Mykonos by day-the alternative side to the Aegean’s party isle

Postcard-perfect whitewashed villages and a vibrant, glitzy nightlife – Mykonos has earned itself a reputation as the picturesque party capital of the Aegean Sea. But while it goes without saying that those looking to dance the night away will not be disappointed, Mykonos also has plenty to offer those in search of a more relaxed approach to their holiday. Here, we explore a quieter Mykonos for those looking to embrace the more peaceful side to this idyllic island.

Mykonos Old Town

Did you know that Mykonos Old Town was designed to confuse pirates who had descended on the island? This will explain the maze of narrow lanes and cobbled alleys, where a few hours can easily pass by, meandering the streets and taking in the whitewashed buildings and dome-shaped churches, typical of the island’s Cycladic architecture. Jewel-toned shutters are a burst of vibrant colour against the pristine facades and should you visit in the summer months, the vivid purples of the blossoming bougainvillea help create the quintessential Greek scene.

The Old Town is home to the island’s creatives, so be sure to visit the independent craft stores, sophisticated designer shops, and art galleries. And if you can’t resist experiencing the renowned Mykonos nightlife, the Old Town provides the ideal opportunity to join the party scene with the local bars and clubs open until dawn.

Matoyianni Street

The vibrant, bustling heart of the Old Town is Matoyianni Street, a focal point for visitors to the island. On what must be surely one of the world’s most picturesque shopping streets, many of the snow-white cubic buildings house an array of upmarket designer stores, art galleries, and jewellery designers. The plentiful cafes, bars and restaurants provide the perfect opportunity to refresh and refuel should the combination of afternoon sun and tourists get too much. And if you are looking to party ‘Mykonos style’, many of the island’s most popular bars and clubs can be found in the area.

Little Venice

One of the prettiest and most photographed parts of Mykonos Town, Little Venice is home to rows of quaint 18th-century fishing cottages with wooden balconies, its waterside location reminiscent of the Italian city after which it was named. Many of the houses have been converted into bars and restaurants and the area is popular with those wishing to capture the stunning vista of the sun setting behind the horizon across the Aegean Sea and the nearby island of Delos. Grab a drink and soak in the kaleidoscope of colour as day blends effortlessly into evening.

Mykonos Windmills

Another vantage point from which to capture the magical Mykonos sunset is from the iconic Mykonos windmills, thought by many to be a symbol of the island. Built by the Venetians to mill grain, they date back to the 16th century, forming an important part of the island’s economic history. Although there are over a dozen in total throughout the island, five can be found standing in a row, a 15-minute hike up the mountain from Little Venice. Use a visit to the windmills as an opportunity to take some of the most panoramic photos of the evening sun setting across the sparkling azure sea. 

Church of Paraportiani

This beautiful Byzantine church is one of Mykonos’ most photographed attractions. Listed as a national monument, the distinctive architecture has made this a favourite with tourists, photographers and artists alike. Sitting right on the headland overlooking the Aegean Sea, the unique structure is characterised by its whitewashed walls, rounded domes and asymmetrical design. Against the backdrop of the crystal waters, the church attracts visitors who not only come to admire the architecture but also soak in the tranquillity and serenity of this sacred site.

Elia Beach

Located on the southern coast of the island, Elia Beach is a golden mile of soft, warm sand and crystal waters. The beach is loved by LGBTQIA+ sunbathers, families, and locals alike, and being typically quieter than other resorts on the island, it is popular with those seeking lazy, peaceful beach days, relaxing in the sun. For the more adventurous, there is the opportunity to engage in a variety of watersports including windsurfing, jet skiing and paragliding. Beach bars and restaurants serving traditional Greek cuisine and snacks line the beachfront, making it the ideal beachside retreat.

Ano Mera

In stark contrast to the bustling lanes and alleys of the Mykonos Old Town, Ano Mera is a tranquil Cycladic village, located in the centre of the island. Only 8.3 km from the Old Town, Ano Mera is the island’s second-largest settlement, yet remains relatively unspoiled by tourism. Spend some time here and meander through the picturesque streets, explore the Paleokastro Monstery, or relax in the central square to get a glimpse into the authentic lifestyle of rural Mykonos. It is a wonderful opportunity to see a more traditional side of the island and immerse yourself in Mykonian history.

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