Mykonos is a world-class tourist destination and is particularly renowned for its pulsating nightlife and entertainment.
Although slightly more expensive in comparison to other Greek islands, yet Mykonos is worth a visit. We were told that the island of Mykonos has evolved as one of Europe’s top-ranked tourist destinations. Mykonos belongs to the Cycladic group of islands located in the azure blue Aegean Sea.
One has to bear in mind that Mykonos’ freshwater is scarce and the island relies to a large extent on the seawater which is scientifically desalinated for use by its residents. With a population of 6200 as per the 2002 census, the residents of Mykonos have a warm and friendly attitude towards the tourists. The town of Hora is the principal town of Mykonos located strategically on the island’s western border.
With the rapid growth of tourism in the last few decades, Mykonos has a rather cosmopolitan ambiance that lures international tourists to this picturesque island. We also noted that Mykonos with its pristine beaches, chic tavernas, pulsating nightlife, and numerous touristic sites is the favorite haunt of Hollywood celebrities including the who have set up their summer retreat on this beautiful island.
It is quite natural to sight renowned celebrities strolling along Mykonos’s meandering streets without any bother of the paparazzi. I had never ever imagined in my wildest of dreams of coming face to face with Brad Pitt and Richard Gere, which is exactly what happened in one of the secluded beaches of Mykonos.
Our well-informed guide Sylvia was of the opinion that if you haven’t seen Mykonos you have missed out on something that is fabulous. Mykonos with its varied charms is one of Greece’s most fashionable tourist hotspots and no wonder the real estate prices are sky-high. But in spite of the high real estate prices, international tourists continue to invest in summer retreats and sophisticated villas.
Mykonos Rich Virile Past
The Greeks were under the rule of Ottomans for more than 400 years. But in the year1821, the Greeks resolutely took the decision to fight for their independence from the treacherous Ottomans. 25th March 1821 is a red-letter day in Greece for this marks the exact date of the commencement of the infamous War of Independence.
The Turks initially occupied Constantinople, which used to serve as the Byzantine capital. But it didn’t take them long to capture the whole of Greece which came under their rule by 1500. The native people of Greece including wealthy merchants, renowned intellectuals, and artists all began to abandon their beloved land Greece for greener pastures abroad, particularly in Central Europe.
In those days, Greece had an Orthodox religion, which was a great unifying force. It was this element of orthodoxy in their religion that made the Greeks resolute and they looked forward to becoming an independent nation. All this resulted in a great cultural transformation in the late 18th century that culminated in the War of Independence in the year 1821. The Greek War of Independence received a big boost as the crème-de-la-crème of the aristocracy provided their wholehearted support towards the Greek’s just struggle for independence.
People of the stature of Shelly, Byron, and Goethe lent their voice which gave a lot of impetus to the war.
During the brutal Turkish occupation, the people of Mykonos who were predominantly seamen and sailors by profession came out with all their generosity and offered both their seafaring skills as well as their generous financial assistance towards the War of Independence. It is believed that at the beginning of the 18th century, Mykonos alone had a fleet of 100 small and 40 to 50 large shipping vessels that conducted the maritime trade.
The manner in which the local Mykonoians participated in the War of Independence by contributing their shipping vessels which were largely responsible for the inability of the Turkish navy to make any considerable inroads inside Greek territory is truly memorable.
Even though Mykonos is renowned principally for its pristine and picturesque beaches, the island also has numerous other attractions, which are of great importance to discerning international tourists. A leisurely stroll through Mykonos Town, which is popularly referred to as the Chora is by far the most beautiful part of Mykonos and is replete with ancient windmills, elegant whitewashed residences, and meandering roads that provide a perfect backdrop to a truly mesmerizing holiday.
To me, the most enduring monument of Mykonos town had to be the astonishing Church of Paraportiani, which dates back all the way to the 16th century. This church is conspicuous by its rather uneven architectural pattern and draws hordes of visitors every day.
