We arrived by boat. The azure waves crashed in the distance against another sea, a sea of white houses stacked up as far as the eye could see. These small white cubes looked like perfectly shaped cakes covered in royal icing. And I was eager for a slice.
We touched land at Hora, the capital of Mykonos island, on the west coast. The name Hora is commonly used for the capitals of many of the other islands, since the word also means town in Greek. So it makes sense that the place is commonly referred to simply as Mykonos Town.
When you think of Mykonos you probably think of parties at Lindsay Lohan’s beach bar and the like, but the island is so much more than that. Sure, Hora is bustling with clubs at nighttime, but in the morning, and for much of the day, the town is washed over by a serene atmosphere.
"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." - Pericles
While tourists flood the typical attractions, like the Windmills of Kato Mili, it’s easy to get lost in the maze of narrow alleyways between the white buildings and find quiet spots all to yourself.
Hora is also the home to many cultural gems, like the Aegean Maritime Museum, which harbors one of the largest lighthouses in the mediterranean. There are also countless orthodox churches with their blue domes. One of the most iconic is the church of Agios Nikolaos, the first one we noticed upon arriving at Hora’s port.
As with many of the Cycladic islands, Mykonos is known for its bright white houses splashed with blue details. But how did this unique trend start? There are many stories about how it came about, but these are a few I heard while I was there:
It’s believed the iconic blue and white pairing started due to the strong heat of summer on the islands. White reflects the sunlight and keep the houses cool inside. Back in those days, there was no mass production of paint, so people would use asbestos as the basis to create the white color. Later on, during the dictatorship, painting the houses white and blue became a law to show patriotism and support for the government.
I also heard a story from a local in Santorini that the trend started when the Ottoman Empire ruled over Greece. The foreign empire would not allow Greece to rise their own flag so they started painting the houses in the flags white and blue colors as a sign of rebellion and patriotic pride.
While many people have also started differentiating their own home by painting the trimmings in different colors, like green and red, today the white and blue houses have become a symbol for Greece, recognized all around the world.
I spend half of my day in Mykonos exploring Hora and the other half laying on the beach while sipping Mythos, the local beer. We went to Megali Amos, a quiet beach and the perfect spot to relax not far from the town center.
Many people will tell you they prefer Santorini over Mykonos, but for me Mykonos definitely took home the cake.
How to get there?
Multiple ferry services depart daily from Athens and the other islands, including Blue Star Ferries and Hellenic Seaways. Many cruise lines also have Mykonos as one of their main stops during their Mediterranean cruises.
Walking around Hora is easy and allows you to enjoy the most of the location. However, taxi services are also available to take you to different parts of the island. You can also rent a car.