mykonos relax

Find your bliss on Ftelia Beach in Mykonos. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

Not on Mykonos to Party? Here’s Where to Find Solace on the Island

Mykonos may have altered over the decades, flexing its personality to change with the times, yet it remains a timeless Mediterranean island destination with an intangible, magnetic pull that is hard to resist.

Here’s proof that, even in the height of summer, you can find mind-soothing pockets and alternative pursuits to bar-hopping in the de rigueur jet-setter destination.

As always, check for travel restrictions or closures before planning your trip.

Sniff Out Secret Beaches and a Taverna to Die For

Mykonos is blessed with some of the Cyclades’ finest beaches, with seas so azure and translucent they almost seem unreal. Loved-up couples lay out their towels at the quiet, sun-lounger-free southern end of Panormos and take long walks along rippling golden sands before dipping into deep, refreshing waters.

There’s no designer dress code on wind-whipped, kite-surfer magnet Ftelia, where you’ll find tiny, hidden Tarsanas restaurant and unpretentious beach bar Alemàgou. At finely pebbled, laid-back Agios Sostis Beach, chow down on grilled meats, calamari, shrimp and salad at Kiki’s Taverna, a Mykonos institution whose perpetual line (no reservations) is worth it.

If you’ve got wheels and don’t mind unmarked, bone-jangling dirt roads, ask for directions to secluded Kapari, Merchia or Fokos.

Tap Island Traditions in Ano Mera

mykonos relax
Visit the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani. (Photo: Getty Images)

Retreat inland to the village of Ano Mera, whose inhabitants number less than 1,500, and take a stroll through its winding alleyways. Next, pay a visit to the 15th-century, all-white Monastery of Panagia Tourliani, one of the island’s most significant monuments, situated on the main square.

Take a seat at one of the traditional family-run tavernas that specialize in grilled and spit-roasted island-sourced meat dishes. The spicy, soft Mykonian cheese dip known as kopanisti is produced here, so make sure to slather plenty on chunks of crisp village bread that you must then dip into Greek salad.

Organic farm and winery Mykonos Vioma offers wine tasting and a sampling of local cheese varieties.

Catch an Artist-in-Residence at Dio Horia

The island is gaining somewhat of a reputation as a contemporary art destination, with savvy, world-class galleries, some works of art in their own right, showcasing the creations of Greek and international artists.

Poking fun at the contradiction between the isle’s natural beauty and hedonistic reputation, Dio Horia hosts an artist-in-residence each year whose work is featured in a summer exhibition within serene, whitewashed walls.

The gallery runs solo and group shows presenting established and emerging artists, particularly from small, periphery countries. Welcoming both collectors and the curious, its intimate rooftop bar is the ideal spot at which to unwind and exchange impressions of the latest exhibition as the sun sets over the island capital, Hora.

Dig Sacred Delos’ Ancient Energy

Monastery of Panagia Tourliani
Spend an afternoon on Delos. (Photo: Getty Images)

Take a boat across to minuscule Delos, considered the most sacred of all islands of antiquity, as it’s where Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, and her twin brother Apollo, the god of the Sun, were born.

Once the world’s most prosperous commercial center, this Unesco World Heritage Site southwest of Mykonos was home to a multiethnic population of 30,000 circa 90 B.C.

See one of Greece’s largest and best-preserved archeological sites, whose highlights include the mosaic-laid House of the Dolphins and artifacts on display in the on-site museum, ideally with a guide on a small group tour.

Pro tip: Try to book a tour that starts with a swim at the neighboring island of Rhenia; then heads to Delos once morning crowds have departed.

Catch a Flick at an Open-Air Cinema

Monastery of Panagia Tourliani
Hang with the locals at an outdoor cinema. (Photo: Getty Images)

An oasis of calm and local favorite hidden in the heart of Hora, the open-air, family-friendly Cine Manto screens two films each evening in the cool shade of palms and pines, which is especially welcome on hot summer nights.

The cinema is named in honor of Manto Mavrogenous, a Greek War of Independence heroine who persuaded Mykonians to rise up against their Ottoman rulers.

Hook up Lunch with a Fishing Trip

Hop on board a traditional fishing boat for an entertaining day trip and learn the tricks of the trade with Captain Nikolas. The father-and-son team will arm you with lines, rods and bait and initiate you into the ways of traditional fishing. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch your own lunch and have it masterfully grilled. The tour, where youngsters are welcome, includes swim stops and indigenous delicacies.