Located in the pretty Cyclades, Greek’s favorite holiday islands that only seem to be rising in popularity each year, Mykonos has all the ingredients of a perfect vacation; tiny white alleys with blue balconies framed by fuchsia bougainvillea, paradise like beautiful beaches, delectable Greek cuisine (and wine) that begs for indulgence, super-luxurious resorts that offer Jacuzzis overlooking the sea, a raging nightlife that appeals to party-lovers, glamorous fellow island inhabitants, and sweet sunshine even as late as early October. The shoulder season is actually a great time to visit the island- it’s not as crowded as it can be in the summer which means that hotel rates are way more affordable, you do still need to book in advance as there’s usually a large number of tourists visiting from the Middle East during local holidays.
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Get Lost in the Old Town (Hora)
Hora or the Old Town is a lively center of activity on the island. The town center is a maze of narrow whitewashed alleys and bright blue and pink balconies characteristic of Cycladic towns. You’ll see churches, homes, restaurants, pubs and shops. Take your time and get lost in these lanes, sit down for a Greek Freddo, and people watch in the lively center.
Of course, this is also where it hits you just how commercial the island is- the likes of Prada and Gucci make an appearance, which is not surprising given that Mykonos sees rich holidaymakers from all over the world, especially the Middle East. The town is definitely more likeable in the day, just as the sleepy party island is waking up post 11.00am and the narrow streets are not as crowded. If you like to shop, there’s a whole range available here from very expensive brands and boutiques to lower end bohemian styles. If you love hats like I do, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice with hats that are more pieces of art than accessories.
Visit the Windmills at Little Venice
Get the obligatory windmill photo close to Little Venice. You can easily walk from the town center towards the waterfront and you’ll see the windmills (and the crowds of tourists waiting to take a photo, yes, even in the shoulder season). These were built in the 16th century and feature on many photos, postcards and paintings of Mykonos and once you see them for real, it’s easy to see the appeal. They overlook the waterfront and the whole setting is kind of romantic.
Get Your Tan On
Mykonos is home to many beaches, some known for their outrageous parties, some catering to predominantly gay tourists, and some family beaches- so ask around and choose accordingly. A ten-minute drive from the town center, Psarou Beach is definitely one of the nicer beaches, suitable for couples and families. Spending an entire day working on your tan and just living the beach life is not a bad idea at all.
N’ammos, a posh restaurant right on Psarou Beach, is known for hosting the best daytime parties and makes for a lively afternoon of good (even if overpriced) food, drinks and music that will get you up and dancing.
Sunset Drinks at Little Venice
The waterfront at Little Venice is dotted with bars and restaurants and though it can get very busy around and after sunset, waiting is totally worth it. It might be hard to find a more romantic way to witness a Myconian sunset than with wine and soft music at one of the bars on the strip. Alternatively, head to the poolside lounge at Bill & Coo Suites to enjoy another spectacular sunset view by a pool that sparkles at night.
Delicious Greek Food in Mykonos
Greek cuisine has all the Mediterranean goodness that I had imagined and then some more. The food has the potential to blow your mind, regardless of which part of the country you’re in and Mykonos is no exception. Think simple, fresh ingredients, prepared in easy and classic ways sure to impress food lovers and you pretty much get the idea. For good food at a reasonable price, head to Nikos Taverna in the town center where you’ll dine under the stars, right in the bustling center of Hora. You might have to wait as this place is really popular, but the food is great and the price is agreeable by Mykonos standards. Try the seafood options- the swordfish and mussels preparations are almost always a hit in the Cyclades.
If you’re feeling more like fast food, then stop by Jimmy’s Gyros for a gyro wrap full of juicy meaty deliciousness. The place is very popular with partiers who amble out of the clubs and bars in the area for an after-hours meal.
Dance Like No One’s Watching
It’s not without reason that partygoers flock to Mykonos, especially during the summer months and even as late as September. N’ammos and Paradise Beach Club are both great places to party and Skandinavian Bar in the town center enjoys quite the party crazy reputation. We visited during late September and most beach clubs including Paradise Beach were shut, but the Skandinavian Bar had people queuing up for hours to get in. Another bar with a cool vibe (also in the town) is Argo, and I can only imagine that there are plenty of options during the livelier summer months when parties go on till sunrise.
Explore the Island on an ATV
If you have any time left after hours of beach-bumming, shopping, partying, enjoying sunsets and having a generally awesome time, you might want to explore other parts of the island riding an ATV or bike (both available to rent for cheap), though I’d totally understand if all you wanted to do was lie on the beach.
Have you been to Mykonos? What would you add to this list?
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