Mykonos is one of those places you have to go to at least once in your life. Visually, the landscape is rugged and a little barren, dotted with sugar cube houses. But it’s the turquoise Med and those “I’ve died and gone to heaven” sunsets that make you fall in love with the place. Here, I present to you the ultimate guide to planning your trip, plus my tips for where to eat, drink, lounge, admire sunsets, dance the night away and sleep off hangovers.Mykonos beaches are visually stunning. But beyond the visuals are the people and the places. Unusually for such a touristic place, the locals are very friendly. And everywhere you go, everything is done to perfection. The beach clubs make going to the beach an impossibly chic event. Restaurants are world class. The shopping is off the chart in terms of style (Balenciaga et al are all here). And the bars host the most wickedly fun crowds every night.
Planning Your Trip
Before you book your trip, however, it is worth a preparation. A little planning goes a long way and will make your trip ten times better. So here are my tips for planning your trip to Mykonos:
1. Stay in/near Mykonos Town
There is so much going on in Mykonos town, that you need to stay in or within walking distance of it for a few nights, particularly if you suffer from FOMO. Restaurants, hillside bars, laneway bars, shopping, general buzz. It’s all in town.
2. Stay outside of Mykonos Town
We split our trip between Mykonos Town and Elia beach. And the time away from town was very much needed downtime to escape the hedonism of Mykonos town. All you need is a beach with a restaurant/bar and you’re set for a few days of recovery.
Taxis in Mykonos are hard to get and expensive. You’ll need to hire a car for day excursions to beach clubs, and research taxi companies for evening expeditions (if you don’t have a designated driver). We used the taxi company Royal Luxury Transport and found them to be excellent, although like everything on this island, a little pricey. Worth it though, for the convenience and ability to stay out drinking cocktails until you fall over.
4. Research and Book Ahead
It is so worthwhile doing a little research into restaurants, bars and beach clubs to find out which ones are for you (see my recommendations below). Mykonos is a busy place during the summer, especially in August, so book in advance. Book your beach club, restaurants and especially any bar that has a sunset view. You will be rewarded with the most incredible photos of yourselves.
5. Dress to Impress
Mykonos is full of beautiful people. As soon as I landed, I felt like I’d put on 10 kg, and when I left, I immediately lost it again. Resort wear at the beach is off the chart stylish, and at restaurants and bars, there’s no holding back in terms of glam.
6. Stay Hydrated
This one is more of a reminder when you’re in Mykonos to stay hydrated. With all the cocktails being delivered to your sun lounger at the beach during the afternoon, followed by sun-downers, dinners and digestifs, it’s easy to get de-hydrated and possibly sunstroke, causing you to pass out in a restaurant in front of Lindsay Lohan. This happened. To me.
So these tips are pretty useless without a few tips to point you in the right direction for planning the ultimate island escape. With all of them in mind, here are my top picks for places to lounge, party, dine, imbibe, and chill.
My favourite beach club, hands down, was Scorpios. The vibe was all boho luxe. Serving staff were an incredibly good looking, but very nice group, all wearing outfits like they’d just emerged from a spa in the middle of the desert. The food was tasty, and the cocktails provided the right amount of refreshment throughout the afternoon.
The bar at Scorpios hosts live music most nights. The sunset ritual – where violins play live as the sunsets, culminating in the most beautiful crescendo as the sun dips behind the sea – is something you need to experience. But book ahead whether you want a day at the beach club or you just want to hit this spot for a few cocktails of an evening. It’s popular!
My next favourite, for the sheer bonkers hedonism, was Jackie O. A very gay club, this place is FUN. The setting is glam, the crowd is raucous and the beach was my favourite to swim during that trip.
The restaurant at Jackie O is worth a visit alone. We had the most delicious giant prawns which I still think about fondly today.
Once the afternoon sun starts to sink, the party gets started at Jackie O, often with a Drag Queen performance, before the whole place descends into dance and party mode. This club is not for the party shy. Take your dancing shoes (the ones that match your bikini/euro shorts).
Relative new-comer is the Sant Anna beach club. It’s a little more quiet than the others, but the restaurant was excellent (I recommend the lobster pasta), and the crowd just too, too beautiful. You can book lounges on the beach or by the pool. The seats on the islands in the pool have their own underground changing areas.
My favourite restaurant purely for the fact that I did three “happy food dances” in my chair (its where I sway side to side with my eyes closed, glittery white light streaming out of the top of my head and into the universe) was Bakalo in Mykonos Town. It’s an understated little Greek restaurant, but the food was impeccable and the staff were welcoming and friendly.
There was a similar vibe at M Eating in Mykonos Town. Another lively local place where the food was incredibly tasty, the hospitality was exceptionally good and not ridiculously expensive.
A restaurant that still stands out above the rest was the restaurant at Myconian Utopia Hotel, just above Elia Beach. The setting at Utopia is breathtaking. The staff were friendly, the glassware was exquisite, and our meals were all mouth-wateringly good. Despite the luxe setting, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the prices were not prohibitively expensive. This is one to come to for a special occasion. And if you don’t have a special occasion to celebrate, you just have to make one up. Celebrate Wednesday.
Interni was another goodie. It is set in an internal courtyard, with overhanging bougainvillea. It’s a chic spot for a glamorous dinner under the stars in a very memorable setting.
(Special mention also goes to the restaurants at Sant Anna and Jackie O beach clubs – see above).
Mykonos bars take cocktail hour into a whole new stratosphere. You’ll never be 100% happy with cocktail bars back home on your return because they all pale in comparison to the cocktail bars in Mykonos.
My favourite bar was the poolside bar at Myconian Utopia (see above under “restaurants”). Words just can’t do it justice. It’s sophisticated, breathtakingly beautiful and impossibly stylish. The cocktails themselves are perfect.
The bar at Elysium Hotel (Which describes itself at “Straight Friendly”) was both beautiful and hilarious at the same time. Beautiful, because of the minimally designe setting and spectacular view. Sitting around the pool, and looking out over Mykonos Town and the Mediterranean simply can’t be beat. Hilarious, because the most entertaining drag queens circulate amongst the crowd until it’s time or them to perform their show. And its worth sticking around for. So. Much. Fun.
180 Degrees Sunset Bar is another of those cocktail bar wreckers. There’s a boho vibe, awesome tunes, but best of all, a view that I can only describe as “good for the soul.” Arrive in time for the sunset (book a table in advance if you can) as the DJ plays tunes timed to perfection so that the ultimate moment comes as the sun disappears. Another beautiful moment that will stay with you long after your tan has faded.
The bar at the Belvedere Hotel is another of those sophisticated spots, where you can pretend to be civilised and classy for as long as your cocktails last. Another special event bar (and if there’s no special event, celebrate Thursday).