Mykonos is one of the most popular of all the Greek islands, along with Santorini. I’ll be honest, I had pretty low expectations when I visited, but I was blown away by all the fun things to do in Mykonos.
In fact, I would not have gone there at all if it weren’t for the fact that the only way to reach the ancient site of Delos is by boat from Mykonos.
You see, before I arrived, I thought Mykonos was just a jetset party town. Somewhere for the beautiful people to look hot in their bikinis and schmooze with celebrities.
And while there definitely are places in Mykonos where you can do those things, the island is so much more than that. In the end, I wished I’d given myself more time to explore Mykonos fully. But alas, I only had one night there.
To help you avoid making the same mistake I did, I’ve teamed up with some of my favorite travel bloggers to highlight the many different types of things that Mykonos has to offer.
From rock-hewn churches to drag shows to gorgeous sunsets, Mykonos really does have something for everyone.
Contributed by Ivan Tannenberg of Mind the Travel
The row of seven white windmills perched on a small cape is the first sight that hovers into view when travelers pull into the harbor of Mykonos. The windmills were built by the Venetians as long ago as the 16th century and are oriented to the north to take advantage of the strong winds.
Decades ago, when the industry on Mykonos was focused on wheat production, there were over 20 windmills spread around the island, each one vital to the island’s economy.
Today there are 16 windmills left, and most of them are used as private homes or museums. Nevertheless, these iconic buildings still stand as a testament to the island’s rich history.
Arguably the most photographed attraction in Mykonos, the windmills of Chora (a.k.a. Mykonos Town) are free to visit. At any time of day, you can join the gaggle of photographers snapping shots of the windmills standing out in stark contrast to the clear blue sky.
The Mykonos windmills have become a symbol for the whole island and are just a stone's throw away from the Alefkandra quarter, also known as Little Venice. Most people go there for sunset.
Should you decide to visit the windmills at sunrise, you'll likely encounter fewer people and have a more exclusive photography experience. Sunset in Mykonos is an attraction in itself though. As the sun sets on the horizon of the Aegean Sea, it produces incredible colors in the sky to remember for days and weeks to come.
Contributed by Jo Williams of Lost Wanders
Little Venice is one of the most popular spots to visit in Mykonos Town, and it's not hard to see why. Its winding cobblestone walkways and whitewashed walls give a romantic feel.
And this feeling is enhanced by the flourishes of color in late summer, when the streets erupt with flowers. Made famous during the jet-setting seventies, followed by its rising popularity with the cruise ship crowd, Little Venice encapsulates the island’s beauty!
Little Venice gets its name from the buildings overhanging the water, originally built by local sailors to gain easy access to the ocean. These creaky old buildings have been transformed into some of the best restaurants and bars on the island.
It’s the perfect place to grab a cocktail at sunset. Just make sure to arrive early for a good spot!
Rhapsody and Katerina's are two firm favorites, but both can get very busy in the evenings.
For a quieter sunset experience, head around the corner to Panagia Paraportiani Orthodox Church, a great place to capture those perfect Greek sunsets.
Further inland, every narrow street and back alley is full of enticing little shops with locally made artwork and handicrafts. Here you can find anything from the traditional Greek evil eyes to Petros the Pelican toys (more about Petros below).
But the nightlife is what makes this area famous. Head to the Scandinavian Bar or Jackie O's to see what all the fuss is about.
Panagia Paraportiani Orthodox Church
Contributed by Hanna Thomas of Solar Powered Blonde
The most unique and beautiful thing about Mykonos for me was all the lovely small churches dotted around. You will pass these white churches on most roads you walk down in Mykonos.
They are built in a unique style of architecture that I haven’t seen anywhere before. The most beautiful one is Panagia Paraportiani Orthodox Church right in the center of Chora.
It’s also one of the largest churches on the island. Most are very small, but all have a dome on top and a similar whitewashed facade.
The best time to visit the church of Panagia Paraportiani is very early in the morning. Mykonos is a very popular place, so it gets busy throughout the day in the center of town.
