Popular Mykonos Shore Excursions

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# 12 of 14 Mykonos Shore Excursions
Culinary Tour
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# 12 of 14 Mykonos Shore Excursions

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If you don't take a formal walking tour, you can easily hit any or all of these attractions on your own, using a map you can pick up before you leave your ship.

Hora is overlooked by the famous white Venetian windmills (Kato Myli), which might be the first thing passengers see when cruise ships approach the harbor. Built by the Venetians in the 16th century, they were used to grind wheat until the early 20th century. Some have been restored and all of them are popular subjects for photographers and artists. You can climb the hill to the windmills for a close look -- or take your photos from the harbor with a zoom lens.

Located near the main harbor entrance in the Kastro (castle) area, the oldest part of town, the Byzantine church Panagia Paraportiani is the oldest in Mykonos -- and perhaps the most photographed church in Greece. Dating to 1475, it's really a group of five smaller churches, which were constructed over a period of time and completed in the 17th century. Hours fluctuate, but it might be open in the morning. Admission is free (do not enter during services), but donations are appreciated.

Near the church and located in an 18th-century building is the Mykonian Folklore Museum, displaying period furniture (most from the 19th century) that shows how middle-class residents lived. Also here: tools, weapons, lighting devices, tapestries, ceramics, photographs and related artifacts. (Open 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays from April to October; admission free, but donations appreciated)

Facing the old harbor is the Archaeological Museum, which houses collections from various excavations. These include funerary statues and grave stelae, pottery, clay figurines, jewelry and small objects -- all dating from the second and first centuries B.C. Of special interest is a large relief from the seventh century B.C., decorated with scenes from the capture of Troy: the descent of Greeks from the wooden horse and warriors attacking women and children. (Open 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday; admission 3 euros, free on Sunday)

Photogenic Little Venice, located where the westernmost part of town meets the sea, is so named for the medieval houses with balconies that overhang the water. Pirates frequented Mykonos during the 16th and 17th century, and it's believed that they loaded and unloaded their booty in this area. Today, you'll find boutiques, restaurants and cafes. If time permits, grab a table at Katerina's (Agion Anargyron 8; 22890/23084; open 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. from March to November), which has two levels, and nurse a cocktail while you watch the sunset.

While you're in Little Venice, you have a good chance of seeing Petros Pelican, the Mykonos mascot. The first Petros was rescued after a storm in 1954 and lived on the island for more than 30 years. When he died, the loss was felt so deeply that a replacement was soon found -- and a tradition was established.

Visitors interested in Greek history, mythology and archeology should head to nearby Delos, the spiritual and geographic center of the Cyclades island chain. Considered a holy place for thousands of years, Greek mythology holds that the island is the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis, offspring of Zeus. The 1.5-square-mile island contains countless ruins and an impressive archeological museum. Remember to bring your water -- the dry, rocky island can become brutally hot in the summer.

The Aegean Maritime Museum, located in the center of town in the area known as Tria Pigadia (Three Wells), was home to famous sea captain Nikolaos Sourmelis. Exhibits include models of ships from the pre-Minoan period to the early 20th century, navigational equipment, maps, a collection of ancient rare coins with nautical subjects and thousands of rare books. In the garden are reproductions of ancient gravestones from Delos and Mykonos related to shipwrecks and sailors lost at sea. (Open 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday; admission 3 Euros)

The famous Tria Pigadia, the three wells for which the area is named, are located near the museum. According to legend, if a virgin drinks from all three, she will find a husband; a more recent story says that if a visitor drinks from the wells, he or she will return. (Please do not test the truth of these tales.)

If you'd like to see more than Hora -- and religious sites in particular -- you can take the bus from the north station to the picturesque village of Ano Mera, only four miles away. In the town square is the 16th-century Monastery of Panagia Tourliani, which houses Cretan icons, an Italian baroque altar screen, fine Byzantine wood carvings and a small museum of ecclesiastical objects. Nearby are tavernas and souvenir shops.

So you've done the trip to Delos, the guided walking tour and the scenic island drive and the Ano Mera Monastery. How about a two-hour horseback ride on Fokos Beach to the north? It costs about 65 euros and may be arranged through the ship or with a local tour operator.

The waters of Mykonos are rich with sea life (and a couple of shipwrecks). Several dive centers -- at Paradise beach, Psarou beach and Kalafatis -- offer training for beginners and excursions for certified divers. For a more relaxing way to view marine life, the Discovery glassbottom yacht offers a choice of excursions starting at 45 euros.

Beaches

The beaches on Mykonos are among the best in Greece, and there is one for every taste. Several are gay friendly and clothing optional.

Best for Families: Though it's one of the busier beaches, Platis Gialos is a good choice for families. It doesn't attract nude sunbathers or a party crowd. In addition to the usual sunbeds and umbrellas, there are water sports facilities, restaurants and bars and a mini-mart for inexpensive snacks and other sundries.

Also a good choice for families is Ornos beach, which is fully developed with plenty of umbrellas and sunbeds, bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as shops, markets and a pharmacy.

Still another possibility, though it has fewer facilities, is the Agios Ioannis beach, also known as the "Shirley Valentine" beach for the 1980s English film that was shot here. The water at the beachfront is shallow enough for children to play. Umbrellas and sunbeds are available for rent and a few taverns can supply lunch. Bonus: Nice view of Delos.

Best for Parties: Just check the Facebook photos for Paradise beach and you'll get the picture of a young, multicultural crowd that parties day and night, fueled by alcohol and loud music. The Tropicana Beach Bar kicks the vibe up even higher.

Best for Gay Visitors: Beautiful Super Paradise could be described as the most "anything goes" beach on Mykonos. Though it long has been a favorite with gay travelers and fans of "clothing optional," now it attracts anyone and everyone who loves to party. There's a restaurant, disco bar and pool to keep the energy way, way up. Elia, the island's longest, perhaps cleanest and relatively quiet beach is popular with nude sunbathers, both gay and straight.

Best for Celebrity Watching: OK, most celebrities spotted on Psarou beach are likely to be recognized only by Greeks, because they tend to be high-powered business and financial folks. However, the beach is the island's poshest, as reflected by the cost of renting a sunbed and umbrella -- 25 euros per person in high season (15 euros in low), about twice the cost of such rentals on other beaches.

What you get is a clean sandy beach with crystal clear water (with possibly a yacht or two in sight), several taverns and restaurants, including the trendy and expensive Nammos restaurant and bar. The menu includes refined Greek dishes, grilled meat and fish and pastas, but the place can get crowded (the service, spotty) in high season.

If your wardrobe is short on Armani, the Luisa Beach boutique there can help. The spa can provide a soothing massage.

The diving school serves both beginners and experts.

Best for Peace and Quiet: Though there can be no guarantees in high season, Lia is the least developed beach and the farthest away from town, so you'll need a taxi to get there -- or you can walk from Kalafatis. The sand is coarse, but the atmosphere is relaxed, and there are umbrellas and sunbeds. For refreshments: a fish tavern and a coffee house.

Best for Active Types: Waves and winds make Kalafatis a windsurfer's paradise. You can rent what you need; jet skis are also available. Kalafatis also has a dive center. Along with a couple of taverns, the Thalassa restaurant (part of the Aphrodite Hotel) offers food and drink.