Mykonos is known for many things in a wide range of mild-to-wild. The sights and pleasures range accordingly. But Mykonos is more than the headlines. The views and food are phenomenal as are the beaches. I enjoy a few days of this paradise coming straight from Atlanta via JFK and Athens…
After landing in Athens, I made a connection to my Olympic Airlines flight to Mykonos. The Athens airport was extremely modern and well-signed so it was pretty easy to do the connection. I had ample time so I ate something at an airport cafe and took advantage of the free-wifi the airport offers for 60 minutes. Flying over the Aegean Sea was dreamy, seeing all those islands dotting that beautiful-blue Aegean Sea. It was a vision.
The Mykonos airport as can be expected is small but efficient. I was met by a car from the resort where I was going to stay, the Apanema Resort which I discovered and selected after referencing Trip Advisor. The hotel is across the water, separated from it horizontally by a road and by a boardwalk under construction right by the water’s edge, and vertically by maybe 20m. This gives the hotel great views of the sea and the cruise ships coming in and out of Mykonos. This one especially made for a sight right in front of us!
The hotel is a short walk from the northern edge of the Chora (“the main town” of Mykonos), about 500m. Not a bad walk but you do have to walk on a curvy road without sidewalks… They are finishing what looks like a boardwalk down below but I didn’t a way up near the hotel. In any case, the resort with its infinity pool, personalized breakfast til late and nice poolside area was a great choice for me.
So, I went to Mykonos as I wrote in another blog entry because I wanted to see one of the more popular Greek isles since I had limited time and because several people recommended Mykonos over Santorini as a solo traveler. Though I am not a bar scene person nor a beach bum, Mykonos was a perfect place to go. First of all, it is not just beaches and clubs. There are a couple of museums (which I did not get to see) that are recommended plus a 20-min ferry ride away is Delos Island, a remarkable visible record of ancient Greek history. In addition, there are so many people coming and going in Mykonos that sitting down to people watch can occupy plenty of time. Plenty of shops around for those who may enjoy walking around and perusing (not yours truly). Finally, and more my cup of tea, so much material for photography! From the architecture, to the people candids, to the sunsets. Plenty to photograph. I played with my camera all the time and greatly enjoyed it.
Regarding Delos Island, it is best seen with a tour guide who can tell you what you are looking at and the interesting history of the place. It is a good 2-4 hour visit depending on whether you want to do some solo (i.e., unguided) hiking. Be warned: no one stays in the island except archeologists and the last ferry out is at 3 PM so plan accordingly! The ferry leaves near Little Venice. There is a small museum and a small cafe. Sunscreen and water definitely recommended!
In terms of beaches, the hotel recommended Elia as more relaxing than Paradise but I ended checking out both. Elia was bigger but without as many facilities as Paradise. However, Elia still had a restaurant, clean restrooms and the like. In both beaches you can rent a chair and an umbrella for 6-8 euros and both offer bar service though in Paradise no one came by the 2 hours I was there. I hear Paradise becomes party central after 4 PM but I left around that time.
Overall, I think Elia felt less crowded (though neither was too crowded as it was the end of the season) and spacious. Elia had a more mixed crowd whereas Paradise early in the day felt more like families or couples, though it could have been the part of the beach I plopped myself at. To get to the beaches you can rent a car or scooter, take a taxi (though it will be expensive), or just take the local bus with for around 2 euros each way, is pretty cheap. Paradise has more buses in the schedule than Elia which is less frequent. You can also connect among several beaches by taking a caique or boat. That may be a good way to sample different beaches in one day.
The Little Venice area of the Chora is one of the more popular parts of town. There is everything there from shops, to the emblematic Paraportiani church, to clubs/bars/restaurants. In the places facing the water (Katerina’s and Kastro, for example), you have great views of the windmills and of sunset.
I lounged a couple of afternoons sipping mojitos, taking pictures, and just admiring the vistas. In that area I found two places that I enjoyed eating at. One was Nikos Taverna. I don’t know if the food qualifies as extraordinary but sitting at the plaza above the restaurant level makes for great people watching without feeling crowded in. I enjoyed my time sitting there watching life.
The other place, which was recommended by an American couple I met in the ferry going to Delos, was Kounelas. It is a phenomenal place hidden away between Little Venice and the waterfront of the Chora itself. This place is a must if you like fish/seafood.
They make you walk from your table downstairs to the kitchen where they open several refrigerated drawers with the latest catch be them monster shrimp or sea bass. Then they grill it for you. I sat at the top of the external staircase which afforded me views of all the passers-by downstairs in the alley. It was a slightly windy night which was perfect for me so I sat contentedly there through and after my meal!
So all that eating definitely required walking it off so I did that usually after dinner not only with the walk to my hotel but also just meandering in the Chora. One who is never afraid to get lost, like me, is at home there! However, how bad can getting lost be in this place where either you hit the water on a couple of sides or head up the hill? Not hard to eventually get your bearings!
I mentioned the sunsets earlier and they are pretty spectacular though I guess that is true of anywhere with a clear view of the west. In Mykonos, I either watched them from my hotel’s terrace or from one of the bars in Little Venice where I got to look at the windmills in the changing light. We also enjoyed full-moon nights which made for a pretty sight on the walk back to the hotel.
Mykonos is an enchanting little island and I am glad I not only got to see it but got to see it slightly off-peak. As it was there were multiple cruise ships every day but it never felt too crowded for me. I can imagine the partying is louder and more crazy in July and August. By the time I got there, the winds were blowing strong and Paradise was announcing its close of the season party on 16 September. I found out most hotels and the like start shutting down so I guess it is not a place where Europeans go to escape northern Europe’s winter.
My sum-up of the visit is a positive one. Though traveling solo, I was never bored. There was plenty to draw my attention, to do, and to eat 🙂 I actually would like to return sometime, try staying in different parts of the island. However, I would also like to explore other Greek isles. The problem is which and how much time can I take to do it!