Mykonos is a Mediterranean island sizzling with mischief. Second home to the sybaritic gypset who bounce from beach to beach all across the globe, over the years this Cycladean paradise has become synonymous with rosé-fuelled lunches, hedonistic nights and a slew of unmentionables in the intervening hours. No surprise then that it's repeatedly compared to Ibiza - one pitted against the other in a hyperbolic battle of one-upmanship centred around the most expensive bar bill, the longest stretch of unspoilt sand and the most famous A-list devotee.
But to compare Mykonos to Ibiza is to overlook the essence of its charm. Here, Greek mythology seeps from the island's glistening, granite foundations, prevailing northern wind coats your skin like a warm, velvety blanket (making well-groomed hair an impossibility) and the sparse, jagged landscape - barren in some ways, bubbling with opportunity in others - evokes a sense that anything is possible. Mykonos is 33 square miles of relentless parties, sun-kissed bliss, timeless, breeze-blasted beauty. Take your cue from Ibiza and hunt out its hotspots, then kick back and savour this island's uniquely sparkling spirit.
If you like Aguas de Ibiza, go to Myconian Villa Collection
A sprawling, five-star resort that drifts down a hillside above Elia Bay, Myconian Villa Collection is an assortment of varying sized villas and suites, each one head-turningly luxurious. Some villas are large enough to house several families and come with round-the-clock service and swimming pools, but couples will prefer the intimacy of the whitewashed suites, home to panoramic sea view terraces, hot tubs and cloud-like beds designed for dreamy sleeps. If you can drag yourself away from the room, joy awaits around every corner. Start with a champagne breakfast on the terrace then spend morning lingering on monochrome sun-beds round the saltwater infinity pool. Sup on cocktails at the poolside bar, relax with an Elemis treatment at the world-class spa or browse the on-site boutique. Slip off for a siesta mid-afternoon, then at dinnertime savour the culinary creations of star chef Thodoris Kyriakidis, whose Greek-inspired gourmet dishes are near perfect, and taste fabulous on hot, sultry nights. Finally, stagger back to your room in a state of satisfied happiness, jump in the hot tub, then drift off to sleep hyper-aware that tomorrow brings more of the same.
If you like El Chiringuito Es Cavallet, go to Scorpios
Such is its notoriety that mentions of Mykonos and Scorpios now come hand in hand. Adored by celebs and the European jet-set, crowds flock here to eat lobster risotto washed down with eye-wateringly expensive bottles of wine. Afternoons are lazy thanks to Bedouin-inspired decor and raffia-rimmed lampshades gently swaying in the breeze, but as dusk falls the tempo rises and the previous calm makes way for more madcap scenes. Come to dance to tribal drumming and deep-house soundtracked by DJs, but don't be surprised if after just a couple of cocktails your wallet is looking somewhat barren.
If you like Experimental Beach, go to 180º Sunset Bar
No trip to the Med is complete with a psychedelic sunset and in Mykonos 180º Sunset Bar delivers perhaps the most beautiful views around. Looking out across the port from a cobbled rooftop high above Mykonos Town, the final light of day dipping below the horizon in the distance is made all the more glorious by fishermen's boats and super-yachts casting shadows that spin across the water. Reaching it requires a steep, sometimes sweaty trek, but the basil-infused Euphoria cocktail waiting at the end of it makes all the effort worthwhile.
If you like the Fish Shack, go to Kiki's
A family-run, ramshackle hut just off Agios Sistos, Kiki's is a Mykonos institution specialising in no-frills fare. There are no reservations, so queues begin at midday and last well into the afternoon, but the wait's made bearable by the waft of charcoal-grilled cuts and free rosé wine splashed in a plastic cup, on repeat. In the canopied courtyard, tables are haphazardly placed - some with sea views, others dotted around the base of twisted tree roots. Food is fuss-free - think local fish and pork chops served with a range of freshly made salads - but made all the more delicious by the wonderfully authentic vibe. Simple perfection.
If you like Izakaya, go to Utopia
A rising star on the Mykonos dining scene, Utopia is a hotel that's part of the Myconian Group, with a white-hot on-site restaurant (be warned, if flash isn't your thang, this probably isn't for r. Adored by young couples who come to dine alongside top footballers and the international elite, it comes alive at dusk when the specially designed pool sparkles with makeshift fireflies and the music switches up a notch. Sip on fine, crisp champagne (the group is the biggest importer of the sparkly stuff in the whole of Greece, so there's plenty to choose from) served in surprisingly heavy, handblown glass, tuck into a Mediterranean-inspired feast and don't pass up the chance to share a shot of mastika with the manager. Yamas!
If you like Destino, go to Cavo Paradiso
Another alfresco clifftop venue that draws big crowds and even bigger DJs, Cavo Paradiso is Mykonos' most popular clubbing haunt. Action starts in the early hours and continues through till dawn - watching sunrise is a quintessential part of the magic. Tunes come courtesy of internationally renowned talent including Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola and Sven Väth, so unsurprisingly clubbers come from all over the globe for a session here - Ibiza may be the clubbing capital of the world, but it doesn't have anything quite like this.
If you like Ibiza town, go to Chora
Otherwise known as Mykonos town, Chora is a medley of labyrinthine streets lined by highly Instagrammable blue and white buildings dripping with bougainvillea. Pathways twist and curl in all directions so you're never quite sure where you're going, but getting lost is all part of the charm. Come just before dusk when the light is fading and wander among shops and brightly-coloured doorways, or along the harbour till you reach Little Venice and the island's famous set of windmills. In summer, the town is undeniably laden with tourists but take your time to discover the true spirit of Mykonos, which still simmers vividly here.
If you like Punta Galera, go to Kapiri
A stamp-sized cove ringed by ochre-hued rocks, Kapiri sits on Mykonos' wild and rugged west coast. By day, sun-seekers come in search of relative quiet - this is one of the slightly less crowded beaches. By night, people descend to watch the sun disappear, locked in by its mesmerising glow. Low-key Mykonos at its best, raise a simple toast and relish the sound of the crashing waves.
If you like Salinas, go to Paradise Beach
Favoured by those who like their beach served with a hefty side of indulgence, Paradise Beach is where the pleasure seekers come to party. A golden, sandy bay met by gin-clear water, here conversations take place in raised voices and often revolve around where to get the cheapest drinks and where next to continue the party. Bring sun cream and stamina, but leave your book at home.
If you like Formentera, go to Delos
Islanders tired of peak summer crowds hire a boat and makes waves towards Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just a few miles away from the glitz and glamour of Mykonos, but worlds away in spirit. Considered the mythological birthplace of Apollo and the immortals, the island is full of ancient ruins creaking under the weight of the past. Sightseeing crossed off, seek out some of the stunning turquoise coves and in the face of ancient Greek history, let imaginations run wild.
SUITCASE Magazine were guests of www.destinology.co.uk