(continuer en français) – Published: February 5, 2022

Kato Myli, Mykonos

Sun, fun, lux, the clichés associated with Mykonos.

You don’t come to Mykonos to be curious about history. Anyway, it looks like the rest of Greece. Antiquity, Italian rule, Ottoman occupation, independence and then tourism.

Mykonos is one of the places on earth that tourism gives a reason to exist, a fame. The place is not big, the land is arid, there are no monuments or ancient sites, as much sunshine as in the neighbouring islands, and yet Mykonos.

111 miles, 180 kilometres, south of Athens, a few hours by ferry or a plane ride away, the 10,000 local residents receive 400,000 visitors a year. The figures fluctuate but the proportions say something about the formidable tourist machine churning out millions.

The mills

Just outside the town, on a ridge overlooking the small harbour, six mills have been lined up since the 16th century at Kato Myli. At one time, wheat imported from Ukraine was used to make flour, which was made into bread and biscuits and exported to the surrounding area.

There are mills in all the islands, in Mykonos they are icons. People come here for the sunsets when the last rays are caught in the wings. Under their thatched roofs, the old mills have been transformed into shops or accommodation.

Mykonos Chora

From the hill of Kato Myli, the small town that serves as the island’s capital can be seen. White dominates, with a few patches of blue, one or two storeys, no large resorts here, the impression of a small town from the past.

The waterfront is nicknamed Little Venice, with the first houses opening directly onto the water. Balconies daringly suspended above the playful waves.

The churches

There are churches everywhere, chapels rather, modest and squat, whitewashed, with their belfry where silent bells hang.

Near the port, the Panagias Paraportiani church is both the oldest and the strangest. It consists of five chapels built since the 15th century and is topped by a small dome.

The alleys

The labyrinth of alleys, all different but so similar, offers at least the advantage of keeping motor vehicles out of the city. Even bicycles and scooters cannot fit into the narrow alleys.

On the ground, the large white grouted slabs give the feeling of manicured maintenance. The houses are clean, whitewashed with a hint of colour to complement the bougainvillea. Stone staircases lead to the upper floors from the outside.

The shops

It would be a shame not to take advantage of the presence of so many wallets and credit cards. So expect a full range of souvenir shops, but also more luxurious shops, such as jewellery shops or art galleries.

If not to buy, it will entertain the eyes, especially when the evenings get longer as the weather gets milder.

The restaurants

Given the quality of the clientele, there are many high end restaurants to sublimate the Greek cuisine or bring the best of the world’s flavours.

But there are also tables in the shady streets and inviting terraces to enjoy the moment, with the sea as a panorama. The evenings can also go on until dawn, some come for that.

The Port

In the past, fishing and trade made the inhabitants’ fortune. Today, the old port is too small to accommodate large ferries or cruise ships, and a new port has been built a few blocks away, leaving the quay to walkers. Between the two ports, you can take the Seabus shuttle.

The cruise ships

That day there were three cruise ships in the harbour. All day long the shuttles carried the thousands of extra visitors to the narrow streets of the town. The crowding of the most visited places quickly creates a feeling of illegitimacy on the part of visitors who have paid for their stay locally. The shopkeepers, on the other hand, are satisfied with this influx of consumers.

Mykonos, Greece

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful reading. I agree about the fairytale aspect as there is something rather inexplicable about the success of Mykonos, it could have been the fate of another island, at least the others have retained a greater authenticity.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We only visited by cruise ship in 1984 and spent only 4-5 hours and we did not want to leave. I agree, the cruise ship crowds harsh the mellow on this island and I would not want to stay in such a busy place. It was the same in Cinque Terre with the day trippers as it is with many other places. Everybody wants to see them, but nobody wants to live like a local. Sad. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Overtourism is a common problem in the most beautiful places, but often there is a form of self-regulation on the basis of available accommodation. With 3 cruise ships on the same day preying on an already full small town, the experience is miserable for everyone. At least you got a taste of what Mykonos is like, an interesting place to … know.

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  2. The son of Canadian friends came to stay with us during summer school holidays when he was 16 or so. He got a summer job, met some nice lads and they had a good time. Then they decided to go to Mykonos and he wanted to go too so we had to persuade Mum & Dad that it was safe for him to go, he’d fly back to us before going on to Canada so that he wouldn’t have to carry all his belongings to Greece and then on wards. But he never went back – not for a whole year. He embraced the hedonistic life and all that Mykonos offered a young man in the 70s, especially a young, unsophisticated lad from Canada. His mother never quite forgave me for ‘encouraging her son to give up all he’d been brought up to trust and admire’ but he thanked me, always, for opening his eyes to a new world in which he fitted in better than the one in Calgary. And all I did was tell Mum he’d be OK travelling with the friends he’d made! I never got to Mykonos myself, but I learned a lot about it from a fan!

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    • Nice story, from Calgary to Mykonos, I understand the change! I agree that Education is not only about school, travelling is also a great training for the future, in the end theory and practice are mutually valuable. I hope that this young Canadian lad has learned a useful lesson for the rest of his life, thanks to you.


  3. This post really makes me want to travel. Your pictures of Mykonos are gorgeous. I want to dine in the restaurant that looks to the windmills and visit that fascinating church. Thanks for warming up this snowy February day. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s rainy in Paris, it’s not much better. To get back to the sun, at least virtually, was indeed my goal for the articles in this part of the year. Actually, your comment reminds me that I had dinner on this terrace, with the illuminated mills. For the rest, the sea is a dark and empty theatre at night, but there is the sound of the waves, a relaxing background music.

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  4. What a charming place to visit. The mills are beautiful and it looks like there are some great options to eat out and enjoy the views of the ocean. It’s too bad about all the cruise ships. On one hand it’s great for the businesses, but it can take away from the overall experience and atmosphere.

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