Best Things To Do in Mykonos
The main Mykonos attractions are the beaches, where you can sunbathe, relax, snorkel – even party. Paradise Beach is considered a no-brainer, though you should expect to be one of many tourists enjoying its soft sands. Away from the beach, photograph Panagia Paraportiani and the Windmills, or plan a daytrip to the island of Delos for its archaeological finds. Travelers also love Little Venice for its restaurants, shopping and postcard views. Multiple art galleries feature work by both local and international artists. You'll also want to save some energy for an evening out, as the island is a haven for night owls.
Updated December 12, 2019
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This Chora neighborhood is known as one of the most stunning places on the island. Overlooking the southwest end of the harbor, it was here that many early ship captains decided to settle down and built uniquely magnificent homes overlooking the sea. Today, many of these historic homes have been transformed into a variety of cozy restaurants, trendy bars, shops and nightclubs, making this a bustling place at all hours of the day.
Recent visitors offered mixed reviews for Little Venice. Some described it as a beautiful place to relax with a drink, especially at sunset. However, other travelers said it's overpriced and crowded, especially when the cruise ships are docked. If you do visit, plan to stop by the windmills for even more photo ops as the two sightseeing hot spots are within walking distance of each other. The area is free to peruse, though you'll want to have euros on hand should a drink, snack or trinket catch your eye.
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These iconic windmills overlooking Little Venice date back to the 16th century, when islanders used wind power to grind grain. There are 16 windmills in total, and while they are no longer operational, they stand as a monument to early innovation. The views here are spectacular: From this hilltop perch, you can see Chora and the harbor in the distance. While you're here, you might want to check out the nearby Mykonos Agricultural Museum.
On your way to the windmills, don't overlook the surrounding neighborhood of Alefkandra. This historic area is a great place to stop for a bite to eat or a glass of ouzo as you head back toward Little Venice. Many of the seaside bars, with their outdoor decks, are ideal spots to view, and photograph, the sunset – at least until the music gets turned up and partying becomes the focus.
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If you ask them, Mykonians will tell you that their island is home to 365 churches – one for each day of the year. However, Panagia Paraportiani is by far the most famous. Sitting in central Chora, this somber whitewashed church dates back to the Byzantine era and features a variety of religious decorations dating back to the Middle Ages. In fact, it's actually five churches constructed together. From its main entrance, you'll have spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Some admirers of the church recommended going at sunset, when the changing light makes the structure especially breathtaking.
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Many people flock to Mykonos for two reasons: beaches and parties. A trip to the southern coast and Paradise Beach – Mykonos' original nudist beach – will kill two birds with one stone. Soft sands, azure seas and a rowdy atmosphere have made Paradise one of the most popular places on the island. Paradise has become more developed over the past few years and now features a nearby strip of resort hotels, restaurants and beloved carousing spots like the Tropicana Club and Cavo Paradiso. The party scene at the nearby Super Paradise Beach attracts barely clothed bathers and a large portion of Mykonos' LGBT community, though some visitors find its amenities and cocktail bars to be rather pricey. Past visitors also reported paying between 20 and 25 euros (or about $22 to $28) for a beach lounge chair and umbrella. Others noted that the party starts to get going in the late afternoon, so plan a morning visit if you want to enjoy the sand in peace.
Paradise Beach sits about 2 miles south of Chora and can be reached on foot, by boat or by bus (there is a bus stop within walking distance of the beach). The beach is open 24/7 and you don't have to pay to lounge. However, you may want to bring some euros with you just in case your glass runs dry or if you want to relax in a beach chair.
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Sitting in the heart of Mykonos about 4 miles east of Chora is the island's only other real town. Because it lacks the sea view, Ano Mera isn't as crowded as other parts of Mykonos; and many say you should only visit if you're passionate about religious history (the town is home to the island's two monasteries).
The 16th-century Monastery of Panagia Tourliani – located southeast of town – is renowned for its intricate marble carvings and massive Italian baroque altar screen. Head half a mile farther southeast past Panagia Tourliani and you'll find what's left of the 18th-century Monastery of Paleokastro.
