Mykonos was my Greek island epilogue. After 2 weeks hopping around – from Crete to Santorini to Paros – we were nearing the point of blue and white beauty overload, plus the sun and high temperatures were definitely starting to ware on us. So when we arrived in Mykonos towards the end of our trip we were looking for the exact opposite experience than other visitors to this so-called party island. We wanted to enjoy one more good meal and one more good beach, so in a sense were searching for the milder side of Mykonos. And luckily, that’s just what we found. Here’s how it all unfolded, plus a few tips and recommendations for your trip to Mykonos.
Like most visitors we arrived by ferry at Mykonos’ New Port where our taxi driver was waiting. You can also take the bus into town depending on the location of your hotel, but with luggage the taxi was the most convenient option for us (20 euros, prearranged through our hotel since taxis are very limited – only about 30 on the entire island). We were slightly worried that Mykonos would put us back on tourist overload like the ever-popular Santorini, but surprisingly the island felt less chaotic than we anticipated. Also, Mykonos is often referred to as a luxury island, made popular by Jackie Onassis in the 1970s, but we found that a visit here doesn’t have to be expensive if you don’t want it to be. Another important fact about Mykonos is you can’t drink the tap water, but there’s a small supermarket near the Fabrika bus station where you can purchase bottled water along with fruit and other snacks during your stay.
After checking into the Portobello Boutique Hotel we made our way down to the town to explore its maze of whitewashed streets, purposely designed that way to confuse seafaring invaders. We found the shopping in Mykonos to be particularly good, and lost count of all of the stray cats that crossed our path as we made our way through the narrow lanes of painted flagstone and colorful windows, doors and staircases. Unfortunately, the island’s unofficial mascot, Petros the pelican, was nowhere to be found.
That night we took in one of our last Greek sunsets from our hotel’s appropriately named Panorama Sunset Bar, perched high above the town and Old Port with an unobstructed view of the golden sun dancing on the white rooftops before dipping below the surface of the Aegean Sea, bathing the horizon in bands of orange, yellow and pink.
As you might expect, most restaurants in Mykonos cater to the tourist crowd, but if you choose wisely you might just happen upon a gem like we did with Eva’s Garden. Tucked into the corner of a courtyard filled with restaurants aplenty, we were drawn in by the beautiful “hidden garden” dining room (there’s also rooftop garden seating upstairs under a canopy of grape leaves, which would have been had it not been so windy that night). This restaurant offers a well-versed menu of traditional Greek dishes that made it almost too difficult to choose knowing that this would be one of our last meals. We decided on a Greek salad, a dip trio of hummus, tzatziki and an eggplant spread with pita bread and moussaka, which was brought to us in waves with the warm, friendly service you would expect from a family-owned and run restaurant. In addition to the ouzo and house white wine we also ordered, our meal was capped with complimentary glasses of the evergreen-like Mastika liquor.
As we wandered the streets post-dinner, the once-sleepy streets had taken on a whole different vibe, now alive with dinner and disco goers. Joining the nocturnal crowd, we also indulged in one more treat from I Scream Gelato. The shop had a small variety of homemade flavors with local standouts like fruit with yogurt and believe it or not, Mastika. When in Greece, right?
The next morning we set out on what would be our last beach day, and in Mykonos there’s a beach for everyone – from party to family-friendly and gay to watersport-centric. Most beaches can be easily reached by public bus in 20 minutes or less from the Fabrika bus station on the south side of town. Timetables are posted for each destination and tickets can be purchased at the kiosk or from the driver on the bus for the same price. Since we were seeking a more laid-back setting we took the bus west to Agios Ionnias (also called Agios Giannis), a quiet spot with few people and a restaurant/bar nearby for mid-day refreshments.
Claiming our strip of sand for the day, we rented 2 chairs and a big straw umbrella for a reasonable 12 euros (at larger beaches chairs can be much more expensive, so always ask before you commit or forgo a chair and spread your towel out on the ground instead). Large rocks made this beach perfect for wading, even if the shallow blue-green water was a little more rough and cooler than we had experience on other Greek islands thanks to Mykonos’ omnipresent wind. This kept the temperature down too, which made it easy to settle into our last slice of paradise.
After the beach we took the bus back to town and made one more spin by a few of the island’s most iconic sights – the postcard-perfect windmills, charming Little Venice and the whitewashed Panagia Paraportiani church (which was surprisingly hard to find). Still no Petros (perhaps he was hiding from the wind?), but the Greek charm, hospitality and beauty that we had grown accustomed to were souvenirs that we would not soon forget.
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