The question of where to holiday between the Balearic island of Ibiza and the Greek island of Mykonos has plagued the minds of would-be travellers, hedonists and music lovers for decades.
Let me put it this way. 2-Pac or Biggy? You see the conundrum! How the hell are you meant to choose? Well, there is a way that we can score it. But it’s going to be mighty close.
Read on as I put the spotlight on each to find out which is the best choice for you by looking at:
- The party scene in Mykonos & Ibiza
- Things to do during your sun-soaked days
- What accommodation options do you have?
So without beating around the bush any longer, let’s get into it and find out the answer to this would you rather…
Nightlife and clubbing scene
Without question, the island with the longest history of clubbing, partying, and general debauchery is Ibiza. But in more recent years, the windy Aegean atol of Mykonos has been catching up and is also attracting globally renowned DJs.
Ibiza is the summertime clubbing capital of the world. Period! Nowhere else on earth has more internationally acclaimed nightclubs in such a condensed area. There are 4 main areas where you’ll find a party every night of the week.
- Ibiza Town
- Playa d’en bossa
- San Antonio
- San Rafael
As an electronic music lover, I have always found it fascinating to follow the trend of which sub-genres receive more promotion than others. For example, during the 90s, it was all about Trance with parties such as Gatecrasher and Godskitchen. Then techno dominated the 2010s, with labels like Afterlife reaching stratospheric popularity. Ibiza drives and dictates what gets played/produced in the global electronic music industry. Pretty powerful stuff, right?
Anyone close to the clubbing scene will know the likes of Pacha, Ushuaia and Amnesia. But there are plenty of other nightclubs in Ibiza, and it’s unlikely that you’ll have enough time to experience each venue on your first visit. However, if you do manage, well then, I salute you!
It’s not only at night when the festival atmosphere grabs hold of the White Isle. There is also a plethora of beach clubs, bars and restaurants that are geared to lifting the mood of patrons and getting you into the summertime feels.
But! Unfortunately, there is a but here. The Balearic government has cracked down HARD on daytime shenanigans and noise regulations. This means the wild day parties that you saw in the past are not nearly as widespread as they used to be.
They do still happen, though, in the larger daytime venues. Ibiza Rocks, for example, throw wild pool parties in San Antonio and O-Beach is still the happening place for live performances before the sunsets.
Playa d’en Bossa, however, wasn’t so lucky. The iconic Bora Bora shut its doors after 40 years of bringing arguably the liveliest daytime party atmosphere to Ibiza. There are potentially others that could follow suit on Playa d’en Bossa. Only time will tell how much longer the towering buildings of Ushuaia will be allowed to throw their daytime poolside bashes.
The local government is on a crusade against the drunken tourist and the party scene in general. Politicians are trying to change the image of Ibiza from dealers to healers (a reference to their promotion of health & wellness tourism).
But many of the nouveau riche tourists also spend BIG in the superclubs at night before retreating onto their superyachts for the day. Ibiza’s clubbing scene is morphing once again. And because of this, it’s still the most exciting anywhere on earth!
Hot on the heels of Ibiza’s party capital crown is Mykonos. And while it will take some doing to overtake the Balearic hotspot, some mighty fine music is being played in Mykonos’ nightclubs by some of the world’s most revered names in electronic music.
If you are the type of reveller seeking out parties rowdy enough to continue past sunrise, look no further than these two areas of Mykonos.
- Mykonos town
- Paradise Beach
Mykonos is well-known for raucous daytime beach parties, and now that same summer festive spirit has made its way into the nightlife. The Paradise Beach area has major superclubs such as Cavo Paradiso Club and the notorious Tropicana Mykonos.
You’ll find everything from house to techno to mainstream dance music in Cavo Paradiso. And in Tropicana, while you suck back on vodka-infused watermelons, you’ll (most likely) be subjected to heavily commercialised EDM. No judgement if that’s your thing, but if it’s not (like me), you are better off elsewhere.
If you have a fine appreciation for electronic music (another dig at EDM) and the musical variety within the clubbing scene. Then be sure to visit Scorpios at the far west end of the bay. The vibe is bohemian chic in the same ilk as Tulum, which means it’s expensive and bougie by default. I didn’t intend to have a dig at Tulum there, but hey, the truth hurts.
Okay, so where does that leave the clubbing scene of Paradise Beach? Put it this way. The east end of the bay equals loud, brash, sparklers in bottles, smoke machines and shoulder-to-shoulder dancefloors. While the east end is chilled vibes on bean bags, the DJ needs to earn their money and create the vibe while patrons drink overpriced cocktails.
