Mention Mykonos and a few images will spring to mind, whether it’s celebrities sunbathing on yachts, bright white Cycladic architecture or paradisiacal beaches.
One of the most popular islands in the Aegean, Mykonos has a fun-loving, cosmopolitan atmosphere and is well-established as a gay-friendly destination.
You’ll want to spend as much time as possible in the fashionable and arty Chora (Mykonos Town) getting share-worthy shots of the famous windmills and pure white houses. Even the cracks between the marble paving stones are painted white here.
Afterwards you can investigate the enchanting ruins of Delos and head off to all corners of Mykonos in a matter of minutes, hunting down the best beaches and vantage points.
The Best Things to do in Mykonos:
1. Mykonos Windmills
The first sight that hoves into view before you pull into the harbour is this row of seven white windmills posted on a small cape.
These would most likely have been built by the Venetians as long ago as the 16th century and are oriented to the north to catch the prevailing wind.
They were built close to the harbour to mill grain offloaded from ships to make it easier to transport.
The mills have become a symbol for the whole of island and are a simple walk southwest of the Alefkandra quarter.
There’s a small gift shop next to the road, and you can join the gaggle of photographers taking snaps of the white mills contrasted by the blues of the sky and sea.
2. Matogianni Street
A north to south street through Mykonos Town, with little alleys darting off it, Matogianni Street is where it all happens.
By day you can idle along, perusing souvenir shops, boutiques, jewellery stores and a couple of international chains like Sephora and Lacoste.
When hunger strikes you could opt for a souvlaki or gyro or sit down at one of many tavernas, which tend to be more reasonably priced here deeper in the town.
And in the evening there’s a delectable choice of restaurants at romantic spots with bougainvillea climbing the walls, and bars that do a roaring trade to the early hours.
3.Delos Archaeological Museum
After 30 years of excavations the French School of Athens needed a museum for all its discoveries on Delos, and this was inaugurated in 1904. The archaeological digs have continued for more than 145 years, and the museum had to be expanded in 1931 and 1972 to accommodate all of this material.
The oldest pieces here are the ceramics, going back more than 3,500 years.
There are also numerous grave statues and stele from the 7th to the 1st century BC, as well as clay figurines, mosaics, jewellery and everyday items from the Hellenistic Period.
Among the must-sees is a bronze mask of Dionysos from the 2nd century BC, an ivory plaque with a relief of a Mycenaean warrior as old as 1400 BC and a magisterial sculpture of Boreas kidnapping Oreithya from the end of the 5th century BC.
4. Old Harbour
After catching the SeaBus from the new port at Tourlos you’ll disembark at the marble quays of the Old Harbour.
On the east side are the arcades of the Town Hall dating to the 1700s, in front of which is the tiny church of Agios Nikolaos, crowned with a blue dome.
There’s a string of bars and restaurants hugging the curve of the harbour and if you investigate the side streets you’ll come across boutiques, design shops and tasteful souvenir stores, shoulder to shoulder with quaint little churches like Agia Eleni and Agios Kirykos.
5.Church of Panagia Paraportiani
Just north of Little Venice, in the Kastro neighbourhood is the fascinating Church of Panagia Paraportiani.
This monument was built between the 15th and 17th century and comprises four separate, interconnected churches beneath a fifth built on top.
That highest church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Panagia) and is easy to pick out for its dome.
The oldest is Agios Anargyros, begun in 1425, while the remaining four churches were all constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Like the Mykonos Windmills it’s a monument that attracts people for the photo opportunities, framing the asymmetrical white walls against the azure sky.
6.Archaeological Museum of Mykonos
The island’s own modest but engaging archaeological museum has artefacts recovered from Mykonos and adjacent islands, dating from prehistory to the end of the Hellenistic Period around the 1st century BC. In the large collection of ceramics is a pithos (jar) from the 7th century BC with reliefs depicting the capture of Troy.
There’s also exceptionally old Cycladic patterned pottery from as long ago as 2800 BC, preserved funerary steles from the island of Rineia off Delos and black vases from the Ionian Islands.
Another outstanding piece is a statue of Heracles wielding a club, also from Rineia and fashioned from the finest Parian marble in the 2nd Century BC.
7.Agios Sostis Beach
If you’re craving some space to yourself, make for the beaches in the less frequented north of Mykonos, which is scattered with natural parks.
Agios Sostis has no beachfront bars, restaurants or sun beds and is all the better for it: The beach is noticeably quieter than those in the south, and behind is not much more than gently sloping hills with sparsely dusted with scrub.
Head north and there’s a small village with a taverna and church, and another much smaller cove bathed by shallow, glimmering water.
Also at the forefront of the island’s contemporary art scene is Dio Horia, a gallery hosting exhibitions, providing residencies and championing young talent from countries outside the art world’s attention.
In the three years since it opened, Dio Horia has exhibited work by Tracey Emin, David Adamo, Erik Parker and Nina Chanel Abney.
Dio Horia also has a publishing arm, and organises events and pop-up installations around Mykonos.
There are upcoming solo shows in 2018 for the well-known contemporary artists Trudy Benson, Peter McDonald and Raul de Nieves.
Two beaches over from Kalo Livadi, Kalafatis is another alluring sandy bay with an arc of golden sand and shallow, clear waters.
What sets this beach apart is that it is oriented to the east, and not far offshore there are generous breezes.
So while you recline on your sun lounger you’ll see windsurfing sails zipping across the horizon.
Joining them in summer are some snazzy-looking yachts anchored in the bay.
Kalafatis also has a watersports centre for motorised activities like wakeboarding, waterskiing and jet-skiing.
On the northern edge of the bay is a quay with waterfront restaurant and where tour boats set off for cruises.
Six kilometres north of Chora is a working lighthouse guiding traffic along the strait between Mykonos and neighbouring Tinos.
Positioned far above the water, this edifice was completed with an octagonal tower in 1891 and flashes a white signal every ten seconds.
It was raised in response to a disaster in which the Volta steam ship sank off the north coast of Mykonos in 1887, at the cost of 11 lives.
If you’d like to see the original Fresnel lens, it has ended up at the Mykonos Maritime Museum.
Although you can’t go inside, the lighthouse is a trip worth making for the awesome scenery.