The Greek island of Mykonos is part of the Cyclades group of islands that are surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea. While it’s known for its beautiful beaches and pulsating party vibe that’s not all Mykonos has to offer. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the beaches you’ll find that Mykonos has historic landmarks, picturesque towns and neighborhoods, and archaeological finds. If you’re looking to go to Mykonos, here are my recommendations for the best things to see and do on the fabulous Greek island. Be sure to also have a look at my post on everything you need to know before traveling during the pandemic as I specifically address traveling to Greece.
THE BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN MYKONOS
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With golden sand and crystal-clear water, Mykonos boasts some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean and is arguably the island’s main draw. Mykonos has a variety of beaches to suit every type of beach-goer, from the jet-set to families to the party crowd to water sports enthusiasts who enjoy activities such as windsurfing or diving and snorkeling.
The south coast of Mykonos is where the best beaches are located because this area is protected from the winds that blow from the north.
I spent time at Psarou and Agios Ioannis beaches. Psarou, the most upscale beach on Mykonos and home to the wonderful beach club, Nammos, and a luxury mall with a small art walk. It’s the place to see and be seen so it’s not unusual for there to be a wait to get one of the coveted beach lounges. The beach is free, however, the cost of food and drinks at the bar and restaurant balances that out. Agios Ioannis considered one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, is more sedate and secluded that Psarou. While not as chi-chi as Psarou, it was still very nice, and there was a fee of €60/day for two loungers. There are a couple of restaurants to choose from and the beach is accessible via a direct bus from the main area during high season. Other notable beaches include Paradise Beach, the famous party beach, and Elia Beach, the longest beach on Mykonos that has a secluded area for nudists.
Most beaches are accessible from the main part of the island and can be reached by car, bus, and in some instances, water taxi.
Chora (Mykonos Town)
Chora, commonly known as Mykonos Town, with its maze of narrow, cobbled, Instagrammable streets with the whitewashed cube buildings accented with azure doors and shutters, and sprinkled with bougainvillea, is a must. The main commercial and tourist area is filled with shops, restaurants, and bars, and is the heart of Mykonos. Also in Mykonos Town is the area known as Little Venice with its colorful balconies over the water and wonderful views, and the Kato Myli windmills.
Mykonos has a lot of churches. Depending on who you talk to, the number is either 365 – one for each day of the year – or somewhere between 600-800. Whatever the number actually is, that’s a lot of churches, though none is more famous than the whitewashed church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) Paraportiani. The church, with its distinctive asymmetrical shape, dates back to the 14th century, is actually five tiny churches squeezed together. Paraportiani is considered a perfect example of Cycladic architecture and is classified as a national monument.
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Dating from the 16th century, windmills, which are found on most of the Cycladic islands, are one of the Greek Islands’ most iconic landmarks. The windmills in Mykonos utilized the wind to grind wheat and barley, which was sold to local farmers and bakeries and transported abroad.
There are 16 windmills remaining, including the 7 Kato Myli windmills standing in a row on the edge of Mykonos Town.
Wine tasting in Mykonos? Why, yes! Ancient Greeks were harvesting grapes and producing wine as far back as 6500 years ago, making Greece one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. It’s also believed that wine has been made on Mykonos since it’s been inhabited, and today, a small amount of wine is made on the island, including several varieties native to Greece. In addition to the many wine bars and restaurants with extensive wine lists that showcase Greek wines, there are a number of wine tasting experiences in Mykonos.
I went to Mykonos Vioma, the only commercial winery on the island that not only produces wine, but also vinegar, molasses, and honey. I spent a lovely afternoon there for a tour of the property and a delicious lunch that was paired with 3 of Mykonos Vioma’s wines.
In Greek mythology, Delos is the sacred island where Apollo was born, and in reality, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the most important archeology sites in Greece. Take a day trip to the nearby island and either hire a tour guide upon your arrival to Delos or explore the ancient ruins on your own. Delos also has an Archaeological Museum, which houses a large collection of ancient Greek sculptures and artifacts found during excavations on the island.
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Ano Mera is the second biggest village in Mykonos after Mykonos Town and a nice place to spend an afternoon. The quiet village has a number of cute restaurants and cafes and is where you’ll find the island’s two monasteries, Monastery of Panagia Tourliani and Monastery of Paleokastro.
The 16th-century Panagia Tourliani, with its impressive bell tower and marble fountain, is known for its collection of icons and vestments and is open to the public for a fee of €2, while the fee for the museum of church relics and artifacts at Paleokastro is €1.
Mykonos is known as much for being a party town as it is for its beaches. The island that never sleeps has no shortage of nightclubs and bars, many of which are open at all hours of day and night. Some of the island’s more notable venues include the famous, or maybe it should be infamous, Cavo Paradiso located on Paradise Beach, Skandinavian Bar and Club in Mykonos Town, and the chic and exclusive nightclub/lounge bar, Astra.
Sitting atop a steep hill is the Armenistis Lighthouse. The iconic lighthouse, which was built in 1891 and stands as a reminder of Mykonos’ maritime history, offers unforgettable sunset views. You can also see nearby islands Tinos, Syros, and Delos from the hill.
Mykonos Town has a few museums that are worth visiting. The museums are all very small and cost very little in terms of money or time, and each offers a different perspective of the island’s history. The Archeological Museum opened in 1902 for the main purpose of preserving artifacts dating from 426-426 B.C. that were recovered from the Purification Pit in 1898. The Archeological Museum is a good compliment to Delos as the museum provides more context for what’s on the island.
The Folklore Museum is the former house of a Mykonian ship-owner. The museum consists of a few rooms displaying historical items, maps, and photos, and the curator is an informative and entertaining guide. The Aegean Maritime Museum houses marine artifacts and an extensive collection of model boats through the ages.
Getting To Mykonos
Mykonos Airport is located 4 kilometers from the town of Mykonos and welcomes domestic flights from Athens as well as direct flights from a number of European cities. Mykonos is also accessible by ferry from Athens’ ports (Piraeus and Rafina), and from other Greek islands.
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