Mykonos and Santorini have been on my bucket list for years, ever since I first started dreaming and writing about travel. Every image I see of their glistening blue waters, whitewashed backstreets and bright blue skies makes my heart sing, so Ed and I decided to finally take the plunge and book flights, then early May Bank Holiday weekend came round faster than we knew it.
Timing is everything when it comes to Mykonos, and depending when you go, you can have very different experiences. There’s no doubt it is an expensive island to visit, but the secret to getting a good deal is going just before the season starts (which runs in accordance with Ibiza, so doesn’t start until late May Bank Holiday and rolls right through to October). If you go early May, it’s about half of the price when it comes to flights (which soar!!) and accommodation. Whilst you still get good weather and the beauty of the island, you miss out on the beach parties and beach clubs, which don’t kick off until the season starts.
A chilled break was exactly what we wanted, so the timing worked perfectly for us. We spent 3.5 days on the island, split between 2 different Mr and Mrs Smith hotels: Rocabella Art Hotel and Spa, and San Giorgio, both of which were bloody beautiful, and I wholeheartedly recommend them if you’re planning a trip. Though luxury, they embrace the energy and local style of the island. In a destination that’s so unique, there’s nothing worse than staying in a hotel that’s so cookie-cutter you could be anywhere, right?
We spent our 3 and a half days simply relaxing, eating and meandering, based predominantly in and around the main town, which is unthinkably beautiful, every backstreet more picturesque than the last. We did spend one venturing across the island to Agia Anna beach, by way of a hire car, which was a scary experience I’d only encourage the most confident of drivers to do. I was at the wheel for all of 1 minute before I freaked out and Ed had to take over.
We loved Paraga Beach and the surrounding bays. You can walk for hours on a path that follows the coastline and connects the different beaches, stopping at each for a dip or some food, or simply admiring the beautiful views. Out of season, it is perhaps a little too windy and chilly to swim, but in the height of summer, you’d be straight in. The locals recommend Taso’s Taverna on Paraga Beach, which is a great spot for lunch, with Greek classics, cheap wine, and a beachfront location.
In the main town (Chora, as the locals call it), Little Venice is the picture-perfect area along the waterfront, and the perfect place to kick back with a cocktail and watch the sunset. If you find yourself a little tired of Greek salad, Ling Ling is a fancy pants restaurant from the Hakkasan group, right in the centre of the main town. Dim sum has to be the highlight, though the Black Cod roasted in Champagne that I had pretty much sums up the sumptuousness of place.
I’m so happy that I’ve not only finally ticked Mykonos off the bucket list, but that it lived up to the hype too. It’s a glorious destination, certainly luxurious, with picturesque backstreets, beautiful hotels, great food, bountiful sunshine, and if you’re looking for it, a happening party scene too. Get your timing right though, because it’s a completely different destination at different times of year. Next time (when our premium bonds win big, perhaps) we’ll come back in high season to compare.