Published in Travel Guides
Mykonos is a world class destination. It is Greece's party island! Here you’ll find the international jet set mingling with the rest of us and not being given special treatment, whether seeking an umbrella on the beach or a table in the trendiest restaurant. Mykonos combines its gorgeous beaches with dazzling Cycladic architecture and an endless variety of places to stay and things to do.
Υou have to go to Mykonos at least once in your life. Only if you can’t bear crowds or the idea that the island has been transformed into one big entertainment centre would you be justified in not going. But visiting the Greek islands without seeing Mykonos is like travelling to the United States and bypassing New York.
The island took its name from a legendary hero called Mykonos. Like most of the Aegean islands, it was a member of the 1st and 2nd Athenian Confederacy. In 166 BC the Romans conquered the Cyclades, after which Mykonos enjoyed a certain prosperity, which came to an abrupt end with the destruction of the sanctuary on Delos by Mithridates (88 BC). After the fall of Constantinople to the Franks, the Venetians governed the island (12071537) until it was devastated by the notorious Turkish admiral, Khaireddin Barbarossa. During the Ottoman occupation, the islanders were engaged in shipping and trade and dabbled in piracy on the side. Led by the heroine Manto Mavrogenous, they sent their experienced crews to fight in the war of Independence. After the liberation of Greece, in the early 19th c., the Mykonians rebuilt their merchant fleet and slowly began to grow wealthy. The replacement of sails by steam nipped their economy in the bud and many islanders were forced to emigrate in order to survive. Mykonos was one of the first Greek islands to attract tourism in the mid 50s and has held its popularity ever since among sophisticates.
Mykonos, one of the northeastern Cyclades, lies in the centre of the Aegean and is home to 9,300 permanent inhabitants. Its climate is typically Mediterranean, with mild, fairly dry winters and blustery north winds in summer that make the heat more bearable. An island of low hills, it is stony and arid with very little vegetation.
For centuries Mykonos lived under the shadow of its neighbour, Delos, which in antiquity was the most sacred island in the Greek world. In our own day, it is a major archaeological site. In the past, travellers used Mykonos as a base for visiting Delos, until they were eventually bewitched by its own charms and natural beauty. It gradually began to be known abroad and the rapid growth of tourism soon made it an international summer resort. Now, the tables are turned and Delos is in the shadow of Mykonos.
Today the island is exceptionally well equipped with facilities for tourists and offers an enormous range of entertainment possibilities. Most of its beaches are among the most beautiful in Greece. And among its habituates are some of the planet’s most famous personalities, not a few of whom have built lovely vacation homes. From the architectural point of view, only the Hora (main town/port) is of particular interest. Nevertheless, Ano Mera, the island’s sole village apart from Hora, and the new, small summer settlements built on protected coves, are worth a look. These include Ornos and AiGiannis, with its restaurants, hotels and bars, Agios Stephanos, Tourlos and Platys Gialos.
This is a gem of a town, a prime example of Cycladic architecture. Even the noted architect-town planner Le Corbusier admired its harmony and the artistry of the self-taught master builders who constructed it over time. Today a listed settlement, it consists of narrow, whitewashed alleyways, tiny churches, white houses with brightly painted woodwork and marvellous windmills.
The pelican you’ll see eating fish in the port is one of a series named Petros; he’s the island’s mascot.
The main street, Matogianni with its chic shops, cafes and bars, is where the island’s pulse throbs. Apart from the attractive things you’ll see as you stroll around the Hora’s winding lanes, you’ll also have the chance to shop or window shop in the fabulous, but pricey, boutiques, which carry all the most exclusive name brands. Among them are the outstanding Greek jewellers.
By day the pace in the Hora is slow and calm. But once the sun sets, the picturesque alleys fill to bursting with the people who come to Mykonos just to check out its celebrated nightlife.
The famous wave-lapped corner of Mykonos, one of the prettiest places in the Cyclades. This is the spot from which to view the sunset. From the little beach of Alefkandra as far as the edge of the castle district, you’ll see charming two and three-storey houses built right on the sea, with colourful wooden balconies, windows and doors. Look for the lovely church of the Panagia tis Theotokou or Pigadiotissa on Alefkandra square. This is the town’s cathedral and its interior is worth a look. The one next to it is the Roman Catholic church. It is decorated with frescoes from Venice and is open from Easter through October.
This church got its name from the fact that it stands at the small entrance (paraporti) to the medieval fortress. Though building started in 1425, it was not completed until the 17th c. Consisting of five small churches, four on the ground level and one raised, it is a superb example
of local vernacular architecture.
Tel. 003022890 22325
8 am-2 pm
Housed in a neoclassical building of 1901, south of the harbour, it contains exhibits of pre-Classical and Classical pottery, figurines from various periods, Hellenistic and Roman sculpture and inscriptions. Many of the finds come from the necropolis of Rinia, the island next to Delos. Look for the clay jar with scenes from the Trojan War (7th c. BC).
