Flashing the crackling St-Tropez-meets-Ibiza style and party-hard reputation, Mykonos is undoubtedly the great glamour island of Greece.
Epicurean holiday makers, cruise lovers (a whopping estimate of 15,000 people arrive by cruise a day), and fashionados longing for the dernier cri of the world form a heady mix in this clean slated island with its cubist charm and flamboyant ‘Bar-Boutique-Café ‘ setting.
Mykonos is lit with Mediterranean style of exteriors with flat roofs, cubic homes, whitewashed to brilliance. The labyrinth passages are characteristic of the main city, Chora, dwindling through the antique Horas and votive parishes, upscale showrooms, allowing you to imbibe the Greek culture in abundance. The party- buffs spread the air for kooky beach parties and eccentric nightlife. You will never have a dull day in the “Ibiza of Greece”.
Explore the Mykonos’ world with a dash of glitz juxtaposed with simplicity and candour; people of all hues coming together in this incredibly wonderful place, a place where there is no separation of classes, be it a student, a family or a celebrity, all rub their shoulders together and enjoy this beautiful island. As a visitor, be ready to be baffled at what Mykonos has to offer you- history and tradition invigorating with literally a sea of activities that ensures that you really live up and liven up your holiday with zeal.
You could go between July and August only if you wouldn’t mind the maddening crowds, day tripping cruise hordes, in your face nonstop parties, beaches overtaken by oiled up naturalist sunbathers and the evenings turned into cacophony on the streets, with jazzed up glitz and over the top glamour of the movers and shakers that have jetted in their private planes just that evening and would be gone once their hangovers are cured the next morning.
Instead set your calendars for September and October, when the Aegean Sea and the weather are still considerate to the visitors in search of solace from the madding crowds and mundane day to day life. Needless to mention that you wouldn’t have to rub your elbows with strangers, the beaches are ever inviting with their warmth and hotels slashing their prices to more realistic rates. The other window of opportunity would be the late spring and early summer before the mad rush begins.
From there on, the prices, and the head banging crowds just go north. Of course, this is definitely the scene for people looking for exactly this hedonistic lifestyle and if you belong to this eclectic school, look nowhere else. During July and August, Mykonos will be your oyster.
Getting in by air
From India, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air and Qatar Airways are some of the carriers that provide connected flight options through their partner airlines to Mykonos. You could alternatively, fly into Athens and then take a super-fast catamaran to Mykonos.
The sea-bus plies from New Port to Hora (for €2) every hour, starting from 9 am-10 pm. (30 mins departure when cruise ship is docked in port)
Hop on to any bus in the KTEL Mykonos bus network at two main terminals and get picked up at Old and New Ports additionally.
Buses during the peak season ply continuously for a maximum of €1 to €2 (depending on the distance) and reduce their services during off season. During peak season between July and August, these buses continue service till 2 am from the beaches. Check the website for the timetables.
Ornos and Agios Ioannis beach, Platys Gialos, Paraga and Super Paradise beaches are served by Fabrika, the Terminal A -southern bus station.
Agios Stefanos via Tourlos, Ano Mera, and Kalo Livadi, Kalafatis, and Elia beaches are served by Remezzo, the Terminal B – northern bus station (behind the OTE office). Old and New Ports have the facility to serve tourists from Tourlos and Agios Stefanos.
Buses ply frequently from the New Port to the southern bus station and between the nearby airport. A private bus runs between Paradise Beach and Old Port via Fabrika, during the summer rush, from 11 am to 11 pm, hourly.
High speed boat ferries from Greek mainland ply from Piraeus and Rafina, taking just half the time and costing a double.
The type of ferry determines the time taken between Piraeus (Athens) and Mykonos, which is usually between a three and a half hours and five hours and fifteen minutes. It costs about €32 for a slower ferry and about €54.50 on a high speed service. Port Gate E7 is the departure terminal for all high speed ferris to Mykonos from Piraeus. Additionally, most of them stop their services by end of October and resume in April.
