Mention Mykonos and images come to mind, whether it’s celebrities sunbathing on yachts, bright white Cycladic buildings or paradise beaches.
One of the most popular islands in the Aegean Sea, Mykonos has a fun-filled cosmopolitan vibe and is recognized as a gay-friendly destination.
You’ll want to spend as much time as possible in stylish and artsy Chora (Mykonos Town) taking share-worthy photos of the famous windmills and pure white houses. Even the cracks between the marble paving stones are painted white here.
Afterwards, you can investigate the enchanting ruins of Delos and travel to every corner of Mykonos in a few minutes to find the best beaches and vantage points.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Mykonos:
1. Mykonos Windmills
The first thing that catches your eye before you drive into the harbour is this row of seven white windmills affixed to a small promontory.
These were likely built by the Venetians as early as the 16th century and faced north to the wind.
They were built close to ports to mill grain offloaded from ships, making it easier to transport.
The mill has become a symbol of the whole island, just a few steps southwest of the Alefkandra district.
There is a small gift shop on the side of the road and you can join the group of photographers to take pictures of the white mill that contrasts with the blue of the sky and sea.
Recommended Itinerary: Mykonos Walking Tour
2. Via Matoggianni
A north-to-south street through Mykonos town, where small alleys gallop past, Matogianni Street is where it all happens.
During the day, you can wander around souvenir shops, boutiques, jewelry stores and several international chains such as Sephora and Lacoste.
When on a hunger strike, you can opt for a kebab or top, or sit in one of the many taverns that tend to be more reasonably priced further down town.
At night, there are many delicious restaurants to choose from in romantic locations, with bougainvillea climbing the walls, and bars, open until the wee hours of the morning.
In the old port, you can set sail to one of the most precious archaeological sites in Greece.
Just a few kilometers from the southwest coast of Mykonos, the island of Delos, whose excavations have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you know anything about Olympian Greek mythology, you probably know that Delos was the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis.
But more than a thousand years ago, the island was already a revered sacred place.
There’s plenty to explore, such as the 7th-century BC Lion’s Terrace, the Doric Temple of the Derians, the Minoan Fountain, a series of market squares and a theatre district with its beautiful mosaics.
You can also see extraordinary Hellenistic mosaics in the House of Dionysus, the House of Masks, the House of the Trident, the House of the Lake and the House of the Dolphins.
Recommended Tour: Primitive Morning Delos Guided Tour
4. Delos Archaeological Museum
After 30 years of excavation, the French School of Athens needed a museum to display all its discoveries on the island of Delos, and it was inaugurated in 1904. Archaeological digs lasted over 145 years, and the museum had to be expanded in 1931 and 1972 to accommodate all of this material.
The oldest pieces here are ceramics, dating back more than 3,500 years.
There are also many tombstones and steles from the 7th to 1st centuries BC, as well as clay figures, mosaics, jewelry and everyday objects from the Hellenistic period.
Must-see sights include the bronze mask of Dionysus from the 2nd century BC, the relief ivory plaque of a Mycenaean warrior dating back to 1400 BC and the abduction of Orisia by Boreas at the end of the 5th century BC ( Oreithya’s definitive sculpture.
5. Alefkandra (Little Venice)
Around the west edge of the Old Port is a beautiful car-free lane.
These are paved with typical dark marble paving stones with the same bright white paint on the cement as the house.
Little Venice is named for its waterfront, and the restaurant opens on a narrow path less than a metre from the sea, with tables for couples lined up.
The buildings have modest wooden bay window boxes and blue-green painted balconies.
Facing west, the sunset is stunning, so try to get a table before dusk and look down to watch the windmills capture the last rays.
Recommended Itinerary: Mykonos and Little Venice Sunset Cruise
6. Old Port
After catching a sea bus from the new port of Tulos, you will disembark at the Marble Quay in the old port.
On the east side is the Arcade of the Town Hall, dating from the 1700s, and in front is the small Agios Nicholas Church with its blue dome.
A string of bars and restaurants surrounds the curve of the harbour, and if you investigate the side streets, you’ll find boutiques, design shops and tasteful souvenir shops alongside quaint chapels such as Agia Eleni and Agios Kirykos.
7. Panagia Paraportiani Church
Just north of Little Venice, near Castro, is the charming Church of Panagia Paraportiani.
Built between the 15th and 17th centuries, the monument consists of four separate, interconnected churches below the fifth church at the top.
That tallest church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Panagia) and can easily be picked from its dome.
The oldest is Agios Anargyros, founded in 1425, and the remaining four churches were built in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Like the windmills of Mykonos, it is a monument that attracts people to take pictures, featuring asymmetrical white walls against the blue sky.
