You’ve heard about Mykonos, the queen of Cyclades, I know you have. It is one of the most favored Greek destinations worldwide and its beauty has been the product of dreams for many people- even Greeks! Full of fun and fascinating things to do and experience, it’s only natural that you visitors can feel a bit overwhelmed when visiting Mykonos, and that’s what I’m here for: to help you prioritize your days in the magical Cycladic island by revealing the top 15 things to do in Mykonos!
1. Have a drink in Little Venice of Mykonos
Little Venice - credits: javarman/Depositphotos.com
Chances are, the most pictures you’ve seen from Mykonos have the spectacular neighborhood of Little Venice as their background. A simple look around the area will make you realize why, as Little Venice or ‘Alefkandra’ as it was originally called, is beyond charming, with its whitewashed houses having their multicolored balconies hanging above the Aegean Sea. The picturesque neighborhood built on the sea holds a strong resemblance to Venice, Italy, which explains the reason behind the nickname that was given to it and now prevails. It was built in the mid-18th century to host wealthy merchants and captains and the wealth is something you cannot miss; elegant houses with colorful loggia, windows, stairs, and wooden balconies, dominate the scene and add to the whimsical vibe of the whole region. Both during winter and summer, hundreds of visitors choose Little Venice to marvel at the spectacle of the waves cracking and the sun setting in the sea, putting the sky on a fire made of colors.
Unsurprisingly, Little Venice is rich in cozy establishments where you can enjoy a comforting cup of coffee in the morning or a delicious drink at night, and a relaxing visit to one of its shops is mandatory. Choose between Galleraki Cocktail Bar, Semeli the Bar, Negrita Bar, and my personal favorite Veranda Bar, to have your morning -or night- enhanced by mouthwatering drinks or beverages, relaxing music, and views that you’ll never forget!
2. Snap a pic with the famous Mykonos windmills
Mykonos' Windmills - credits: maugli/Depositphotos.com
From the moment your ferry approaches Mykonos’ harbor, you can’t help but notice the trademark landmark of Mykonos, its famous windmills. Located at an elevated point of land reaching the sea, this row of white windmills is believed to have been built around the 16th century by the Venetians. The windmills share a typical round shape and a conical wooden roof while being traditionally whitewashed like every other building on the Cyclades. Their strategic location so close to the harbor southeast of Mykonos Town between Little Venice and the district of Niochori, served to facilitate the transportation of the grain to the ships of the time, enhancing significantly the trade and subsequently the economic development of the island. However, following World War I and due to the technological advancement that deemed windmills useless, their practical value was diminished radically and transformed them from a functional tool to a significant monument of the past glory of Cyclades.
Today, seven of approximately 20 windmills have survived and have been renovated, while the most famous windmill, the ‘Windmill of Bonis’ now hosts the Argomuseum of Mykonos and provides the island’s visitors with the opportunity to take a look into the heritage and culture of the beloved destination. Up your Instagram game by snapping as many pictures as you like with the impressive background of Mykonos’ windmills and immortalize your experience with beautiful pictures you’ll be gazing at longingly for years to come!
3. Stroll the scenic streets of Mykonos Town
Mykonos Town - credits: ZGPhotography/Shutterstock.com
As with most Cycladic islands, Mykonos has a very distinctive aesthetic that is easy on the eyes, to say the least. The combination of whitewashed houses with their contrasting blue windows and doors make Mykonos Town -or ‘Chora’- ideal for leisurely walks that reveal the everyday life and local culture of the region. Mykonos Town stretches across the west coast of the island and is awash with beautiful cubical houses, wooden balconies and maze-like alleyways that take their visitors to wonderful cafe, restaurant, and other various shops. It is here that the heart of the island beats and therefore it is here you’ll find yourself most hours of the day, exploring the local culture and striking landscapes.