Take a ferry from Rafina from Athens airport, rather than considering a ferry from Piraeus, which is a travel from Athens. Consider Rafina to serve all your Cyclades sightseeing from the Athens airport. For a journey between Rafina and Mykonos, which takes about 2 hours and 10 mins to approximately to 5 hours and 30 mins depending upon the type of ferry used, and expect a fare of €23.50 per person (Economy class seat). For high-speed ferry service, a fare of €52.50 is collected. A majority of the ferries along this leg stop their services by October end and resume in April.
You can reach Mykonos from Syros, Andros, Tinos and Paros by boats, which ply more than once a day. Boat connections run every day from Naxos, Ios, Santorini and Crete. For night journey, take an overnight ferry (Nissos Mykonos) from Samos (Vathi and Karlovassi) and Ikaria. However, you find infrequent services from Serifos, Sifnos, Kimolos, Milos, Folegandros, Sikinos, Thirassia and Anafi.
Book your tickets in advance on high speeds and ferries from mid-July to late August when the season is at its peak. It is recommended to book tickets in advance during the 15th of August season, when most of the pilgrims offer their congregation at the island of Tinos. The weekend of Pentacost (differs every year, but usually between May and June) also would see influx of Greek tourists in Mykonos.
Remember to collect your tickets from the travel agent once you are here, if you consider booking online.
Weather plays a major role in the ferry and boat services, which can lead to cancellations due to strong winds. Such cases are just next to none, many a times during summer.
Check with the travel agent on which port you’ve booked your tickets for. There are two ports, old port in Mykonos Town and the new port at Tourlos, in Mykonos. Most frequently, the new ports are considered for ferries and old ports for high-speed catamaran services.
Have you considered going around the town by bus? Yes, the bus system in the island has one of the best bets connecting major spots and attractions. Since Chora banned motor vehicles, it is strongly advised to walk or ride a bike across the town. Taxis are available and even renting-a-car is an option, but you wouldn’t want to eke out to the rentals and parking fees. Taxis are available from the Mykonos Island National Airport (JMK), which is quite expensive to hire. Easier still, take a ferry through Tourlos from other islands.
The town of Mykonos is well connected through an efficient bus system, which links towns, islands and beaches, alike. In summer, you have the liberty of hopping on a bus even at 4 am. The charges are as petty as they can be, with just a few euros, considering the distance travelled. Collect your tickets at the stands along the streets or in the sightseeing shops around the town and remember to get them stamped when you hop on. A small act of negligence to do this will incur a big fine.
Remember to stop by at the neighbourhood of Alefkandra for good eats and treats, and for a glass of ouzo, on your journey towards the windmills and back to Little Venice.
This chapel is the most famous and has its origin in the Byzantine era, featuring some exquisite artistic work of the Middle Ages. Be enthralled with a picturesque view of the Mediterranean Sea from its entrance.
The church is free for visitors and is a very somber structure actively used as a place of worship by the residents and tourists. Please remember to be respectful while in the premises of the sanctum.
If hard partying is not your cup of tea, head to Super Paradise beach, which is a more sedate show compared to its famous cousin and may lack many amenities, but it is more than made up by its boisterous beach parties with heavy music, lots of beer and skimpily clad partygoers. It is also a favourite with Mykonos’ LGBT community.
This beach is open all through the night and is located 2 miles south of Chora. Get here either by foot or by a bus or a boat. Entry is free.
Ano Mera, the only other real town in Mykonos, is located about four miles east of Chora, on the southeast, at the center of the island. It is sparsely crowded due to its poor proximity to the sea. Nevertheless, it is a major attraction hosting two of the oldest monasteries, Panagia Tourliani and Paleokastro.
Find intricately carved marble designs on the walls of the monastery, with a massive baroque altar screen, dating back to the 18th century. Half a mile further down the south east is Paleokastro, which was built in 12th century and is a very rare and grassy place on the island.
