- Mykonos is a Greek island, world-famous as a party capital and a popular vacation hotspot for millionaires and billionaires.
- I recently visited to see what the island would be like on both a frugal cheap vacation budget and on a more mid- to high-end vacation budget.
- Visiting during the peak summer months of July and August turned out to be an expensive, exhausting, and crowded experience, with every beach packed, lines out the door of most clubs and bars, and resorts that were hard to book and cost a fortune.
- While the resorts and beaches are gorgeous and the bars and clubs fun and lively, Mykonos feels like poor bang-for-your-buck unless you are a hard-partying clubber or drowning in money.
- There are a lot of less crowded, equally beautiful, and far cheaper Greek islands to visit nearby.
Mykonos is not for the faint of heart.
The island is famous as a glamorous destination for the world’s most wealthy and famous. Come the booming summer months of July and August, the island swells with the A-listers, B-listers, C-listers, and D-listers, along with hundreds of thousands of vacationers, hard-partying dance-music junkies, and cruise-shippers.
While just 33 square miles in size, the sunny and cool island is stuffed with hip boutique hotels, thumping beach clubs, haute couture shops, white sandy beaches, whitewashed alleyways, and swanky restaurants.
If this all sounds a little like Ibiza, I’ll stop you right there: the cool rich kids have moved on. They’re in Mykonos now. If there were any doubts, a look off any bay on Mykonos’ coast reveals waters swamped with freshly scrubbed yachts, superyachts, and mega-yachts.
Over the last several years, the number of international arrivals to Mykonos has nearly doubled.
But where does that leave the rest of the teeming masses that jostle for a spot at Mykonos’ glittering carnival?
For us, visiting Mykonos is a far different experience. The doors that simply open for the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Branson, Bella Hadid, and billionaire Stavros Niarchos III stay closed for mere mortals. A day at a beach club can empty out a savings account, and that’s if you can even score a cabana at all. In the hottest of hot spots, the staff only have time to cater to millionaires and billionaires.
Those were my assumptions before I stepped off the airplane to see what Mykonos is like for regular folks — many of which I found were right by the time I left the island a few days later. Other expectations, I found, were pleasantly incorrect.
Here’s what it was like to visit the world’s hottest party island in the peak of the season:
Gorgeous, glamorous, and luxurious, Mykonos is Greece’s answer to Ibiza.
In the 1950s, the island was barely a blip on the map. But in 1961, first lady Jackie Kennedy visited, setting off the first wave of tourism from the world’s monied and famous.
Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, and Rita Hayworth were just a few of the celebrities to vacation on the island in those days.
In the following decades, the island became known as a legendary underground party spot and a popular vacationing spot for the global LGBT community.
In recent years, tourism to the island has exploded as global partiers and a new generation of celebrities and the ultra-rich discovered the Grecian paradise after moving on from now-passé hot spots like Ibiza and San Tropez.
I arrived on the island one evening in late July, the peak of the peak season.
I was picked up by Michael, the driver for the guest house I would be staying at and a 50-ish “financial refugee” from Athens.
“The thing you have to understand about Mykonos,” Michael said, in a riff that quickly turned Shakespearean, “is that Mykonos is absolutely nothing. There is nothing special about the island. It is a theater stage and you are the stars.”