Home Destination Guides Accommodation 24th August 2019





General
Greece 

 

 
MYKONOS
and
DELOS
  

    

 

 

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GENERAL
 
Belonging to the Northern Cyclades group of islands, Mykonos is one of the most cosmopolitan and sophisticated of all the Greek islands, renowned as the haunt of the trendy, the famous and the bohemian.
 
According to legend, the island was created during an ancient battle, when Poseidon, God of the Sea, crushed the last of the Titans, Mykonos, under a huge rock.   More recently, since the 1960’s, Mykonos has been one of the top Greek Islands for visitors, due partly to the ‘beautiful’ capital town and harbour, the buzzing nightlife, the abundance of superb sandy beaches and the acceptance of nudity.  The fact that Mykonos has its own airport, making it more accessible than some of the other islands, has also been a factor in its rise to popularity.
 
The fame of the island was increased when it was used as a location for filming the popular movie ‘Shirley Valentine’ (on location at Agios Ioannis beach). The island is also a very popular destination for cruise ships and many wealthy individuals who have been attracted to the destination since it was ‘discovered’ by Aristotle Onassis and Jackie O. As a result, it has become a very busy and relatively expensive island, especially during July and August, and many of the (11,000) local people tend to visit other islands during the height of the season.
 
Away from the largely commercialised coastline Mykonos has little to offer, unless you are in search of traditional Greece, which can (only) be found in a few small inland villages. The island has a barren, hilly landscape with some dramatic rock formations, but no archaeological sites and few villages other than the clusters of holiday homes now being constructed.  However, what Mykonos may lack in archaeological interest, is more than compensated for on its neighbouring island, Delos, which is one of the greatest classical archaeological sites in Greece, attracting enthusiasts in their thousands (see separate Delos section below).
 
 
MYKONOS TOWN (Chora)
   
The capital and main port of Mykonos, is called Chora, or sometimes just Mykonos Town. Located on a sweeping bay, Chora is an iconic cluster of typical Cycladic whitewashed houses, their blue shutters closed against the midday heat, tucked beneath a skyline adorned with windmills. This is where the beautiful people chill out during the day and the nights come alive with the throbbing beat of the trendy discos and fashionable nightclubs.  The focal point of the town is the superb circular harbour area, where ferries, excursion boats, expensive yachts and brightly painted local fishing boats all reside together.  Day trip boats ply their trade to Delos and frequent ferries arrive and depart for other Cycladic islands, including Santorini, Paros, Tinos and Naxos. With the increase in the island’s popularity and Chora’s harbour reaching its capacity in high season, a new port has been built at Tourlos, north of Chora, to accommodate the hundreds of cruise liners that visit Mykonos each summer.
 
The headland to the south and the hills behind Chora are dotted with picturesque whitewashed windmills, creating an attractive silhouetted outline at dusk.  The waterfront and town streets are lined with a variety of chic boutiques, expensive jewellers, souvenir shops, trendy bars, tempting tavernas and upmarket restaurants.   On the town’s western headland where a Venetian Castle once stood, is the site of the unique ‘Paraportiani’, a cluster of whitewashed chapels that are now a national cultural monument.  All that is left from the Venetians is a row of charming, much photographed, sea front houses known as ‘Little Venice’.
 
Behind the waterfront promenade, an intriguing warren of tiny pebbled streets lace their way through the traditional white box-shaped town houses with their brightly painted shutters and doorways. The town was built this way, on the flat, to confuse marauding pirates in a bygone age. All the usual amenities that one would expect in a main town such as Banks, Doctor, Pharmacies and supermarkets are present in Chora, together with a number of museums.  There is the Archaeological Museum, full of artefacts, the Maritime Museum of the Aegean, housed in a former sea captain’s residence dating from the 17th Century, the Craft and Folklore Museum and an excellent example of a working windmill at the Windmill Museum.
 
Amidst the onslaught of tourism Chora still retains a certain Greek charm with the local fishermen selling their freshly caught fish on the waterfront while the island’s mascot pelicans wait for the tourists to come and throw them fish for their breakfast.
 
