Mykonos can be a magical place whether you are 18 or 80. There’s a spell the island seems to cast from the moment you step on to the airport tarmac or slide into their famous Mercedes taxis, winding your way towards those iconic windmills. This pocket travel guide gives you a snapshot of what to do in Mykonos; our favourite places to stay, eat, explore and play on the infamous Greek island party paradise.
My first visit to Mykonos was as an 18-year-old backpacker. I still remember the visit clearly. We stayed in a stiflingly hot cabin without air conditioning at Super Paradise Beach, danced in the sand and immersed ourselves in the legendary Mykonos all night parties. My most recent visit was very different and the island had become so too. It’s much more sophisticated these days, but it still has that same vibe; a feeling that makes you want to let your hair down, chat to the locals and introduce yourselves to perfect strangers across a bar or restaurant. You know you are going to have fun when you walk the streets of the island, no matter how much party stamina you have. A little older and potentially a little wiser, we became acquainted with the island and fell in love with it all over again, in a new way. While well-known for its nightlife scene, when it comes to what to do while you’re staying in Mykonos, it’s totally up to your personal pace. While it can get wild in the early hours is also a beautiful place to spend long summer days; relaxing by a roof top pool, road tripping to its beautiful beach clubs or spending hours people watching over a glass of wine.
Getting to Mykonos and Around the Island
- During peak summer season ferries leave from Piraeus port in Athens to Mykonos town up to six times daily. Fast boats take about 3.5 hours from Athens to Mykonos. Hydrofoils take two hours.
- Flights connect through Athens from around Europe multiple times daily. The flight time from Athens to Mykonos is about 25 minutes.
- Make sure you pre-book a taxi or car before you touch down in Mykonos as the taxis (those Mercedes I mentioned) are limited in number and you will need to line up for a while if you haven’t pre-booked.
- Taxis around the island cost upwards of 10 euros (depending on how far you are going).
- We booked a car for a couple of days during our stay with Pegasus as it was the most reasonably priced. The company also delivered the car to our hotel which was a really nice touch. Make sure you get insurance as the streets are notoriously narrow with solid brick walls flanking most.
- Quad bikes are a popular way to traverse the island. Make sure your travel insurance covers motorbikes and quads, you wear a helmet and don’t drive drunk. There are many serious accidents on the island that you won’t see on anyone’s Instagram feed.
Where to Stay in Mykonos
Whether you are on your honeymoon, looking to impress your significant other or you simply want to splurge, Santa Marina Mykonos is the perfect hotel. I still dream about our stay at Santa Marina. The beauty of the resort itself, the personable service and the unrivalled location, it quickly became one of my favourite hotels in the world, and remains so today. Read our full experience here.
Belvedere luxury hotel is the perfect choice for those who want to stay in the heart of Mykonos town, with a range of rooms and villas looking out to the pool or straight to the sparkling Aegean. With yoga programs and packages and a beautiful in-house gym, guests can work off all of those cocktails or relax in the stunning Six Senses spa. Stroll the streets of Mykonos town from the hotel’s front door or relax at the rooftop pool and take in the sunset panorama.
Best Restaurants in Mykonos
Kiki’s Tavern | Agios Sostis Beach
I was a little sad when people started to catch on to Kiki’s. It’s such a special spot. There are no advanced booking at Kiki’s. Lunch starts at about 12.30pm but you need to join the line well before 12pm to get into any of the seatings (they limit the number of people they serve each day). Wine is served to customers as they wait and many make their way to the beach below for a quick pre-lunch dip. The food is simple, fresh, delicious and very affordable. The Kiki’s experience is one you can’t miss while on the island.
Nice n Easy | Alefkandra Square, Mykonos
We had a delicious long lunch at Nice n Easy. The restaurant really lived up to its name, although tasty or healthy could be added in there as well. The food is organic, farm-to-fork and gluten-free and when you sit down to eat you’ll find it obvious your meal was made consciously with care. The restaurant’s location is also ideal, right at the feet of the iconic windmills.
Buddha Beach Bar and Restaurant | Santa Marina Mykonos
Specialising in seafood, in particular beautifully crafted sashimi and sushi, Buddha Beach Bar and Restaurant is a fancy date night spot. Those who aren’t in-house guests can book a table after 6pm. Get there promptly to catch the last of the sunset over a pre-dinner cocktail at the bar. It is one of the most glorious sunsets I have ever seen.
Gyros | Multiple Locations
Whether you’re on a budget or you just need a quick snack, you have to try gyros (rotisserie meat with tzatziki, salad and chips on pitta) at least once during your time on the island. For those partying until the early hours, you’ll find gyros answer that carbohydrate call your body might be making. Gyros Corner – O Pondos (Enoplon Dinameon) or Jimmy’s (Lakka) are both popular places. Wait eagle eyed for a table or better yet, grab yours to go and hunt down a quiet stoop in the back streets or spot on the water for a picnic.
