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The definitive travel guide to Cyclades islands, Greece

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

Though Greece has over 1,000 islands, some of the most stunning islands in the world can be found in the most well-known island group in the Aegean Sea. Every year, countless numbers of Greek and international tourists visit the Cyclades islands in search of heaven on earth to experience the bright sunshine and the crystalline blue waves.

If you ever visited Greece, it's likely that you are familiar with island names like Mykonos and Santorini. While Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Milos and Ios may be some of the most visited islands in Greece, there are also other popular islands in the Cyclades complex that keep a lower profile.

The history of Cyclades

The islands that form a circle around the sacred island of Delos are referred to as the "Cyclades," which translates to "circular islands" in English. Greek legend holds that the Cyclades nymphs angered Poseidon, God of the Sea, who then transformed them into islands.

Why choose Cyclades islands as your destination?

Cyclades Islands are an ideal holiday destination, but which ones should you visit? They are a great summer vacation spot for all kinds of people, including families, friends, and couples. Depending on your interests, your destination island can be cosmopolitan or totally remote.

Islands close to Athens

Andros, Kea and Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos are popular weekend getaways for visitors because of their proximity to Attica, while Sifnos continues to be a smart, trendy destination for travelers from all over the world. The island of Kea is a charming Cycladic island only 2 hours away from Athens and Its waters are ideal for divers due to the abundance of shipwrecks on the sea floor.

Andros, with a long maritime tradition, strikes a balance between cosmopolitan, classic, and alternative approaches. The cultural component and naval history of the island may be seen everywhere.The island of Andros is unquestionably worth a visit and thanks to its museums, it may be viewed exclusively as a cultural tourism destination.

Kythnos is characterised by the Cycladic colors of blue and white, and its scenery is peppered with bare hills and more than 350 white tiny chapels dispersed over the island. It features over 65 beaches and charming villages with small cobblestone alleys, white-washed buildings, squares, churches and windmills. The island's capital town - Chora - is one of the most charming Cycladic villages, with an enchanting collection of small white houses, cobbled streets, and whitewashed terraces dotted with several blue-domed churches and windmills.

Serifos is an island with craggy mining sites, a wonderful past, and its own distinct character and only two and a half hours away by Athens by high-speed ferry. Serifos is the rockiest island in the Cyclades due to its iron and granite terrain. Although it is barren, it has some of the most stunning beaches on the Aegean Sea islands.

The most popular islands in Greece

As a cosmopolitan and opulent vacation spot, Mykonos has gained worldwide recognition. This island has two sides that not many people are aware of. The first is the region's plainly intense, glittering, and cosmopolitan side, while the second is extremely lovely with stone-paved alleyways, whitewashed buildings, and other quaint details.

The ruins of ancient Delos, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Cyclades, attempt to capture the former magnificence of this small sacred island a few kilometers west of Mykonos, making it a perfect day trip from Mykonos island.

Santorini comes to mind when you think of the typical Greek postcard scenery and picture those cliffs lined with traditional whitewashed buildings. Santorini welcomes thousands of people up the slope of its almost overly picturesque volcanic crater. The caldera villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia all offer views of the center basin, which you can also sail through to visit hot springs and cross the small internal volcanic islands.

On the route between Athens and Mykonos, the island of Tinos is known as the "holy island" because it attracts a large number of pilgrims who can be seen crawling from the port to the revered Evangelistria church, Greece's most significant religious structure and home to a miracle-working icon with healing properties that was discovered in 1822.

Milos is a volcanic Greek island located near the southernmost tip of the Cyclades island chain. It has a wonderful colorful lanscape and a coastline of volcanic rock formations with over 40 distinctive beaches due to its volcanic history. Milos' volcanic heritage may be seen in the abundance of hot springs, caverns and geological structures found throughout the island.

The Cyclades' administrative center is located on the island of Syros, which is bustling all year long. Syros, which was greatly inspired by the Venetians, has a uniquely northern European atmosphere thanks to the neoclassical homes and mansions that are scattered over the city's curving, tiny cobblestone streets.

Naxos is the group's largest and most fertile island, lying in the heart of it. It provides tourists with a variety of activities to try, as well as additional entertainment and relaxation opportunities. At its harbor, the whitewashed Chora village welcomes visitors. Naxos' most famous monument is the marble gate of an unfinished ancient Greek temple dedicated to the god Apollo.

High on the list of top Greek holiday destinations, Paros island located in the center of the Cyclades group, welcomes travelers and invites them to enjoy its amazing beauty, the long beaches with crystal-clear waters, and the spectacular landscapes.

The islet of Antiparos, located southwest of Paros, is excellent for a relaxing and peaceful vacation and is easily accessible by boat from Pounda or Parikia. A significant neolithic settlement has been discovered on the neighboring islet of Saliagos, which is thought to be the earliest in the Cyclades. Antiparos' capital was built around a Venetian castle from the 15th century.

The islands that deserve a trip away from the beaten track

Tiny Folegandros has become one of the greatest success stories of the Greek summer in recent years. Its capital is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved villages in the Cyclades, attracting visitors who enjoy getting lost in its alleys, strolling through the old settlement of the Castle, and climbing to the chapel of Our Lady on top of the rock.

A boat trip to Anafi is a must, an island core of mixed granite and limestone covered in volcanic rock produced by eruptions of Santorini. Its calm capital, Chora, offers a daring splash of white amid a hillside devoid of trees and dotted with shrubs.

The small yet lovely island of Kimolos is located in the western Cyclades, near Milos. Its name originates from its chalk mining background, which has a volcanic soil and a unique array of minerals. Kimolos beaches are generally on the south coast, protected from the northern winds, and vary in color from reddish to white, depending on their location.

Amorgos became popular thanks to Luc Besson’s movie "The Big Blue" and is one of the most beautiful Cycladic islands, with beautiful beaches and clear waters, beautiful caves, great diving places, scenic bays, and old footpaths leading through its steep rocky landscape.

Ios is a famous Cycladic island destination for young people, thanks to its beautiful beaches and bustling party scene! Aside from its nightlife, Ios has many more things to offer, such as beaches with turquoise waters, gorgeous cliff-top villages with small alleys, and much more!

Small Cyclades

In recent years, four of the six small islands in the area of the Aegean sea between Naxos and Amorgos have transitioned from obscurity to fashion. The combination of a magestic landscape, the unique natural beauty, golden sand beaches, turqoise crystal clear waters are few of the reasons that an island hopping in the Small Cyclades islands should be on your bucket list. The island complex of Small Cyclades, a series of islands that have been inhabited since prehistoric times includes Ano Koufonisi, Kato Koufonisi, Irakleia, Schinoussa, Donousa and Keros.

In a nutshell

It's difficult to go wrong with the iconic Cycladic Islands. No matter which you choose, you'll be surrounded by crystalline blue waters, winding stone alleyways, sunny beaches, and tavernas serving unlimited ouzo. And you'll almost definitely want to select more than one. This island chain boasts picture-perfect beaches, lots of local culture, and historical sites dating back to the Classical era and awaits you to discover it.

We are inviting you on a wellness journey to Greece. Join us and make memories that will last a lifetime at one of our luxury yoga retreats in Greece! Daily yoga courses, sunset meditation and afternoon restorative yoga sessions are included, as well as free time to explore the magical Cyclades islands of Tinos and Antiparos.

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