Mykonos is one of the most fashionable islands in the Cyclades with its good beaches and pulsating nightlife, it is a magnet for the tourist who enjoys the hectic pace.
Mykonos Town is the main town and port on the island. The town is picturesque with its white painted houses and its narrow streets lined with shops selling everything from clothes, jewellery and everything the young modern tourist needs. The town’s mascot is Petros the Pelican. The original Petros who ruled the waterfront for 29 years met an untimely end, when a local taxi driver ran over him. The taxi driver was so distraught at killing the town’s mascot that he tried to stuff the pelican himself, the pelican now is on display in the Folk Museum . In the little Venice area of the town that is popular with artists, are many seafront cafes and bars along side small charming churches. During the summer months, the town is awash with tourists and can be a bit claustrophobic, but this does not deter form having a good time.
The Archaeological Museum has some artefacts from the sacred isle of Delos plus storage jars and a Trojan War scene in relief.
The Aegean Maritime Museum displays interesting items pertaining to the maritime history of the Aegean .
Lena ’s House next door to the maritime Museum is a 19th century Mykonian house which of a middle class lady. Everything is preserved, right down to the chamber pot (empty).
The Folklore Museum houses displays of local handicrafts and a working windmill from the 16th century, also on display is the stuffed, Pelos the pelican.
Panagia Paraportiani is the most important and most photographed church on the island. It consists of five small chapels united to make one church. Parts of the church date from the 15th century.
The beaches on Mykonos are good but can be crowded at the height of the summer season. The best are on the south coast, Platys Gialos, Agios Ioannis beaches are popular with families. The beaches of Paradise , Super Paradise, Agria and Elia are very popular a couple of them are for nudists and gays. The beaches on the north coast can be a bit windy, but it is possible to find a sheltered spot.
Once in obscurity and visited only as a passageway to the historical island of Delos, Mykonos gained recognition as a tourist destination in the 1950s and 1960’s when its natural beauty, charming Cycladic flavour, and magnificent beaches, led Mykonos to the spot-light as Greeces most well known island, visited by local and international celebrities as such, and securing its place as a principal destination within Greece.
Best described as a cosmopolitan, fashion-centered island, Mykonos is probably the most famous of the Greek islands. Notorious for its nightlife: from its infamous bars, to its wide variety of restaurants featuring Greek and international cuisine. Renowned for its immaculately clean whitewashed labyrinth of alleys and paths. Celebrated for its Cycladic character and distinguished for its numerous sandy beaches and turquoise waters, Mykonos is an island of many facades an island typically Cycladic in character and appearance, and yet also an international resort all in one.
History of MykonosIt is said that Mykonos bears its name from the son of the King of Delos. According to Greek mythology, Mykonos rose from under the sea a product of the giants killed by Hercules, which transformed into rock boulders, forming the island of Mykonos
It is believed that the first inhabitants of Mykonos were Cares, followed by the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, Minoans and the Ionians.
In 1207, Mykonos was conquered by the Venetians, and remained under its rule until 1537, when it became part of the Turkish domination.
As the inhabitants of Mykonos were experienced sailors, they actively participated, and played a significant role in the War of Independence against the Turks. The local heroine, Mando Mavrogenous, helped to finance and organize Mykonos successful revolt in 1822 against the Turks.
Mykonos is located less than 30 minutes by boat to one of the most significant archaeological sites within Greece, the sacred island of Delos.
Archaeologically this defines ones visit to Mykonos. Mykonos, however also has its own attributes to offer, whether they are its physical beauty or Cycladic charm, Mykonos has an identity of its own worth discovering:
The island of Delos
Regions and Villages to visit
Most will agree that Chora or Mykonos town is the real attraction of Mykonos.
With its narrow whitewashed cobblestoned walking paths, adorned with geraniums and boukamvilias [local flower- type vine,] colours contrasting with the white backdrop, Chora is an idyllic example of a typically Cycladic village, in all its glory.
