Mykonos: Gay Paradise by the Sea

For many gays the world over, Mykonos is THE destination in Greece. Just over 40 square miles, the sexy sun-baked little island is some 95 miles southeast of Athens, but a world away in terms of atmosphere. Relaxed, stylish, moneyed, white-washed, and always fun-loving, Mykonos is a timeless playground, one that's far from entirely gay, but where the boys keep flocking in force.

Mykonos got its start as an international getaway in the 1960s and '70s, when (probably with the help of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who came here with Greek second-hubby Aristotle) the famous and super-wealthy (like Grace Kelly and Gregory Peck) discovered its charms and began spending their summers here. Where celebs go, the gays are sure to follow, and by 1973 Mykonos had its very first gay bar.

By the ‘80s and ‘90s, Mykonos had become a full-fledged gay hotpot, one that's seen peaks and valleys in the years since, but is currently on a strong upswing again, with several new nightspots and a throbbing annual gay party festival (late August's Xlsior). For the past few years, there's even been a small gay film festival, which in 2012 ran for two separate weeks, one in June and the other in September.

Mykonos Town (also called Chora) is the centerpiece of Mykonos life, with its maze of twisty alleyways so small that most don't even have names – which can often make finding places a bit tricky, since many venues just use a general area like Old Port as their address. When in doubt, just ask – locals are used to it, and more than eager to help. Most of the gays bars and clubs on Mykonos are located here in town, especially along the waterfront near the beautiful Paraportiani Church (also a big cruising area, even by day).

This being hot and sunny Greece, the beaches are the island's other focal point, with the big Elia Beach and the world-famous Super Paradise Beach being the preferred sunning spots for gay men. Clothing is optional, but try to find the right section for going without it, since nudism isn't as widespread here as it once was.

One thing to remember: Mykonos is a resort island, which means that a great many of its venues, including virtually all of its gay bars, are only open during the high season, between April/May and October. Likewise some hotels (including the gay-popular Elysium) only operate during these months. Others do stay open all year round, and some visitors actually prefer this much quieter Mykonos, not to mention much cheaper rates.

Restaurants to check out