Without a doubt, dreams of cute whitewashed houses, granite stone streets, beautiful beaches, and picturesque views are all things that are evoked when thinking about Greece. Mykonos has all of these things and then some.
I came to Mykonos after island hopping in the Ionian islands visiting Zakynthos and Kefalonia. The contrast between the Ionian islands and the Cyclades is very stark. The architecture, landscape, and overall feel are totally different. But I absolutely adore Greece and the beginning of my Cycladic adventures were off to a good start.
Mykonos (along with Santorini) are by far the most popular and well known islands in all of Greece. Before coming here, it seemed like everyone and their mothers had been to Mykonos. I wasn’t super excited for Mykonos initially as I had planned to visit ten other Cyclades islands. I figured Mykonos was a good base since so many international flights flew into the airport.
While I certainly enjoyed other islands more, I think Mykonos was absolutely beautiful and most definitely worth the visit.
Santorini was one of the islands I visited on my month long trip island hopping through the Cyclades. If you’re also planning a multi-island trip through the Cyclades, make sure to read my itinerary and guide to planning your own Greek island hopping trip! If you are having trouble deciding between Mykonos or Santorini to visit, read my comparison of the two islands.
How many days in Mykonos?
Mykonos, like all the other islands in the Cyclades is small and easy to explore in a short amount of time. Depending on what you’re after, party or chill, you should plan to stay at least 2 nights in Mykonos. Three nights would be my most preferred.
You don’t need much more than a half day to see the Chora, but there are tons of beaches in Mykonos that can easily help make the day go by quickly. If you are planning to visit other islands after Mykonos but have a limited amount of time, then I don’t think you’re missing out as much on the beaches as there are islands in the Cyclades with much better and less crowded beaches.
Is Mykonos too crazy to visit?
So you’ve probably heard Mykonos is the party island in the Cyclades. These claims are not untrue. Mykonos is known for its swanky beach bars and night clubs that party until the sun rises.
Mykonos is also an Instagrammers paradise so it attracts the typical influencer crowd looking to get the perfect photos. You get your Euro Jersey Shore crowd looking for the fist bumping parties, as well as the semi-pro influencers, and everything in between. This may be off-putting but the silver lining is that most of the big beach parties are done away from the Chora (or old town). They are beaches to avoid if you don’t want to partake in this.
However, the Mykonos Chora is absolutely beautiful. It’s easily one of the, if not the most beautiful old towns in the entire Cyclades and is totally worth a visit, even if it’s just for a day or two.
When to best visit Mykonos?
Mykonos is located in the middle of the Cyclades in the south Aegean. The climate in the cycladic islands are pretty much all the same. It enjoys a mild and pleasant climate all year round.
In the summer months, temperatures are highest around 30 degrees or so during the day and dropping to 24 or so at night. The days are normally sunny for months on end. I spent all of July and August traveling around the Cyclades and it was only cloudy or rained one day. Every day is paradise in the summer months. It can get very windy though in these months especially in Mykonos which was crazy at times. I thought I would be blown off my ATV!
The shoulder seasons from Sep to Nov and Apr to June and also quite pleasant but you will see some days of cloud and rain, albeit still not that bad. However, I have heard that November can be particularly bad with the rain/clouds.
The winter months or off season is usually colder but temperatures never really drop below 10 degrees. These months between Nov to Mar are the slowest months and tourism usually grinds to a halt.
When is the best time to visit Mykonos?
So what is the best time to visit Mykonos? It really depends on what you’re after. If you want non stop hot sun, then you will need to visit in the summer. These are the best months to swim in the ocean as the water temperatures will be a pleasant 24 to 25 degrees. However, this is also when all of Greece and the rest of Europe also choose to visit Greece so the crowds will be at their peak.
Prices will be the highest between June and Sep (particularly July and August). I visited the Cyclades during Coronavirus times so even during the peak months it was not overwhelming but there were still a good amount of people. I can only imagine what Mykonos and other islands would be like during a typical summer. Plus the main party season of Mykonos is during the summer months.
