Mykonos, named for Apollo’s grandson, is Greek party central, with beach superclubs that attract international DJ talent and stay open until sunrise. But although it’s tiny (only 45 square miles), Mykonos is so much more than just beachfront bars. The reason you’ll find so many ex-pats here, from all over the world, is obvious as soon as you step off the ferry: it’s just so beautiful!
It’s quite easy to get caught up in the laid-back island life, which is why you should plan – and stick to – a Mykonos itinerary. 5 days is more than most: a lot of people prefer to island-hop between here and Santorini, or spend a few days exploring the famous snorkeling spots in Crete.
So with 5 days here, you have the advantage of time. You can party hard and spend your days recharging at the beach, or you can take in some of the delights of the island. With this guide, we aim to help you with both! But first…
Why is Mykonos so Popular?
Good question! Here’s the short version: In the late 50s, the rich and beautiful started to vacation on the pristine beaches of Mykonos, drawn by the relatively unspoiled beauty of the island and a sun that shone 300 days a year. Jackie Onassis (and her husband’s millions) came first, then trendsetters like Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, and Sophia Loren followed. Luxury hotels and private villas started to dot the coastline, and by the late 60s, prices on Mykonos had skyrocketed.
By the 1970s, Mykonos was firmly established as an “anything goes” party destination. The burgeoning LGBT community saw the island as a haven; a place where they could have a good time without being judged, and Mykonos embraced them willingly. Somewhere along the way, the wild parties started to happen; and the rest, as they say, is history.
Some locals complain that the influx of wealthy holidaymakers has pushed up the prices of property on the island; but on the other hand, the pay is much higher in Mykonos, and there are more jobs available for Greek citizens. So, on balance, Mykonians are proud of their island’s reputation, and as a result, they’re incredibly polite and helpful to visitors.
Day 1: Get Settled, then Choose a Beach
After settling into your hotel, your first stop will no doubt be the beach, to catch the sun’s rays and get some Instagrammable “day one” moments. Some people, who come mainly for the beach bars and clubs, book a hotel right next to a beach. (For some great ideas of where to stay, check out our guide to the best party-friendly hotels in Mykonos.) If so, your first choice of beach is the obvious one!
However, the popular beaches are super popular, and unless you’ve booked one of the few Mykonos hotels with a private beach, you’ll find most of the sand is taken up by people sleeping off the shenanigans of the night before. So, now might be a good time to find a less-crowded beach, which isn’t that hard to find if you know where to look — and we know a few!
Our first recommendation is a tiny beach called Kapari, hidden away in a similarly small harbor called Agios Ioannis. It’s one of our favorite “unorganized” beaches, meaning it doesn’t have any sunbeds, umbrellas, beach bars, or tavernas. Instead, you trade up to an uncrowded stretch of beautiful white sand, and clear and shallow waters ideal for snorkeling. The small beach looks out onto the island of Delos (see ‘Day 2 Afternoon’ below), and the sunsets from here are legendary.
Kapari is a clothing-optional beach, and the natural privacy afforded by the nearby rocky outcroppings is a haven for naturists and those that want an all-over tan. If that’s not your thing then you’re better keeping to the main beach, where the line is drawn at topless sunbathing.
To get to Kapari Beach, take the bus from the Fabrika bus terminal in Mykonos town (known informally as “Chora” ) to Agios Ioannis, and then it’s a walk and slight climb down to the beach. As it’s so remote and hard to get to, even during the peak and shoulder seasons (April to October) this little beach remains quiet.
Mykonos Quiet Beach Alternatives
Ftelia Beach and Agios Sostis are great remote and uncrowded beaches, both “unorganized” like Kapari. They aren’t served by any buses, so hiring a vehicle is definitely the way to go (the island only has 30 taxis, and they’re infamously unreliable!). If you book in advance, an economy-sized car will cost no more than $20 per day through a comparison site such as RentalCars.com. If you really want an ATV (which, admittedly, is way cooler than a budget rental!), you’ll need to book direct with a local supplier.
(Good to know: On Agios Sostis, there’s an amazing traditional restaurant called Kiki’s Tavern, hidden behind the church. It’s just as popular with the locals as is with tourists, but you can’t book in advance. If you want to eat lunch there – and believe us, you do! – then at least one of you needs to be in line before 11:30 am, to ensure a first-seating table.)
