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
Escape the masses for a day by driving out to Fokos Bay (and its taverna), on Mykonos’ isolated north coast. You can really feel like you’re abandoning civilisation as you bounce down the rough track that leads to your first glimpses of the intense blue sea, and arrive at the secluded bay. A few hours of swimming and sunning and you’ll be ready for something to eat, and luckily, there is one (just one) taverna here. Run by a friendly Greek-Canadian family, Fokos Taverna serves barbecued fresh fish and homemade beef burgers, with refreshing salads. Complete your experience of decadence with their disturbingly delicious chocolate mousse cake, but don’t leave it too late, as the taverna is open for lunch only.
The therino (open-air cinema) is an integral part of Greek culture – there are few better ways to kick off a summer evening than watching a film at Cinema Manto under the stars while sipping a gin and tonic (you can smoke too, as it’s outdoors). Set in a walled garden with towering palm trees, fragrant pines and cacti, the cinema shows films in original version with Greek subtitles - this summer’s programme includes The Artist and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, plus the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, direct from London. Manto also works as an all-day cafe (with free wi-fi), offering a welcome escape from Mykonos’ busy waterside bars.
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.