Cosmopolitan party island
Mykonos is up for fun – and knows it – as heaving clubs and bars mark it out at a top spot for a hedonistic fortnight. Meanwhile, away from the bars, picturesque windmills and whitewashed roads point to an altogether different side of the island, where the gentle pace of Mediterranean life is untouched by the summer invasion.
Over 150 boutiques grace the town, which effectively becomes a no-go area when cruise ships are in port (typically 10am-5pm). Designer clothing, leather goods and jewellery dominate, in a mix of one-offs, Greek chains and international labels. Lalaounis (Polykandrióti 14) is one of the most exclusive and established jewellers in Greece, though Vildiridis (Matogiánni 12) is an equally venerable family business. Soho Soho (Androníkou 46), with an occasional celebrity clientele, and Sandal (Venetías 2) occupy more or less opposite ends of the fashion spectrum. There are also outlets for such as Lacoste, Quiksilver and Tommy Hilfiger.
Food & Drink
Most eateries are in Hóra, but there are some in the second village of Áno Méra, or at the beaches. Don’t expect terrific value anywhere – per-person bills for three courses, before drinks, rarely dip below €30. The only cheapish place is waterfront Madoupas (mid-quay), a combination bar/café/cookhouse, serving hearty chickpea soup and crispy fried anchovies. For a lighter touch, try Ma’ereio (Kalogéra 16), with island ham, mushrooms and toothsome meatballs. Áno Méra’s square is surrounded by tavernas; Fisherman is among the more reasonable, serving more meat than seafood despite the name. Top beach tavern, with a cult following, is Tasos at Paránga, excelling at creative starters like roasted aubergines ‘on the halfshell’ and decent servings of seafood.
Pull up a chair at one of the numerous cafés and bars – some gay, others straight – at the main town’s ‘Little Venice’ quarter, whose old buildings literally overhang the water.
The most popular beaches have clubs which put on parties until dawn, often with imported DJs; the most notorious are at Cavo Paradiso (Paradise Beach), and gayer Super Paradise (also big for all-day parties). Paránga Beach has three lower-key clubs to choose from, for a straighter and slightly older clientele.
Gay Film Festival
June and September
The open-air Manto in town is the site of ‘the very best in queer cinema’, with September a repeat of the June programme.
Dormition of the Virgin
Amazing at it may seem in such a touristy locale, the islanders still take the festivals (panigýria) of the Orthodox liturgical calendar seriously. The biggest bash is this one, in and around Tourlianí monastery, in Áno Méra village.
XLSior Gay Festival
An established event on the European gay (men’s) circuit, with parties at venues indoors and out, plus cruising in all senses of the word.
Mykonos hotels are mostly located in town, especially at its south and north edges; there are also some behind nearby beaches. In Róhari district, just off Agíou Ioánnou road towards Megáli Ámmos, the adjacent Belvedere and Semeli are design-led hotels in soothing earth tones, with a mix of rooms and suites, distant sea views and large pools. ‘Budget accommodation’ is only a relative term here, but for that, try the somewhat old-fashioned Philippi (Kalogéra 23), overlooking a lovely garden. For a stay at one of the many south-coast beaches, the hillside Psarou Garden, dominating the eponymous cove, or the Argo at Platýs Gialós are good options.