If you’re looking for turquoise waters, Mediterranean sun, fresh food, good wine, and the option of great parties, look no further than Mykonos. One of my favorite Summer island getaways.
This boho-chic, 85 square kilometer island (named after the son of Apollo, Mykons), has developed quickly as one of the top A-lister hotspots. A summer getaway indeed. Don’t be mistaken, the summer months are completely hectic, don’t let this put you off. You will come away having had one of the best holidays of your life. Refreshed. Revitalised. Ready.
Located in the Cyclades archipelago, since the 1930s, famous artists, politicians and wealthy Europeans began spending their vacations on the island. Temporarily suspended during the Second World War, tourists once again rushed to Mykonos’ luxurious shores in the 1950s and have not stopped since. Many refer back to Jacqueline Kennedy who visited in 1961 as putting Mykonos on the map. It was Jacqui herself that made a promise that she would one day own a house on the island. Her future husband, Onassis, had been visiting Mykonos with Maria Callas and various shipping tycoons since the 1950s. In the late 1960s and 1970s, after becoming Jackie Onassis, Mykonos gained its reputation as a celebrity bolthole with the likes of Grace Kelly, Mick Jagger, Mia Farrow and so many more.
The island’s heritage is vast. The centuries-old Venetian-built windmills still line the hills and the maze-like streets take you on adventure, which were originally designed to confuse looting pirates. These now give the perfect background photo opportunity for many romantic pictures and instagram lovers, as well as history buffs.
Charge up and go hard, or be as deliciously mellow as you want. Take a leisurely lunch and lounge on a sunbed or go shopping until 5am and enjoy Oozo shorts with store-owners, whilst DJs play live instores and a pelican given to the island by Jackie O still roams about in the harbour.
My favourite spot for lunch is Nammos located on the Psarou Beach. Start calmly at your table overlooking the beach with magnums of rosé and lobster linguini. But not for long. The music gets louder, the food is cleared, and the bikini and shorts clad boys and girls jump up on the tables for a daytime party of your life. If you are inclined to pick up something a little more fashionable for your next visit, pop into their boutique, Luisa Beach, and you will find some of the most beautiful clothes and accessories. To top it off, there is a hair and nail spa to pamper.
Another option for a great daytime lunch and party is Kalua on Paranga Beach. A quintessential Greek beach club which has often been referenced to as one of the top 10 beach bars in the world!
New rival to Mykonos is Scorpios but a little further out. It is found on a semi-private peninsula south of the town overlooking Paraga and Kavos lagoons on either side. This more upscale outlet offers a more hedonistic beach club. This is definitely worth the journey for their organic menu, and what starts as a leisurely lunch tends to lengthen into long into the evening at one of their incredible sunset parties. Held every day throughout summer, they curate some of the best music talent on the island.
For something a little calmer, Solymar is a great alternative. Located on Kalo Livadi Beach, a pristine strip of golden sand, on the south coast of Mykonos, between the beaches Elia and Kalafatis. It is constructed on the sea with a thatched-covered, Tiki-style dining room with colourful ceiling fans, away from the real touristy scenes. Using the motto, “Originality is an attitude”, it most definitely provides this. A hip beach club with excellent Mediterranean cuisine in front of magnificent scenery.
Top tip: Book a sunbed on the beach after lunch and enjoy the fiery Mykonos sunset.
Before or after lunch, take a walk through the winding streets of the largest town on the island, Chora, and discover stores selling uber-stylish clothing and accessories. Matogianni Street is the main strip and a good place to start browsing. An assortment of beautiful handmade sandals are a must, Mykonos Sandals in Little Venice and Eccentric by Design on Zouganeli Street are good options.
For clothing, Soho-Soho on Matoyanni is the most well-known boutique. The chic shop has locations around Greece and sells everything from Yosi Sama flats to Alice By Temperley dresses and tshirts by Amsterdam-based Zoe Karssen.
Luxury fashion boutique Scoop NYC has opened up its first European location in the Belvedere Hotel. The beautiful jewellery line by native Mykonian designer Ileana Makri sets this store apart from its New York counterpart. The finest jewelry shop on the island remains LALAouUNIS, associated with the famous LALAoUNIS museum and shops in Athens, has superb reproductions of ancient and Byzantine jewelry as well as original designs. When you leave here, have a look at Yiannis Galantis, which sells clothing designed by the owner. Or take a look at one of the island’s oldest jewelry shops, the Gold Store, right on the waterfront. For more high-end stores, you will find Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands.
Mykonos is also a place to shop for art. An impressive collection of art galleries sell the work of some of Greece’s most recognised artists, as well as creations from talented foreign artists inspired by the island’s beauty.
It won’t take long before you are enamoured by this little rock in the Mediterranean as you enjoy a cooling wind from Aegean in the north, the Meltemi in July and August months. And whilst basking in the mysterious but oh-so-beautiful light that shines down making every one look simply deific, you will be reminded why you will want to go back every year.
Part 2 looks at my favorite beaches and nightspots. Coming up!