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Insider Interview: Magical Mykonos

For this insider guide article, we chatted with Elena from Passion for Greece and found that her blog could not be better named. After 25 years of living in Greece, her passion for this beautiful country shines through in everything she writes.

After working her way up in hotel management, Elena decided to follow her creative and entrepreneurial spirit in 2012, and hasn’t looked back (or worked for anyone but herself) since. With insight into hospitality management and marketing, she started using her skills to build her own brands.

Having worked in luxury travel as well, Elena has spent quite a bit of time in Mykonos, and was happy to share her knowledge. Below are her insider tips on the best places to eat, activities to try, souvenirs to buy, and more:

Mykonos


Greece has so many islands to choose from… why would you say travellers should visit Mykonos over other major Greek islands?

True, Greece has hundreds of islands each unique in their own ways, where you can experience authentic Greek hospitality and pay less for your holiday. But Mykonos is a brand name of its own compared to the rest of Greece. In fact, it is a luxury brand.

Everyone knows Mykonos, and it tops the travellers’ bucket list along with Santorini for good reason. Visitors will fall in love with the authentic Cycladic architecture, idyllic Mykonian setting and breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea.

Mykonos is one of the most luxurious holidays available in Greece and though a budget traveler can still go to Mykonos, things can be more expensive than on the other Greek islands. Of course, if you want to go there to pop thousand euros champagne bottles, that’s a different story!

Mykonos hosts many luxury hotels and numerous famous international restaurant brands have established their presence on the island over the past couple of years – offering plenty of choices for the bon vivant. So if someone is curious about this kind of lifestyle, they should definitely visit Mykonos at least once in their lifetime.

Mykonos

If a traveller only has a few days on the island, what would you say is one thing he or she absolutely shouldn’t miss the chance to visit/see/do in Mykonos?

For those who are combining a few islands on their holidays to Greece, I believe spending a couple of days on Mykonos is enough.

A visit to one of the popular beach bars is a must – you are guaranteed to run into A-listers, Hollywood celebrities and famous models. Nammos, situated on Psarrou Beach, is a good choice. It was one of the first popular entries on the Myconian beach scene, and it still tops the list of the most popular places in Mykonos.

During the high season you’ll see many luxury yachts anchored in the sea just across from the beach.

There’s also the Scorpios Mykonos and the newly opened SantAnna Mykonos, with the largest sea water pool in Europe. Here sun loungers and umbrellas can cost anything between 100 euros to more than 1,000 euros per day. Or for more economical beaches, go for Ornos and Platis Gialos.

Definitely spend time getting lost in the cobblestone streets of Chora (Mykonos Town). The best time to visit is towards the evening, and enjoy a drink watching the sunset at Little Venice. While you’re here, visit the famous Mykonos Windmills which are located just on the shore.

If you have the time, definitely visit the nearby sacred island of Delos, the birthplace of god Apollo and his twin sister, goddess Artemis.

Mykonos is also known for its parties and there are many happening on the island throughout the season. Download the My Mykonos app and you can keep track of all the happenings on the island. Also if you’re lucky you will come across the biggest star of the island – Petros the pelican.

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In terms of food, tourists tend to find themselves eating at all the obvious places, but which lesser-known restaurant gems do the locals love in Mykonos when it comes to dining out?

Joanna’s Nikos Place, on the shores of Megali Ammos Beach, is just a few minutes away from Mykonos Town and the perfect spot for outside dining. Joanna’s serves a selection of meze, fresh fish and grilled meat dishes.

Tasos Taverna on Paranga Beach is one of the most loved tavernas on the island. It’s ideal for a casual lunch by the sea or an authentic Greek dinner.

Limnios Tavern in Agios Stefanos is a family-run tavern which has been operating for more than 20 years, serving traditional Myconian and Greek cuisine.

For those who wish to escape the crowds, Fokos Taverna – located on an idyllic beach – serves salads, fresh fish and meats. Or opt for To Sketi you Proedrou, a family-run taverna located on the main square of the Ano Mera Village serving traditional food in a relaxed environment.

Kiki’s Tavern on Agios Sostis Beach is one of the most popular authentic tavernas on the island. It operates without electricity so it doesn’t stay open late. Because of it’s popularity, you’ll be instructed to wait in the queue so be prepared.

