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Mykonos, a party island or shoppers' paradise?

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Mykonos has a reputation as the most expensive and party island in Greece.

But, despite its wild reputation, it is still high on many people’s bucket lists because of its fabulous beaches, Mykonian hospitality, endless shopping, delicious cuisine, and incredible photo opportunities.

My article aims to give you essential travel advice to plan a trip to Mykonos from South Africa.

This article follows my previous article about Santorini, which covered the most convenient (and cheapest) airline, the Schengen visa application, where to stay, and the best spots to visit. That article also gives valuable tips to avoid ferry disasters. Click here to read the article: Irresistible Santorini – A trip from South Africa.

 

View from a restaurant in Little Venice looking toward the windmills

Is Mykonos worth the visit?

Mykonos island is the most glamorous Greek island visited Greece by A-list celebrities, jet-setters and party-seekers.

The island is LGBTQ-friendly and welcomes naturists, hippies, and budget travellers with open arms.

It has irresistible golden-sandy beaches, charming villages like Chora and historical places such as the Windmills and Little Venice for unique photo opportunities.  

Chora Mykonos sells exclusive interior decorating items such as umbrellas, figurines, chairs, and lights and has exquisite rope designs. Visit their online shop for more information. 

Mykonos has many authentic shops selling locally manufactured items

Where to go in Mykonos?

Mykonos has a personality larger than life! The small island is famous for outrageously expensive and glamorous hotels, exquisite dining options, unique shopping alleys, golden, sandy beaches, and (you’ve guessed it!) wild nightclubs.

The cosmopolitan part of Mykonos, like Little Venice and Chora, often receives all the attention. Still, there are also many quaint little historical villages, like Ano Mera, that will surprise you.

Where are the most popular areas in Mykonos?

Most of the action in Mykonos is on the West and South coasts, particularly around Chora or Mykonos Town, as it’s mostly known. This is the capital of Mykonos. I

The two most popular beaches are Ornos and Platis Gialos Beaches.

PRO TIP: Chora has fabulous nightlife, scenic restaurants, and picturesque shopping alleys on the island. It is a small walkable village buzzing with activity (and people), especially at sunset. 

The Famous windmills and charming Little Venice is nearby. Arrive before sunset to secure the best spots. Make a booking at a restaurant in Little Venice on the water’s edge for sunset (at least a day) in advance to get a good spot. It is absolutely worth your effort!

In our previous article, Santorini versus Mykonos, you can read more about our favourite Mykonos restaurants.

The harbour of Mykonos Town
Mykonos town and harbour

Where to stay in Mykonos?

Archipelago Hotel, Mykonos

We spent four nights at the Archipelago hotel in a supreme suite with a sea view (room 114). 

Our room rate of 498.71 euros per night included breakfast but excluded government taxes of 4 euros per night.

BE AWARE OF THIS: We booked the more expensive “complimentary added values package”, which was significantly more (about 100 euros per night) than the saver rate per room but offered NOTHING more than what was anyway included in their standard price!

According to their booking confirmation, the ADDED VALUES include:

• Welcome drink upon arrival
• Beach & Pool Towels
• Priority Early Check-In & Late Check Out (upon availability)
• Free Upgrade to next Room Type (upon availability, even though other rooms (in a higher category) were not occupied next to us, they insisted no upgrades were available 🙂
• 10% discount in our Αward Winning Restaurant (beverages not included)
• 10% discount on the SPA treatments, ok maybe this one is added value 🙂
• Luxury branded in-room toiletries
• Exclusive use of Sun Loungers & Umbrellas at the pool
• Complimentary use of WIFI
• Tailor made Concierge Services
• Archipelagos Travel Protection Guarantee: 100% refund in case of flight cancellation or imposed travel restrictions due to the pandemic (This is ACTUALLY the only benefit you got when we enquired about this rip-off).

Our room had two bathrooms, a comfortable lounge area and an outside patio.

The pool was nice but nothing special. We never had dinner at their restaurant, as prices were ridiculous (see the photo of price lists). Chicken souvlaki costs an astounding 24 euros. 

The front-of-house staff could have been more friendly and did little to make our stay memorable.

You should be aware of many hidden costs at this hotel; for example, they charge 2.4 euros for a coffee pod in the room. 

To add insult to injury, on the last day, they ripped us off (again) by charging 45 euros (they initially wanted to charge us 60 euros which we negotiated down) on the day of departure for the airport transport that originally cost 30 euros on the day of arrival.

Considering it is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, it did not live up to its reputation. 

Kalo Livadi Beach

We stayed in Kalo Livadi, which lies East of Elia. This is a lovely quiet beach with crystal clear water and a resident lifeguard on duty.

Archipelago hotel, Mykonos
The main pool and bar at Archipelago hotel
Breakfast views at Archipelago hotel, Mykonos
The restaurant menu of Archipelago hotel,Mykonos

Best time to visit Mykonos

Because Mykonos is an island destination, you want to enjoy great weather while avoiding the mad crowds. 

The peak season is from July to August, so you want to go a month or two just before or after these peak months. 

