As someone who runs a blog called The Partying Traveler, I knew that I couldn’t miss Mykonos on my first visit to Greece. The parties here are the stuff of legends, with some of the nightclubs being renowned as some of the best in the world. Despite the pain that I knew it would bring to my wallet, I decided to take my budget backpacker booty over to this sexy Greek island and pray for the best. It was a week spent dancing on tables, swimming in turquoise waters, strolling through dreamy alleyways, and getting stern talking-tos from Tropicana’s bouncers.
It may not be the ideal destination for a backpacker on a budget, but one can definitely enjoy Mykonos without blowing all their money. I mean, you can still get a bottle of Ouzo for 5 euros, so that’s a plus. And hey, walking around the city and getting yo’ pics for the ‘gram is free. Don’t think you should cross this paradise party island off of your bucket list just because you don’t think you can afford. I’ll admit, though, you definitely feel like a peasant walking around in your TJ Maxx outfit while the island’s finest loaf around in Gucci and Chanel.
But let’s get to it.
How to get to Mykonos
Mykonos is the typical first destination that travelers will visit in the Cyclades Islands. By fast ferry, it takes about 2.5 hours to get to Mykonos from Piraeus Port in Athens. I took the slow ferry because it was cheaper, and it took nearly six hours. Totally fine with me. The ferries leave in the morning around 7:30 AM. From downtown Athens, you can hop on the metro, buy a ticket for 1.2 euros, and get off at Piraeus Port. The ferry company I used was Blue Star, but Seajets is a good option for those of you who want to get there faster.
Flights to and from Mykonos can be pretty cheap if you book them far enough in advance. They might actually be cheaper than the ferry if you don’t have bags that need to be checked. If you know your dates a few weeks in advance, you can definitely catch cheap flights to Mykonos. Not just from within Greece either. There are quite a few major European cities that have direct flights to Mykonos. From the airport, you can take the local bus to Fabrika town, or elsewhere on the island.
Oh, and just a heads up, because of COVID, you’ll need to fill out a passenger locator form if you’re heading from mainland Greece to the islands. When I booked my ferry, there was a link to fill it out afterwards, but make sure you do it before you board the boat. You only have to do this for your first stop on the islands, but since Mykonos is most people’s first stop, just wanted to let y’all know. Once you’re on the islands, you don’t need to do this again.
Where to Stay in Mykonos for Backpackers
Mykonos is great because they have accommodation that fits all types of budgets. If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re like me and aren’t exactly looking for lux villas overlooking the ocean. But what if I told you there’s a spot in Mykonos with hostel prices and luxury views?
I stayed at Paraga Beach Hostel located right on the beautiful Paraga Beach. It is literally steps from the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean along one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. As soon as I walked in, it felt like luxury. A vibin’ beach bar with a pool overlooking the Mediterranean will have you feelin’ some type of way after a long ferry ride. Obviously, the rooms weren’t going to be great, but chances are, you won’t even remember getting into bed anyway so you’ll doze off just fine. The prices start at around 20 euros a night for a dorm room, although you can get a private room for around the same price. I actually preferred the dorm rooms since they were more spacious, and helped you meet other travelers to party with.
Right outside the hostel was a bus stop, so you could hop into town whenever you needed for just 1.80 euros. Most of the days were spent swimming in the ocean, drinking cheap booze from the hostel’s mini market, and then making the 5-minute trek over to Tropicana, one of the most fun clubs in Mykonos. Although it was further out from town, Paraga Beach Hostel had everything you needed. The mini mart, a cheap gyro place nearby (Castello’s), poppin’ nightlife, easy access to public transportation, laundry, and of course, the gorgeous Mediterranean at your doorstep.
How To Get Around Mykonos Cheaply
Mykonos isn’t the biggest island, but if you’re the adventurous type, you’re going to want to explore the island. Many people rent scooters, ATVs, or cars to get around the island. However, it can be pretty pricy, especially if you’re a solo traveler and have to cover the entire cost yourself. I was staying at Paraga Beach Hostel which was about a 20 minute drive away from the main tourist center of Mykonos. From here, we would usually take the bus that goes around the island. It came every hour and ran until 11:15 PM. It limited our nightlife options to the neighboring beach clubs, but we had Tropicana, and that’s all we needed.
The tickets only cost 1.80 euros, so a roundtrip to and from town was much cheaper than renting a car or a scooter. It doesn’t go to every part of the island, though, and there are only a few set stops. Renting your own form of transportation gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom, so if the extra cost is worth it for you, then live your best life. Apparently, there are also only about 30 taxis on the entire island of Mykonos. They aren’t a reliable form of transportation, and if you’re going to and from the clubs, you’re likely to be charged a lot of money.
Here is the complete Mykonos bus schedule, last updated for the summer 2021 season. And if you do rent a moped, ATV, or car, make sure to have travel insurance handy. I use SafetyWing which is a combination of travel and health insurance with some incredibly low rates.
