In recent years, Mykonos, an island in the Cyclades, has fast become one of the most stylish destinations in Europe. Along with its pretty whitewashed backstreets and camera-baiting views of the ocean, it’s garnered a handful of striking hotels, and designer boutiques, along with a reputation for a great night out, all the while keeping its upmarket, luxe appeal. In Mykonos town, you don’t need a map. You simply roam aimlessly through the web of streets, which snake around corners and somehow seem to all lead you to the waterfront at Little Venice. Whitewashed, with sunlight bouncing off of them, and all draped in vivid bourgainveila, Mykonos is a photographer’s dream.
It’s a foodies’ too. Though detached from the mainland, Greek cuisine hasn’t got lost here. Locals will happily sing you the praises of a handful of great Grecian places — expect to join the queue, mind. Elsewhere, upmarket international eateries in town add a little extra flavour. The majority of the boutique hotels and villas have infinity pools — otherwise the guests settle for hot tubs on their balconies. And even if you’re “slumming” it in a hostel, you can expect a beachfront location.
From world-class beaches, to traditional hamlet towns, and windmills from way back when, there’s far more to Mykonos than just kicking back poolside — though, if that’s what you’re looking for, it ain’t a bad place to do it.
One of the key ‘sights’ on the island, Katos Myli are the windmills that stand proud overlooking Little Venice. They date back to the 16th century, when Mykonos was situated on major sea trade route, which joined Venice, the gateway of Europe, to Asia, and were used to refine and compact grain. Nowadays, they’re dormant, though give an idea of how life used to be, but picture perfect — especially when you catch them in the right light.
There are plenty of beaches to explore in Mykonos, one of the prettiest being Paraga. Along with the aforementioned restaurant, its waters are still and clear, its sands are clean, and there are plentiful loungers and umbrellas for you to set up camp.
Besides Mykonos town (Chora as it’s locally known), Ano Mera is the only other town on the island — and to call it a town is pushing it. Make a pit stop on the way back from Agia Anna Beach, stopping for food at one of the few traditional Greek restaurants around the square.
If Soho House did Mykonos, it would probably look a lot like this. Only you don’t need a membership, and one and all are welcome. This beach club up on the peninsula is far more than just ‘a beach club’. The fact that it has one of the best locations on the island draws a crowd, add to that the cliff-top cabanas, which are perfectly for catching few z’s, the ever moreish tropical cocktails, and the international DJs that take over when the sun sets. Whatever the time of day, it’s the place to be on the island.
Hakkasan crossed waters and arrived on Mykonos in the form of Ling Ling. The dimly lit, two-storey restaurant is only open through the summer months, catering to the international visitors. A tourist trap it ain’t though. Ling Ling is all swish, from the décor, to the cocktail menu, and the champagne-soaked Black Cod. If you’re a fan of Hakkasan, HKK or Yauatcha, you don’t need much convincing that the food here is on point.
It’s worth taking the locals’ recommendations in Mykonos, as there are a lot of places simply catering for the tourists. Taso’s Taverna on Paraga Beach is a popular recommendation, and as such, a popular place. Go for lunch, wait for a table, and order liberally. The fava bean dip is a good place to start, the grilled sardines, mussels, and souvlaki are highlights, and the local plonk is cheap.
One of the most stunning hotels on the island, Rocabella is one of Mr and Mrs Smiths’ properties, and wonderfully well placed, 5 minutes taxi ride from Mykonos town. Suites and rooms overlook the ocean, many with hot tubs on their balconies. Décor is a modern take on the traditional Grecian style, the service is impeccable, and the views are just perfect.
As dusk falls, locals and visitors alike flock to Little Venice to watch the sun set over the ocean. Getting a cocktail at the bar at this time can be a struggle, let alone finding a seat. Your best bet is to go early and sit tight. Scarpa is a good place to set up camp; it has great cocktails and the perfect view.
If you’re in Mykonos for a few days, and in search of a little extra curricular activity, take a half-day trip to Delos, a UNESCO-listed island, and the birthplace of Greek Gods, Apollo and Artemis. It’s one of the richest archaeological sites in the world, well documenting Ancient Greece. Daily excursions run from Mykonos every day except Monday.