Mykonos is known for being an Aegean party destination. It’s the Ibiza of Greece. A fantastic island to visit if you are looking for a beach holiday with lively beach parties and an epic nightlife. Like Ibiza, you can party it up or keep it low key.
However, if you purely are looking for a pure serene beach holiday, where you can explore a plethora of natural beaches and enjoy lounging around in peace, I would recommend going to Milos or another Greek island. You’d find much better beaches and will hands down get more value for your money.
With that said, Mykonos is a great island to get your first taste of what the Greek islands are all about.
I asked the owner of Aether Boutique Hotel (where I stayed), why he thinks Mykonos is one of the most popular Greek islands. His response, “I think it has something to do with Mykonos being one of the first Greek island to open up and receive visitors back in the 1960s. We’ve been exposed to different people visiting the island for a long time and from there we’ve learned to welcome and be more open-minded, embracing the tourism industry. Of all the Greek islands, we are probably considered one of the most liberal and gay friendly too.”
Upon doing a little bit of research, it seems First Lady Jackie O put Mykonos on the map as a celebrity vacation hot spot, which explains why there is a Beach Bar and Restaurant named after her. Over the years, tourism began to grow and now has exploded in becoming a party paradise for the crazy, rich and famous.
WHEN TO GO
Depending on your purpose and budget you may want to consider when the low and high seasons are to determine when is the best time for you to travel to Mykonos.
Low Season – May to early June and mid-Sept to Oct
Pros – Accommodation are more affordable
Cons – Nightlife is not at its peak
High Season – July, August, early September
Pros – Guaranteed good beach parties and nightlife; more ferries and flights between islands and Athens
Cons – Crowded; Prices are at their peak.
1. Don’t drink the tap water
2. Traveling during peak season? Ensure you make reservations well in advance. Be it for dining at a restaurant, or for the beach clubs, book way ahead!
3. Plan to take the Ferry? FerryHopper.com is the best website to do research or check for Greek Ferry schedules; For a summary of the essentials you need to know when booking and traveling on Greek Ferries, click here Santorini Dave.
4. Where to Stay: I strongly suggest to stay close to Chora because:
- there are not a lot of taxis around;
- most people return to the Chora (capital of Mykonos, aka town center) at the end of the day, since this is where most of the evening activities happen;
- you can walk everywhere and not have to worry about getting transportation back to your hotel.
5. Download the Aegean Taxi App: Since there are not a lot of taxis on the Greek islands, this app is helpful if you need a ride. It is the Uber for the Greek islands and currently it is operating in Mykonos, Santorini and Paros.
A Caveat – In Mykonos, I found the prices are on par with the taxis, sometimes a little cheaper. We used this when we were leaving Scorpio Beach club to get back to our hotel near Chora. It worked out to be around €30 in June. But in Santorini, when we were having a look at prices, the app quoted a much higher rate than Taxis.
Aside from downloading the Aegean Taxi App, there are buses that run every 30 minutes from Chora that takes you to Psarou Beach, Platis Gialos, Paradise, and Super Paradise located along the south coast of the island.
In 2019, the cost of a one-way bus ticket is €1.80. You can purchase the ticket when you get on the bus with cash (exact change not needed) or at the main bus terminal in Chora from Fabrika Square. The journey will be no more than 20 minutes.
Cars, scooters and ATV rental are also available for hire. For a day, we rented a smart car to explore the North part of the island where there are no buses that will take you to the area of Aghios Sostis, Panormos or Ftelia. The car rental cost for the day was approximately €40.
Alternatively, private transfers can also be arranged, and they charge about €80 for a return ride between the beach and Chora area.
Below you’ll find a map of Mykonos to help you orient yourself to the places that will be mentioned:
- Psarou – Nammos
- Platis Gialos – Scorpio Beach Club / Kalua Beach Club
- Ftelia – Alemagou Beach Bar / Ftelia Beach Club
- Paradise and Super Paradise Beach Clubs
- Chora (Little Venice, Old Port, Windmills)
To explore the North part of the island, your best options are to either rent a car or a scooter.
BUS takes you to:
Beach Clubs you can access by foot along the beach/coastlines (10-12 min) once you get off
Paraga / Kalua/ Scorpio
Paradise and Super Paradise
Tropicana /Paradise /Super Paradise/ Jackie O
WHEN IN MYKONOS DO
1. HIT UP A BEACH CLUB OR TWO
There are so many beach clubs in Mykonos. They range from spring break types to classier clubs where you see less bodies dancing on tables and off-putting PDAs. The price in sunbeds also range from €20 – €150 for a set. Most people hit the beach clubs by 1:00 pm to lounge, and to soak up the sun. Around 4pm is when the beach party scene starts.
For value and ambiance I really enjoyed Kalua Beach Club. The sunbeds were €50 for a set and the crowd was classy without being obnoxious or pretentious, and the service was great.
Scorpio Beach Club is perhaps everyone’s favorite. It has a rustic, boho eco-chic vibe and has a lot of open spaces and so many instagrammable spots. The sunbeds start at €100 for a set. Here, there are many places for you to enjoy your drinks, dine and lounge, as the ambiance is superb and space is huge. Think Burning Man meets survivor paradise.
Since Kalua and Scorpio Beach is literally next door to each other, we booked our sunbeds at Kalua and made reservations at Scorpio for dinner around 7:00pm just in time to catch the sunset and join their party. For party lovers, they are best known for their Sunday night celebrations. Another great thing about these two beach clubs are it is on Paraga beach. This beach is very shallow so you can create an insta-worthy photo easily of you walking on water.
