Traversing the island of Mykonos

Kalafatis beach

With its warm summer climate, fascinating history, laid back culture and delicious healthy food I’m quite a fan of Greece. As well as mainland Athens I’ve been fortunate to have visited several Greek islands (Corfu in 1987, Zakynthos and Kefalonia in 2003, Crete in 2005, Hydra/Poros/Aegina in 2007, Santorini in 2016 and Rhodes in 2019 but with over 600 islands I still have plenty of choices! 

Last week, Chris and I spent a lovely 6 days on the Greek island of Mykonos and are in the process of creating 3 blog posts to summarise our trip. First is this one which covers the island, the next will focus on Mykonos Town and the final post is about our trip across to the archeological site on the nearby island of Delos. 

Kalo Livaldi beach

We were staying in a low key part of Mykonos along the south coast and having arrived during the previous evening we spent the first day familiarising ourselves within our immediate vicinity. Above is Kalo Livaldi beach which was about 15 minutes walk from our accommodation and the first beach we visited after breakfast. 

Agia Anna beach

We had arrived on 1st October and at this time of the year we found the beaches to be quiet with just a few people relaxing on the coarse sand and swimming in the clear sparkling sea. We had pre-booked a transfer from the airport and at this point we had no transport so spent the day walking a few miles between the local beaches, stopping off at informal bars and restaurants along the way.

Agia Anna beach

Weather

Our first day, i.e. the day we spent beach hiking was 29 degrees! However Mykonos is famous for being extremely windy which meant it didn’t feel too hot. The reason for this is a wind called Meltemi, which is a dry wind blowing from the north. This wind is created by the differences in atmospheric pressure between north Africa and the Balkans. By the second day the temperature had dropped to 26 degrees and for the rest of the week it was a comfortable 23 degrees. We were lucky to have bright sunshine and blue skies for our entire trip. 

Divounia viewpoint

We hiked up to Divounia viewpoint which gave panoramic views of Agios Anna beach (on the left) and Kalafatis beach (on the right). It was super windy at the top of this peak however it gave us an opportunity to assess the local landscape and topography and get our bearings.

Our final beach of the day was Kalafatis beach (below) which is popular for snorkelling. Each of the beaches had sun beds for hire but a) Chris and I get bored if we spend more than 5 minutes on a beach (unless we are swimming in the sea) and b) sun beds were a ridiculous price. The beach bar at Agios Anna was charging 80 euros for 2 sun beds for the day!! Mykonos is not a cheap destination but more on that later… 

Kalafati beach

Mykonos transport

Mykonos has no Uber and just a small number of expensive taxis which apparently charge 50 euros per trip (on an island of just 33 km square)! There are 5 buses each day from Kalafati which will take you to the Old Port at Mykonos Town for about 2 euros. However for maximum freedom you can hire a car or a moped or even a quad bike to get around the island. The island is tiny and you can drive from north to south in about 15 minutes. Having exhausted our local beach walking on the first day, we decided to hire a car for the next three days and set off to explore…

Coffee in Ano Mera

We had discovered George Papoutsas rental cars during our day one walkabout and had arranged with them to collect the hire car at 9:30 am the following day. Once we collected the car, we drove for about 5 minutes before stopping in Ano Mera for our first coffee of the day. Ano Mera is a peaceful village in the centre of Mykonos which has a small square lined with tavernas. 

Tourliani Monastery

While in Ano Mera we visited the 16th century Tourliani Monastery which had a small entrance fee of 4 euros (I think). We spent about 15 minutes there and were impressed by the ornate interior of the church.

Tourliani Monestary
Ftelias beach

Next up was Ftelia where we understood there would be an ancient Neolithic settlement. We drove down a bumpy track and parked in a deserted area near to the empty beach. We found the settlement but while the information explained it was about 6,000-7,000 years old, it was massively disappointing! The site was unkept, full of litter and looked like a tip so we made a quick exit and drove to our next stop.

Agios Sostis beach

The roads were narrow and twisty and after about 15 minutes we arrived at Agios Sostis beach and parked along a narrow street in the centre of the tiny village. We walked along to the end of the pretty Agios Sostis beach and while there was a few people sunbathing, it wasn’t crowded. This beach was un-commercialised with no umbrellas, bars or sun beds.

Agios Sostis
Kiki’s Taverna

We’d had only light snacks for breakfast so by late morning we were both feeling hungry. We had read about Kiki’s Taverna which overlooks a tiny cove at Agios Sostis and realised that each day people start to queue up before it opens at midday. We arrived at 11:50 by which time a small crowd had already formed. We found a shady spot and sat and waited.

After about 15 minutes the owner of the taverna came and and said it would open at 12:30. He asked everyone when we had arrived and where we were in the queue and noted this down. At 12:30 we were shown to tables and the photo above is the view we had from ours. The food was tasty with a big choice of salads from a salad bar inside. I had baked feta cheese for lunch and that was it! A large lump of feta arrived, all wrapped up on tin foil. Thankfully I had also ordered salad to go with it :-). This was a quirky little place and is popular, even on an October Monday with there being a queue outside when we left.

Driving towards Merchias beach

Driving around Mykonos was fairly straightforward although away from Mykonos Town the roads were narrow. Actually, there were pretty narrow in parts of Mykonos Town! We also had to watch out for other motorists who had a tendency to just pull out at junctions without looking. The granite island was brown and barren and the section towards Merchias beach was lunar-like!

Merchias beach

The plan was to drive to Fokos beach which is known to be spectacular, again with with crystal waters. Unfortunately the small road leading to the beach was blocked and we had to turn back. Instead we drove to Merchias beach (above). We didn’t stay there for long as the sea was choppy and it didn’t feel safe to swim in.

