“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves” – Euripides
Mykonos Travel Guide 2017
Located 95 Miles (150 Km) east of Athens in the Aegean Sea. Mykonos is well known for captivating travelers from all over the globe with its bohemian charm. Mykonos is a state of mind, there is nothing like it. You step foot on the island and you feel it. It is freedom.
Everyone is doing whatever they please, there is no sense of urgency and it is all about enjoying the moment. Perhaps this is what has been actively attracting tourists since the 50’s. Politicians, designers, artists & movie stars found a home away from home. They felt liberated when they arrived in Mykonos, they could do anything, go anywhere. People make the place, and the best thing about Mykonos is its people. The locals are so laid back and welcoming you’ll feel at home. It’s the atmosphere of acceptance and freedom that gives this little island all of its charm.
While Mykonos is not the cheapest of destinations, it is a most popular one. The island offers, the island offers something for everyone, and there are ways to stay well within your budget. So, let’s get started.
Getting there is not a problem. There are two main ways of arriving on the island, by boat and plane, and there are a plethora of choices for both. Private boats and commercial cruises dock in Mykonos every day; you can depart from the Athens-Piraeus dock, and there are many that leave from Spain, Italy, and France that will take you there. You can also take a ferry from Athens. Depending on the stops, it can take from 3 to 6 hours to get you there.
If you prefer to get there by air, a 45-minute flight from Athens International Airport would be my recommended way. With so many international flights to Athens it is easy to make a transfer. In the high season, you can find 10 to 15 flights per day to Mykonos. However, there are many direct flights from Western Europe as well.
Anytime is a great time to go to Mykonos, but to find the cheapest airfares be mindful of the dates/time of year for the prices. Low season is from November thru March, so prices are lower, but the best time to visit is September thru October because prices aren’t high, it is the end of the high season, the crowds are scarce, and the water is still warm. You can also refer to my guide How To Find Cheap Airfares for more help with this part of the process.
PROTIP: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF GOOGLE MAPS & GOOGLE FLIGHTS WHEN STARTING A BUDGET. THESE TWO ARE GREAT FOR GETTING AN OVERALL IDEA OF HOW MUCH EACH OF THESE OPTIONS WILL COST YOU. ALSO CHECK OUT BEST TIME TO VISIT MYKONOS FOR HELP ON CHOOSING DATES.
WHERE TO STAY IN MYKONOS
The best part about this island is staying there and trust me; you’ll want to. Mykonos has a charm capable of changing the measures of time. You want to stay because a day never goes fast in this place, because everywhere you look it is calming and soothing. The sunsets are the main event of the day. And the nights come with a change of pace, turning adventurous, fun, and you never know how they’ll end. The Mykonians know all this very well, so it won’t be difficult to find a place to stay.
You’ll find options that range from budget and luxury hotels to apartment rentals at really excellent prices. Just keep in mind that hitting the jackpot always takes a little research, so make sure to read My Top 5 Hotel Booking Websites for tips on how and where to find the best prices on hotels. I always like to mix it up between hotels and apartment rentals; both have unique experiences about them and all depend on how you want to experience each destination. Mykonos has great offers for both.
Recommended Stays according to My Criteria: Clean, comfortable & budget friendly.
One of the best-rated ones is Orpheas Hostel, with a great location close to Little Venice & the bus station, clean rooms and great staff for around $22USD a night! The best thing is that this is one of many budget friendly hostels.
Not into hostels? Fear not, my friends! BayBees Sea View Suites & Homes is a beautiful hotel that overlooks the water, is 65 ft (20 mts) from the shore and is not expensive. At the end of the high season, you can find rates from $80USD a night for a room for two (so $4o USD per person), with a kitchenette, a terrace, AC & Wifi. For a more luxurious experience at a moderate price, the Vencia Boutique Hotel is a great option with beautiful & relaxing ocean views that start at $106 USD
Don’t overestimate the privacy and the “feel like a local” experience a good Airbnb can offer, especially if you are visiting with friends or family. This Airbnb property meets all the criteria at an inexpensive price. Beginning in September, you can find rates starting at $88 USD a night for this studio apartment that can accommodate three guests, has all the essentials, hot tub, Wifi, pool, kitchen & AC. All great & affordable options!