If I were to return to the Cyclades, I would come during the shoulder months, particularly May or October. These months, while not as hot as summer months, will still be very pleasant in the 20-25c range. I’m not crazy about the beaches in the Cyclades as I don’t really find them to be that beautiful so I can deal with not swimming in the ocean. However, the prices for accommodation will be 30% lower, and the crowds will be at least 50% lower.
Get lost in the Chora and taking amazing photos
Without a doubt, my favorite part of Mykonos was walking through the Chora. It’s impeccably well maintained and is always photo-ready. One impossibly white street meanders into another even more picturesque street adorned with white houses, blue painted doors, and endless amounts of pink bougainvillea flowers.
There are plenty of “famous” points of interest in the Chora as well. My recommendation is just to walk around and get lost in the streets. Take photos wherever something appears picturesque and you won’t be disappointed.
Come in the early hours
My biggest advice is to visit the Chora in the early hours before 10am. It’s generally empty as the party-goers the night before are sleeping off the hangovers, the cruise ships haven’t arrived yet, and the only people about are people cleaning the streets. The shops are also not opened yet so you can walk around the streets by yourself taking pictures without any people in them.
Literally any street in the Chora Mykonos
The Mykonos Chora is just filled with one cute street after the next. It’s hard to really take a bad photo here so just go wild. I found the main shopping street to be quite idyllic as well as the street with the #happiness sign.
I learned while traveling in Folegandros that the in the olden times, the Ionians actually built the houses in the same color as the surrounding landscapes so to better camouflage themselves against pirates and raiders. It was only in the last century or two that the all white movement began. It caught on quickly and soon all the islands in the Cyclades painted their houses in the typical white and blue.
Visit Little Venice
This famous stretch of restaurants and bars on the water is an epic place to soak in picturesque Mykonos style views. Houses are built right over the water in rustic colors giving it a Venetian style vibe. Remember that the Cyclades were all controlled under the Venetians centuries ago.
It’s amazing at all times of the day and is especially popular during sunset. Visit the Caprice Bar which has the best views of Little Venice but be prepared to pay some serious cash for drinks. Otherwise, this area was pretty empty during the day time and a great place to take photos.
The iconic windmills of Mykonos
Mykonos is full of “famous” and “iconic” places and none more so than the windmills. These types of windmills can be seen all around the cyclades. They were constructed by the Venetians in the 16th century and were largely used to mill wheat. Nowadays, they are not used for much besides a (very) picturesque building for travelers to gaze at.
The windmills in the Mykonos Chora are especially picturesque as you see six of these massive structures lined up together overlooking the ocean and the Chora. It’s the perfect place for a sunset as well as taking all the photos of your dreams.
The famous churches in the Chora
After island hopping in the Cyclades for two months, it’s clear that there are NO shortages of churches on these islands. They come in all sizes, colors, and shapes but make no mistake that you will find a ton of these churches. Mykonos is no different. In the Chora itself, there must be at least a dozen churches. Some big (albeit not cathedral sized) and some so small you wonder if it’s just someone’s house that they put a cross on top of.
Nevertheless, there are some very beautiful churches in Mykonos including the Church of Panagia Paraportiani which is the large all white marbled church along the waterfront. This church with its snow white exterior is very beautiful and makes for some fantastic photos.
Getting around Mykonos
Mykonos, like pretty much every other island in the Cyclades is really meant for a DIY type of adventure. While there are cabs you can take, they are not cheap and not easy if you’re looking to explore multiple places. If you’re staying in the Chora and just want a cab ride to Paradise Beach, then that will suffice but otherwise it’s best to have your own transportation.
In Mykonos, the best way to get around is by scooter or ATV in my opinion. Cars are also an option but I always prefer a good scooter as it’s more interesting.
Rent an ATV or Scooter
Renting an ATV can be done pretty much anywhere on the island. There are countless shops in the Chora that have scooter/ATV rentals so there’s no need to book before hand. Prices are mostly set but there is always some negotiation room but do not expect to get huge discounts because the shops work with each other to form a minimum price.
