Popular for its gorgeous beaches, unique windmill-dotted landscape and an adorable pelican named Petros, Mykonos is a Greek island that next to the popular island of Santorini but it certainly has a few hidden gems of its own.
So brush up on your Greek mythology and let’s take a look at the top 10 things to do in Mykonos.
With its labyrinthine streets, famous windmills and Petros the pelican wandering around, a stroll around Mykonos Town is highly recommended. Built by the Venetians in the 16th century, the windmills are the first landmarks you see when coming into Mykonos.
You might find yourself getting a bit lost among the streets of this tiny island, and there’s good reason for that. Mykonos’s streets were deliberately designed to confuse invading pirates; but you’ll be happy to know that all the streets eventually lead to the port, so enjoy a stroll and sip a coffee at one of the many cafes in town or along the waterfront.
No trip to Mykonos is complete without a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, located 20 minutes away by small ferry. Ancient Greek mythology tells us that Delos is the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, the children of Zeus conceived through his affair with Leto. Delos was a safe haven for Leto to give birth, away from the jealousy of Zeus’ wife. Whether you’re a fan of Greek mythology or not, wandering through the ancient ruins on Delos helps you realize the importance of this island and Greek gods — it was constructed solely as a testament to the gods.
Ano Mera — the only other “town” on Mykonos — is an approximate five-mile or 15-minute taxi ride from Mykonos Town. It’s not particularly well-known to tourists as it lacks a sea view, yet is well worth visiting for its 18th-century Monastery of Panagia Tourliani. The monastery’s architectural splendor includes intricate marble carvings and a massive Italian baroque altar screen. Ano Mera a quiet alternative to spending the day in Mykonos Town.
You can find secluded beaches on Mykonos if you know where to look. Head to the north coast of the island for Agios Sostis Beach, overlooked by Agios Sostis Chapel. The 250 meters of unspoiled sand is free of crowds and luxuries such as beach chairs and umbrellas. You’ll find that locals come here to swim. Kiki’s Taverna is located next to the church, and it offers simple local grilled food and a variety of salads. Because no busses service the area and the road is a little rough, the five-mile taxi ride will take approximately 20 minutes from Mykonos Town, but it’s well worth it.
For the more adventurous amongst you, discover the remote side of Mykonos by taking a sea kayaking trip with the cruise line or booking with Mykonos Kayak. Spend your time paddling in the Aegean waters. You’ll have the perfect opportunity to spot dolphins, monk seals, Mediterranean shags and gulls. You can also snorkel in the clear water and eat a simple, yet delicious lunch on a remote beach. Previous experience of kayaking is not necessary, but a reasonable level of fitness is required. Perfect for families and all age groups.
Referred to as the “Island of the Winds” due to the strong Meltemi, a dry northwesterly wind that blows across the island in the summer, Mykonos is perfect for those who want to try their hand at windsurfing. Ftelia, a large, undeveloped sandy beach, is the best place to do so because the breeze blows year-round. Plus, with two tavernas nearby, if you don’t want to rent your own gear and try it for yourself, you can just relax and watch others.
Yummy Pedals offers cycling tours around the historic and local parts of the island that are not often explored by tourists; in fact, some are only accessible by foot or bicycle. See historic houses, old mines, small villages and beautiful churches. And for lunch you’ll head to a secluded beach inaccessible by car; you’ll stop for a bite to eat and enjoy homemade lemonade. Because tours finish at vineyard of Vioma you can conclude your tour with a wine and local-produce tasting.
For those wishing to taste Mykonian wine, a trip to the old monastery vineyard at Mykonos Vioma farm in the village of Ano Mera is a must-do. Sample the organic red and white wines served with meze dishes specific to Mykonos, such as spicy Kopanisti cheese and traditional pork sausage. Sample salads made from herbs and vegetables picked right from the farm and fresh eggs from their chickens. Talk about farm to table. If you’re cruising to Mykonos during the wine-harvesting period of September, you’re in for an extra treat. You can help crush the grapes the traditional way — with your feet.
If you’re interested in understanding more about Mykonos’s history, the Mykonos Folk Museum, Agricultural Museum and Aegean Maritime Museum — all located in Mykonos Town — are well worth a visit.
- The Mykonos Folk Museum has exhibits of Cycladic costumes, traditional musical instruments, historic paintings and old photographs of the island.
- The Agricultural Museum (located by the windmills) will give you further insight into the island’s farming history with a display of tools (such as an ancient wine press, bread oven and waterwheel) and an old preserved miller’s home with period decorations.
- The Aegean Maritime Museum highlights Mykonos’ nautical past through ancient maps and navigational equipment. Be sure to head to the garden, where you’ll see large ship anchors and the largest lighthouse in the Aegean.
If you’re visiting Mykonos in June and July, you’ll be fortunate to experience the biennale. Launched in 2013, the Mykonos Biennale is an annual event that transforms the island into a cultural hotspot through theatrical performances, cultural attractions and artistic productions. Locations such as the windmills and small churches turn into exhibition spaces and showcase work from some of the world’s leading artists.