Mykonos, Cosmopolitan and famous
Mykonos Island : Welcome to Greece’s most famous cosmopolitan island, a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades. According to mythology, Mykonos was formed from the petrified bodies of giants killed by Hercules. And did you know that the island took its name from the grandson of Apollo, “Mykonos”? Set out on a journey to discover a fascinating world where glamour meets simplicity. On Mykonos celebrities, college students and families mingle together to celebrate the Greek summer. Whether you are an entertainment junkie out for a real good time, or a visitor who wishes to explore the island’s history and tradition, Mykonos will certainly meet your expectations.
Let’s explore Mykonos Island
In contrast to other Cycladic capitals, the capital town Chora (Hóra) of the island is not built in the shape of an amphitheatre but instead spreads out over a wide area. It is one of the best examples of Cycladic architecture and a spellbinding attraction for visitors. Stroll around its narrow marble streets and admire whitewashed houses with colourful doors and window frames, bougainvillea trees in purple bloom and hidden churches. Pay a visit to the church of Panayia Paraportiani, the Town hall and the castle situated above the harbour. Don’t forget to visit the Archaeological, Folklore and Maritime Museums to take in a little history. Wander around the pedestrian shopping streets of the Hóra, always colourful and busy. The most glamorous of all is Matoyánni Street, lined with brand name stores, charming cafés and stylish restaurants.
- NORTH: Rugged and unpopulated, with quiet but windy beaches.
- SOUTH: Most of the main beach resorts are on the south coast, busier on the west side and getting quieter the further east you get.
- EAST: The beaches past Elia are beyond the reach of the bus and water taxi network so things calm down considerably.
- WEST: The most densely populated part of the island, with Chora in the centre surrounded by a sprawl which merges into the surrounding villages and is flanked by the port and airport.
Soak up the atmosphere along the lively waterfront and admire a fleet of fishing boats casting colourful reflections in the azure waters. This is where you will find the Kazárma building, which served as accommodation for the soldiers of Manto Mavrogenous, a heroine of the Greek Revolution. The first floor served as her personal residence. While you’re out strolling, don’t be surprised if you come across the official mascot of Mykonos, which is nothing other than a… pelican! Pétros the Pelican was found by a fisherman after a storm in 1954, and eventually became the locals’ companion. When he died, the grief for his loss was so deep that a replacement was soon found. In honour of Pétros, the locals have established a long tradition of pelicans wandering around the waterfront as an essential part of everyday life. So, whatever you do, don’t forget to take a picture with the successor of the famous pelican Pétros!
One of the most scenic corners of the island is Alefkántra or “Little Venice”, an 18th century district, dominated by grand captains’ mansions with colourful balconies and stylish windows. With balconies perched over the sea, pictures of the famous Italian city spring to mind. Relax at a waterfront café and admire the view of the quaint windmills standing imposingly on the hillside above, set against a luminous blue backdrop. The second traditional settlement of Mykonos is Áno Merá, situated around the historic monastery of Panayia Tourliani (a 16th century church with a brilliant carved wooden iconostasis). To the north, in Fteliá, lies an important Neolithic settlement, and a 14th-13th century BC Mycenaean tomb.
Using the Hóra as your base, set out on a trip to discover the beauties of the island, in particularly its sun-kissed beaches. Along the southern coast you will find a great selection of the most cosmopolitan ones. Here, wild parties keep the crowds rocking day and night. Paradise and Super Paradise may already be familiar to you. Órnos and Psaroú are favorite spots for families. Try a visit too to Platis Yalós, with a well-organized beach where you can soak up the sun lazing on a sun lounge. However, if you are looking for a serene beach to unwind with a book, pick a less organized one on the northern coast of the island, like Ayia Ánna, Houlákia, Kápari, Agrári and Ayios Stéfanos.
