Eat. Sleep. Beach. Repeat.
‘Tis the name of the game on the lively island of Mykonos in the Greek Cyclades. Move over Santorini! Mykonos flaunts all the elements of a carefree coastal getaway: beaches of pure white sand meet azure waters, cobalt topped buildings, and delectable Greek cuisine (and wine) just begging for indulgence. It’s one of those destinations where it is what you make of it: romantic and relaxing or wild and adventurous. The choice is yours.Today I am sharing my top ten experiences for 48 hours in Mykonos!
1 . Explore Chora, the Old Town
Wander the stark white, narrow, cobblestone lanes, packed with dainty boutiques, galleries, cafes and gift shops. Expect to find high end brands such as Chanel, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton. Tiny churches are peppered around and colorful balconies covered in cascades of fuchsia bougainvillea flowers. Pure bliss! Chora is pedestrian friendly, no cars allowed. The ideal time to enjoy Mykonos town is early in the morning when all the party crowds are still fast asleep. Beware, it does get crowded after the noon hours! Most shops are open seven days a week, but closed from 2 to 5pm.
It is said that Chora’s winding streets were designed to confuse raiding pirates but others believe they are to deflect lethal winds that come whirling from the Aegean Sea.
2. Visit the iconic windmills
The windmills or Kato Mili that ground grain from the 16th century up until the 1960’s. Mykonos was situated on major sea trade-route which once joined Venice, the gateway of Europe, to Asia. Today, just seven remain between Alefkadra and the quarter of Niohor.Mkyonos name means “island of the winds” which you will understand upon arrival.
3. Wander Little Venice
Little Venice spans the Alefkandra Bay along the westernmost part of town. Long ago, sailors built their houses overlooking the shoreline. Many of these historic houses have since been converted into cozy restaurants and chic bars for all to enjoy. Expect to be greeted by pelicans galore!Grab a drink and watch the sun go down over the sea for a truly magical experience.
4. Beach Hop
How could you turn down these golden sands and crystal waters? The best organized beaches are on the south coast, which get extremely overcrowded during peak season, but keep sheltered from the prevailing northern wind. Psarou and Megali Ammos are within walking distance of Old Town, but you may have to fight for space. By venturing a bit further out of Old Town, solid alternatives are Lia, Fokos, and Agios Sostis beaches. Ornos and Platys Gialos are more family-friendly options. If you want relaxation, avoid over popular party beaches such as Paradise and Super Paradise.
Most beaches offer two deck chairs and an umbrella for a price around € 12. Bikinis optional. Feel free to bare it all and go nude. It’s only right in Mykonos!From the port, you can take a public bus to any of these beaches, or you can cruise on a shuttle boat to Psarou, Platis Gialos, or Paradise.
5. Check out the churches
The holy sites of Mykonos, churches and monasteries, stand proudly since Byzantine times. The island boasts over 800 chapels (one per local family!) with 80 of them classified as historical museums.Panagia Paraportiani is a collection of 5 cave like churches in the oldest part of town, Kastro or “castle area”. It is an assymetrical conglomeration of 4 different architectural styles mixing Byzantine, vernacular, traditional and western style. The name comes from the word Porta or Door, as it was build next to the entrance of a Medieval castle, which has since been destroyed.
6. Watch the sunset over the sea
Self explanatory. Sunsets of Mykonos rival those of the iconic views of sister island, Santorini.
7. Indulge in Mediterranean Cuisine
Peppered around town are various gyros shops and creperies where you can eat quite well for just a few euros. While in Greece, you must try lamb gyro (stuffed with french fries!) feta cheese, olives, grilled Mediterranean fish, Pastitsio (lasagna), Greek salad, tzatziki dipped in pita, taramasalata, (fish roe dip), octopus, moussaka, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and souvlaki.Most restaurants post their prices on menus at the entrance so you can decide which places offer appealing food in your budget. Restaurants facing the harbour (especially in Little Venice) tend to have higher prices, paying for the view. Hot eating spots include Katerina’s Restaurant & Cocktail Bar, Captain’s, Avra, Ta Kioupia Taverna, Joanna’s Niko’s Place, Katrine’s, To Ma’ereio and Eva’s Garden.
8. Day trip to Delos
A small uninhabited island not far from Mykonos, Delos is the birthplace of Appollo and Artemis. Delos was a pilgrimage site for believers who came from all over to worship this “birthplace of light.” According to the Greek mythology, Poseidon, God of the sea, furious at the Cyclades nymphs turned them into islands.Now a UNESCO world heritage site known for its archaeological remains. There are daily excursions from Mykonos Town except Monday, with a boat trip around 30 minutes. The cost is € 17 for the boat trip plus € 5 for entrance (free for students and € 3 for those over 65). A guided tour, departing at 10AM from the pier, cost € 40.
9. Hit the clubs!
I’m sure you’ve heard stories of the epic beach nightlife which Mykonos boasts. It’s surprising this island isn’t home of Dionysus, the god of wine and crazed dancing.
The biggest clubs on the island are Cavo Paradiso, Super Paradise, and Space whcih come alive at midnight and stay open until 6am. No worries, buses run from town to the nightclubs and back. So get ready to party the night away!
Paradise Beach has a reputation for being “gay-friendly” and hosts Tropicana bar beach parties starting at 5pm everyday. Paraga beach is chill until 4pm, when the Kalua beach bar party begins. Other bars popular with gays include Babylon, Jacky O’, Diva, and Castro. If you aren’t feeling the beach, Scandanavian Bar is a lively option in Mykonos town.
- Boasting a typical Mediterranean climate of mild, rainy winters and hot, sunny summers. The best time to visit is mid-May through June (early season, accommodation is cheaper and it’s cooler), or September through mid-October (post season). It tends to be extremely crowded in July and August.
- Rent an ATV quad for quick transportation, exploring hidden coves, and a solid adrenaline rush.
- It is not recommended to drink the water in Eastern Europe. Different bacteria may lead to sickness.
- Don’t flush the toilet paper.
- Wave hello or goodbye with palm facing you, rather than the other person. One gesture you should never use is open palm, fingers slightly spread, shoved toward someone’s face. The moutza is a serious insult.
- Nodding “no” means “yes” in Greek culture.
- Don’t expect punctuality; Greeks have a loose sense of time. Buses in particular run off schedule.
- Communal share plates for the table are commonplace. And don’t ask to split the bill, it’s considered stingy.
Common Greek Phrases
- Kalimera: Good morning
- Kalispera: Good Afternoon/Evening
- Yassou: Hello
- Efkharisto: Thank you
- Parakalo: You’re welcome/Please
- Okhee: No Neh: Yes
- Milas anglika?: Do you speak English?
Cheers to Mykonos, and the pursuit of pleasure and sensual self-indulgence.