“And why are you here in winter?!”
This seemed to be the pressing question on the mind of every local when they encountered a solo American girl visiting a summertime, romantic getaway destination in late October. In the summer it can be a crowded party town, but by the end of the season the crowds dissipate you have a completely different island, it’s sleepy and silent. Here are my top five reasons I loved Mykonos in the off season.
1. It’s not really “winter”
I’m originally from Pennsylvania and I have memories of wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts under our Halloween costumes because of how cold it can get in Pittsburgh by the end of October. So while this time of year for the Greeks may seem cold, if the sun is shining and there is a beach in front of me, I am one happy lady. You may not be able to spend the whole day prancing around in your bikini, but I encountered some brave swimmers over the week I was there as well as people using the winter wind to their advantage for some kite surfing. If nothing else the beach is a perfect space to sit and read, take a walk or if you’re feeling lazy, a nap.
2. Mykonos is known for its night life, and you’re missing the party
Petros the Pelican thinks it’s OK if you miss the famous late night boozing, believe me you’ll find other things to do.
Almost everyone I spoke to on the island made a comment about now that the season is already over and I’ve missed the apparently amazing night life here on the island. I came to write and relax so that was alright with me. Judging by the looks of some tired faces I encountered early Saturday morning at my hotel, and my experience in Greece so far, I suspect you can still find places to misbehave regardless of the season.
3. Shopping is cheaper! (Ok, so this could be a positive OR a negative)
I heard from friends who have been on the island during peak season that there are dozens of boutique shops throughout the maze that is Mykonos Town but be warned a lot of them are high end and come with tourist price tags. A lot of places also have many of the brands and designers that I can find back in the states and I usually prefer to get more unique items while I’m traveling. The shops I did visit all were having sales and specials for the end of season and several of the places were encouraging me to strike up deals however, my giant red suitcase is already packed to the brim but this was a tempting surprise! If you decide to just window shop the main town of Mykonos is a wonderful place to walk through the labyrinth of little side streets, get lost and explore.
4. It forces you to get off it’s striking beaches and explore a little more
The UNESCO site is a small island 30 minutes from Mykonos by ferry. The legendary birthplace of Apollo sees tons of visitors during the busy season but the Sunday afternoon I went exploring there were only 7 other people on our ferry ride to the ruins, leaving the island virtually all to myself. The site rivals the Acropolis in history, legend and archeological significance and I preferred it over it’s Athenian counterpart. The island was an original settlement space and then it became an ancient metropolitan trading port. It’s sacredness is even more apparent when you meander up to Mount Kynthos which provides for a spectacular view of the island and the surrounding islands that make up the Cyclades.
I’m sure it’s the windiest spot in Greece… you can’t even hear yourself over the wind gusts.
Panagia Tourliani Monastery
Located in a small village close to Chora (main town), Ano Mera is less touristic and worth a trip to check out the 16th century monastery that quietly rests in the corner of town. The monastery is home to a carved wooden piece running the length of the church displaying beautiful Byzantine iconography. I rented a car for two days and poked around the island, checking out some other small towns and beaches besides the more popular spots around Chora and uncovered scenic views of the sea over the quiet rolling landscape.
5. It’s quiet as hell
I’ve spent a lot of time on this current trip touring around, visiting ancient ruins, hiking, going on walking tours, all while working and writing. I’ve been on ferries, planes and buses and I was really ready to stay in one spot, at a nice hotel for a few days, relax and write. It was puzzling to me that people were worried that it was too quiet this time of year when in fact it was exactly what I was looking for. The island was calm and serene and it felt like a little Mediterranean oasis and a welcomed lull in my busy traveling schedule. After all, isn’t the point of a getaway just that, to get away? I walked for hours in the old city alone in my own thoughts (this could be scary) not bothered by anyone. I had a pristine beach all to myself for part of the afternoon, listening to the waves slap the shore, a fresh ocean breeze occasionally hitting my face, it was wonderful.
Most people end up booking their vacation during peak season but I encourage you to look into visiting locations during a shoulder season or an off season time when you can see a different side and what it has to offer away from the predictable and popular.