When people think of Greek island paradises, the island of Mykonos is what they picture. With its whitewashed buildings, sandy beaches, crystal blue waters and 300 days of sunshine, it’s no wonder why this nonstop party island is one of the most popular travel destination in the Aegean Sea. Steeped in tradition and myth, Mykonos is said to be formed from the bodies of giants that were slayed by Hercules.
Today, the island is a playground for celebrities and a regular stop for the world’s largest cruise ships. Come to Mykonos to experience the quintessential Greek island atmosphere with the maze-like streets of Mykonos Town that are lined with little shops, art galleries, stylish bars and restaurants. A look at the most popular attractions in Myknos:
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The aptly named Super Paradise Beach seems to have one goal: to out-party Paradise Beach. Travelers who came to Mykonos for peace and quiet should stay away from Super Paradise Beach, where the loud music and open-air party atmosphere is present day and night. Those who did come to party will find the beach fun that they are looking for at the JackieO’ Beach Club on Super Paradise Beach. This nude-friendly, 24-hour party beach is not recommended for families.
While it’s easy to spend an entire Mykonos vacation on the beach, an inland excursion to Ano Mera can’t be missed. The village of Ano Mera was built around a 16th Century monastery called the Panagia Tourliani. The restored monastery, with its statuesque bell town and marble fountain, can be toured daily. Inside the monastery there is a collection of Byzantine relics for viewing, and the marble-tiled area around the monastery is home to several souvenir shops and restaurants. Nearby to Ano Mera there is an even older monastery, the Monastery of Paleokastro, as well as the ruins of a Byzantine castle.
Those looking for a more relaxing beach experience can head to the northern side of Mykonos, where a cozy bay forms Panormos Beach, and a cove protects the area from high winds. Less developed and harder to reach than the other beaches, Panormos Beach has fewer accommodations and fewer visitors. The quiet beauty of this beach does attract a regular crowd that enjoys the beach volleyball area and the shaded taverna. Stroll along the white sand or enjoy a walk in the surrounding countryside.
Historic religious sites on Mykonos can also be found along the coastline, and Panagia Paraportiani is one of them. Located at the entrance to the Kastro neighborhood of Chora, the whitewashed walls of this seaside church form a unique shape due to the building’s unusual construction. Five small churches that were built on top of each other beginning in the 14th Century became the Panagia Paraportiani that can be seen today. The asymmetrical shape and rare combination of architectural styles combined with the ocean view have helped to make Panagia Paraportiani one of the most photographed sites in the world.
Elia Beach is the longest beach on Mykonos. Less crowded and more laid back than the party beaches, Elia Beach is accessible by bus service from Mykonos Town and boat service from Platis Gialos. You can find watersport rentals, restaurants, bars and hotels dotted along the shore. On the fine-sand beach, the relaxed atmosphere is characterized by the beachgoers resting under cabanas or wading in the clear blue ocean.
On the south side of Mykonos lies Platys Gialos Beach, a family-friendly beach where numerous hotels are located. Hotel guests staying on Platys Gialos can walk directly from their rooms to the beach to relax on a sunbed or enjoy watersports. Platys Gialos is also a mini travel hub where taxi-boats depart regularly for the island’s other famous beaches. Located just a short distance from the main town of Chora, Platys Gialos Beach lies in a picturesque half-moon bay. Along the beach there is an abundance of Greek and Italian restaurants as well as cheap and delicious Mediterranean take-away.
No trip to Mykonos is complete without a visit to Paradise Beach, one of the most popular party spots in all of Greece and home to the island’s largest nightclub. Known for its nonstop beach parties, Paradise Beach frequently hosts world-famous DJs who entertain guests at the massively popular open-air nightclub, Paradise Beach Club. During the day, several open-air lounges on Paradise Beach serve cocktails to beachgoers while they relax beneath grass-roofed cabanas and umbrellas.
Kato Mili, or the “lower windmills” in Greek, is a row of historic windmills that stand facing the sea in the town of Chora. A defining feature of the Mykonos landscape, the wood-and-straw capped windmills were first constructed in the 16th Century by the Venetians. Today, the preserved windmills are iconic relics that have been converted to museums and are among the most popular attractions in Mykonos. There are currently 16 windmills on Mykonos of which 7 are situated on the famous landmark hill in Chora. Visit the windmills to see how the Venetians harnessed the power of the wind, and enjoy a panoramic view of the town and ocean.
Mykonos makes a great home base for a short trip to the island of Delos, the birth place of Apollo and Artemis in Greek legend. Delos is uninhabited, and daily ferries can take you there from Mykonos for the chance to explore the ruins. The island’s top sights include the Sacred Harbor, now a dry lake; the Terrace of the Lions, Cleopatra’s House, and the House of Dionysius, a luxury private home built in the second century. Delos also boasts a museum filled with Greek sculptures and vases as well as a small cafe.
As the name suggests, Little Venice Quarter is a section of Mykonos where the barrier between the buildings and the sea is nonexistent. Waves lap the sides of the charming houses, cafes and restaurants that sit elegantly perched on the water’s edge. Built during the 16th and 17th Centuries by wealthy sea merchants, Little Venice Quarter is situated on the western edge of Chora near Alevkantra beach. The romantic atmosphere and ethereal beauty of Little Venice Quarter make it a favorite hangout for artists who have recreated the scene in countless paintings.