Greece’s answer to Ibiza, Mykonos is renowned for a hedonistic nightlife (think sunset cocktails, drag shows and after-hours parties by the sea), beaches of golden sand (especially beautiful on the south coast), luxurious boutique hotels (some with suites and private pools), and its open-minded and welcoming locals. Built around a natural harbour, the capital, Mykonos Town, is a warren of narrow streets and whitewashed houses, many now converted to boho-chic bars and boutiques, all nestled under the watchful gaze of four hilltop windmills. Nearby, the sacred islet of Delos is a UNESCO listed archaeological site, steeped in history and ancient fertility symbolism.
Main City Athens
Surface 105.2 km²
Back in the 1970s, Mykonos was much-loved by the hippy generation for its blissful sandy beaches, where nudism was all part of the fun. Forty years later, commercial tourism has brought more mainstream visitors to the island, many of whom are not inspired by naked bathing. However, one place you can still get your all-over tan is the sandy beach of Paranga on the south coast, which has remained faithful to the hippy vibe. Paranga is in fact two beaches, separated by a small peninsular. The eastern one is more lively with straw umbrellas and beach bars, and the western one is more peaceful and naturist-friendly.
Mykonos is famed for its vibrant nightlife, but sometimes you just feel like losing the crowds and recuperating some inner tranquillity. Araxame, which translates roughly as ‘sit back and relax’, is an old-fashioned café, popular with locals (who know how to chill), in the inland village of Ano Mera, which is barely touched by tourism. Come here for a glass of wine or ouzo, served with mezedes (savoury snacks similar to tapas), or an after dinner sweet treat – syrupy homemade Turkish-inspired desserts, made by the owner, Irene Stavrakopoulou. The interior is like stepping into another dimension, with birds in cages, scales and ships’ lanterns, or you can sit under the stars on the terrace.
If you’re looking for a practical treat and an authentic souvenir of Greek summer, Mykonos Sandals is a good starting point. A long-standing family-run business, it was founded by Michalis Rampias in 1948, and is now run by his son Kostas, Kostas’ wife Dora, and their daughter Maria. Their range of handmade leather sandals began with Michalis’ original speciality, his unadorned natural-tan flip-flops, but has expanded through the years, and now includes more contemporary designs in coloured leather, with fancy decorations in beads and shells. There are styles and sizes to appeal to all the family.