MYKONOS - NEIGHBORHOODS
Mykonos Town (Chora)
Called Chora by the locals, Mykonos town is a typical Cycladic village, which climbs steeply up a hill with narrow streets forming a labyrinth. It has whitewashed cubic houses with wooden colored doors, windows and balconies painted brightly in mostly blue, green and red. The streets close to the harbor buzz with activity. They are filled with attractive small shops, bougainvillea trees in purple bloom, small cafes and churches, and usually end up at a square with a terraced restaurant and a church, or at the harbor front with its colorful fishing boats, the row of windmills and a pelican or two. The heart of the city is closed to traffic during most of the day. The famous whitewashed windmills, trademark of the island, are standing on a hill overlooking the city and offer magnificent views over the 'Little Venice,' which is one of the most beautiful parts of the capital, located on a peak of land and consisting of two-storey Venetian houses of extremely bright colors, built very close one to another, with colored wooden porches and balconies, lining the seafront, almost falling into the sea with the waves coming to break under them. Many trendy cafes and bars are located in Little Venice, which becomes a lively area during night time. A great quantity of bars and nightclubs can be found in the capital. As soon as the sun goes down, the narrow streets fill with crowds ready to party and dance all night long.
The town has a small beach at the harbor front, and superior sands are close by. Platys Gialos is a long, stretch, 15 minutes away by bus, and the springboard to other southern Mykonos beaches. From here, it's a few minutes walk to the little cove of Aghia Anna, where a handful of bamboo dividers and a sole taverna keep things low-key. It's only another 15 minutes over the headland to laid back Paranga Beach.
Platis Yialos, one of the longest beaches on Mykonos, lies in a protected bay backed by low hills, 2.5 miles from Mykonos Town and is best known for its long bend of golden sand. The first resort to be developed on the island, because of the peaceful location, the glorious long stretch of beach, and its proximity to Mykonos Town, which is just a 10 minute bus ride away. It offers sophisticated facilities including a selection of stylish, high-class hotels, villas, apartments and numerous seafood tavernas with open air terraces overlooking the water, plus travel agencies offering excursions and car rental companies. Behind the front, meanwhile, cube-like houses sprinkle the countryside, with the low spine of the surrounding hills at their back door. The beach here comes with Blue Flag credentials. It's set in the safe arms of a cove, with the hills buffering it from winds. A shallow shoreline and lots of water sports make it very much a family place. But if you do fancy a change of scene, there are regular taxi boats that come and go from the port at the left side of the bay to a succession of blonde beaches. Historical landmarks on either side of the beach give the place extra character. To the north, the monastery of Panagia Vounou, which dates from the early 19th century, is set on a hilltop and makes a great lookout spot. Around here you'll also see the remains of the White Tower, one of the best preserved of the 57 ancient beacons on the island. To the south there's a prehistoric cemetery.
Ornos is a coarse sandy beach loop around a wide bay, which is sheltered from the island's strong northern summer winds, only 2 miles and a 5 minute bus ride away from Mykonos Town. This beachside community has many tavernas, cafes and restaurants right on the beach for easy access. And behind them, the sugar cube-like houses on the surrounding low hills are watched over by 16th century windmills, all part and parcel of the Mykonos landscape. Due to the sea's sandy bottom, which drops off very gently from the shore, Ornos beach provides the perfect family beach. To one end of the bay there's a small fishing harbor where visiting yachts drop anchor and water taxis ply their trade, shuttling passengers back and forth between the south coast beaches. Caiques also stop here en route to the UNESCO listed islet of Delos, which is swamped with ruined temples and statues dating back to the days of Apollo and Artemis. At the mouth of Ornos bay there is a large, slightly submerged rock to be navigated by boats, on which during quiet, less crowded periods you can view seals swimming or sunning themselves on top of the rock.
Agios Ioannis is thought by many to be one of the most picturesque places on the island. Famous as the location for the award winning motion picture 'Shirley Valentine', many appreciate this setting for its calm and relaxed atmosphere. Agios Ioannis beach is on the west side of the island facing Delos. Agios Ioannis is one of the best places to be when the sun goes down, for an enticing sunset view. The beach is divided into two parts, separated by rocks. On one of the two sides, there are umbrellas and sun beds available for rent. The water on the beachfront is shallow enough for children to play in, and there are a few tavernas close by for lunch. Not extremely protected from the strong north winds that blow in the Cyclades, but rather calm on most days. The setting in the beautiful bay is dramatic with views across to the island of Delos and a small white chapel to add a picture postcard flourish. Nearby rocks and coves add interest and there is a tiny beach at Kapari for those who prefer more solitude, but it has no shade and no facilities.
Agios Stefanos Beach is located just around the corner from the new port of Tourlos, roughly 2 miles from Mykonos town. It was named after the pretty church with the red roof located at the end of the beach. It is a sandy, family friendly beach with shallow waters along the shoreline for children to play in. The water is so clean and clear, it creates a perfect swimming environment including a wonderful, sandy sea floor. When the north wind blows it can be somewhat windy on this beach. There is also a view from the beach to the historically important islands of Delos and Rhenia. Agios Stefanos is one of the closest beaches to Mykonos Town and it has a bus connection to the capital. This beach is probably a solution for those who do not have their own means of transport and do not like moving around much. Agios Stefanos beach is surrounded by tavernas. You will find sun beds, umbrellas, tavernas for fresh fish and cooked dishes, as well as a bar-taverna. There is a beach volleyball court, lots of space to play paddle ball or let your children run free. The Nautical Association of Mykonos provides morning swimming, small craft sailing and windsurfing lessons on this beach, for the local children.
Located 6 miles from the capital, Elia is the longest sandy beach ofMykonos, fully organized, offering a wide choice of taverns and bars aswell as water sports facilities such as water skiing, parasailing andwindsurfing. At Elia beach you will come across many of those whofeature in the society pages of magazines and newspapers. It ischaracterized as a 'gay-friendly beach' by the connoisseurs of Mykonos.In designated sections nude bathing is allowed and yachts are alsoallowed to anchor here. Elia is a busy beach and a favorite of many, tospend the day chilling out or socializing. It has become quite themeeting place and many plans for the evening or holiday romances areformed here. There are several places to eat, drink or relax out of thesummer sun with beach service also available. Umbrellas and sun bedsfor rent, bathrooms and showers, and water sports, includingparasailing can be found on Elia Beach. Elia is the last stop on thecaique (traditional fishing boat used as taxi boat). Lots of nudistscome here. It is easily accessible by bus from Mykonos town and with aregular boat service from Platys Gialos beach.