Enhance the beauty of your afternoon in Mykonos with a long relaxing walk around the town, mingle with the locals and learn the way they spend their daily life first-hand. The refined beauty of your surroundings combined with the vibrancy of the streets and the magnetic ambiance of the region will have you daydreaming of Mykonos Town long after you return back home.
4. Visit Paraportiani Church
Even if religion is not something you’re interested in, Paraportiani Church is a must-visit destination, due to its striking beauty, majestic architecture, and impressive history, and can be easily described as one of the most notable monuments on the Cyclades. The church of Paraportiani is, in fact, a complex of five churches hosted on two levels; four of them can be found on the ground floor, while on the top floor, lies the church that bears the name of Panagia Paraportiani. The four churches at the base are Agios Efstathios, Agioi Anargyroi, Agios Sozon and the small church of Agia Anastasia. Positioned in the district of Kastro in Mykonos Town, the complex took its name from its location right beside a small gate - or ‘paraporti’ in Greek- of the medieval castle of Mykonos. The erection of the church complex begun in 1425 and was completed between the 16th and 17th centuries- I guess good things do take time! Don’t miss the opportunity to marvel at this integral part of Mykonos’ cultural heritage that has been standing tall in the middle of the island’s landscape for hundreds of years, offering the visitor a sight to behold!
5. Sail around
Sailing - credits: Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock.com
Visiting Mykonos is cool enough as it is, but let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to feel like a Hollywood star sailing across the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea with the bright Greek sun on their back? In my opinion, If you’ve taken the big step to come to your dream destination then it is definitely worth indulging in a sailing adventure across Mykonos and maybe the neighboring islands, that will allow you a day of total relaxation and luxury. Delve into an exploration of Mykonos’ incredible beaches located at the southern part of the island with a Mykonos South Beach Sailing Day-trip; admire the natural beauty of the wild landscapes, swim in the sparkling waters of the neighboring islet of Rhenia and enjoy traditional Greek dishes onboard! Alternatively, you can plan your sailing adventure to incorporate an enchanting view of a magical Greek sunset with the Mykonos Sunset Sailing Cruise that includes drinks, snacks, and transportation from and to your hotel. Watch the sun emerge into the sea while enjoying a glass of sparkling wine, ‘ouzo’ or soft drink along with relaxing music and treat yourself to one of the most romantic experiences of your life!
6. Visit the archeological site of Delos
Since you’re sailing anyway, why not pop for a visit to the amazing island of Delos by joining the Mykonos Full-Day Sailing: Delos Guided Tour & Rhenia Swimming? The archaeological site of Delos is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most impressive landmarks of the greater region of Mykonos that will captivate you whether you’re a history buff or just a visitor looking to discover unique places and experiences; after all, it is the best-preserved ancient city in Greece!
Going back to the roots of Greek history, Delos has been on the radar since the early 10th century BC, becoming the cultural center of the known Ionian world and later the commercial center of the Aegean Islands. The sacredness of this beautiful place is due to the myth of the birth of Apollo and Artemis. According to legend, Delos was a floating island until Poseidon immobilized it at the request of Zeus, to offer it as a refuge for Leto. Because Zeus fell in love with her and got her pregnant, Leto faced the wrath of Zeus' wife, Hera. Zeus then begged Poseidon to help find any shelter for Leto to give birth to his children. Poseidon took a floating rock unseen by most called ‘adelos’, which in Greek means ‘hidden’, though it to be a rather protected place among the other islands and renamed it Delos, which in Greek means ‘obvious’. The remnants that we see today, are from the city that developed after 166 BC by the Romans. Taking advantage of the island’s prime location and duty-free port, the Romans exploited the island commercially, making it a major trading center, which led to its prosperity. The excavations that took the island out of obscurity began in 1873 and continued from 1904 until 1914, while due to the greatness of the site, excavations on some parts of the island are still ongoing to this day.
