The #kinaguide to Mykonos, Greece
After sitting through the longest flight in the world (I'm not joking, AKL-DOH is about 17hrs, and will continue to be until Singapore Airlines resumes their SIN - JFK route in 2018), and waiting for another 17hrs in the not-so-nap-friendly Athens Airport (where sleeping and taking pictures is prohibited), I finally reached Mykonos, dying for a beach nap asap. Determined to make the most of my 3 days in the instafamous Mykonos, here's some reccomendations based on what I ended up doing:
Getting from the airport to town:
While I was sussing out my itinerary, turns out Greece has their own version of Uber for Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos, called Aegean Taxi. The app seemed pretty functional, and it's good that they have clear fare pricing agreed prior that you pay via credit card ala Uber, but when I tried to hail a cab with the app at 7 am, I didn't get a driver. Maybe I'm too impatient to wait more than 3 minutes on an app, but hey, if ya wanna give the app a shot - here's the link just in case the hyperlink doesn't work: https://www.aegeantaxi.com/
The taxi drivers across the road in front of the airport are generally pretty ok - as usual, they'll probably give you an overpriced initial fare, as there are no meters for the cab. A driver asked me for €15 to go to my hostel in Chora, which was like a 5 minute drive tops, so I really should've haggled that price down, but I was knackered by that point from 17hrs with no sleep and just wanted to check in asap, so I took the offer.
Otherwise, usually, you can arrange an airport shuttle with your accommodation - my hostel offered me an airport shuttle for €10, but it wasn't available at 7 am when I landed in Mykonos, so I decided to just use a taxi instead.
Where I stayed:
I stayed at MyCocoon hostel for €36 a night for a bed in a dorm, which is a bit more than what I'd usually want to pay for a hostel but holy mooo was it worth it - the beds and bathrooms were new, clean, air-conditioned and designed to feel more private, the staff we're all - yep, all - super friendly and helpful, and they had an infinity pool with a poolside bar with a 5-star view of Chora town! They didn't even advertise the pool much, it was a real pleasant surprise. It's also pretty quiet, even though the others who stayed at the hostel would go out to town, the security guys were good at making sure we stayed quiet once the lights were out at about 11 pm. There's wifi in the rooms and at the pool bar, and they also provide you two towels (one small and one large) initially upon check in for free, with more towels available at an extra charge. You can also leave your bags at reception after check out for free if you leave Mykonos later in the day, which is a bonus.
Cons: booking via booking.com is non-refundable, with non-flexible and prepaid, but luckily(?) I actually had a bit of a struggle and all my credit cards couldn't pass through for payment, even when I was in person, so I called up the staff early on (a bit of a mission, as they initially told me to ask booking.com but booking.com staff weren't helpful and hung up on me twice), but they eventually kindly agreed to let me pay upon arrival.
Food & Beverages:
I aim for my meals to be under €10, so here's my guide to cheap eats in Mykonos.
In the mornings, not a lot of places are open except for bakeries and little cafes or restaurants, usually by the waterfront. Bakeries are for sure the cheaper option, and you can find some really good Greek baked goods there too - from stuffed round bread (kinda like a bagel, but bigger), to sunflower seed bread sticks to little bread rolls with feta cheese, all generally under €3 an item, with sandwiches ranging around €4 - €6.
Some Greek yogurt is also a good option, and it should be around €4 - €7, depending on if you want fruit and honey and portion size.
Lunch / Dinner
Gyros are generally sold starting midday - late, and these are by far the key to my cheap eat survival in Greece. If you think I'm kidding, all the chicken Gyros below are a compilation of what I ate over roughly a week in Greece - they were pretty much always my lunch and dinner. At most places, I'd have to buy 2 Gyros to be full from my lunch to a late dinner, because I wanted to spend my day at the beach and watch the sunset at a sightseeing spot.
Anyway, Gyros in Mykonos are a bit more expensive than the other parts of Greece I've traveled to, from €2.8 to €7, but since I've tried so many Gyros, here are my recommendations for where to go for a good Gyro in Mykonos:
With a pretty good size, ok price at about €3.5, yum tzatziki sauce, chips, and soft, fresh bread with good service, Sakis is a great place to go for lunch. They're usually pretty busy, but because it's a fast paced shop, you should be able to nab a seat quickly. I actually struggled to finish 2 Gyros at Sakis, so that's a good thing - if you know me, you know how much of a snacker I am.
This one is a bit of a splurge for me, as I spent €7 on a Gyro here, 2x more than what I usually pay for one Gyro, buuut the size of the Gyro was the biggest I've had so far, it tasted amazing and the restaurant vibe is great - real friendly staff. Not only was it out of my dinner budget anyway, but I knew once I saw the Gyro that there was no way I could finish 2 Gyros from Souvlaki Story at once. They're actually most famous for their platters, which are straight up downright massive, its like a loaded tray of a deconstructed souvlaki.
By the way, don't go to Kalamaki in Chora for Gyros - they had the cheapest Gyro I could find at €2.8, but they were tiny and the bread was hard. I actually kinda felt like I needed 3-4 Gyros from Kalamaki, which isn't ideal for a shoestring student budget like mine. The tzatziki sauce and the view of Chora town and the little port was awesome though, so if you have more money than my shoestring budget, buy something else off the menu here and enjoy the seaside vibe.