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Obviously places like Athens are packed with Grecian history, but what sites does Mykonos offer that might appeal to travellers?

The nearby island of Delos is the most important archaeological site and its significance is closely linked with Greek mythology. It was a major religious centre in ancient Greece and a crossroads for trade as well as the birthplace of Apollo, the god of light.

Here you’ll find remains of Doric temples, impressive mosaics, remains of villas and markets, a temple dedicated to the goddess Isis, the famous lions of Delos and an archeological museum.

Mykonos is also home to a number of museums such as the Agricultural Museum, the Aegean Maritime Museum, the archaeological museum, and the Folklore Museum of Mykonos and Lena’s House, which showcases a middle-class Mykonos island home during the 19th century.

Culturally, are there any places or events you’d recommend to really immerse yourself in the local culture?

Mykonos is dotted with hundreds of churches and monasteries. One of the most important religious holiday’s in Greece is on the 15th of August, where many Greeks make a pilgrimage to certain churches around the country.

During the summer time many festivals – or panigiria – are organised to celebrate the name of a saint. This celebration involves lots of food, wine, and dancing until early morning hours.

One of the popular villages of Mykonos is Ano Mera. Located inland approximately a 15-minute drive from Mykonos Town, it’s calmer and more traditional than the main hubs of the island. Here you’ll find the Panagia Tourliani Monastery, built in the 16th century by two monks. Also on the hill stands the Monastery of Paleokastro which rests on the remains of a Byzantine castle. The view from here is pretty remarkable, and you can hike up to it if you’re inclined.

Mykonos has plenty of that Greek island beauty we love… are there any natural sightseeing options that you’d consider unmissable?

Mykonos is home to about 30 beaches, some of which are secluded. Vathia Laggada Beach can only be reached by 4×4 vehicle and is ideal for nature lovers. Tsagari Beach can also only be reached by foot or by 4×4 vehicle.

Tigani Beach is a popular destination for boat parties, barbecue outings and fishing trips. The Armenistis lighthouse is reminiscent of the rich maritime past of Mykonos and can be reached by a road from Agios Stefanos.

Another great experience is to go on an organised sailing day trip which will take you to the secluded beaches around the island.

What’s the best way to get around when travelling on the island?

There are different ways to get around Mykonos. If you’re planning to visit the secluded and far-off beaches then renting a car is recommended. However, getting into and parking in Mykonos Town is quite difficult, especially during the months of high season (July and August).

Taxis can be rather expensive and are limited, so you can’t always rely on finding one. Getting a taxi from the airport to your hotel is recommended if you don’t have a transfer planned, though most of the luxury hotels have their own transfer services, which is quite convenient.

Scooters are less expensive but not recommended if you’re planning to drink! Quad bikes are another option and are quite popular on the island.

Finally, there’s a local bus network which is quite good – and they usually run every 30 minutes or on the hour.

For travellers that don’t want another souvenir pen or postcard, what cultural souvenir would you recommend taking home from Mykonos?

Mykonos used to be a weaver’s island with more than 500 looms being worked on a daily basis. Today there are only two remaining weavers on the island. One of them is Nikoleta Xidakis, whose shop and workshop is located right next to Little Venice. She is 75 years old and is actively weaving until this day. You can buy beautiful, soft and colorful hats, scarves, blankets and clothing.  

Myconian leather sandals are also a popular souvenir, as are evil eye souvenirs, jewellery and Mosaic pebble art from the studio of a famous local mosaic artist and educator, Irene Syrianou. Irene also runs various workshops and lessons for those who wish to learn this craft.

Do you have any other suggestions for alternatives to the tourist trail or typical tourist activities on the island?

Yummy Pedals bicycle tours are run by Dimitra Asimomyti, a local who has a great passion for her island. You’ll be able to experience the most scenic landscapes and beaches this way. She offers tours for newbies and families with toddlers.

For a rural experience, head over to the Mykonos Vioma vineyard which produces organic local wine. They organises bike and picnic tours too, where guests can learn all about the traditional cuisine and local produce.

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If Elena has convinced you that a trip to Mykonos needs to be your next holiday, you can find more inspiration in our Mykonos travel guide, which includes top restaurants, beaches, things to do and much more.