Mykonos is a dazzling gem in the Cyclades Islands, a party zone based in the warm Aegean Sea. It's often dubbed the "Ibiza of Greece," but did you know there is so much more to Mykonos than nightlife and bars? Travelers can pack every day with activities and trips to landmarks like the jaw-dropping windmills or numerous archaeological treasures. Whatever you want from your Greek island vacation, Mykonos promises memories that will last a lifetime.
The white windmills of Mykonos are one of the most memorable fixtures here. They hark back to a time when grain production was the primary industry, and many were built as far back as the 16th century. Sixteen windmills survive, many at viewpoints offering breathtaking views across the island. Make sure you take your camera or smartphone!
A few of the aforementioned windmills are based close to the pretty town of Little Venice, considered one of the most romantic spots in Mykonos. Classic Greek blue and white houses hang right over the water, and the sunsets here are truly breathtaking. Get ready to watch the island transform at dusk as the setting sun paints the landscape every shade from red to gold to purple. Look out for a seat at one of the waterfront bars for the best vantage point.
Learn a little about Greek history at the Archaeological Museum in Mykonos Town. Established in 1902, the museum houses artifacts portraying scenes from the Trojan War and many notable statues and vases, as beautiful as they are historically important. The museum is less than a five-minute walk from the Old Port in Mykonos town, making it a highly accessible way to get a glimpse into the island's past.
We haven't forgotten Mykonos's reputation as a party island, and neither should you! Super Paradise Beach is a beach club catering to fun-loving tourists since 1971. Guests can chill on sunbeds, make friends at the long, curved, sociable bar, or indulge in culinary delights from fresh local fruit to a selection of Greek main meals. For the full celebrity experience, guests can pay extra and book the VIP area. Super Paradise Beach used to be the only gay beach on Mykonos, and it's still warm and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.
Ano Mera is the second largest village after the main town and one of the oldest villages on the island. This is the place to discover traditional Greek culture, away from the main resorts and party life. Visit the 16th-century Panagia Tourliani Monastery with its beautiful colored dome. Take a break at a local taverna, the best way to taste genuine Greek cuisine and discover the taste of ouzo as a digestif.
Many of the treasures in Mykonos' museum come from the nearby island of Delos, so if you want to go straight to the source, simply book a boat trip from the Old Port in Mykonos town. In Hellenistic religion, Delos is considered one of the most sacred islands, partially because, in mythology, Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis here after fleeing from a jealous Hera. The ruins here are marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and include the Sacred Lake, Sanctuary of Apollo, and the striking Terrace of Lions. Consider booking a guided tour to get the most out of this archaeological wonder.
Mykonos Town is called Chora by the locals and is a traditional Cycladic village. This means quaint, narrow streets winding through whitewashed houses and shops selling everything from high-end fashion to local crafts. You must explore the town on foot, particularly because cars are not allowed in the village at all during daylight hours! Get some retail therapy in, take pictures of the blue-domed churches and vibrant bougainvillea, then take the weight off your feet at one of the many excellent tavernas.
Elia is known as the "unofficially official nude beach," where clothing is optional, but having fun is not! This is a hotspot for the local and visiting LGBTQ+ community, and the beach is packed with sunbeds, places to grab a cocktail, and even spots where you can hire a boat. Travelers wanting to make the most of this stunning, sandy beach can book a stay in one of the popular beachside resorts.
We've mentioned tavernas a couple of times, and that's because a traditional taverna is the best way to sample real Greek flavors. Many of these establishments are family-run and handed down throughout the generations. Ask your server about any special dishes, and look out for local treats such as kopanisti, a peppery cheese, or kremidopita, a cheese and onion pie often served around Easter time.
It's hard to describe the experience of swimming in the Aegean if you've never been. The water is very salty, so floating is often easier, and it's so clear that snorkeling is a cinch. Local and nationwide conservation schemes mean that there's so much life to see in these waters. You can go into the sea with your snorkel just about anywhere, but some of the best spots include Psarou Beach, Paraga Beach, and Fragias Beach. Lucky snorkelers may even spot a sea turtle!
Chora, or Mykonos Town, offers so many shops where you can buy keepsakes to remember your Greek island getaway. Shops selling culinary items like local olives, oils, and spices rub shoulders with fine jewelry stores. A top destination in town for souvenirs is the Matoyianni Street, a beautiful, winding marketplace showcasing the best in Miconian style.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture of a place is to visit a local festival. Depending on when you visit Mykonos, you may get the chance to see the feast at Panagia Tourliani in Ano Mera, the celebration of Agia Paraskevi, or the musical Harvest Festival. There is also an annual festival celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, which attracts visitors from all over the world.
The Church of Paraportiani, known locally as Panagia Paraportiani, might be the most photographed church anywhere on Mykonos. Situated right by the sea, this whitewashed structure is actually a complex of five smaller churches that were built over many centuries. The earliest building is from the 14th century, so this is a must for anyone interested in the history of the island.
Are we mentioning food again? Yes! Greek food is a cuisine that's so easy to fall in love with, so why not go the extra step and learn to make it yourself? Impress your friends and family by presenting them with hand-cooked souvlaki, gyros, or traditionally baked Greek bread. Classes are based all over the island, so check with your tour operator or ask locally for the best options.
Thrill seekers need look no further than the many beaches of Mykonos to get their adrenaline fix. Jet skiing, wakeboarding, tubes, banana boats, and kayaking are just a few of the activities on offer. For the ultimate adventure, ask a local operator about Flyboarding, an instructor-guided activity where pressurized water shoots you into the air, just like a jet pack!