If you are visiting the Greek Islands, I highly recommend taking a ferry at some point of your journey. The ferry to Mykonos from Santorini only took 2.5 hours and was absolutely beautiful. We passed several other islands, including Ios, Paros, and Naxos, and enjoyed amazing views from the comfortable seats and deck.
When we arrived, we checked into the Cape Mykonos for our two day/one night stay on the island. The hotel was just setting up for the season; in fact, the hotel was opening that day and we were the first guests to arrive! The hotel was clean and bright and our balcony had a beautiful view of Mykonos Bay. My only complaint would be that the wi-fi was spotty in the room, so we had to go to reception when we needed the internet.
The concierge, Elina, was very helpful in getting us settled in and arranging airport transfers and a rental car. When we booked the hotel, we thought it might be nice to stay a bit outside of the main town and just walk into town for the day. However, although the walk is only 20 minutes, it is along busy streets without much of a shoulder, so we never actually walked to town and instead, rented a car for our stay. We ended up being very thankful that we had a car because our second day in Mykonos was one of the windiest I have ever experienced (more on that later).
I will say that being in Mykonos during the early season was much different than being in Santorini. While a few places in Santorini were still closed, most places were open and we never felt affected by it being pre-season. Mykonos, however, had many closings and it seemed like Mykonos town was the only part of the island where most of the restaurants and shops were open. The rest of the island felt quite sleepy. While we didn’t mind having many places to ourselves, if you are going to Mykonos for the parties like many travelers do, you may want to wait until after Greek Easter when more people are vacationing.
For our first day in Mykonos, we drove around to as many beaches as we could (and there are several beaches!). We swam a bit at Kalo Livadi, but the water was still quite cold as it was early in the season, so we walked around and took pictures at most of the other beaches.
We drove to Kalafatis and Divounia beaches, where there is a small fish tavern village. Nearby is Agia Anna, a very rocky beach with a quaint church and large hotel in close proximity to one another.
We then drove to Elia Beach. Elia is apparently a clothing optional beach, though we wouldn’t know since we were the some of the only people there! Elia has a few upscale bars that were not open yet and beautiful homes high in the rocky hills overlooking the beach. Note: I would not recommend walking barefoot here as the rocky beach was quite painful on my sensitive feet!
Our next stop was Paradise Beach, a famous beach bar/restaurant/hotel that has a very “hippie spring break” feel. Although there was a plethora of signage along the way, the roads are so small and winding that we had a hard time finding it. And warning-our GPS was not very reliable in that part of the island. Although Paradise was fairly empty while we were there, it is one of the most well-known beaches in the world. It was established in the 1960s by hippies who introduced nude bathing to the area. It was a haven for music, sunshine, and free love. Today, it hosts music festivals with international DJs and thousands of partiers. The beach features a large food court, gift shops, and lodging that ranges from camping to luxurious apartments. It felt strange to be in such a hot spot with only a handful of other beachgoers!
We tried to visit Hippie Fish at Agios Ioannis for dinner and the sunset, but unfortunately it was not yet open for the season. We had heard rave reviews though, and it was a beautiful place, so please let me know if you go! On our way back to town, we saw Orsos and Korfos Beaches (which I do not recommend visiting as it was filled with garbage).
In town, we watched the sunset over the quintessential Mykonos windmills (we parked in a lot nearby). None of the windmills are in operation today, but they are a famous symbol of the island. I would imagine that this sunset-watching spot could be quite crowded with tourists during the high season, so it was very pleasant to enjoy it mostly to ourselves.
We then walked around Mykonos town and fell in love with the charming winding streets. Around each corner, you might find live music, a cozy place for meze, a quiet church, or a cute shop.
After exploring for a bit, we found a fantastic place to have dinner at Captain’s in the old port. Captain’s specializes in the typical Greek meze meal (shared plates or tapas). We ordered about 15 different plates to share and had so much fun trying several Greek dishes over wine. Some of the other restaurants in the old port are a bit touristy, but this one was filled with locals. It’s also worth noting that it was the only completely full restaurant in the old port. What to order: Grilled octopus, saganaki fried cheese, fava bean puree
We capped off the night with drinks at Rhapsody in Little Venice. Little Venice is named because of the locations of the buildings right on the water. You can sit and have a drink on a balcony where water crashes over the windowsill when the current is high! Rhapsody is a restaurant with a full bar (and vast list of cocktails) served with great music and a fun crowd.
The next morning, we woke up to the sounds of heavy winds and our porch furniture crashing on the balcony. It was the windiest day ever! We couldn’t even walk outside without being blown over. Furthermore, the wind was freezing. Our breakfast basket was sitting outside of our room, filled with our order of toast and jam, biscuits, and Greek coffee, which we ate while planning out our day.
We were very glad we had a car because it would have been difficult to drive an ATV or walk around the island due to the wind. It was still a sunny and beautiful day otherwise, so we drove up to the Armenistis Lighthouse (follow the signs to Fanari) to see the incredible views of the island. The lighthouse felt haunted because it was so desolate there and we got some great pictures of the view in the few minutes that we could stand the wind!
Next, we drove to Ftelia beach, where the enormous waves reminded me of Aruba! I wouldn’t have gotten in the water because it was very cold, but I am not sure whether I would have even if it was warmer because the waves were so big.
We stopped in Ano Mera to walk around the traditional old village and see the Panagia Tourliani Monastery from the 16th century. The monastery is open from 9am to 1pm and 3:30pm to 7pm. Unfortunately, we had arrived between 1 and 3:30 so we weren’t able to see the inside. Ano Mera also has great traditional Greek restaurants, but we decided to go back to Mykonos Town for kebabs at a place we had spotted the day before. Another thing to note is that Ano Mera has a mini market and pharmacy, so if there is anything you need, this is a good place to buy it.
When we arrived back in Mykonos town, we walked around again in Little Venice to the shops and got kebabs and ice cream for lunch. You can park in a lot at the Old Port for a short and pleasant walk into Mykonos Town.
To end our visit in Mykonos, we had cocktails at Galleraki, a fun bar with a young and fashionable crowd. Galleraki has a great menu of juices, alcoholic beverages, and snacks. You can sit on the deck next to the water, but warning: it’s a splash zone! The best place to sit is on the deck where you can enjoy the beautiful views without being soaked.
And that’s it for Mykonos and Greece. Next time, I’ll be talking about our time in the incredible Cappadocia region of Turkey. Thanks for reading!