PROTIP: WHEN POSSIBLE DO A COMPARISON OF HOTELS VS AIRBNB. THE DIFFERENCE IN PRICES CAN BE MEANINGFUL AND SOME HOTELS THAT HAVE APARTMENT/HOME FORMATS LIST THEIR ROOMS ON AIRBNB AT HIGHER PRICES, ALTHOUGH IT IS EASY TO SPOT ONCE YOU’VE RESEARCHED BOTH.
Check My Tips on Hotel Booking & Best Time to Visit Mykonos.
Take the bus
The bus is by far the recommended way of transportation, as the bus system conveniently links all the towns and attractions. Hours of operation are extended during the high season and it is safe and cost efficient. It is the best option for getting from your hotel to the city.
Chora is where you want to be; this town is perfect for walking, there are no cars allowed. The distances are not great, and the streets are entertaining. You can always do a pit stop at one of the restaurants or shops, and there’s always a flow of sea breeze running thru them.
All the streets are very similar, but you’ll get the hang of them pretty fast once you start using things that catch your eye as points of reference. You know: “Make a right on the big wooden horse.”
I don’t know about you, but for me getting lost adds to the experience. Getting lost is a good way to strike a conversation with a local and Mykonians are pretty approachable, they’ll point you in the right direction every time. If you’re running late and are on the opposite side of Chora, I recommend a scooter taxi. Fast and easy but hold on tight, this experience will increase your heart rate.
Keep Cab rides to a minimum
Taxis are really few and far between, and they are expensive; however, I do recommend them when arriving and leaving the town as luggage can be hard to maneuver on a bus. Taxis charge a flat rate, so at least you won’t have to worry about negotiating a price. Just make sure to ask at the airport or the hotel the rates for reference.
Bikes & Mopeds
Bikes and mopeds from the airport are a no-no, especially if you have a carry-on. You can rent these at shops all around Chora, but keep in mind that mopeds can be dangerous on the narrow, bumpy roads if you don’t know your way around and aren’t familiar with the flow of the traffic.
Cars are unnecessary; there’s no need of renting one with so many ways of transport that are comfortable and cost efficient. Renting a car is quite expensive and so is the gas, not to mention that parking is scarce. You’ll be renting a liability more than an asset.
WHAT TO DO in MYKONOS
Mykonos is a small island, but its size does not limit the variety of things to do. With white sandy beaches for sunbathing and grabbing a cocktail, modest but delicious seafood restaurants along the shore, scenic views, tons of shops, water sports, and a nightlife unlike anything else, it is hard to get bored. Even if your budget doesn’t allow these many activities don’t worry too much about it, all the most beautiful things are free: a walk thru Chora, the views, the sunset, and the beach! This island is the perfect example of “great things come in small packages.”
You’ll be charmed by Chora. As soon as you lay eyes on that white sugar cube landscape you’ll want to start walking thru it. The beautiful Aegean streets hide something interesting in every turn, a museum, a church, bright blue balconies. It is so cute and entertaining you’ll want to snap pictures around every corner.
A walking tour
You can also book a Walking Tour if you prefer, to get more knowledge of the history and background of Mykonos. These are about $39 USD per person for a 3-hour tour, pick up & drop off from hotel included. I’m not going to lie; I think this walking tour is a little bit pricey in comparison to other the ones I’ve done in other places. Mainly because it doesn’t include the entry fee for the Folklore Museum. But if you think about it, it balances itself out because they include transportation. I’m a big fan of a good walking tour, especially if you’re not planning on doing any other tours or excursions a walking tour is worth it. In my opinion, walking tours are affordable, and you learn about the history, customs, the people and the food with a local. What a better way to experience a new place?
