A celebrated and world-famous gay destination, Mykonos is one of the most popular and stylish islands of Greece. Offering sophistication, charm, and beauty -- both scenic and corporeal -- it's no wonder that so much of Mykonos flies the rainbow flag.
Mykonos, part of a small cluster of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, has 85 square kilometers of charm, beauty, and sandy beaches. Life here was hard until recently, especially during the war years and the political unrest that followed, and people barely scraped by. Young, international, alternative, and celebrity visitors of the 1960's and '70s who "discovered" the island, set the stage for the tourist industry that transformed the economy. The epicenter is Chora (or Mykonos Town), beside the island's two ports, which has retained much of it's old-world scenic beauty. Small cobbled streets and winding alleys are lined with churches and tiny shops, mostly painted bright white, contrasting with deep blue skies and the Aegean Sea. Matoyianni is the longest street in town, where you can buy clothes, jewelry, and other products made by celebrated local designers. The streets are also full of international-style restaurants and coffeeshops as well as the more traditional Greek gyro joints and salad bars. Lose yourself in the colorful maze to explore these alleys and hidden sidestreets.
Just north of the port in the area of Little Venice, stand the island's famous windmills. These Kato Myli once powered the local economy, grinding wheat to produce flour. Some have since been converted into houses. The easy-to-get-to monastery of Tourliani, about five miles north of town, is another set of local historic buildings. Check out the amazing ecclesiastical woodcarvings, and the marble bell tower. New resorts have been built at other beaches, drawing large crowds of young partiers to dance all night.
There are many direct summer flights from major European cities to Mykonos Airport, a 5-10 minute taxi drive from Mykonos town. There is regular public bus service, and some hotels provide transfers by private mini buses. During winter months domestic airlines Aegean and Olympic are the best flying options.
Athens International Airport is an good alternative, with easy transportation to Piraeus, the Port of Athens, in just over an hour on the Airport-Piraeus Express bus (X96). There is Metro rail transport too, with a change of trains at Monastiraki station. From Piraeus, one of several ferry or hydrofoil services will get you direct to Mykonos, in anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, with great views of the islands and pretty sunsets. The slower boat has larger deck areas, and restaurant facilities. See GoFerry.gr for information and bookings.
Buses are the least expensive way to get around the island, with regular bus service from three bus stations: Fabrica to Platys Gyalos, Psarou, Ornos, Agios Ioannis, Paradise and Paraga; the OTE area to Ano Mera, Kalafati and Elia; and from Old Port to New Port and Agios Stefanos.
Fishing boats, or caiques, are another inexpensive way to hop to, or between beaches, from the most popular to those most remote.
Taxis can be few and far between in high season, but they're the best way to find your way around in a town with few street names or building numbers. Maps are vague at best, sometimes downright confusing -- even Google maps seems lost. Locations on websites are often indicated as "just behind," "next to," or "opposite" some well-known landmark church or city building. Be patient, relax, it's hard to get too lost on a small island.
Cars or moterbikes are easy to rent, with about 40 companies, from the international big names to small local independents, with vehicles to get around the island at your own pace.
As a part of the European Union, Greece uses the Euro as the currency. ATM's can found around town for cash.
Media & resources
Mykonosvibes has good listings for dining, nightlife and shopping, both general and of gay interest. MYkonos.gr is the official website for the municipality. Mykonos-Web has good general listings and maps.
Matt Holidays will get you around this island, and neighboring ones too. They can also help with lodgings, car rentals, and tips on the gay scene here.
The Mykonos Accommodation Center can help with hotels, apartments, tours, and cruise arrangements. They can also hook you up with the 3rd annual XLSior International Gay Festival partying over 5 days each August.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Mykonos listings pages.
Bars and clubs
After sunsets the evenings pulse with nightlife. Restaurants tend to get busiest after 8pm, bars after 10pm.
Babylon (Kastro Waterfront) popular dance club next to Jackie O' at waterfront, drag shows, go-go dancers, theme parties, terrace seating.
Cavo Pardiso (Paradise Beach) mixed crowd of happy clubbers, house and dance music, very busy in high season to dance away the night and drink cocktails until sunrise.
Coco Club (Super Paradise beach), food and drinks not cheap, but next to the island's most exclusive and well-known beach, a popular gay hangout. Poolside Heineken Beer ad was filmed here.
Coffee Cat (Kyriaki Square), old Pierro's ground floor location, mixed gay crowd, cocktails, dancing, food, shows, live music, famous terrace on the square.
Jackie O' (Kastro Waterfront), local legend waterfront cocktail bar, dancing, drag shows, terrace tables.
Kastro Bar (Little Venice) mixed, gay-friendly cocktail bar, sea views.
Lola (Old Town) gay-friendly cabaret/theatrical vibe, warm atmosphere, wide mix of music, early crowd.
Manto (Agias Kiriakis Sq), former Pierro's, terrace on the square, mixed gay and tourist mix, dance hits/house music.
Montparnasse Piano Bar (Agion Anargyron 24, Little Venice), fun, friendly, international regulars, piano/cabaret, cocktail/champagne bar, wine and beer. Nightly entertainment, fine NYC talent, terrace tables, sea vistas, legendary sunsets, charismatic hosts.
Porta Bar (Old Town) gay-friendly mixed basement bar, retro music, dim lights.
Space Dance (Old Town), big dance club, mixed but mostly straight, gay special events venue.
Sunset Bar (Elysium Hotel) poolside bar in gay hotel, sea views, drag shows, go-go dancers, special theme nights.
