Mykonos Town, Chora
Whereas this Cycladic capital is not built in the shape of an amphitheater and spreads out over a wide area, it does offer one of the best examples of Cycladic architecture. With its narrow-marbled streets, white-washed houses with colorful doors and windows, beautiful churches, bougainvillea bushes in full bloom and the blue Aegean Sea as a backdrop, it is one of a kind. Matoyanni Street, a glamorous street lined with brand name stores, cafes and charming restaurants is heaven for anybody desiring a first-class shopping experience and for people-watching. Mykonos presents some of the best restaurants in the region, if not the entire Mediterranean. Regional delicacies prepared by award-winning chefs that create elegant, culinary marvels with local ingredients. This paired with the famous Greek wines will be a memorable experience. The bakery of Yoras in Chora is the oldest bakery still in operation on Mykonos. Their rustic bread, the kouloures (the Easter bread) and the Christopsoma (the Christmas bread) are legendary and always baked in the old wood oven.
The lively waterfront offers photographic opportunities with its colorful fleet of fishing boats. The Archaeological, Folklore and Maritime Museums are well worth the visit to step back and learn about the history of Mykonos. In the Barkias neighborhood, one will find Panagia Paraportiani, a complex of five churches completed in the 17th century, one of the most photographed churches in all of Greece. In Galios the famous pelicans and Agios Nikolaos Tis Kadenas, the Town Hall, can be found.
The most photographed site on the island is no doubt the romantic “Little Venice” also known as Alefkantra. It is an 18th-century district with imposing captains’ mansions; many converted to restaurants and bars. The view over the azure blue waters, especially at sunset from the colorful balconies, perched over the sea is amazing. The grandiose windmills on the hillside can be best enjoyed while sitting at a quaint waterfront café. The windmills used to ground grain until the early 20th century. One windmill contains a museum.
The visitor to Mykonos should not be surprised to come across a successor to Petros the pelican, the official mascot of Mykonos. A fisherman found Petro after a big storm in 1954, and the pelican become fast a companion to many locals. They grieved so much after his death that a replacement was found quickly. And to honor Petros, the locals have this long-standing tradition to have pelicans wander around the waterfront. Many visitors make sure to have a photo taken with one of Petros’ successors.
Combine all the sights, the history, the wonderful shopping, and Cycladic architecture with a vibrant nightlife and the creation of a perfect vacation is complete. Mykonos’ party scene is famous throughout the world. In the summer months, parties are organized or spontaneous, day and night and the visitor can easily be seen dancing next to a famous movie star, fashion designer or supermodel. Champagne on the beach in the morning, dancing at noon and cocktails throughout the night. Mykonos translates into fun.
Ano Mera is situated around the historic monastery of Panagia Tourliani and is the second traditional village on Mykonos. The monastery was constructed by two priests in 1542, reconstructed in 1767 and is now the patroness of the island. The castle of Gyzi lies on a hill above Ano Mera. It was constructed in the 13th century when the Venetian family Gyzi ruled the Cyclades in medieval times. The view from the castle is magnificent.
Ftelia is a significant Neolithic settlement, possibly the oldest on the island. It is located on the northside of Mykonos. Excavations produced a vaulted Mycenean tomb of the 13th century BC, believed to be the tomb of Ajax of the Locrians. The Olympian Gods drowned him after he raped Cassandra at the temple of Athena. His body washed ashore in Mykonos.
Armenistis Lighthouse is located at the Cape Armenistis and accessible from the road leading to Agios Stefanos. It is an old lighthouse, built in 1891, standing there as a reminder of Mykonos rich maritime history and one of the most exciting lighthouses in the Cyclades. Watching the sunset from here will be a memorable experience indeed.
Agios Ioannis is one of the most beautiful beaches on Mykonos. Located on the southwest side of the island, this organized, sandy beach offers turquoise waters and a fantastic panoramic view over the island of Delos.
Super Paradise, a long sandy beach on the north side of the island. Well organized with water sports facilities, umbrellas, and lounge chairs and beach bars it is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece and favored by the LGBT community.
Paradise, a long sandy beach with turquoise waters, water sports facilities, all amenities, and a fully organized camping site. Cavo Paradiso is a famous complex that offers numerous parties throughout the summer. At night the beach transforms into a party destination with cocktails flowing until the early morning hours. Paradise and Super Paradise beaches keep the crowds rocking day and night.
Platis Gialos is a well-organized and very popular sandy beach on the southwest side of Mykonos. One can find numerous amenities here.
Agrari and Agios Sostis on the southside, are some of the most tranquil beaches on the island. Divounia on the southeast side of Mykonos offers a lovely fishing village and one of the most secluded beaches on the island.