With its box shaped houses, and blue domed churches [ approximately 700 in all of Mykonos, 30 are preserved monuments by the Ministry of Culture] Chora is the heartbeat of all of Mykonos, the centre of dining, wining and shopping designer shops, top quality restaurants, famous bars, jewellery outlets, and even art galleries.
Little Venice, aptly named for its resemblance to Venetian architecture, is located towards the end of Chora, in the area of Alefhandra-Scarpa and is possibly the most picturesque section of Chora.
Best appreciated at sunset, with the crashing waves hitting the edges of the buildings and with the windmills in the background, a cocktail at Kastro bar in Little Venice, whilst listening to classical music, is something not to miss out on.
Also do not forget to look out for Petros the Pelican, or his look a like Petros in the area.
He arrived in 1954, in the midst of a storm, and when recovered from his injuries, became the unofficial mascot of the island for at least 30 years. After his death, Petros doubles have resided on the island, in Chora.
Ano Mera, located at 8.5 kms from Chora, and perched on the top of a hill, is the only village of the island. Its white box like houses are characteristic of the prevailing architecture, and it has a very pleasant main square, with three taverns providing seafood and meat delicacies. The Monastery Panagia of Tourlianis is located here. Founded in 1542,and restored in 1767, its bell tower and wood carved templo [constructed in Florence] are impressive works. Theres is also a small museum operating within the monastery, exhibiting religious Byzantine and Renaissance icons.
Agios Stefanos – Tourlos, Ornos, Kalafati and Platys Gialos and Kalo Livadi are contemporary seaside tourist settlements developed out of the demand for tourism. Here one will find not only accommodation, but dining and some water sport facilities.
Where to Stay
This is an ongoing debate when considering accommodation and where to stay in Mykonos. Many prefer to stay in Mykonos town, in the centre of shopping, dining and nightlife, and travel to the beaches during the day. Others prefer to stay at beachfront accommodation, shying away from the bustling nightlife, except to visit
Mykonos does not have a scarcity of accommodation in any means or forms. It is in fact, one of the few Greek islands where one can find exclusive 5 star resorts, comparable to international standards.
Such hotels include the Santa Marina complex at Ornos, and the Grecotel Mykonos Blu hotel at Psarou beach.
All types of accommodation are available in Mykonos, including self-catering apartments, rooms with private facilities and camping sites [Paradise and Paragas beaches]
Incomparable to any other island for its nightlife, Mykonos falls into a category of its own. Although Mykonos has a dynamic force and vibration, this is unveiled only very late, after midnight, when Mykonos town comes alive.
Almost all nightlife is centered in the labyrinth of Mykonos town.
Popular nightspots include Uno Bar, Anemos, Anchor, Astra, Argo and Remezzo, located by the end of the port.
For those who prefer the quieter scene, Little Venice by the sea offers a selection of cocktail bars including Verandah club, Caprice, Katerinas bar and Kastro bar [by the Paraportiani church]
What you need to know about the island
Having been to Mykonos many times, over the course of years, I have concluded that Mykonos is an island of many facades, accentuating its many assets at different periods throughout the year.
Believed by many to be only an international resort, disguised with the backdrop of an once upon a time idyllic Cycladic island, Mykonos is an easily misunderstood island, one of many faces, for all seasons, for all tastes.
In order to appreciate Mykonos, one must choose wisely the period of the year to visit:
In winter, Mykonos is an easily accessible island from Athens, located only 94 nautical miles away, with daily departures either by ferry or air.
Selected winter hotels and restaurants remain open, most hotels offering exclusive facilities, enticing the tourist to visit not only for serenity but also for comfort.
Easter is a period most celebrated in Mykonos, with Mykonos being one of the few islands most widely preferred for the Easter break, by many, including local celebrities who prefer to be seen, rather than to keep their anonymity.
May, June and September are idyllic months, where the average temperatures reach the high 20s – exploration of Delos is bearable under the Aegean sun, and Mykonos Chora and magnificent beaches exhibit an ease of mobility and enjoyment, with not only a peaceful and tranquil setting, but a vibrant nightlife, now in full swing.