ATVs can be rented for around €30-40 depending on the motor size. Gas is not included in the price but they do not take much.
You will need an EU Drivers license or international drivers license to rent a scooter or ATV
Greece is famously strict about adhering to the drivers license rule. If you have an American drivers license, they will not rent you anything unless you have an international license to go along with it. I did not find anyone that would skirt these rules, even with the shadiest looking of places. Thankfully, living in Europe and having the right US drivers license, I was able to convert mine into a EU license quite easily.
Having an ATV was incredibly fun and was the perfect way to get around the island. The main roads are quite good but if you want to visit some beaches, the roads become not roads and that is when an ATV really helps.
Traffic is pretty much non-existent on the islands and the max speeds you’ll get will be 60-70 km/h so you don’t need much.
Where to watch the sunset in MYkonos?
As with everywhere in the Cyclades, sunsets are not to be missed. I spent two months traveling this group of islands and would always make time to watch the sunset. Mykonos has no shortage of beautiful places to see the sunset especially as the Chora faces west and there are not many islands blocking the view.
180 degree sunset bar
If you’re looking for a cocktail bar and lounge to enjoy a nice drink while looking at the sunset, then look no further than the 180 degree sunset bar.
It’s located on a hilltop overlooking the Chora and the Mediterranean. The views here are absolutely stunning and the sun sets right in front of you. The ambiance and decor of this place are also very inviting with their huge collection of hemp pillows. The drinks are not cheap here as cocktails are €18 a piece. However, the drinks were delicious and the view was totally worth it. Beers are much cheaper at €8 or so.
The 180 degree sunset bar can get very busy during normal summer months so I’d recommend making a reservation, otherwise plan to arrive very early (like 1.5 hours before the sunset). As I visited in 2020 during Coronavirus, it was not so bad. However, right before sunset, this place was still quite busy. In fact, it was the busiest establishment I had visited in all my Coronavirus traveling.
The music picks up a bit as more people trickle in but it’s still not to the fist bump level that would ruin such a beautiful sunset. All in all, if you have one sunset in Mykonos, make sure to come here!
If you want the ultimate Instagram sunset experience, then look no further than the famous Cavo Tagoo. This cave hotel is somewhat of an institution in Mykonos. It’s perhaps the trendiest and most Instagram ready hotel on the entire island. Its rooms are built in a cave-like bubble that look out directly over the ocean. These rooms are not cheap however, easily running over €1,000 a night. If money was not an issue, I’d stay here but in the end, this place is the same cost as the Park Hyatt Maldives but cannot remotely compare to it.
Nevertheless, the sunset at the main pool is out of this world. The infinity pool is huge and offers unobstructed views of the ocean. Even better are the lounge beds laid out over the pool. This is honestly the ultimate Instagram photo in Mykonos which was made evident by the swarms of would be influencers making their boyfriends take photos of them posing. Quite hilarious to watch.
If you thought the drinks at 180 degrees was expensive, Cavo Tagoo is even more expensive at roughly €22 per cocktail! The drinks are nowhere near as good either so next time I would just stick to the wine or beers (still ridiculously expensive).
Armenistis Lighthouse for sunset
Another must visit for the sunset in Mykonos is the Armenistis lighthouse located at the northwestern tip of Mykonos. It’s located at the top of the hill so you need to have your own transportation to get here. As I had an ATV, it was an easy ride from the Chora.
The lighthouse is perfectly located facing directly over the sunset. It’s absolutely stunning to watch the sun drop over the ocean. In addition, you can even see the nearby islands of Syros and Tinos.
Visit the various beaches in the island
Mykonos has a ton of beaches all around the island. From the Chora, you can either take a bus or drive yourself via scooter, ATV, or car. Since I had an ATV, it was very easy to go beach hopping.
However, I will say that after visiting the Ionian islands and various other Cycladic islands, Mykonos should not be your go to island for a beach getaway. The beaches here are largely all pebbly if not rocky, and it’s almost always packed.