Snorkeling & Diving
Snorkeling & Diving on the Aegean is still on my bucket list, which gives me a reason to go back. Sadly, I couldn’t do it when I visited because of the weather conditions, but I do recommend going with the Mykonos Diving Center as they are PADI certified with a friendly and professional staff. The one tank dive guided tour is about $70 USD for certified divers. If you have no experience diving, they offer an intro class for about $130 USD, or you can choose to snorkel for $54 USD.
Just because it’s not Athens doesn’t mean you don’t get to see ruins. The nearby island of Delos, which is supposed to be the birthplace of the gods Apollo & Artemis & is protected by UNESCO, offers incredible sights, history & mythology. Several tours will take you to Delos on a day trip from Mykonos for around $60 USD per person.
For a relaxing day, catching rays and a having a drink on the water, you can book a Sailing Yacht Cruise for about $80 for 7-8 hours round trip to the island of Rhenia or catch a Little Venice Sunset Cruise to catch the main event right from the water for $40 USD.
This island has so much more to offer that I recommend checking out Viator for booking tours and having a price point reference in case you prefer booking tours in person.
WHERE TO EAT in MYKONOS
Good food is everywhere in Mykonos, and it can be difficult to choose when there are so many charming restaurants and bars on every street. What can be difficult is to find is cheap eats! But I’ve narrowed it to a few favorites I’ve tried, recommended by locals.
Mykonos Cheap Eats
For cheap eats, I recommend trying the street food which is always good, full of flavor and a local eat! There’s a lot of souvlaki places around town, and they are yummy stuff! Gyros are about 2 €, really filling and flavorful. Oh! And creperies are very economical too!
PROTIP: ALL AROUND TOWN THERE ARE LITTLE SUPERMARKETS THAT SELL DRINKS CHEAPER THAT AT A BAR OR RESTAURANT. SO YOU CAN SAVE A FEW BUCKS BY BUYING YOUR WATER AT THE SUPERMARKET OR GETTING BREAD FOR SANDWICHES.
Bread and Greeks go together like milk and cookies! Greek pastries are a must. Please visit Gioras Bakery in Agiou Efthimiou, try the almond dessert and enjoy! The bakery has been has been run by the same family since 1420, with the same traditional technique using an underground wooden stove. So yeah, they’ve had time to get this bread making thing right! And… that’s it when it comes to cheap eats but try to sneak in a restaurant meal, please do so and take your time savoring every bite.
For great local Mediterranean food visit the restaurant Mamalouka which is located a stone’s throw away from Little Venice. It’s beautiful patio and with a great oyster bar, perfect for a sit-down lunch or dinner.
Along the same line of local food, Nikos Taverna is a great place for a quiet lunch away from the crowds with delicious fresh seafood and a reasonably priced menu; dinner time is a different story as it gets pretty crowded after sunset. But still an excellent choice. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see Petros, one of the island’s pelicans that wanders around the streets and loves to stop by Nikos for a snack! And, if you get Alexandros as a server, then you’re golden.
For a unique experience try the Sea Satin Market right by the windmills. They have great food and live music! You’re bound to have a great time! You can choose your fish and have it grilled on the spot! Like I said, good food is everywhere. Walk around, let yourself get hungry and walk in whatever place catches your eye. I believe that is the best way to try new things. Also, check out my Google maps below with more suggestions on where to eat.
WHAT TO EAT
If you’re feeling adventurous, try the sea urchin! Is a very popular and delicious dish that will transport you to the middle of the ocean! On the safer side the grilled octopus & street souvlaki are great, and on the sweet side the amigdolatas and loukoumades!
WHERE TO DRINK in MYKONOS
Mykonos is party central, bars are everywhere and if you’re looking for a view and a refreshing drink, Little Venice is a must. Try to get there 30 or 45 minutes before sundown to get a table with a view because it gets crowded. Order a drink and wait for the main event. A Mykonos sunset is magical and the bars Scarpa & Galleraki in Little Venice are perfect for this.