Day 2: Experience some Mykonos Culture (or Just Relax)
If you weren’t out partying all night – and who could blame you if you were? — then your second day is a great time to explore, starting with the town itself. Mykonos town, known locally as Chora (which just means “the Town”) is a haphazard maze and you will certainly get lost more than once, but that just adds to the charm! It’s easy to lose a few hours just wandering the cobblestone alleys, stopping at a few of the local coffee shops and taverns.
There are also plenty of designer boutiques for the rich and famous, but to our minds, the Gucci, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton brands look somehow out-of-place amongst the centuries-old streets (let us know if you agree). When you’ve had your fill of exploring the streets, it’s time to be a tourist and do some sightseeing. There are two iconic landmarks that you really shouldn’t miss: the Mykonos Windmills, and the Paraportiani church.
The seven Kato Mili windmills, whitewashed to stand out against the blue skies, are the island’s signature sight. These 3-story conical windmills were built in the 16th century to mill flour, and at one time at least 28 were operating, taking advantage of strong winds such as the northern Meltemi, which sometimes gust up to 7 or 8 on the Beaufort scale (which is why Mykonos is known as ‘Island of the Winds’). The other must-see, must-Insta attraction is a church, which to be more accurate is actually five churches in one.
Amazingly, Mykonos has between 600 and 800 churches, monasteries, and chapels for a community of just over 10,000. By far the most famous is Panagia Paraportiani, which is one of the most photographed churches in the world. Originally just one 14th-century church called Agios Anargyros, another three were built on the same site during the 16th century, and the church of the Virgin Mary was added as a dome in the late 1680s. The stark white outline photographs well against the blue backdrop of the Aegean sky, so it’s a photo well worth taking. Unfortunately every tourist visiting the island has the same idea, so be prepared to wait some time for the perfect shot.
Day 2 Afternoon: The Mythical Island of Delos
Whether you’ve spent the day relaxing or exploring, the cool of late afternoon is the perfect time for a trip to Delos. Tours depart at 5 pm from the Old Port, and you’ll have a couple of hours to explore this 5,000 year old archaeological site. Originally inhabited by traders, pirates and mercenaries, Delos was ‘re-invented’ as the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, and you’ll easily identify the ruins of temples and shrines dedicated to each of them.
If you look closely, you can also view all that remains of a sculpture of Dionysus, god of wine. It’s a very, err, small fragment, but we’re too polite to add any further description (although you’ve probably worked it out for yourself by now!) Joking aside, Delos is well worth a few hours of your time, and with five days in Mykonos there’s every reason to visit.
(Good to know: For a relaxing kind of evening, why not head to Cine Manto: Mykonos’ very own outdoor cinema? Set in a huge botanical garden with pine trees, palm trees, and cacti, it shows a program of films (usually in English) screening at either 9 pm or 11 pm throughout the summer. A real bonus is the restaurant, which is very popular with Mykonians for both the food and the relaxed atmosphere. Take a tip from the locals and book a seven o’clock table for dinner, then stay for the late show.)
Day 3: Take to the Seas
As we said earlier, the advantage of a Mykonos itinerary lasting 5 days is all the extra activities you can fit in — and this is a case in point. Today, we’re suggesting you charter a half-day cruise, for a chance to experience the island from a completely different vantage point.
With seemingly every Mykonos family owning some type of boat, there’s an almost infinite choice of cruise destinations. Every itinerary will include a visit to a small uninhabited island, where you can try some snorkeling in the shallow coastal waters, or just enjoy the luxury of seclusion for a few hours. Whilst you’re ashore, the crew will prepare a traditional meal for you, almost certainly served with a glass or two of raki or ouzo.
Your choice of destination is limited only by your budget, and that includes the style of travel as well. Motorboats and catamarans are the usual form of transport, but many tour operators offer deluxe yachts which can be chartered complete with crew, and with you as the only passengers. You can expect to pay around $150 to $200 per person for a scheduled excursion, whereas private yacht hire starts at $1,500 a day.
