See How Mykonos Changed from Sleepy Island to Superstars’ Paradise

Elia Beach on the island of Mykonos

The idyllic island of Mykonos was one of the first Greek isles to become an international travel destination. Renowned as a haunt of the rich, its nightlife is a glittering whirl of lights, music and parties.

It’s a far cry from the days of the pure, beautiful simplicity which once characterized this Aegean island.

The super-rich like Aristotels Onassis and Stavros Niarchos began to arrive on Mykonos in the 1950s in their personal jets. In 1954, Queen Frederica of Hanover organized a cruise to the Greek islands for many of the princes and princesses of Europe.

Photos of popular actors such as Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly and Richard Burton together with the Greek actress Melina Mercouri, reveling in their Mykonos summer holidays were the best publicity the island could dream of. Jackie Kennedy visited Mykonos, as well, in 1961.

In the ’70s, when gay couples discovered Mykonos, there were so many ships arriving at the island, they could not dock at its port. Travelers were ferried to the coast in smaller boats, and the first thing they saw were rocks and some small white houses.

Mykonos’ beaches were much less crowded in those days. And of course, there were no beach bars, beach-side restaurants or sun beds.

But from that point on, Mykonos started to transition into the cosmopolitan island and famous tourist destination as we know it today. With its traditional architecture, the white-washed houses, the narrow streets (“kalderimia”) and the abundant natural beauty which surrounds it, Mykonos remains a favorite among the most discerning travelers.