Greek islands in the off-season: Discover a serene side to Mykonos

“You should have come in the summer!”

This was the greeting we received upon stepping off the ferry in Mykonos in the end of October– and one we would continue to hear countless times during our stay.

The Greek island, known during the summer months for sunny beaches packed with day-to-night revelers, pumping music and flowing cocktails, had grown eerily silent, its most popular seaside hotels left vacant, main streets in town gone totally dark.

Drawn to traveling in October by low prices and available time off from work, we knew the Mykonos of fall wouldn’t be the same Mykonos of summer. What we didn’t know was just how off the off-season would be.

“What activities are available?” we asked the concierge at our upscale, beach-front hotel (that we paid $50 a night for). “There aren’t any,” he told us unapologetically. “You should have come in the summer.”

After a brief period of disillusionment, a few hours of sunbathing beside a crystal blue sea ignited a newfound sense of determination within us. We were in Mykonos in the fall, not the summer, and we would find ways to enjoy it, with or without anyone’s help.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that fall offers advantages of its own. Instead of feeling the rush of a dance party on the beach, we felt the rush of exploring a new frontier on our own. Instead of dressing up to snag a table at the hottest restaurant or club in town, we enjoyed a warm, family-style meal in a restaurant kitchen with generous locals on a rainy day. And instead of being in awe of perfectly toned and bronzed beach bodies, we found ourselves in awe of the island’s natural beauty, which we were lucky to encounter in a pure state of post-summer tranquility.

For a more lively off-season experience, try Santorini for gorgeous sunsets, hikes with perfect caldera views, and shops, restaurants and wineries that remain open further into fall, or Crete for typically warmer weather and endless gastronomic delights. But if you do opt for a laid-back Mykonos vacation outside of the summer months, here are some of the treasures you’ll find.

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