Ask anybody who has visited the Greek islands and they will tell you that apart from the beaches, nothing compares to the early evening stroll in the islands' towns. The light of the late hour, the pleasant buzz, the narrow streets filled with locals and tourists alike, and the romantic ambience in the air as you stroll along can lead you to anything from a modern restaurant, a pleasant taverna, a fortress, or an ancient, unassuming site.
Despite its commercialism and seething crowds in high season, Hora is still the quintessential Cycladic town and is worth a visit in itself. The best way to see the town is to venture inland from the port and wander. Browse the window displays, go inside an art gallery, a store, or an old church that may be open but empty inside. Keep in mind that the town is bounded on two sides by the bay, and on the other two by the busy District Road, and that all paths funnel eventually into one of the main squares: Plateia Mantos Mavroyenous, on the port (called Taxi Square because it's the main taxi stand); Plateia Tria Pigadia; and Plateia Laka, near the south bus station.
Hora also has the remains of a small Venetian kastro and the island's most famous church, Panagia Paraportiani (Our Lady of the Postern Gate), a thickly whitewashed asymmetrical edifice made up of four small chapels. Beyond the Panagia Paraportiani is the Alefkandra quarter, better known as Little Venice, for its cluster of homes built overhanging the sea. Many buildings here have been converted into fashionable bars prized for their sunset views; you can sip a margarita and listen to Mozart most nights at the Montparnasse or Kastro Bar, or check out the sunset and stay all night at Caprice.
Another nearby watering spot is the famous Tria Pigadia (Three Wells). Local legend says that if a virgin drinks from all three, she is sure to find a husband, but it's probably not a good idea to test this hypothesis by drinking the brackish well water. After your visit, you may want to take in the famous windmills of Kato Myli and enjoy the views back toward Little Venice.
Save time to visit the island's clutch of pleasant small museums. The Archaeological Museum (tel. 22890/22-325), near the harbor, displays finds from Delos; it's open Wednesday to Monday 9am to 3:30pm. Admission is 3€ (free Sun). Nautical Museum of the Aegean (tel. 22890/22-700), across from the park on Enoplon Dinameon Street, has just what you'd expect, including handsome ship models. It's open Tuesday to Sunday 10:30am to 1pm and 6 to 9pm; admission is 3€. Also on Enoplon Dinameon Street, Lena's House (tel. 22890/22-591) re-creates the home of a middle-class 19th-century Mykonos family. It's usually open daily Easter through October; admission is free. Museum of Folklore (tel. 22890/25-591), in a 19th-century sea captain's mansion near the quay, displays examples of local crafts and furnishings. On show is a 19th-century island kitchen. It's open Monday to Saturday 4 to 8pm, Sunday 5 to 8pm; admission is free.
When you've spent some time in Hora, you may want to visit Ano Mera, 7km (4 miles) east of Hora near the center of the island, a quick bus ride from the north station. Ano Mera is the island's only other real town, and we especially recommend this trip for those interested in religious sites -- the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani southeast of town dates from the 18th century and has a marble bell tower with intricate folk carvings. Inside the church are a huge Italian baroque iconostasis (altar screen) with icons of the Cretan school; an 18th-century marble baptismal font; and a small museum containing liturgical vestments, needlework, and woodcarvings. One kilometer (1/2 mile) southeast is the 12th-century Monastery of Paleokastro, in one of the island's greenest spots. Ano Mera also has the island's most traditional atmosphere; a fresh-produce market on the main square sells excellent local cheeses. This is the island's top choice for Sunday brunch.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.