Once you reach the Archeological Site of Delos, the first thing you’ll come across will be a cobblestone square surrounded by temples, that used to serve as the island’s marketplace during the Century BC. Among the most significant monuments of the archaeological site of Delos and, of course, the famous Sanctuary of Apollo you should make a point to take a look at, are the legendary Lions Road, the Temple of Delia, the Minoan Fountain, the Temple of Isis, the Temple of Hera, and the house of Dionysus.
On the premises of the Archaeological Site of Delos, visitors can also find the Delos Archaeological Museum, which was built in 1904 to house the findings that were brought to light from the excavations on the archeological site. Today's exhibition at the Museum includes nine galleries: six of which display the sculptures and reliefs found on Delos, one of the most important archaeological collections in the world. Among the many outstanding exhibits in Delos Archeological Museum, don’t forget to admire the Kouros trunk from the Sanctuary of Apollo, the statues of Dioskourides and his wife Cleopatra, both Athenians living in Delos, god Dionysus's bearded bronze mask wearing a diadem and ivy wreath, the Corinthian alabaster, the inscribed triangular pedestal of kouros statue, and the frescoes from the outer wall of a house in the Skardana district, where the famous demigod Hercules is depicted.
Predictably, the Delos has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, which means that missing out on seeing for yourself the excellence of this historic masterpiece is out of the question! Please keep in mind that both Delos and the islet of Rhenia are under the protection of the Ministry of Culture and boating are prohibited and no overnight stays are allowed.
7. Mykonos Folklore Museum
You can’t leave Mykonos without exploring at least some of its heritage. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of noteworthy museums on the island that will fascinate you and will give you insight into the Greek way of life, culture, and history. There are so many in fact, that the chances of not finding something that is your cup of tea are close to none. Whether it is the Archaeological Museum of Delos I’ve mentioned above, or the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos and the unique Aegean Maritime Museum, the museums of Mykonos are cultural treasures waiting for your exploration.
On the top of the list as a personal favorite, however, I’d put Mykonos Folklore Museum, as it gives you the opportunity to have a sneak peek into the nitty-gritty of the locals’ everyday life, customs, and traditions throughout the years, helping you understand the modern culture of the island on a deeper level. The ‘Folklore Collection of Mykonos’ was established in 1958 from Professor Vasilios Kyriazopoulos and his wife. Along with the main building at Kastro, it includes the ‘Windmill of Bonis’ where the Mykonos Agriculture Museum is being hosted, and ‘Lena’s house’. The biggest part of the collection can be found at the Kastro house in Mykonos Town close to the church of Paraportiani, which is essentially a repository of antiquities dating back to the 19th century that spreads across a two-story building. Inside, the exhibits vary from vintage furniture, ancient tools, and ceramics, to old photographs and traditional musical instruments, while the museum is known for its impressive collection of fine-art paintings. Have you jotted it down on your bucket list yet?
8. Swim in Ftelia Beach
Ftelia beach - credits: ucamarimedia/Shutterstock.com
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be swimming in the crystal clear waters of Mykonos right now! I’m sure you share the longing. Obviously, it goes without saying that exploring the beaches of Mykonos should be one of your top priorities from the moment you reach the islands. Upon your arrival to Mykonos, you’ll soon realize that you’ll be with options; organized or not, cheap or -incredibly- pricy, secluded or popular, whatever you’re looking for, Mykonos has it! My top recommendation and most favored of the admittedly gorgeous Mykonian beaches is Ftelia. Hidden from the massive tourist waves that swamp the island during the summer months, Ftelia is located on the northern side of Mykonos and has gained the reputation of being a ‘windsurfer's paradise’ due to the strong winds that never top blowing on the region. Besides the refreshing waters and the surfing opportunity Ftelia offers, the beach is also renowned for the neolithic settlement found there that is believed to be the tomb of ancient Iliad war hero Ajax the Locrian. Personally, I think its greatest attribute is the tranquility one can experience when visiting, which makes it the ideal beach destination in Mykonos for people looking for out-of-the-beaten path places that will help the experience the island in a unique, local way.
