How to Holiday in Mykonos on a Budget: Money Saving Tips

mykonos on a budget
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With its iconic, picture-postcard buildings painted in white, its immaculate beaches and cool beach bars, and its fancy restaurants that all but spill into the Aegean Sea, Mykonos probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you plan a shoestring holiday. In fact, lots of people think exploring Mykonos on a budget is simply impossible.

However, there are ways to ensure that a trip to this bucket-list-worthy island does not cost a bundle. By steering clear of the high-end restaurants, trendy beach clubs, and all the most popular destinations, you can spend an amazing time in Mykonos without breaking the bank.

What’s more, it’s a good chance to steer off the beaten path and see the island’s more rustic side. Yep, doing Mykonos on a budget means you can skip the booming crowds of the built-up west coast and try somewhere a little more secluded, without the thrum of the clubs and endless stream of photo-clicking tourists. It could also mean coming in the shoulder seasons, when the isle is altogether quieter and more contemplative. It’s a tempting prospect, eh?

Can you do Mykonos on a budget?

Mykonos church
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Doing Mykonos on a budget will most certainly be a challenge. But it’s also certainly doable.

Of course, the idea of what a budget trip really means will differ from person to person – some will look to spend just €5 a day, others will be happy with €30. That’s really going to depend on you. As far as this guide goes, it will aim to offer some tips for keeping costs as low as possible on this happening Aegean isle while also having a good time.

The truth is that Mykonos is probably never going to be the cheapest Greek island out there. Places like Paros, Thassos, or Poros are much better options if you’re keeping a close eye on the outgoings. Mykonos isn’t known as a jet-setter, A-lister hub for nothing, you know!

Remember, though, you don’t have to plump for a five-star resort with an infinity pool and sea views. You also don’t have to eat out every night and guzzle cocktails in those slick harbor bars each evening. Swapping out activities like that for hikes or drives to remote beaches can really help cut costs. So, too, can a sensible accommodation choice, preferably somewhere with self-catering.

We’ll touch on all of those things in this guide, but the point is this: Exploring Mykonos on a budget can be done, but it won’t be as easy to get a cheap trip here as it could be in other – equally as lovely – Greek destinations.

How much should I budget for Mykonos?

Windmills in Mykonos
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According to travel price collator Budget Your Trip, a vacation to Mykonos costs around €119 ($141) per day. That’s based on the average daily price as reported by thousands of previous visitors. That’s the total, too, made up of an estimated:

  • €37 ($45)/day for food
  • €59 ($70)/day for accommodation
  • €19 ($22.50)/day for transportation

We’d actually say that those prices are a little on the small side if you’re measuring a non-budget trip. A cold beer on its own in one of the stylo beach clubs along the west coast can cost upwards of €5 ($6) a pop. What’s more, high-season hotel rates can swell to well over €200 ($240) a night.

Don’t worry, though. That doesn’t have to be the case. We also think it’s possible to do Mykonos for far less than the estimated €119 per day. Our overall estimation for a full-on budget trip to Mykonos would be more in the region of €67 ($80) per day. That’s based on…

  • €20 ($23)/day for food
  • €30 ($35)/day for accommodation
  • €10 ($11)/day for transportation

Remember that achieving those sorts of prices means compromising. You won’t be able to get the top hotels or eat in the hippest joints, and you’re probably going to have to forgo the legendary Mykonos nightlife, too. Sorry!

Getting to Mykonos on the cheap

Getting to Mykonos
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The first challenge for any budget vacationer with their heart set on Mykonos is getting there. There are two main ways: By boat and by plane. Surprisingly, flying tends to be the cheapest of the two, but only if you manage to score a ride on one of the low-cost European airlines (easyJet, Ryanair) that serve Mykonos Airport. Coming in by ferry is a good alternative if you find that the bargain airfares are all gone.

Flight aggregator Momondo estimates that April is the cheapest time of year to fly to Mykonos from London. The month sees the cost of average return fares plummet to just over $60 return. October is the second-cheapest month to fly, with average return tickets on all airlines sitting at just over $120. It’s important to remember that these costs rarely include bags, so you’ll need to add on another $40 or so if you’ve got the luggage in tow, though that does depend on the carrier.

