So much more to the Aegean than sun­shine, sea and sand

There is plenty to en­joy in the Greek is­lands – Jane Walsh fo­cuses on part of the Cy­clades, where you can en­joy the his­tory as much as the weather

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MYKONOS is known lo­cally as the windy is­land – just per­fect for keep­ing hol­i­day­mak­ers cool as the sun beats down. The Greek is­land is a mix­ture of con­tem­po­rary, swanky places to eat and drink, but with rus­tic, tra­di­tional Mykonos firmly in­tact around the edges. The land­scape in­cludes old, thatched-roofed wind­mills and pris­tine, white, cubed build­ings dot­ted ran­domly around the dry, grassy fields and hills.

A good tip would be to hire a car to ex­plore the is­land, but make it a small one!

Mykonos Town it­self is a lit­tle classier and smarter than the av­er­age old town; yes there are the usual bou­tiques and windy, ‘get-lost-in’ cob­bled streets, but look out for de­signer shops, such as Chanel and Louis Vuit­ton.

Din­ing stan­dards here are high and there is a big push for lo­cally sourced, or­ganic pro­duce. A great place for sup­per and cock­tails is Lit­tle Venice by the water­front – but get there early.

There is a party vibe too and you can feel the beat com­ing out of the beach bars from late af­ter­noon.

Mykonos is per­haps the most cos­mopoli­tan in character of all the Greek is­lands and never fails to en­chant its vis­i­tors.

With its all-white vil­lages, lit­tle churches, tra­di­tional wind­mills, in­spi­ra­tional colours and a lively at­mos­phere, com­bin­ing with unique nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments of dra­matic rock for­ma­tions, crys­tal-clear Aegean wa­ters and golden sandy beaches with stun­ning ef­fect.

The cap­i­tal, Chora, lies be­side a pic­turesque har­bour of yachts and fish­ing boats.

A visit to the his­toric neigh­bour­ing is­land of De­los, reached by a lo­cal boat ser­vice, is well worth it, es­pe­cially if you like archaeological sites.

You must have seen the pho­tos of the scat­ter­gun white build­ings pep­per­ing the hill­side with dot­ted sky-blue domes. San­torini is fa­mous for th­ese spec­tac­u­lar views, par­tic­u­larly at sun­set, as well as for its cob­bled streets and many tiny chapels.

The is­land’s cap­i­tal, Thira, sits amid this scenic beauty, where small ho­tels and restau­rants spill over the edge of the caldera. Here you can en­joy a cable car ride all the way to the bot­tom of the now ex­tinct vol­cano and back again.

To the south-east of the is­land are the sea­side re­sorts of Ka­mari and Perissa. Both have very long stretches of fine vol­canic-sandy beaches, wa­ter sports, and lively bars and tav­er­nas right along the strip.

In a lit­tle vil­lage south of the cap­i­tal is a charm­ing and quirky ho­tel – San­torini Kastelli – which is a lit­tle more per­sonal than some of the big­ger ho­tels. Nearby are cob­bled streets, bou­tiques, tra­di­tional tav­er­nas and one of those iconic blue-domed churches.

En­joy break­fast by the pool and din­ner in a beau­ti­fully lit cave (ren­o­vated cat­a­combs) that has a well-stocked wine cel­lar.

There are so many sun­set view­ing spots on the is­land. Oia, on the north­ern tip, at­tracts hun­dreds of tourists to its nar­row old town, so, in­stead, head down to Amoudi Bay at the foot of the town, as fewer peo­ple know about this spot.

Of course, if you just wanted to visit for the day you could take a cruise around the Mediter­ranean and do ex­actly that.

Mykonos har­bour at dusk and, right, sun­set over the blue-domed churches of San­torini

Clas­sic Greek-style houses dot the hill­sides around San­torini

Kala­mari hang­ing from boat rig­ging in Mykonos har­bour; be­low, the tempt­ing crys­tal clear wa­ters

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