Despite Ftelia being my very favorite, one cannot dismiss the other beaches of Mykonos that are equally magnificent. Psarrou, Paraga, Agios Sostis, Panormos, Kalo Livadi, Kalafatis, Ornos, Elia and Platis Gialos are all awsome depending what you’re searching for, so make sure to do your research and visit as many as you can; it would be a pity to miss out on the fun when it is within an arm’s reach!
9. Stroll Ano Mera
Mykonos’ villages are one better than the next and if you have the time and luxury to do so, I highly suggest you delve into a deep exploration of every single one of them. The luscious landscape combined with the scenic stone houses and the old-time vibe that will steal your heart before you even realize it. Ano Mera is one of those magical villages of Mykonos that will enrich your stay. Being the second-largest district of Mykonos following Mykonos Town, Ano Mera is one of the oldest -and most delightful- villages of Mykonos, where the locals spend their days quietly, uninterrupted by the commotion of the more central and popular areas of Mykonos. If you value your relaxation above most things in life, you should know that Ano Mera has a number of hotels visitors can reside in, as well as cafes, restaurants, and local shops offering a variety of goods and souvenirs. What’s more, if you decide to visit Ano Mera, take the opportunity to also visit the enticing monastery of Panagia Tourliani nearby, as there, you can find a collection of icons made by a famous Cretan painter, along with a bell-tower and an incredible marble fountain that are undoubtedly worth your time.
10. Armenistis Lighthouse
Did someone say breathtaking views? If so, they must be talking about the popular Armenistis Lighthouse, another landmark of Mykonos that has gained popular acclaim from across the world and must be included in your Mykonos itinerary! It is located in the area of Fanari on a hill formerly called ‘Vourvoulakas’, which in Greek means 'the vampire’. It is alleged that the nickname was given to the lighthouse in order to frighten the children and prevent them from approaching the dangerously steep cliffs. The lighthouse, though mostly abandoned today, serves as a meeting point for both Mykonos’ locals and its visitors, and especially young couples in search of a romantic environment. Its strategic location offers excellent views, the ideal frame for commemorative photos, but also a place for recollection and relaxation.
Initially, however, Armenistis Lighthouse was built to avoid marine accidents, following a shipwreck that took place in the spring of 1877. It was built in 1890 and was implemented with the most modern lighting equipment of the time, which had been exhibited and awarded a year earlier, at the Paris International Exhibition. Its power was such, that it is said that an elderly man who lived in Tinos island opposite of the lighthouse of Armenistis used to use its light to navigate the island at night. Apart from the top-notch lighting mechanism, the building had rooms for the keepers, a kitchen, a toilet, a utility room, and an indoor cistern. Today the original mechanism of the Lighthouse is located in the garden of Mykonos’ Aegean Maritime Museum and is on public display.
11. Splash out on a shopping trip on Matogianni Street
A little shopping never hurt anyone, especially if it involves browsing one of the most cosmopolitan and aesthetically pleasing streets of Mykonos, Matogianni Street; in other words the Disneyland of shopaholics around the world! Situated in Mykonos Town, the whitewashed, cobbled street of Matogianni is beset with a wide selection of shops, from designer brands to local souvenir shops that are famous for their top quality and fabulous aesthetic. Despite being a comparatively small street -it’s not 5th Avenue we are talking about- one can find everything they can possibly think of, from first-rate clothing to handmade jewelry, decorative art and everything in between. To accommodate the needs of the thousands of tourists that flood the island during the summer months, the vast majority of the shops remain open until midnight, providing Mykonos’ visitors with another fun way to spend their evenings that requires nothing but a thick wallet and a mood for splurging.