Where to eat
Greek cuisine features the mezze, or "middle," a filler, but not a full meal. Traditional mezze may contain marinated olives, fresh bread, soft feta cheese in oil, dolmades (stuffed vine leaves, with rice, pine nuts, and raisins), sundried tomatoes, sardines, and other seafood. Portions can be so generous they become a full meal. Salads, fish, and meat are local and fresh; no fast-foot here. Wine, spirits, and lthe ocal ouzo -- anise-flavored liqueur -- are always on the menu, together with cognacs and fine coffees.
Alefkandra Restaurant, Greek dining, style, live music, just south of windmills, above sea, by Metropolis church. Fresh fish and meats, expertly seasoned with garlic and wine sauces, grilled on open barbecue. Friendly and cheeky waiters make you welcome.
Blu-Blu Lounge, beside Harmony Hotel, overlooks the Old Port, the Aegean Sea and the sunsets. Look for organic fruit juices, cocktails, local and international foods including a range of pastas.
Blue Ginger Restaurant (Argyraina), authentic Thai and Chinese cuisine, on the ring round around downtown, the best in all of Mykonos. A large outside area has nice views, and they also offer Indian food nearby.
Niko's Tavern (Agia Moni Square, Little Venice), long-popular, traditional Greek food restaurant and bar, fresh fish, friendly mixed crowd, outdoor seating.
Restaurant Kostos (5 Metropoleos St), a full range of Greek and international food since 1963 at the center of town. Wood chairs and tables complement the white walls and traditional decoration.
Raya Lounge Bar & Restaurant (Old Port by Gialos Beach) breakfast all day, classic Greek and Mediterranean lunch and dining, full bar and wines, upscale but casual style.
From boutique hotels with cozy rooms in traditional Greek-style buildings downtown to more lavish and spacious modern neo-classical hotels further out, Mykonos offers an impressively wide range of accommodations. Nearly all hotels have adapted to the island's nocturnal nature, so breakfast is usually served until noon.
Apartments Rania (2 Leondiou Boni; 30-228-902-2315) set around luxurious garden, above Mykonos Town, port and beaches. Spacious apartments, full kitchen, telephone, mini-bar, television. Most with small balconies, some overlook the Aegean. Reasonable rates are competitive, expecially off-season after September.
Elysium Hotel (Area of Fine Arts; 30-228-902-3952) "gay and proud" in School of Arts area, three minutes from downtown; exquisite rooms, spacious grounds, poolside bar, party events. Cute locals strip to Speedos and turn heads at pool, busy day or night. Also gym, free weights, machines, sauna, Jacuzzi, and massage.
The Geranium Hotel (New Ring Rd; 30-228-902-2867), stylish, decadent, exclusively gay, overlooking Mykonos town and sunsets. 16 rooms and suites, large private verandah. Home-style daily breakfast by the pool, fresh-baked treats, fresh-squeezed orange juice. Shady or sunny pool lounge areas; regular events, live music.
Harmony Boutique Hotel (Mykonos; 30-228-902-8980), one of few year-round hotels, overlooks port and town. Most rooms with balcony views; all with satellite television, mini-bar, safe, hairdryers, internet. Suites with Jacuzzis. The Apolafsi Restaurant, overlooks the sea, offers local and international fare, including pasta, with poolside cocktails.
Hotel Zannis (Mykonos; 30-228-902-2486), gay-friendly hotel rooms opposite the Elysium, sun terrace, pool and Jacuzzi. Breakfast or cake and coffee with sea views.
Town Suites, managed by the Mykonos Accommodation Center (Enoplon Dynameon 10, above Maritime Museum; 30-228-902-3160), four open-plan studio suites, two one-bedroom apartment suites, garden and pergola, balcony, AC, TV/stereo, WiFi.
Zorzis Hotel (30 Nik Kalogera St; 30-228-902-2167), authentic Mykonos, on narrow streets at heart of town, Chora. Well-equipped en-suite rooms, television, AC, ceiling fan, tranquil garden, verandah and balcony, breakfast served.
Beaches and outdoors
Mykonos has a wide variety of beaches and bays. Some are unspoiled with few or no amenities, others, famously serve up everything you might want. Beaches are packed during high season of July and August, but much quieter come September. Getting to the beaches can be exciting, with roads narrow and rocky with bumps and holes everywhere. Rent a car or a a bike.
Taxis are reasonable if you can find one, or there's regular bus services from downtown to the most popular spots: Paradise, Super Paradise, Paranga, and Elia; from early morning until 9-10pm. Fares are cheap, just over a Euro, or buy a book of tickets for even less, at local shops. Boats can be used to beach-hop too, running back and forth all day, at reasonable rates.
Karanga Beach, small and gorgeous, mixed crowd and ocky cruising area nearby. Sun-beds, umbrellas, two restaurants, masseur to soothe you. At the raised rocky end of the beach are lots of naked men and fantastic views of the beach and surrounding countryside. Daytime cruising gets busy, and skinny dipping is the fashion. Wear good shoes for climbing sharp rocks.
Paradise Beach, beside Karanga, is well-served by shops, self-service restaurants, diving facilities and bars. Get here on regular bus service, located about 5km out of town. Paradise starts pounding with music by late afternoon, and lively crowd drinks and dances as the sun sets.
Super Paradise Beach has an international reputation, the place to be in Mykonos, but somewhat more difficult to get to, 10km out, than Paradise Beach. Beautiful sand and water, and cute men in Speedos and sunglasses. make it worth the effort. A bar and restaurant with pool overlook the sea, above the gay section. Pack a snack and plenty of water or pay the premium prices.
Elia Beach is a little further on and takes a little longer to reach, but here it's a more relaxed and natural ambiance on the long, wide, mixed-clientele sands. Nude sun-bathing makes this beach popular with gay travelers. XLSIOR Dance Festival has a beach party here in 2011.
Gay-friendly, the busy Bodywork Gym (Vrisi, road to Plati Yialos Beach), well-equipped, open daily, full range of machines, free-weights, classes include yoga.