Alemangou and Ftelia are beach clubs on the North side of the island where it is a bit windier and the waters are a bit choppier and quieter. They offer a paired down bohemian vibe as well and the crowd has more of a chilled, surfer vibe.
For party go-ers:
|Tropicana||known to be the ‘spring break’ of beach club.|
|Paradise||same chain as Tropicana but it’s more of a night time spot. Fireworks goes off nightly and you can often catch well-known international DJs here.|
|Super Paradise||known to be a gay friendly beach club|
|Cavo Paradiso||an open-air club on a Cliffside overlooking the Aegean sea. It is the most ‘formal’ and ultimate party destination in Mykonos located near Paradise Beach|
THINKING TO SKIP THE BEACH CLUBS?
For those who prefer to go to a beach without all the bells and whistles, I hear you!
Agios Sostis beach is a long stretch of soft sandy in Mykonos is where you can take a break from the beach club scene. Bring your own towel and picnic and enjoy it for what it is. If you get hungry, and didn’t pack anything, you can grab a bite nearby at Kiki’s Tavern. A local gem that serves fresh salads and seafood.
This place is delicious, but be forewarned, they don’t take reservations and it is first come, first serve. Rumor has it, even when Russell Crowe came to dine, the co-owner Vassilis made him queue and wait. Expect to wait for an hour.
Some other more quieter and natural beaches in Mykonos are Fokos and Kalafatis.
2. CATCH A SUNSET
The best places to catch a sunset in Mykonos is in Chora (Mykonos Town).
Little Venice, along the waterfront area of Chora is a nice place to grab a drink and watch the sunset. Order a Katerinaki, a Greek cocktail made with fresh melon at Galleraki. Here you’ll get a great view of the windmills and also of the sunset.
180° Sunset Bar, is situated up on the hill of Chora. It’s about a 15-20 minutes climb from the town center. When you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with the most magnificent view of Mykonos – a view of the town and the sun as it sets into the sea. Get here in time to catch your breath, grab a drink as you watch the magic of the sun paint the sky into beams of gold, blood orange, and pink
The Garden Seaview Lounge, is another great place to catch the sunset, especially if you are looking for a romantic cozy spot. The aesthetic of this place is beautiful and the cocktails and food options are tasty and cost a fraction of the price compared to 180° Sunset Bar.
3. DINE AT NAMMOS
Nammos is a swanky restaurant and beach club. Here you’ll find the rich and famous docking their boats and yachts hanging out. If you are into rubbing shoulders and dining at a fine restaurant, then make a reservation, specifically at Nammos restaurant after 4:00pm. This is when the party gets started.
Note: We made the mistake when we arrived and asked to be moved to the open terrace tables next to the restaurant, and this is not where the party happens. If you want to be in the heart of things, book a table in the restaurant.
The food here is delicious. Even the locals agreed it is worth it to spend a little bit extra to experience the food here, unlike some other places such as Interni where upon mention, they would make a face and say ‘why would you want to go there? It is waaay over priced and the food is just okay.’
An alternative to Nammos and a local favorite to grab some authentic Greek grub beach side is Nikolas Taverna located near Agia Anna Beach. It’s a family owned restaurant and the food here is fresh with generous portions, without the frills and reasonably priced.
4. EXPLORE CHORA
When in Mykonos, you have to visit the town center, Chora. You’ll have a spectacular time getting lost in the narrow cobblestone streets and the beautiful alleyways. It’s lined with lovely boutique hotels, shops and hip eateries and bars.
You’ll easily be charmed by the whitewashed houses capped with blue domes and bright colorful doors. Every corner seems to be framed with a dash of Bougainvilleas making almost every turn a spectacular photo opportunity.
As you wander through town, you’ll no doubt hit Mykonos’ Little Venice, another charming spot. Here, you’ll find fishing houses converted into restaurants and bars lined directly along the waterfront. It is a lovely place to enjoy a drink to catch the sunset and get a panoramic view of the Mykonos’ windmills.
Tip: When the wind and tide is strong, choose a seat further away from the edge of the water to avoid being splashed. Or Head to the windmills and watch the sunset alongside these defining trademarks of the island.
The picturesque old port is another great area to walk around where you’ll find many cafes and restaurants overlooking the sea. For those who are history buffs, you can catch a ferry from the old port to Delos island. According to Greek Mythology, this archaeological site was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.
After a day of exploring or late in the night, why not grab a souvlaki at Jimmy’s Gyros. It’s authentic as you can get and satisfying as hell when you are looking for a quick hunger fix.
We stayed at the Aether Boutique Stay Hotel during our time in Mykonos, and I have nothing but praise for this gem! While the hotel is small, it’s very cozy and spacious. All the amenities and comfort of what you expect in a room of a 5 star boutique hotel can be found during your stay.
Athina and Athanassios made us feel right at home the moment we arrived. They listened to what we wanted to experience in Mykonos and provided recommendations based on our interests and their local expertise.
Every morning, we had a delicious traditional Greek breakfast with some homemade baked goods out on the terrace. From check in to check out, their service was impeccable and not to mention the free airport shuttle they provide to and from the hotel.
The only downside may be the location. It is about 10 minute walk to Chora. During the day it is fine. At night, the road is bit dark and windy so it will be better to take a bus from the city center since there is a bus stop right in front of the hotel right across the street from a gas station, nearby a super market. The other may be for those looking to relax at a pool. The facilities does not have a pool, but they do have rooms with a terrace offering views of the sea.