Don’t let the crowds put you off exploring MÝKONOS TOWN, the quintessential image of the Cyclades. In summer most people head out to the beaches during the day, so early morning or late afternoon are the best times to wander the maze of narrow streets. The labyrinthine design was supposed to confuse the pirates who plagued Mýkonos in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and it has the same effect on today’s visitors.
Getting lost in the convoluted streets and alleys is half the fun of Mýkonos, although there are a few places worth seeking out. Coming from the ferry quay you’ll pass the archeological museum (Tues–Sun 9.30am–3pm; €2) on your way into town, which was specially built in 1905 to display artefacts from the cemeteries on Rínia island, opposite Delos. The town also boasts a Maritime museum displaying various nautical artefacts and ship models as well as an 1890 lighthouse lantern re-erected in the back garden (April–Oct Tues–Sun 10.30am–1pm & 6.30–9pm; €4). Next door is Lena’s House (Mon–Sat 4.30–8.30pm; free), a completely restored and furnished merchant home from the turn of the twentieth century. Near the base of the Delos jetty, the Folklore museum (Mon–Sat 4.30–8.30pm; free), housed in an eighteenth-century mansion, crams in a larger-than-usual collection of bric-a-brac, including a basement dedicated to Mýkonos’s maritime past. The museum shares the promontory with Mýkonos’s oldest and best-known church, Paraportianí, a fascinating asymmetrical hodgepodge of four chapels amalgamated into one (and a gay cruising area after dark).
Beyond the church, the shoreline leads to the area known as Little Venice because of the high, arcaded Venetian houses built right up to the water’s edge on its southwest side. Together with the adjoining Alefkándhra district, this is a dense area packed with art galleries, trendy bars, shops and clubs. Beyond Little Venice, the famous windmills look over the area, renovated and ripe for photo opportunities.