Panagia Paraportiani Church is located right on the waterfront, so when you walk behind it you will see the sea already, and there are also some steps down to the water.
To get a photo with no one else in the way, I would recommend coming at sunrise. This is also a beautiful spot to see the sunrise over the windmills. These are visible from the beach just behind the church.
It really is a very historical spot and worth seeing on your walk through Mykonos Town. I would recommend also taking a walk through the town just after sunrise, before the shops start to open and the streets become covered in souvenirs for sale!
Petros the Pelican
Keep your eyes peeled for Chora’s most famous resident, a pelican who goes by the name of Petros. Although technically, the one who lives here now is Petros the Second.
The original Petros was discovered by a local fisherman after a storm in the 1950s. He was wounded, but the fisherman and other kind locals nursed him back to health.
Once he was well enough to fly away, everyone expected Petros to move on. But he seemed to enjoy his new city life in Mykonos, so he became a local, and the Mykonians adopted him as the island’s mascot.
For decades, Petros happily wandered the streets of Chora, until one day in 1985 when he was tragically hit by a car. Locals and tourists alike missed having Petros around, so the search for a successor ensued.
Apparently Jackie Kennedy-Onassis donated a pelican to the island, and so did the Hamburg Zoo. And then another injured pelican was found and nursed back to health, so now there are three resident pelicans on Mykonos.
All the places mentioned in this list so far have been located within Mykonos Town. Also known as Chora, this is the main town on the island. To see another side of life on Mykonos, try heading inland to the small village of Ano Mera.
Lying seven kilometers east of Chora and right in the middle of the island, this is the only inland settlement on all of Mykonos.
The main site here is the beautiful, whitewashed monastery of Panagia Tourliani, with its tall belltower, striking red dome, and impressive collection of icons inside.
In addition to its monastery, Ano Mera also offers a more authentic slice of Greek life. Coming here is a chance to get away from the more touristy areas near the beaches and learn about the history and traditional culture of Mykonos island.
Contributed by Chrysoula Manika of Travel Passionate
For visitors interested in culture, Mykonos doesn't disappoint. Just 20 to 30 minutes away by ferry from Mykonos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, the island of Delos.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for the ancient Greeks Delos island was a very sacred place, as it was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. It was also a major commercial center in its day.
At the beginning of the 1st century BC, the small island of Delos had an estimated 30,000 inhabitants and moved more than 750,000 tons of merchandise from its port.
Nowadays, the island is uninhabited and can only be visited as a day trip from the nearby islands. Ferries depart many times per day from the old harbour of Mykonos.
Return tickets cost 20 euros, plus the 12 euros for the entry to the archaeological site. This is easy to arrange on your own, but if you want to learn more about the island’s history you could join one of the many guided tours available.
Super Paradise Beach
Contributed by Sanda Papas of Greece Travel Secrets
Mykonos has quite the reputation as a party destination, and its beach clubs, in particular, are some of the most famous in the world.
With its crystal clear waters, Super Paradise Beach is one of the most popular, and if you are lucky enough to spend some time there, you will see why.
Located on the southeast coast of the island six kilometers from Mykonos Town, Super Paradise is well protected from wind and is generally a safe place to swim.
The thing that immediately sets this beach apart from others is the red carpet leading from the boat jetty to the entrance to the restaurant and bar. How many beaches have that!?
During the day, things are fairly relaxed, with people enjoying the sun and the water and participating in a variety of watersports. Available options include jet-skiing, flyboarding, parasailing, stand up paddle boarding and wakeboarding.
Through the official Super Paradise website, you can book any of these activities as well as a table for lunch at the restaurant or a sunbed on the beach. Both come with hefty price tags, as you would expect.
As the sun goes down, things start to really heat up, with the DJ’s music volume increasing and the crowd swelling. It is highly likely you will spot a celebrity or two, and with a bit of luck you can join them dancing on the tables.
Special events are held throughout the summer with guest DJs and singers. Super Sundays is a standing party session through the season and is notoriously wild and crazy.
High-end accommodation is also on offer, so if this is your scene you can stay right on Super Paradise and not have to worry about how to get there!
