Mykonos has been the party capital of Greece since the 70s. The two main reasons why people come here during summer is the nightlife and the beaches, both of which rank amoong the best in Greece. Unfortunately this has also made the prices the highest of any of the Greek islands, and the island is absolutely crowded from mid-July to the end of August.
Mykonos town (Hora)
The island capital is labyrinth of streets, with classical Cycladic architecture in the form of white-walled houses. The town has a mixture of tiny churches, trendy shops, galleries, jewellers and music bars. The area known as Little Venice , so named because of the many houses overhangig the sea, has a lot of trendy bars with an excellent view of the sunset. The windmills at Kato Myli is a well known landmark of Mykonos, while the most famous church on the island is the rocklike Panagia Paraportiani (Our Lady of the Postern Gate), that has four small chapels.
There’s a handful of small museums in Hora. The Archaeological Museum has pottery and jewellery from Delos and Renia. The Nautical Museum of the Aegean details naval history, including ship models. Lena’s House is a recreation of the home of a middle class family from the 19th century, named after Lena Skrivanou, the last owner. The Museum of Folklore displays examples of local crafts, instruments and furniture, including a kitchen from the 19th century.
This is the only other town on the island, and it has the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani from the 18th century. The monastery has a church with some wonderful details. and a small museum with liturgical items. One kilometer southeast is Monastery of Paleokastro from the 12th century. The town also has a charming food market.
The island of Delos lies 3 km to the west, and is the main reason to come to Mykonos besides partying and beachlife. The white marble island is covered with marble monuments. According to legend, the maiden Leto was impregnated by Zeus and tried to escape the wrath of Zeus’s wife Hera. Poseidon made Delos as a sanctuary for Leto, and here she gave birth to the twins Apollo and Artemis. As a result, the ancient Greeks considered Delos one of their holiest places, around which the other Cycladic islands circled. In antiquity people were not allowed to be born or die on the isle. It was also an important commercial port for a long period, and up to 10,000 slaves were sold daily.
There are both guided tours and unguided transport from Mykonos to Delos, Tuesday to Sunday, starting around 8.30 AM, and the last return transport from Delos leaves at around 4 PM. As the day goes on, the crowds and heat both increase, and there is no shadow on the island. Good shoes, a hat, water and sun lotion are recommended for the visit. And don’t put off visiting Delos to the last day of your stay at Mykonos, because some days it’s impossible for boats to dock because of rough seas.
The beaches closest to town are both crowded and not especially nice. The best beaches in terms of sand and little wind are on the south side of the island, but this is also where it gets most crowded. Ornos is south of town and is a popular destination for families. Platis Yialos has gorgeous water and plenty of water activities, but is always crowded because it’s so close to town. Psarou is a beautiful beach with white sand, with a great resturant called N’Ammos. Here you can also go diving, water-skiing or windsurfing. Paradise and Super Paradise are party beaches, with loud music almost around the clock. Paradise is also the original nude beach on the island. Further east is Kalo Livadi, perhaps the most quiet beach on the southern coast. And furthest east you’ll find Kalafatis, a long beach with clear water and separated from nearby buildings by a row of trees.
The northern beaches are usually too windy for bathing, the exception is those few days when the wind blows from the south instead of the north. Then heading to Ayios Sostis or Panormos is a good idea.
Nightlife (and daylife)
On Mykonos you can party both day and night. During daytime parties are mainly on the beaches. On Paradise Beach, the Tropicana Bar and the Sunrise Bar has mixed crowds, and at Super Paradise, there are two bars with respectively gay and mixed crowds. However, Paradise Club on Paradise Beach draws the most people, with an enormous swimming pool and nightly fireworks.
The clubs and bars in town usually start out a bit classier. Most of the popular spots are in Little Venice, with its great sunset view, with Caprice and Kastro as two of best-known bars. Astra is renowned, as it changes from an elegant lounge early in the evening to a dance club with top DJs. But the truth is that the entire town of Mykonos is crawling with clubs of all kinds.
The beach clubs usually close at midnight, but open again at 2 AM, and keep it going well past sunrise, with international DJs, pools and theme nights. In town there’s Yach Club which also stays open past 4 AM.
Diving, surfing and windsurfing
Mykonos is known as one of the best diving spots in Greece. The preferred time to dive is September, with 30 meters of visibility and water temperatures of around 25 degrees celsius. There are diving courses and packages offered at Paradise Beach and Kalafatis Beach, as well as in Mykonos town.
The northern beaches of Mykonos are too windy for beachlife and partying, but perfect for surfing and windsurfing. There’s windsurfing beginner’s courses and rental at Kalafatis Beach. The most popular beaches for surfing are Fokos and Panormos Bay’s Ftelia. There’s no public transport here, so you’ll have to rent a moped or a car.
Mykonos has plenty of shops, and is especially known for its jewellers. Soho-Soho is perhaps the most famous shop on the island, selling outfits to both men and women, including many celebrities. And of course you’ll find international brand stores such as Lacoste, Dolce & Gabbana and Body Shop. The town has many art galleries, as well as a few shops that sell loomed goods.
When to go
As mentioned, Mykonos is completely packed in July and August. But if you absolutely want to go during this period, make sure you reserve a room in advance, or you risk not having anywhere to stay! Local police does not appreciate loitering tourists. Unlike many other islands, Mykonos doesn’t shut down the rest of the year, but rather shows a quieter, more sensitive side. This might be a better time to go, if you are more interested in the actual island and neighbouring Delos than the nightlife.