The Best Things To Do in Mykonos
I didn’t do too much while I was in Mykonos, but I loved wandering aimlessly through town, catching some gorgeous sunsets, and hopping from beach to beach. There are few places in the world I’d rather nurse a hangover than in the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. Mykonos provided me with plenty of drunken nights and hungover mornings, and I appreciated every moment of it.
Roam Through Fabrika Town
When you think Mykonos, you think of Fabrika. This is the gorgeous central hub of the island where most travelers flock to. It’s where all the winding alleyways, gorgeous white buildings, and colorful doors and balconies and staircases all are. This is home to most of the shopping, dining, and nightlife in Mykonos. I never got tired of roaming around this area. It’s just so picturesque.
Check Out Little Venice
That picture above should give you an idea of why it’s called Little Venice. It is a beautiful stretch of buildings right along the water. This small area is lined with some of the fanciest restaurants and bars in all of Mykonos. Needless to say, it’s quite pricy along this short strip, but around sunset, there is no better place to be.
Catch Sunset from the Windmills
Of course, you can’t go to Mykonos without taking your pics by the iconic windmills. I unironically enjoyed this spot because it was also one of the best places to watch the sunset. Grab a few beers, plop down by the windmills, and watch the sun set over the horizon and set the sky ablaze. Then it’s just a short walk back to town for dinner or more drinks after the immaculate sunset vibes.
Take in the Views from Boni Windmill
A short hike up from the center of town will take you a windmill with a stunning panoramic view of Fabrika and the sea. It is definitely one of the most beautiful views you’ll find on the entire island with minimal effort.
Party It Up at Paraga Beach and Paradise Beach
There are lots of beaches all over Mykonos, but this one was my favorite. This beach and neighboring Paradise Beach are where you’ll find the brunt of the party. I really picked up a day drinking habit in Mykonos, but hey, I was fully in holiday mode after a year and a half of lockdowns. This beach is stunning, and without a doubt, you’ll be ready to party after spending a few hours swimming with Ibiza vibes booming in the background.
Food and Nightlife in Mykonos on a Budget
While backpackers are able to find decently-priced accommodation, eating out and going out can be a little trickier. Greek food is amazing, and it’s hard to deny that Mykonos has some amazing restaurants. Sadly, a meal can easily run you upwards of 30 euros if you want to have a drink or two with dinner. Actually, it’ll probably be way more if that drink is a cocktail. I treated myself to breakfast along the beach one day and dropped 30 euros, assisted with sneaky charges of bread and water that they gave to us that we thought were complimentary. It kinda sucks, but it seems to be a normal thing.
There are plenty of cheap places to grab a quick bite. I found that even in Fabrika town, you could still get gyros for around 3-4 euros. Jimmy’s Gyros is a popular spot with cheap, delicious gyros. It’s open late, so it is the spot to be for late night drunk eats. Or even just sober midday eats! Honestly, they are super filling, and I’d have two veggie pitas a day and usually be pretty full. My other strategy was to just barely eat anything and that way, you save money on food and alcohol since you get drunker faster. But hey, I quickly realized that I’m not in my college days anymore, and that I will have to shell out a little money on real food. Even a cheap meal in Mykonos will run you about 15 euros. If you’re not a foodie, I recommend just going cheap and letting your money go elsewhere. As soon as I left Mykonos and arrived in Paros, I was thrilled that I didn’t eat out often in Mykonos. The price of one meal could get me about 3 in Paros, and the food would usually be just as amazing.
Next up, let’s talk alcohol. So Mykonos was the first time I ever drank Ouzo. And it should have been my last. The hostel mini mart sold small bottles of ouzo for about 6 euros, and two of those were more than enough to get me drunk for the night. By more than enough, I mean I woke up naked on the beach the first night I drank ouzo. We apparently went skinny dipping, but it was still a shock considering I didn’t remember leaving the hostel, nor being at the club for a few hours. You’re looking at 6 euros for the cheapest beer at a bar or club. Ouzo is efficient, and honestly, I quite like it. A lot of people complain about the licorice taste, but I found it goes down easier by itself than most other spirits.
Of course, once I got drunk enough to start buying drinks for everybody, the whole budget thing kind of went out the window. Find your sweet spot with ouzo, and you can have an excellent night without spending hundreds of euros at the bars and clubs. All in all, Mykonos was a roaring good time. Definitely partying traveler-approved. I can only imagine what visiting Mykonos is like when it’s in full swing. Have a shot of ouzo for ya boy.
Buy Me A Beer! – If this post helped you out, show some love and support for the blog and help keep my adventures going by buying me a beer! My adventures are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated, and allows me to keep writing helpful travel guides and creating travel content to help you all travel the world on a budget.