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Published on Feb 17, 2010
A Greek island like no other, rustic chic combined with ancient myth. Mykonos is not your average Greek island. This sophisticated retreat in the heart of the Cyclades has been considered a special place for thousands of years, long before the rich and famous created the need for celebrity playgrounds. Mykonos is 30 square miles of barren land in the Aegean Sea with its white sugar cube structures, boutique shops and idyllic harbours. Mention Mykonos and many will refer to its glittering nightlife and gay scene. It is possibly the most gay friendly island I have visited, but the real appeal of Mykonos is the variety of entertainment for everyone. Also its close proximity to the other islands makes it an ideal base for anyone keen to backpack around the Greek islands during the summer. The temperature is typically Mediterannean with glorious sun from April through to September.
Mykonos town is the core of the islands action. Its a white-washed warren of narrow cobbled streets designed to confuse pirates in days gone by but now equally capable of baffling the tourist. But the myriad winding streets also mean you find yourself stumbling upon the islands iconic windmills, local celebrity pelicans and no small number of decadent jewellery stores. Little Venice, an area named after the wooden seafront buildings overhanging the water, provides numerous stop-off points. You can watch the people stream by at the classy, but rather expensive Sea Satin restaurant or try more affordable Greek fare in the attractive setting of the waterfront area. Meals will set you back from €20 with wine provided you stick to the cheaper options. Or you can sip on your drink of choice to the sound of the water lapping against the balcony edge at cocktail venues such as Rhapsodies.
Hiring a moped is a great way to explore the island but be prepared for wind-swept hair due to the powerful winds that swipe at the island from the north. Mykonos has some of the best beaches of the Cyclades, and as long as you are prepared to share them, the sheltered bays of the southern coastline are by far the most popular. Agios Yannis is one of the most famous as it was the location for the movie Shirley Valentine. There is no shortage of sunloungers and umbrellas, as you recuperate after the night before and relax in preparation for the night ahead. For those wanting a more remote sunwhorshipping experience the tranquil Agios Sostis and the private Super Paradise are only accessible by boat.
Not all the beaches in Mykonos are just places where you sunbathe and swim. Towards the latter part of the afternoon, bars such as Tropicana on Paradise beach, are where the party gets started. On the party beaches the cocktails flow freely, and the whole beach swings to the rhythm of an MTV beach party. Popular nightspot Cavo Paradiso, complete with pool, perches on the rocks above Paradise beach while the rather ironically named Space is the superclub in the centre of Mykonos town.
Despite its arid beauty, Mykonos is not a mecca for the culture vulture. There are a few small mildly interesting museums but the main sightseeing of significance is the unihabited island of Delos. Today the island is effectively a big open-air museum where you can visit the Great Temple of Apollo, built in 476 BC. You can visit all the treasures in a couple of hours. The ruins are one of the most important architectural showcases in the region, having become the centre of pilgrimages for the followers of Apollo, around the temple of whom a whole city sprang.
Where to stay in Mykonos is a delightful decision, if you can afford to splash the cash. There are incredible boutique hotels, with the Kivotos being one of the most desirable. Just 10 minutes from Mykonos town, this resort has 40 rooms eah individually deocarted by famous artists. Its pool area will beg you to stay around all day with its incredible sea views and a cocktail bar. There is also a private beach with water sports. A close match in comfort and style is the Tharroe Mykonos Hotel which has an onsite spa and panoramic views of the Aegean sea. For those with tighter budgets there are self-catering apartments to be found right across the island with the Paolas Town apartments being a particularly charming option.