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Inside: Everything you need to know to plan the perfect holiday on the fabulous Greek Island of Mykonos.
It was the first time I ever needed a passport.
My very first trip “across the pond.”
At the time, it seemed like a big adventure.
Just a trio of 20-something girlfriends hitting the Greek island of Mykonos for a week. I had no way of knowing how much that trip would change my life.
From the minute I stepped off the plane on that tiny little granite island in the middle of the Aegean Sea, I was hooked.
It was quite simply the most beautiful place I’d ever laid eyes on.
From the exquisite beaches edged by clear turqoise waters to the white-washed homes adorned with blue shutters to the imposing shadows of the windmills that welcome every traveler to the harbor – Mykonos is a work of art.
The spark of wanderlust
I always knew I wanted to travel but until that first trip to Greece, I hadn’t done much about it.
After all, simply wanting to travel doesn’t make it so.
Everything changed for me after Mykonos. Just a few years later, I took my first solo trip around the world. And now, 10 round-the-world trips and 176 countries later, I still keep coming back to the place where I first fell in love with travel.
To re-visit the people and places that have made it so special to me. And to re-live the trip that was the original catalyst for my wanderlust. This trip will be my 7th visit to the island.
Over the years, I’ve introduced three other friends to Mykonos. It is, after all, the perfect place for a girls’ getaway. Last year, it was my friend Dena during a 30-day trip around Europe.
Read More: Mykonos Greece, Glorious Greece
This time, my good friend and regular travel buddy, Shannon, will be the fourth.
This year’s Europe trip began with a marathon in the Alps (zero stars, do not recommend). Of course, I have no one to blame but myself, I was woefully unprepared for the altitude. Let’s just say I have earned a few days of R&R on Mykonos.
After that, I met up with Shannon in Barcelona and we headed out on a week-long cruise around the Med (5 stars, highly recommend!).
So after a full day of travel from Barcelona via Athens, we touch down in Mykonos as the sun begins its descent on a glorious Friday evening.
2021 Update: Traveling to Greece right now
I just returned from another 2-week trip traveling around the Greek Islands. I wrote a comprehensive post about traveling in and around Greece right now during the Covid-19 pandemic:
It’s everything you need to know about pre-arrival testing, whether you’ll have to wear a mask, where you can get a Covid test if you need one to return home, and all the essentials for traveling to Greece right now. If you’re planning a trip to Greece in 2021, be sure to check it out.
And now, back to Mykonos!
Before a get to the rest of our evening, a few quick facts to help you plan your trip:
How to get to Mykonos from Athens
There are two options to get to the island of Mykonos – you can either fly or take the ferry.
By Flight – Flights from Athens to Mykonos are operated by both Olympic and Aegean Airlines and the flight takes about 40 minutes. Olympic is now owned by Aegean so fares are the same on both websites and flights are operated interchangeably. (For example, you can book a flight on the Olympic website that may be operated by Aegean and vice versa.)
There are also seasonal direct flights from European cities like Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, Paris, and London that allow you to bypass Athens entirely. But if this is your first trip to Greece, definitely don’t skip Athens. Spend at least a day or two there on your way to or from the islands.
Read More: 24 Hours in Athens
By Ferry – Ferries depart Athens from both the Piraeus and Rafina ports. The trip can take as little as 2h 25m (on a fast ferry) to as long as 5h 15m (on the larger car ferries). It all depends on the size of the ferry and how many stops it makes. Note that ferries can be cancelled due to high seas (this is more common with the smaller fast ferries).
From the Athens airport, the port of Rafina is takes about 30 minutes and will run you around EUR 40 in a taxi. To the port of Piraeus, the trip takes about 40 minutes and runs approximately EUR 50 by taxi.
A quick note about stikes in Greece
Greece is notorious for strikes that bring transportation to a standstill. It’s generally a ferry strike, or an airline strike, or a taxi strike, etc. So when you don’t have one option, you still have another.
I’ve landed in Athens twice only to discover that my planned method of transportation to Mykonos was on strike. The first time it was an airline strike. Fortunately, we hurried to the port and were able to catch a ferry.
Determined not to let that happen again, on my next trip we booked ferry tickets in advance instead of a flight. Lo and behold, we land in Athens and there’s a ferry strike. Sigh. Luckily, we were able to get a flight the next day at a fairly reasonable fare. But it scrapped a day of our vacation.
Don’t be surprised if this happens on your trip to the Greek Islands. There’s some sort of strike in Greece several times a year. But there’s one thing you can count on, there is ALWAYS a major strike on May 1st every year. So whatever you do, avoid planning ANY form of transportation on May 1st.
