This summer was a pretty remarkable one, for many reasons. I was away from London for about two months and it was a-mazing. The highlight of my travels was a week’s trip to the Greek Islands, something which has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. We visited Mykonos, Ios and Santorini and after some Instagram stalking and months of research, our expectations for this well-documented corner of the world were absolutely sky high. And it did not disappoint. The Cyclades are, hands down, the most beautiful group of islands I’ve ever been to and this part of Greece is probably the most picturesque place I’ve visited.
First stop? Mykonos. An island with a reputation for flashy nightclubs, big boats, glitz and glamour. Would this party island fit the bill for a romantic getaway? The short answer is yes: Mykonos has expanded in the last decade to welcome a much more varied clientele. So whatever you want to get out of your holiday here, chances are you’ll find it. Here are my top tips for eating, drinking and sightseeing on the island.
What to do
- Visit the windmills: if you’re not stopping for long, one sight you can’t miss are the island’s famous windmills. Today, they are only seven (there were more than twenty once upon a time). They used to grind local wheat which made the island very prosperous in the 19th century. Mykonos is situated on major sea trade-route which at one time joined Venice, the gateway of Europe, to Asia.
- Little Venice: a short stroll from the windmills is Little Venice on the fringes of Chora, the main town of Mykonos. Stop at any of the little cafes for a Greek coffee or a freddo cappuccino and watch the waves crash onto the ridge just metres away. NB wear flip flops!
- Panagia Paraportiani: Mykonos’ most famous church, this structure comprises four small chapels with another on the upper storey reached by an exterior staircase. It’s usually locked but the photogenic whitewashed walls are worth the visit.
- Wonder the streets of Chora: Yes, it may seem obvious, but the best way to familiarise yourself with the island is by getting lost in the winding streets of the main town. We found Chora to be the most picturesque of the islands’ villages and the ‘capitals’ of Ios and Santorini didn’t quite match up when it came to discovering hidden corners or winding up steps.
Make sure you walk right up to the very top! I hope you’ve noticed I dressed to blend in with the surroundings…
- Visit the port: this is one you won’t really be able to avoid as you’ll most likely be catching a boat either in or out of this lovely island. The old port is particularly beautiful so it’s worth factoring in a bit of extra time to wander around and snap a few shots.
Where to eat/drink
To an extent, the restaurants in Mykonos are all much of a muchness. We were only there for one night so didn’t get the chance to sample a great range. There are luxury hotels with very good restaurants, but if you’re heading into town for a bite to eat there are no totally stand-out options. The quality of what’s on offer is pretty good so don’t be afraid to pick the terrace with the best atmosphere and make yourself comfortable. I can’t even remember the name of the one we opted for but it was delicious.
For lunch we sampled ‘giros’ which are essentially kebabs in pitta bread. I may not be selling it but honestly, these are fantastic. They won’t do wonders for your waistline but somehow everything in Greece just seems healthier…
For cocktails it’s a similar story, although we did try La Bonbonniere (just opposite Louis Vuitton) which was very good, if a little pricey. If you bring your dancing shoes it turns into a club later on.
Where to stay
- Grace Hotel – this hotel is the dream but it was a little out of our budget and we were only staying one night, so didn’t want to splash out. It’s a little higher than the main town which takes it just out of walking distance (taxis are cheap), but the flipside is the incredible view which you can enjoy with a cocktail by the pool.
- Little Rochari – great value and actually better located than the Grace hotel, this is a no-nonsense but perfectly respectable little hotel which caters to all your basic needs. The staff are friendly, there’s wifi, an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast included in the price of the room and you can wander into town on foot to explore. If you can’t stretch to 300 euros a night, this is your perfect compromise. You could also try it’s big brother the Rochari too.