Mykonos Travel Guide

Mykonos Travel Guide

Welcome to our gay guide to Mykonos, where every summer, sculpted bronze bodies contrast with the dazzling whitewashed buildings that house chic café-bars. Situated midway through the clutch of islands that stretch across the Aegean from mainland Greece, Mykonos has epitomised the unapologetic hedonistic lifestyle of the jet-set since the days of socialite and style icon Jackie Onassis (the former Mrs JFK) in the 1970s. A haven – or should that be ‘heaven’? – for gay holiday-makers, the island is home to an open-minded populace, glitz and glamour that continue to rule the day. Be it in the beaches, bars, or boutiques, on Mykonos, gay culture is freely celebrated in all its diversity and glory.

The best hotels in Mykonos

The tranquil cliff-top location of Oniro Mykonos delivers breath-taking views across the island’s coastline from its elegant garden and outdoor pool, while the spacious interiors add a plush and indulgent contemporary twist to the island’s traditional architecture. Just a couple of hundred metres from the fine sands of Platis Gialos Beach, the Nissaki Boutique Hotel boasts crisp, cleanly-decorated rooms with CD and DVD players, should the views of the Aegean from the private balconies, pool, and hot tub ever get tiresome. If you find the idea of a private balcony tempting, privacy is also the maxim at the Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort, where guests are able to enjoy not only a private beach but suites with personal infinity pools as well. The blue and white rooms echo the traditional colours of the island, with rooms also adopting the authentic Mykonos cube shape. Set apart from one another amid cobbled paths, they offer spectacular views towards uninhabited Delos.

Located on the southern edge of Mykonos Town (sometimes referred to as Chora by locals), Boheme also uses blue accents, in the form of vibrant soft furnishings in its 22 otherwise white rooms. All the same, nothing takes away from the sensational sea views from terraces and balconies accessed directly from the rooms. Even closer to many Mykonos points of interest is Hotel Alkyon, just a ten-minute walk from the heart of Chora. The pared-back design of its rooms lets the incredible views over Mykonos Bay do all the talking, whether they are taken in from the private terraces or from the sun loungers by the pool. A similar distance away from Mykonos Town is the three-star Aeolos Hotel, whose simply-decorated rooms boast balconies overlooking either the pool and hydromassage facilities, or the hotel’s Mediterranean garden. Facilities include an a la carte restaurant, and a bar that serves its refreshing cocktails right to the poolside.

Photo: Marta Czubak

Photo: Marta Czubak

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Recommended hotels in Mykonos
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Little Venice

Little Venice

There’s nothing quite like the romanticism of a sunset cruise, taking in the magical palette of colours in sky and sea

Things to do in Mykonos

Although known for it’s undiluted partying – of which more later – Mykonos also has a quieter side as a rural idyll bisected by winding paths dating back centuries. Located among them, near the village of Ano Mera in the centre of the island, is Mykonos Vioma. This small farm and biodynamic vineyard (which pipes classical music through a series of speakers to ensure healthy and happy grapes) offer regular tastings to sample the very literal fruits of the vineyard’s labour and acts as a great introduction to the food and drink of this part of the Aegean. A more in-depth understanding of the island’s farming traditions can be had as part of a Mykonian Spiti Farm Barbeque. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by cubes of loukoumi (Turkish delight) lightly dusted in icing sugar, and a glass of raki (aniseed-flavoured spirit) before a guided tour of the farm. Your visit ends with a hands-on Hellenic barbequing experience, grilling meats and learning how to create the tastiest horiatiki salad and tzatziki the Greek isles have to offer. A further way of exploring the best things to do in Mykonos is by bicycle. Picnic at the Beach Tours direct guided bike tours on the dirt tracks and back roads around Ano Mera’s reservoir, to hidden beaches where you’ll be provided with homemade treats and can discover a Mykonos without the crowds.