But enough about labor disputes, let’s get back to the fun stuff!
Like the fact that the sun is setting in Little Venice and I don’t yet have a glass of Greek wine in my hand.
My favorite place to stay in Mykonos Town
For this trip, I again booked our stay at the lovely Marietta’s Apartments near the windmills.
Marietta has a terrific building on the edge of the incredibly scenic Little Venice area with 3 great apartments. Each one has a perfect view overlooking the windmills and the sunset each night.
Her apartments are clean and comfortable, her prices are reasonable and she even offers an airport shuttle.
We’re tired when we finally get to the apartment, but the view of the setting sun from the balcony overlooking Little Venice gives both of us a second wind.
We grab a bottle of Greek wine from the mini-market downstairs and head back to our balcony to watch the nightly sunset show.
In the bars and restaurants of Little Venice, where the balconies literally overhang the sea, the sunset earns a nightly round of applause from the assembled audience. And it’s well-deserved.
As a bit of a connoisseur of sunsets around the world, I can safely say that those in Mykonos rank up there with the best in the world.
After sunset, it’s time to change and head out to dinner – I am seriously craving some Greek food. Our second wind holds on strong and after dinner we dance the night away at Skandinavian Bar and Caprice.
It’s a perfect start to our 3 days in Mykonos.
Where to stay in Mykonos – In town or at the beach?
The next morning, after a significant amount of sleeping in, we take advantage of the excellent island bus system to make our way to my favorite beach – Platis Yialos.
On my first few trips to Greece, I stayed near Platis Yialos.
The first time at the Petasos Beach Resort and the second time at the Petinos Beach Hotel. Both are fabulous resorts and it’s wonderful to be close to the beach and have a short walk from hotel room to beach chair each day.
However, by the second trip, my girlfriends and I tire of the nightly challenge of getting back to the hotel after a night of dancing in town. Taxis are few on the island the buses don’t run late. So when the bars close, there can be a long wait to get a taxi back to the hotel.
Eventually, we realize it makes a lot more sense to stay in town and just take the cheap and convenient buses out to the beach each day. On my third trip, I discovered Marietta’s apartments and I’ve stayed there every visit since.
Best Beaches in Mykonos – Platis Yialos
More relaxing (and I think much prettier) than the popular “party” beaches of Paradise and Super Paradise, Platis Yialos is a wide expanse of sand with sparkling, clear-blue waters.
It’s the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon before kicking it into high gear again in the evening (Ornos Beach is another favorite).
We follow a similar schedule each day that goes something like this:
It’s a simple strategy for island enjoyment that has served me well over the years.
Beach Day #2 – Psarou Beach
The next day, to mix it up a little bit and give Shannon a chance to see another beach, we decide to visit Psarou Beach.
Mykonos is known for its world-class beaches and Psarou Beach is definitely a beauty.
Both Platis Yialos and Psarou beaches are easily reachable from the main town of Chora by the efficient local bus system.
Psarou Beach is a secluded, sandy cove surrounded by rocky cliffs and a few of the island’s best resorts like the uber-fabulous Mykonos Blu and Kensho Psarou. As we make the hike down a winding path to the beach, yachts glide in and out of the crystalline waters in the distance.
We spend a relaxing afternoon soaking in the Greek sunshine and enjoying our last full day in Mykonos.
Things to do in Mykonos
Yes, there’s more to do in Mykonos than just assume a vegetative state on a fabulous beach all day. And on previous trips, I’ve done a lot of them.
You can rent a car for a day to explore the island on your own schedule. Or wander the charming labyrinth of narrow whitewashed streets of Mykonos Town. Exploring the many shops, art galleries and cafes in town is a great way to spend an afternoon if you’ve had enough sun.
Day Trip to Delos
The most popular day trip on Mykonos is a trip to one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites on the nearby island of Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to Greek mythology, Delos is the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. It’s a great half-day or full-day trip and I highly recommend it.
But with just a few days to spend on Mykonos this time, we decide to stick to beaches and nightlife – the two things Mykonos does best.
That night, we watch our final applause-worthy sunset and savor our last Greek meal. And – despite our best intentions to get some sleep before our 7:00am flight in the morning – we manage to stay out dancing until the wee hours.
Some things never change.
Though I’ve seen so much more of the world now since that first trip abroad, Mykonos will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the island that started it all for me and I know I’ll continue to return for years to come.
Next up, it’s time to kick-off our 30-day trip around the Balkans.
First stop, Montenegro!