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Most travelers agree that, if you have the time, a daytrip to the nearby island of Delos – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is a must. This little island was once the religious and political center of the Cyclades; Greek legend has it that this was the birthplace of Apollo (the god of music and light) and Artemis (the goddess of the wilderness, animals and the hunt). Because of its mythological significance, the ancient Ionians declared Delos their religious capital. A few centuries later, the Athenians set up a treasury here.
However, after a Roman attack in 88 B.C. and numerous pirate confrontations in the decades following, Delos was eventually abandoned. It wasn't until the end of the 19th century – when the French School of Athens began to excavate – that Delos' rich history was finally uncovered. Today, you can wander about the ancient ruins of once-monumental structures like the Propylaea (formerly a grand marble archway) and the Sanctuary of Apollo. Travelers say you should make some time to hike up the rocky Mount Kythnos (just southwest of the harbor) for excellent views of the surrounding islands. You can also find many of the artifacts recovered from Delos at the Archaeological Museum of Delos.
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If you're looking to have fun in the sun without having to put up with rowdy parties and nude bathers, skip Paradise in favor of Psarou Beach. Located northwest of Paradise Beach along the coast, Psarou's powdery sand, clear blue waves and more relaxing atmosphere make this beach popular among families and honeymooners. However, this stretch of coastline has begun to lure larger and larger crowds, including herds of water sports enthusiasts and extravagant yachts. This beach is also known for its great windsurfing and waterskiing conditions, as well as its scuba diving center. To lay claim to some prime real estate, try to get here in the morning, while other sun-seekers are still sleeping off the night before.
Past visitors also suggested bringing plenty of euros since amenities – like beach chairs and cocktails – are expensive here. The beach itself is free to visit, but according to visitors, it's difficult to find a stretch of sand that doesn't require you to rent a beach chair. The beach can be reached via taxi or by bus from the Fabrika bus station.
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The Mykonos Folklore Museum, in a ship-owner's former house near the Paraportiani Church, houses half a dozen exhibition spaces displaying various historical artifacts, including antique weights and measures, locks and keys, Byzantine icons and furniture. Its library features archives of manuscripts, maps and photographs.
Visitors to the small museum consistently praise its curator as an informative guide through the area's history.
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Overlooking Delos from the Chora harbor, this small museum houses numerous artifacts discovered during the island's excavation. Displays contain vases, jewelry and pottery dating back to the 25th century B.C., as well as many relics relating to the numerous battles and raids that plagued the island.
Recent museum-goers note that while the museum is small, its holdings are impressively expansive.
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The Monastery of Paleokastro (or "Old Castle"), an 18th-century nunnery on a verdant hill near Ano Mera, provides a respite from the more bustling environment of Mykonos proper.
Visitors regularly note the welcome break the monastery provides from the large crowds typical of Mykonos. Although small and nondescript-looking on the outside, the building reliably pleases those who venture inside, and the surrounding area is regarded as exceptionally picturesque.
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The Mykonos outpost of the House of Fine Art (HOFA), like its other locations in Los Angeles and London, spotlights both emerging and established makers of contemporary art. The gallery's holdings include paintings, photographs, sculptures and other works by artists from Asia, Australia, Europe and North and South America.
Visitors to Mykonos expecting mostly beaches and parties frequently express wonderment over the impressive level of international art on view here.
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Located in central Chora – about a 6 minute walk from the Mykonos Folklore Museum – the Aegean Maritime Museum spotlights Mykonos' nautical past with the help of antique navigational instruments, model ships and old maps. Despite its small size, this museum is worth an hour's visit or more, especially if you're interested in maritime history. You should also check out the museum garden, which shelters larger artifacts like anchors and the largest lighthouse in the Aegean. The Evangelistria, a traditional sailing vessel belonging to the museum, can be boarded during the summer, when it's moored in the harbor.
Visitors typically find the museum refreshingly uncrowded and its eclectic collection enjoyable.
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Though not especially known for its contemporary art scene, Mykonos is by no means a one-gallery town. The five rooms comprising the Rarity Gallery – a Mykonian manor house – have been exhibiting works by known and up-and-coming artists from around the world since 1994.
Recent gallery visitors typically described the art as both high quality and diverse and the staff as knowledgeable and friendly, though the space is considered small.
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