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Mykonos, Greece: Insider’s Guide

by | June 20, 2017
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Where to Stay and Eat

Best bang-for-your-buck hotel
The Myconian Villa Collection, a group of spacious suites and villas that can come with private pools or hot tubs and views of the pretty white sands of Elia Beach—the largest beach on the island’s south side. With 2 to 33 bedrooms, these villas can fit your whole family or group.

Restaurant the locals love
Kiki’s Taverna has exactly what you want in summer in Greece: tender grilled octopus, salads of lemon and artichokes or yogurt-topped beets, glasses of Greek rosé, and simple wooden tables with views of swimmers in the aqua waters at Agios Sostis Beach on the island’s north side. Not surprisingly, it’s very popular, so even if you arrive for lunch before noon you might have to wait for a table.

Best hot spots
Located right on Paraga Beach on the southern part of the island, Scorpios is an all-day venue where you can eat, swim, and enjoy the sunset; the kitchen serves one-of-a-kind Mediterranean cuisine. Ling Ling by Hakkasan is a high-end, dinner-only venue located in Mykonos Town with an open-air restaurant and bar serving a Cantonese menu of small dishes.

Meal worth the splurge
A beach club and restaurant on quiet Psarou Beach’s powdery sand, Nammos has been a favorite of Greek and international celebrities since it opened in 2003. With stone walls and a thatched-roof terrace—and a menu of caper-tossed pastas, fresh grilled fish, and barbecue beef sliders—it hits the right balance of relaxed and elegant. Reservations aren’t easy to secure.

Dish to try
Kopanisti (κοπανιστή), a salty, spicy, and creamy cheese that’s guaranteed to be handmade from cow’s milk or a combination of cow’s and sheep’s milk: Industrial production is prohibited by law. You’ll find it in salads and served alone as an appetizer with a glass of ouzo.

What to See and Do

Don’t miss
Windsurfing or swimming at Ftelia Beach, a long, wide sandy stretch on the northern side of Mykonos. Windsurfers love it for the breeze that pushes them right across the bay; swimmers appreciate the clean water and absence of party people on the shore; and others appreciate the seafood and sunset views at the relaxed Alemagou Beach Bar.

One of the few beaches on Mykonos without cafés, sun chairs, and umbrellas, Fokos is never really busy: It’s far from the towns and resorts on the island’s south side. Check that the wind’s not coming from the north before you go, and grab a salad for lunch at the beach’s small Fokos Tavern.

Cheap thrill
Catch a kaiki—a traditional Greek fishing boat turned water taxi—at Ornos or Platis Gialos and take it to the beaches of Paranga, Paradise, Super Paradise, Agrari, or Elia. Round-trip tickets are between five and seven euros, depending on your destination; the boats’ departures are subject to wind conditions.

A perfect day
Plan an hours-long chill-out session at the tranquil (for Mykonos) Panormos Beach on the island’s north side, where you can eat lunch at the beach’s café or grab a beer from one of the vendors making the rounds up and down the sand. Take a siesta at your hotel and head to Mykonos town in early evening for a wander around the Matoyianni district, where narrow streets are lined with shops selling sun hats and handmade jewelry. Watch the sunset from the town’s best vantage point, a bayside area called Little Venice or Windmills. Right there on the harbor, the restaurant Sea Satin serves Greek salads and prawn spaghetti with great views. And if you’re up for it, finish in typical Mykonos style: with a night of partying at clubs like Jackie O and Astra—or a casual nightcap at Caprice.

Best Time to Go

Mid-June to mid-July. At the beginning of the summer, you get the best of both shoulder and peak seasons: It’s lively but not crowded and warm but not scorching, and hotel rates aren’t sky-high. Be aware that Mykonos is always windy, so bring a light sweater for evenings.

Worst Times to Go

August, at the height of peak season; go only if you’re into hot, crowded, and expensive.

November to March. The island is wintry and even windier than it is the rest of the year—and most things are closed.

Biggest Rookie Mistake

Thinking you can rely on taxis. There are about 30 taxis on the entire island, so you’ll have to wait for a ride (especially in evenings) and pay high prices for even short journeys. Ask your hotel to arrange a car or scooter rental.

Instagram Moment

A token shot of Little Venice’s oft-photographed harbor or the nearby hilltop windmills. Take it in early evening to capture the island’s uniquely golden light.

The Souvenir

Handmade sandals from one of the many small shops along the narrow pedestrian streets in Mykonos Town.

Tipping Tip

Tipping is by no means mandatory. Round up to the next full euro in taxis, leave 10 to 15 percent in upscale restaurants, and give a euro or two in cafés and tavernas. In hotels, tip five euros to luggage handlers and room service, and ten euros to maids at the end of the stay.

Don’t Forget to Pack

At least one glamorous outfit to wear for alfresco dining or drinking. Dressing to impress is part of the Mykonos experience.


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