As the sun sets, Chora nightlife begins to buzz, and there are some very good nightclubs. However, it should be noted that many of these clubs have a strong bias toward the male gay community who are especially attracted to the island. Their influence spills out onto some of the beaches and other commercialised areas during the day. The gay element is less evident during the busiest months, due to the large number of ‘straight’ young people visiting the island and its clubs, cruise ship visitors and other visitors. That said, the majority of visitors to the island are non-gay and whilst most are party people of some kind the island is currently considered to be up-market with the continuing presence of some A-list people and relatively high prices for property, retail purchases and restaurant meals. 
 
 
THE SOUTH
  
Just 10 minutes south of Chora is the small resort of Ornos, located on a gently shelving sandy beach and offering a quieter base from which to enjoy the delights of the main town. There are a handful of bars and tavernas, some cafes and shops and if you want to sample the nightlife in Chora there is a regular local bus service and taxis are also available.  Twenty minutes walk from Ornos is the sand and shingle beach at Agios Ioannis, with a mini market and tavernas in the vicinity.  If you’re feeling lazy, there is a local bus service from Ornos to Agios Ioannis.
 
Running along the less windy southern coastline are a string of gorgeous sandy beaches and coves, punctuated by headlands.  They start from the resort of Platis Yialos, with its sweeping bay of golden sand, clear blue sea and backdrop of hotels.  Some water sports are available on the beach together with a choice of excellent tavernas.  There is a small quay at Platis Yialos where beach boats will take you further round the coast to the other beaches, most of which have their own nudist section.  Probably the most well known is Paradise Beach, (which can be crowded), closely followed by Super Paradise Beach which has more nudism than Paradise Beach.  Further along the southern coast is Elia Beach, which has a high predominance of nudity. However, none of these are as exclusively nude or gay, as they once were and all now have a fair mix of families and textile sunbathers, the nude element tending to occupy their own end of the beach.
 
 
THE NORTH
   
North of Chora, Agios Stephanos has a popular beach and is only a short bus ride from the capital.  On the north coast there are great beaches at Panormos and Ftelia but only for intrepid sun worshippers or windsurfers, as the north coast tends to be windy during high season and there are dangerous offshore currents. Inland from Ftelia, the unspoilt village of Ano Mera is well worth a visit, taking in the Museum and the 6th Century church. 
 
 
MYKONOS ISLAND CONNECTIONS
 
Package holidays are available from tour companies specialising in Greece, with charter flights flying direct to Mykonos. Olympic Airways, British Airways and low cost airlines offer scheduled flights from the U.K. to Athens, from where you can take an onward ferry or domestic flight to Mykonos. Timings will vary depending on how long you need to wait for the connecting flight to Mykonos.  The Olympic Airways domestic flight time from Athens to Mykonos is approximately 35 minutes. Mykonos airport is a short drive from Chora and approximately 10 minutes drive from Ornos.
 
In high season Olympic Airways operate inter-island flights several times a week between Mykonos and the islands of Santorini, Rhodes and Crete.
 
Mykonos has ferry connections to most of the other Greek islands, though these will not necessarily be direct connections.  Ferries from Mykonos to Tinos take approximately 1 hour and to Paros approximately 2 hours, so it is possible to visit these islands as a day trip, provided you check the return ferry times.  Santorini can be reached by ferry but it may not be possible to return the same day. There are also ferry connections to/from Athens via Piraeus or Rafina (which may be a better bet), but do check the existence and timing of all ferry services as services are regularly withdrawn or re-scheduled.  
 
It should be noted that especially in July and August the ‘Meltemi’, a strong wind, blows across the Aegean, affecting Mykonos (particularly the North) and the surrounding islands.  Whilst this wind brings relief from the midsummer heat it can cause chaos with ferry and flight schedules.  Any ferry trips should not be taken too close to the end of your holiday as adverse conditions could affect your return ferry, resulting in a missed flight home.  
 
