The best thing about Mykonos? For all the international glamour, it’s a remarkably inclusive spot. This is an island that knows how to look after holidaymakers on all budgets, with an impressive dining scene that spans the spectrum from ultra-polished eateries to taverna-style joints serving seafood with a side of sea breeze.
Stylish types make the taxi pilgrimage to this southwestern peninsula for two reasons: Agios Ioannis beach, with its soft sand and relatively few tourists; and this glam, bohemian beachfront restaurant. Gazing out at jewel-bright waters a few feet away, you’ll be spoiled with sushi platters served on tables that look like hunks of driftwood, under a thatched pavilion strung with cacti and woven lampshades. This place has long lunch written all over it – followed by a sprawl on one of the restaurant’s loungers or bean bags.
Like other trendy islands such as Ibiza or St Barth’s, Mykonos has a couple of mainstream dining areas, then a sprinkling of whispered-about destination restaurants you’d cross the island for. Kiki’s is one such, in the island’s wild northern reaches – hire a car to whizz up to tiny Agios Sostis. Here on the slopes above the water, you’ll find a dinky taverna with no electricity and one brick-built grill, on which superlative pork chops and potatoes are cooked. You can’t book ahead – simply rock up and put your name down on the (sizeable) waiting list, sipping a free rosé while you wait.
Now we come to flash Mykonos – the jet-setter’s scene this island is famous for. Unspoiled southern beach Paraga is the setting for this expensively designed hippie-chic hotspot. It’s as well-known for its sunset DJ sets and minimum-spend stipulation as for its food. But the grub is good – overflowing mezze boards, juicy grilled tiger prawns and king crab ceviche, eaten on jet-black seating amid dusty ochre earth, glossy banana plants and huge succulents. This is a place to see and be seen, so bring out your best effortlessly stylish beach-club look.
Away from the tourist crush of the southwest, sleepy Fokos Beach has no facilities or hotels – just pale gold sands, shimmering shallows and a couple of small chapels. On the slopes above it is this stone-built taverna with a sheltered, octagonal terrace where a trickle of folks in the know come for chunky homemade dips, village-style salads and hunks of grilled squid, eaten in pin-drop peace. Bring towels and make a beach afternoon of it, taking your beers down from the taverna to enjoy on the sand.
Wooden tables topped with red-checked cloth face a toy-town Cycladic square in Mykonos Town’s picturesque Little Venice, where bougainvillea climbs the crimson-domed church just opposite. People come for the postcard-ready look and convivial atmosphere as much as the rustic dishes: waiters joke, families share plates and solo travellers watch the flow of drinkers and diners into the port. This is the place to have your Greek holiday favourites like moussaka, saganaki, orzo and baklava.
Another glam choice for the big-spenders of Mykonos, Interni’s pristine, ice-white patio is shaded by olive trees and glows with strings of fairy lights. Dainty slivers of perfectly pink lamb come in a flavour-packed jus, glossy burrata sits quivering and begging to be burst open and citrussy super-food salads cater to health-conscious influencers. Yet it’s as romantic as it is showy – the patio is real wow-factor stuff – and you get what you pay for with the food. After dinner hours it turns into a sophisticated party hub.
Of the handful of destination restaurants the Mykonos glitterati will travel for, this far-eastern spot has arguably the most dazzling views. Cut into the rock beside sleepy Agia Anna beach, lunches here overlook a shallow, unspoiled fishing bay in luminous, peacock-tail blues. It’s rustic but subtly fancy: wood beams have been strung with fishing nets to create a canopy, around which twist white bougainvillea and a scattering of potted banana plants. Outside, whole octopuses hang from metal hooks. Spilia’s upmarket seafood creations require a splurge, but they come with double the character and authenticity of some of the island’s flashier hangouts.
A gnarled vine twists over the white pergola at this shabby-chic restaurant in Chora, Mykonos’s main town. Plump for one of the outdoor tables, settling in on dove-grey cushions to order a long, leisurely dinner of fine-dining takes on classic Mediterranean food: grilled squid with pickled vegetables and beetroot puree, say, or sous-vide lamb with courgette and artichokes. Everything’s ambitiously presented, but the chefs nail the quality every time – prompting no end of repeat visits.
Kounelas Fish Tavern
From Little Venice’s sunset bars it’s an easy skip to this charming garden taverna on the south side of the main port. Specialising in all things fishy. Hosts Yiannis and Sofia greet the same guests they’ve been serving for decades, under a canopy of illuminated trees in a quaint, white-walled patio. Grilled catch of the day is the number-one order here, but the mussels, squid and prawns are just as raved-about. Dinner here usually ends with a shot of throat-coating tentura, a cinnamon liqueur.
For a drink to wash it all down with, head to the best bars on the island. Then, party all night at the many nightclubs here before you recharge your batteries at one of the decadent luxury or charming boutique hotels Mykonos has to offer. The next day, head to the most beautiful beaches on the island for a relaxing day of chilling in the sun.
Matthew Keyte contributed additional reporting to this article.
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