Ferries to Mykonos mainly run throughout the spring, summer, and autumn months. There are significantly reduced schedules in the winter because of rough seas. The cost of boats varies a lot, but you’re usually looking at about $40 on a slow ferry from Athens (taking just over five hours), and up to $90 for a faster ferry (taking 2.5 hours). The downside is that you still have to make it into Greece itself, which means there are more costs involved when it comes to catching flights to the capital or another arrival point.

Getting around Mykonos on a budget

Donkey in Mykonos
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So, you’re on sun-baked, wave-washed Aegean ground. But how do you get around on the cheap? There are actually a few ways to navigate Mykonos island.

The best choice really depends on what sort of trip you’re after. Lots of people grab a transfer from the airport or ferry port to their hotel and then use the local buses to get back and forth from the town. Others – especially those on the hunt for cheaper stays in the east of the island – might want the flexibility of a car rental.

Let’s take a look at the options…

  • Car hire on Mykonos (around $200 a week) – This is a common thing to do, and it gives you the freedom to explore the far corner of Mykonos and even drive to popular beaches like Psarrou without forking out for a hotel there. Expect to pay in the region of $200 for a week’s hire in May and more in the height of the summer.
  • ATV hire (around $22/day) – You’ll see people getting around Mykonos on ATV. It’s not only a fun choice but means you will be able to hit the gnarlier tracks in the countryside and to remote beaches. Rentals are everywhere in Mykonos Town and cost about $22+ a day.
  • Buses ($1.20-4) – Buses connect up the main resorts with a hub in Mykonos Town. They’re pretty efficient and well used and tickets usually cost no more than $4 a pop. Still, this isn’t a good choice if you want to stay  in the east of the island, where hotels are generally cheaper.

Travel in the shoulder seasons (or, better yet, winter!)

Mykonos beach
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The seasons probably have a bigger impact on the cost of vacationing on Mykonos than anything else. Yep, while Mykonos only has 10,000 permeant residents, the amount of people on the isle at any one time can skyrocket to a whopping 50,000 between July and August! That’s way more demand for hotel rooms, restaurant tables, club tickets – you name it!

So, if you’re not tied to visiting during school holidays, we 100% recommend trying to visit Mykonos before mid-June or after late September. If you go during peak season, you have to be prepared to pay around double for everything. And the price hike is most notable in the hotels, which can soar to some extortionate levels during this balmy time of the year.

Don’t be too worried about changing your season, either. In fact, we’d say that mid fall is the best time to visit Greece overall. Temperatures still hit 75-80 most days in September, there’s lots of sun about, and crowds are just a fraction of what they were only a month before. May can also be fantastic. Average highs on Mykonos at that time sit at 73 F and there’s only a few days of rain most years.

Where to stay in Mykonos on a budget

Mykonos port
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Believe it or not, Mykonos does offer some budget accommodation. These come in the form of traditional Greek guesthouses and B&Bs, which are often basic but very comfortable. They’re also regularly run by super friendly owners who can balance out the lack of luxury with a hearty islander welcome.

Perhaps the most obvious compromise you’ll need to make to get true budget accommodation is on location. You might not be able to hit the iconic beaches of the west coast – Psarrou, Paradise Beach – and are best steering clear or Mykonos Town, both of which are known for their five-star resort hotels and chic lodgings.

Here are just a few budget-friendly accommodation options on Mykonos with average prices based on a stay in the autumn shoulder season:

  • Paradise Beach Camping (Around €26/$30 per person, per night) – Don’t let the name fool you, the stays here aren’t really camping but in makeshift cabins, some of which even have air conditioning. Oh, and you’ll be just a short walk from the glimmering sands of party-mad Paradise Beach (remember we said we thought it would be hard to find anywhere to stay on a budget around there?)
  • Adonis Rooms (Around €39/$46 per person, per night) – This charming guesthouse has a handful of rustic but characterful rooms in the central-eastern part of Mykonos. It’s close to lovely Paralia Kalo Livadi, where the crowds are just a fraction of what they are nearer to the main town.
  • Pension Alexandra (€44/$52 per person, per night) – Close enough to Mykonos Town to allow for meals in Little Venice and the like but far enough to the north to be a budget choice, this pension has affordable ground-floor rooms. You’ll need to pay extra to get one with one of those sun-splashed balconies, though.