Most of the beaches I found in Mykonos are packed with chairs and umbrellas which are not my thing. However, if you’re keen for a full service experience with a nice scenic umbrella, then there are plenty of beaches for you here.
Paradise Beach is definitely one of the best ones in Mykonos. It has plenty of lounge beach chairs, restaurants, bars, and even a sandy area where you can relax if you do not want to buy a chair. There’s also some epic day parties that happen here during Non-COVID times.
Agrari Beach located just a few minutes drive from Paradise Beach is one of the few beaches without the umbrellas and chairs. It is a long sandy patch open to the public. The water is also quite clear and the beach does not get too packed.
Beach Parties in Mykonos – Alemagou Club
There are so many famous beach bars like Scorpios, Cavo, Paradise Beach, Alemagou etc. I’m not typically into these types of things because I just find it to be a waste of money but when in Mykonos, I had to try at least one.
I went to Alemagou club which was recommended to me by various people to just check it out. Since it was COVID times, it was pretty chilled out and relaxed. There was no reservation required and no cover charges. Drinks were somewhat reasonable for what it was and I could see how people enjoy these types of things.
Scuba Diving in Mykonos
While diving in the Cyclades is not my favorite, I had to get into the water during the times of Coronavirus. Mykonos has many dive shops on the island and is a popular spot for Europeans to get certified.
The diving in Mykonos was quite good. While there really isn’t much interesting to see in the Mediterranean, I had a good time with this dive shop. There was more fish in Mykonos than I expected but don’t expect the crazy schools like in the Maldives.
Expect to pay higher prices on Mykonos than the rest of the Cyclades.
Where to Eat in Mykonos?
Like all other Greek islands, there are no shortages of delicious Greek food in mykonos. Whether you’re after cheap but delicious gyros and souvlaki, or the typical Greek salads with seafood and moussaka, Mykonos has it all.
As Mykonos is probably the most expensive place in Greece, expect to pay more for your food and alcohol. I’d say it’s about 25% more expensive than Athens.
Kiki’s is located in the north part of Mykonos by Agios Sostis Beach. It’s become somewhat of an institution and has become vastly popular over the years. It’s located right above a beach so you get some amazing views of the beach. The food is also similarly delicious although I’m not sure it warrants the wait.
Yes, this was one of two places I actually had to wait for a table. The line was very long too even at 3pm in the afternoon. I waited almost 1 hour and got a table mainly because I joined in with a few others at a large communal table. The owners do offer you free wine for your wait but I’m not sure if I would wait here again. The seafood was absolutely divine however!
There’s plenty of modern Greek fusion type of swanky restaurants in Mykonos. However, my theory on Greek food is why mess with a perfect thing? Limnios Taverna is located outside of the Chora and definitely a place that attracts more locals than tourists. However, it still offers great views of the ocean and has a really beautiful ambiance.
The food is absolutely delicious and they specialize in all the Greek classics. I had the Greek salad (of course) which is something I had in every meal throughout my trip in the Cyclades as well as their famous lamb shank. You will not be disappointed!
If you want to eat in the Chora, there are a lot of very touristy places so try avoiding those. Instead, come to To Maereio which is a quaint and non-flashy restaurant in the heart of the Chora that serves delicious Greek fare without the unnecessary flair.
Sakis for Gyros & Souvlaki
If you are on a budget, then gyros and souvlaki will be your mainstay in Mykonos and all of Greece. Even in Mykonos, you can have a gyros pita for €3-€3.50 which is a steal considering how much food it is. Sakis was my go to spot for a quick meal that was cheap and delicious.
Il Forno Bakery
For breakfast, my go to spot was Il Forno bakery in the Chora which had amazing pastries. The spanakopita here was divine and always fresh out of the oven.
Galleraki Cocktail Bar
Galleraki Cocktail bar is a great spot for a late night drink or a sundowner. It’s located right near Little Venice so you have the iconic views of Mykonos. They even have a balcony area with just a few seats but these offer some spectacular views.
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