One Day in Mykonos

by Gina on June 6, 2012 · 24 comments

One Day in a City Itinerary – Mykonos, Greece

Windmills of Mykonos

My one day in Mykonos came as a result of a Mediterranean cruise Tom and I were on. A lot of people see Mykonos this way and – judging from my conversations on the cruise that night – many are disappointed of how they spend the day on the island.

Tip #1: If you’re short on time and you want to really experience the island, be very cautious of signing up for a shore excursion. The 11-night Med cruise I was on stopped in 8 different ports and Tom and I didn’t do a shore excursion in any of them. Caveat: we are both well-traveled around Europe, but even for someone new to traveling in Europe, navigating your way around the cities and islands of the continent is easy to do with a little bit of planning. Shore excursions tend to be crowded and on a tight schedule, not allowing you the freedom to immerse yourself in the island where you’d like.

Tip #2: If thinking of Mykonos conjures thought of a picturesque setting such as this…

Cobblestoned alleyway in Mykonos Town - One day in Mykonons

Cobblestoned alleyway in Mykonos Town.

…go to Mykonos Town. Really, everyone should see the town as it’s absolutely gorgeous and is quintessential Greek isle scenery. Before arriving in Mykonos Town, I pictured it to be peaceful and soul-soothing like Oia in Santorini.

It’s not.

Instead, after an hour I ended up feeling like frustrated, annoyed, and wanting to see more of Mykonos than just what’s on postcards.

Don’t get me wrong; Mykonos Town is beautiful and worth exploring, but it is also a tourist trap full of gift shops and crowds. Masses and masses of day trippers are milling about and the town with its narrow alleyways, it can start to feel incredibly claustrophobic. So I recommend that you do not spend all of your time in port there as many people are inclined to do this since it’s the only place most cruise lines will offer transportation to if you’re not doing a shore excursion.

Above Mykonos Town, ready to start our trek up the hill to find a new side of Mykonos.

Above Mykonos Town, ready to start our trek up the hill to find a new side of Mykonos.

This beautiful yet claustrophobic and touristy dichotomy is why after two hours in Mykonos Town I proclaimed “I must get out of here!” and began walking to the edge of the town, which took Tom and me up a hill to a road. We reached the road and the thought of going back into the crowds and shops filled me with dread so Tom and I decided to walk up the curving road, not sure what we would come to.

After a few switchbacks in the road, I was starting to think this road was leading us nowhere and we were going to end up in some weird time-continuum vortex pushing buttons a là Lost.

Then, after one more bend, we were saved.

Tip #3: We came to a 4-wheeler and scooter rental shop.

Tom and I didn’t even need to discuss whether we should rent one or not. We were both drawn to it as keenly as if we were stranded in a desert and it was a huge pond of water.

I recommend renting a 4-wheeler or scooter to get around the island, especially if you want to head to a beach. The small pockets of beaches by Mykonos Town and by the port are rocky and, unfortunately, sprinkled with trash.

Tom and I rented a 4-wheeler from the lady who ran the shop, who seemed quite surprised we were more than willing to pay full price for a day’s rental even though we’d only have it for a few hours (cruise ships will leave without you).

And that’s when our adventure and love affair with Mykonos really started. The island is so much more than the blue doors of Mykonos town. It’s a sprawling land mass of brown hills dusted with greenery and flowers and cute little island houses. And beaches.

Gorgeous beaches hiding in alcoves and hinting at the beach parties that begin on its sand once night falls. We ended up at Paradise Beach and loved it.

Paradise Beach, Mykonos

Paradise Beach, Mykonos

Our rental shop took a bit of hike to get to, but there are also some closer to the pier, such as this option, though prices may be more expensive the closer you are to the pier. However, you save transportation cost to Mykonos Town, so may even out.

So there you have it: to have an amazing time if you have just one day in Mykonos, rent a motorized vehicle, don’t spend all day in Mykonos Town, and hit a beach. Pretty simple, right?

Have you been to Mykonos? If so, what’s your favorite beach on the island?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Christy @ Technosyncratic June 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm

These are really useful tips! We’ve never actually taken a cruise so I’ve never had to deal with that time constraint (what do you do if they leave without you??), but we did spend one day in NYC a few years ago. We saw quite a bit for being there less than 24 hours! Of course it was all the touristy stuff, but it was still fun. :)

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Gina June 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

Thanks Christy! If the cruise ship leaves without you because you don’t get back in time, it’s up to you to figure out how to meet it at the next port – which can be quite expensive! Glad to hear you had fun in NYC. That must be a really hard place to narrow down what to see in 24 hours!

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jenny@atasteoftravel June 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Great tips Gina, especially the first!

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Gina June 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

Thanks Jenny! I’m a big proponent of the first tip.

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Spencer July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I decided against going to Mykonos in 2004 when I did a tour of the Greek Islands and have regretted it ever since. It looks amazing in every picture I see of it!

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Chris August 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

These are really great tips! It can be so difficult to immerse when you’re short on time, but I love how you guys found a way to escape the tourist trap by exploring via 4 wheeler. That’s a tip that can be used for any destination, I think!
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Gina August 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Agree! Thank goodness for 4-wheelers! :)

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Kiki August 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Great post! I have been to Mykonos. I was making my way through the Greek isles, via Turkey, hitting up Chios and Samos, then Mykonos. The energy right at the port was unlike any of my previous stops. Party with a capital “P” is pretty much how I’d describe Mykonos. I also swam at Paradise Beach, but it was extremely busy, loud, and well, a party. Great island, different vibe, not sure if its on my must-see-list.
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Gina August 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Hi Kiki, sounds like Mykonos gets a bit crazy after the sun goes down! Thanks for sharing your experience there.

