Where: Mykonos, Cyclades, Greek Islands
When: June or September to avoid the throngs and searing heat
Happenings: Clublife, partying on the beach and nearby ancient Greek ruins.
Remember to bring: Your camera – for some of the best photo opportunities in Greece
Where It’s At
June and September are the best times to visit Greece to avoid the throngs of tourists. With well over 100 inhabited islands and a territory that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Balkans, Greece has countless beautiful beaches ranging from the remote and secluded to hectic and hedonistic.
The windy island of Mykonos is located in the Cyclades – 6 hours by ferry from Piraeus Port in Athens. The landscape and climate of the Cyclades is amongst the hottest and most arid in all of Greece, pointing close to the tip of north Africa.
Things to See and Do
On the island of Mykonos, the best beaches are on the south coast away from tourists. Mykonos is the most cosmopolitan of the Greek islands attracting intellectuals and artists as well as party goers. Nude sunbathing is permitted and it’s incredible party atmosphere attracts 800,000 visitors a year to the 45 square mile island. For a party bustling atmosphere try the Paradise and Super Paradise Beach, a hive of backpackers, for nude and topless bathing with a booming dance PA pumping out party tunes during the summer season.
You can rent a motorbike for about $20 a day and find some more isolated beaches on the North coast like Agios Stosis (where the film Shirley Valentine was filmed), a long sandy beach for nudists. The Paraga beach is for the body beautiful, while Panormos beach is a spot for happenings and live shows in Antoni’s Taverna. Many of the beaches are within a few wimutes drive fo the town and served by bus and taxi.
On a Sunday morning, the two cultures of locals vs tourists meet as the homebound clubbers share the streets with local’s getting up for Sunday Mass at one of the inland churches.
The curving streets of Mykonos town were designed to confuse attacking pirates in the 16th Century, but today only serve to confuse the humble tourists. Gray green rocks and prickly pear bushes covered in wild flowers set the scene for the rocky hills inland and mountain views that must be explored. Bring your camera here – you certainly will want to chance a classic photo opportunity at the famous windmills, one of the numerous whitewashed Orthodox Greek churches or perhaps the dynamic quayside where you can sit at a cafe as the waves crash against the sides of the houses.
It’s just a day trip away to the ancient island of Delos, a protected ‘sacred island’ of ancient Greek civilisation with some of the most atmospheric and well preserved ruins of the Greek Empire. You can’t stay on the museum island, but ferry leave Mykonos port during the morning and will pick you up in the late afternoon. Less known than the ruins of the Acropolis, Delos is probably the hidden historic gem of all of Europe and makes a welcomed break from the hectic party life of mainland Mykonos.
Mykonos is one of the most popular islands in the Cyclades. Don’t expect to find bargain accomodation here as you would on the smaller islands – book ahead if you’re planning to come in July or August. Otherwise, there are plenty of ‘pensions’ (en suite rooms) to choose from and the owners will bombard you at the docks with offers.
The ferry service in Greece is easy to use and typically there will be several ferries a day costing a few dollars to hop between the islands.
Expect to pay through the nose for food and other basic services – costs in Mykonos are akin to those in Paris and other major European cities. This island is hugely fashionable with Italians, Germans and the British – so expect to rub shoulders with everyone from Milano sophisticats to the hoi-poloi. If this is all too much for you, you can enjoy a quieter and cheaper life at islands likeParas, Tinos, Syros and Naxos.
By Susi O’Neill