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This summer I went to Mykonos, Greece for the second time, and while it’s still as beautiful as ever, with great food and beaches, I’m sad to report that the luster has worn off — so much so that I actually left a day early. Maybe I’m becoming an old grouch, or maybe it was just a particularly hectic high-season week, but on this last trip I felt like it’s becoming the Cancun of the Mediterranean, with loud, drunk crowds and jam-packed streets.
Here are five things that are making me question whether I want to go back to Mykonos next year:
1. Mykonos is expensive.
If you think you’re going to get a deal because of the Greek crisis, think again. Hotels sell out quickly, so even the crappiest ones can charge obscene rates. At the Kiwi Collection’s Belvedere, where I stayed last year, a Superior Sea View room that costs €165 ($185) a night in late October is €705 ($790) this weekend; the Rochari, on the lower end, starts at €60 ($67) for a single room in the off season, and jumps to €128 ($143) in the summer (July 10-September 11). Points-wise there are few options, and the super-nice SPG resorts — such as the Category 7 Santa Marina, which starts at about €350 ($394) or 30,000 Starpoints per night — have little availability, award or otherwise.
2. Mykonos is crowded.
Mykonos Town (Chora) is word-famously lovely, with winding alleys and whitewashed facades, but it’s stressful as well. Even the tiniest streets are filled with all manner of vehicle and roaming hordes of pedestrians. The roads that look quaint in photographs in reality are loud, fume-filled traffic jams as everyone heads to the beach.
3. Mykonos has some horrible transportation options.
I cracked my smartphone’s screen one day by accident, and wanted to go get it fixed near the airport. The hotel couldn’t get me a taxi, at all, for hours; they kept calling to no avail, and finally just gave me a shrug. I ventured out on my own and tried the bus system, but wow, it was not easy to figure out. For such a touristy town, you’d think they’d make it as simple as possible to cut down on the chaos. Renting a moped or an ATV is an option — if you’re a Formula One driver, that is — and drunk driving seems more like a hobby than a crime here.
4. Everything is an ordeal in Mykonos.
As I said above, taxis are impossible, and getting to the beach — or really anywhere — can be an all-day affair. Then once you do arrive, even if you have reservations, it’s likely that they won’t let you sit down right away … for reasons no one can explain.
Nothing ever seems to be on time, which you start to embrace because it’s the southern Mediterranean, but don’t expect any service — at least without a hassle or even having to “fight” for it. But honestly, that takes the fun out of a vacation for me.
Getting money was also a lengthy process, as there aren’t a ton of ATMs, and when you do find one, it may not have cash — and might not even be plugged in. And while you’d think that a credit card would work in a pinch, a lot of vendors like to be paid in cash, like our boat charter; it was a real time-waster to be running around to multiple ATMs to get the cash needed, and not the way I wanted to spend valuable vacation time.
5. Mykonos can be dangerous.
Now, I know that sounds alarmist, but hear me out. I don’t mean that it’s dangerous in terms of crime (except for the ubiquitous pickpocketing of tourists), but walking around town it seemed like we saw more than a normal number of people banged up, scratched up or in a cast. Also, my friend was almost hit by a car on the main road and jumped onto the sidewalk – except that there wasn’t one, so he fell down a slope of roughly 15 feet. Luckily, he was okay; to me, though, it was just one more way that Mykonos is not a user-friendly town — to say the least.
What do you think? Is the beauty of Mykonos worth battling the drunken crowds and horrific infrastructure? Or should I take some advice for my next trip from TPG Contributor Lori Zaino’s piece on 10 Amazing European Islands You May Not Know About?