I'd definitely try Greek frozen yogurt here if you haven't already. My favorite (and cheapest!) place to go was Red Parrot - it's about 50m along the street from Trio Bambini, the crepe & gelato cafe in the Chora town square, and the smallest size they have is priced at the el cheapo Mykonos steal deal of €1.8
I usually only drank water, because a massive bottle of water was €1 - €1.5 depending on where I bought it, and would last me about a day. Because I saved money on this, I'd sometimes spend my money on a nice little drink at sunset bars instead. Freddo cappuccinos, which is Greek coffee served with a massive hit of creamy foam on top, is a definite must-try IMO.
Where to go:
I like to be up way early in the morning, around sunrise, cause that's when most places are very quiet and peaceful - which also makes it easy for me to take shameless photos of myself on the tripod in the deserted streets of Mykonos.
If you're a morning person or traveling solo, definitely have a wander of the streets of Chora in the morning after sunrise, but also in the day when the streets become alive with souvenir shops and cute cafes. It's pretty trippy to see the classic Greek white buildings with rounded edges but to have them sell Victorias Secret and high-end makeup/skincare like MAC and La Prarie, but Mykonos is famous for being high end, so I guess that's what cha get.
During the day in Mykonos, I'd spend my day on the beach, on one of these pretty beaches that I've snapshotted below for ya:
This small, sandy beach is lined with nice restaurants with sunbeds for rent if you'd like to. It's super swim friendly and has a pretty even sea base that doesn't suddenly go deep, and there's a bit of a view of a hill with lots of Greek white houses. You can get to Ornos using the bus from the Old Port for €1.8 one way. If you're a penny pinching student like me, you can lay a towel down at the corner of very right edge of the beach, but it's pretty packed.
Elia is like Ornos, but way bigger, and there's only one nearby restaurant, Elia Beach Restaurant that monopolises the sunbed game there. Elia Beach Restaurant also has a pretty neat little beach store and a cool boho bar if you want to have a geeze. Just like Ornos, you can get to Elia using the bus from the Old Port for €1.8 one way.
If you want to lay a towel down instead, there's more space on the left edge of the beach, or you can be lazy like me and lay a towel down next to the sunbeds near the centre of the beach, by the entrance path. You can get to Elia using the bus from the Old Port for €1.8 one way, but keep in mind that the buses tend to come late so you might need to estimate more travel time back to Chora.
I looooove this beach - think Elia, but deserted, no sunbeds, no restaurants other than Kiki's Tavern, a famous tavern known for great food and no electricity nearby, before entrance to the beach to the left down the cement stairs before a little bay.
I came here at about 8am and practically had the whole beach to myself, other than like 5 other people and we had heaps of space between each other. Even during the day, when maybe 150 would come overall (rough guesstimate ala Kina), you'd still have at least a couple of metres of distance from other beach goers, which was super nice, especially in such a busy island. There are some ladies that come up to you and offer massages, that you either might find mildly annoying or really good - up to you to decide. If you need any essentials, theres a Greek man that sells cold water, beers, and other beach essentials under a beach umbrella at the left of the beach, near the entrance.
You can't get to this beach via bus though, which is actually the reason why its so quiet compared to the other beaches of Mykonos (alongside Fokos and Ftelia, the northern beaches of Mykonos), so rent a scooter/car/atv to get here, trust me, you won't regret it at all.
Paraga has a pretty rocky bottom, which makes it less comfortable for a swim, but the sunsets at Paraga (by that, I mean at the nearby Skorpios bar on top of the hill), are great. If you're a nudist, there's a cheeky nude friendly section at the very right of the beach. Skorpios itself a really cool boho-chic beach bar. The music was good to lounge around to while you watch the sunset, and the drinks there were pretty good but also kinda pricey, though I'd say Castle Panigrakis has a better view. It's good for variety if you're staying in Mykonos for a few nights or if you've spent the day at Paraga beach.
On that note, here are my favorite spots to watch the sunset at Mykonos:
Castle Panigrakis's 180° Sunset Bar
This one is a must go for Mykonos, the view is downright phenomenal. I managed to sneak a seat out the front (not where there's proper seating, as in near the concrete balcony to the right) when it was busy aka sunset hour, and managed to not have to buy a drink - though I'm sure the drinks would be nice.
If you go along after Para Portiani (the main white church in Chora) ands try to stick as close as you can to the shore, you'll find a little alley that turns to Little Venice after an alley full of souvenir stores. There's a whole array of seashore restaurants at Little Venice, hence the name, and a glass of wine shouldn't set you back more than €10 ... but if you wanna be a smart student about it, I'd reccomend going to the nearby mini markets after Little Venice, before Kato Milli, getting a bottle of wine or some beers for way cheaper at about €10 - €16, and sitting on the bench by the little pebbled beach instead. That way, you also get to see Little Venice in your sunset view.
I think an Ideal day in Mykonos would be roughly like this:
Watch the sunrise at Paraga - drive to Agios Sostis - stick around until around 12 or 1 pm - go to Chora, explore the streets of town and get a cheap lunch and be under shade for a couple of hours - go to another beach, Paradise if you're after a party, otherwise Paraga for a sunset view, or Elia for a more swim-friendly beach, get dinner at the beach if you have extra money, or in town otherwise.
So there ya have it, the lil #kinaguide to Mykonos - hope it helps!