With its white-washed buildings, bright blue sea and winding, whirling streets littered with designer boutiques, Mykonos has always been on my bucket list. And so I was delighted when I finally had a trip booked last month, exploring all that the Grecian island had to offer over five days – eagerly anticipating the Instagram friendly pictures that were to follow.
Although it has enough to offer even the most seasoned traveller for at least a week’s worth of exploration, Mykonos isn’t actually that big of an island – which makes it very accessible and easy to get around. Most people choose to hire a car or if you’re more daring, a quad bike, as their preferred mode of transport – while others opt for the bus, which circles the island throughout the day.
Whichever you choose, it’s going to be a trip to remember. And while I could ramble on for hours about every aspect of my visit, I thought I’d collate all of my new found knowledge into some easy-to-consume tips, just in case you’re booking a trip of your very own. Mykonos offers something for everyone, whether you’re a foodie, love to seek the sun, want to explore the town on foot or party on the beach until the sun rises. I’d love to claim I opted for the latter but honestly, I’m too much of a grandma.
Eating out in Mykonos is a big thing – and it’s taken very seriously. You won’t just find traditional Greek Tavernas, but an extensive array of Thai restaurants, garden terraces, swanky bars, cocktail lounges, Italian Pizzerias and then Creperies, Mezes, Tapas. You’re certainly spoiled for choice but it’s worth noting that the majority are rather expensive. If you’re on a budget, I’d recommend saving up for one amazing luxury meal and then on the other nights, opt for cheaper places that are off the beaten track. If you stick to the main streets and squares, you’ll be charged a premium for what is, in my opinion, pretty bog standard.
We found the most gorgeous Pizzeria down a little side street surrounded by painted trees (white, of course), overlooking a beautiful white wash church. The pizzas were 9 euros each and a bottle of wine was 14 euros. Okay, so it’s not necessarily budget friendly, but to me – that was very reasonable and we had such a lovely evening. It does get a little chillier in the evenings due to the breeze, so although the beach bars and marina terraces are gorgeous, you’ll appreciate a bit of building cover once the sun sets!
If you’re looking for something high end, again – there are an endless number of options. Ling Ling is part of the famous Hakkasan chain (with restaurants in Mayfair and New York) and features a Michelin star Cantonese menu. The venue is absolutely incredible and the staff fall over themselves to make sure you have a wonderful evening. Otherwise, just pop your head into some of the picturesque doorways – because often, there will be a garden restaurant waiting for you at the end of an unassuming corridor. The great thing about Mykonos is that you never quite know what you’re going to find around the next corner. The experience you have all lays in your inquisitive nature and your desire to explore!
I don’t usually shop too much when I’m away, primarily because I’ve usually already packed my suitcase full to the brim and couldn’t possibly fit another morsel inside however if you are visiting Mykonos, I’d advise you to leave a little room for any new purchases, since the shopping is so fabulous, you’re bound to find something you love. We could have spent hours browsing the rails of all these quaint little independent boutiques, laden with floaty dresses, bikinis, glitzy sandals and kaftans. And we did.
One of my favourite finds was a little boutique called BSB, which actually has an online store (which may ship to the UK, if I’m right in saying so) and a number of shops in Greece. If a shop could embody my style, this would totally be it – as everything is so feminine, so flattering and so floaty, utilising gorgeous silky material and boho-esque patterns. Everything is just utterly beautiful and I could have quite happily (without sounding cliche) bought the whole shop. Luckily, my mum talked me out of it. But I did leave with a beautiful two piece red paisley style co-ord, which I’m sure you’ll see popping up lots on my blog over the next few weeks. It’s more than I’ve ever spent before on something of the sort, but I just couldn’t leave the store without it. Oops.
Where to stay
Depending on what you want the focus of your trip to be about, there are a vast array of accommodation options out there for you, albeit, admittedly rather expensive. If you want to be able to explore the tiny white-wash streets of Mykonos by day and by night, without the need for a car – then you’ll need to choose somewhere close to Mykonos Old Port. I’d say this is the best option if you enjoy being in the throws of all the action, sitting up until the early hours drinking at some of the town’s swanky bars and strolling (or wobbling, after one too many cocktails) back to your room. If you’re staying here, you’ll probably be paying a premium and forfeit space and a pool, but you have the beach on your doorstep and so many amazing pool clubs.
If you’ve come for a sun-soaked getaway, with a bit of shopping, strolling and dining thrown into the mix, then you can get away with staying a little further afield – in one of the smaller areas on the coast. We stayed in Kalo Livadi for the duration of our trip, at the absolutely beautiful Archipelagos Hotel, which is listed as one of the ‘small luxury hotels of the world’ – a well deserved title, I must say. It’s on the South East coast and takes around 15 minutes by car to get to the main town, which the hotel provide complimentary shuttles to several times per day.
However, it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave too much, because the pool area – with panoramic sea views, is just incredible. Oh and there’s an extensive cocktail menu which can be utilised from the comfort of your very own pool bed. Yep, you heard right – not just a sun bed. A pool bed. A bed (complete with mattress) which hangs over the pool. Because the hotel is so close to the sea, you get a breeze throughout the day – meaning sun-bathing is a much more comfortable and less sweaty affair.
When to visit
Peak seasons are always going to be more expensive, so if you can avoid the school summer holidays, I’d advise to do so. It’s a pretty pricey place to stay anyway, so in order to make your budget stretch as far as it can, I’d say that early to mid June would be the perfect time to book a trip. We stayed in late May, which was ideal during the day, as a lovely breeze caressed your skin as you sunbathed, meaning that it never felt overwhelming hot. And I don’t deal with heat all that well (I get very moody), so this was a blessing. However, the cool air also meant that the evenings were chilly and so you needed a thicker jacket to get you through dinner. Tourist season starts mid-June, so if you prefer a quieter atmosphere, I’d say May would be a great time to visit if you still want great weather.
- Make sure you spend an evening waiting outside for the sun to set. It’s just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen (especially if you’re on the Southern Coast) as the colours in the sky all merging into one another is like some sort of watercolour masterpiece.
- Discover your passion for art. Mykonos actually has some really interesting art galleries, so if you fancy cooling off one afternoon and sparing your skin from the sun for a couple of hours, scout out the Rarity Gallery in particular!
- If you’re a bit of a shopping fiend then you won’t want to miss Matoyianni Street in Mykonos Town Centre, because essentially – it’s one very long winding white street full of incredible designer shops. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chopard – you can honestly spend hours pouring over just the window displays on this beautiful street. And although of course we have these back home, there’s something quite different about seeing these designers immaculately presented in beautiful smaller white wash stores, as opposed to the looming giants in London.
- I’m sure they have a proper name, but all of the people I spoke to in Mykonos call them ‘The Windmills’, so I will follow suit. These beautiful statuesque windmills tower over the town and often stand as the unofficial pinterest landmark of the island, so they’re certainly worth a visit. Even if it’s just for a photo opportunity!
So, is Mykonos on your bucket list? Or have you visited already? I’d love to hear your travel tips!