Experience the Best of Mykonos: A Sustainable Travel Guide
Updated: 5 days ago
From luxury vegan hotels to eco-boutiques and sailing excursions with the best views of the shimmering Aegean Sea — here’s our guide to an unforgettable trip to Mykonos!
The Greek island of Mykonos is a glimmering isle teeming with beautiful beaches, shimmering seas, and rich history and culture. Renowned for both breathtaking ancient ruins and monuments, as well as vivacious nightlife, there’s plenty to do for every type of visitor.
In keeping up with the times, Mykonos is leading the country's growing sustainable tourism sector with Greece's first fully-vegan hotel, a plant-based restaurant in the old town serving up Greek classics, and activities aimed at ensuring visitors understand the importance of preserving at protecting the natural resources of this gem of the Aegean.
Koukoumi Vegan Hotel
In May of 2022, we had the pleasure of staying at Koukoumi Vegan Hotel, located in the island's central town of Ano Mera.
This 4-star hotel was the first 100% vegan hotel in Greece, offering delicious vegan cuisine, as well as furnishing the entire hotel in certified vegan products and toiletries. Opened in summer of 2020, Koukoumi combines luxury with traditional Myconian style to create a truly amazing experience for all guests!
Upon arriving at the hotel, we were welcomed with non-alcoholic drinks and shown to our suite on the top floor. The rooms at Koukoumi are designed for maximum comfort and relaxation, with organic cotton bedding, minimalist decor, and all-natural, vegan, and cruelty-free toiletries by Greek brand Korres!
Mykonos is one of a cluster of 33 islands and islets known as the Cyclades. Derived from the Greek word "ciclos" which means "circle", the Cycladic islands form a circle around Mykonos's neighbouring island Delos, which was the sacred island of the Greek god Apollo.
The Cyclades are also known for incredibly strong, seasonal winds that sweep the island from May to October, with Mykonos being no exception. Caused by a difference in atmospheric pressure from the Balkans north of Greece and Africa to the South, the wind (known as Meltemi) can feel cold early on in the year, but is also beneficial for residents and visitors alike, offering cooler air even during scorching summer heatwaves.
At Koukoumi, and across hotels and homes scattered around the island, thick walls finished with limestone are constructed to offer respite from the strong winds and sun year-round.
In addition to the comfortable rooms, Koukoumi also offers a fully equipped gym and spa on the basement level. Ben was able to enjoy a workout in the gym, featuring top-of-the-line equipment and vegan leather benches, while Ciara decided to treat herself to a luxurious facial at the spa.
Koukoumi Vegan Restaurant
One of the highlights of our stay at Koukoumi was undoubtedly the food! Headed by Chef Aggeliki Charami and her team, Koukoumi Vegan Restaurant's completely plant-based and artisanal dishes are available to both guests and locals alike. Read on only if you want your stomach to rumble.
Every morning, the breakfast buffet would be a surprise with pastries, homemade marmalades, and even eggless quiches. Plus a la carte items such as vegan scrambled eggs, delicious vegan pancakes, and french toast! The lunch menu featured Greek classics like souvlaki and Koukoumi's signature olive burger, as well as rice paper wraps, pizzas, and pasta.
The dinner menu was the most expansive, featuring vegan sushi rolls, specialty items like vegan scallops, and breathtaking desserts like pistachio ice cream, chocolate lava cake, and a Japanese cherry blossom tree made from candy floss!
Pursuing only the best quality, but while also ensuring sustainability remains at the forefront of everything they do, Koukoumi uses local ingredients and suppliers, while also growing their own herbs and micro-greens, employing fermentation methods, and decorating dishes with edible garnishes made from food scraps to minimise food waste. Additionally, the components of their dishes are prepped in advance and any unused leftovers are used in later dishes.
On the day of our visit, the team walked us through the process of making four of their bestselling dishes, including vegan scallops with "caviar," a 72-hour smoked tempeh with 24K gold leaf, mushroom and truffle risotto, and Greek souvlaki — all of which are favourites of Chef Aggeliki!
Our stay at Koukoumi Vegan Hotel was incredible! Combining luxury, sustainability, and delicious vegan cuisine in one truly amazing experience. The expertise, care, and kindness of the staff is nearly unmatched at Koukoumi, too. Whether you're staying for only a night or two, or want to come by to taste their flawless cuisine, Koukoumi was an experience neither of us will ever forget.
Located just a short 20-minute drive or ATV ride from Koukoumi and the town of Ano Mera, Mykonos Town is the hub of all activity on the island. This vibrant destination is the perfect place to shop, sightsee, savour local cuisine, and stock up on authentic Greek specialties!
However, what many travellers may not realise is that it is also easy to be environmentally conscious in this small, traditional town. Nestled among the winding streets of Mykonos Town, not far from the iconic windmills, are two hidden gems that are making a significant contribution to reducing the island's ecological footprint.