For the Museum enthusiasts, there is The Archaeological Museum, Maritime, and Folklore Museums in Mykonos Town all of which are virtual treasure houses of Mykonian artifacts. A visit to the above-mentioned museums will open up a whole new world of discovery. The stupendous evolution of Mykonos from ancient times to the present day is well represented in the museums of Mykonos.
One must also visit the village of Ano Mera, which is in close proximity to Mykonos. This is where the stupendous16th century Tourliani Monastery is located. This monastery, we were told, is the oldest of all monasteries in the whole of Greece and worth a visit. We were mesmerized by the ornate wooden works of the altar which was reputedly handcrafted by the famous artisans of Florence during the 18th century.
Of particular importance are the delicate priestly objet d’arts, inclusive of the extraordinary idol of the Virgin Mary, which many believe to be the work of Luke the Apostle.
My fascination for history took me to the Platis Gialos, where the astonishing Well of Giannaros is located. It is nothing but a splendid underground reservoir. A flight of stairs will take you to the bottom. There are three elongated towers that hover above and are said to have been built with the principal goal of protecting the island of Mykonos.
For the archaeological buffs, there is Delos just opposite the island of Mykonos which happens to be one of the most outstanding open-air archaeological wonders of the world. As we stepped inside this stupendous open-air museum, we came across numerous ancient monuments which were impeccably preserved by way of the latest archaeological techniques. The Museum in particular is noteworthy for its extraordinary assortment of art objects, which have been literally dug up from the island of Mykonos.
One great reason to visit Delos is that according to popular Greek legend Delos was the birthplace of the God Apollo and Artemis both of whom are venerated by the Greeks. In the days of yore, Delos used to be a prosperous commercial and spiritual hub.
Theatre & Music Scene
The splendid Anemo Theatre is ideally located in the Steno Roharis neighborhood of Mykonos town. It is easily one of the most popular theatres of Mykonos and is a must-visit place for first-time visitors to Mykonos. The best part about Anemo Theatre is that it is run on a non-profit basis. The theatre is also conspicuous by its open-air location in the midst of a verdant olive garden that lends a touch of exotica to the theatre.
The best time to visit the Anemo Theatre is between the months of July to September when the Theatre is abuzz with events ranging from music concerts to folk shows and seminars. In the past, the Anemo Theatre has hosted world-renowned artists who have provided scintillating performances in front of a knowledgeable crowd.
Although Mykonos is renowned for its pulsating discotheques, there are also numerous other demure avenues. Many of the renowned restaurants and bars located in the Little Venice neighborhood of Mykonos regularly offer classical music recitals to the sheer delight of the discerning international visitor. Apart from the discotheques that do roaring business, Mykonos also has its share of Jazz Clubs.
The Rock music scene too is fast gaining popularity. While in Mykonos don’t miss out on the many innovative entertainment shows. Mykonos is often regarded as the Mecca of Gay Tourism and the Gay Club scene in Mykonos is really eye-catching.
For visitors with traditional leanings, the La Notte located in the city center is a fabulous option. Here one can savor the very best of soul-stirring traditional “Bouzouki” music. Another interesting place for traditional Greek music is Thalami.
We were told that one of the perennial favorites with the beach aficionados is the innovatively structured Beach Golf, which has become quite a rage with both amateurs and professional golfers alike. There is just one huge bunker from the tee zone to the pin. A lot of thought has gone towards the evolution of this rather new form of golfing and as a rule Beach Golf is always held during the winter months so as not to disturb the discerning beach bums who folk to Mykonos’s picturesque beaches.
Since it is basically a winter sport, golfers have to encounter the elements while chopping the ball on the main course.
Beach Golfing comes with its fair share of hazards unknown to most golfers and therein lie the fun and excitement. During the winter season, the beach shacks are more often than not empty and there is always that nip in the air. Most golfing enthusiasts find this sport funny which is one of the reasons why many golfing enthusiasts are taking to this sport with a lot of panache.
