The Weekly Getaway: the windmills of Mykonos
In recent years, Mykonos has become a lot more commercial, victim of its own success as many call it. Still though, the aura of this ever buzzing and gorgeous landscape is one of a kind and to those that know where to look, Mykonos is still there... plain and simple.
The moment you set foot on its white-washed streets, the smell from the dried out fenugreek across the golden fields hits you. Sun-struck cubic houses, almost as if sculpted, mark the central settlement of it, Chora, along the Matoyiannia bay of what used to be Mykonos' old port.
Mykonos is known for its crystal clear waters and its wide variety of amazing beaches. No matter what the wind does, you can always do something about it. In the north, both Panormos and Agios Sostis cater to fashionable young crowds that prefer to camp out on their own away from the loud music of the glitteratti. Ftelia is also nice if you don't mind the sun and the wind which most of the times attracts the surfers and the waves alike. Fokos is also off the beaten path but less interesting.
When I visit the north side I prefer to stay late and then opt for either a traditional taverna lunch at Kiki's or a more upscale sunset lunch at Alemagou beach bar.
South of Mykonos services a far more commercial group of travelers but still makes for a great day out. Personal favourite is Lia, where the waters are pristine and the sand is almost pebbly. Definitely worth the 20min ride from Chora. You can always combine that with a visit to Spilia seaside restaurant around 4-5pm to taste some of the best of Greek seafood cuisine literarily with a table on the water.
Agrari is also nice if you're looking for a relaxing sandy beach. Kapari, ditto.
Kalo Livadi has long been a classic with Sol y Mar restaurant & beach bar welcoming patrons ever since the 90s, having a long tradition on loud eastern music that gets them jumping on the tables after 5pm each day. As you go towards Chora the scene becomes more commercial, loud and dancy. Paranga, Paradise and Super Paradise are all for those that are after some real loud music and the respective crowd that goes with it.
Back in the 90s when I first visited Mykonos, nightlife evolved around Sea Satin market, an upscale taverna right under the windmills offering fresh fish and seafood, Caprice bar with its sunset drinks -still in operation, but having recently moved to a nearby location- and Pierro's, the famous gay bar for some crazy partying. Oh, and of course, after the late hours... Cavo Paradiso, an after-hours club attracting global names from the DJ club scene in a remote location hanging off a cliff on Paradise beach.
Although things have not changed that much ever since, Chora has gotten a greater variety. Nobu Matsuhisa landed at Belvedere hotel, Ling Ling by Hakkasan opened in 2015 at the infamous location of Philippi's, and Cindirella replaced Pierro's after it was taken over by an Athenian nightlife entrepreneur.
Luckily, Astra, Scarpa and Galleraki are still alive and kicking - a definite must for some serious dancing during the early hours of the morning.
In 2014, Thomas Heyne and Mario Hertel took over the ran-down hotel of San Giorgio and transformed it into a pop-up hotel for one year. It was such a great success that attracted the Design Hotels signature and got them thinking of realising their next dream: Scorpios (take a peek on our post here).
Two years later they had completely transformed the hill across the bay from the hotel on Paranga beach, and essentially transformed Sundays as we knew them. Their top-notch restaurant offering mostly Greek food and their signature Sneaky Sundays parties are now both at the top of the list for any respectable traveler of Mykonos out there. All the more if you happen to be a Soho House member as the group made an investment bet (rumoured of more than 60m EUR) in early 2019 when they started working with the original Scorpios owners.
Chora - take a stroll inside the narrow streets and alleys of Chora and get a real feel of what Mykonos is about. The path from Matoyiannia, the old port, all the way to the windmills is simply breath-taking
Mykonos Windmills - built by the Venetians in the 16th century, 7 out of a total 16 on th island are located near Small Venice. primarily used to mill wheat they are now a signature landmark of the island
Panagia Paraportiani - situated in the neighbourhood of Kastro, this complex of five white-washed churches are one not to miss
Lia - long, sandy organised beach, usually away from the glitz and the buzz due its location. Decent taverna, Liasti, also right on the beach. Divers also welcome as there is a school that operates daily
Kalo Livadi - long established as one of the best beaches on the island, Kalo Livadi offers a long sandy beach and great restaurant options around
Panormos - crowds used to mainly sit on the sand with their towels but nowadays the beach has gotten more industrialized. Still the view and the waters will reward you
Agios Sostis - one of the few untouched beaches with the young fashionable crowd hanging there on a daily basis. Best to combine with a mouthwatering lunch at Kiki's up the hill, where the bbq sends smells from heaven to bathers around
Paranga - organised sandy beach with lots of sunbeds and bean bags around; avoid during weekends as it gets really busy and loud (unless you're that type)
Kapari - easy-going unorganised beach near Chora; arrive early to get a good spot as it's quite small
Super Paradise - famous for its club scene and the nudists on the left-hand side of the beach, 'Super' (as the locals call it) has indeed the best chilly waters in Mykonos. The music is loud and the gay scene gathers at Jackie O where there's always a good excuse for a party
Eat and Drink
Sea Satin Market - fresh fish and seafood upscale taverna with great views; music gets loud and patrons dance on tables to Middle-Eastern music after midnight
Ling Ling - an identical Hakkasan experience to the ones abroad, with a nice garden to go with it
Nikkei - located where Balthazar ran for a couple of years, Nikkei is the sibling of the Athenian restaurant next to Rock'n'Roll bar, offering Asian fusion dishes in a unique bougainvillea setting
Scorpios - insanely tasting Greek-inspired food, with an added bonus of a good-looking crowd and great views to the sea. What's not to like? Get a table around 4-5pm just before the party starts and stay till late
Farma - the island's only farm-to-table restaurant set in a farmhouse location in Ftelia; delicious-tasting and moist ladenia, nice meat dishes and overall a very good menu by George Venieris. Read our full review here
Kikis tavern - famous for their glazed bbq chops, their homemade salads and a unique view to the sea, right above Agios Sostis beach. No reservations, no sign at the premises... just great food. Read our full review here
Caprice of Mykonos - a long time classic, now moved to the bar nextdoor, but still serving a lot of happy times to those looking to get the real essence of Mykonos, its windmills and its early-morning vibes
Interni - nice entry to the night in a white-washed upscale space/garden
Scarpa - loud progressive club music, tiny space and big crowds. Best for after-hours
Astra - the more upscale version of what Scarpa can offer, with also a lot more glitz! Price to pay? Around 20 EUR cocktails and drinks...
Moni club - get on the guestlist and spend a few hours in this very exclusive setting of what looks like a London club