Wherever you decide to explore, we have one recommendation: time your return so you can catch the coastal view of Little Venice at the “blue hour”, just after sunset. Little Venice is the ‘chic’ part of town, with old sailors’ houses converted into waterside bars and trendy eateries. It’s a great place to visit (if a bit on the expensive side), but it’s an even better place to photograph, especially from the sea. Trust us: it’s a magical view!
(Good to Know: Some of the best snorkeling in Mykonos can be found off the island of Rhenia. It’s a popular stop-off point for boat trips from Mykonos to Delos, but those tourists tend to stay on the east side of the island, leaving the west-facing beaches free for people — like you! — who’ve booked private tours.)
Day 4: Time to Go Clubbing!
Now just hear us out. If by this point you’ve already discovered how just amazing the Mykonos club scene at night can be, then you can skip this section. If not, then you owe it to yourself to at least check out what all the fuss is about
For the full experience, you need to start at one of the beach bars. We suggest trying out Super Paradise Beach: it’s fairly quiet during the day, but things start getting loud (!) by late afternoon. From here, you have plenty of options. A lot of people go beach-hopping, using the water taxis that depart every hour. A day pass costs only €20, and will take you to all the main beach parties.
Perhaps the most famous club is Cavo Paradiso on Paradise Beach. The music is predominately EDM, and by 10 pm the place is completely packed, despite the ludicrously over-priced drinks! Other notable clubs include the Skandinavian Bar and Club, which is set right in the heart of town and features a massive open-air dance floor. Scorpio’s on Paraga Beach is another place to consider: it’s unashamedly hedonistic, and probably the best place for people-watching. Strangely for a beach club, it closes at midnight, but then that just gives you a perfect excuse to move on somewhere else!
We have one word of caution: Mykonos has only thirty taxis to serve the entire island, and from 2 am onwards they’re fully booked: mainly trying to coax hotel names from worse-for-wear revelers. So, if you planning a heavy night, then you really need to arrange a place nearby in advance, where you can just crash. We have some recommendations for the best places to stay in Mykonos if you want to party, including some low-budget options.
Day 5: What Have You Missed?
The last day of any vacation can sometimes be a sad reminder of the things you didn’t have time for. Not so with Mykonos, which is so small that you can drive from one side to the other in less than two hours. This means that nothing is out of reach, even if your flight home means you only have the morning free.
Perhaps you’ll have time to visit the traditional village of Ano Mera, a typical Cycladic settlement only fifteen minutes from Chora and famous for its superb 16th-century Panagia Tourliani Monastery. Or maybe you’ve deliberately left it until the last day to treat yourself to an indulgent breakfast in Little Venice.
And if you’ve done absolutely everything you can think of, then why not pay a visit to Petros the Pelican, the official mascot of Mykonos. We’re sure he’ll want to wish you “bon voyage”, and he might even pose for a photo if you’re lucky.
How many days are enough for Mykonos?
With some careful planning, three days are usually enough to take in all the major sights of Mykonos. However, this can involve a lot of rushing from place to place, with hardly any time to relax. Therefore we recommend spending four or even five days on the island, which gives you time to relax at some of the more remote (and less crowded) beaches.
How much money do I need for 5 days in Mykonos?
Without flights or accommodation, you’ll need about $75 to $100 per person per day, which includes meals, travel around the island, and incidentals like beach fees. Mykonos is one of Greece’s most expensive islands: the famous nightclubs in particular charge an outrageous price for drinks, and eating in chic areas like Little Venice can be heavy on the wallet. For 5 days, expect to spend roughly $450 to $500 per person.
What is the best time to visit Mykonos Greece?
Peak season in Mykonos, Greece is between July and August, but that’s also when the beaches are at their busiest. However, the Greek climate offers 300 days of sunshine per year, which means the best time to visit Mykonos is either April/June or September/October, when the crowds have thinned, the prices are (marginally) cheaper, and there’s less risk of a 40°C heatwave.
What is the best location to stay in Mykonos?
If you’re coming to Mykonos to party, the best location to stay in Mykonos is the town center (known locally as “Choro”), which ensures you’ll be close to the action, wherever you find it. For quieter but equally spectacular surroundings, we suggest Agios Ioannis, Psarou, or the outskirts of Mykonos Town.