Essentially, Beach Golf is a one-hole and one tee affair. The number of times the process is repeated entirely depends upon the whims and fancies of the game warden. Ideally, a game of Beach Golf extends right up to the edge of the beach and back. The golfer who has the fewest strokes invariably goes on to win the game.
Many golfers find the rule that each stroke count must be acknowledged well before the schedule. To further assist in putting the area between the hole and the course of the ball one is allowed to clean and mop up to a maximum of two-club length.
Keeping with its fun quotient, Beach Golf allows competitors to go for a drink break with mutual consent.
Mykonos is world-famous for the delicious Kopanisti Cheese. This rare variety of Cheese is unique to Mykonos and is indigenously produced here by the locals. No visit to Mykonos is ever complete without savoring the Mykonos Kopanisti Cheese. The Kopanisti Cheese is conspicuous by its white or bluish-white cheese and the most surprising aspect of this rare variety of Cheese is that it is produced without the aid of machines.
This cheese is made out of the milk of sheep, goats, or cows. Sometimes there is a combination of milk as well. The Kopanisti Cheese stands out for its flavor that is further accentuated by the additional mixture of salt and ground pepper.
This variety of cheese is usually available in the quintessential Mykonian terra cotta pots.
The cheese with its distinct creamy surface and pungent flavor are much like the Roquefort ones.
Legend has it that the son of Apollo, Aristaios was deputed by the gods from heaven above to offer the secret of cheese-making to the people of Greece. Greek mythology refers to this “Cheese-making” of the Greeks to be a truly divine art that has been specially bestowed to the Greeks and there are myths that suggest that the quality of the Kopanisti cheese gets better and better with the passage of time.
Mykonos offers a wide array of gastronomic delights to suit every taste. Since tourists from all over the world come to holiday in Mykonos, every conceivable dining option can be found on this picturesque Greek island. The entire island is choc a bloc with elegant cafes, restaurants, and tavernas that serve anything from traditional Greek cuisine to French, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, and of course the nouveau international cuisines.
The best thing about the restaurants of Mykonos is that they are moderately priced and are comparable to the prices of restaurants in New York, London, and Paris. The people of Greece simply love dining and they are very passionate about food and cuisine. By far the most fashionable eateries and restaurants are located in the picturesque Little Venice neighborhood of Mykonos. Restaurants here not only provide great food but also mesmerizing views of the waterfront.
Although you have the option to dine on your own preferred cuisine, you would do well to indulge in the local Greecian delicacies as well. Traditional Greek cuisine makes use of an abundance of meat and garden-fresh vegetables. Some of the popular Greek cuisines are “Moussaka”, “Kopanisti”, “Paidakia” all of which are meat-based cuisines. Like the varied meat-based delicacies, there are also lip-smacking vegetarian delicatessen like “Briam”, “Fasolakia” and “Gemista”, all of which are worth indulging in.
Here is a tip for the first time visitors to Mykonos who would prefer to indulge in the local Greek cuisine – If you are traveling to Mykonos in a group, you would do well to ask for a “Mezedes”, which is nothing but a whole gamut of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. A mezedes will generally include things In a typical Mezedes you will find enough meat, fresh seafood, high-quality cheese, Tzatziki or Yogurt, and the very best of sausages that are dished up with high-quality Greek bread.
For the indigenous people of Mykonos, every day is a celebration of life and it comes as no surprise that there are numerous festivals, which are held in Mykonos every year with great fanfare and camaraderie. If you desire to savor the irresistible Mykonian entertainment, which is far removed from today’s modern-day hi-tech celebrations, you would do well to check out with your travel agent the exact dates of the festivals that you intend to participate in.
Although there are numerous fairs and festivals in Mykonos, the most popular ones are the Fisher’s Festival which is held in the month of June, and the Festival of Panagia Tourliani which is celebrated in the month of August. Mykonos comes alive particularly during the summer season with numerous music concerts, high-quality theatre shows, and folk dance recitals all of which simply leave the first-time visitors to Mykonos spellbound.
