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Things to Do in Mykonos

When it comes to the Greek islands, few places are able to meet idealized expectations like the island of Mykonos, with its stark-white buildings and beautiful beaches on the azure waters of the Aegean Sea. Now one of the more cosmopolitan destinations in Greece, Mykonos also serves as a convenient jumping-off point for nearby attractions. The neighboring island of Delos—the alleged birthplace of Artemis and Apollo—scratches that mythology itch with its treasure trove of ancient ruins, including the Temple of Apollo, Sacred Way, and Terrace of the Lions. Visitors who decide to book a tour have the choice of a catamaran, yacht, sailing boat, or even cruise ship to explore the nearby uninhabited island of Rhenia and its paradise beach; and guided scuba diving and snorkeling trips are popular ways to enjoy the region’s clear blue waters. Back on Mykonos island, there are two main communities: Mykonos Town, or Chora, is a sea of charming whitewashed houses and winding streets originally intended to confuse invading pirates. Though the town has developed rapidly, its original style is intact and evident in the medieval houses and wooden terraces of Little Venice. Inland, the small village of Ano Mera has a different energy, with a 16th century monastery and traditional tavernas still steeped in the old Mykonian spirit. After all the sightseeing tours, soak in Greek island spirit against a sunset backdrop to end any day in this Cycladic gem.
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Little Venice
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Situated in Chora Mykonos (aka Mykonos Town), the waterfront quarter of Little Venice is one of the island’s top sunset-viewing spots. Rows of whitewashed old fishermen’s houses—now occupied by bars, shops, and restaurants—back onto the seafront, their brightly painted red and blue balconies jutting out over the water.

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Mykonos Cruise Port
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The cruise port of Mykonos offers easy access to both the town itself, called Chora, as well as the rest of the island and its sun-drenched beaches. Take time to get a little lost in the town’s maze of charming streets and traditional buildings full of shops, cafés, and restaurants before heading back to the ship or hotel.

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Mykonos Windmills (Kato Mili)
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The whitewashed windmills lined up on a hill overlooking Mykonos Town are a signature island sight. Capped with wood and straw, the 3-story conical windmills were built in the 16th century to mill flour. Out of the 16 preserved windmills on the island, seven are found in the area of Kato Mili overlooking the Chora Mykonos harbor.

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Church of Panagia Paraportiani
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The flower-bedecked Church of Panagia Paraportiani is a highlight of your walk through Mykonos’ picture-perfect Little Venice. Built between the 14th and 17th centuries, the island’s most photographed church is comprised of five whitewashed chapels across two floors that once guarded the entrance to the town’s castle.

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Kalafatis Beach
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With its long stretch of golden sand and steady coastal winds, Kalafatis Beach is not only one of Mykonos’ most beautiful beaches – it’s also earned a reputation as the island’s water sports hub. The beach is most renowned for its windsurfing, but other popular activities include jet skiing, water skiing, banana boating and wakeboarding.

For less adventurous beach-goers, Kalafatis also offers ample opportunities for swimming and snorkeling, as well as boat cruises around the sea caves of Dragonisi island. The beach itself is well equipped for families, with sunbeds and parasols for hire, beach volleyball nets, and a selection of cafés and restaurants nearby.

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Armenistis Lighthouse (Faros Armenistis)
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With its stark white tower perched atop the sea-cliffs of Cape Armenistis, and views stretching out over the ocean, the remote Armenistis Lighthouse (Faros Armenistis) feels a world away from the lively streets of nearby Mykonos Town. A striking reminder of Mykonos’ rich maritime heritage, the lighthouse dates back to 1891 and, despite standing at just 19-meters high, makes a dramatic sight, looking out across the strait towards Tinos island.

Today, the lighthouse is no longer in use and is closed to the public, but remains an impressive landmark and a popular spot from which to watch the sunset. The lighthouse’s original 19th-century lantern has been restored and is now on display in the Aegean Maritime Museum in Mykonos Town.

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Ornos Beach
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Tucked away from the buzzing nightlife of Mykonos Town, Ornos Beach is draped around a sheltered bay whose calm water makes it a popular family swimming spot. A generous selection of seafront restaurants, tavernas, and resorts offer plenty of amenities for a day in the sun or a longer stay on the island’s quieter side.

