Mykonos, Greece, is one of the most famous of that country’s islands. No matter what you’re looking for, it’s got it. If you like lots of action, it’s there: nightlife, shopping, beaches, more beaches (both nude and not) per square mile than anywhere else in Greece. Gay, straight, honeymooners, families, Greeks, foreigners, they’re all there. Sound too crowded? Head beyond Mykonos town into the countryside, hit one of the less popular beaches, or take a day trip to a neighboring island.
Mykonos town epitomizes that iconic Greek fishing village--whitewashed Cycladic architecture and labyrinthine streets that are a crisp contrast to a shimmering blue sea. Windmills surround the town, remnants of the days when Mykonos was on a major sea trade route to Venice, Italy.
Those same winds mean Mykonos is a barren island with few trees, but it has been as important a stop for international jet-setters as it once was for Venetian traders since the 1960s, when the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis put their imprimatur on the island. International jet-setters followed. Ever since, it’s had that certain je ne sais quoi. Not surprisingly, it’s also been a gay-friendly destination since the 1970s--but in recent years, it’s also gotten popular with families and honeymooners.
Mykonos is a cruise ship destination; at sundown, as many as half a dozen cruise ships might gather, lights twinkling as night falls and the party scene begins. Little Venice, where the buildings of Mykonos town go right down to the water (supposedly to facilitate speedy loading and unloading due to marauding pirates; concerns about pirates are also the rationale behind Mykonos town’s maze-like streets), is the perfect spot to catch the sunset and sip a glass of wine before hitting the down. En route to Little Venice, stop at the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, in the oldest section of the town.
Beyond the town are the beaches. Platy Gialos and Elia are popular beaches; there are the famous nude beaches of Paraga, Paradise and Super Paradise, you can go there with boats that depart from Platys Gialos. Other beaches are in Agios Stefanos in the north, Kalafatis beach is recommended for wind surfing. There are daily excursions to Delos, a small island which used to be the holiest island in ancient Greece.
You’ll find both Greek and international restaurants in Mykonos, which means you can enjoy anything from Greek meze to haute cuisine. The island's specialty is the Louza loukaniko, a sausage, and kopanisti, a soft, peppery goat's cheese.
Mykonos has its own airport and good ferry connections with the other islands, as well as with the port of Piraeus. To get around the island, you can take a cab or rent a car or a bike; boats will ferry you to many beaches. The best time to come is early July, when it’s full enough to mean you can enjoy the night scene without having to battle the crowds. Its tourist season runs from May through October.