Known globally as the home of the 24/7 party, Mykonos has developed a reputation for glamourous guys and gals bouncing between beautiful beaches and clubs that rock all the way into dawn!
You may be heading to Mykonos for a high potency clubbing and partying but don’t be surprised if you end up bewitched by the stark beauty of the arid landscape, clear blue skies and white cubist structures that dot the countryside.
There is a raw beauty to Mykonos and its culture that reaches far beyond cosmopolitan nights dancing to music sets spun by internationally renowned DJs.
If you want to venture into the soul of the island by exploring its history, its people, its cuisine, to interact with locals, keep reading.
Mykonos, with wind carved stone and sharp cliffs, drought-plagued brown terrain, is surrounded by the clearest blue water in all of the Cyclades.
Its roaring summer northerlies will cool you on the hottest days as the sun browns your skin, on adventures that await you, if you choose to become a hands-on explorer and not just a tourist.
Mykonos dates back three millennia, with a rich sea-faring heritage. Neighboring Delos, today a UNESCO world heritage site, was once the busiest port in the Mediterranean. A legacy of fishing and farming from antiquity until today, most locals have just one generation of separation from these trades. And although many Mykonos contemporaries have businesses in hospitality and catering, when the summer season ends, and winter arrives, you will find most doing a bit of fishing or tending to the land.
What follows are ten places to deepen your contact with an authentic Mykonos that exists parallel to the luxurious venues catering to glamour. And best of all? No reservations are required!
10 places off the tourist circuits not to be missed in Mykonos
1. Baboulas Ouzeri
As you walk into Chora from the old port you can’t help but noticing a marooned wooden caique painted red with blue and yellow detailing, complete with rigging to hoist sails. Welcome to Mykonos and welcome to Baboulas Ouzeri. The caique, like the establishment’s owner, was made in Mykonos and is about 75 years old. Baboulas has specialized in seafood and fish since it first opened in the 1990s. The family has a long history of fishermen and captains in the family tree. They make a point of telling you they are not gourmet, but the food is authentic and delicious. The ouzeri also has a wonderful view of Mykonos town, particularly once the sun goes down and is a well-protected spot when the island’s meltemi, the northerly summer wind begins to blow. Try the seafood risotto!
2. Cine Manto Mykonos
One of the best kept secret gardens on the island, Cine Manto is an oasis of food, refreshment and entertainment. The island’s outdoor cinema is in the center of the town, screening all the latest Hollywood releases. The garden also hosts a restaurant with grilled specialties. And the island’s mascot, Petros the Pelican, is a regular there.
The sacred island of antiquity is located six nautical miles southwest of Mykonos, steeped in archaic divinity and Greek myth. The island came to life and to light again in 1873 as excavations began by the French Archaeological School of Athens. The island shows evidence of arcades, markets, a center of pilgrimage, and temples dedicated to Apollo and Artemis. The community dates back to the 3rd century BC. The boat ride from the quay in Mykonos town, just across from city hall, to Delos, takes about 40 minutes and departs at 9 and 10 am daily with a return at 1:30 pm. Wear a hat and take water in a light backpack as Apollo energizes you with his light from the moment you disembark the boat and step on to the island’s quay.
4. Mykonos Folklore Museum
The home of a former captain houses the tools of daily life in Mykonos households across the centuries. Six main rooms display collections of antique furniture, Byzantine icons, folk ceramics, antiques that are both decorative and historical. If you are lucky, you will find Dimitra Nazou on duty, a volunteer who is the lifeblood of the museum, to guide you through tales of Mykonian life over the past few centuries.
5. Armenistis Lighthouse
The Armenistis Lighthouse was built in 1891, following the sinking of the British steamboat Volta in 1887. Its 11-member crew drowned off the wild north coast of Mykonos. The lighthouse no longer has a keeper and issues a beam of light automatically every 30 seconds from sundown to sunrise. The lighthouse does not belong to the municipality but the naval ministry.
6. Mykonos Farmers
Giorgos Syrianos is a third generation Mykonian cheese maker. Aside from an array of Mykonian cheese products made on the premise, you can learn to make your own cheese. Mykonos Farmers offers workshops and tours.
7. Ano Mera
The quiet hamlet of Ano Mera, located in the dead center of the island is the only “village” in Mykonos. It has about 1500 inhabitants and hosts the monastery of Tourliani, just off the village square. Traditional tavernas surround the village square that faces the centuries old entry to the monastery. Two monks from Paros built the original church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in 1542.
Rizes farmstead is a journey back to Mykonian roots… Rizes translates to roots in English. Located in the heart of the island’s outback, also known as Maou, the explorer can get a glimpse of a traditionally decorated farmhouse, the lush gardens, livestock and the journey back to ancestry and heritage. The Xidakis family offers a farm to table experience, whether it is an afternoon lunch or an evening meal. Aside from a sampling of Mykonian cuisine, there are donkeys to feed, horses to ride and a tiny chapel to meditate or light a candle.
9. Fokos Beach and Fokos Taverna
A half hour ride over rough terrain, navigating alongside cattails and landscape that resembles Mars, you will follow the path of one of Mykonos’ reservoirs, leading to the northeastern beach of Fokos and its traditional taverna, run by the Taboulchanas family. The remote beach has no sunbeds or umbrellas. Build up your appetite with a long swim or a hike along the rocks and treat yourself to lunch at the taverna. You will find unique, delicious salads, grilled meats and seafood and a cozy rustic atmosphere. And don’t forget to try one of the scrumptious desserts made fresh daily.
10. Yummy Pedals
If you want to get around the island without leaving a carbon footprint and seeing some of its backroads, mounting a bike with Yummy Pedals will provide you with a great workout and some wonderful views. Based within the Vioma Vineyard and Farm complex at Maou, Yummy Pedals will show you pristine beaches and share their insights on the island’s cultural heritage by visiting small chapels and landmarks.
Now, you have all the information needed in theory to spend an amazing & not-ordinary time in Mykonos. Book a flight with Volotea and find out in practice the island’s unique character and true soul.