The Cyclades Islands are a true gem of the Mediterranean. The complex of islands are home to some of the most incredible beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning landscapes in Greece. Composed of over 200 islands, this archipelago has become one of the most popular destinations in not only Greece, but all over Europe. Visitors flock from all over the world to check out these incredible places. Each Cycladic island has their own unique personality, from the lively and cosmopolitan Mykonos, to the laid-back, traditional Antiparos. You can find yourself tanning on a secluded beach, partying until the early hours of the morning, or exploring ancient ruins. Whether you’re looking for nature, history, or nightlife, there is a Cyclades island that will cater to your needs.
The Cyclades are also a paradies for foodies! Each island has their own distinctive gastronomy, from local dishes, wines, and cheeses. While exploring the islands, it's interesting to come across the different renditions of traditional Greek dishes, and also the typical ones that set the cuisine of the islands apart.
All the islands are relatively close together and easily connected by the ferry system, which is without a doubt the easiest way to travel between the Cyclades, so feel free to cut out which islands you don’t want to visit, or switch up the order of the islands!
When to visit
The Cyclades Islands get pretty chilly and windy in the wintertime, and while it is possible to vacation there, it isn’t necessarily recommended. The best months to visit are between May and October. April can be nice too if you’re lucky with the weather, but it can be very hit or miss in April. Also, a lot of the shops, hotels, and restaurants are closed seasonally since all of the tourism hits the Cyclades in the summer months. Many people return back to the mainland and only work on the islands during summer, so to come during the colder months, you’ll often be missing out on a lot of the experiences that you’d get during summer months.
Piraeus- Milos - The ferry from Athens Piraeus port to Milos leaves a few times daily and is about 4 and a half hours to the island.
Piraeus - Mykonos - The ferry from Athens Piraeus port to Milos leaves a few times daily and is anywhere between 2 hours and 35 minutes to 5 hours and 15 minutes, depending on the vessel.
Piraeus - Naxos - The ferry from Athens Piraeus port to Naxos is around 3 to 5 and a half hours.
Piraeus- Paros - The ferry between Athens to Paros is around 3 to 5 hours.
Piraeus- Santorini - The fastest way to get between Athens to Santorini is with SeaJet, and their ferry takes 4 hours and 20 minutes. Other companies run from Piraeus as well but take between 7 to 9 hours, so SeaJet is the fastest option.
Milos - Mykonos - The ferry between Mykonos to Milos takes about 3 hours on average
Milos - Naxos - This ferry leaves once a week and takes about 3 hours to travel between the islands.
Milos - Paros/Antiparos - The ferry between Paros to Milos takes about 1 hour and 35 minutes, and the journey from Antiparos takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes. There are no direct ferries between Milos and Antiparos, but its proximity to Paros makes it easy to island hop to Paros between the two islands.
Milos - Santorini - The ferry between Santorini to Milos leaves daily and, depending on the speed chosen, can either take from 2 to 5 hours.
Mykonos - Santorini - The ferry between Mykonos and Santorini leaves frequently and takes around 2 hours.
Mykonos - Naxos - The duration of this ferry ranges from 35 minutes to a bit under 2 hours, depending on if the ferry is direct or if there are stops.
Mykonos - Paros/Antiparos - The ferry from Paros to Mykonos takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes. There is no direct ferry from Antiparos, so the best method to get to Mykonos from there is to stop in Paros, and take the ferry from Paros to Mykonos.
Naxos - Paros - The ferry between Naxos to Paros takes around 30 minutes to an hour. There is no direct route to Antiparos, so ferries must stop in Paros before.
Naxos - Santorini - The ferry between Naxos and Santorini leaves daily and can take anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours.
Paros/Antiparos -Santorini - The ferry from Paros to Santorini takes anywhere between 1 hour and 45 minutes to 3 hours. There are no direct ferries from Antiparos to Santorini, a stop in Paros must be made.
Paros-Antiparos - Antiparos and Paros are easily connected, taking a mere 7-30 minutes to arrive.