We visited during the first week in September, when the weather was still awesome and there were fewer crowds.

The average temperatures in Mykonos can be viewed on this link.

The soft, sandy beaches of Mykonos

How to get around in Mykonos?

Parking is an issue on the islands; therefore, renting a scooter rather than an ATV (four-wheeler) or car is highly recommended. With our scooter, we could park right next to all the spots we wanted to go to (parking is free).

We paid the most for a scooter in Mykonos of all the islands, 45 euros daily. The scooter rental company (suggested by our hotel) picked us up from our hotel and took us to their depot, only about 3 km away. 

DON’T GET CAUGHT!

Papoutsas Auto Moto Rentals (the only one on our entire Greece trip) required a 500 euros deposit for the scooter, which was disgracefully only refunded seven days after our return to South Africa.

You will need an A1 bike license that must be endorsed on your international driver’s licence. 

It costs around 10 euros to fill the scooter. There are no Ubers on the island, and taxis are very limited and expensive. 

Little Venice, Mykonos in daytime
Mykonos Town

Best spots in Mykonos

There is much to see and do in Mykonos, from breathtaking beaches to seaside tavernas and quaint villages with postcard views. 

Here is our list of things we most enjoyed at Mykonos:

Authentic shopping in Mykonos Town

Sunset at the windmills (Kato Milli)

The windmills of Mykonos are located on the coast just outside the village of Little Venice.

A few hundred years ago, Mykonos was known for its wheat production. 

Only seven of the original 20 windmills remained and have become iconic sites, particularly for Instagrammers during sunset. There is no entry fee (yet) to this amazing site.

BE AWARE: It gets extremely crowded an hour before sunset as travellers move in to get the best spot!  

The windmills of Mykonos

Dinner at Little Venice

The most famous village in Mykonos is called Little Venice. The most scenic part lies along the southwestern part of the harbour.

Beautiful shopping alleys are filled with souvenir shops, cocktail bars, restaurants, and cafes. 

This is the best part of Mykonos enjoying local cuisine and getting lost in the many small alleys.

 

 

Sunset dinner at Little Venice

Visit some of the best beaches

Greece has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (ok besides Cape Town, South Africa).

The most beautiful are Paraga, Psarou and Elia beach. 

The beaches can get very crowded and are mostly expensive to rent a sunbed for the day.

You may wish to read our related article about Santorini versus Mykonos, where we give tips and guidelines about the best beaches to visit in Mykonos.

 

Alemagou Beach, Mykonos

Shopping in Chora, Mykonos

Mykonos has so much more to offer than nightlife, gastronomic Greek food and windmills. 

The main street, Matoyianni street, is the most beautiful of all and the best place for shopping in Mykonos Town.

It is filled with shops selling local souvenirs, high-end international brands, and unique art pieces.

If you’re looking for the distinctive paving and whitewashed buildings with coloured windows and doors regularly seen on postcards, this is where you will find it!

Mykonos Town shopping

Explore Ano Mera Village

Ano Mera is the best-kept secret of Mykonos! It is 8.3 km from Chora (Mykonos Town). The tiny square is surrounded by several restaurants and shops.

You will find many local tavernas, quaint souvenir shops and boutiques here.

This is the place to be if you want to get away from the crowds of Mykonos.

The impressive five-hundred-year-old monastery is really special and worth a visit. Entry is 5 euros. Here you can view remarkable woodwork and the historical fire bells. Guided tours are available for the monastery, but you can stroll and admire their unique artefacts.  

The Panagia Tourliani monastery in Ano Mera
A lovely taverna in Ano Mera
Odos Araxame restaurant in Ano Mera
In front of my favourite souvenir shop in Ano Mera
Ano Mera, Greece
Ano Mera is a great place for shopping

Is Mykonos better than Santorini?

Our article titled Santorini versus Mykonos” answers this question. 

Click here to find out…

Beautiful bougainvillea in Mykonos Town

Taking a ferry from Mykonos to Santorini

From Milos to Mykonos, we took a Superjet (business class), which cost 117 euros per ticket. This trip took 2 hours and 45 minutes.

From Mykonos to Santorini, we took the highspeed Minoan lines, which cost 95 euros per ticket. This trip took 3 hours. This was by far our best experience with a ferry on our entire trip.

You can read our related article, Santorini versus Mykonos which gives tips and guidelines about booking a ferry in Greece.

The best ferry trip from Mykonos to Santorini

We give Mykonos 4 stars!

What you will love the most about Mykonos

Mykonos has more than 300 sunny days all year round so that you can enjoy its soft, sandy beaches and traditional ocean-side tavernas and admire magnificent sunsets in dreamy Little Venice.

It has the most incredible photo opportunities from the windmills. 

For those who enjoy a fast-paced destination, there are world-famous nightclubs, sailing trips to Delos & Rhenia, wine tours, and watersports (scuba, kitesurfing, jet skiing, wake-at flyboard).

You may also wish to visit the Mykonos Traveler website for great deals on Mykonos.

If you have questions about Mykonos, please DM us on Instagram.

Your travel buddies

Bernie and Petra xx

Fabulous nightlife in Mykonos

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