Mykonos

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.

The XLSIOR International Gay Festival takes place at various venues over a five-day weekend each year in August, attracting around 30,000 circuit boys and vacationers from around the world. Top-rank DJs and well-known gay-scene artists on stage provide the entertainment for open-air party dancers. Elia Beach, Cavo Paradiso and the Elysium Hotel have been among the festival sites. See beaches below.

 

Getting here

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.

 

Getting around

Buses are the least expensive way to get around the island, with regular KTEL 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. Tickets cost around 2 euros.

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. 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.

 

Money

As a part of the European Union, Greece uses the Euro as the currency. ATM's can found around town for cash.

 

Media & resources

Gay Athens & Mykonos, created by gay locals, has accurate and up-to-date information on over 250 points of interest, bars, clubs, and crusing spots, plus reviews, photo galleries, contact Information/links and maps - at the App Store or Google Play.

MYkonos.gr is the official website for the municipality. Mykonos-Web and InMykonos have 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 annual XLSior International Gay Festival circuit parties each August. See their gay info pages for current listings.

For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Mykonos listings pages.

 

Bars and clubs

After sunset in summertime the evenings pulse with nightlife. Restaurants tend to get busiest after 8pm, bars after 10pm. High season runs between June and September, and many businesses shut down through the winter months.

@54 (up from Taxi Sq), gay/mixed bar/nightclub, DJs, dancing.

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.

Jackie O' (Kastro Waterfront), local legend, original waterfront cocktail bar, dancing, drag shows, terrace tables.

Jackie O' Beach Club (at former 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.

Katerina’s Restaurant & Cocktail Bar (Agion Anargyron 8), mixed Greek/Mediterranean seafood restaurant and cocktail bar in Little Venice, terrace with sea views,

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.

Montparnasse Piano Bar (Agion Anargyron 24, Little Venice), fun, friendly, international regulars, piano/cabaret, cocktail and 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.

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.

Avra Restaurant (North Kalogera 27), Greek & International Fusion cuisines, garden seatings.

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.

Café Manto at the Botanical Gardens of Meletopoulos. Greek breakfast, brunch, barbeque, drinks and snacks. Cine Manto film screenings twice nightly under the stars, wthe festival for a week in mid-June, and again in mid-September; plus other screenings throughout the summer, starting in May.

Diles (Lakka Square), ambience of luxury and elegance, creative Mediterranean fusion with French touch gourmet dining, prix-fixe menu, wines.

Fato a Mano (Meletopoulou Square), popular, gay-friendly May-October cafe/restaurant, terrrace seating, local flavors.

Kostas Restaurant (Metropoleos 5, Little Venice), traditional Greek, "mezethes" and fresh fish/seafood; live music entertainment; Wood chairs/ tables complement white-wall traditional decor.

Koursaros (Meletopoulou St), fine Greek and Mediterranean seafood dining, pasta, charcoal grilled meats, local ingredients; lunch, dinner, bar.

Niko's Tavern (Agia Moni Square, Little Venice), long-popular, traditional Greek food restaurant and bar, fresh fish, friendly mixed crowd, outdoor seating.

 

Accommodations

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.

Aeolos Hotel (Road Mykonou-Ano Meras), luxury boutique rooms, a half mile from the center, with pool and Jacuzzi.

Apartments Rania (2 Leondiou Boni; 30-228-902-2315), spacious apartments set around garden, above Mykonos Town, port and beaches; full kitchen, telephone, mini-bar, television. Small balconies, some overlooking the Aegean. Reasonable rates, expecially after September, off-season.

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 Adonis (Bida Str; 30-228-902-2434), rooms and suites near Megali Ammos Beach, balconies, terraces, sea views, satellite TV, WiFi.

Hotel Golden Star (Airport Road; 30-228-902-3883), 29 rooms and suites 4-star hotel; balconies, terraces, near beach with pool and bar.

Hotel Manto (Evangelistrias Str 1; 30-228-902-2330), central, gay-friendly, en-suite central rooms just 50 meters from the seashore; AC, WiFi, laundry, breakfast buffet.

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. Gay-friedly hotel with well-equipped en-suite rooms, television, AC, ceiling fan, tranquil garden, verandah and balcony; breakfast served.

For more hotel options see our map and listings pages.

 

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.

Paradise Beach, (aka Kalamopodi) beside Paranga, 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 a large and lively, mostly young straight crowd drinks and dances at the Paradise Club as the sun sets. There's a camp site here too.

Paranga Beach, a gorgeous sandy area 15 minutes walk from Platis Yialos Beach, is another small gay and mixed crowd nude beach, with a rocky cruising area nearby. Sun-bed and umbrella rentals, restaurant refreshments, and masseur services are available. The raised rocky end feature 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 the sharp rocks.

Super Paradise Beach (aka Plintri) was for years the island's most famous gay beach, the place to be in Mykonos. At 10km out, and somewhat more difficult to get to than Paradise Beach, the beautiful sand and cute men in Speedos and sunglasses at the mainly gay and nudist end make it worth the effort. A bar and restaurant with pool overlook the sea, above the gay section and the water is deep and clear, especially beside the rocky areas. Regular caique boats come here from Platis Yialos Beach, and the Jackie O' Beach Club may pull back some of those who have made Elia beach more popular lately. Pack a snack and plenty of water, or pay the premium prices.

Elia Beach a mixed gay and straight stretch of sand that's clothing-optional at one end, is further on and takes a little longer to reach. A more relaxed and natural ambiance on the long wide sands make it popular with gay travelers and there are a few restaurants and bars. The XLSIOR Dance Festival has one of their annual beach parties here. Small boats from Platis Yialos beach stop here, or there's a bus from Chora. A smaller and even more secluded Agrari Beach is another 5-minute walk beyond.

 

Working out

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.

 

For other areas in Greece see: our Athens article and map/listings; and our DailyXtraTravel Gay Crete in a Nutshell article.

- staff - November 2015