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Paradise Beach
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By day, Paradise Beach is a water sports hot spot, with swimsuit-clad revelers enjoying banana boat rides, Jet Ski jaunts, and scuba diving excursions. Come late afternoon, its legendary party scene gets going as fun-seekers flock to the beach bars and clubs for music, dancing, drinking, and fun.

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Panagia Tourliani Monastery
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Most visitors come to Ano Mera, in the interior of Mykonos, to see the Byzantine Panagia Tourliani Monastery, fronted by an ornate bell tower with triple bells. Its interior is perhaps even more impressive, with carved marble and wood, Byzantine frescoes, crystal chandeliers, a gilded pulpit, and a wooden altar screen with scenes from the New Testament.

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Paros
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Long a ferry hub for trips throughout the Greek Islands, Paros has quietly become a second Mykonos without the crowds and the price tag. Away from its sun-kissed beaches—popular for soaking up the Aegean sun—terraced hills climb up to the mountainous interior, where the island’s famous pure-white marble is quarried.

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More Things to Do in Mykonos

Manto Mavrogenous Square (Plateia Manto Mavrogenous)

Manto Mavrogenous Square (Plateia Manto Mavrogenous)

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Looking out over the Old Port and marking the entrance to historic Mykonos Town is Manto Mavrogenous Square (Plateia Manto Mavrogenous)—the lively epicenter of the quintessential Greek Island destination. A popular starting point for walking tours, the square boasts handicraft shops, restaurants, and cafes along its seafront promenade, while its white-painted, blue-shuttered buildings make for a pretty photo opportunity against the ocean backdrop.

At the heart of the square stands its namesake monument, an unassuming statue of Manto Mavrogenous, the Greek war heroine famous for her role in the Greek War of Independence.

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Terrace of the Lions

Terrace of the Lions

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The Terrace of the Lions, built around 600 BC to honor Apollo, is today the most iconic image of Delos island. Nearly a dozen of the squatting guardian cats once lined the Sacred Way, but only seven have survived. The ones you see today perched atop piles of brick and rubble are replicas; see the originals in the site’s museum.

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Aegean Maritime Museum

Aegean Maritime Museum

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Those with an interest in Greece’s nautical history will find a trove of fascinating exhibits at the Aegean Maritime Museum, housed in a traditional 19th-century mansion in the heart of Mykonos Town. The nautical theme starts before you even step inside, with the museum courtyard dotted with cannons, anchors and ship helms, while inside the displays are crammed with model ships, maps and navigational instruments, shipping documents, and ancient coins.

Among the many highlights is a gigantic lighthouse lantern, impressively restored to its 19th-century glory, which stands in the museum garden alongside a collection of larger artifacts and sailors’ gravestones recovered from around Mykonos.

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Mykonos Folklore Museum

Mykonos Folklore Museum

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Housed in the old captain’s house on the seafront of Mykonos Town, the Mykonos Folklore Museum transports visitors back to the 19th-century, offering a unique insight into historic life on the island. Inside, visitors can take a peek at a typical 19th-century bedroom, kitchen and sitting room, decked out in period style, with traditional oil lamps and vintage furniture.

Among the museum’s eclectic collection, highlights include antique tools, utensils and ceramics; musical instruments; rare textiles and embroidered works; and fine paintings. Also on display is a pair of canons used during the 1821 War for Independence, an impressive collection of keys and locks, and a series of sketches depicting Mykonos shipping vessels.

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Mykonos Town (Chora Mykonos)

Mykonos Town (Chora Mykonos)

From the sea, the sun sparkles off the jumble of whitewashed houses and churches lining a maze of narrow, winding streets in Mykonos Town (Chora Mykonos). This picturesque Cycladic town, perched on a harbor in the middle of a wide bay, serves as the island’s commercial hub—its traditional buildings now occupied by shops, cafés, galleries, and Greek restaurants.

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Naxos

Naxos

Among the largest and greenest of Greece’s Cyclades Islands, laid-back Naxos offers myriad delights. As well as the sandy beaches so typical of Aegean islands, fertile Naxos also boasts mountain villages, lush valleys, and a bustling seaside capital packed with Venetian monuments and ancient attractions.

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