Bougie, budget, or both? Mykonos has a reputation for being expensive. Not $$ expensive… more like $$$$$ expensive! I’m here to report that it’s… mostly true 😦 Mykonos CAN be very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are lavish ways to experience it, but there are more frugal ways too! Read on for bougie vs. budget Mykonos: beaches, food and drink, gay bars, and getting around!
If you’re going to Mykonos, there’s no doubt you’ll want to hit up some of the beaches! On our two-night stay, we had time for one beach day, and chose to go to Super Paradise because it’s right next to Jackie O’s (gay) Beach Club.
Bougie: Rent a set of beach chairs, order a pitcher of sangria and a plate of food, live the life of luxury! According to the internet, prices can vary wildly for beach chairs, depending on when and where you go. I’ll admit I was super naive: after our time on Kos, I knew Mykonos would be a bit more expensive, but foolishly hoped that we wouldn’t have to pay more than 10€. Bahahah! Our first quote was 55€ for two “front row” chairs, 50€ for the next two rows, or 40€ for the rest! Yikes. We settled on a pair at the other end of the beach (by Jackie O’s) for 35€ – a bargain if you ask me! For this price, you get a guaranteed patch of shade on a golden Medditerranean beach, and comfy chairs to lounge/dry off on for the day. A pitcher of sangria will set you back 35€, a burger 20€, a plate of calamari 17€. Phew – these prices stressed me out!
Budget: Find yourself a patch of sand, set up your towel, BYO shade if you can. BYO beer and snacks! This option works if you’re not planning to be there for long, don’t mind moving around a bit, or if you have a good way to stay shady. You could also try going early morning and snagging a chair before the crowds arrive and you get kicked off.
In between: Get a chair and BYO everything else. We tried this but felt kind of awkward with people aggressively providing service… so we ordered Sangria and then refilled our glasses “subtly” with our backpack beer.
Bougie: Eat at sit down restaurants, order food at the beach (see above). We shelled out one night for one of the many waterfront restaurants by the beach/Seabus port in town, which cost about 20€ each for big souvlaki plates and Mythos beer. Not bad for the location and a prime sunset view!
Budget: Gyros, bakeries, and the corner market! Gyros are cheap no matter where you are, it seems. One of the best gyros places on the island, Sakis, was a 30 second walk from our guesthouse, so yes, we got take out a LOT. Gyros ranged from 3-4€ at the places we ate at. Little cafe/bakeries all around town offer delicious, budget options for breakfast, lunch, or snacks. Spanakopita, freddo cappucinos (iced coffees), and a sweet treat set us back about 9€ (total) one morning. The corner stores are great options for beer and snacks – everything from chips to dolmades to apples!
Bougie: Hotel prices were almost as crazy on Mykonos as on Santorini in high season, and availability is low if you wait to book. We booked early and I’d say we got an ‘in between’-type place; at Eleanna’s we had a room right in town in a classic, whitewashed building, with a balcony and bathroom that we shared with one other room. Prices vary drastically by season; just playing with dates at the same hotel on discount websites, I can see that the same room costs about 60 CAD in April, $150 in June, and over $200 with a minimum two-night stay in August. That said, a hostel like this one, the Mycocoon – though quite beautiful for a hostel – will also set you back 144€ per night in August! So like it or not, during high season on Mykonos, many no- or low-frills options will be pricey.
Budget: See above re: hostels in town, but there are a couple of beach “camping” spots that have decent prices. Paradise Beach offers cheaper options for bungalows, cabins (fan only – sweaty!), or actual camping, should you have a tent (sweat sweat sweat). Keep in mind you’d be 5 km from town (bus available). Paraga Beach also has bungalows, cubes, “tent” rentals with similar prices, as well as dorms for quite cheap. It’s also about 5km from town, on the bus route, and water taxis operate between beaches.
Overall, our experience as lesbians/women/people who aren’t that fancy at gay bars on Mykonos wasn’t great. It wasn’t really horrible or anything, but we didn’t feel a friendly, welcoming vibe as a lesbian couple, and just kind of got pushed around by big, sweaty, dancing dudes. I knew the scene there was predominantly gay male, but it was the first time I felt like it was kind of exclusive… for a certain type of gay male + their elegant female friends. As much as Mykonos is known for its gay scene, it didn’t really feel queer. That said, we felt totally safe and comfortable being a visible couple on the island.
Budget: Get pre-drunk on booze from the corner store; the clubs won’t be hopping until late! Go out to one of the gay bars in town, like Jackie O’s Town Bar, so that you don’t have to pay for transportation. No cover and potential drag shows!
Bougie: hang out all day at a poolside or beach bar. We went to Elysium Sunset Bar (a gay hotel/bar with nightly drag shows) for a dip and to hang out on their funky poolside furniture with a killer view of the town and the sea. Towels cost 5€. Their cocktails (“cock”-tales) were delicious, but started around 19€! We splurged, not realizing that most purchases that weekend would feel like a splurge!
The view from Jackie O’s Beach Club at Super Paradise beach is worth climbing the stairs up the cliff for! In late afternoon, the place was pretty packed with a fun, dancey vibe. Extra $ to sit by the pool. A couple beers won’t set you back too much, but they will cost more than you’d expect!
I dunno. If you know what to expect, and you’re coming to party and spend money, and/or you’re a gay man, you’ll probably have a blast gay clubbing/bar-ing on Mykonos. If not, hit one up for the experience, but otherwise consider just drinking while gay!
Bougie: Rent a car. Not really that bougie and it’ll give you a lot more freedom and the ability to see much more of the island. ATVs are popular on lots of islands too, and Mykonos is no exception.
Budget: No need for a car if you stay in Mykonos town/Chora. Chora is mostly car-free, with those characteristic cycladic giraffe-spotted alleyways winding past whitewashed buildings, with blue shutters, red dome roofs and bougainvilla spilling over the sides… you get the picture. The town is a free attraction; getting lost in it is a free experience. While I was looking forward to Mykonos for it’s beaches and gay parties, the town is what really blew me away. A bit of a tangent, but in relation to transportation: it’s easy to walk to the port, Little Venice and the windmills, shops, many of the gay bars, and bus stops. The bus to Super Paradise beach cost 9€ round trip; here’s more information about the KTEL bus network.
Getting to town:
If you arrive by ferry, you’ll be coming into the New Port, which is about 5 km from Mykonos town.
Bougie/Budget: I’d argue that the best option here is to take the Sea Bus (2€), a 10 minute ferry ride which takes you right into town, with a stop at the Old Port. You can buy your ticket at the visibly-marked booth right as you get off the ferry. You may wait a few minutes for the boat, but your alternatives are walking >30 minutes uphill in the hot sun, or forking over probably a lot more money for a taxi ride that won’t save you much time, and may be difficult to find. Most cruise shuttles stop at the Old Port, which is a 10 minute walk to the centre of town.
So… Bougie or Budget?
I think a lot of people choose Mykonos to experience a little bit of luxury, but if you want to, you can absolutely visit on a budget. This Cycladic piece of paradise (yup all cliches apply) is about so much more than the nightlife it’s known for. We had fun getting a bit bougie, but if I went back I’d probably opt to skip the bars and beach chairs (save the cock-tales for another island), and just enjoy the town and beaches with BYO drinks and snacks!
* We were there in August, which is probably the priciest time to go. If you’re there in shoulder or low season, it’s likely that prices will look very different.