Where Mykonos hands down beats Ibiza is in the LGBT-friendly party scene. And while the latter is a welcoming place, the former has had open arms since the 70s and is still the gay party capital of Europe.
Mykonos Town is where things get interesting. VOID nightclub might be one of the most underrated clubs in Europe. Everything from the interior layout and lighting to the musical curation is thoughtfully put together. Names like Dixon and Ame play here, and if you are looking for something like Afro-tech, Shimza is the Friday resident.
A whole host of other venues in Mykonos Town cater to various preferences. But, if you are looking for a secret gem, then Moni Mykonos is it. Personally, I love it when a club brings in an established name every once in a while and hands the decks over to its resident DJs. It always creates an intimate atmosphere and typically attracts like-minded folks to boogie.
Things to do in the day
Before I begin listing off the generic things to do that you’ll no doubt read on so many other travel blogs, I’m going to take you through a brief look back into their pasts.
Ibiza and Mykonos began their tourism experiences in much the same way. Both were havens for hippies and raconteurs in the 60s.
And when Ibiza took a route towards discotheques and music, Mykonos quickly became a safe haven for the LGBT community in the 70s.
Why does this history matter? Because both of these islands are special, they will leave a lasting impression on you when you depart. You can check-in, but you’ll never check out.
Related article: What is Ibiza famous for?
Ibiza has over 80 gorgeous beaches peppered around its turquoise-coloured coastline. Ranging from white sandy beaches to pebbled calas (coves in English).
If you are looking for that Insta-worthy beach, check out Platja de Ses Illetes (pronounced playa de ses Jetes in English). Yes, granted, you need to get the ferry to Formentera to see, but visiting the quiet sibling island of Ibiza is an activity worth doing in itself.
Remember that I just mentioned the hippies in the 60s? Well, their spirit lives on and is thriving. There are scores of hippy markets scattered over the island. The most popular is Las Dalias Hippy Market which runs every Saturday. Las Dalias has been around since 1954 and is a living legend. They offer a whole range of programming, from live music to DJs and much more.
Getting out onto the turquoise waters that engulf Ibiza’s rocky coastline is an absolute must. Particularly in the South West of the island, where you can hop onto a boat tour excursion, rent or even charter your own for the day. The waters are calm and flat in the summer, and this is one of my favourite ways to spend a sun-kissed Balearic day.
If you don’t fancy using your sea legs, I’d encourage you to explore the island’s interior. I suggest exploring the South Western corner of Ibiza for most people. It’s more convenient if you are staying in the main tourist areas (San Antonio, Playa d’en Bossa and Ibiza Town). There are plenty of easy short walks/hikes that you can do using the app AllTrails that will take you to hidden calas (coves) or expose you to sublime viewpoints.
You also can’t visit Ibiza and not experience a Bohemian sunset. San Antonio has one of the world’s most famous sunset strips, thanks to Cafe Del Mar and Cafe Mambo. Another incredible sunset vibe is the drumming circle on Sundays at Cala Benirras.
Rocky and lunar-esque can be used to describe the rugged landscape of Mykonos. In addition, the Cyclades islands sit in a literal wind funnel created by pressure systems in the Black Sea, giving Mykonos the nickname The Island of the Winds. It’s these qualities that make Mykonos unique.
Sunsets are an integral part of daily life on Mykonos. Watching the sunset in Little Venice is a right of passage for visitors to experience. The build-up has a vibrant atmosphere and the most stunning orange/reddish hue that ignites the sky thanks to the strong winds carrying dust particles. It’s also the catalyst for Mykonos’ nightlife to awaken from its brief slumber.
Much like Ibiza, Mykonos also has a smaller sibling island. Delos is a fascinating island to explore and is the mythical home of both Apollo & Artemis. So if you appreciate Greek mythology, pay a visit to Delos. If you don’t love a bit of ancient history, then give Mythos (by Stephen Fry) a listen, and I’m sure you’ll be converted just like I was!
Take advantage of the long sun-drenched days by heading to one of Mykonos’ 23 car-accessible beaches. Now it’s well worth noting Mykonos is one of the most popular Greek islands with tourists, so sunbeds can potentially cost you more than your hotel. That’s just the nature of the beast unfortunately. Also, whereas Ibiza has more affordable beach clubs, Mykonos doesn’t have as much real estate, so beach clubs can charge whatever they like.
