Our second destination (and first island) was Mykonos, certainly a "dreamy" destination and one of the most visited islands in Greece.
Out of the many Greek islands, Mykonos is known as the “party island” and it definitely lives up to its reputation; there are parties all day, every day in Mykonos so it’s a popular destination for younger, care-free crowds looking for adventure and excitement.
We traveled to Mykonos by ferry boat and I found the experience to be less glamorous than I imagined. We used SeaJets ferries and reservations were simple and inexpensive; the ferry boats were comfortable and well maintained but it was hard not to feel like "cattle" when boarding and leaving the boat with the number of people on that port.
Even though we had the hotel shuttle drive us from the port (the cost of the transport was 40 euros), the arrival to the island was very chaotic. There are tons of tourist-hungry taxi drivers harassing everyone as they get off the ferry boat and most of the people at the port looked very sketchy; I am not sure that I would ever travel to a Greek island by ferry boat again but I really can’t say anything negative about the journey per se, it just wasn’t what I am used to, I guess.
We stayed in an area called Paradise Beach at the Tropicana Hotel with easy access to the transport bus to the town but also far away from the busyness of the center. Mykonos’ beaches are on the Aegean Sea, they have mostly rough, pebbly sand and cold water so they aren’t the prettiest of beaches and I didn’t find them super attractive, especially after having visited some of the Caribbean beaches, which remain at the top of my list.
I did enjoy my time on the island and the scenery was certainly breathtaking, but it wasn’t my favorite destination. I found Mykonos rather boring and monotonous; not the most exciting place for me but definitely a good spot to relax and do nothing.
My least favorite things about Mykonos:
- The roads: streets and roads in Mykonos are horrible, most are dirt roads with no traffic lights and aggressive drivers. Going up and down those hills is terrifying and even though I did not drive on the island (thank God!), the rides to and from the hotel were my least favorite part of our stay.
- The bus drivers: it’s easy to move around in Mykonos by taking the city bus that transports the masses to Mykonos Town but those bus drivers are probably among the rudest people I’ve ever come across. They are clearly not fond of tourists (even though tourism is the island’s biggest money maker) and they treat everyone so poorly. Like I said, not very glamorous.
- The beaches: sunsets at the beach are breathtaking but the beach itself isn’t all that; the sand is rough and the water is cold and most beaches are generally overcrowded and way too commercial. I did not enjoy the beach in Mykonos at all.
- Things are generally expensive: in comparison to Athens, Mykonos is a very pricey destination. A cocktail at any bar costs about 20 euros and food and tourist attractions are mostly overpriced. Most places in Mykonos Town give out the “tourist trap” vibe and it can be very overwhelming for anyone who isn’t into that (like me!).
My recommendations for anyone thinking of visiting Mykonos:
- Again, book your port/airport transfer ahead of time: transportation in Mykonos is a huge challenge; taxis are scarce (and expensive!). The roads are rough and it isn’t a place that is easy to navigate so having someone ready to drive you to the hotel is definitely a must. Most hotels offer airport transfers for a fee.
- Be ready to spend money! Because Mykonos is one of the most expensive islands in Greece, you need to be ready to overpay for things; an umbrella at the beach can cost up to 60 euros, 20 euros for a cocktail, 10 euros for a crepe, etc. It isn’t cheap!
- Be open to lots of downtime and relaxation: there isn’t much to do in Mykonos. Besides going to the town to eat, visit souvenir shops and watch the sunset, this island isn’t the most exciting from the touristic point of view. Yes there are parties, yes most hotels have dreamy pools and amenities that will help you relax but you won’t find much excitement on this island, generally speaking.
- Consider renting a car: most people who go island hopping in Greece don’t plan on renting a car, but because transportation is so scarce in Mykonos, it doesn’t hurt to explore that option. Keep in mind that stick-shift cars are the most popular ones and you have to be a bit of a daredevil to drive on those roads!
- Familiarize yourself with the bus stops and routes. Most people use the city bus to get around on the island and it is a fairly organized system with punctual timetables and comfortable buses. I found this site to be very useful when figuring out bus schedules.