Mykonos, Greece

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Updated: March 31, 2020

The 2020 Mykonos Travel Guide

Mykonos, Greece

My travel guide to Mykonos – Where to stay, when to go, and what to do. (Photo: Ornos Beach in Mykonos, Greece.)

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Where Is Mykonos?

Mykonos is an island in Greece, part of the Cycladic group located in the Aegean Sea. Mykonos lies about 150 km southeast of Athens, 150 km North of Santorini, and 230 km north of Crete. Flights to Mykonos take 4 hours from London, 3.25 hours from Paris, 2 hours from Rome, and 40 minutes from Athens.

How Big Is Mykonos?

Mykonos has a population of almost 12,500 and a land area of 86 sq. km (about 1.5 times the size of Manhattan). The length of the island is around 10 km, and it measures around 15 km at its widest point. It takes about 40 minutes to drive the longest way (west to east) from one end of the island to the other.

How to Get to Mykonos

Mykonos is connected by direct ferry to Athens; ferries take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours, depending on the type of boat. Ferries connecting Mykonos to the islands of Naxos, Paros, Ios, Milos, Folegandros, Santorini, and Crete usually make a few stops and can take 30 minutes to 5 hours. Flights from Athens to Mykonos take around 40 minutes, direct flights from western Europe (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice) take 2 to 4 hours.

When Is the Best Time to Go to Mykonos?

Mykonos has a shorter travel season than nearby Santorini. Hotels in Mykonos tend to open later in spring and close earlier in the fall. The best time to visit Mykonos for good weather, nightlife, swimming, sunbathing, and sailing is from late June to early September. If swimming and hot weather are not a necessity and you’re more interested in sightseeing, history, dining, and archaeology then late April, May, and October are also great.

A Brief History of Mykonos

According to myth, Mykonos was created in the Gigantomachy, the war between Zeus and the Giants. Zeus’ son Hercules eventually killed the Giants, which he threw into the sea; the giants turned into stone and created what is now Mykonos. The island was named after its first ruler, Mykonos, who was (depending on the source) either the son of the King of nearby Delos Island or the son or grandson of Apollo. The island Delos, just a short ferry away, was believed to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.

In ancient times, Delos was the more important island of the two, while Mykonos was considered poor with limited agricultural prospects. A holy island, Delos forbade women from giving birth there; instead, women were ferried to Mykonos for the labor and delivery of their children.

Mykonos was first settled by the Carians from southwest Anatolia, followed by the Ionians, Romans, Byzantines, Catalans, Venetians, and the Ottomans. Mykonos has historically been a poor island, reliant on sailing, fishing, and textiles, and was almost completely abandoned after WWI. Tourism later came to dominate the economy around the mid-twentieth century, owing initially to the archaeological excavation of Delos. Mykonos is now among the richest islands in Greece and the world.

What Are the Main Towns in Mykonos?

The main village on Mykonos, where the vast majority of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, and hotels are located, is called Mykonos Town or Chora. Mykonos Town is home to the nightlife and dining hub Little Venice, the landmark Kato Mili Windmills, and the romantic Old Port.

The two other major areas for visitors are family-friendly Ornos and Platis Gialos Beaches, brimming with restaurants, beach clubs, and resorts. Mykonos Town is connected by frequent buses to Ornos and Platis Gialos Beaches. Ornos and Platis Gialos are connected to each other by a busy water taxi route that serves most beaches on the south side of the island.

Other popular beach destinations with a good number of hotels and dining include Megali Ammos (the closest beach to Mykonos Town), Agios Stefanos, Psarou, Elia, Paradise, Super Paradise, Paraga, Agios Ioannis, Kalo Livadi, Kalafati, Panormos, and Agios Sostis.

The only other real village, besides Mykonos Town, is Ano Mera, which sits roughly in the center of the island. Ano Mera boasts a charming main square, a gorgeous 16th-century monastery, and several authentic tavernas (casual, local restaurants). Ano Mera is more of a locals’ area with only a handful of budget hotels, no luxury resorts.

What Is the Best Place to Stay in Mykonos?

For most travelers, the best places to stay in Mykonos are in the village of Mykonos Town or on the beaches of Platis Gialos and Ornos for a good mix of relaxing, dining, nightlife, and exploring. These areas are well-connected to each other by bus or water taxi, and within the areas themselves, everything is just a short walk away. Travelers looking to get away from the crowds may enjoy the more remote Agios Ioannis, Agios Sostis, Elia, Psarou, or Kalo Livadi Beaches. Those looking for non-stop beach parties should consider staying in Paradise, Super Paradise, or Paraga Beaches.

What to Do in Mykonos?

The best things to do in Mykonos include dining, shopping, drinking, and dancing in cosmopolitan Mykonos Town, swimming and sunbathing at world-renowned beaches, exploring the archaeological ruins of Delos Island, visiting traditional Ano Mera village, and catching the sunset from Armenistis Lighthouse, Boni’s Windmill, Little Venice, or the bluffs above Mykonos Town that look over the Old Port.

Note: Sign up for my newsletter and free travel guides and I’ll automatically send you all maps of Santorini and Mykonos.

How Many Days in Mykonos?

Stay a minimum of 2 nights and 1 full day. But there’s so much to see and do that it’s easy to fill 5 days. If possible, do a tour of Delos Island, spend one day beach hopping by water taxi, enjoy a sunset picnic at Armenistis Lighthouse, and take time for a photo-op at the Kato Mili windmills. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get lost in the maze-like streets of Mykonos Town: shop and dine in Chora, stroll along the edge of the Old Port, and enjoy a wild night of drinking and dancing in Little Venice.

Saving Money in Mykonos

Mykonos is known for its luxury hotels, exclusive beach clubs, designer shops, and overpriced cocktails, but it’s easy to visit Mykonos on a modest budget. There are no all-inclusive resorts or all-inclusive holidays or vacation packages. To save cash, simply choose hotels and restaurants that are not directly on the water. All beaches are open to the public and free to visit, buses and water taxis are affordable, and great cheap hotels in Mykonos are easy to find in almost any part of the island.

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