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Jennifer January 14, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Great tips, Gina! We went on a Greek Isles cruise over the summer and didn’t do a single shore excursion either. We were much happier to get away from the hoards of tourists descending upon the tiny towns. When we visited Mykonos, we actually took the boat over to Delos since I’m really into Greek mythology. But had we not done that, we would have rented a 4-wheeler. We saw a few people zipping around on them but only had around 2 hours after returning from Delos.
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Tricia Mitchell January 19, 2013 at 4:40 am

Good pointers, Gina! I’ve been to Athens (and loved it) but have yet to make it to the Greek islands. They are on the wishlist, maybe for this summer. :) Were there any other islands that were favorites?
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Gina January 30, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Thanks Tricia! I also love Santorini and Corfu. Santorini in particular is one of my most favorite places in the world – it’s absolutely stunning.

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Eugenea June 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Hello Ms. Gina,

I read your blog about Mykonos and thank you for the detailed information. We are going to explore Mykonos as you suggested and ready to do our RSVP with Pier 1 online but not quite comfortable giving our CC# as there is no rental application to be filled out online. How safe it is? Also, we are going to visit Corfu and Santorini, and would appreciate greatly any suggestion that you can share. We want to be away from the tourists if possible and would like to explore on ATV or car. Many thanks for your tips and can’t wait to explore! Eugenea

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SO July 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Thanks for the tips . Very useful . I will be at Mykonos for 2 days on 5.8.2013 . Thinking to go to Delos. Thanks again

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Gina August 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Glad it helped! Hope you had fun in Mykonos!

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Harpreet September 5, 2013 at 9:50 am

Thank you for the tips. We will be on a 11 day eastern med cruise and had nothing planned and Mykonos. I think we will be taking your suggestion and renting a car from the place you recommended by the port.

Thanks again.

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Kylie March 6, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Hello

Thanks for the tips Gina. Quick question in regards to the 4 wheelers. Was Paradise beach fairly easy to find on the 4 wheelers? Also where did you leave them when you where swimming and on the beach. Were they safe? I would hate for them to get stolen!

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Gina March 14, 2014 at 12:15 am

Hi Kylie, glad you found the tips helpful! Paradise Beach was really easy to find. The map was pretty easy to understand as it’s not a big island, but there were also signs pointing toward Paradise Beach as we drove if I remember correctly. Once we got to it, there was a parking lot and we left the 4 wheeler there and brought the keys and our helmets with us. It seemed safe. Although, I think I asked my question the same thing – what do we do if it gets stolen?! Luckily, it wasn’t a problem. :) We rented a 4 wheeler in Santorini, too, and never had any issues.

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Mary June 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Would you recommend the same for folks who are 60+? We’re both able-bodied, but the 4-wheeler idea doesn’t really appeal to me (I dare not mention it to my husband). We don’t need to go to a beach. We’ll be on a 10-day cruise with stops in Messina, Athens, Ephesus (Kusadasi), Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, and Naples. Glad I happened on your blog.

Honestly, digging through all the various possible tours is a lot of work! Maybe I’m answering my own question and should just do the “safe” thing with the tour group. Thank you!

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Gina June 19, 2014 at 12:21 am

Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by! Your cruise sounds like it will be a lot of fun. The roads are mostly paved in Mykonos so it’s not like you’ll be off-roading on the 4-wheeler, however if you don’t think your husband will be up for it then a tour might be best. Depending on the cruise line, some are limited in what they offer in Mykonos so don’t be afraid to check local tour companies on the island, too, if there is a specific thing you want to do that isn’t offered through the cruise line. Just make sure you get back to the cruise ship on time!

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Teo June 20, 2014 at 9:17 am

myko is a beautiful island. here are the beaches I can comment on:
– paradise beach; nice setting and nice water with a party starting off at 5 pm and goes and goes on and on…
– super paradise beach ; again nice settinng and lovely water with even a more upbeat and crazy party around 6 pm and onwards
– kvalo vadi, one of the best beaches. go !
– elia; famous and silent
– nammos; the most famous beach in myko. food superb music rocks prices expensive. alll worth it
– paraga beach: very very beautiful and more of a local feeling

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Gina June 20, 2014 at 9:44 am

Thanks for sharing Teo! Those all sound like great options to head to if you have one day in Mykonos.

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Kylie August 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Quick question regarding your post,where you mentioned transportation to Mykonos town. Where does the cruise port drop you off? What is the best way to get to Mykonos town if that isnt where the cruise port is? We are looking to spend some time in Mykonos town and then find a beach via 4 wheeler.

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Gina August 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Hi Kylie, the cruise ships drop you off within view of Mykonos Town so you’re on the same side of the island but it’s a pretty long walk from the cruise terminal. The easiest way to get into town is the bus your cruise line will most likely offer. It’s not necessarily the most economical way to get to Mykonos Town, but it’s convenient and waiting for you right when you disembark off the ship.

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