Top Things To See And Do On The Island Of Mykonos
Although the Greek island of Mykonos has developed something of a reputation as a prime destination for clubbers who enjoy the energetic nightlife on offer, it’s also a great place for solo travelers, families, couples and more for a relaxing holiday under the sun. The booming tourism industry on the island caters to a huge range of people with many activities on offer.
Nicknamed “The Island of the Winds,” Mykonos is easy to get to from other countries thanks to great connections from Mykonos Airport to Europe and other international destinations, as well as the possibility of traveling to and from the island by boat. Most tourists stay in or around the town of Mykonos, in the Greek tradition of using an island’s name for its main town.
The guide below offers details on some of the best things to see and do while on the island of Mykonos, from shopping to dining and from nightlife ideas to daytime activities. Whatever it is that you choose to do, you’re bound to have a good time and you’ll discover why the island has established itself as one of the leading tourist destinations in Greece.
1. Have a walk around Mykonos Town
Whether you’re staying in Mykonos Town (known to locals by the Greek name “Chora,” which translates as “principal town”) or elsewhere you should consider making a walk through the area one of your first things to do on the island. Admire the old buildings painted bright white with blue roofs and doors as you wander through the winding streets of this charming place. As you explore you’ll see small cafes, shops, and other businesses run by locals no matter which way you turn. Residents here have taken efforts to preserve the historic look of the town, and that’s to the benefit of tourists who will find a picture-perfect backdrop at every turn.
2. Have a shopping expedition in the Matogiania neighborhood
The busiest part of Mykonos Town is in the center, and the Matogiania neighborhood is home to the best dining establishments and boutiques if you’re looking for something to buy, eat or drink. If your idea of a great vacation is to browse high-end clothing stores and look for one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, this is the place to be. You’ll find major international companies including Lacoste offering the latest in fashion situated next door to family-owned businesses selling jewelry, paintings, and a huge range of souvenirs. And if all that shopping builds up your appetite there are many great bars, cafes and restaurants throughout the area.
3. Take a look at the windmills of Mykonos Town
One of the most iconic landmarks in Mykonos Town is a collection of seven large windmills painted in white that line the harbor, greeting people as they sail to the island. The structures are believed to have been built as far back as the 1500s and were used as way to refine harvested grain, with the windmills powered by the strong northern winds on Mykonos. There used to be more windmills but over the years the number has dwindled down to the seven that are still standing, and they’re now used as either museums or as privately owned houses. If you’d like to visit the windmills, the Boni windmill operates as a museum. There’s also a gift shop available at the road to the windmills where you can buy souvenirs.
4. Step into Greece’s past with a visit to the island of Delos
History fans can have a great day trip making a short journey to the island of Delos, which is a short distance from Mykonos. Fabled as the birthplace of the Greek deities Artemis and Apollo, Delos is considered one of the most important religious, cultural and historical locations in Greece. The statues and other icons dating back to ancient times that have been excavated are designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site because of their importance. Tickets are available on Mykonos for boat rides that travel to and from Delos throughout the day, making it convenient to get to the island. Once on Delos you can explore the ruins including what’s left of temples, a theater, and fountains, as well as some fascinating mosaics that have stood the test of time over many centuries.
5. Learn more about Greece’s history at the Archaeological Museum of Delos
If you decide to make the day trip to Delos to explore the ancient sights then you should also consider including as part of your visit a trip to the Archaeological Museum of Delos that is located on the island. The excavation of the ruins on the island began in the late 1800s and the museum was constructed in 1904 in order to have a place to display the artefacts that were discovered. Inside the museum you will find displays of various priceless pieces, ranging ceramic creations that are thousands of years old to statues, jewelry and other treasures. One of the most popular items on display at the museum is a mask made of bronze depicting Dionysos, the Greek god of wine and fertility, that dates back to many centuries.
6. Browse the collections at the Aegean Maritime Museum
There are more historical attractions back on the island of Mykonos, including the Aegean Maritime Museum. Opened in 1985, this museum focuses on preserving and educating people about the history of maritime shipping in and around the island over the centuries. It’s easy to find as the museum is located in the center of Mykonos Town. Among the diverse collections that are housed inside are documents from years of shipping records, ancient books and other written material about shipping on the Aegean Sea, rare maps used by sailors centuries ago, tools and other items that were used on ships in many important eras, and more. There’s also a garden at the museum featuring artistic works memorializing sailors who died at sea.
7. Reflect on the island’s religious past at the Church of Panagia Paraportiani
Even if you’ve never visited Mykonos before, you might recognize the Church of Panagia Paraportiani because of its unique all-white color topped by a dome. It is a heavily photographed religious icon and its image has been seen around the world, making it perhaps the most popular church on the island for visitors to see. The building consists of four separate chapels all built at various times in Mykonos’ past, and is an impressive thing to see up close, so be sure to bring your camera in order to get that Instagram-ready snap outside the church. And once you’ve seen this structure can also stroll around Mykonos Town and see some of the hundreds of other small white-painted churches throughout the area.
8. Relax with peace and quiet under the sun at Agios Sostis Beach
For those travelers who have come to Mykonos with the hope of a relaxing holiday under the sun, Agios Sostis Beach is a must-visit destination. Unlike some of the more crowded, tourist-focused beaches elsewhere on the island, this beach is less populated — likely because it does not have any kiosks selling furniture like sun chairs, nor any busy restaurants, cafes, bars or other food and drink places. Instead, visitors to this beach to the north of the island are treated with a tranquil site boasting natural beauty, far quieter than the packed beaches to the south. And if you work up an appetite after sunbathing or swimming in the clear sea you can always make a short trip to a nearby village that has a taverna where you can get a meal or drink.
9. Admire the artworks on display at the Rarity Gallery
A relatively new addition to Mykonos’ tourist attractions, the Rarity Gallery opened in 1994 by curators Christos Nikolaou and Vassilis Matsaidonis with a focus on displaying contemporary artworks. The gallery features a rotating list of exhibitions of creations from artists from around the world both famous and newly discovered. The pieces are displayed across three rooms, featuring sculptures, paintings, photographs, and more. Rarity Gallery is open every day of the week (although holidays can sometimes affect the opening hours) and it is located in Mykonos Town, so it’s a convenient place to visit on a moment’s notice.
10. Dance the night away by enjoying Mykonos’ nightlife
Of course, one of the reasons that Mykonos developed such a great reputation as a place for tourists to visit for a great nightlife is because of the amazing bars, clubs and other venues that are so prevalent on the island. If you like having a drink and a dance then you should definitely take advantage of these places and dance the night away by trying some of the popular places to hang out. It’s hard to find a bad bar or club, but some of the busiest hot spots include the Tropicana Beach Club on Paradise Beach, among many others.