Cosmopolitan Mykonos Town
When you see images of Greece, Santorini and Mykonos are the two islands that usually feature in the glossy travel mags because they are so picturesque. We LOVED Mykonos especially the island’s capital – Mykonos Town which is sometimes referred to as Chora. It was cosmopolitan with a distinct upscale feel, oozing charm through a labyrinth of narrow streets and traditional white washed homes. We went for Garth’s 40th and splashed out on a luxury stay!
Wandering the Maze
Mykonos Town was small and perfectly walkable. Wandering the town’s maze of narrow alleys was our favourite bit, getting lost was all part of the fun! We stumbled upon plenty of lazy cats, boutique shops, small restaurants and surprises around every corner, like tiny churches that are hidden away. Mykonos has a lot of churches, most houses have some sort of Church attached to them too, there was some sort of Tax deal in the past if you built a church at home, religion obviously plays an important role in Greek life.
The labyrinth was designed in the 19th century with a deliberate layout to confuse attacking pirates and keep them away for good.
Upscale fashion and jewellery boutiques sit next to small family run tavernas and restaurants. The town has its fair share of chic looking visitors, so makes for great people watching! A-list celebrities also visit Mykonos Town, as it’s the Greek answer to St. Tropez.
Beautiful Bougainvillea in different colours tumble down Geranium filled balconies and white washed walls, doesn’t get more picturesque than this, does it?!
We stumbled upon a few even narrower streets, and one that must have been the smallest, as you had to walk sideways to get through!
Chic Little Venice
Alefkantra more commonly known as ‘Little Venice’ is one of the most picturesque places in the whole of Greece. Former fishing homes stick out precariously over the waters edge, most of them are now bars and restaurants, they are really quaint! Little Venice has been a real favourite of artists over the years, and we could see why, if you want your own piece of art, there were plenty of small art galleries to choose from in this area.
Restaurants line this tiny rocky shoreline, they are chic and intimate with chairs back to back, just like Paris! We loved the atmosphere with all the different languages being spoken, we played a game trying to guess which country people were from. Drinks are much more expensive here, but it does offer the best view in the whole of Mykonos Town.
It’s incredibly romantic especially in the evenings, and really popular with couples as a place to watch the sunset. We did it once as it was too pricey to do cocktails every night! Highly recommend it.
Our favourite pastime during the day was wandering down to Little Venice and ordering two ice cold Mythos, we loved the fact they serve it everywhere in glasses straight from the freezer. We liked Katerinas which had a balcony that stick out over the water’s edge with great views across the Aegean Sea. We even tried a couple of small Ouzos, Garth liked it because it tasted like liquorice, he’s got a sweet tooth!
Right next to Little Venice were the island’s landmark 16th century windmills perfectly aligned in a row, a great area for budding photographers like Garth. Former grain mills, they’re now homes.
The hilltop location was a really popular spot every evening to watch the sunset.
There’s 400 churches on the island, the most famous one is Panagia Paraportiani in Mykonos Old Town. Looking like it’s carved out of huge stone, it’s actually 5 separate churches built over centuries, the oldest is from the 14th century. Four are on ground level and the fifth on the upper level, which you can access via the exterior steps. Panagia Paraportiani was open until sunset to visitors.
The harbour was small and pretty, with small fishing boats and the odd luxury yacht moored. We went quite a few times to the ice-cream shops and did try one of the big restaurants, but realised these tend to cater to cruise ship passengers.
Mykonos has a huge gay scene and popular with LGBT travellers, the island also attracts plenty of honeymooners, families and cruise ship day trippers – loads of passengers pass through every day. We couldn’t get over the size of some of these floating cities when visiting in the harbour.
Evenings were just great, we’re not normally ones for crowds, but the people created a great atmosphere to the evenings. Lots of people dine right on the streets, and everyone seems to make an effort with their dress code for dinner.
There’s big restaurants in the main harbour area, but in the alleyways lurk some of the best small an intimate ones. We would recommend Avra, it had a beautiful outdoor setting in a secluded courtyard garden, incredibly romantic under the trees and stars!
