Summer in Mykonos is all glitz and glam. Life in the winter is lovely – though much more calm and quiet and revolving around still surviving, age-old traditions. And summer and autumn – with the months at either end of both sides of the peak season the best time to visit, if you listen to the cognoscenti. Want more tips and advice about the much-storied island of the winds? Here’s our insider’s guide to Mykonos, so you’ll know what to bring, what to do and when’s the best time to do it on your next visit here!
Mykonos measures just 88 sq. km (or 34 sq. miles), but it has been a staple of the Mediterranean holiday circuit since Mrs Kennedy Onassis first set foot here in 1961.
Dubbed “Manhattan of the Aegean”, the characteristically rocky Cycladic island every year attracts more than 500,000 visitors from far and wide. With an unbeatable combination of high energy, liberating spirit, gorgeous beaches, world-class entertainment and top-tier service, Mykonos has something alluring for everyone who’s anyone.
From sunset drinks with a view to curated tours of ancient ruins, and from stylish shopping to dining with pizzaz, our insider’s guide to Mykonos is here to help you make the most out of your visit to the island that never sleeps.
Insider’s guide to Mykonos: What not to miss in Mykonos Town
Mykonos Town, also known as Chora, consists of a maze of smartly-kept alleyways, lined with rioting pink and fuchsia bougainvillaea. Designed to thwart invading pirates, this labyrinth is nowadays brimming with beautiful people who are loving every minute of getting lost in it. Shop till you drop in eclectic boutiques and exclusive jewellers, browse contemporary works of art in the town’s famed galleries or just grab a coffee or a drink in one of the impossibly cute bars like the Semeli in Little Venice. Make also sure to visit the Archeological Museum – one of the often overlooked treasures of Mykonos, featuring artefacts from the prehistoric to the late Hellenistic period, most coming from the nearby isle of Rhenia. You can moreover explore Greece’s longstanding naval tradition with a visit to the Aegean Maritime Museum, or get acquainted with the island’s past at Lena’s House – a traditional house-turned-folk-museum with original 19th-century furnishings, artwork and tapestries.
Tucked away in a botanical garden with palm trees and cactuses in the heart of Mykonos Town, Ciné Manto is an open-air cinema that features worldwide first releases, box office hits and classics. All to be enjoyed under the starry sky with a drink and even some souvlaki!
Armenistis Lighthouse is another unsung attraction – and though you can’t go inside this 19th-century, 19-meter-high structure, you’ll get to bask in staggering sunset views thanks to its cliffside setting.
Mykonos is pure photography lovers’ heaven. Every nook and cranny in the maze-like alleyways in Chora, the colourful balconies of the seaside neighbourhood of Little Venice, the quaint, gleaming-white church complex of Paraportiani, and the hilltop windmills are just some of the spots that will bring more Instagram followers than you’ve ever imagined. Make sure to head there as early as 8 am to capture the island’s uniquely golden light.
Kopanisti is a handmade salty, spicy, and creamy cheese from cow’s milk or a combination of cow’s and sheep’s milk, with a Protected Designation of Origin. Try this traditional Mykonian delicacy at our Semeli signature breakfast or as an appetizer with a glass of wine or ouzo.
Where to eat:
For an off-the-beaten-path experience head to Kiki’s tavern on top of the bohemian beach of Agios Sostis. It has no electricity, so everything is prepared on charcoal – you might be in for a long wait though, as they accept no reservations.
If you’d rather skip the beach and prefer to lounge by your hotel pool in Mykonos town, Thioni restaurant at the Semeli serves inspired, yet unpretentious food, with a focus on seasonal, local products and the catch of the day. Cantera, also, at the heart of postcard-pretty Little Venice, blends iconic views and a sparkling Asian cuisine concept that combines sushi fusion with carnivorous delights. And for an experience that’ll linger long in the memory, Krama offers candlelit Greek fine dining, blending reimagined traditional flavours with an atmosphere that’s part sophisticated cocktail party, part proposal dinner.
Where to party:
Head to Scorpios on Paraga Beach to see and be seen, swim, eat and dance to Mediteranesque deep house, in an environment that reminds you of a Dolce & Gabbana commercial. Come sunset and it’s Little Venice where you’ll wanna be. With perhaps the island’s most fabled views, Bao’s is home to the world’s glitzy, champagne-sipping, paparazzi snapped, crowd. Likewise, the uber-fashionable Toy Room, also in Little Venice, is the playground of models and celebrities and just the spot for no-holds-barred partying.
What to bring home:
Handmade sandals that’ll make you feel like a Greek Goddess – or God – from one of the many small shops along the narrow pedestrian streets in Mykonos Town.
Insider’s guide to Mykonos: Dont’s
Biggest Rookie Mistake
Don’t ever think you can rely on the island’s taxis. Mykonos has some 800 churches, more than 200 bars and only 31 cabs! Waits are impossible especially in the evenings, and you get to pay obscenely high prices for even short rides. Make sure to consult with our concierge to arrange a car or scooter rental.
Don’t Forget to Pack
Mykonos is glamour-central – so you’ll want to dress to impress for alfresco dining or drinking. Make sure to bring at least one statement outfit to wear – but also book a pampering, bespoke treatment at the Aegeo Spa to ensure that you’ll be the best possible version of yourself on your big night out.