Photo: GNTO/Y.Skoulas

Mykonos

Known as a party island and a nightlife haven, Mykonos has a charming side that goes beyond typical island tourism – if you look hard enough. It is indeed one of the most picturesque islands with its winding streets and characteristic windmills.

Few people know that there are important ecosystems on the island, such as the coastal wetlands of Ftelia and Panormos which flood from time to time creating small lagoons, representing key spots for migrating birds.

While seemingly barren, the island does offer many interesting beaches away from the masses. Along with nearby Delos and Rineia, it has been characterized as a region of natural beauty, protected by legislation. The landscape is dotted by prickly pear and wild flowers, particularly in spring. The island is best visited in spring or late summer, not during the high season with the quality of food suffers and the noise pollution rises dramatically.

Photo: GNTO/Y.Skoulas

Beyond the main town or Hora lies Ano Mera, the next biggest town or village which is quieter than touristy Mykonos. In addition, around Agios Georgios Spilioanos west of the main town there are round granate boulders which, according to Greek mythology, were used to kill wild giants who had revolted against the Olympian Gods.

 

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Location - Mykonos

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Most restaurants on Mykonos cater to tourists and are not as authentic as they once used to be. Local foods include the Kopanisti white cheese which is sharp and salty in taste, as well as the almod sweets known as Amygdalota. Try Soumada, the fermented almond cordial as well.

Photo: www.greekgastronomyguide.gr

Mykonos is not known for its hiking, probably because the barren landscape has not carved donkey trails like on other islands. Nonetheless, walking can be a good way to discover corners off the beaten track, with the trek from Ano Mera to the beach of Lia highly recommended.

Photo: www.e-mykonos.gr

Beaches that were once serene and peaceful now have blaring music and tourist pubs. But there are relatively quiet gems. Choulakia beach with its large pebbles and granite shapes on the south, (Halara, Plintri, Lino, Lazaros etc.), the majestic capes among hospitable coves (Drapanos, Divounia), abrupt coasts in the northern part of the island (Fanari, Panormos etc.) are interesting to discover.

Photo: GNTO/Y.Skoulas

In addition to hundreds of small churches scattered on the slopes, visit the church of Panagia Paraportiani with its original architecture, but also hundreds of other smaller churches. In Ano Mera the monastery of Our Lady Tourliani is decorated with fine wood carvings and features a collection of valuable ecclesiastical vestments, vessels and embroideries. Note the captivating bell tower and marble fountain in the courtyard.

Photo: GNTO/ Y.Skoulas

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