Aegean grace­fully

It’s a trendy des­ti­na­tion in Europe – but if you’re too old for the party scene, can you es­cape the crowds on tiny Mykonos? KATIE WRIGHT finds the is­land’s re­lax­ing side

Llanelli Star - - GET AWAY -

THE sun is just beginning to set as I saunter past Agios Ioan­nis church, a bright white cube with two red domed roofs perched on the west coast of Mykonos.

All af­ter­noon I’ve watched from my ho­tel fur­ther up the hill­side as buses pull up and tourists spill out, taking pho­tos of the tiny chapel.

I want to know what all the fuss is about, so I fol­low the crowds. But as I con­tinue along the dirt track lined with red and yel­low wild­flow­ers, I find my­self alone and my cu­rios­ity is re­warded with something far greater.

A few min­utes later, I emerge at the top of a steep path that leads down to a sandy beach, de­serted ex­cept for the re­mains of an old row­ing boat.

I clam­ber down the rocky steps, flop down on the sand and mar­vel at the serene scene.

Aren’t the beaches of Mykonos all meant to be heav­ing with mo­jito-sip­ping young things and sound­tracked by house mu­sic? Ev­i­dently not. I later find out this is Ka­pari Beach, one of the is­land’s best kept secrets.

While there are plenty of beach clubs dot­ted around the coast of this 33-square-mile is­land, draw­ing a party-lov­ing crowd all sum­mer long, it turns out there are still hid­den gems wait­ing to be un­earthed – you just need to know where to look. From when’s the best time to visit, to how to get around, here’s what I learned from the lo­cals...

WHEN TO VISIT

FOR vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed wall-towall sun­shine, July or Au­gust is the ob­vi­ous time to go to Mykonos.

But dur­ing high sea­son you’ll have to share the is­land with hordes of other hol­i­day­mak­ers.

“In July you can’t find peace any­where,” says Olga Pana­giotopoulo­u, a Myko­nian na­tive who has watched the is­land’s tourism in­dus­try boom in the last few years.

Like Ibiza, the beach clubs (they turn into night­clubs after dark) are open from mid-May to Septem­ber, but the party scene is de­cid­edly more so­phis­ti­cated than the White Isle’s. Go at the beginning or the end of the sea­son if you pre­fer the quiet life.

WHERE TO STAY

ONE of the is­land’s hottest new open­ings, The Wild Ho­tel – rooms start from £317 per night – on the south-east coast of­fers chic in­te­ri­ors.

Think bamboo furniture, macrame ham­mocks and an­tique fans, a trendy but re­laxed vibe.

At this bou­tique prop­erty you can take your pick from two prime sun­bathing spots.

En­joy views across the Aegean from a lounger next to the curved in­fin­ity pool, or head down the steps that lead to the ho­tel’s pri­vate beach in the se­cluded cove be­low.

A short drive by taxi from the main town of Hora, Katikies (rooms from £300 per night) in the Agios Ioan­nis area takes the tra­di­tional The Wild Ho­tel’s pri­vate beach white­washed ar­chi­tec­tural style of the Cy­clades is­lands and makes it feel mod­ern and lux­u­ri­ous. Each metic­u­lously dec­o­rated room comes with a pri­vate ter­race and out­door jet­ted tub, and there are two swim­ming pools to choose from.

Head down early if you want to bag one of the cov­eted round­cush­ioned sunbeds at the cor­ners of the pool.

WHAT TO DO

MAIN town Hora on the west coast is stun­ningly beau­ti­ful, from the colour­ful wa­ter­front Lit­tle Venice prop­er­ties (named be­cause they re­sem­ble those in the Ital­ian city) to the h Old Town’s T ’ maze of f nar­row streets filled with shops, cafes and gal­leries.

A great way to take in the coastal views of Mykonos and its neigh­bour­ing is­lands is with a boat trip start­ing at Hora’s port, and if you em­bark on a pri­vate char­tered yacht with Mykonos Par­adise Cruises, you’ll get a Greek mythol­ogy les­son thrown in from first mate Panos Panousis.

“Zeus was a very, very naughty boy,” he says as he ex­plains the myth­i­cal tale of how the king of the gods cre­ated the is­land of De­los to hide his preg­nant mis­tress from his wife.

You can also book a ferry with De­los Tours for around £17 per per­son re­turn.