Stepping aboard a yacht cruise to Delos and Rhenia is another great way to lose the crowds, should you still be wondering what to do in Mykonos. These semi-private tours provide a maximum ten guests with a light lunch onboard as the vessel makes its way into the waters around uninhabited Rhenia for uninhibited snorkelling and swimming, before docking at Delos for a 90-minute tour of its ancient wonders. Closer to the beaches of Mykonos, there’s nothing quite like the romanticism of a sunset cruise, taking in the magical palette of colours in sky and sea on a traditional kaiki fishing boat.

Photo: Nick Karvounis

Photo: Nick Karvounis

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Recommended experiences in Mykonos
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Photo: Tamara Budai

Photo: Tamara Budai

Things to see in Mykonos

There’s probably no real need to say that the island’s beaches make up a large part of what to see in Mykonos. No longer exclusively used by gay beach dwellers, Super Paradise Beach is one long party, with music echoing across the sands throughout the day. If anything, the partying cranks up a notch after 4 pm, when the Super Paradise Beach Club comes alive with the island’s best beach parties, although a more relaxed vibe can be found near the JackieO’ Beach Club. Taking the crown from Super Paradise Beach as Mykonos’ most-popular gay beach is Elia Beach. Hitting its prime in July and August, when men from across the globe strut their stuff, the annual festivities come to a head in the late summer with the famed XLSIOR beach party. Right next door over a rocky outcrop is Agrari Beach, a quieter alternative to Elia, which in turn makes it popular with nudists. More tranquil due to its slightly out-of-the-way location, but still with a great vibe, is Lia Beach, on a small sandy bay best reached by car or moped. Here you can sunbathe protected from the wind by the hills that rise up on both sides of the beach, or enjoy lunch at the Liasti Lia Beach Restaurant. Slightly further east is Kalafatis Beach, one of the longest stretches of sand on Mykonos. Sunbathers are again protected from blowing sand, this time by a line of pine trees, while the off-shore breeze makes Kalafatis popular with those who want to try their hand at windsurfing.

Away from the island’s beaches, Mykonos’ most famous landmarks are undoubtedly the seven ancient stone windmills on the hilltop outside of Chora. For a snoop inside one of them, head to the Bonis Windmill Agromuseum, open from the beginning of July until the end of September each year. On the seafront in front of the windmills is Little Venice, an area of eighteenth-century fishermen’s houses now occupied by cafes, bars, and boutique stores that bear more than a passing resemblance to its Italian namesake. Meanwhile, Armenistis Lighthouse rises over the surrounding land in the northeast of Mykonos, offering fine views of the Aegean and nearby Tinos Island. However, it’s the island of Delos which draws most visitors away from Mykonos. The mythical birthplace of the twin gods Artemis and Apollo, the whole island has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to some of the best-preserved ancient Greek family homes to be found anywhere, alongside temples, theatres, and stadiums. Back on Mykonos, another important historic site is the church complex of Panagia Paraportiani. First constructed in the sixteenth century, its unique structure of five churches in one makes the whitewashed exterior one of the most photographed sights in Greece – with good reason!

Photo: Jason Blackeye

Photo: Jason Blackeye

Photo: Anna Kaminova

Photo: Anna Kaminova

Mykonos has a food scene as diverse as it is gourmet

Where to eat in Mykonos

Mykonos has a food scene as diverse as it is gourmet, ranging from the traditional dishes of unnamed family-run tavernas to the exquisite parcels of sushi at the open-air Matsuhisa Mykonos in the Belvedere Hotel. The menu here also features a list of daily seafood specials; the crowning glory of each dish comes straight from the Aegean’s cobalt blue waters. Local seafood is an equally important ingredient in the cuisine of Spilia Seaside Restaurant, which sources its lobster, oysters, and crayfish from a natural sea pool. Positioned on a natural platform amid the rocks of Agia Anna close to Kalafatis Beach, there are few more romantic places to dine on the island.