In 88 B.C, Romans attacked Delos followed by pirate attacks multiple times during the decades that followed. This resulted in abandoning the island and a century later, it was excavated by a French School of Archaeology to unravel the history and mysteries of Delos. The ruins are a wonderful sight today with Propylaea (an impressive marble archway) and the Sanctuary of Apollo still attracting crowds. Archaeological Museum of Mykonos has artefacts of Delos on display. It is highly recommended that you trek up the rocky Mount Kythnos, which is southwest of the harbour, for an astonishing view of the remains.
Make your way towards Delos between Tuesday and Sunday within the recommended hours, which vary with season. The ferry ride starts at Chora around 10 am with just a nominal fee. You don’t have to pay a fee to enter Delos.
Psaurou Beach that is located northwest of Paradise Beach along the coast is your answer to all the thoughts ruminating about having a quiet and peaceful experience under the Aegean umbrella, devoid of the rambunctious parties and sun worshiping naturalists.
A very popular beach among the water sports adventurers, Psarou Beach invites crowds in hordes to experience windsurfing, sailing and water skiing. Besides, it attracts families and couples with its soft silky sand and eye-catching blue waters in a completely serene set up. Try coming in early in the morning to have some “me-time” when the party-hard are catching up their much deserved 40 winks.
“Mykonos Town”, popularly known as Chora, is a stead to all major attractions, beaches and hotels. Located on the western part of the island, Chora can be explored on foot or a bicycle due to motor vehicles restrictions within the town. The bizarre roads with their narrow curvier paths are best not traversed by cars, but by an adventurous trek. The fairy-tale cubical whitewashed buildings, abundant trinket shops, savoury restaurants and churches line the queer streets of Mykonos. A clergical attraction is the famous Panagia Paraportiani on the coast of the southern part of the town.
Chora also embraces all the museums that portray the historic side of Mykonos with the Archaeological Museum, the Aegean Maritime Museum and the Mykonos Folk Art Museum.
The windmills of Kato Myli stand at the northern end of Chora, where the granaries were powered through the high wind energy of these gigantic blades. Walk further to tread into Little Venice, where the Cycladic form of architecture is exhibited in every detail, with the extension of bluish balconies providing a beautiful shoreline to Mykonos Island.
Kalafatis forms the eastern shoreline of Mykonos with some of the best and unique beach resorts. About 7 miles from Chora and enclosed by verdure, these beaches are cosy and free of the frenzy crowd of party hoppers. The beach is famous for snorkelling, windsurfing and other water sports.
Agios Ioannis completes the western most point of the island with beaches sparsely populated at all times as compared to the other parts of the island and a good number of restaurants and hotels to appease your cravings. Get a picturesque shot of Delos, which stands right across the island of Agios Ioannis.
With one of the recent additions of two ports in the island, Tourlos is a much sought after tourist destination, located in the northern part of Mykonos’ west coast. Crowds galore during peak season. Chapels and whitewashed houses with blue windows provide a beautiful view.
Chora plays neighbour to Megali Ammos, which is10-minutes on foot. The place gets very crowded due to its close proximity to the city and being in the southern part of the island, which allure more people than the northern part.
For families, Ornos, located a little south is a perfect place to let the inhibitions off with the atmosphere at party and sea a tad serene.
Psarou is notorious for its loudest rowdy parties interspersed with water sports like diving, sailing and windsurfing to kindle their energy up. Lay admiring on the beautiful white sands here. Want to tan areas of your body that have never seen direct sunlight. Then head to to Paranga beach.
Further south, you could stopover at the clothing optional Paradise Beach, All the pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants are jam-packed throughout the day and night. LGBT communities prefer the rocky beach of Super Paradise Beach with a rockier ambience and marathon parties continuing all year through.
The northern part of the island hosts Ftelia Beach, which is the most popular for surfers due to the leverage offered by the wind. Be ready to drive down or ride a scooter to the beach due to lack of proper bus routes. Fokos is another but unheard of beach, with its plush panoramic view, but familiar to just a few.