Mykonos: the cool holiday hotspot
Photo: Stavros Sofronas
Many consider Mykonos the archetypal Greek holiday island with white sugar-cube houses perched on rock strewn hillsides and long sandy beaches galore.
Once a holiday playground of the rich and famous, Mykonos still attracts celebrities but it is also hugleley popular with families and couples as well.
Located in the central Cyclades island group and a major ferry hub, Mykonos is a small hilly island noted for its brilliant white light and electric blue seas.
The island not only has an exceptional number of good holiday beaches for its size it also boasts a lively clubbing and shopping scene that have helped make holidays here famous throughout the world.
It remains one of the trendiest destinations and is still the hottest — and coolest — of all the Greek Islands. The picturesque Mykonos Town is packed with stylish cafes, trendy music bars and romantic waterfront restaurants, while the south coast is famous for its beach clubbing scene.
The trendiest sands are at Paradise Beach and neighbouring Super Paradise where riotous beach parties often last from dusk to dawn.
Many smaller and more relaxed resorts are sprinkled along the west and south coasts and families will relish the watersports such as windsurfing, water skiing, boat sailing and some scuba diving.
The basic ingredients of a Mykonos holiday are a beautiful capital port resort, a string of golden beaches and a red hot reputation for night-life and beach parties.
The south-east coast has the big beach resorts, each of them well contained in sheltered coves and most connected by a cliff-top coastal path. For those who prefer not to walk there are water taxis to provide alternative transport.
Long swathes of sharp fine sand are often backed by all-inclusive hotels, while beach tavernas and music bars provide places to relax. Once notorious hangouts for gay nudists, the beaches these days have a less racy clientele with families not only enjoying the impressive sands but also joining in the party atmosphere.
The north coast beaches are much more wild and remote. They may be fewer and more exposed but they do offer wild and windswept scenery, well away from the crowds, and with lots of small coves and tiny bays to explore.
The islet of Delos lies just offshore and, with a reputation as one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the whole of Greece, it gets its fair share of visitors.
Delos is a vast open-air museum, now a World Heritage site that attracts thousands to wonder at the famed birthplace of Greek gods Apollo and Artemis and the epicentre of a religious cult that lasted two thousand years.
Virtually the entire island is covered in ruins of temples and statues. Impressive exhibits include a Minoan fountain and the impressive statues of the Terrace of Lions that once lined the Sacred Way.
Boats trips leave Mykonos every day except Monday but visitors must leave after four hours. An exceptionally good museum houses the most important sculptures.
The selection of museums on Mykonos is not only wide and varied but they also all seem to the housed in interesting and attractive buildings. The Archaeological Museum of Mykonos, by the harbour, has fine displays of sculpture, ceramics and jewels as well as a very extensive collection of Cycladic figurines.
The Folklore Museum is the mansion house of a former sea captain, located near Paraportiani church. It not only boasts displays of traditional costumes, embroidery and furniture but also has an unusual collection of keys.
At the Aegean Maritime Museum are models of sailing ships and maritime paraphernalia, including the mechanism of the old Armenisti Lighthouse and a large collection of banknotes that feature sailing ships.
An authentic traditional house of 19th century is preserved at Lena's House Museum, while the outdoor Agricultural Museum, near Ano Mili, has an ancient threshing machine and other farming implements
Paraportiani church is the best known and certainly the most photographed of the 70 or so chapels and churches to be found on Mykonos. Located near the central harbour, it's an organic clump of five small churches.
Paraportiani takes its name from the Greek for 'inner door' and this was once a gateway set in the stone wall that once girdled the town. The original church dates from 1475 and the last one was built in the 17th century.
Windmills of Mykonos
The long line of windmills overlooking the Mykonos harbour have been an island trademark since the 16th century. The island was once on an important trade route between Venice and Egypt and Mykonos was where they unloaded grain to be milled.
They may have dwindled from 20 to seven but the remaining mills are still great tourist attraction. Well preserved and well maintained they remain one of the most distinctive sights of the Cyclades .
Mykonos has huge range of accommodation — from five-star luxury all-inclusive with infinity pools to backpacker bed down dormitories. The island's excellent bus service means visitors can void the pricey town and pick up plenty of cheaper rooms elsewhere.
Holiday ferry arrivals will probably have to run a gauntlet of offers from islanders touting offers of rooms at the port or they can check out prices at the travel agent rooms nearby. Many head for the Mykonos Accommodation Centre, found near Tria Pigadia, which posts vacancies.
Visitors looking to savour the island night life will prefer to stay in or around the Chora, but don't expect to find anywhere cheap in the high season. Most other island accommodation is focussed on beach resorts along the south coast while those on a budget can book in at the campsites at Paranga and Paradise beaches.
The holiday weather on Mykonos is typically Mediterranean with long, hot and sunny summers following the mild, wet winters. Spring has temperatures in May rising to 20°C while June and July offer heatwaves in the high 20s with August thermometers averaging 27°C and topping 35°C on some days.
Mykonos is a windy island. Strong southerly winds in spring are replaced by the northerly meltemi in the summer. Holiday visitors will be unlucky indeed to see any rain at all over the summer holiday months and the mercury will often hit 30°C. Autumn temperatures drop to a warm sub 20°C but days should stay dry. Winter has lows of 12°C and Mykonos gets most of its rain between January and March.
Charter flights land at Mykonos International (JMK), four kilometres from Mykonos Town alongside daily domestic flights from Athens. There are also flights to Crete (Heraklion), Rhodes, Santorini and Thessaloniki. There is a regular bus service between the airport and ferry port town and a taxi rank opposite the terminal building. Outside is a large car park with short and long-term parking spaces.
Ferries run daily from the Athens' port of Piraeus and from Rafina on the mainland. Cat ferries from Rafina also dock atn at the islands of Andros, Tinos and Syros and there are daily hydrofoil and fast catamaran services to other Greek islands, not only in the local Cyclades, but also to Crete And Rhodes in the south and to Samos and Lesvos in the north.
Taxi boats take bather to beaches along the south coast throughout the summer. They leave daily from Platis Gialos and Ornos while excursion boats offer many day trips to Delos island.
Greek bus company KTEL runs services from two bus stations in Mykonos Town. The bus rank near the Archaeological Museum has daily services to Ano Mera and the beaches to the south-east of the island while beaches directly to the south of the capital are serviced from the bus rank in Fabrika Square.
The main taxi rank is located in Mavros Square but taxis can be in short supply at busy times and queues can sometimes get very long. Drivers do not have meters but fares to all the popular beaches are displayed on notice boards near the taxi rank.