Tel. 003022890 22591
April-October, 8 am -2 pm
An interesting museum which opened in 1962 in the former home of a Mykonian sea captain. It contains collections of local weaving, knits, embroideries, pottery, traditional costumes, maritime instruments and old furniture. Among the exhibits you’ll see Mykonos famous mascot the first Petros the pelican, stuffed. He was the island’s mascot for three decades. Also part of the museum are the restored 16th c. windmill, the threshing floor and the dovecote, all in the vicinity.
Tel. 003022890 22700
April - October, 10:30am -1 pm, 6 :30-9 pm
Opened in 1985, this museum is housed in a traditional Cycladic building of the 19th c. Here you’ll see models of ships from the early Minoan period to the 19th c., maritime instruments, maps and documents, ancient coins with naval motifs of the 5th c. BC, as well as marble copies of grave steles from Delos and Mykonos, among other things.
Near the castle erected in the 13th c. by the Venetian ruler of Mykonos, Andrea Ghizi.
A neoclassical building constructed in 1785 to house the Russian consulate, and Ta Tria Pigadia (the Three Wells), which were, until 1956, the town’s only source of water.
A small Mykonian inland village with tavernas on its pretty plateia where you can eat meat grilled over charcoal or fresh fried loukoumades (doughnut relatives) and honey in one of the sweetshops.
Near the square you’ll see the monastery of Panagia tis Tourlianis, which was founded in the 16th c. but took its final form in 1767. It has an attractive belltower and interesting relief scenes on its carved wooden iconscreen. The monastery’s modest museum contains relics, ecclesiastical treasures and Byzantine icons.
How to get there: Daily departures 8 - 10 am by boat from Mykonos harbour. Return, 12 -2 pm.
A small, rectangular, waterless and uninhabited island with low hills, 2.5 miles SW of Mykonos. Delos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, full of ruined houses, temples, statues and mosaics.
The island developed a notable civilization during the Mycenaean period (15801200 BC) and from 700 BC it was the centre of the worship of Apollo, the god imported by colonists from the Ionian shores of Asia Minor in about 1000 BC. Here, according to myth, Leto finally came to rest and gave birth to Apollo, while his sister Artemis was born on the nearby island of Rinia. The divine offspring had been fathered by Zeus and, ever vindictive, his jealous wife Hera had pursued Leto relentlessly all over the Aegean. Every five years great festivals, the Delia, were held in honour of Apollo on his sacred island. They included musical competitions.
The Athenians made the island the centre of the Athenian Confederacy (478 BC). From 250 BC until 166 BC Delos was under Roman rule. During that time it grew into a prosperous trading port. In 88 BC it was destroyed by the Pontic King Mithridates, who was at war with the Romans. After that, one disaster followed another, mostly in the form of pirates and antiquity smugglers.
The whole island is one vast archaeological site of inestimable significance. For your convenience, we have divided the site into three large areas: the Sanctuary of Delos/Sacred Lake, the Theatre District, and the Sanctuaries of the Foreign Gods.
8 am - 3 pm
The temples of Apollo: There were three temples dedicated to Apollo: the temple of the Delians, the temple of the Athenians and the older limestone temple.
The Altar of Dionysos: Remains of a huge phallic monument (300 BC).
The Lion Terrace: The famous lions of Delos, a gift of the Naxians (7th c. BC). Once there were nine, now there are five.
The Sacred Lake: The place where Apollo was born. Today the lake is waterless. This quarter also contains the agora of the Italians, the temple of Leto, the small Dodekatheon, dedicated to the Twelve Gods, etc.
House of Dionysos: Here you’ll see the mosaic floor depicting the god Dionysos riding a winged tiger.
Cleopatra’s House: A 2nd c. BC building, which took its name from two headless statues of Cleopatra and the Dioscuri that were found in it.
The Theatre: Built in the 2nd3rd c. BC, it could seat 3,000 - 5,000 spectators. Also see the enormous cistern next to it.
House of the Masks: A 2nd c. BC dwelling supposed to have been an actors’ residence. The mosaics, apart from the one portraying Dionysos riding a panther, show various satyrical and comic masks.
House of the Dolphins: A house with the marvellous mosaic with the dolphins, a work of Asklepiades from Syria.
This is where the sanctuaries of the foreign gods — Sarapis and Isis, the Syrian deities — and the little theatre were located. From the back of the theatre, a path leads in 45 min to the sacred mount Kynthos where the ruins of the temples of Zeus Kynthios and Athena Kynthia are and from which there is a fabulous view.
8 am -2 pm, closed on Mondays and holidays
Containing interesting exhibits found on the island. Take a look at the statue of Artemis with the Hind, the statue of Apollo, and the pottery and kouroi of the 7th c. BC.
