It might be small, but Mykonos has a big personality with knockout beaches and a celebrity-drawing glamorous party scene. The downside is that the trendier it gets, the busier it becomes. That said, you only have to pick the right boutique hotel and come outside of peak season to see what makes this chic Cycladic island so special. Providing you’re not looking for isolation or total tranquillity, you’ll have a ball.
WHAT’S IT LIKE – IN A NUTSHELL?
The story goes that Mykonos was named after the son of Apollo. And when you see the bronzed beach-worshippers outside the best hotels here, you’ll see why. This is the kind of Greek island that #nofilter was made for, with whitewashed chapels and windmills set against aquamarine seas. Then, as the sunset casts an orange glow, it’s time to seek out the chic cocktail bars and hilltop clubs.
IS IT ALL PARTY PARTY PARTY – OR CAN I TAKE IN HISTORY AND CULTURE?
Get into Mykonos Town early before the cruise ships pitch up, giving you time and space to lose yourself in its labyrinthine streets. Eventually you’ll come across one of the town’s fascinating museums – the Maritime Museum and Archaeological Museum are ideal pre- or post-trips to Delos.
Speaking of Delos, legend says it was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.
Turn Indiana Jones and sail over to this UNESCO-listed ancient isle to delve into its marble-white temples and ruins.
On the main island, beautiful examples of centuries-old Cycladic architecture lie in the peaceful village of Ano Mera too.
Be sure to stop at both Tourliani and Paleokastro Monasteries while here. The exteriors are simple, but they hide striking religious icons.
WHERE ARE THE BEST BEACHES?
Paradise and Super Paradise Beaches aren’t for everyone, but these hedonistic party patches have to be seen to be believed. Once you’ve ticked them off your list, seek out the hideaway coves that Mykonos has up its sleeves.
There’s a slightly bumpy road leading to Agios Sostis, but signs nailed to lampposts and tree trunks show the way. Bring something to lie on, because this is one cove free from lines of sun loungers. There’s a taverna or two close by, too – Kikis being a local favourite. Also in the north is Fokos, a beach that’s a bit more rough around the edges, but wonderfully secluded.
Down south, Elia Beach is the longest on the island, so there’s plenty of room and a relaxed feel despite its popularity. And the sea is its own Mykonos shade of blue.
WHAT IF I WANT TO DIVE?
Mykonos is one of the few Greek islands where diving is allowed and the watery caves, walls, shipwrecks and reefs offer plenty to see.
Kalafakiona Reef is evidence that not all of Mykonos’ ancient sites are above-ground. Down here barracudas swim around centuries-old stones and relics. When it comes to wrecks, you can still see inside parts of the Anna II, while the Peloponnisos suits advanced divers seeking a challenge. The caverns and caves of Tragonisi and Kalafati Cove are both worth a look, too.
AND AFTER DARK, WHERE’S BEST?
The best hotels in Mykonos often have the best bars. Start here and then move on to the chic spots in Little Venice. If you’re planning to stay up until the early hours, Cavo Paradiso is a legendary name where you can see the sun rise over the Aegean after dancing all night long.
If you prefer popcorn to partying, pitch up at open-air Cine Manto. After dark and under the stars you can watch movies on the big screen set in a beautifully lit botanical garden. Anemo Theatre has a similar set-up in an olive grove, but for live arts performances. Or for something truly out of the ordinary, you could swap fancy heels for flippers on a night-time scuba dive.
Best hotels in Mykonos
Ultra-stylish Boheme Hotel puts you on the cusp of Mykonos Town. Pietra e Mare Beach Hotel is made for serene beach-seekers, and close to Elia. While Casa del Mar Mykonos at the island’s southernmost tip is ideal for Delos boat trips. Or for a truly exceptional stay, try Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort or Petasos Beach Resort & Spa.