Mykonos is often associated with luxury, glitz and glam but there is much more to the island than just a location for wild nightlife. Finding culture in Mykonos isn’t difficult. In Greek mythology, this was the site of a battle between Zeus and the Titans and the resulting dead bodies created the island. Life on the island can be dated back as far as 3,000BC. The Greeks settled here in 11BC, followed by the Romans, the Ottomans and the Venetians, all of whom left their mark on the island. If you resist the siren call of the wild parties, for which Mykonos is famous for, you can have the most wonderful experience discovering the history and culture of the island, whilst the partygoers sleep off their hangovers.
The island has a number of museums and a visit to these will give you an informed view as you explore the island. The Archaeological Museum is the biggest of the island’s museums and houses a collection of artefacts dating from prehistoric times through to the Hellenistic period. Admission is €4 and on national holidays, entry is free. The Folklore Museum has a fascinating collection of domestic items from days gone by, including a nineteenth century bedroom and kitchen. There is also an Agricultural Museum and a Maritime Museum. Entry to all three museums is free.
Churches and Windmills
No one is quite sure how many churches there are on Mykonos, but they are one of the island’s glories. Seek them out for their tranquillity and admire the brilliance of their interiors. The church of Paraportiani is perhaps the most photographed of all Greek churches; its brilliant white exterior truly takes the breath away. The island’s other famous landmarks are the seven beautiful windmills left behind by the Venetians; their sculptural forms dominate the skyline.
The Island of Delos
The island of Delos lies just a short boat ride from Mykonos harbour. The boats leave between nine and twelve and visits are limited to four hours. According to mythology, this was the birthplace of Apollo and as such, it was revered as the most sacred of all Greek islands. An area of profound archaeological significance, this World Heritage site has been uninhabited since the seventh century. Visitors today can see the remains of houses, markets, an amphitheatre, Doric Temples and the iconic Terrace of Lions.
Greek food is some of the healthiest in the world and a great way to get in touch with the culture of the island is to take a cookery course. Not only will you learn how to make local dishes but you’ll also hear the stories behind the food. Mykonos is famous for its meze snacks like Dakos, made with the island’s Kopanisti cheese and Louza, which is a form of sun-dried pork.
Live like a local
Immerse yourself in local culture by living as part of the community, rather than in a hotel. Many locals offer their homes for rent at very reasonable rates – many of which are located in the Cretan mountains with beautiful views of the island beneath it. Surround yourself with the aroma of fresh Mediterranean herbs and spices and get to know the locals – known to be some of the friendliest people in the world!