For those of you that know me personally, you know that partying and drinking is not my forte. So when I suggested Mykonos to my fiancé as an option for an island getaway this summer, he was a little surprised.
For many years, Mykonos has been synonymous with partying till sunrise and incredibly popular with the LGBT crowd. But, after some thorough research online and reading many blog posts I realised that there is so much more to Mykonos than everyone’s first impression.
It was also very accessible from Santorini, where we would be holidaying first and one of the reasons why I suggested it to begin with. So after looking at flights and bagging myself €5 flights home to Venice, it became no brainer really.
Yep, you read that right! A €5 flight from Mykonos to Venice. Crazy hey? And, my flight to Santorini only cost €25.
Anyways, Mykonos did not disappoint. It is honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited. It’s old town, or Chora as it’s known locally, is a maze of beautiful white washed buildings, bougainvillea filled streets and the perfect shades of blue. Their beaches are also some of the best I’ve visited in Europe.
Now before reading on just know that this post will not mention the typical Mykonos hot spots, but more so affordable laid back options — true to the Wanderlust and Pasta style
Why choose Mykonos?
Whether you’re looking to party the night away, a romantic trip with your partner or even a little family vacay, Mykonos has a little bit of something for everyone.
It is within close proximity to many other Greek destinations like Santorini, Ios and Athens, and also countries like Italy and Turkey. It’s also very accessible via plane and ferry, especially in high season (June to September).
Beach near Old Town.
For me, the beaches and the food were the biggest draw card for Mykonos. And, unlike what I assumed, it was incredibly affordable. Particularly if you avoid the overly touristy places and luxury beach resorts and restaurants like Nammos.
There are a million and one beaches in Mykonos, and each is as beautiful as the next. As are they different. You’ve got your party beaches like Super Paradise and Paradise. Your budget friendly beaches like Paraga. Your adventure and sporting beaches like Ftelia. And, your family beaches like Platis Gialos and Ornos.
Where to stay?
Choosing an area to stay really depends on how much you want to spend and what you plan on doing each day. For us, I considered two things, budget and being centrally located for visiting the town centre and beaches. For this reason, I chose to stay in Tourlos.
Ok I lie. I didn’t actually choose Tourlos, instead I found an incredible hotel deal that was too good to pass up. So that’s how we ended up staying Tourlos. But in Toulos’ defence, it ended up being an ideal location for us.
We stayed at and would highly recommend Avra Studios. I paid €275 for five nights accommodation, which in my books was a bargain. Especially considering I was willing to pay over €500 for places like Manoula’s Beach Mykonos.
However, as with all budget hotels, you get what you pay for. Avra Studios has great reviews on Trip Advisor, was very clean and the views over the Old Port were breathtaking, especially at sunset. It’s also less than 5 minute drive into the Old town which was perfect and most beaches are very accessible and are within a 15-20 minute drive.
It didn’t however include breakfast and the shower was tiny. Like seriously, the tiniest shower I’ve ever seen kind of tiny. Aside from that though it had everything we needed and more, including a kitchenette which always comes in handy.
What to do
- Spend a day (or two) getting lost in the streets of the Old Town. This was one of my highlights of the trip! The town is absolutely stunning and makes for the most beautiful photographs.
- Once you’ve finished taking a million and one photos, spend the rest of the day wandering in and out of all the little boutique shops. Some shops tend be on the pricier side, particularly those selling the famous Greek sandals but if you look hard enough, you’ll definitely be able to find some hidden gems. Speaking of, they generally go for around €150! However, I was lucky enough to find some amazing replicas at White Dreams for a fraction of the cost. I also snagged some beautiful genuine leather slides from Cose Belle that I am absolutely obsessed with.
- Check out the latest movies at Mykonos’ open air cinema, Cine Manto. Nestled in the middle of the Old Town near the famous Windmills. The setting, decor and ambience of the place is beautiful, and it even has an on site restaurant as well. The restaurant is an attraction in itself and tends to get a little busy, great food though!
- Go on a day cruise or hire your own boat. There are plenty of cruise option out there for all budget types. Some of them offer lunch and unlimited drinks and take you from beach to beach and others include day trips to the ancient islands of Delos and Rhenia.
- If you’re into ancient history, I would definitely at Delos Island to your itinerary. It is an ancient archialogical site and the supposed birthplace of the Greek God Apollo.
- Beach hop! Many of the beaches are within walking distance of each other, so you could spend the morning at one and the afternoon at another. For example, you could start at Psarou (Nammos), walk to Paraga and then on to Paradise beach. Alternatively, if you aren’t hiring an ATV or car, there is a ferry service between the main beaches.
- Hire an ATV for the day and explore the more secluded beaches and areas of the island.
TIP: Our favourite beach by far was Paraga. Instead of forking out €25 or more for a bed and an an umbrella for the day, grab yourself a sun bed or bean bag at Paraga Beach Hostel.
Paraga Beach Hostel.
Aside from being a hostel, they offer free lounge chairs and a free swimming pool and you don’t even have to be a guest there! It’s located right on the beach, on your left hand side. I would highly recommend it. We actually spent quite a couple of afternoons chilling here. The service was great, their music was good and their Chicken Caesar Salad was delish. Their drinks were also really reasonably priced — a cider was €5 and carafe of sangria was €15.
Where to eat
- Hippie Fish at Agios Ioannis was one of the best dinners we had on the island and I would highly recommend it. It isn’t all that budget friendly though, and it is a tad fancy. However, the prices were incredibly reasonable and great value for money considering the quality of the food, the atmosphere, the service and the view. It also has a boutique hotel on site and a beach club and pool. All for a cost of course.
- We ate at Attica Bakery nearly every morning. Their chicken pies were delicious! I literally still think about them today. If you’re looking for a cheap, quick but delicious feast, Attica Bakery is your best bet. It’s located at the entrance of the Old Town just past the boom gate, on the harbour side of town.
- Hands down, without a doubt Story Souvlaki was one of the best Greek meals I had in Greece. Their sharing platters are to die for! They are a little more expensive than your typical gyros, but well worth it. There are two located in the Old Town.
- I’ve already mentioned Paraga Beach Hostel, but what I didn’t mention was that they do a mean feed as well. Burgers, gyros, salads, wraps etc. I would definitely recommend the chicken caesar.
- Kikis Tavern used to be Mykonos’ best kept secret. Nestled away at the top of Agios Sostis beach, this little gem is an old school, family run establishment with some of the best food on the island. Be sure to get there early though as they don’t take reservations. Lines for the lunch sitting start to form early morning.
For more beautiful Mykonos photos, see my photo diary here.