8. Rare Gallery
Recently, Mykonos has gained a reputation as an art destination, with a lot to do with rare galleries.
Established in 1995, this three-room space was the first to showcase paintings, sculptures, photography and installations by internationally renowned artists.
During your visit, you can expect to see well-known works, but may be surprised by the lesser-known emerging talent that the gallery has adopted.
Some of the artists of the past two decades include Pop artists Julian Opie and Carol Fairman, known for their hyperrealistic sculptures, and Hong Chengzhe, known for his three-dimensional string sculptures.
9. Mykonos Archaeological Museum
The island’s own modest but fascinating archaeological museum houses artifacts found from Mykonos and neighboring islands, dating back to the end of the Hellenistic period, around the 1st century BC. Among the extensive ceramic collections is a 7th century BC pithos (jar) with reliefs depicting Trojan captives.
There are also unusually old Cycladic patterned pottery dating back to 2800 BC, well-preserved tombstones from the island of Rineia near Delos, and black vases from the Ionian Islands.
Another outstanding work is the club-wielding statue of Hercules, also from Rineia, made of the finest Parian marble from the 2nd century BC.
10. Agios Sostis Beach
If you crave your own space, head to the deserted northern beaches of Mykonos, dotted with natural parks.
Agios Sostis has no beachfront bars, restaurants or sunbeds, so it’s better: the beach is noticeably quieter than the southern beaches, with just gently sloping hills scattered with sparse bushes.
Heading north, there is a small village with a tavern and church, and a much smaller cove, bathed in a shallow light.
11. Elia Beach
On the other hand, you might want to experience Mykonos at its most dynamic and cosmopolitan.
In this case, Ilya Beach on the south coast is a good choice.
It is the longest beach on the island and is the choice of gay tourists visiting Mykonos.
Surrounded by arid hillsides, Elia is a bay with golden sand in the center and pebbled under low cliffs to the east.
Nudists also flock to Ilia, and although this beach is one of the most popular on the island, it never feels crowded as there is plenty of room for everyone.
You can rent a motorboat from the marina in the center of the beach, or hike across the deserted hillsides, past white Cycladic houses, and enjoy stunning views of the bay from above.
12. Dio Horia
Also at the forefront of the island’s contemporary art scene is Dio Horia, a gallery that hosts exhibitions, offers residencies and supports young talent from countries outside the art world.
In the three years since it opened, Dio Horia has featured works by Tracey Emin, David Adamo, Erik Parker and Nina Chanel Abney.
Dio Horia also has a publishing department and organizes events and pop-ups around Mykonos.
Leading contemporary artists Trudy Benson, Peter McDonald and Raul de Nieves will have solo exhibitions in 2018.
13. Kalo Rivadi Beach
In the southeastern part of Mykonos, Kalo Livadi is a stretch of supreme sandy beach facing a picturesque valley with clusters of white houses.
The beach, a few hundred metres from the shore, has a gentle slope that allows children to play in the shallows, and confident swimmers can venture long distances without worrying about the current.
The shore has regular blocks of sun loungers, six deep, separated by wooden walkways.
These are rented out by the restaurant in the back and can be quite expensive, but worth every penny if you want full service.
If you prefer to walk your own path, there is a place to lay towels under the rocks at the western end of the beach.
On the west side is a charter company with its own marina if you want to go on a self-drive cruise.
14. Calafatis Beach
Kalo Livadi has two beaches and Kalafatis is another stunning sandy beach with golden sand and shallow, clear waters.
What makes this beach different is that it faces east and there is a lot of breeze just offshore.
So when you recline on your sun lounger, you can see the sails galloping across the horizon.
Joining them in the summer are some funky-looking yachts moored in the bay.
Kalafatis also has a water sports center for motorized activities such as wakeboarding, water skiing and jet skiing.
On the northern edge of the bay is a marina with waterfront restaurants and a place where boats depart for cruising.
15. Armenian Lighthouse
Six kilometers north of Chora, there is a working lighthouse directing traffic between Mykonos and the adjacent Strait of Tinos.
The edifice, which is above the water, was completed in 1891 with an octagonal tower that flashes a white signal every ten seconds.
It was proposed in response to the 1887 disaster when the Walter steamer sank off the north coast of Mykonos and lost 11 lives.
If you want to see the original Fresnel lens, it’s over at the Maritime Museum of Mykonos.
Although you can’t go in, the lighthouse is a sight to behold.
Best done after sunset, when you can see the lights of Agios Sostis and Lauti across the strait.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Mykonos, Greece
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