Best Beach Clubs in Mykonos
Nammos Beach Club | Psarou Beach, Mykonos
Save you pennies for a day at Nammos Beach Club and make sure you book a restaurant table, beds or cabana before you arrive. This place heaves with people in high summer. A voyeurs paradise, it’s definitely a case of less is more when you hit the sand at Nammos and that extends to the wait staff, baring all for their tips at they cart cocktails back and forth from the bar to the beach. Nammos is the place to be seen in Mykonos with patrons dripping in labels and multi-million dollar boats bobbing just off shore. Settle in for a mid-morning tipple and stay for lunch or longer. Parking is hard to find around Nammos as the roads are typically narrow, but there are a couple of car parks nearby (for about 10 euros a car). Those with a generous budget or looking to impress would be better to book a boat through your hotel or Nammos directly.
Scorpios Beach | Paraga Beach, Mykonos
Located between Paraga and Kavos bays, about 20 minutes south of Mykonos town. Book a table for a beautiful organic, farm-to-table Mediterranean meal accompanied by a fresh cocktail or two at Scorpios. Communal tables act as the heart of the open air restaurant. Design elements pop from each of the spaces around Scorpios, from the restaurant to the terrace or the house. You’ll want to recreate each when you get back home. A small cluster of rustic beach cabanas await on the water’s edge so you can sleep or swim off your meal afterwards. Get your hotel to book you in before you drive out. This is a popular spot.
Buddha Bar Beach | Santa Marina Mykonos, Ornos Beach
The private beach at Santa Marina Mykonos is an idyllic place to spend the day. Join guests of Santa Marina Mykonos at the beach club for the day by requesting a booking. A chair at the exclusive club will set you back about 100 euros per day. Settle in to the sand, grab a casual meal or cocktails direct from the bar or reserve a table at the restaurant for dinner.
What to Do Around Mykonos
Wander the Mykonos Town Maze
Navigating the white washed maze of Mykonos town is one of the highlights of your stay on the island. We found one of the best time to explore was before all of those sore heads rose out of bed. We ran through the winding streets, carefully treading the cobblestones taking in the breathtaking cubist shapes of each of the buildings, flushed with the fuchsia bougainvillea or trimmed in trademark cobalt blue. Once visitors and locals wake up the streets become chaotic and the face of the buildings change as store owners display their wares.
Check out the Churches
Whether you are religious or not, the churches dotted around the island are a lovely part of the landscape to see. We came upon a handful of churches by accident which can sometimes be the best way to find them. Most are tucked away around the next corner so you’ll only be guided by a bell or a cross reaching above the rooftops towards the blue. The Church of Panagia Paraportiani, Agios Nikolaos and the Panachra Church are all a short walk from each other between the old port and Little Venice.
Say Hello to Petros the Pelican
The legend says the original Petros the Pelican was rescued by a fisherman back in 1954. He nursed Petros back to health but Petros decided to hang around the town. Petros passed away but has since been replaced will several other pelicans who act as mascots for Mykonos.
Go Beach Hopping
The beaches around Mykonos vary from the busy spots south-east of Mykonos town; Super Paradise and Paradise to the north like Houlakia. Here is a great list of the beaches. The island is easy to drive around the you can cover a lot of spots in one day.
Visit Ano Mera
When you need a change of scenery or you’re craving a little history, jump in the car and head to Ano Mera for a visit. Ano Mera is the second biggest village on the island after Mykonos town. Known for the Monastery Of Panagia Tourliani, the town square in also worth wandering through. We ate lunch at one of the restaurants there, but found the food to be much better in Mykonos town, so stop in for a coffee and jump back in the car.
Give your Camera a Work Out
Mykonos knows she’s pretty. It’s almost like she’s showing off as each new bend reveals a new beautiful building, a local’s smile you are dying to capture, or the indescribable hues of blue that shimmer just off the Old Port wall. The best time to run around with your camera in hand is in the early hours of the morning for the Old Port, the windmills and the quaint narrow streets of Little Venice. The rest of the day you’ll find tourists swarming around every corner. You’ll need to get a spot early at one of the restaurants in Little Venice for that quintessential sunset shot too. Hiring a boat for an hour and snapping from the water back to the island will give you a unique perspective and don’t forget to stop in and join the quad bike riders who pull over on the Epar Od Mikinou road view-point which provides the ultimate panorama from the picturesque white washed townscape to the horizon. Don’t forget your GoPro too to get those shots in the water and back to the beach. Take a virtual wander around Mykonos with me through this Mykonos gallery.
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