Though Mykonos is small and can get crowded in the high season, it’s possible to savor the island’s many highlights by lacing up your hiking boots.

Roads and trails lead to and around the enticing main town of Hora, as well as the island’s famous – and not so famous – beaches. You’ll find stretches of solitude amid wildflowers in the spring and early summer. You can even visit a working lighthouse with arresting views of nearby islands.

None of these hikes are long and, since it can get hot here, you’re never far from a taverna or the refreshing waters of a beach. One of the very best hikes is also the best way to see a top sight: the sacred island of Delos, where views, mythology and ancient temples are an unmissable mix that’s only a short boat ride away.

Waterfront and windmills

Best hike for families

1 mile (1.6km) round trip; 2-3 hours; easy

Leave the crowded passages of old-town Hora behind and get some seaside air on this walk, an excellent introduction to Mykonos. Start at white-washed Taxi Square (Plateia Manto Mavrogenous) and follow the harbor-front walk west to the Old Jetty. Walk to the end of the stone redoubt that protects Hora from the open sea, and you’ll see myriad tour boats buzzing amid swanky yachts and ferries bringing new hordes of holidaymakers.

Continue back around the waterfront until you reach Little Venice, the oldest – and most-photographed – part of Hora. You’ll no doubt spend much time getting blissfully lost in the warren of streets within – but for now, pause amidst the bougainvillea at one of the cafes with water views. Suitably restored, head south to the gentle walkway up to the seven windmills, which along with the pelicans, are the symbols of Mykonos. (note: you’ll be part of a crowd if it’s near sunset.) Wander the rocky shoreline before you plunge back into the Hora maelstrom.

Hikers admire the windmills of Mykonos, Greece
An easy hike from Hora lets you get up close to Mykonos’ iconic windmills ©Adrienne Pitts/Lonely Planet

South Coast beaches

Best coastal trail for beaches

4 miles (6.4km) one way; 3–5 hours; moderate

This beautiful walk takes in most of the famous beaches Mykonos is famous for. You can do it in one long swath of sun, sand and hedonism, or in segments between your beaches of choice. Know that in high season you’ll be far from alone, as many others flit on foot from beach to beach to revel in the island’s high-energy vibe.

Start with the wonderful chaos of Ornos Beach, before you head southeast along the narrow cove and up and over the modest, vacation-rental-dotted hill to Psarou Beach, where you’ll find a mannered crowd reading Vogue and The Economist. A few minutes southeast brings you to the long swath of white sand at Platys Gialos. Rent something fun from the excellent water-sports center and cool off in the refreshing Aegean.

Continue along a superb beach walkway to the popular cove at Paranga and take the short detour down the narrow peninsula to immerse yourself in water views. Continue on the coastal trail around the small headlands to Paradise Beach, one of the most famous in all the Mediterranean. Meander the tangle of dirt roads snaking around the next headland to find Super Paradise, home to the island’s most raucous clubs. From here you can catch a small boat (caïque) to the beaches back west or go east to the appealing Agrari and Elia beaches.

Rural Mykonos

Best hike for nature and countryside

4.2 miles (6.8km) round trip; 2–3 hours; easy

Leave the mad jumble of holiday homes behind you on this rural walk through the northeast quadrant of the island. Start at Mykonos Vioma, an organic farm that harks back to a time when islanders harvested food rather than tourists' euros. An old vineyard that once was part of a monastery now produces organic wines and vinegars. The surrounding fields of wildflowers yield honey. 

Follow the narrow dirt road due north past a small reservoir and revel in the symphony of songbirds, a rarity on an island better known for its disco beats. There’s a gentle descent to Fokos Beach, which is never busy but does boast a lovely taverna. It’s then a short jaunt around the headland to equally out-of-the-way Mersini Beach, where the hours can slip right by.

Couple seen from behind watching the sunset in Mykonos, Greece
Beautiful views over the Aegean are your reward for hiking between Mykonos beaches © da-kuk / Getty Images

Armenistis Lighthouse

Best hike for escaping the crowds

3.5 miles (5.6km) one way; 2–3 hours; moderate

You can forget you’re on one of the very most popular Greek islands on this hike, which finishes at a working lighthouse with sublime views.

From Hora, follow the waterfront past Agia Anna Beach, the Old Port and the jumble of the New Port. Then, turn inland and climb the gentle hills, choosing narrow dirt roads that head north. The density of cubic white holiday apartments gradually thins as you leave the harbor behind. From February through June, wildflowers enliven the palette and the hardy Mykonos shrubs are at their greenest.

Look for the glassy tip of the Armenistis Lighthouse to poke onto the horizon as you walk the gravel and dirt roads. You can peer up into the tower from the base of the still-in-use lighthouse, which dates to 1891. From this knoll on the northwest tip of Mykonos, Tinos rises out of the impossibly blue Aegean and seems much closer than its 15km-distance. Return to Hora by different roads for some variety or summon a taxi.

The Terrace of the Lions ruins on Delos island, near Mykonos, Greece
A hike around Delos, just west of Mykonos, takes you past some of the finest monuments from antiquity you’ll find anywhere ©Mila Atkovska/Shutterstock


Best hike for ancient monuments

2.5 miles (4km) round trip; 3 hours; easy

When a hike includes a highlight named the “Grotto of Heracles,” you know you’ll be walking with the ghosts of the ancient Greeks. The island of Delos, just off the west coast of Mykonos, is literally at the center of Greek mythology in the Aegean. Significant archeological sites abound, which you can easily visit on the short boat ride from Hora. 

Everything is easily accessible by foot. A good way to start is on the short but steep trail to the summit of Mt Kynthos (371ft/113m). From this vantage point you’ll have a view across the historical site, and be able to visualize the layout of the many temples, sacred sites and the outline of the former town itself, which flourished in the 3rd century BC.

On the way up the trail, take the route past the multi-story House of Hermes, which was built by the Romans. Keep an eye out for the small cave otherwise known as the Grotto of Heracles, which was an early temple to Apollo. On the way down the rolling, brown hills, follow the trail through the theater, which could seat 6500 spectators. Then, with the image of the site’s layout in your head, explore the wide avenues and winding paths lined with some of the finest monuments from antiquity you’ll find anywhere.

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