The cobblestone paved streets of Mykonos Town are truly labyrinthine. Εvery Chora, as the locals call the main towns on all the islands of the Aegean, was built on purpose in a completely chaotic way, a defense against the bloodthirsty pirates of the post-Byzantine era: pillagers would storm the town, invading from the port, only to find themselves lost, confused and ultimately cornered in one of the countless dead-end pathways.
Luckily, nowadays you are no longer in danger. You might even enjoy getting lost, since there are hidden corners of quiet charm, some of them just a block from the hectic main street. Actually, shopping in Mykonos Town can turn into a little adventure of exploration and discovery. There aren’t many street signs or street names to mark your way, just landmarks and one main street. Pretty much everything else can be found using intuition, patience and constant polite requests for directions.
Chora is a consumer’s wonderland, where cute boutiques offer their sophisticated treasures right next to tourist shops filled to the brim with “made in (insert name of any Far East country)” souvenirs. On the other side of the souvenir shop, you’re likely to find a store representing a super-exclusive international brand, or a bakery, or an art gallery, or maybe a ridiculously expensive (even for high-end travelers) jewelry shop, or an entrance to an outlet that sells faucets and doorknobs. What’s even better is that you can simply pretend that you’re not shopping at all, you’re just on a sightseeing stroll on a truly unique, traditional Greek island.
“Chora is a consumer’s wonderland, where cute boutiques offer their sophisticated treasures right next to tourist shops filled to the brim with “made in (insert name of any Far East country)” souvenirs. ”
Of course, the shopping bags will give you away, but there is no need to attract attention. Every venue that caters to a certain level of clientele delivers anything, anytime and anywhere on the island, or even right to your doorstep back home in Moscow, Paris or Shanghai. They do it so efficiently and discreetly, you hardly feel the jackhammer that excavates a crater-sized hole in your bank account. In case you don’t happen to belong to the one percent of the major wealth-holders of the earth, keep reading nonetheless. Mykonos can be a delightful shopping experience, even for those on modest or nearly nonexistent budgets.
After all, you can walk the big spender’s mile without parting with a single cent and still feel rich with the joy of a perfectly beautiful stroll. A great point to start your expedition is the spectacular bay of Little Venice. Catch the colors of the day reflecting from the windows of Parthenis’ boutique, a contemporary popular Greek designer, internationally acclaimed for its bohemian chic resort pieces. Complete your look with a pair of handmade Greek leather sandals at Sandal nearby. A few steps further, locate the Catholic church and behind that, follow Mitropoleos Street, better known as Little Matoyianni. On your right, you will find First Boutique, with interestingly innovative clothes and accessories. Follow the main road, keeping on your left, until you reach Tria Pigadia (Three Wells). If you’re there, you’ve also reached one of the trendiest landmark spots in town. The world-renowned Astra Club is located right behind them.
Make a mental note for later in the night, because frankly, you haven’t really been to Mykonos unless you’ve stopped for a drink, preferably a champagne cocktail, and some wholehearted dancing inside this elegant, timeless, joyful venue. (Insider tip: the staff can also hold your bags if you appear after midnight, all shopped out and reluctant to drop your purchases off back at the villa in case you fall asleep there. Just ask them extra, extra nice. Being young, overshopped and spectacularly beautiful will not hurt your case either.) Just across from the Tria Pigadia, you will find Aghia Varvara, the quintessential orthodox island church. Stop in and light a candle, just to be on the safe side. Since you’re on a shopping adventure, don’t miss the Louis Vuitton boutique here, or Enny Monaco for the most elegant designers, including Alaia and Balmain.
Just after this important landmark, blink and you’ll miss El Pareo. Don’t be misled by the extremely small size of this corner venue. Here is the most eclectic collection of ethnic sarongs, beachwear and accessories. Frankly, if there was only one place you had to choose from all the irresistible shops in town, in order to claim that you really “did” Mykonian shopping, this is it. Ironically, not one thread, bead or piece of straw stocked here is manufactured in Mykonos, Greece or even anywhere in the European continent. The owner, Loukas Doukas, disappears every winter to Africa, South America and the Far East , always coming back with the right goods to reclaim his place as the secret king of the Mykonian look. This says a great deal about the island’s deeply cosmopolitan nature.
“Mykonos can be a delightful shopping experience, even for those on modest or nearly nonexistent budgets.”
