Glamorous, excessive and cosmopolitan on the one hand; picturesque, authentic, and almost zen-like on the other. There is certainly more to Mykonos than meets the eye. Take the road less travelled, to discover an array of hidden gems in Mykonos that’ll leave you with fascinating stories to tell.
With mega yachts lining its harbour and a roll call of famous names invading it every year like an army, Mykonos is glitz and glam central. Yet its pristine beauty that first lured the bon-vivants and the jet-setters of the 60s is not altogether lost. There are still some hidden gems in Mykonos where the authentic island spirit remains very much alive and kicking and where the only soundtrack is that of the waves and the seagulls.
If you are willing to venture beyond the beaten path, here’s what you need to know about Mykonos’ secret spots.
Hidden gems in Mykonos: Beaches for peace and quiet seekers
Find shelter, not in luxurious sunbeds, but on the warm sand, under the sparse trees or the large granite rocks; and quench your thirst not with fancy concoctions but with the water you – thoughtfully – remembered to bring along.
West of Agios Ioannis and 5 km south of Chora, the tiny, windy Capari beach is a favourite of those in the know. Engulfed by rocks, with sweeping views of Delos, this small, charming cove is just the spot to relax and unwind – even in peak season, you’ll be in the company of just a handful of mostly locals – and watch the magical sunset. Don’t forget to bring your diving goggles also, as these crystal-clear waters hide amazing treasures underwater.
12 km north of Chora, you’ll discover two untouched, serene beaches with deep emerald green waters and thick sand. Umbrellas and sunbeds are out of the question so you will need to bring your own. Fokos has a small, family taverna, but if you opt for Mirsini remember to carry some water and snacks with you. Mirsini is also nudist-friendly.
On the northern side, 8 km away from Ano Mera, Merchia is a virgin pebbly beach, away from the crowds and the town’s buzz and hubbub. Remember to bring water and supplies along and be prepared for driving on a dirt road. The setting though will recompense you as it’s pristine and unspoiled – no selfie stick in sight here – and remarkably beautiful. Merchia is also the site of Semeli Group’s new and innovative, eco-conscious project – stay tuned to our hotel blog for more.
Hidden gems in Mykonos by boat
The islet of Baos
Not far from the famous windmills and Little Venice, there is a small, rocky island on the route to Delos. It is one of several islets that surround Mykonos’ cosmopolitan shores with just a few houses and a tiny whitewashed chapel on top. This was actually built in honour of a local pirate, George Baos, who used the islet as an attack base during the Orlov revolt – and in return for his bravery was granted both the island and the chapel. The story of the legendary pirate continues to inspire – nowadays one can experience the thrilling atmosphere and cocktails of the namesake Baos bar in town.
Tragonisi or Dragonisi
About a mile from Mykonos’ northeastern coast, Tragonissi (or Dragonisi) is a small rocky island with a unique system of caves and caverns, which make it ideal for underwater explorations. Dive into its crystalline waters to check out the yellow sea anemones that are exclusively found in this part of Greece – and if you’re lucky you’ll also get to spot the Monachus Monachus seal, as Tragonissi is a protected area and refuge for many rare marine species.
Hidden gems in Mykonos: Sites and attractions
Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas
Founded in 1665, the Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas in the rural village of Marathi, 3 km northeast of Mykonos Town, is an imposing example of Medieval ecclesiastical architecture. With castle-like features, interesting frescoes and a beautiful chancel with wood carvings, Agios Panteleimonas is as uniquely serene as it is striking. The best time to visit is on 27th July, for the celebration of the monastery’s namesake saint. Traditional feasts in Mykonos are among the most vibrant in the Aegean – and this one typically involves lots of singing, dancing, local food and drinks, and heartfelt Cycladic hospitality.
Once a hub of industrial activity that brought prosperity to Mykonos, the now-abandoned Barite mines paint a striking, eerie picture that’s worth capturing. Explore the crumbling miners’ buildings on the so-called “Aegean’s Chernobyl”, listen to the howling wind and look out for the sole surviving inhabitant: the small crocodile, also known as the Mykonian lizard. Though not as famous as Peter the Pelican, it is in fact the island’s real mascot!
Towering above the beach of Platys Gialos, Portes are two Hellenistic towers with a diameter of 3,5 meters each. This little-known site attests to the existence of an antique defence system that protected the island’s settlements since time immemorial. It is also quite photogenic – a unique and unusual background for your next Mykonos Instagram story.
Hidden gems in Mykonos: Edible delights
Get a taste of real local life at the Pagka (ie. bench in Greek) – a fishermen and farmers’ market held every morning (except Sundays) in the Old Port of Mykonos Town. This is where local housewives and top chefs alike take their pick of the catch of the day and of the freshest fruits and vegetables. They also amass here for the social element – the market is where it’s at for a spot of good-humoured gossip and to exchange news and views, in typical Greek style.
Housed in what is rumoured to be the second-oldest building on the island, Gioras’ is a traditional, family-run wood-fired bakery that dates back to the 18th century. Set in a whitewashed alley in Mykonos Town, it looks like a typical island home, with the only thing betraying its real capacity being the wonderful aromas. Inside the feeling is cosy and old school – and there is a small cafe where you can try bread, biscuits, pies, and pastries – like amigdaloto, a delicious almond cookie which is a Mykonian speciality – whether for breakfast, brunch or as a snack at any time of the day.