 
 
DELOS
 
Delos is the smallest of all the Cycladic islands, being a mere 3 and a half square kilometres, but it is also the most awesome!  The island is famous for being one of the greatest classical archaeological sites, not only in Greece, but also across the Mediterranean.  It lays a 40-minute boat trip to the east of Mykonos and is adjacent to the tiny island of Rinia. In fact, the two islands appear joined from a distance and it is only as the ferryboat nears, that a channel between them becomes visible.
      
 
There are no hotels on Delos, no clubs, no bars, transport or restaurants.  Delos is a sacred island, steeped in myth and legend. It is said that the God Zeus anchored the drifting Goddess Asteria to the sea bed, thereby creating the island.  Later, one of Zeus’s lovers, the pregnant Leto, fled to Delos, and next to the Sacred Lake gave birth to the twin Gods Apollo (God of Culture and the Sun) and Artemis (Goddess of the Wild and the Moon – also known as the Huntress). In the 7th Century BC the Temple of Apollo was built and the area around the Sacred Lake became a religious Sanctuary.  In the 5th Century BC, as the Sanctuary grew, a ritual purification began which entailed the removal of graves from Delos to neighbouring Rinia.  In 426 BC Athens issued an edict, declaring that no one be allowed to give birth or die on the island of Delos, in order to preserve the sanctity of the island. The edict remains in place even today!  As the local inhabitants all had to travel to Rinia to give birth, or die, a thriving community grew on the neighbouring island. Delos went on to have a chequered history, gaining commercial influence under the patronage of Athens and becoming a central slave market under the King of Macedonia in the 2nd Century BC.  Eventually, after being sacked by pirates, Delos fell into decline and by the 2nd Century AD it was uninhabited, apart from the guardians of the Sanctuary.
 
In the late 1800’s, an Athenian Archaeological School set up excavations and the beautiful shrines and holy sites dating back to Mycenaean times were gradually unearthed.  A trip to the sacred island of Delos has now become almost a pilgrimage for thousands of its visitors, who wander along the Sacred Way with the same awe as their predecessors.  The island has also drawn scholars, archaeologists and historians from all over the world to marvel at the ancient temples, shrines, marble carvings and magnificent mosaics.  In particular Delos is renowned for its Terrace of the Lions, a row of sculptures made of Naxian marble, carved in the 7th Century BC. This stands guard over the Sacred Palm, from which - legend states - Leto hung whilst giving birth to Apollo and Artemis.  Actually, the remaining original Lion sculptures now reside in the Delos Museum for their protection and the present sculptures in the Terrace are copies.
 
A pathway leads from the Sanctuary area up to Mount Kythnos, which has a wonderful mix of buildings, preserved from the 2nd and 3rd Centuries BC, together with a superb ancient theatre built in the 4th Century BC with tiered masonry capable of seating up to 5,500 people!  Look out also for the Grotto of Hercules, 3rd Century BC, reached via a tiny path close to the summit.
 
To this day, Delos island remains uninhabited, and to comply with the rule that no one may give birth or die on the island, only day trips are allowed to Delos and visitors must leave by dusk. However, this has not deterred the many tourists, Greek and foreign alike, from making the journey to see at first hand the awe-inspiring cornucopia of temples, residences and other remains - including the famed Lion Street.
   
 
DELOS ISLAND CONNECTIONS
  
The only way to visit Delos is by boat from Mykonos. These run a frequent service in high season and the journey takes approximately 40 minutes, although it should be noted that access on Mondays might not be possible. Colourful flowers abound in springtime, but otherwise the landscape is ‘unforgiving.’ It is recommended that you take with you a good pair of walking shoes, a sun hat and water, especially in high season. The designated walking trails mean that you can walk for anything up to five hours around the island and there is virtually no shade. Guided tours are available.
   
   
The foregoing information was last reviewed in November 2006. Things change, and whilst we are often travelling in Greece we do rely to some extent upon others to provide updates in order to keep the site as current and accurate as possible!  If you have updates or information that you think should be included here, please mail the webmaster@aguide2greece.com  - thank you.
 
   
 

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