- Ergon Mykonos: An art concept store which blends ancient heritage and modern life. Ano Matoyianni, Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.28674
- Melivia: The best collection of high-end resort wear found in the heart of the island’s capital. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.27827
- Collective Resort: Express your style and personality with the most elegant clothing and jewelry. Vilebrequin, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Links of London can be found here. Psarou Beach • Tel. (+30) 22890.23114
- Luisa Beach: Established in 1975, these luxurious boutiques are a leading destination in Greece for high-end fashion. Psarou • Tel. (+30) 22890.22015
- Linea Piu: Designed by Kois Associated Architects, this boutique carries the crème de la crème of women’s luxury fashion; think Chanel, Tom Ford and John Galliano. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.78921
- Belvedere Shop: Must-have handmade leather Callista bags are found exclusively in the Belvedere Hotel Boutique and Kessaris Jewelry store. Matoyianni, Chora • (+30) 22890.22880
- Tserkov: High-end clothing brands found exclusively in Mykonos and Zurich. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.77161
- Dsquared2: Twin brothers, Dean and Dan Caten, social fixtures in Mykonos, fuse playfulness with effortless urban refinement in their designs. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.77314
- Osklen: Affordable and youthful Brazilian fashion brand found worldwide is now available in Mykonos. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.29109
- Louis Vuitton: This iconic fashion brand is conveniently located at Tria Pigadia. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.78850
- Katramopoulos: The store has a century of history in creating valuable jewelry, entirely handmade, with attention to detail and using carefully-selected gems. Products at Luisa Beach, Psarou • Tel. (+30) 22890.22015 and Kessaris, Matogianni, Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.22880
- Audemars Piguet: There’s no better place to immerse yourself in the world of Audemars Piguet watches than at our newly-opened boutique on Mykonos. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22893.06726
- Gofas: Established in the 1960s, it maintains a loyal clientele by stocking items created by the most exclusive Greek jewelry designers and world-renowned brands of watches. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.24521
- Venetia Vildiridis: The name Vildiridis has been synonymous with jewelry for four generations. It is located at the Santa Marina Resort & Villas. Ornos • Tel. 22890.23220
- Nikos Koulis: A Greek designer with a sharp outlook and an authentic passion for jewels has etched out a distinguished career in jewelry making. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.28688
- Franck Mueller Boutique, Chopard Boutique and Kassis: These three stores, standing next to each other, provide innovation, quality and exclusivity. Associated with the most well-known watch brands.• Tel. (+30) 22890.22922
- Swarovski: The iconic brand for jewelry, watches, accessories, and sparkling crystal objects is also now in Mykonos. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.23600
- Rousounelos: The family of Theodore Rousounelos have served as Mykonian representatives for many prestigious watchmakers; they pride themselves on taking exceptional care in their work and paying particular attention to the ever-changing needs of their clients. Chora • Tel. (+30) 22890.22797
Wrap your new sarong around your shoulders, and keep going straight. You are now officially entering Matoyianni, the main street that leads to the central port area. By now, you are probably becoming aware that size doesn’t matter. The small scale of things here doesn’t take away from their importance. The corner shop of Kessaris features a magnificent collection of some serious, jaw-dropping bling. Also on Matoyianni are big names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture and Folli Follie. Check out the SohoSoho boutique for handpicked international apparel. Walk into the minimalistic zen-styled Apriati jewelry shop: its collection runs the gamut from a €20 artfully handcrafted charm bracelet to contemporary styled diamond rings, necklaces and bracelets that could easily set you back a few thousand euros. This impressive range is, partly, the secret of its international success.
Another part of the secret is the warm courtesy the store exhibits to clients of both ends – and to everybody else in between. To be fair, many Mykonian businesses have mastered the art of equal treatment in their service. After all, it is unwise to act snobbish to an aged, gaunt client who enters your store barefoot, almost in rags, but might very well turn out to be Keith Richards. On the other hand, he might just be a tourist who spends endless hours fishing, and is, in fact, not looking for a Piaget watch but a sturdy fishing line and set of hooks instead. He will find them across the street in Megas, along with everything else one might need for camping, fishing or swimming. If you keep going towards the port, you will pass the Lalaounis Mykonos jewelry store. Behind its intentionally unassuming front entrance, there is a national institution, oozing with mega-glamour.
The world-famous family brand has adorned some of the goddesses of modern times in gold designs inspired by ancient Greece: Maria Callas, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Barbara Streisand, to name but a few, were all devoted customers. Matoyianni is a major shopping and sightseeing destination in itself, but since you are here, indulge in a well-deserved detour to your right, on to the backstreets. Next to the Panachra Church, look for Magia Tee Fashion Shop and Free Shop, the boutiques where insiders go to pick up the coolest designer pieces.
As you make your way back to Matoyianni (remember, this is how the locals call the main street), stop at Tortuga for handmade bags and accessories by Ariadni. After you are finished strolling down Matoyianni, take a moment to go in and light a candle at Aghia Kyriaki Church (you can enter any time, as long as the door is open).
Right there in Aghia Kyriaki Square is Minas, an aesthetic landmark as well as a jewelry store that sells its creator’s sculpted, gently curved pieces. The designs Minas produces are the closest thing to a poem that one can wear. Before reaching the port, take the back street between Aghia Kyriaki and Aghiou Vlasiou squares and pick up your favorite newspaper at News Stand. A little further down, you won’t want to miss Asteria with its interesting sculptures and handmade mosaics. By now, you have reached the port and can have a drink, or probably another drink, while you watch the fishing boats and the yachts sway in the Aegean.
Great shopping can be also done on your way to the island’s only other village, in the hill of Ano Mera. You can even proceed with a few interesting acquisitions without interrupting your sun-worshipping on the beach. Contrary to many other travel destinations, where beach sellers can become too persistent, in Mykonos, the vast majority are people you would probably enjoy meeting, no matter whether a transaction takes place or not: most of them are expats with impeccable taste, a discreet approach and a fascinating story to share.
Apart from lazy sand shopping, upscale resorts present stylish original boutiques to compete with the quality of the high-end shops downtown. In Grand Hotel Myconos (Aghios Ioannis) the guests have privileged access to the exquisite collections of the Poniros Family. These ground-breaking jewelry designers have infused some very seriously high-quality gems with the lightness and happy-go lucky charm of Mykonos. The family also runs a shop in the main town.
Which brings us happily full circle. It is a joy to wander on and off the suggested path. If you get desperately confused by the alleys and dead-ends, do what the pirates did to escape with their lives – head for the sea. Following the water promenade is always an easier way of knowing where you are going, but in these calmer, pirate-free days, avoiding in the maze means you’re in danger of missing most of the fun.
After all, getting lost in Mykonos Town is solid proof that you are actually in the right place.