Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos is known throughout the world for its bars, clubs, amazing nightlife and wild late night beach parties that attract some of the top DJ's in the world!  Yet this is not the side of Mykonos that day trippers on a Mediterranean cruise experience.  For that crowd Mykonos is the chance to relax and soak up the sun on a sandy beach, amble through windy cobblestone streets with camera in hand, or enjoy a meal of the freshest seafood at a restaurant overlooking the sea!

Little Venice is one of the prettiest and most unique parts of Mykonos.  Pastel colored houses with brightly painted balconies practically hang over the water's edge very similar to Venice, hence the name Little Venice.  Supposedly, the town was built as a place for pirates to load and unload their booty and then make a quick getaway! Today, the narrow lanes are lined with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops.

Wandering about, tourists usually come upon the Paraportiani Church, one of the most important sights of Little Venice. The building of this church started in 1425 and was not completed until the 17th century.  It is actually five chapels all in the same complex, but only one is open to visitors.

One of the most recognizable features of Mykonos (next to everything being painted white), would be the windmills that date back to the 17th century. Originally 16 in number, they were used to grind harvested grain by harnessing the wind for power. The five that are beautifully aligned and overlook the Bay of Mykonos are one of the most photographed sights on the island. Today, these unique circular buildings with cone shaped roofs have been restored as homes, shops and a museum.

For those longing for a beach day, there is reliable public bus transportation from Mykonos Town to Paradise Beach.  The bus station is near the windmills (the far side of town from the cruise ship pier). Paradise Beach is a well developed beach with a restaurant/snack bar and plenty of chair and umbrella rentals. If you are traveling with the kids, you should be aware that topless sunbathing is common at Paradise Beach.

Tip: For history lovers, a must-see day trip from Mykonos is a ferry trip to Delos, birthplace of Apollo and the largest city in the world at one point. Its history goes back to 3000 BC, and the remains are in excellent condition. The entire island is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This can be done as a shore excursion or on your own.