It’s also worth following these top tips when you come to seek out budget accommodation in Mykonos:

  1. Booking Early – Cheap accommodation usually gets booked up first, so think about booking as early as six to eight months in advance.
  2. Forget hotels – Look at other options like renting an apartment or perhaps even a villa, great if you’re travelling in a big group.
  3. Travel in the off season – Off season rates are WAY lower than high season rates, so it’s always worth considering traveling in spring or fall.

Do free things (or nearly-free things) on Mykonos

Mykonos to do
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So, you want some ideas on what to do in Mykonos that won’t break the bank? Here are our top tips.

  • Beaches – One of the cheapest things to do in Mykonos is to hit the beach. Some beaches (namely the west and south-west coast) are tailored to jet setters. You might want to steer clear of those and explore the north and west instead, which opens up some untrodden gems like Agios Sostis and uber-remote Frangias Beach.
  • Visit Mykonos Town – A visit to the old town will allow you to soak up the island’s history and culture without spending a dime. The area is closed to traffic for most of the day and rewards with views of Cycladic architecture, Venetian windmills, and centuries-old churches. Perhaps give the area’s expensive cafes, boutiques, and souvenir shops a miss, though. There are also lots of spots to enjoy an al fresco picnic!
  • Snorkeling – Skip pricy scuba outings. Snorkeling can be a real adventure and doesn’t require the faff of a boat or $100+ per day. Paranga Beach is one of the best locations for it. Gear rentals there are around just $20/day.
  • Hiking – There are plenty of excellent hiking routes in and around Mykonos. One of the best-rated hikes is the four-mile round-trip journey to the Armenistis Lighthouse. It’s especially great in the morning before the sun gets too hot. Some people claim that you can even see pelicans on the path.
  • Museums and churches – Mykonos offers a good selection of interesting historical and cultural museums that allows you to escape the Mediterranean sun for an hour or two. The Folklore Museum has an impressive collection of old measures and weights, locks and keys, painted plates, and hand-woven tapestries. Then there’s the Aegean Maritime Museum of Mykonos and the Mykonos Archaeological Museum. On top of that, there’s an estimated 1,200 churches on the isle, so spotting the lot should keep you busy enough!

Eating in Mykonos on a budget

Mykonos food
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Finding affordable food in Mykonos can take some effort. In fact, the island is famed for its chic eateries, and a touch notorious for inflated chow prices – meals are up around $10 across the board when compared the price of the same dishes on mainland Greece!

However, you can save plenty by staying savvy with your dining habits. For starters, there are a few fantastic restaurants on the island that offer good value for money. Check out:

  • Niko’s Taverna – Based in Mykonos town, Niko’s has an epic moussaka and other budget-friendly Greek cooking.
  • Local Mykonos – Hidden away in the backstreets of Mykonos Town, this casual BBQ diner does massive portions and some of the cheapest gyros around.
  • Yialos Cafe – Dine right on the harbor front of Mykonos Town in this age-old cafe-bar. It’s a local legend and the seafood is the main attraction.

Another good way to keep the cost of grub down here is to go for an accommodation choice with self-catering facilities. There are lots of them but they might cost a touch more. If you do manage to score a cooker and a fridge, be sure to mosey down to the Old Port market in the morning. The fish there is straight off the boat and often a true bargain. So, too, is the local organic veg and honey.

Traveling Mykonos on a budget – a conclusion

Look, we won’t beat around the bush: Traveling Mykonos on a budget presents a unique challenge. You’re looking at hitting one of the priciest islands in all of Greece. Our first instinct would be to suggest you look somewhere else in the Aegean. There are nearby options like Paros and Naxos that still offer the same stunning beaches and feel-good vibe, only without the soaring price tag.

If it has to be Mykonos then don’t despair. There are ways you can cut down the cost of the trip. Chief among them is going during the low seasons, or the shoulder seasons. That basically means anything that’s not the peak summer, and we actually think fall and spring offer a great balance between cost and weather. You can also try to cook for yourself, choose hotels further from the most popular spots, and do only free things on Mykonos like church visits or beach days.

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