The most popular shops on the street you should check out when visiting are Delos Dolphins, an amazing jewelry shop that along with its original collection sells replicas of ancient and Byzantine jewelry; Soho-Soho, that specializes in designer brands and its clientele famous Hollywood stars such as Tom Hanks and Sarah Jessica Parker; and Kostas Rabias, that offers premium handmade sandals favored by locals and visitors alike, which have built him an international reputation due to their unique designs and top-quality materials. Skim the famous Mtogianni Street in search of a lustworthy bargain and bring back home with you tasteful souvenirs for your friends and family!
12. Party hard at Tropicana Mykonos Club
A Dj playing on a beach bar - credits: DisobeyArt Shutterstock.com
If you’re visiting Mykonos due to the hype it has gathered because of its crazy party ways, you’ll be pleased to know that everything you’ve heard and read about Mykonos’ entertainment, is indeed true. The party scene and nightlife of Mykonos is an endless source of unbounded energy that one has to experience at least once in their lifetime, especially if they pride themselves in being tireless party animals. Among the countless opportunities for dancing your way to happiness and carefreeness, the famous beach parties of Tropicana Mykonos Club take the cake for being the loudest, most exuberant and most eccentric of them all!
Bearing the bold title of the ‘Sexiest Beach Bar in the World’ given by the Travel Channel in 2012, Tropicana Club Mykonos and Beach Bar welcomes the biggest names in the DJ industry every year, making both its long-time fans and new guests jump with glee to the beat of popular hits. During the morning, the beach bar accommodates the people that want to enjoy swimming and sunbathing in comfort and luxury; big umbrellas, cushioned deck chairs, delicious drinks, revitalizing juices, and energizing coffees are being served to accompany your peaceful moments on the beach. After 4:30 pm, however, the music gets louder and the crowd gets friskier; it’s time for the party that will last until the early morning hours to begin! The unique character of the parties cannot be put into words really; you need to do experience it for yourself to get a grasp of what it truly feels like to party in Mykonos. Be careful though, if partying isn’t your thing, I’d suggest you steered clear of Tropicana; it isn’t for everyone and it definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted!
13. Watch a film at Cine Manto under the sky
Open-air cinema - credits: Melanie Lemahieu/Shutterstock.com
I’ve talked about the brilliance of open-air cinemas in Greece during the summer months before, but add to the already excellent open-air cinema experience the ambiance of the Greek islands and you have an unmistakable recipe for success! If you’re visiting Mykonos and you’re a fan of cinematography and authentic Greek experiences, then Cine Manto is right up your street!
Located on the well-known commercial street of Matogianni I’ve mentioned above, this picturesque open-air cinema will steal your heart from the moment you step foot in it with its old-time charm and welcoming environment. Situated within the Municipal Garden of Mykonos and enclosed by lush vegetation and incredibly photogenic palm trees, you can enjoy your favorite film or the new block-buster while counting the stars on the cloudless Greek sky. Cine Manto opens its doors to the public every year from June 1 to September 30 every year and offers two successive screenings daily. After your unparalleled cinematic experience, you can choose to dine in Cine Manto’s restaurant, where the rich flavors you will savor will help your night end on a high -and sweet- note.
14. Marvel at the exhibits of Rarity Gallery
A woman admiring the exhibits of an art gallery - credits: By Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com
Mykonos is famous for being an art destination and the many art galleries occupying its narrow streets are proof of that. Although there are a number of exquisite art galleries spread across the island, my personal favorite is Rarity Gallery, a self-proclaimed ‘small, modern gallery showcasing the work of contemporary international artists in different media’.
Rarity Gallery was founded right in the center of Mykonos Town in 1994 by two Greek art dealers with the purpose of spreading the word of Greek -and international- contemporary art to the biggest audience possible and bringing attention to talented artists that are worth peoples’ times. Housed in an early 20th century Mykonian mansion, the gallery’s collection is divided into five separate themes that share a common visual story, each of which has its own room. The exhibits are works of both well-established and newer creators, while they represent an array of artistic styles, from abstract expressionism, op-art, pop-art, futurism, to realism, recycled art. Some of the most popular contemporary artists whose work has been featured in Rarity Gallery are Julian Opie, Carole Feuerman, Patrick Hughes, Hunt Slonem, Mikulka, Paul Rousso, Hugh Arnold, and Vanessa Prager, to name a few. Both the incredible works of art displayed inside the gallery and the gallery itself that posses a glamorous character and a flawless aesthetic, invite art lovers from all over there world inside.
