Although Mykonos is not the most beautiful Greek island, it certainly is one of the most popular ones. Known for its beautiful sandy beaches, party scene and gay-friendly atmosphere, the island is a favourite among many Europeans and Americans. So it might come as a surprise to you that I actually go there to relax and restore my energy. Indeed, Mykonos is far more than a party destination. Having visited the Greek island now twice, it has become one of my favourite escapes. I just love the island vibes, the smiling faces, the outstanding food, the Greek designer shops, and the friendly, laid back people.
How to avoid crowds
Naturally I’m – like anyone visiting the island-, mesmerized by the Chora – Mykonos town – with its white washed houses, twisted white streets, and charming little shops and taverns. However, on days when cruise ships anchor at the Old Port, I’d rather avoid the chora as it overflows with ship passengers. So today, I would like to share a few of my most loved spots, that are especially interesting for travellers who like to avoid the party zones and prefer to shun crowds.
The best time to visit Mykonos town is early in the morning when all the party animals are still sound asleep. Between 9-11 a.m. you can carefree and peacefully explore Little Venice, the Old Port, and photograph the unique alleys and small streets. Another benefit of getting there early, is the lighting and temperature. Between 12-3 p.m. the sun is at its strongest, and temperatures quickly rise in the small streets that are sheltered from the cooling breeze. Also, your photos will get easily over-exposed due to the white washed buildings and streets. If you start exploring at 9.30, you’ll be finished by 12 and can end your morning of sightseeing with a scrumptious lunch at one of the many seaside taverns overlooking the old port.
Having said that, don’t skimp on visiting the Chora around sunset and in the evening as well. Around sunset, it is much more crowded, but also a true spectacle as the sun casts an orange/pink glow on the white buildings. In the evening a magical, and romantic ambiance makes Mykonos town a great place for dinner. (Read my blog about Mykonos at sunset here)
2. Have a beach day at Agios Ioannis Bay
The Agios Ioannis Bay is situated on the west side of the island, and only a 5-minute drive from Mykonos town. The naturally formed bay is not too crowded and protected from the famous chilling Mykonian north wind. The bay has many picturesque spots, charming churches, and 2 beaches that are quite peaceful and family-friendly; Agios Ioannis beach, where the famous Shirley Valentine movie was filmed, and Kapari beach. Agios Ioannis Beach is especially attractive to people with small children as the sea shore is wide and shallow. At the stylish beach restaurant Hippie Fish you can dive into great dishes and soak up the relaxed ambiance.
3. Do lunch at Agios Stefanos
If you like to shun the crowds in Mykonos town at mid-day, but are craving a typical Greek tavern lunch, Agios Stefanos is the place. The small beach strip with loungers and umbrellas is a family friendly beach. The sea is shallow, and the atmosphere is friendly. There are several good seaside taverns here where you can get a taste of real traditional Greek food and fresh seafood.
4. Explore traditional Mykonos by car
When staying in a luxurious hotel, and having a hotel shuttle and good public transportation at your disposal, you may quickly decide to skimp on a rental car. However, I would recommend to at least rent a car for 1 day to explore the island and off the beaten tracks. It is the ultimate way to flee the crowds and enjoy the beautiful nature and landscapes Mykonos has to offer. Some might be more drawn to renting a scooter, but be warned, the amount of accidents with scooters are numerous. Once you are on your way, you will be amazed how quickly you feel like you are in ancient Greece. The road trip will lead you past traditional farms, cute churches, remnants, fields with poppies and cornflowers and to desolate coves with sandy beaches. (I always rent a car at Sunny Cars)
5. Go Hiking in Mykonos
Mykonos is not the typical hiking destination due to the lack of donkey trails and a barren landscape. Nonetheless, I love to do a little bit of hiking to emerge myself in its beautiful floral and fauna, and enjoy the spectacular panoramic views you’ll encounter on your way. Wear comfortable shoes, and don’t forget to bring enough water and sun screen. Again, the best time to hike is either early morning or early evening. There are many hiking routes available online e.g here. I personally loved hiking from Paraga Beach via the shore and an easy path in the hills to Paradise Beach and vice versa. This trail is super easy and can be done on your flip flops 🙂
Want more Mykonos tips? Visit the Mykonos travel guide here.