Dream Race Regatta
The Dream Race is a prestigious regatta competition and is held on the picturesque island of Mykonos. Greece which has emerged from the shadows to the forefront of the world sporting arena viz-a-viz the successful hosting of the all-important Olympic Games in the year 2004, means that any sporting event that is held in Greece especially in the aftermath of the Olympic Games attracts worldwide attention.
The Dream Race in Mykonos attracts some of the best athletes from across the world. The very best of modern technology and state-of-the-art infrastructure has been put in place to make the Dream Race a truly world-class sporting event.
The Sailing Club of Mykonos has played a pivotal role in promoting the exciting sport of sailing in this picture-perfect Greek island of Mykonos, which incidentally happens to be one of the top tourist destinations of Europe. The Dream Race is an effort to popularize Sailing among the youth brigade of Mykonos and Greece in general.
The Dream Race at Mykonos wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the dogged determination of Olympic champion Bekatorou who took pains to persuade some of the biggest names in the world of Sailing to participate in the 2005 edition of the Dream Race. The presence of sailors of the stature of Russell Coutts who is an internationally acclaimed Sailor added a touch of class to the competition.
Through the untiring efforts of Sofia Bekatorou and other renowned Greek sailors, the Dream Race at Mykonos has provided much-needed exposure to enthusiastic and wannabe Greek sailors with an insight into the cutthroat competition of international sailing. match racing at the highest level.
Bekatorou’s ambition is to bring together a worthy Greek challenger for all-important America’s Cup. Although it is a tough ask but the eternal optimist that Bekatorou is, she is confident that very soon Greece will have a team of champion sailors ready to take on the world head-on.
The sheer quality of the competitors is such that the Dream Race has become a kind of unofficial World Cup as far as Sailing is concerned. The race features Olympic medallists and other champion sailors who have won worldwide fame and recognition. Needless to say, there is intense competition in the Dream Race.
For instance, in the 2005 edition of Dream Race, there were as many as four Olympic medallist teams that were pitted against an equal number of America’s Cup teams that offered some of the most adrenaline-pumping races ever seen in the world of sailing.
Each of the races will be adjudicated by an expert team of Greek and International judges with years of referee experience under their belt thereby ensuring the neutrality of judgment. In the last edition, there were as many as 25 races of twenty-minute duration held over a period of four days.
The high quality of the competition has compelled the world governing body of Sailing – “The International Sailing Federation” (ISAF) to grant the Dream Race at Mykonos with Grade 3 status which in itself speaks volumes about the competition.
Traveler’s Fact File
Getting to Mykonos Island isn’t a big deal. There are numerous flights to Mykonos from within Greece as well as from elsewhere in Europe. Direct flights are also available from the island of Santorini and Rhodes, which is very advantageous in case you are fond of island hopping.
Mykonos island is very well connected by Ferry service from Athens and other islands of the Cyclade, Crete, and Dodecanese group. Ferry transport links to Mykonos are doubled in terms of frequency and numbers during the peak tourist season for the benefit of the tourists. Ferry fees depend on the kind of boat one is using as well as the season.
True to its preeminent position as one of Europe’s top tourist destinations, Mykonos offers an endless list of hotels ranging from ultra-expensive villas and apartments to the budget category Bed & Breakfast accommodations.
The sheer variety of hotels on offer at Mykonos is astounding and you will be spoilt for a choice. What is more, each hotel has something unique to offer. If you happen to visit Mykonos with your entire family, there is an abundance of family-centric hotels in Mykonos to choose from.
Also, it is a fact that Mykonos is the Gay capital of Europe and so most Mykonos hotels are Gay friendly. The hotels of Mykonos go that extra mile to pamper the Gay tourists with additional Gay amenities and facilities to make their holidays fun-filled and romantic.
Many a visitor to Mykonos is stressed-out city sleekers who want to be quietly tucked into a nondescript seaside hotel or villa. The neighborhood of Little Venice is a much sought-after seaside retreat and most hotels here offer discreet privacy. Good quality hotels have also sprung up in the outskirts of Mykonos. For the enthusiastic beach bums, there are an endless array of beach hotels to choose from.