Humano is a boutique (located here!) that specialises in zero-waste and organic products crafted from eco materials including hemp, cotton, bamboo, coconut, and more. With essential items like bamboo toothbrushes and reusable makeup-remover pads, and unique, locally-made creations like candles poured in coconuts, cork luggage tags, and bags crafted from up-cycled windsurfing sails. Beyond simply respecting the environment, Humano's sustainability mission also involves showing respect for society and mankind itself.
Just around the corner lies Mother Earth Restaurant, the sole fully vegetarian and vegan eatery in Mykonos Town. Specialising in vegan versions of Greek delicacies such as Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Moussaka, tzatziki, fresh pita, risottos, Greek salad, and gyros — as well as burgers, pizzas, and pasta--this restaurant has something for every palate and price range!
There’s also an authenticity to their dishes that can be difficult to find elsewhere in our experience. Whether you're looking for a sit-down, multi-course dinner or a quick bite in the shade, we highly recommend Mother Earth Restaurant!
If you're on a budget or are simply staying in apartment-style lodgings or searching for a mid-day snack, Proton Delos Market is an excellent market choice located near Mykonos Town. This small supermarket offers packaged goods and locally sourced produce, as well as the opportunity to shop for grains, beans, and legumes in bulk and without plastic packaging.
For an unforgettable day of sightseeing and adventure at sea, there is no better way to enjoy the stunning coastline of Mykonos than by joining a tour operator like Mykonos Sailing. Based at Ornos Beach, Mykonos Sailing offers a range of excursions lasting from three hours to four days, sailing around Mykonos and the surrounding islands.
During our five-hour journey aboard a stunning catamaran, we had the pleasure of sailing along the sacred, uninhabited UNESCO world heritage island of Delos, which Mykonos protects and cares for. As we sailed by, our knowledgeable guides informed us about the island's reputation as the "largest open-air museum" in the world, with remnants and ruins from its days as the most prominent trading post in the Western world (circa 800 BC) .
Located at the geographical centre of the Aegean Sea, Delos is a must-see site that can be explored either by sailing around it as we did or booking to spend a few hours immersing oneself in its incredible history. Due to its religious and cultural significance, only certified guides and their tour groups are permitted on the island at set times.
Heading further west, we stopped for a swim in a cove of the island of Rinia, and feasted on a traditional Greek meal cooked onboard. We even had the rare opportunity to spot wild dolphins in their natural habitat! While the water in May can be quite chilly, it feels refreshing under the hot sun and provides a welcome break from the heat. The food prepared by the crew was delicious as well, with vegetable risotto and a veganised Greek salad for us being the perfect meal to enjoy before watching the sunset with our new friends on board.
Do Your Part Everywhere You Go
As travellers, we have the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world. It was no different here in Mykonos, where we were struck by the breathtaking beaches and coves that dotted the island. We visited Kalafati and Lia Beach and were awe-struck by the views of nearby Naxos. However, we were also saddened and frustrated to see the overwhelming amount of trash and plastic that had washed up on these beaches.
In just a few minutes, we were able to fill multiple bags with discarded plastic bottles, coffee cups, plastic wrappers and labels, and single-use face masks. Even the bags themselves that we used to collect the trash were ones that we had fished out of the ocean. It was a stark reminder of the impact that humans are having on even the most isolated and beautiful parts of the planet.
We all have the power to make a positive impact on the places we visit! One simple but impactful way to do this is to pick up trash when we see it. It can be as simple as grabbing a few pieces of litter while walking down the street or going for a hike. If you're at the beach, make it a game! Who can pick up the most trash in 15 minutes? Then dispose of it in the next big bin you can find.
Additionally, we can make conscious choices about the products we consume while traveling. In places like Mykonos, where tap water is not safe to drink, it's important to choose drinks that can be recycled, like cans or glass bottles, whenever possible. If plastic is the only option, be sure to find a place to recycle it rather than leave it behind! We even brought some of the plastic bottles we used back to the UK with us to be recycled. By taking small steps like these, we can all help to protect and preserve the natural areas that make travel and our world in general so special. Let's work together to keep our planet clean and healthy for future generations to come.
The island of Mykonos may only cover an area of 86 square kilometres, but it is packed with a variety of historical attractions and points of interest. One of our favourites was the Armenistis Lighthouse, located at the northernmost tip of the island. Although the lighthouse is no longer operational, it offers a stunning viewpoint that overlooks Mykonos Town, its ports, and the island of Tinos in the distance. Visitors to the lighthouse need not worry about arranging transport, as tour buses make the journey from Mykonos Town several times a day!
For those seeking to experience the pinnacle of Greece, Mykonos is a must-visit! Whether you desire leisure, adventure — or a combination thereof — this magical island has something to satisfy every traveler! We hope that this travel guide has proved useful in the creation of your trip and that you have a memorable and eco-friendly experience on the isle of Mykonos!