A tiny survival guide for the island of the winds
So, you decided to visit Mykonos. You are either holding your tickets at hand, hopefully already onboard the ferry or simply counting down days, contemplating how best to spend your time in Mykonos? Below is a short guide for the best of Mykonos beaches, a few of my favourite restaurants and beach bars, all in all a tiny survival guide for Mykonos.
Is Mykonos your dream Greek island? It’s certainly picturesque. Wonderful white washed houses and tiny byzantine churches carpet the hill all the way down to the old port at Chora. The windmills watch over them like silent guards for centuries. The winding streets lead you from one surprise to the next, be it a small souvenir shop or a great cocktail bar. It is beautiful, no doubts about it, but be aware, Mykonos is not an island to visit when on a budget. I’m certain, I’m not the first one to break the news to you. Unlike the rest of Greece, be it Aegean or Ionian Islands or mainland Greece where you could probably grab a bargain, Mykonos prices differ wildly. It is known for its cosmopolitan vibe and on this Mykonos will never let you down.
There are numerous boutique hotels with excellent aesthetics, scrumptious food is served at most restaurants throughout the island but Mykonos is never going to be the traditional Greek experience you might have had in mind. There are not many traditional taverns, unless you visit Ano Mera, the only village of the island. If you go to Ano Mera square, check out to Steki tou Proedrou and Oti apemeine, these two have sustained me one too many times. There is not much live folk music either, just don’t go looking for it. There are though, great DJs to counterbalance and you can chill with ambient vibes or dance through the night with house music. But the most important element of Mykonos is, of course, the beach. You can easily spend your day from one beach to the next, from sunbed to bar and back again.
Most beaches on Mykonos are organised, sporting endless rows of sunbeds and umbrellas, which is all fine and good especially when you get a cold beer or a fancy cocktail when soaking up the sun. Mykonos is catering mostly for the people who want to party hard. So let’s look at the party beaches:
Paradise, Super Paradise, Paraga
What these three have in common? Very loud music and non-stop party spirit. No matter when you go, morning, mid-day or after midnight get ready to dance! There are great themed parties, great DJs and a super-happy atmosphere. At Paraga, there is the camping, atmospheric Scorpios (great for sunset) and the great swimming pools of Sant-Anna. Paradise has Tropicana and many other clubs along the shore. There is also a great Indian restaurant up the hill, Indian Palace with great views and of course great food.
Another great thing these three beaches have in common is that they are sheltered from maddening northerly winds that sweep the place up during August (mainly), so it’s always good for a swim.
Talking of northern winds, be prepared to embrace them. During July and August they offer more than a gentle breeze. You will struggle to keep a hat on your head, but hey, that’s what keeps the temperature pleasant instead of baking hot. The good thing about Mykonian beaches is that they are blessed with thick sand. You get more the feel of tiny pebbles, it is not sticky and it doesn’t lift up on the wind.
Ornos, Psarou, Platis Gyalos
For a cosmopolitan vibe without the clubbing, head in either of these three: Ornos, Psarrou, Platis Gyalos. Sheltered from the winds, wonderful water to swim in and with the added bonus that they are very close to Mykonos Chora, the main town of the island. If at Ornos, don’t forget to spot by at Wolves Kitchen for a spot of dinner. Just before Psarrou, there is Ag. Lazaros and just at that spot is Mykonos farmers a great dairy farm that specialises in traditional Mykonian products. If you are passing by, stop to get some yogurt or even better one of their delicious cheeses, like tyrovolia and kopanisti. Check out their cooking classes, they are fab! You will get to taste traditional Mykonian cheese and wonderful dairy in the act.
Elia, Kalo Livadi, Agia Anna
The rest of the southern beaches. Simply great to chill out. Unlike the super cosmopolitan and crowded sunbeds rows you can get a wonderful stretch of beach where you can lie down on your towel and feel the sand of your toes. I do have a soft spot for Kalo Livadi. I think it’s the longest, cleanest and softest stretch of sandy beach around the island.
Please note, you cannot avoid the sunbeds completely. Unless you go to these two:
Kappari and Fokos
A bit of the beaten track, these two gems are my absolute favourites. Kappari is closer to Mykonos Chora and thus a bit more popular. Best to enjoy when the winds are low. And then there is Fokos, with a great seaside tavern and a great pebbly beach and crystal clear waters to swim your heart out.
Agrari, Kalafatis, Lia
Great for water sports and diving, often coined as family friendly beaches too. From Kalafatis there is also a small boat visiting ‘Dragon island’, Tragonisi, just 30 minutes away. As for food, I have a soft spot for the Italian place Bandanna just before you turn into Kalafatis, great pasta and oven baked pizza.
Agios Sostis, Panormos, Ftelia
So let’s explore the rest of the Northerly side. Along with Fokos there is also the very well known Agios Sostis with the tiny chapel up the hill. Panormos, a great stretch of beach half of which is organised and finally Ftelia. These 3 are the closest to Mykonos Chora, marking more or less the middle of the island and the bay is used for windsurfing. My soft spot there is Alemagoo, if not the best, certainly one of the most chilled beach bars in Mykonos with equally great cuisine.
Where to stay in Mykonos?
It largely depends on what you came for. If you have come for the party, stay close or at one of the party beaches mentioned above: Paradise, Super Paradise, Paraga. If it’s relaxation you have in mind head for the southern beaches further out, from Agrari up to Lia . If it’s a bit of both, stay at Chora, it’s the best for bus connections. And I will let you in a little secret, if you don’t drive around you won’t get to see any of the island. So, do cater for a two wheeler of choice.
Rounding up Mykonos beaches
Plenty of choice depending on what you feel like doing, be it party, water sports or a more chilled experience. Here is my top 3:
Lia for the great water to swim in, water sports and diving and needless to say, the bar!
Kappari for the best unorganised sandy beach and crystal clear waters.
Fokos for when your are very lucky and Northern winds are mild – Fokos has a great tavern, so you are guaranteed of having a great meal and a great shore to splash and chill.
I hope you find this short guide on Mykonos beaches useful. Have you been visiting Mykonos as well? Let me know your experiences in the comments below.
As for me, after 5 adventurous months on Mykonos, the island of the winds, it is time to head back to Athens. Goodbye Mykonos and thanks for all the fun.
From Mykonos with love,