Ultimate Travel Guide to the Island of Mykonos

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Featured image taken by @cavotagoomykonos on Instagram

Among Greece’s Cyclades islands, Mykonos has developed a well-deserved reputation as the glamorous “party island” famous for its wealthy international visitors, white-sand beaches and buzzing nightlife. While these characterizations are basically accurate, there’s much more to the island than just celebrity sightings and hedonistic clubs.

Mykonos is rich in both history and scenery, with its narrow, winding streets, quaint windmills, whitewashed cubist architecture and breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. It’s also just a short hop from Delos, an uninhabited island with some of the most fascinating archaeological ruins in the region.

There are a few things you should know as you begin planning your visit to Mykonos:

  • The island’s official language is Greek, but English is widely spoken on the island, making it easy to interact with locals.
  • Mykonos is one of the most expensive destinations in Greece, so be sure to budget for elevated hotel, restaurant and tour prices.
  • The euro is the island’s official currency, so even though most restaurants and hotels will accept credit and debit cards, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand for public transit, tips and small purchases.
  • Summers tend to be hot and dry with little rain. Winters are typically mild and windy with occasional showers.

Best Time To Visit Mykonos

The best time of year to visit Mykonos depends largely on your vacation priorities. If your primary goal is to minimize expenses, the quieter winter months are the time to travel. If, on the other hand, you want to experience the island in all of its pricey, action-packed glory, summer high season is the way to go.

Off Season (November through March)

By November, most tourists have gone home, leaving behind a less-crowded, more peaceful island. Rates for hotels, car rentals and other expenses are at their lowest, but the party scene is virtually nonexistent this time of year, and some businesses will be shut down for the season. The weather is cool with a mix of sunshine, overcast skies and drizzle.

Low Season (April, May and October)

Low season in Mykonos offers excellent benefits for travelers, with reduced prices, smaller crowds and generally good weather. You’ll enjoy reduced traffic and more personal space on the beach, but you also won’t have quite as many options for nightlife and other activities.

Mid-Season (June and September)

For many people, June and September may be the ideal time to visit Mykonos. Temperatures are warm enough for swimming and sunbathing, but not yet scorching; the island is beginning to fill with tourists, but hasn’t yet reached the packed level of peak season; prices are higher than the low- and off-season, but not yet at their high-season maximum. Most shops, restaurants and clubs are operating at full force, so you’ll have plenty to see and do.

High Season: July and August

High season offers travelers the full Mykonos experience, with hot weather, nonstop parties and tourists everywhere. Most Greeks and Italians take their annual holiday in the first three weeks of August, and thousands will gravitate to Mykonos for its beautiful beaches and thrilling club scene. Prices will be high and many hotels and restaurants will be fully booked, so make your reservations early, and expect to add extra travel time around the island due to constant traffic congestion.

Places to Stay in Mykonos

As with nearly everything else in Mykonos, accommodations can be pricey. However, good deals are possible to find, especially during the low- and off-seasons. Travel website Booking.com is an excellent resource for identifying availability and comparing hotels based on location, amenities and price.

Cheap Hotels in Mykonos

  • Matina Hotel: This budget hotel’s central location and peaceful garden setting make it an excellent value. Room sizes vary, but all include a private balcony or front terrace, and a hearty breakfast is included in the room rate.
  • Hotel Fresh: Situated in the heart of Mykonos town, this small but stylish hotel stands out for its attention to detail, including plush mattresses, flat-screen TVs, toiletries crafted by local artisans and complimentary fresh fruit.
  • Manto Hotel: Just a stone’s throw from the harbor, Manto Hotel offers a variety of room sizes, each outfitted with refrigerators, plasma-screen TVs, ice-cold air conditioning and bright décor. If you manage to snag the rooftop room, you’ll enjoy access to a private terrace and phenomenal views of the city and port. A daily breakfast buffet is included in the price.
  • Argo Hotel: If proximity to the beach is on your wish list, the Argo Hotel is short walk from Platys Gialos, a popular beach on the southern coast. All rooms have balconies with pool or garden views, as well as flat-screen TVs and chic décor. The hotel also offers guests complimentary shuttles to the port and airport.
  • Elia: This somewhat remote hotel provides guests with a respite from the faster pace of Mykonos town, with its light-filled rooms and high ceilings accentuating the tranquil setting. Rooms come with a deep soaking tub perfect for relaxing after a day of sightseeing or swimming, and all have balconies or terraces. Regular buses and ferries keep guests connected to Mykonos town as well as other nearby beaches.

Mid-Range Hotels in Mykonos

  • Portobello Hotel: This modern boutique hotel sits on a hill overlooking the sparkling Aegean Sea. Just a three-minute walk from the restaurants, shops and clubs of Mykonos town, the hotel still feels pleasantly removed from the bustle of the city streets. Choose from 17 well-appointed rooms or suites or splurge on the three-bedroom villa with its own private pool.
  • Hermes Mykonos Hotel: Along with breathtakingly beautiful views and equally appealing in-room decor, guests at Hermes enjoy free daily breakfast and complimentary airport shuttle. Marble floors, exposed-stone accents and tons of natural light make even the standard rooms feel like luxury.
  • Mykonos Theoxenia Boutique Hotel: This quirky boutique hotel is known for its 1960s-glam design, which has earned it the designation of “national preserved property” for its innovative architecture and unique craftsmanship. The hotel has been carefully updated to reflect modern tastes and amenities while maintaining its original character. Guests can relax in the pool or enjoy a massage or spa treatment at the onsite fitness center.
  • Kouros Hotel and Suites: This posh waterfront hotel is located on a cliff near Mykonos town, offering spectacular views and proximity to the island’s famed nightlife. Renovated in 2018, rooms feature stylish modern design and amenities like satellite TV, locally-crafted toiletries, robe and slippers. An onsite gourmet restaurant and fully-equipped spa and wellness center add to its appeal.
  • Mykonos Apiro: This brand-new hotel was built on Megali Ammos beach, about a five-minute walk from the attractions of Mykonos town and a slightly longer stroll to Little Venice and the famous windmills. Rooms feature simple, elegant décor, and many include sea views, in-room tub or jacuzzi and private balcony.

Luxury Hotels in Mykonos

  • Mykonos Blu: This extravagant retreat overlooking Psarou Beach offers a range of room sizes, each outfitted with high-end furnishings and linens, luxury toiletries and flat-screen satellite TVs. Guests enjoy access to an awe-inspiring three-level swimming pool as well as a small private beachfront.
  • Cavo Tagoo: This posh resort is known as one of the finest hotels in Mykonos, and for good reason: Offering unparalleled views of Mykonos town and Dilos Island, this photogenic resort features an infinity pool with constantly-changing colored lighting, floating wood decks and gleaming whitewashed exteriors. Hotel staff attend to guests’ every need, and the onsite restaurant transforms fresh, local ingredients into unforgettable gourmet meals.
  • Belvedere: This staple of Mykonos hospitality combines traditional Cycladic design with contemporary comforts. Choose from 35 luxury rooms and nine suites, or go for broke with the onsite “mansion.” Other amenities include several gourmet restaurants and bars, fitness center, spa, a sparkling pool and two luxury boutiques.
  • Santa Marina: This expansive luxury resort is an excellent choice for families, with an onsite playground as well as a range of suites and villas of varying sizes. Private beach access and two infinity pools provide endless outdoor fun, and parents can sneak away for a few hours of pampering in the resort spa. All rooms feature sea views and natural wood and raffia accents.
  • Palladium Hotel Mykonos: This luxury boutique hotel has 48 rooms and suites overlooking Psarou and Platys Gialos beaches. All rooms include private balconies and elegant décor, with the most extravagant suites offering hot tubs or even private pools.

How Long to Stay in Mykonos

At minimum, plan to spend three to four nights in Mykonos. This will give you plenty of time to explore the island, enjoy the world-class food and scenery and spend a full day relaxing on the beach (possibly recovering from a wild night out at one of the island’s infamous parties or clubs). If your time in the Greek isles extends beyond a few days, consider island-hopping a bit to get a feel for their very distinct cultures; Santorini, Crete and Rhodes are all worthwhile destinations.

Getting Around Mykonos

Most visitors will stay in or near Mykonos town, where most shops, restaurants and clubs—including “Little Venice”—are within easy walking distance. However, to get to the beach or explore the rest of the island, you’ll need to find an alternate mode of transportation.

  • Rent a car: While many hotels offer complimentary shuttles for guests, they often don’t run all day, making them an inconvenient way to get around. Depending on the length of your stay, renting a small car may be more economical than relying on pricey taxi services. Check with your hotel to see if the concierge service includes securing a rental vehicle; you may be able to have the car delivered directly there.
  • Rent a scooter: If you expect to take mostly short trips between the beach and Mykonos town, you may be able to make do with an inexpensive scooter rental, especially if you travel in summer when rainstorms are infrequent.
  • Take the bus: Public transportation is a good option for nights out, when buses run regularly between the town center and major nightclubs. However, they’re not an especially efficient choice for sightseeing and exploring during the day.
  • Hail a cab: Taxis on the island are limited and quite costly, so try to keep them as a last resort for getting where you need to go.

Things to Do in Mykonos

  • Beach-hop: Mykonos is home to multiple beaches, each with its own unique character and crowd. Elia Beach is known for its white sands, clear waters and nearby tavernas, while Paradise Beach is popular with backpackers, who transform it into a party scene once night falls. Other options include sparsely-populated Fokos Beach and nudist-friendly Agios Sostis Beach.
  • Visit Little Venice: This neighborhood’s waterfront houses have earned it the moniker “Little Venice,” and it’s a peaceful location for a pleasant meal or cup of coffee. It also offers excellent views of the windmills.
  • Explore Delos: This tiny, uninhabited island near Mykonos is famous for its archaeological ruins, and daily boat excursions run between the two islands. To get the most out of your visit, consider spending the extra money for a guided tour.
  • Go snorkeling or scuba diving: The crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea make Mykonos a diver’s paradise, with plenty of fish and marine life to see as well as a few shipwrecks along the sea floor. Scuba sessions start at around 85 euro, while snorkeling outings start at 25 euro.
  • Visit the museums: This tiny island is packed with museums, including the Archaeological Museum, Folklore Museum, Agricultural Museum and Aegean Naval Museum. Admission fees are nominal, but keep in mind that many museums limit operations to April through October.
  • Take a boat tour: While they can be a bit pricey, boat tours are an excellent way to see the island’s picturesque coast and catch a glimpse of neighboring islands. Consider a day, sunset or overnight cruise on a catamaran or glass-bottomed boat for an extra-special outing.
  • See sunset at the windmills: The windmills around Mykonos town are one of the island’s most iconic sights and an excellent location to watch the dazzling colors of the sunset. Get there early to stake out your spot ahead of the crowds.
  • Find Petros the Pelican: The unlikely mascot of Mykonos was a pelican named Petros, who died in the 1980s; however, at least three pelicans still make the island their home, and visitors both young and old alike will enjoy the quest to catch a glimpse of them.
  • Locate the Armenistis Lighthouse: Perched on the island’s northwestern tip, the Armenistis Lighthouse is photogenic in its own right and also provides an outstanding view of the Aegean Sea and the nearby island of Tinos.
  • Tour Panagia Paraportiani: This iconic structure in western Mykonos town is one of the most important architectural and religious monuments—as well as one of the most photographed—

in Greece. Additionally, the island is home to another 400 lesser-known churches, each with its own spiritual and aesthetic charms.

Places to Eat in Mykonos

As you might expect from a Greek island, cuisine in Mykonos celebrates the abundance of fresh local seafood, cheeses and produce, often with Mediterranean flair. Like almost everything else in Mykonos, dining out tends to be on the expensive side, although affordable street food in the form of gyros and kabobs can be just as delicious as the fanciest fine dining. Mykonos town is packed with restaurants, pubs and tavernas, as is the Little Venice neighborhood nearby.

Best Breakfast in Mykonos

Cosmo Breakfast Café is a laid-back spot guaranteed to provide the energy you need to start your day. Enjoy freshly-baked pastries, creative crepes, made-to-order omelets, juices and coffees on the charming outdoor patio before embarking on a day of sightseeing or sunbathing.

Best Lunch in Mykonos

The Olive Tree Kitchen and Grill has an extensive menu sure to please even the pickiest eaters in your party. Signature dishes include authentic Greek soups and stews, grilled meat skewers, pita wraps and sandwiches, pasta and even a few burgers and hot dogs. While the fusion of traditional and modern Mediterranean recipes is impressive, the real draw of this restaurant may be the spectacular view afforded by the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room, which overlooks the sparkling waters of the Aegean Sea.

Best Dinner in Mykonos

Located in a nondescript whitewashed building tucked into the Dilou quarter of Mykonos town, Katrin  has been a fine-dining staple for more than 45 years, beloved by both locals and tourists alike. The friendly owner and staff welcome all diners like family, providing impeccable service and even better Mediterranean and French cuisine. Repeat customers rave about the kitchen’s risotto, seafood crepe, chateaubriand, leg of lamb, spinach and feta pie and moussaka.

Outside the city, check out Avli Tou Thodori (“Thodori’s Garden”) at Platis Gialos Beach, named for the owner’s late father, a local fisherman. As you might expect, the menu features plenty of local seafood and fresh produce in a charming beachside setting, with offerings like grilled sea bass, herb-crusted rack of lamb and Mediterranean spinach salad with dried figs, anthotyro cheese and honey-tahini vinaigrette.

Best Dessert in Mykonos

In the heart of Mykonos town, I Scream churns out more than two-dozen homemade flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet daily. The menu includes tried-and-true favorites like Madagascar vanilla and Nutella as well as locally inspired flavors like masticha, a sweet liqueur made from the resin of evergreen bushes on the Greek island of Chios.

At Artisti Prozymi, also in Mykonos town, you’ll find a dizzying array of tempting pastries and other baked goods, from cakes, pies and cannoli to sweet waffles topped with generous scoops of ice cream and drizzled with Nutella. The café also sells breads, sandwiches, salads and other light bites.

Top Photo Spots in Mykonos

  • Old Town Mykonos: Mykonos town is truly the island’s beating heart, with a wealth of photogenic subjects and people-watching spots. Crowds can get heavy during the day, so early morning can be the best time of day to find a parking place and have enough room to capture striking images of its classic architecture and coastal setting.
  • Kato Mili: This iconic row of five windmills has come to represent Mykonos to the world. It’s a photo-worthy shot any time of day, but sunset offers the opportunity to capture both the windmills and the brilliant colors of the sinking sun over the Aegean Sea.
  • Little Venice: Just down the beach from the windmills, you’ll find Little Venice, an adorable neighborhood known for its colorful waterfront homes and quaint shops and restaurants.
  • Panagia Paraportiani: This striking landmark is just a short walk from Little Venice and should rank near the top of your photo bucket list. The stark white dome and stately bleached walls contrast beautifully with the bright blue sky behind it, although it’s also a transcendent scene at sunset.
  • Boni Windmill: While not as famous as its five cousins, this solo windmill located near the Agriculture Museum provides an unmatched bird’s-eye view of the city. With its whitewashed walls, brick-red door and quaint thatched roof, the Boni Mill doesn’t get nearly the photo credit it deserves.
  • Old Port: Enjoy the sparse crowds at this less-visited landmark, which provides an excellent setting for shots of the rocky coast.
  • Ano Mera: This village is the second-largest in Mykonos, and its white cubist houses with bright-blue shutters make for delightful subjects. The village also features a cute town square and an abundance of churches, including the Panagia Tourliani Monastery. Stop in at one of the local bakeries or cafes for a pastry before continuing on your way.
  • Agios Nikolakis: This tiny blue-domed church sits right on the water’s edge at the Old Port. Blue benches and trim complete the striking contrast with its whitewashed walls; catch it bathed in the golden rays of sunrise for a flawless photo.
  • Agias Paraskevis Street: This impossibly narrow stone-paved alleyway features white walls and jewel-toned blue and green doors, shutters, balconies and porches, all perfect for capturing in a photo.
  • Elia Beach: Stark white sands and electric blue sea make this stretch of beach the ideal place to capture the coastal beauty of Mykonos.

Final Thoughts

Each of the Greek isles has its own unique personality, and Mykonos is known for its vibrant beauty, extravagant luxury and endless nightlife. While the price of visiting Mykonos skews higher than its Cycladic neighbors, it’s worth taking a few days to explore the island and immerse yourself in a free-spirited lifestyle you won’t find anywhere else on Earth.

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