Centrally located in the Cycladic group of Greek islands, Mykonos is an extremely popular summer destination.
Known for its epic party atmosphere but also for sandy beaches, whitewashed Cycladic architecture and glamorous reputation, it regularly tops travel sites’ lists of Greek island destinations.
However, there is more to the island than its fashionable side. Few people know that Mykonos has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Serene corners, culture and history are also part of the island of Mykonos and here are some of the best things to do on the island.
The Castle of Gyzi
Not many kilometers out of Mykonos Town, the ruins of Gyzi Castle represent an interesting point of history that the tells the legends of the island’s past. It dates back to the 13th century and was built on a hilltop to offer protection to Ano Mera, a rural village. The castle was abandoned during the years of the Ottoman domination and was used by pirates in the Aegean as a base. Views from the top of the hill allow visitors to discover the beautiful coastal landscape of Mykonos.
The district of Alefkandra, also popularly known as Little Venice offers – together with the Windmills – one of the best-known sights of Mykonos. The area took its name from the women who used to visit the area to wash their clothes (lefka).
The houses in Alefkandra are different from the ones in the town, being three-story buildings with a small door and colorful windows which face the sea. The resemblance this area has to Italy’s famous Venice earned the neighborhood its nickname. Long ago, the area was the place where captains and merchants used to live when not at sea.
While wandering the alleys of Little Venice, it is easy to reach the nearby iconic church of the Panagia Paraportiani, five churches built in a cross-shape design, with the most recent of them standing on top.
The white building stands proudly like a mountain of sugar close to the sea. This picture-postcard complex is the perfect place to take home amazing images of this Mykonos landmark.
Always close to the village of Ano Mera, Panagia Tourliani is a perfect example of ecclesiastical architecture. The monastery boasts a whitewashed facade and a colored dome while in its interior it is possible to admire a magnificent marble fountain.
The stunning wooden iconostasis in Baroque style was the work of skillful Italian artists. To visit the monastery it is necessary to call beforehand and agree an appointment.
The island of Delos
According to Greek mythology, Delos is the place where Leto gave birth to Zeus’ twins, Apollo and Artemis. The island, which is one of the most important archaeological sites of the whole country, allows visitors to venture into ancient avenues lined up with temples, palazzi and impressive monuments.
The island also offers breathtaking views of the Aegean, especially during sunset. Ferry boats depart daily from the harbor of Mykonos and, for those interested in the history of the place, a guided visit to the island is one of the best investments they can do on their trip
Beaches of Mykonos
Mykonos’ beaches: they are many and all of them are well-known. From the glamorous port of Ornos to the crazy atmosphere of Paradise and Super Paradise, there are beaches for all tastes.
For those looking for a relaxed atmosphere, Cavo Psarou is among the most beautiful bays to visit. Azure waters and mountains as a backdrop offer the perfect frame for a relaxing time at the beach.
Families, on the contrary, rather visit the big Platys Gialos, home to different kinds of accommodation, local tavernas as well as a little port from where small parrots depart to visit more distant shores.
Among them, Elia is a long coastal strip of white sand, known for being the favorite gathering place of the LGTB community visiting Mykonos. However, families are also attracted by this corner of paradise since its large spaces and the private atmosphere make Elia a location where everyone is able to find a place of their own.
Submarine activities and sports are less known but also form part of summer life on Mykonos. A colorful display of submarine life can be admired below the surface of the Aegean. Snorkeling and diving are a must in the area known as Paradise Reef. This reef hosts a huge variety of Mediterranean sea life among which are octopi, seahorses, sponges, starfish and barracuda. Locals say the best months to dive are late August and September when waters are warm after months of baking under the Greek sun.