July and August are high season months, particularly the period from July 20th- August 20th. This is the period when Mykonos tourist season is in full capacity, not only with the Greek tourists but also with European,US, Canadian and Australian tourists. This is the period mostly misunderstood, as hoteliers inflate the hotel rooms in great demand, temperatures and prices soar, queues are evident everywhere, tranquil beaches are transferred to club-bar settings, international celebrities are spotted in the most exclusive hotels, private yacht owners anchor in the idyllic bays, and generally, Mykonos undertakes the façade of one large continuous party celebrating in the peak of the summer season.
For many, this is what is desired but for those who wish to laze in the sun, relaxing in a tranquil setting, this is the time when Mykonos could be avoided.
Whenever the period chosen to visit Mykonos, do not forget to try some of the local products- in particular kopanisti a soft spicy cheese louzes a local recipe for pork sausages, and “amigdalota” local sweets made of almond.
Probably the most well known beach in Mykonos, Paradise beach is a well established smaller stretch of sandy beach, notorious for its club/beach atmosphere during the day and after hours infamous Cavo Paradiso club.Paradise Beach gained recognition in the 60s-70s as a backpackers haven, providing the setting for topless bathing and free camping.
Now a well established camping site is located there, and it is now considered the most widely visited beach amongst those who predominantly prefer the beach-clubbing scene.
How To Get There: Easily accessible via a regular bus service from Chora and water taxi from Platys Gialos Beach.
Located next to Paradise Beach, Super Paradise gained recognition in the 1980a as a nudity beach, most popular with the gay community. Now Super Paradise continues its notoriety as such, but now also offers a very lively club scene commencing mid- afternoon and continuing until the early hours.
How To Get There: Access by private vehicle, taxi or water taxi from Platys Gialos.
Due to its proximity to Mykonos town, and its well established road/bus network system Platys Gialos beach is a bustling beach offering an array of accommodation from 5 star deluxe properties near the beach front, to simpler self-contained apartments and rooms.
How To Get There: From the dock, water taxis offer accessibility to Paradise, Super Paradise, Agrari and Elia beaches.
Located a 20 minute walk from Platys Gialos, Paranga beach is a smaller sandy beach offering a few seaside taverns, such as Tassos Trattoria tel 22890- 23003. The small beach, Aghia Anna, next door, provides a picturesque setting for dining as well In particular Ahinei provides table service directly on the sand. Tel 22890-23467
Located a 5 minute walk from the bus terminal at Platys Gialos, Psarou beach is a smaller stretch of beach in comparison to Platys Gialos, with fewer hotels, one offering a scuba diving school [Psarou Beach hotel] and two beach side taverns , in particular, Psarou. Tel 22890-24871
This long stretch of sandy beach with its crystal turquoise waters is fastly becoming one of the most preferred beaches in Mykonos. Once a quieter inaccessible beach, Elia now boasts 2 taverns [one self service], an array of beach chairs and umbrellas with beach food-drink service, and even a watermania aqua pack.
Elia tavern tel 22890-28825 and Kapelagio tel 22890-72001
Useful Info: Semi nudity is also practiced in one isolated corner of the beach.
How To Get There: There is a regular bus service from Mykonos town via Ano Mera, as well as water taxis from Platys Gialos.
Once a desolate beach for those searching for solitude, Kalafati is a very well established beach offering water sports, in particular wind surfing, a diving school, beach-snack bars and restaurants. The little beach at the bay of Agia Anna next to Kalafati Beach offers a small tavern, Spileia [cave] built in the rock boulder, for seafood with an Italian influence at a price, Tel 22890-71205
How To Get There: A regular bus service connects with Ano Mera and Mykonos town.
Agrari beach is a quieter stretch of sandy beach, accessible only by private vehicle, taxi, or water taxi from Platys Gialos Beach and offers a beach bar, a self service tavern, beach chairs and umbrellas.
Of the more remote beaches on the island, Agios Sostis is an impressive sandy beach, ideal for those who wish to maintain their anonymity, accessible only by private vehicle or taxi, and offers one small picturesque tavern, Basilis.
