“Dear Lord get me out of Athens”
After the airline lost my bag, and we spent our days exploring the hot, empty streets, I was really wishing I had done some research on when NOT to visit Athens (FYI: July/August). Where were all the people? They were on vacation in the islands because Athens is too damn hot in the city! Duh.
You could go somewhere less touristy and get your private relaxation in, but I went to the most touristy of all: Mykonos and Santorini. There was a small stop in Corfu, which is a little less full of backpackers, but I never made it out of the Pink Palace.
Some will tell you to skip these islands because they are overly packed. Although the crowds may be true, it’s the same story at the Vatican, Interlaken, or Koh Phi Phi, so make sure you go with realistic expectations to avoid disappointment. Regardless of reputation, I hope you experience these places if you have the chance. Just because everyone else is too doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You don’t have to go against the grain all the time. Give in and be a part of the photo-snapping, fanny pack wearing crowds! It is worth it.
Almost everywhere that is “just too touristy” has a place where you can get away from it. I should know-living in busy Anjuna, Goa- the hippie backpackers dream location. There are ways to “get away from Goa” and similarly, we found ways to get away in Mykonos.
Mykonos Backpacking Tips
Getting to Mykonos Island
After getting ripped off by a mean taxi driver (only because we missed our bus… could anything go right in Athens?) on our way to the Piraeus port in Athens, we took our ferry at 9:30 to Mykonos. The ticket was purchased from an Athens tour agent for 70 euros. On the ferry we played cards and drank mass amounts with Greek guys being shipped off for their year of Army. One particular hottie fed us his grandma’s spinach feta wraps. Not bad!
We got in at 3 in the morning. Now, I think you may have noticed I am extremely responsible traveler… So of course we didn’t book a hotel. We did what anyone would do: Find a club and stay up all night. The bars are open to at least 6 AM here. The plan wasn’t half bad except the bouncer didn’t want to keep our backpacks (although he did offer to leave right then and take us home and to Paradise Club). Some nice English backpackers saved the day, offering us an extra bed at their place so we crashed there and got to our hotel the next day.
a small empty cove on the walk to Paraside Beach
Platys Gialos Beach
We stayed at Esmerides Apartments for 40 euro/night. The place was huge, private, and there were no other guests while we were there. We cooked pasta one night in the apartment, which always helps the budget. Just a few minutes walk down to Platys Gialos Beach, it was also conveniently located.
We also took the long walk (1 hr if you walk slow-ish and don’t stop) to the most crowded beach of all: Paradise Beach. You can also choose to take a boat for around 5 Euro.
Our guesthouse for the duration of our stay.
For me, the walk to Paradise Beach was better than the destination. You’ll pass 3 smaller beaches, each one inviting you to stay a little longer to swim in it’s turquoise water. By the time we got to paradise beach we were tired from our hike, and headed back.
Hike to Paradise Beach Photos
Mykonos City Center
In the evening, we took the local bus into the city center. There are only 10,000 locals on the island. The city center is perfect by night, and a little less so during the day. Maybe it was just the heat getting me down.
Everyone eats dinner so late here (I don’t think I”ll ever get used to European dinner times, I am hungry by 5!), that the parties don’t start until well after midnight. That gave us plenty of time to ride four-wheelers with someone I’ll call Kostas- it’s common enough, right?- and hitchhike around the island on a speedboat.
Make sure you pack your bikini, towel, a breezy maxi dress, sunglasses, and a sarong.
For the nightlife, any club dress will do! The local girls were dressed pretty scandalous. Or you can party on the beach in your sarong.
I got extra sunburned here, so make sure you have on sunblock.
There were quiet beaches, so take a book with you to the beach; it’s not all parties! You can check out some as well.
It really is a cute little town, but the shopping is actually overpriced cheap clothes OR way, WAY overpriced gorgeous clothes. I did find a handmade necklace for 30 euro that I love. The whole island is incredibly expensive and it will destroy your budget if you’re not careful.
The club entries are over 30 euro and booze isn’t any cheaper. For that reason, we skipped the clubs and hit up local bars. Luckily, we got to make up for that in Santorini. All the restaurants have a great view and they charge what that’s worth. A lot. I would wait to go to Mykonos when you have a little room to wiggle, but it is definitely doable on a backpacker’s budget!
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