Uncover the roots of Mykonos on an agro-tourism tour
Imagine a home in a traditional Greek village. A wood-fired oven is coming up to temperature and the phyllo pastry is rolled out wafer-thin in the kitchen. An assortment of vegetables (straight from the garden) and cheeses (made in a local dairy) stand ready for whenever they are needed. As do the eggs (freshly collected from the hen coop in the yard). And as for the pie that’s being created… that’s probably out of a hand-written recipe book, passed down through the generations.
Now, what if you learned that the house is in Mykonos? It’s an image that’s far from the scenes of luxury and glamour usually associated with the Cycladic isle. But the truth is that behind all that whitewashed beauty is a beating heart of authenticity that’s felt in every village on the island.
You can discover it by learning how to knead bread the local way, or how all the different cheeses (xynotiro, tyrovolia, kopanisti etc) are made. Or by picking produce straight from an organic vegetable patch and cooking lunch with it.
You’ll learn all about the relationship of the locals with their domesticated animals (sheep, hens, horses, donkeys, rabbits). And be introduced to the island’s wines by sampling grape varieties you’ve perhaps never heard of before (Assytriko, Athiri, Monemvasia, Malagouzia, Agiannitis and Mandilaria).
Most of all, you’ll hear the stories of the personalities behind the farms and dairies showcasing the best of Mykonos’ traditional produce and cuisine, as you sample new tastes or buy a souvenir to relive the experience at home.
You can cherry-pick the farms and dairies that interest you on Mykonos, but if you want the full agro-tourism experience, head to:
Very close to the main town, Agios Lazaros has the cosmopolitan aura of luxury shops and hotels you might expect on Mykonos, but if want to learn about the local cheeses head to Mykonos Farmers. As well as using modern techniques, the farm demonstrates traditional cheese-making methods and explains the differences in using fresh goat’s, sheep’s and cow’s milk. This is your chance to see which you prefer: xynotiro (matured longer for a more sour, salty taste that works well with pasta dishes), tyrovolia (a soft, short-maturing cheese mainly used as a base in homemade pies), kopanisti (an alpine cheese that becomes spicier as it matures over 40-140 days) and niari (a short-maturing and soft cheese).
Mykonos’ second-largest settlement has a wide range of experiences to sample. Just before you reach the village, in the area of Messaria, is Mykonian Spiti, which invites you to experience the ways of a traditional home (as its name translates) – perhaps through a cookery lesson using vegetables from the family’s nearby farm, accompanied by stories of local traditions, religion and family life. Another farm – the Mykonos Vioma Organic Farm – is also found just outside town, where you can buy vegetables, dairy products and wines, as well as honey produced in the farm’s 20 beehives. And there’s Rizes (or roots), a farmstead which (as the name suggests) recreates Mykonian traditions through furnishings and cookery and cheese-making lessons, as well as a collection of animals.
From Hora (main town):
- By car or taxi: 2.6km (12mins)
- By car or taxi to the house: 5km (15mins)
- By car or taxi to the farm: 8.6km (20mins)
- By car or taxi: 9.4km (18mins)
- By car or taxi: 10km (19mins)
From the airport to Hora
- By car or taxi: 3.3km (12mins)
From Hora to Ano Mera
- By car or taxi: 7.3km (14mins)
- Most of Mykonos’ dairies and farms are open during summer months (April-October), with some remaining open between November and March. It’s always worth calling before you visit.
- Some farms celebrate the completion of the grape harvest in September.
- The length of the experience depends on how many locations you visit and what activities you choose to do in each.
- Depending on your choice of activities, each stop will last 2-6 hours.
- The full agro-tourism experience outlined here will take 3-4 days.