Our other recommendation for dining out would be Kounelas Fish Tavern they just serve fish, fresh fish grilled simply over charcoal, Garth’s favourite. As an alternative if you want a really cheap eat, go to one of the shop windows that sell gyros – basically a greek kebab of meat or haloumi with tomato, cucumber, onion and lashings of tzatziki sauce, bit nicer than a dirty kebab after a night out!
As for bars we really liked Jackie-O for cocktails and the vibe outside – soaking up the sound of the sea mixed up with their chilled tunes, whilst watching the world go by. It’s built on the seawall in the old harbour part of town. Later into the night things liven up as the party crowd come out to play.
Finally our last recommendation if you want an evening of live music then try The Piano Bar, located in Little Venice. It’s a famous gay cabaret bar, with some fabulously camp show tunes. The night got going after 10pm and we had a cabaret singer from New York City belting out some massive songs, most were requests she was taking from the crowd, she could sing anything you requested – yes anything! The pianist was incredible too playing just from memory. Some friends recommended it to us after visiting 20 years ago (thanks CJ!), amazing it was still there! The Piano Bar was small and cozy with a mixed audience of gay and straight couples, the cocktails were pretty good too!
So we’d heard about Petros – The Pelican, so throughout our stay we always kept an eye out for him, but sadly no luck. We were beginning to think he must be an urban myth of island. Until our last day, when we came round the corner of an alley and suddenly there he was! He was real! and a handsome chap!
Our stay at Bill and Coo Suites ranks as one of our best stays we’ve ever had in the world! It’s a member of Small Hotels of The World, so that says tells you it’s swanky! I’ve no idea how much it cost as Phil paid for it as a birthday treat.
We definitely felt like celebrities in our 5 star suite, it was like our own private island hideaway with fabulous staff on hand to tend to our every need.
On arrival they gave us a personal mobile so we could call concierge at anytime, anywhere on the island! We actually used it when we visited a beach to be collected. Too cool for school!
Bill and Coo was relaxation defined – double sun beds for couples and a glorious infinity pool with views across the Aegean Sea. Our highlight of the day was when the staff surprised us whilst lounging around with different treats like fresh fruit, smoothies, and the best one – we even got sprayed with an Evian Mist to cool down, ridiculous but amazing!
Before heading into town for dinner, each evening we would sit and watch perfect sunsets across their infinity pool to the sea whilst sipping on Mojitos. The pool looked incredible as it lit up with thousands of fibre optic lights, resembling stars in the water. Bill and Coo was just a 10 minute walk to the centre of town, coming back up the hill after a night out was the only hard bit!
The island has a reputation for partying and there’s beaches that cater to party animals. We used to be part of that crowd, but sadly being a little older (yes it happens!) we now prefer somewhere quieter to chill out these days! Many people were hiring scooters to get around the island to the beaches, we skipped those and instead chose to split our time at our gorgeous hotel infinity pool and beaches closer to Mykonos Town.
Within walking distance of Mykonos Town was Megali Ammos Beach. It was small and quiet probably because it was on a main road, which wasn’t that busy or even bother us. There was one taverna on the beach – Joanna’s Niko’s Place which was lovely, serving simple fish dishes, made even better with more ice cold Mythos, we love the simple fish diet of the Greek islands.
Another one we tried was Ornos Beach about 3 miles from Mykonos Town. It had an upmarket feel, and was one of those organised beaches with luxury sun loungers for hire. It was fairly quiet when we visited and had a long sandy beach – perfect for strolling and topping up our tans before heading home.
Here’s our last photo of Mykonos Town from the airplane on the way home, we’ll definitely be back!
Phil & Garth’s Top 5 Mykonos Tips
- Tip #1: Into ancient Greece? For €18 take a return boat trip to see relics at the nearby uninhabited island of Delos.
- Tip #2: If you go to Little Venice or the Windmills to watch the sunset one evening, then grab a spot early as it gets very busy.
- Tip #3: Want to rent a scooter then you need you’ll need to take your driving licence with you.
- Tip #4: Party animal? then Super Paradise Beach is the lively one you’ll want to head for during the day.
- Tip #5: Island hopping is best done in the summer with regular ferries to Santorini and Paros.