But if partying with the rich and famous is not your style, there are plenty of other Mykonos beaches to suit all tastes.
Platis Gialos beach is great for families or for couples who just want to relax on a sunbed all day with a cocktail in hand. And Paraga Beach, a 15-minute walk away from Platis Gialos, offers good snorkelling opportunities as well as clubbing at Kalua Beach Bar and other nightlife spots.
And finally, Elia Beach, 11 kilometres from Mykonos Town is the last stop on the taxi boat, so it’s a bit quieter than other beaches. It’s also nudist-friendly.
Sunset Cabaret at the Elysium Hotel
Contributed by Derek and Mike of Robe Trotting
Anyone who visits the island of Mykonos is missing out if they don't visit The Elysium Hotel for the best happy hour in the Aegean. It’s located on the outskirts of Mykonos Town and, while you have to climb their driveway to pay a visit, it’s worth the vacation cardio.
The Elysium guarantees unrivaled views, cocktails with a healthy pour and guaranteed entertainment. It should be a part of any Greek island hopping itinerary.
Watching the sunset at the Elysium Hotel is a Mykonos tradition for LGBTQIA+ visitors. The hotel’s poolside terrace offers incredible panoramic views and is the ideal place to begin a night out.
Not only does Elysium provide beautiful sunsets, beautiful staff, and a beautiful terrace, they also entertain you when the sun goes down. Every evening, Elysium’s Sunset Cabaret puts on a show for a deck load of gay and straight visitors.
The show is full of drag performances, dance numbers, comedy skits, live singing, audience games and more. It’s quite interactive and full of talented acts that will have you laughing, singing and maybe even jumping on stage.
For large groups, it’s important to reserve a table, especially in August. The show runs for about two hours with a brief intermission and finishes at around 10:00 pm, which is when the nightlife in Mykonos Town starts to kick off.
Whether you’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community or just want a great happy hour and cabaret show, head to Sunset Cabaret. It’s the best time to be had after the sun goes down, and it’s pretty wonderful during sunset too.
Where to Stay on Mykonos
As a major tourism destination in Greece, Mykonos has no shortage of hotels and guesthouses. Here are a couple that stand out above the rest.
Bill and Coo Coast Suites
Contributed by Alex Waltner of Swedish Nomad
One of the best places to stay in Mykonos is by the small and quiet village of Agios Ioannis, which is just a short ride from Mykonos Town and offers a view of the ancient island of Delos.
For a luxurious getaway, Bill and Coo Coast Suites is highly recommended. The suites are spacious and come with private pools and gorgeous views. Guests can also enjoy the sunset from their own terrace while sipping on champagne or local wines from Greece.
Bill and Coo is a 5-star hotel that has everything you need for the perfect vacation in Mykonos. It’s an especially great choice for couples who are celebrating their honeymoon or another special occasion.
Everything from breakfast to dinner as well as the spa facilities is top-notch. Bill and Coo Coast Suites has a prime location, and from here you'll also have a great base to explore the island away from the crowds. Rent a car or motorbike to explore nearby beaches and villages.
You can also reach Chora by bus, taxi, or rental car/scooter. It's a short ride, and strolling around Chora is simply one of the best things you can do on the island. Narrow and colorful alleys with beautiful bougainvilleas and old houses are everywhere, combined with high-end boutiques and restaurants.
As mentioned above, Elysium Hotel is famous for its happy hour and Sunset Cabaret show. But it’s also a great place to stay, particularly for gay travelers. The hotel is located on top of a hill with spectacular views over Mykonos Town, which is just a 10-minute walk away. Everyone raves about the lovely pool and spacious terrace.
Where to Eat on Mykonos
Kostas is a cute little tavern that serves traditional Greek food. As is the case at most Greek restaurants, there are a number of vegan options on the menu.
I highly recommend the imam bayildi, a dish of melt-in-your-mouth stuffed eggplant that’s popular in both Greece and Turkey. It’s one of my favorite vegan dishes in Greek cuisine.
Located in Little Venice just a block or so back from the sea, prices are much more reasonable here that at many of the waterfront restaurants.