The popular island of Mykonos is a tourism haven with its picturesque pedestrian-only walkways of Mykonos Town and the wide sandy beaches bookended by mountains. One of the most popular islands in Greece, at least for Americans, the variety of activities and the ease of the public transportation system makes it my pick for the best island for first time visitors.
Sure the island isn’t going to give you quite the “authentic local experience” that a less popular island may offer, but the well established tourism infrastructure will allow greater ease of travel for those unfamiliar with international trips.
We elected to stay in Platis Gialos, both due to its proximity to the beaches and also to avoid the cruise ship crowds that regularly dominate Mykonos Town.
I recommend booking a room at Argo Hotel. Conveniently located just steps from both the bus stop and the beach, this hotel was super clean and modern with enough space for families- a rarity for Europe as a whole. There are three pools on site to take advantage of, and each room had a balcony overlooking the property and the sea.
Just down the street from the hotel, the Platis Gialos Beach has both space for swimming and lounging as well as a long strip of restaurants- though we were repeatedly warned off of the restaurant called “DK Oyster” due to their consistent overpricing of tourist meals. We ate at Argo’s restaurant called Avli Tou Thodori and were incredibly pleased and surprised to be gifted with a plate of loukoumades and ice cream for dessert. A delightful start for our trip! For cheaper meals, I highly recommend the gyros at the shop next to Argo- they were the best I’ve had throughout my adventures in Greece!
While this beach was nice and easy to access, my favorite beach was easily the nearby Psarou Beach. It’s little smaller, but I found the beach to be both nicer and a little more private. Not many people were willing to brave the cliff side path and steep steps down to the water, it seemed. Both beaches had lounge chairs available, though I suspect visitors must pay to use them in busier seasons- not an issue for us in October!
The bus between Platis Gialos and Mykonos Town runs every 30-60 minutes, depending on the time of day and costs only 1.80 Euros for the 12 minute ride to town. The only caveat is that the fare must be paid in cash, so make sure to have your Euros handy when hopping on the bus!
Mykonos Town, or Chora, is a pedestrian only district, and the bus drops visitors off directly outside of one of the two entrances to the Town. I’m afraid I can’t give too much in terms of directions as the narrow streets lined with white painted buildings didn’t offer much in terms of recognizable landmarks, but I highly suggest taking a day and wandering the streets.
We spent hours here making our way down these winding roads that never seemed to end except into the sea, each corner offering a new shop or church or cafe to explore. Some highlights included the cafe where we tried Greek coffee for the first time while overlooking the Aegean Sea, the Artisanal Bakery we’d somehow made our way to twice for their pie, and the windmills from where we got a great view overlooking the town.
There is also a decent amount of nightlife in town, for those who want to go out to bars. We had missed the weekend on our visit, but we did see the famous Skandanavian Bar which took up and impressive three buildings and we got reports from other visitors that the weekend was lively even in the off season.
We visited town a few times during our stay and did find it immediately noticeable when guests from a cruise ship were visiting, so be prepared for crowds!
For those who need a little more activity outside of shopping and eating and swimming, the nearby island of Delos is only 20 minutes by ferry and hosts a wealth of archaeological delights- I wrote about our day trip in detail in last week’s blog.
The variety of activities on the island coupled with the laid back atmosphere of island life makes it the perfect choice for those looking for a relaxing trip with enough sightseeing to keep it interesting. There’s a taste of the classic white buildings and winding roads, a sampling of history, and a sprinkle of relaxing by the beach- this island has it all!