The early risers in Mykonos start their day at noon and end them typically sometime early the next morning. It’s the type of place where you will spot a traveler in a bikini and fishnet coverup at the airport and a celebrity sipping champagne on the beach.
Travelers can’t get enough of the island: Mykonos welcomed 37 percent more visitors this past July than during the same month in 2019, according to Marketing Greece. It’s the second-largest tourist surge among the country’s most popular islands (Santorini landed at the top of the list with 69 percent).
While Mykonos’ fame as Greece’s party island remains indisputable, there’s more to do and see at this vibrant getaway than wiling away nights at the beach clubs.
Where to Stay
For a break from the raucous nightlife scene, Kouros Hotel & Suites offers a whitewashed Cycladic respite. Though the boutique hotel is just a 10-minute stroll from the crowded alleys of the chora, or the main town (also called Mykonos Town), it feels tranquil and secluded.
The 49-room Kouros recently underwent a renovation and added nine new villas and suites. French designer Fabienne Spahn took the white-on-white palette that bathes the Greek islands and incorporated modern dashes of black in the form of sculptural lights, wood furniture and a rattan headboard in the bedroom, as well as gleaming marble in the expansive shower in the Guerlain-toiletries-stocked bathroom. Views of the water outside will steal your attention — every room overlooks the Aegean Sea. Upgrade to an accommodation with a private pool to take in the vista while swimming.
After dancing and drinking until the wee hours, the suite’s complimentary room service breakfast is a godsend. Refuel with shakshuka and steaming-hot coffee from the comfort of your bed to prepare for another night of debauchery (though the restaurant buffet with spanakopita, charcuterie, croissants, fruit and champagne makes it tempting to venture out).
Afterward continue resting up in a plush lounger at the hotel’s inviting new infinity pool and gaze at the sapphire water, the port, the coast and neighboring island Rineia in the distance (the spa’s hydrotherapy area’s hammam and hot tub also are a relaxing alternative). Meanwhile, the adjacent bar will keep you refreshed with excellent cocktails like the smoky-sweet Tulum Raider (mezcal, tequila blanco, Aperol, fresh lime juice and pineapple).
You especially want to be at the pool to see Mykonos’ dazzling sunsets. Preferably, do it while dining at the poolside Narcissus restaurant over the light crab salad with mizuna leaves, grilled beetroot and yuzu lime followed by the luscious black angus tenderloin. The steak comes with a potato puree that gets a dose of indulgence as it’s mixed tableside with a yolk and Parmesan.
Desserts have decadent flavors but won’t weigh you down — a scoop of banana sorbet is topped with dulce de leche, chocolate crumbles, caramelized pecan bits and banana compote, and the other option comes with chocolate mousse dollops, peanut butter bark and berries.
The Beach Clubs
While you can get a taste of the nightlife at glamorous Mykonos Town bars like Astra and Queen of Mykonos or sexy cabaret shows at longtime favorite Lío and newcomer Billionaire, much of the revelry takes place at the island’s famous beach clubs. The most legendary is Scorpios. Propped on a ridge between Kavos and Paraga beaches with an uninterrupted view of the sea, Scorpios offers a breathtaking spot to catch the sunset. But you’ll stay long after the sun sinks into the horizon for the top-notch music, the stylish modern-agora vibe (in ancient Greece, the agora was a public gathering place) and the chance to party alongside celebrities.
SantAnna shares a coveted location on Paraga Beach, but it’s all about the sinuous pool. The luxury beach club boasts the Mediterranean’s largest seawater swimming pool, which is lined with daybeds, cabanas and “private islands” (floating areas with palm trees and semicircular banquettes that are off-limits to anyone who isn’t in your party). Since SantAnna is owned by the Nice n Easy Group (visit its namesake restaurant in Mykonos Town for delicious fare with a fantastic water vista), the food is a highlight. Nosh on shrimp tempura and spicy tuna uramaki under the bohemian rope umbrellas or loosen your muscles with a massage in the open-air spa before the DJ arrives and turns the Vegas-like pool scene into a dance party.
Head to the northern part of the island for a more relaxed atmosphere at Alemagou along the less-crowded Ftelia Beach. Get some shade on a lounger under your own thatched-roof structure on the sand or join the beautiful crowd in the restaurant. This beach club is known for its alfresco Mediterranean restaurant, where you can enjoy anything from wagyu gyros to chateaubriand. There’s a whole section on the menu devoted to lobster dishes, like lobster orzo and Catalan-style grilled lobster.
Pry yourself away from the sand to explore the rest of the island. In Mykonos Town, stroll the maze of stone streets to discover countless shops, restaurants, bars and more tucked inside the bright whitewashed Cycladic buildings.
Don’t miss The Gioras Wood Bakery, an institution since 1420. The Vamvakouris family has run the late-night bakery for the past 200 years. The pandemic paused the use of its wood oven, but the family still churns out Greek kourabiedes (almond shortbread-like cookies covered in powdered sugar), baklava, spinach pie, dark chocolate studded with cashews and more.
Jimmy’s feels new by comparison — it opened in 1975 — and is a local favorite providing staples for your post-partying sustenance. Go for stick-to-your-ribs souvlaki and gyros.
From the chora, walk to Little Venice, named for the houses with colorful balconies along a sliver of coastline that used to belong to 18th-century sea captains and traders. The neighborhood, officially called Alefkandra, received its nickname for its similarity to the Italian city. It’s an excellent locale for photos and sitting and taking in the view.
Across from Little Venice’s waterfront, you will find the towering windmills, an iconic landmark for the Island of Wind and another place to snap some Instagram fodder.
Elsewhere on the island, Nammos beach club owns the stretch of sand over in Psarou Beach. Hordes line up to land a spot underneath the teal-and-white-striped umbrellas. But you may want to stray from the queue to walk through the adjacent Nammos Village, a gorgeous outdoor mall with lush grounds, impressive sculptures and luxury brands both international (like Valentino and Cartier) and local (Aesthet boutique carries Greek designer goods). Caffeinate at Alfiere Café, where the safari-like tan awning held up by bamboo sticks, maroon marble tabletops and perch overlooking the grounds make it a chic place for a drink.
To get a feel for a more traditional Mykonos village, go inland to the sleepy village of Ano Mera. Visit Panagia Tourliani, a 16th-century monastery, and walk along the quaint town square. Stop for lunch at Mantri, a charming alfresco restaurant with a wood cutout wall and straw-covered light fixtures. Order the kopanisti, a spicy, pepper-laden island cheese; Mykonian sausage made in a wood-fired oven; and baked eggplant with cheese mousse and fried quinoa on top.
Afterward, head to nearby Mykonos Vioma, the only winery on the island. You can take a tour of the vineyard and farm, run by a family for 30 years. But it’s also nice to simply sit under the rustic pergola with vines dangling off the edges and sip the Paraportiano, a refreshing white blend of assyrtiko and athiri grapes with notes of citrus, alongside resident canines Melina and Oscar. Be sure to try the sweet Heliophilos with traces of rose and fig — the dessert wines are the most popular pours.
If you have time, plan a day trip to nearby Delos, an archeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Accessible by boat or ferry, the small 866-acre island played a pivotal role in ancient Greece — it was the birthplace of divine twins Apollo and Artemis.