Lia beach

Making our way back towards our accommodation our final stop was at Lia beach which was just around the coast. This was busier however it was a a good swimming beach and finally time for a dip in the sea 🙂

Mykonos church

There is over 1200 tiny little churches in Mykonos – they are dotted around all over the place! This one is located just above and behind the Spilia restaurant next to Agia Anna beach. Some of the churches were built to commemorate the site where it is believed a miracle had taken place and some are built as memorials for family members.

Ornos beach

Most of the beaches we visited were quiet in out-of-the way locations. However, the following day while in the west of the island near Mykonos Town we decided to drive to Ornos beach. This would be a stunning beach with golden sand and shimmering azure sea but the entire beach was lined with bars and tavernas blaring out all manner of music. We stayed for a drink on one of them but the music was tedious so we soon escaped back to our little haven on the south coast.

Ornos beach
Walking from Ano Mera to the organic farm

Fast forward 3 days and for our final day we had taken the rental car back and had to find alternative transport… we had contacted the Vioma organic farm and were booked in for wine-tasting and a tour of the vineyard. We caught the bus from Kalafatis beach to Ano Mera and walked the final 2 km.

Arriving at Vioma organic farm

We followed Google Maps and had a pleasant walk from Ano Mera which took us along quiet roads with just the occasional vehicle.

Open air Vioma restaurant

We had found the organic farm opens at midday so we realised we were early for our 12:45 booking. However this worked well… on arrival we were shown to our table and had the opportunity to start our wine and local snack tasting session.

There was a varied choice of wine and food tasting where you can choose either single glasses of wine, bottles of wine or a selection of wines. We had the 4 glass experience and were given a glass each of white, rose, red and dessert wines! We also selected a cheese platter of local cheese, local olives, fresh tzatziki and a fresh bread basket. We were given information about each wine as it was handed to us.

The free tour began at 2 pm and together with about 20 others we were shown around the farm and had interesting anecdotes explained to us. For example, bamboo hedges are grown to shield the farm from the strong Mykonian winds.

There was a small traditional house on the farm and our guide explained to us that Mykonian houses are painted white with a mixture containing limestone. This provides a powerful disinfectant to help keep them sanitized and reduce the risk of disease. We had noticed the square white houses dotted around the island, they looked like huge, un-decorated Christmas cakes!

Pomegranetes

The tour only lasted about 20 minutes and by 2:30 pm we were on our way back to Kalafatis. We had found that our accommodation, being 1 km inland from the beach, was only a 40 minute walk away so rather than spending 30 minutes walking back to Ano Mera and waiting for a bus, we decided to walk all the way. And it was downhill 🙂

Walking back towards Kalafatis

Again, the walk back was along quiet roads with hardly any traffic. We had really enjoyed our wine and local food tasting experience, all of which was delicious! And in a lovely traditional rustic setting too.

We had great views of Kalafatis bay as it came into view…

Grilled shrimps in Salty Houses

Food in Mykonos

We were self catering which enabled us to sample a few different restaurants during our 6 day trip. As alluded to above, the food and drinks were very expensive – one of our favourite local restaurants was Salty Houses however our grilled shrimps starter (above) was 22 euros!! It was delicious but we felt that paying over 4 euros per shrimp was outrageous!

‘Fregola’ a Salty Houses main dish with scallops, crawfish, lobster bisque, parmesan and black garlic

Following our meal, Salty Houses gave us a complimentary shot of ouzo which is a traditional aniseed flavoured Greek liquor.

Breakfast for 2 at Salty Houses

We had breakfast 3 times at Salty Houses, firstly because it was nearby – about a 15 minute walk away (or 3 minutes by car) and secondly because it was amazing! The first day we were given a feast of local products and home made cake! And on top of this we were offered fresh eggs such as an omelette which came with a pile of organic spinach, cherry tomatoes and a lovely dressing.

Koukoumi Vegan hotel

Our other favourite restaurant was Koukoumi Vegan which was also close by. We were so delighted one morning with our vegan buffet breakfast we returned the same evening for a fabulous dinner. Koukoumi Vegan specialise in fine dining and it was a real treat to experience such delicious vegan food.

Breakfast at Koukoumi Vegan

We also had a healthy Greek meal in Olea restaurant on one evening and a less healthy pizza in L’Aragosta on another evening, both of which were excellent. Overall we were spoiled with superb food throughout our 6 day trip.

Pool at Mykonian Iros

Accommodation

I had booked our 6 night stay directly with the Mykonian Iros. With return flights from Gatwick to Mykonos costing just £74 each and our 6 night stay costing just £131 for both of us, I had been prematurely smug about having a budget holiday.

If you stay at the Mykonian Iros, we would suggest a car is necessary to get the maximum enjoyment from your holiday. This accommodation is located a 15 minute walk from the nearest beaches and tavernas. The wifi was excellent – for once we just scanned the QR code, it automatically connected us and we didn’t have to re-connect a single time after that.

Our room

Our room was small and it’s stone walls gave it character and the feeling of being in a cosy little cave! We had everything we needed including a fridge, kettle, AC and an excellent shower. The hotel owners were super helpful and friendly and if you are happy to enjoy a quiet break without being in the centre of everything I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a stay there.

Mykonos Town

Summary

Mykonos Town is a gorgeous picturesque place with lots of interesting features so we have a separate blog post on this. Overall, as a summary of the trip, the high costs of food and drinks was balanced with the low costs we paid for our flights and accommodation. Mykonos is so small that 6 days were plenty for us… this enabled us time to explore the highlights of the island without rushing and also taking a couple of trips into nearby Mykonos Town during the days we had the car.

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