That said, you can still do Mykonos beach days on the cheap. Head to the north side of Mykonos to find quieter beaches. You will need your own wheels to access most of them. As with most activities on Mykonos, check the wind and try to go early to avoid being swept off your towel.
Let me get something out of the way quickly. Both Ibiza and Mykonos are expensive. So don’t be surprised when you get asked for €20 for a cocktail, €60 for a club night ticket, or €150 for a sunbed at a beach club.
The White Isle became a hangout of the rich and famous when Tony Pike completed works on a rundown finca (farm) that became Pikes Hotel. There has always been affluence attached to Ibiza, and today it’s most clearly on display through the superyachts anchored in the bays.
But it’s not entirely detached from reality, and many budget tourists can find hotel deals and packages mainly in San Antonio.
Flights in the summer skyrocket. Especially in July and August. Making it one of the most expensive per hour tickets in Europe. This is nothing unique to Ibiza as Europe follows the same pattern in peak summer, but it is amplified in the Balearics. To get a favourable deal, book well in advance or visit outside peak season.
Hotels and villas to suit all budgets. A big plus in the affordability column is the sheer variety of available holiday/short stay accommodation. Sure there are properties that most of us can only dream of renting. But if you shop around on accommodation booking platforms and aggregators, you will be surprised about what you can find. In fact, accommodation is the most affordable aspect of an Ibiza trip relative to other costs.
I’d recommend these party villas if you are a group of 6+ and for a handful of friends looking to enjoy the island, then there are hotels geared for clubbers.
Food, drink, entertainment and general shenanigans. These are pretty cut and dry. You can either spend a fortune or spend a fortune. Okay, so they say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit; however, I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say you can do this on the cheap. How much is that nightclub’s bottle of water?!
Sure, you don’t have to spend Michelin star money each meal (although you can easily if you wish). But if you don’t fancy eating Kebabs or drinking moonshine for a week, then cough up the dough and enjoy yourself.
Accommodation isn’t cheap during summer. Even Hostels are expensive due to demand, so finding a budget hotel can be tricky. If you are fortunate enough to have a baller-level budget, Mykonos is your playground. There are scores of insta-worthy properties from quintessentially white and blue villas to boho-chic 5-star resorts.
As is the case in Ibiza, and you want to travel on a stricter budget, then consider looking at visiting in either May or September. But bear in mind that the party season in Mykonos isn’t as long in Ibiza, so there will be less happening outside peak season. A real catch-22!
There are 2 flight options for Mykonos. The first is expensive, and the other is a private jet expensive. Okay, I’ll tone down the sarcasm again (there has been a fair bit of it, hasn’t there?).
You could get lucky and knab yourself a good deal. However, that will mean getting the red eye from Luton airport in the middle of the week. For my American readers, if you didn’t get that reference, then just know that flights from Luton aren’t ideal.
Perhaps the semi-private charter jet company Aero, which runs regular flights between Ibiza and Mykonos, can summarise how these two islands target tourists the best. A one-way will set you back around €2000 ($2000/£1680). That means there is enough demand from well-to-do folks for an airline to fly this route. That says it all.
Entertainment for your days & nights isn’t cheap either. That first line sunbed you are eyeing out will run you €400 on Paradise Beach. And that flashy champagne bottle with a sparkler shoved down its neck will require you to remortgage your flat. But again, if you have the means to do it, you will have one hell of a holiday with some epic memories to boot. And what is the price of those? Oh yeah, €400 to get a suntan.
I’m going to get straight into it. Personally, I prefer Ibiza. It’s just a matter of preference. Both islands are expensive and genuinely magical places if you like to let your hair down on holiday. But Ibiza has represented a mecca for electronic music lovers ever since Kevin & Perry went large!
Is Mykonos cheaper than Ibiza?
No, Mykonos isn’t cheaper than Ibiza. In many cases, Mykonos is actually more expensive than Ibiza. Ibiza has more accommodation available to tourists and also budget-friendlier options. Both Mykonos and Ibiza charge similarly for food and drinks in restaurants, beach bars and beach clubs.
Is Mykonos smaller than Ibiza?
Yes, Mykonos is smaller than Ibiza. The land area of Mykonos is 86km2 (33 square miles), and the land area of Ibiza is 572km2 (221 square miles). So Ibiza is roughly 6.5 times bigger than Mykonos.