Ibiza has all the Balearic beats and hippy culture in a jaw-slackening beautiful Mediterranean setting. Mykonos, meanwhile, is the Greek island of glamour, nestling amid the chilled-out Cyclades islands in the sun-kissed Aegean Sea.
Both share a reputation for St Tropez-style glamour and a reputation for partying hard; both have memory-making sunsets bouncing off the whitewashed walls; and both have witnessed a boom in cool openings in recent years — think luxury brands and super-yachts with a liberal sprinkling of A-list celebrities.
But which is right for you? We quiz those that ought to know to help you decide.
First up, describe island life…
Mykonos looks amazing: raw natural beauty, cubist architecture and cobblestone street harbours, all bathed in a white-hot natural light.
“It feels very cosmopolitan, more luxurious than Ibiza’s boho chic,” says Catherine Mitilineos, a programme manager for an investment bank who visits the island several times each year.
But Ibiza can party. Head north to go boho, stay south for a frisson of glitterati sparkle. The best parties in the world are happening on the White Isle right now.
“When in Ibiza, I love the way I can spend the night at Pacha then, just hours later, be drinking green juice at a spa day,” says Sarah Kinniburgh of the concierge department at Dynamic lives, the leading luxury holiday agency in Ibiza.
Okay, so how about luxury infrastructure?
Ibiza has a long history of luxury nomads, while Mykonos is a bit more up-and-coming, with a smaller-scale scene and more rustic touches. The latter does, however, have its very own branch of Louis Vuitton.
Many luxury brands have discovered the White Island, with the likes of the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel, luxury restaurant Cipriani and luxury Ibiza villa rentals from Dynamic Lives.
But Mykonos is catching up, with pop-up eateries moving in from Athens and local start-ups. Amongst the slew of new openings are Scorpios, a beach club and restaurant, and Dew, a cool, high-end boutique.
“Ibiza is, however, very liveable out of season,” says the internationally renowned shoe designer, Camilla Skovgaard, who has a house on the island. “I live in the San Carlos area and, on Ibiza, I like the way my design work no longer defines me — my lifestyle does.”
“I love the ebb and flow between summer and winter. The winter is Ibiza’s true breathing rhythm and soul,” she adds. “It feels very nurturing.”
How about the local food?
From simple paella, served at a table with your toes in the sand, to the culinary creativity of celebrated chefs, verdant Ibiza makes the best of its abundant Mediterranean produce. Round off any meal with a shot of hierbas, the local specialty liqueur, for a taste of island life.
“My images of Ibiza life is a long, lazy lunch at a spectacular beach club with great food, music and friends,” says social media consultant,Lauren Walker, who has been going to Ibiza for years and has seen the destination evolve.
Mykonos, by contrast, boasts a good mix of rustic Greek tavernas and high-end brands, such as Ling Ling, the new venture from Hakkasan. Katrin, a hidden-gem local institution in Mykonos Town, has been serving the best rack of lamb on the island for over 40 years.
The jeweller Diane Kordas, a regular visitor to Mykonos, recently told Conde Nast Traveller how she recommends the Alemagou salad, a twist on Greek salad, at the Alemagou beach restaurant. She also loves the sea-urchin pasta at waterside Spilia in Agia Anna.
…And the nightlife?
“You’re never going to trump Ibiza for nightlife,” says Lauren. “You can spend a week seeing a different superstar DJ or two every night at a different club and witness the most amazing events. The energy that the partygoers and music lovers bring to the scene is electric.”
But Catherine prefers Mykonos’ more intimate scene: “the whole island has a very happy vibe. Ibiza has the mega clubs but Mykonos is more about hopping around little bars. It’s a friendlier dynamic,” she says.
After all that partying, I need some wellness…
For feel-good fixes, Ibiza is hard to beat. “Ibiza has the wellness lifestyle sorted,” says Lauren. “From sunset yoga to a vitamin drip, it’s all there.”
Sink a charcoal-packed Black Magic, a cold-pressed juice delivered to your door, from Ibiza Potion Juicery to detox late-night excesses. Alternatively, head to The Body Camp, a luxury fitness retreat, for yoga alongside LA-style bootcamp training.
Finally, let’s hit the beach…
Ibiza has some amazing beaches, especially if you charter a boat and explore the isolated coves off the islet of Formentera, Ibiza’s little Caribbean. But, for Mykonos fan Catherine, nothing beats the Greek beaches and sea.
“The water is crystal clear and pure blue,” she says. “It’s quite mesmerizing.”
Diane agrees, citing Frangias Beach as a favourite and recommending boat trips to Skinos Bay, located southwest of Mykonos on the island of Rineia.
It’s a tough call but, overall, our experts agree: Ibiza for big nights out followed by chilled-out days, plus a longer season; Mykonos for natural wonders and pristine waters, plus high-summer chic.
“I’m definitely an Ibiza girl,” says Lauren. “I love the mix of bold and boho. The juxtaposition of hedonism and wellness also suits me really well.”
“Being on Mykonos simply makes me feel happy and uplifted,” says Greece-lover Catherine. “The serenity of Mykonos life feels like heaven to me.”
So which are you?