Elia on the south side, is the longest sandy beach on Mykonos, offering numerous amenities like umbrellas, lounge chairs, water sports facilities, and beach bars.
Popular activities on Mykonos
Turquoise blue waters, sandy beaches, Mykonos’ cosmopolitan beaches or secluded coves are waiting to be explored by boat, car or on foot. Any imaginable water sport is offered at various locations. The choices of how to spend the day or night are endless on this island. Mykonos became known as a gay-friendly destination in the 1970s and today more hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs cater to the LGBT community each year.
- Kite and windsurfing – The “island of the winds” attracts water sports enthusiast from all over the world. Mykonos has a vast array of beautiful beaches; the most secluded ones are considered the best for windsurfing. The best beaches for kite and wind surfing can be found on the south side of the island. Korfos and Kalafatis Bay are ideal locations for those adventurous sports, as are Ftelia, Meyali Ammos, Omos and Platis Gialos. Many kites and windsurfing centers can be found on these beaches that offer lessons and rent equipment. Kalafatis Bay is a natural paradise for kitesurfers, mainly due to Meltemia, a wind that blows quite intense at times in this location from May until October.
- Wave riding, Sea parachuting – At Kalafatis Bay, where a water sports center offers rentals and lessons
- Diving – Numerous exciting diving locations can be found along the varied coastline of Mykonos. The reefs of Paradise and Super Paradise, the rocky formation at Dragonisi, the shipwreck of the Anna II, Ornos and Prassonisia Isle have magnificent rocky formations to explore. Dive centers can be found at Kalafatis, Lia, Paradise and Psarou beaches. September is believed to be the best month for diving with warm waters and good visibility.
- Horseback Riding – Riding centers in Chora can organize excursions on the island or the beaches
- Walking – there are many very scenic hiking trails throughout Mykonos
- Watching an outdoor movie – Cinema Manto in Mykonos Chora operates from late May to early October, showing blockbuster movies, new releases and old classics, two screenings a day. A bar/restaurant is located on the same property, where a delicious meal or a refreshing drink can be enjoyed.
- Yoga – A vacation is a perfect chance to treat yourself to total relaxation. In Chora, Yoga centers can be found that offer various yoga classes in a private, semi-private or group setting.
- Wine tasting – Mykonos creates an ideal climate for the cultivation of vineyards that produce wines of supreme taste and quality. Guiding tours where the visitor gets to watch the winemaking process and can taste the final product, red and white wines, are offered frequently at Mykonos Vioma in Ano Mera. Local ingredients that are cultivated on this farm are used to prepare a hearty meal if a visitor desires.
- Cooking Class – Coming back from your vacation to Mykonos and able to impress family and friends with a traditional Cycladic meal at home could be a much-appreciated endeavor. In Chora, Eleni Melirrytou offers a complete cooking session for up to 4 people from 9 am to 4 pm. The class participants shop for the ingredients and learn the techniques to create a delicious meal of unique taste.
- Partying – Mykonos, well known as the top destination for a very active nightlife in Greece, it offers the best party scene in the Cyclades. Most nightlife action takes place on the most prominent beaches where the activities do not end until dawn. The most famous clubs are on Paradise, Super Paradise, and Psarrou beach.
- Shopping – There are so many venues for great shopping on Mykonos, most of them in the narrow, white-washed streets of the capital Chora. Cosmopolitan boutiques, souvenir shops, art galleries, and fine jewelry stores are open all day, from morning until late at night.
- Tasting local delicacies – Kopanisti (a soft cheese seasoned with pepper), homemade sausages, onion pie with Tyrovolia cheese, Kakavia a fish soup, fresh sea urchins with vinegar or Louzes a pork dish and for dessert Amigdalota a small round cake made with ground almonds, rosewater, and sugar.
Festivals and cultural events on Mykonos
During the summer months, feast or festival days, organized by the local churches are a wonderful means of meeting the local population, savoring their delicacies, drink wine from that region and watch traditional Greek dancers.
- Summer – Every summer, the Summer Festival of Mykonos hosts numerous events like outdoor musical concerts, theatrical performances, and art exhibits. Artists from all over the world take part in this summer festival.
- June 30th – the Fishermen’s Feast takes place in Mykonos, as well as the festival to honor the local patron saint Agion Apostolon
- July 26th – Celebration of Agia Paraskevi
- August – the annual XLSIOR International Gay Festival of Mykonos, attracting visitors from all over the world
- August 15th – the Festival in honor of the Virgin Mary takes place at the monastery of Panagia Tourliani in Ano Mera.
- August 29th – Festival in honor of Agios Ioannis
- Every 2nd or 3rd Sunday in September – the Feast of the Grape Harvest takes place at the agricultural museum of Mykonos
- December 6th – Festival in honor of Agios Nikolaos