp. The price was steep for what you got but it was a fun day.

They took us to Pisa to explore the monuments and shop and the guide was really great. Then to a Tuscan winery to see the vineyards, try all the wines (unlimited tasting) and a classic Italian lunch of pasta and antipasti. It was very fun, delicious and expensive as we ended up buying a lot of wine and shipping it home.

Unfortunately our day in Cannes was cancelled because the wind was too strong for us to tender. I had had a Viator tour booked but was refunded because of this. 

Overall I was very impressed with Viator in their prices and communication. Everyone messaged me many times about meeting times and locations and the guides always made sure we were back to the ship with lots of time to spare. I felt safe and confident in the tours we chose. 

Final Stop of the Cruise: Barcelona

Finally Barcelona. Hotel Colon was absolutely beautiful and such a perfect choice! It was right by the cathedral and had a rooftop bar. We took a taxi to the hotel which was very easy (about 30 euro) and left our bags. Then, found a cafe and toured the beautiful cathedral. We learned that Sagrada Familia is actually not a cathedral and is much more modern than the cathedral we toured (and slightly overrated to the locals).

Then we went on a food tour booked through Viator (Barcelona tapas and wine experience) which was by far my favorite tour. An amazing value, not much walking, and a lovely guide. We went through the food and fish market, had wine and tapas in a wine cellar, tried four restaurants, and learned a lot about the city.

I had done some researched and booked Arcano for dinner and I cannot overemphasize how good this meal was. I would go back here a thousand times! And our guide recommended a flamenco show at Palaus Demases. There are many flamenco shows but this one was in a very old building, truly authentic and very small. We paid for vip seats which is a must to see how much work their feet are doing. It was such an authentic experience and so much fun! 

I hope these tips can help others on their trips! We had an amazing vacation and can’t thank you enough!

Katie Lessa

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)