BEST BEACHES IN MYKONOS
The beaches of Mykonos rank among the best in the Aegean, in Greece, and perhaps in the world. July and August are surely the worst time to visit them, but in June and September, you’ll find the weather better and the crowds reduced. Some may even be deserted. Most of the best beaches are on the south coast, sheltered from the prevailing northerly winds, the “meltemia”. You can get to these beaches, including Paranga, Paradise, Super Paradise, Agrari and Elia, by caique from Platys Gialos.
One of the most exceptional beaches on Mykonos with turquoise water, umbrellas and relatively few people, mostly those in the know.
Perhaps the most picturesque beach in Mykonos, Agrari has coarse sand and organized facilities for water sports and sunbathing. It is also one of the least crowded, since it’s not on the bus route. A favourite with celebrities.
The island’s most beautiful, this beach offers water sports, umbrellas, and tavernas.
An exquisite, large sandy beach, one of the few on Mykonos that is not organized. It’s a paradise for nudists and boat owners.
One of the most famous beaches in the Aegean. This very pretty beach is preferred by the gays and the younger set. If you like swimming and swinging at the same time, music blasting from the bars and you’re not put off by crowds, then this is the place for you.
The most famous beach on Mykonos, this is a big favourite among Athenians and celebrities. Organized sandy beach, fairly protected from the wind with luxurious sunbeds and umbrellas. During the peak season there is a waiting list for the sunbeds and umbrellas.
Kalo Livadi is one of the longest beaches in Mykonos and quite popular for the facilities and the parties.
Lounge chairs and umbrellas in the sand. A lot of foreigners come here.
A beautiful sandy beach with a bohemian style beach bar-restaurant.
One of Mykonos best and most deserted beaches, with coarse sand. You can only get here by boat or rented caique.
One of the most organized beaches on Mykonos, it has water sports, a scuba diving school and a beach bar. Popular with the younger set.
The windsurfers’ favourite beach on Mykonos. We don’t recommend it for swimming, but it’s ideal if you like the challenge of strong winds.
Rhenia is one hour away by excursion caique from Mykonos. It has wonderful beaches and is a great place if you have your own boat.
A deserted island, 1 mile east from Mykonos, it has sea caves where monk seals hide.
By air from Athens, El. Venizelos airport to Mykonos Airport
From Thessaloniki, Makedonia airport to Mykonos Airport
By Dolphin Sea Lines (hydrofoil) from Rafina to Mykonos Port in 2 hrs. 45 min. Rafina agency, tel. 00302294025100.
By Minoan Lines Sea Jet (high speed boat) from Rafina to Mykonos Port in 2 hrs. 30 min., Rafina agency, tel. 00302294023561.
By Minoan Lines (high speed boat) from Piraeus to Mykonos Port in 3 hrs., Piraeus agency, tel. 0030210408 00061-3.
By ferry from Rafina to Mykonos Port in 4 hrs. 15 min., Rafina agency, tel. 00302294023561.
By ferry from Piraeus to Mykonos Portin 5 hrs. 45 min., Piraeus Port Authority, tel. 00302104226000.
By air from Mykonos to Santorini, Rhodes, Heraklio, tel. 2289022490
By Dolphin Sea Lines (hydrofoil) from Mykonos to Amorgos, Andros, Ios, Donoussa, Iraklia, Pano Koufonissi, Schinoussa, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Syros, Tinos. In summer, also to Serifos, Sifnos, Karystos. Mykonos agency, tel. 00302289022853.
By Minoan Flying Dolphins hydrofoil from Mykonos to Milos, Naxos, Paros, Sifnos, Syros, Tinos. Mykonos agency, tel. 00302289022322.
By Speed Lines high speed boat to Amorgos, Anafi, Ios, Iraklia, Pano Koufonissi, Schinoussa, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Sikinos, Syros, Folegandros. Mykonos agency, tel. 00302289023284.
By Minoan Lines (hydrofoil) from Mykonos to Andros and Tinos. Mykonos agency, tel. 00302289023284.
By ferry from Mykonos to Paros, Syros, Amorgos, Donoussa, Iraklia, Pano Koufonissi, Schinoussa, Naxos, Syros, Tinos, Evdilo (Ikaria), Fourni (near Ikaria), Lipsi, Patmos, Andros, Santorini, Serifos, Sikinos, Sifnos, Folegandros. Mykonos Port Authority, tel. 003022890 22218.
With your own transport or by taxi, which are virtually unavailable in Mykonos during the peak season. The best solution is to rent a car, mini van or a scooter as soon as you arrive on the island. There are public buses to many of the hamlets.
From April through October. The best months to visit Mykonos are May, June and September. Avoid August unless you like commuter trains at rush hour.
For useful safety information and licensed water sports centers in Mykonos please visit
MYkonos Town Hall 0030 2289023261
Mykonos Airport 0030 2289079000
Mykonos Municipal Information Office 0030 2289022201
Mykonos Tourist Police 0030 2289022482
Mykonos Police 0030 2289022235
Mykonos Port Authority 0030 2289022218
Mykonos Clinic 0030 2289022274
Mykonos Clinic (Ano Mera) 0030 2289071395
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