The finest of Greek culinary excellence continues into M-eating, a restaurant that combines the rustic elegance of the island’s traditions with the finesse of a contemporary kitchen in both its interior design and its menu. The stuffed rabbit filet with cauliflower puree and spinach pesto and the beef-filled ravioli with tomato sauce come highly recommended. Putting local right at the heart of its menu with its ‘ 100-mile diet’ is Bill & Coo, in the Mykonos Town hotel of the same name. The constantly-changing menu may use local produce within that self-imposed hundred-mile diameter, yet the food is anything but traditional, with all manner of unexpected delights contributing to the visual spectacle of each plate.

Using local produce from small-scale and mainly organic farmers from the surrounding islands, the chefs at Liberty Breakfast Room let the ingredients speak for themselves, specialising in the raw food movement. The breakfasts are, as you might guess, particularly tempting. Meanwhile, Pikantiki Gonia adds its own twist to Mykonos cuisine – this time in the guise of Russian-Ukrainian delicacies. Meat is the undoubted star of the show for Ukrainian chef-patron Lounda Onouferko, whose dishes include aged Stavlisia steak and braised pork.

Photo: Jeff Velis

Photo: Jeff Velis

Shopping in Mykonos

Many first-time visitors to Mykonos are surprised by the high-end stores and quality boutiques that Chora is able to boast, so do away with any idea of stalls selling tacky souvenirs or holiday fashions that will never see the light of day once you’ve returned home. For one thing, the island is home to ELIXIR [timeless] Gallery, a store specialising in small, hand-selected designer brands producing clothing with an ageless touch and incredible attention to detail. Dedicated to swimwear, underwear, and casual wear that’s perfect for Mykonos and its fashionable vibe, ES Collection has a style and cheekiness that’s difficult to resist, while MILL Mykonos Concept is entirely devoted to displaying pairs of handmade sunglasses of editions so limited they can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

The ever-quirky T-Bar launches two new collections each month. In addition to its ready-to-wear range of T-shirts and vests, it also has an in-house design service for that one-of-a-kind look and feel. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find Anapolo, a souvenir shop with a difference. Here you’ll find traditional and handcrafted products, with an emphasis firmly placed on the local and the natural. In addition to award-winning Greek olive oils and ouzo, you’ll also find honey, tea, and even jewellery!

Photo: Daria Nepriakhina

Photo: Daria Nepriakhina

In Little Venice, Galleraki lays claim to the best cocktails on the island, using fresh fruit to produce flavourful blends

Photo: Karsten Koehn

Photo: Karsten Koehn

Nightlife in Mykonos

Located at the heart of goings on in Mykonos Town, Porta Bar is a nightclub that wears its heart on its sleeve with its extravagant décor, live DJ sets with playlists that range from disco to techno, and an impressive cocktail menu to boot. Extravagance is no stranger to Lola Bar either. A feast for the senses, you can come here at any time of day for its relaxed lounge music and constant buzz.

Meanwhile, you’ll find Bao’s Cocktail Bar in Little Venice. Named for a mythical pirate, it has a light and airy daytime interior with plenty of comfortable seating. But Bao’s really comes into its own at sunset thanks to its incredible uninterrupted seafront location and fine signature cocktails. Alternatively, the nearby Galleraki lays claim to the best cocktails on the island, using fresh fruit to produce flavourful blends including its iconic melon-based katerinaki cocktail, which can be tasted nowhere else. For after-hours fun, a regular haunt for the A-list crowd are the weekly parties at the chic At54 club, while no Mykonos gay nightlife guide is complete without mention of one of the island’s most esteemed gay clubs, Babylon. For a guaranteed good night out, take in the night air on the sun terrace or head inside for a mix of drag shows, Go-Go dancers, and other themed events (Eurovision party anyone?) that run from dusk till dawn.

Photo: Jia Jia Shum

Photo: Jia Jia Shum

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