The island is a paradise for water sport enthusiasts! It is only natural that the “Island of the Winds” should attract surfers and sailors from all over the world! There is a great choice of beaches for windsurfing; however, the most secluded ones are considered to be the best. Choose from Kórfos, Fteliá, Meyáli Ámmos and Kalafátis, where surfing lessons are also available. Play tennis or mini golf at Ayios Stéfanos, beach volleyball at Ayia Anna or try sea parachuting or jet skiing at Eliá or Kalafátis. Diving fans can do a little exciting exploration of the underwater magic of Mykonos. September is thought to be the best month for diving, as the water is warm and visibility is good down at the seabed. On the island you can find many well-organized diving centers (some of them also offer snorkeling lessons) and stores specializing in diving equipment. Explore the island on a caicque or a boat and discover secluded beaches, or take a boat tour around the nearby islets, which are also ideal fishing spots!
Known as the ‘island of the winds’, Mykonos is considered to be the utmost clubbing destination at a worldwide level. This is the reason why celebrities from Greece and all over the world meet on the island every summer. Luxurious yachts and top end hotels host the elite of the international jet set giving the island a unique radiance. The beautiful beaches during the day and the white cobblestone alleys during the night are transformed into an outdoor catwalk with people parading with a sole purpose: pleasure! A usual sight for the island are the dozens of paparazzi, competing each other to get a “hot” pose or an amusing incident…
The party starts in the various famous beach bars of the island. Loud music, strong drinks and everyone dancing to the beat of the music played by world renowned DJ’s. By sunset the bars in the area of Alefkandra and Little Venice become the meeting point. Hundreds of “romantic” clubbers flock across the narrow lane, in order to drink in the sunset view by the sounds of lounge music. A small pause takes place in order to fill the batteries up for a wild night ahead. Mykonos has a great variety of places in order to enjoy your nights, that covers all kinds of tastes and preferences. Special happenings and shows are common here. There is no specific dress code so don’t be surprised if you see eccentric appearances.
Don’t miss the opportunity to treat yourself to some local Aegean specialties! Pepper flavoured kopanistí, a soft cheese seasoned with pepper, is the island’s gastronomic trademark. Try it as a topping on a round rusk spread with grated tomato, a favourite local mezés (appetiser). Meat eaters can sample “loúzes” (cooked pork filet with spices) and tasty local sausages sprinkled with pepper, and local oregano that has been caressed by the sun and dried in the north wind. To finish off your meal you can sample two exceptionally good local pastries, “amigdalotá” (small round cakes with ground almond, rosewater and caster sugar) and honey pie.
If you find yourself in Mykonos take the opportunity to explore the tiny archaeological gem of Delos, just a short boat trip away. Delos was a sacred island in ancient times, and according to mythology was the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis.
What to See
A walk through the town will give you the chance to visit its main sights. Do not forget to visit:
- The Small Venice: It is the famous quarter of Alefkadra and has been characterized as the Small Venice since the houses are built on the sea.
- The cosmopolitan quarter Matogiania, in the centre of Chora.- The Archaeological Museum, founded in 1905 and hosts findings from the neighboring island of Rinia. – The Folklore Museum and the Maritime Museum.- The Boni Agricultural Museum—Windmill housed in a renovated windmill.
- The Municipal Art Gallery, with exhibitions of Greek and foreign painters.- The outdoor amphitheatre.- The Mycenaean tholos tomb (14th – 13th century B.C.) situated at “Vrisi”. – The alleys of the Kastro quarter.- Panaghia Paraportiani church (15th century), an impressive complex of five churches which are interconnected.- The churches of Panachrado, Aghia Kiriaki, Aghia Eleni and the catholic church of Panaghia Podariou.
- The picturesque windmills, the landmark of Mykonos – Aghios Georgios church and Ai Giorghis Spilianos chapel in the rock and Aghia Sofia church, located 2 km away to the N, in Tourlos.
Nearest major international airport: International flights fly into Athens‘ airport, Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH). From here passengers can continue via plane or by ferry from Piraeus or Rafina to Mykonos Island (about five hours).
Cars are not permitted in the town of Mykonos, but you can leave your car in a parking place on the outskirts. Buses, taxis and small passenger boats provide transport around the island.
During summer (especially in August), Mykonos is one of the most crowded islands in Greece, so be sure to plan your holidays far in advance. To escape the crowds, visit the island during spring or fall.