Island hopping in Greece has always been a dream of mine, and today that dream has come true! Our second day of my 7-night Greek and Adriatic cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas brought us to our first port of call: Mykonos, Greece.
Mykonos is an island in the Aegean Sea, halfway between Athens, Greece, and Izmir, Turkey. Known for its party atmosphere, picture-perfect towns, fresh Greek cuisine and turquoise beaches, Mykonos is a must-visit destination for those hoping to experience what makes Greece so special.
I don’t usually have expectations for the ports I visit, but I was quite concerned that Mykonos would feel extremely overrated and overcrowded. After all, it is one of the most popular islands to visit in Greece! As soon as I arrived in Mykonos, however, I realized it was so worth it and loved every second of my time on the island.
Arrival in Mykonos
We sailed to Mykonos around 6:30am. While Mykonos is the name of the island, cruises visit “Mykonos Town”, otherwise known as Chora Town.
Mykonos is a tender port, so small boats take guests from ship to ship. Tender tickets were distributed from 7 am. We received a note in our cabin stating that the peak hour for tenders was to start at 8 am. The idea of queuing to leave didn’t seem appealing, so we had a quick breakfast at the Windjammer and left the ship at 7:35.
The drive to Mykonos only took a few minutes and offered beautiful views of the island’s iconic white buildings on top of the mountain. Because it was so early, Mykonos was relatively empty when we arrived.
Mykonos is a maze of stark white buildings with blue and red windows and doors, making it one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen. You can’t help but walk around the city taking photos and admiring the architecture.
Navigating the narrow streets and getting lost reminded me of Venice, Italy (although it lacks the canals and bridges, of course). You are also bound to encounter many cats calling Mykonos home!
Windmills and views
Mykonos is known as the “Island of the Winds” due to the strong winds that tend to blow across the island. I can attest to that, because it was really windy today in the harbour!
We came across the most famous set of windmills on the island, which offers stunning views of the harbor and town. These windmills were built in the 16th century to grind grain into flour and are now one of the most iconic symbols of the island.
The view from the windmills is stunning, offering panoramic views of the ocean, mountains, city, and cruise ships. Needing a break from walking in the sun all morning, we relaxed on a rock overlooking the harbor to take in the view. We also had a brief photo op, as is mandatory with such amazing scenery.
To note: Go early to see the windmills before the hordes of other tourists arrive. When we visited around 9am we were among the only people there, but when we passed the windmills an hour or two later it was packed!
Time to eat!
At lunchtime, we weren’t expecting to find any sort of “hole in the wall” near the Mykonos cruise port. The main area near the harbor is full of restaurants aimed at tourists, but we were hoping for something more off the beaten track.
We stumbled across Gioras Pastry Cafe, an unassuming bakery tucked away in a side street of Mykonos that was formed in 1420. Yes, 1420! It is the oldest bakery on the island, and it was perhaps the only place I came across all day that seemed to exist without heavy marketing to tourists. Guess you don’t need a lot of marketing when you’ve been in business for 602 years!
Located partly underground, the bakery offers a selection of freshly baked pastries located on baking sheets placed atop a large table. In the boxes of the bakery are smaller candies, from pistachio phyllo desserts to chocolate cookies, almonds and sesame honey.
We ordered spanakopita, a traditional spinach and feta pie, as well as iced cappuccinos and a selection of baklava and cookies. It was absolutely delicious (especially the spanakopita), so much so that we went back for a few seconds!
The bakery workers spoke little English and were very friendly and welcoming, without the pressure you often find in restaurants and tourist businesses. My sister Lauren even called the bakery “the highlight of her day” despite being surrounded by beautiful mountains and oceans all day! It was really so good.
Beach and Gelato Adventures
Full and caffeinated, we continued walking the charming streets of Mykonos with one goal in mind: the beach. There are a few beaches within walking distance of Mykonos town, so taking a taxi or a beach trip isn’t entirely necessary.
We walked along a coastal road to Paralia Megali Ammos, a beach just a 15 minute walk from the town center. With a nice stretch of sand and refreshingly clear water, it was the best lunch break we could have asked for. There were also smaller beaches scattered along the coast, although this seemed to be the most spacious of them all.
When we left the beach and returned to the main part of town, we found that the streets were much more crowded than we had experienced earlier in the day. The crowds were not unmanageable or overwhelming, even with three ships in port.
We walked along the street surrounding the port of Mykonos, which was full of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. There is also a small beach there, but it was really crowded, so I would recommend traveling a little further from the cruise ships if you are interested in a day at the beach.
Gelato was calling our name, so we sat down at DaVinci Gelato for a delicious cup of pistachio ice cream with vaniglia nera (vanilla from Madagascar). It definitely hit the spot and was the perfect treat to enjoy before getting back on board Rhapsody of the Seas.
An evening on board
We got back on board around 3:30 p.m. Crowds (and temperature) on the island grew rapidly as the afternoon progressed, and we felt satisfied with our busy 8 hours in port. Our first stop once back on board was the solarium for a well deserved cooling down session after walking around the harbor all day.
We had another lovely dinner in the main dining room tonight before relaxing outside to watch the boat depart from Mykonos. Although I’m only two days away from this cruise, I can’t believe how amazing the itinerary, weather, food and culture is on this sailing. I’m glad the ports are all close to the main attraction so I don’t have to worry about spending hours in transit from the port to reach towns or landmarks.
We haven’t done much on board after dinner on this cruise so far. After long days in port, all we wanted to do in the evening was relax on the pool deck and watch the world go by. That’s exactly what we did tonight!
Tomorrow we are in our second port of call: Chania, Crete. Known as “Little Venice”, I can’t wait to see what another day in Greece has in store.