The next island my friends and I decided to visit was Mykonos. We knew this island would be crowded with tourists but still wanted to spend a couple of days on the beaches and see for ourselves why this island is so popular. One of my friends had been here before so she was able to show us around some. Below is an overview of what I saw and did on our short trip:
Things to Do:
Beaches. Obviously, one of the main things to do on this island is go to the beaches. The popular beaches are Paradise and Super Paradise. Both beaches are located near each other, and buses go between these beaches and the city center. Both beaches are also full of young people, drinks, and loud music. Super paradise is supposed to be a little more ‘upscale,’ and this is the one we ended up going to. The beach is occupied by chairs and umbrellas that visitors have to rent. We walked around to a couple of different spots to compare prices and found them to be pretty similar. We ended up choosing the one that was slightly cheaper and that had a spot for three. The chairs do come with beach side service, which is nice, so servers do come by to get orders and bring drinks and food. We ended up ordering a couple of bottles of sparkling while we were there and had good service. There is also a mart nearby the beach where visitors can buy their own food and drink. It is not required to order through servers since chairs are paid for separately. We found the mart prices to be almost the same as the beach prices though so we preferred to have someone wait on us. The water was warm, calm, and not too crowded, although I did spend most of the time laying out in the sun rather than getting in the water. When we had enough sun, we had a few more drinks and did some dancing at the bar located directly behind us. It was a nice time. I think this beach is probably very comparable to the other one, but I cannot say for sure since we only had time to visit this one. Plan to spend the day here.
Nightclubs. The other main thing to do on this island is hit up the nightclubs. Mykonos is well known for its nightlife. We did go to a club on the beach as mentioned above that was fun. We also ended up going to a club in the city center and having drinks outside. When we went to that club, it was not peak time so there was not a lot going on. The clubs in the city really do not start to get crowded until well after midnight. The ones on the beach will get crowded earlier with people transitioning there directly from the beach. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the Mykonos, I was too tired and lacked the incentive to go out at 3 a.m. So I cannot really recommend any good clubs or comment on the overall vibe, but other travelers will be happy to recommend places so ask a neighbor on the beach. Plan to get there later for larger crowds.
Windmills. The windmills in Mykonos are a well known feature of the landscape. They are no longer functional but their silhouettes can be easily spotted on the island. They make for a great picture. There is a line of five of them in Chora located next to a harbor that is a nice group shot. There is also a lone one, Bonis Windmill, located on a hill overlooking the town and the harbor that is a great solo shot. Plan to spend 20 minutes taking pictures and looking at the structures.
Delos. This island and reported birthplace of Apollo is located a short boat ride away from Mykonos. This is a popular day trip from the island to visit ancient Greek ruins. Since we only had a short time here and we had already seen the ruins in Athens, we did not take this trip. However, if we had more time, this is something I would have been interested in doing. I would recommend going here to travelers who will be staying on the island longer and looking for a break from the beach and for those who will not be stopping to see the ruins in Athens.
There are a lot of shops on the island. While I did not do a lot of shopping here, it was fun to stroll through the streets and look around. There are plenty of tacky shirts and hats with funny slogans that can be bought to wear to the beach or as a funny souvenir for a friend. While this is not something I would normally go for, two of us did buy a tacky mug as a gift for our fellow traveler for fun. This island also has a lot of pelican related paraphernalia. There is a local legend about Petros the pelican who served as a type of mascot for the island for a long time so locals are very proud to be associated with this bird and have kept a few pelicans on the island ever since. These items could serve as a cute reminder of the island or as a great gift for any bird enthusiasts. Most of the souvenirs I came across were little knickknacks for those who absolutely have to have a souvenir, but there were not a lot of must buys. Like the rest of Greece, there are also Greek honeys, olive oils, spices, and such, which would be good gifts for travelers not going to other parts of Greece where these can be bought more locally and cheaper.
What to Eat:
There are tons of restaurants on the island. We did not do a lot planning for food and basically just stopped at a place that looked good when we got hungry. We ate a lot souvlaki and other cheap Greek eats, but we also splurged on a couple of nicer seafood meals. I definitely recommend getting some fresh seafood, especially the octopus dishes. The Mediterranean treatment of seafood is delicious. I do not have specific restaurants to recommend. Instead, do what we did and look for the crowds and appetizing smells.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at an Airbnb that was a nice house with a great view of the sunset. However, it was about 2 km away from the restaurants and shops. I would try to stay somewhere closer to the city center or to the beaches because without a car it is hard to get around the island, especially if staying in a more residential area.
We arrived to Mykonos by ferry from Santorini. The ferries run fairly regularly between the islands during tourist season, and the trip takes about 2.5 hours. These ferries are medium in size, and passengers will have an assigned seat. As Mykonos is a popular stop, many of the passengers will be getting off here so be prepared to queue to get off the boat. We waited to get off since we knew there would be a line. However, I do not recommend doing that for this stop. Travelers should grab their bags and be waiting in line to depart so that they are the first ones off and can be the first to grab a taxi. This is a small island so there is a limited number of taxis. There is a taxi stand close to where passengers are dropped, but getting one can take a while. Taxis do a good job of combining passenger parties who will be going in the same direction to cut down on the line. Unfortunately, for us, we were a party of three so we were not able to really share a cab with anyone else since there were not a lot of solo travelers. If possible, visitors should try to arrange for a pick up through their hotel or Airbnb. The limited taxis also make it difficult to get around the island for those not staying near the beaches or the center of town. There are taxi stands throughout but waiting for one could take a while. If possible, rent a car or get the number of a driver that can be contacted directly for pick ups. There is some public transportation in the form of buses, but the places they go are limited. The buses are reliable, however, to get between the center and the beaches, which is what we used. When we departed Mykonos, we left by ferry and arranged for a ride ahead of time. We had to get to the port a little early to find the ticket office and have our tickets printed, but the port is small so finding where to go and wait for the right ferry is not difficult.
I had a nice time in Mykonos. We were here in early September so it was crowded but was not peak tourist season and the weather was still nice. I would recommend visiting in September for those who like to try to avoid the larger crowds. For those looking to meet as many people as possible, I would visit a little earlier in the year when it is peak season. Even though it was not peak season during our visit, many of the Airbnbs were filled up by the time we booked so book early to get the better deals. The prices for this island are higher no matter what time of year because of its popularity so we chose to only stay here a couple of nights. Visitors should be able to see the highlights of this island in 2-3 days but those looking to spend a more relaxing vacation without island hopping will want to stay longer. While we enjoyed our time here, it was not my favorite island that we visited. This island is for the travelers looking to take advantage of the nightlife and be surrounded by large crowds.