Furthest away, Lia beach is much preferred by the locals you wish to escape the crowds.
This sandy beach is well equipped with beach chairs and umbrellas, and offers two very good restaurants on the beachfront, La Luna [tel 22890-72150 ] and Lia. [22890-71015]
How To Get There: Accessibility is only via private vehicle and taxi via Kalafati Beach.
How to get around
Mykonos is a small island of only 87 square kilometers. Its terrain is barren and the landscape, mostly flat. Distances between most of the villages are short, and as such, Mykonos is an easy island to discover in a limited frame of time.
For example, distance from Mykonos town to Agios Stefanos is only 4 kms, and from Mykonos town to Kalafati 12kms approximately [the longest bus route]
Combining this reason, and with the fact that parking spaces in Mykonos are scarce, the most common forms of transport used widely are the following:
There are two bus terminals servicing opposite directions within the island.
1. Bus Network services to Ornos Beach,Agios Giannis, Platys Gialos, Psarou and Paradise depart by the Olympic Airways office and the National Bank.
2. Bus Network services to Tourlos, Agios Stefanos, Ano Mera, Kalo Livadi, Elia and Kalafati Beaches depart from the bus terminal located by the end of the port area, by the O.T.E [or telecommunications office] on Agios Ioannou Street.
Bus are frequent and mostly regular, with departures every 30 minutes or so, in the height of the season, and departures commencing from as early as 07.00 am until 22.00 h.
Most favoured use of independent travel is the use of the moped. Not only is it economical, at a daily rate of approximately 15-20 euros, but it also allows freedom of movement, without any restrictions imposed by the bus service timetables, and the scarcity of taxis.
There is a taxi station located in Mykonos town, by the port. As in the mid-high seasons, the demand for taxis is great, there is usually a scarcity of taxis, and as such, the use of taxis may not be such a reliable means especially late at night.
There are many rental car agencies available in Mykonos, offering small and intermediate cars at the daily rate of approximately 30 euros, including CDW insurance and vat
However, with the fact that parking spaces are few, traffic police evident, and that the main road Agios Ioannis road linking Troulous to the periphery of Mykonos town is likely to jam in peak hour [9 pm approximately], this concludes that perhaps a car is not the best means of transport in Mykonos.
Connection with other islands
Mykonos is a well connected island, even in the winter season, where there are daily ferry departures from /to Rafina ,Piraeus, Tinos and to Syros, the capital of the Cyclades islands, from where ferries to Paros, Naxos, Ios and Santorini are very regular, and connections to Amorgos are also possible,
With the onset of the tourist season, there are also regular catamarans departing from the port of Rafina to Mykonos, the duration time to Mykonos only 2.5 hours, [Blue Star ferries Sea Jet] and fast ferries, apart from the regular ferries, connecting Mykonos with the rest of the Cyclades [Hellenic seaways]
Mykonos also connects with Ikaria and Samos 4 times per week during the winter season, with more regular departures during the summer.
Low Season visits
Mykonos is an island with an extended tourist season, with many hotels opening mid-March, and closing mid-November.
During the low season, from November to March, there are still some tourist facilities operating:
Selected hotels include the Leto Hotel, the Semeli Hotel, Adonis hotel, and a new boutique hotel, the Harmony hotel, are just a few hotels in Mykonos town that remain open during the winter, offering 3 & 4 star facilities, for comfort and solitude.
Restaurants also open in the winter in Mykonos town include Taverna Italiana, La Casa and Apolloosa.
The excursion to Delos is also available, although not daily in the winter season, and the archaeological museum offers free entrance on Sundays for the winter season.
Due to its close proximity to Athens, and its frequent ferry connections, Mykonos has also proven to be an island popular for a short winter visit.
As Mykonos terrain is relatively flat, it is an island more accessible and favourable, to the disabled. This, along with the consideration that most Mykonos hotels are only first-leveled buildings and of a high standard, complying with international regulations, there are many hotels now offering faciltites, in terms of accessibility and specific rooms for the disabled.
Such hotels include: