Nestled in between the tiny Cycladic Islands of Tinos and the uninhabited Delos, Mykonos is an idyllic Mediterranean retreat for the beatnik traveller. Freckled with pristine sandy beaches and clear, azure waters of the Aegean sea, this Cycladic island combines its quaint fishing-village environment with a cosmopolitan nightlife that offers a little something for everyone. It is said that the island got its name from Mykons, its first ruler and the grandson of Apollo. It is also supposedly the site of the great battle between Zeus and the Titans.
Inhabited by a meagre 10000 inhabitants, the island is sparsely populated and is best experienced during the shoulder season (last week of April – last week of May and Mid October – Mid November). The main town – Chora – is situated on the northern part of the island and that is where you will find most of the locals as well.
We landed on the Island in the second week of May, and were lucky enough to experience a serenity that is not often found in the peak season of June-July. There were a mere handful of tourists and all the beach bars had just opened for the season, which meant that we had all the privileges minus the crowd.
What to do:
With its many tavernas and intimate boutique shops, Chora is worth exploring on foot. The cobblestone alleys and the white cubic houses with their cerulean blue doors draws a pretty picture amidst the pink Bougainvilleas, so keep your camera ready for those Pinterest-style travel shots. For an evening out in the town, dine at one of the many tavernas of Little Venice while catching the sunset on the western horizon.
Head to the Beaches:
In Mykonos, there is a beach for every mood. The locals are accommodating enough to leave you to your own tricks so you have the option to explore what you like. The Super Paradise beach entertains the LGBT community, while Paradise Beach is nudist friendly. If solitude is your thing, head to Kapari on the western fringes of the island. On the other hand, if you are a social butterfly and wish to glimpse celebrities, visit Ornos.
Scout the Island:
Rent an ATV, especially if you don’t like being stuck for 2 hours waiting for a cab. There are all kind of winding pathways in the island, where you can simply get lost and soak in the picturesque allurement of the mediterranean haven. If you have a religious bend of mind, visit the Church of Panagia Paraportiani in Chora. After the World War II, Mykonos was said to have 365 churches, one for each day of the year. The locals have continued this tradition and the count is now estimated at 800 chapels!
The island of Delos is situated 3.5 km southwest of Mykonos and is said to be the birth place of Apollo and Artemis. It is now a major UNESCO Heritage site and extensive excavations are being carried out under the French School at Athens. Half day boat trips can be arranged from the Platys Gialos or the Paranga Beach but remember to enquire a day before, since the last boat leave Mykonos by 11 am in the morning.
Where to Stay:
There are many options to choose from, depending on your budget. You can check out TripAdvisor for a more elaborate list. We stayed at La Stella – a family run boutique home stay 1.8 km from Chora. If you have a private vehicle then it doesn’t really matter whether you stay in the town or at the beach. The island is hardly 16 kms long and wherever you choose to stay, if would be half an hour drive to the other end.
Where to Eat:
Check out the local tavernas in Little Venice and in Chora Town. Food in general is quite good irrespective of whichever taverna you choose to sit down. Nikolas Taverna near Paraga beach is worth mentioning; but if you like good music and great view, head to Kalua Beach Bar at Paraga or the Scandinavian Bar in Chora.
Tips while travelling:
- Before planning your trip, check with the cruise lines or the airlines that will take you to the island. During November – April, there are very few cruise lines operating on the rough sea.
- Although it’s a “clothing optional” party island, refrain from forsaking your jackets and knitwear altogether while packing. Nicknamed the island of the winds (compliments of the southern Sirocco and the northern Meltemi), Mykonos can be quite windy even during the peak of summer.
- There are only 30 cabs available in the island, and in the shoulder season the buses run less frequently. Atv’s and scooty’s come cheap so if you are impatient like me, rent a bike or a car to suit your comfort.
- Some beaches on the western and southern side of the island – Elia, Ornos, Paradise, Psarou are usually “sheltered” from the infamous Meltemi so remember to ask your host where to head to. Else, you can rent an ATV and explore its hidden gems by yourself.
- It is an island, so remember to carry cash as not all tavernas or boutique shops will accept card.