A little bit more central is Queen Bar. This place has great cocktails, good music and a great vibe good for hanging out and having conversations. Jackie O’s is awesome too!
Astra is probably the most popular bar in town, though it’s not my speed. I like something more mellow, but I hear great things about it. So if you are into a real party, you may want to check it out!
WHAT TO ORDER
If you like light & bubbly, a watermelon Moscato is sweet and refreshing. A sparkling white wine with watermelon flavor. Very easy to drink and refreshing after a walk.
A mastika on the rocks
This liqueur’s flavor comes from the resin from the mastic tree, also knows as “Arabic gum” so is it’s taste is similar to mint but with a wood undertone. I’m not sure of this, but it’s the only way I can describe it. I find mastic very delicious and very different from the Listerine taste of the mint liqueur, ew!
Last on my list of recommendations, Ouzo! A very traditional anise-flavored aperitif, it is customary to order it with an appetizer or mezedes to share. It should be sipped down slowly, it’s a sneaky one! A Greek staple served mixed with water or ice.
FUN FACT: OUZO IS A CLEAR LIQUEUR THAT WHEN MIXED WITH WATER, TURNS INTO A MILKY WHITE COLOR. THIS HAPPENS BECAUSE OUZO HAS ANETHOLE, THE ESSENTIAL OIL OF ANISE. THE ATHENOLE IS COMPLETELY SOLUBLE IN ALCOHOL, BUT NOT IN WATER. CHECK THE COMPLETE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE ON OUZO EFFECT.
SHOPPING in MYKONOS
There are shops everywhere!!! Everything from magnets to real jewelry and designer boutiques, like Louis Vuitton. Assuming LV is not where you’ll be spending your money, there are plenty of stores for every budget. Don’t forget to bargain.
Click on the star to save & download this map to your phone to use it on your trip.
High’s & low’s
High: The Locals
The locals. The people in Mykonos are very much like the landscape. Serene, tranquil and happy. I wandered around Mykonos, getting lost in a small maze of white streets, very often needing guidance. People made sure I found my way and gave me great recommendations. It’s a joy to talk to the locals. Don’t be surprised if by night fall you have a couple of new friends joining you for drinks.
High: Nothing Gets Lost In Mykonos
“Nothing gets lost in Mykonos” and in my experience, this is true. I was at Nikos Taverna finishing my lunch, casually sipping on ouzo as I waited for my check. Enjoying the moment. Well, let me tell you. Nothing will sober you up faster than realizing you lost your credit card as you are about to pay the bill.
I’m not going to lie, I was losing my shit a bit. It was the only form of payment I had with me. At this point, I was feeling nervous and embarrassed. I addressed Alexandros, telling him what was going on, apologizing a hundred times. He smiled in the sweetest way possible, and says “Dear, nothing gets lost in Mykonos.”
I wasn’t sure I would find it where I left it. Alexandros said not to worry, that he would wait for me. I did, I went back, the teller was waiting for me. She handed me the card immediately. I didn’t even make it thru the door! “Nothing gets lost in Mykonos” she says. Needless to say, thanked them both 100 times!
Lows: One of the most expensive of the Greek Islands.
While Greece is a budget friendly place, Mykonos has one of the highest price points of the Greek Islands. Even though the island is filled with opportunities to save, it’s tempting to try everything.
Summary: How to save Money in Mykonos
- Get around by bus or walking
- Two words: Fast food. Gyros, souvlaki, and crepes are on the menu; you can find a few other options here and there.
- Keep your sit-down-restaurant meals to one a day
- Enjoy the beach
- Buy your water and soft drinks at the little supermarkets
- Stay at a shared Airbnb or a Hostel in Chora. The town has tons of hostels that are fun, clean and have everything you’ll need
- Go sightseeing
GET IN THE MOOD