You can’t stay on De­los, now a UNESCO World Her­itage site, but you can stop off to visit the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Mu­seum of De­los and see its cur­rent ‘in­hab­i­tants’, po­si­tioned there by god of the art

world, Antony Gorm­ley.

The Bri­tish sculp­tor has in­stalled 29 iron ‘body­form’ pieces as part of his ‘Sight’ in­stal­la­tion, which is in place un­til Oc­to­ber 31.

Back on Mykonos, if you’re look­ing for the best places to sun­bathe, big­ger doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean bet­ter.

Nam­mos on the south coast’s Psarou beach, is prob­a­bly the is­land’s most no­to­ri­ous beach club – it’s here that the rich and/or fa­mous come to pose on a sun lounger, pay­ing £80 a day for the priv­i­lege.

A bit out of your price range? Par­adise and the smaller Su­per Par­adise beach, both found fur­ther west along the coast, offer the same lively vibe but sunbed rental starts from about £10.

Too noisy? Try fam­ily-friendly Ornos, a 10-minute drive south of Hora, which is home to lots of great Greek and seafood restau­rants.

As day blurs into night, things start to liven up at places like Scor­pios on Paraga beach, a Mykonos in­sti­tu­tion that ac­tu­ally lives up to the hype.

“Scor­pios is mag­i­cal,” says the Wild Ho­tel’s Panos Vak­ouft­sis, who has worked on the is­land for the last six years.

The restau­rant and beach club, about a 15-minute drive from Hora on the south coast, is ideal for sun­set view­ing and hosts big-name DJs through­out sum­mer, keep­ing guests danc­ing un­til the sun comes up. En­trance is free but it gets busy, so book in ad­vance.

In Hora, lo­cals of­ten start their night at the Queen of Mykonos, a tiny, church-like cocktail bar with an LED ceil­ing where a gin and tonic will set you back around £13. Mykonos is pretty pricey when it comes to din­ing and drink­ing, but one of the few places you find cheap plonk is Skan­di­na­vian Bar, where you can get a glass of wine for about £4.

“I love it be­cause everyone goes there, it’s a mix of all kinds of peo­ple,” Panos says of the party hotspot, which com­prises sev­eral ground floor level bars and an up­stairs disco. Grab a drink down­stairs and you’ll be given a white wrist­band, grant­ing you free en­try up­stairs.

WHAT TO EAT

HUN­GRY? Or hun­gover? Start your day with a hearty brunch at The Liberty Break­fast Room.

Here, the hard­est de­ci­sion you’ll make is which com­bi­na­tion of eggs and cof­fee to have. I went for the scram­bled with Myko­nian cheese and truf­fle oil (£12) along with an al­mond milk latte (£4). For a fill­ing but af­ford­able late lunch, try Greek spe­cial­ity gy­ros, sliced ro­tis­serie-cooked meat (usu­ally chicken or pork) served in pita bread with salad and tzatziki.

Much-loved Sou­vlaki Story is Mykonos’ an­swer to KFC, with five restau­rants dot­ted around the is­land. A huge, tasty gy­ros plat­ter for one is about £11. Fin­ish with an in­dul­gent sup­per at Kuz­ina at the Am­mos Ho­tel on Ornos beach. Re­mem­ber: you’re on Greek time now, so no-one eats din­ner be­fore 9pm. And be sure to get a side of the ‘fa­mous’ Naxos is­land style skinny fries with tangy feta sauce (£7).

GET­TING AROUND

THERE are re­port­edly only 32 taxis on the en­tire is­land, all owned by the same com­pany, so you can imag­ine how in de­mand they are at the height of sum­mer.

It’s there­fore def­i­nitely worth pre-book­ing an air­port trans­fer. The rest of the time, ask your ho­tel re­cep­tion to call for a taxi when you need it.

Make sure you’re ready to go when it ar­rives – sup­ply and de­mand dic­tates that driv­ers won’t wait if you’re dawdling.

The taxis don’t have me­ters so check the price be­fore you depart: a 20-minute jour­ney shouldn’t cost more than about £22.

There are also pub­lic buses that run be­tween the air­port, Hora and larger beaches. Fares are £1.70 and timeta­bles can be found at mykonos­bus.com

Like Ibiza, the beach clubs are open from mid-May to Septem­ber... Go at the beginning or the end of the sea­son if you pre­fer the quiet life.

A room at Katikies Ho­tel

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.