Other noteworthy galleries in Mykonos island include the House of Fine Art Mykonos, the Eden Fine Art Gallery, the Spyral Art Gallery, and the Skoufa Gallery. Don’t resist the urge to explore the treasures of contemporary art and admire Greek artists when traveling to Mykonos; the experience will reward you!
15. Taste the traditional products and dishes
Greek food - credits: Veniamakis Stefanos/Shutterstock.com
I wouldn’t be me If I didn’t mention the delectable Mykonian cuisine. So, saving the best for last, it’s time to talk about the thing you must unequivocally and undoubtedly put at the very top of your to-do list, and that’s to delve right into the culinary culture of the island and taste as many Mykonian dishes and products as you can; after all, Mykonos is famous not only for its beauty but also for its wonderful traditional cuisine!
Only in Mykonos, you’ll be presented with the opportunity to taste pig head in cabbage leaves, wonderful onion pie, and yummy eggplant risotto. What’s more, another “star” of Mykonian gastronomy famous across the whole of Greece is Mykonos’ sausages, which are pork sausages seasoned with chilly powder, salt, oregano, and pepper, and then air-dried. Their percentage of fat is small, which is the reason why they are considered some of Greece’s best-quality sausages. Mykonos is also the home of the traditional almond sweets known as amygdalota. Amygdalota refers to a specific type of almond cookies popular across several Aegean islands but more closely linked to the Cyclades and Mykonos in specific. This sweet delicacy is prepared in a variety of ways depending on the island it comes from, but in Mykonos, amygdalota are shaped in a conical fashion, roasted and finally covered with sugar. Kopanisti, is another delicious local dish, and my personal favorite, which has in fact been officially recognized as a product of designation of origin. It is found on every island in the Cyclades, but it is most popular in Syros, Tinos, and Mykonos. Kopanisti is essentially a soft fermented cheese, mixed with black pepper and chilly for a delectable spicy taste. The methods of preparation vary from island to island, but usually include cow milk that gets fermented, drained and matured over many months. Another delectable cheese popular in Mykonos is xinotyro. Xinotyro resembles the Cretan ‘xinomizithra’ with the only distinction between the two being that xinotyro is left to dry for several weeks until it becomes very hard and is eventually used as grated cheese. Of course, you can’t skip on tasting the most cult-classic Mykonian meze, louza. Louza is a charcuterie product made from the back meat of local pork. It is served in extremely thin rosy-colored slices of intense flavor and pungent aroma. The people of Mykonos love to accompany louza with an indigenous red wine variety made of kountoures, a black grape cultivated in Mykonos.
Try all of the above and many more in Kounelas Fish Tavern, Maizevelo, or Limnios Tavern, and you’re sure to be taken on an unmatched journey across Mykonos’ tastes and aromas. Alternatively, if you’re interested in exploring the luscious gastronomy of Mykonos on a deeper level, then maybe a culinary tour is what you’re looking for. Choose between our Mykonos Olive Oil tasting, our Mykonos Wine Tasting of 5 Ancient Greek Wines or prepare customary Mykonian recipes on a Mykonos Traditional cooking class and gain an understanding of Mykonos’ culture while treating yourself to scrumptious Greek dishes. Hard to say ‘no’ to, right?
If you follow my advice above you’ll soon realize that visiting Mykonos was the best decision of your life! Plan ahead, fill your itinerary with the best things to do when visiting Mykonos based on your needs and desires, and you get prepared to fall in love with the Greek island that keeps capturing the hearts of its visitors year after year!