Stop 1: Athens
The easiest way to reach all the Cyclades Islands is by starting off your trip in Greece’s capital, Athens. Athens has a large international airport that welcomes flights from hundreds of international destinations daily, whereas the islands themselves can be quite difficult to reach without making a stop first in Athens. Not to mention, Athens is a beautiful city, so it is worth spending some time to learn about the amazing Ancient Greek history and how the city has evolved from an ancient to a modern capital. You can explore Athens in 2 days with our itinerary.
From the main port in Athens, Piraeus, you can hop on a ferry to start your island-hopping journey. Many platforms sell ferry tickets online that you can use. Most of the ferries to the Cyclades are with the company SeaJets, so you can book straight through their website for convenience. Another reliable website is FerryScanner which will tell you all the schedules leaving from Piraeus to the Cyclades. Insider Tip: Ferries in Greece can be a bit sporadic. When we booked a ferry to Milos from Athens about a week prior to our departure date, the ferry was changed to an hour prior to the original departure time. The ferries leave on time (or slightly later), but just make sure to double and triple-check your email and tickets to ensure that you’re not going to miss any boats! Also, if you’re staying in the centre of Athens, give yourself at least 30 minutes to get to Piraeus port. It is a bit further from the city and, depending on traffic, it can take a little bit to get there!
Stop 2: Milos
Milos is a volcanic island that has some of the most unique beaches and views in all of Greece, which has been relatively untouched by tourism until recent years. Nowadays, the island has become a TikTok sensation and has started to reel in the crowds, but there is still time to visit it before it becomes overcrowded.
Milos is home to some of the most dramatic coastlines, with cliffy beaches, to ones that transport you to outer space. The landscape is truly something that most people have not seen before, and pictures don’t do it justice. You don’t realise just how impressive the geographical formations are of the island until you’re surrounded by it yourself.
Where to eat in Milos:
Ergina: Traditional Greek cuisine, which I can say confidently, was one of the best meals of my life, all while overlooking the coast. This is a great spot to have a delectable dinner and watch the sunset over the island.
Gyros of Milos: Gyros of Milos is an unassuming gyros restaurant on the shore of Adamantas, the main town in Milos. At first glance, it looks like a tourist trap, due to its proximity to the port, but this was the best gyros wrap that we had in all of Greece.
What to eat in Milos:
Pitarakia: This is very similar to tiropita, a famous Greek pie filled with feta. However, the shape of the pastry is a bit different, more similar to an empanada or a calzone. The pie is then filled with a traditional cheese from Milos, which is very rare to find anywhere else but on the island and has a unique flavour that is often compared to a combination of pecorino and regato cheese.
If you’re arriving in Milos by ferry, most will arrive at the town of Adamantas, which is the biggest town on the island. Adamantas is a great place to spend a day. There are plenty of artisan shops with handmade clothes, jewellery, and other trinkets that make great souvenirs from the island. This is also where you’ll find the majority of the cocktail bars and restaurants on the island. Since the port has stunning views over the ocean, take the stairs up to the top of Adamantas and sit at one of the many bars that offer overlooking views of the port and the ocean.
Sarakiniko Beach has become one of the most famous beaches in all of Greece in recent years due to its moon-like rock formations. The white volcanic rocks have eroded over time thanks to the sea and wind, which has, in turn, created small crevices and holes in the white rock formation that gives its visitors the perception that they’re walking on the moon. Between these little spots, you’re also able to take a dip in the water and go swimming in the turquoise sea. For the more adventurous traveller, a lot of people choose Sarakiniko Beach as a place for cliff-diving. A bit further out into the water are some bigger rocks with deeper sea levels that those looking for a thrilling use for their cliff jumping. Proceed with caution, I found the rocks to be quite slippery even as I was walking just to enter the water, so while it may be tempting to join in on the fun, just make sure you have stable footing.
The best time to visit Sarakiniko Beach is either early in the morning before 11 A.M or late in the afternoon if you’re visiting Milos during the summer months. This is because there is literally no shade anywhere on the beach! So as you can imagine, the rocks can heat up very quickly with the sun beating down on it all day. It also tends to be less crowded at these hours, which can make it hard to find a spot or swim.
Firopotamos Beach is a lively beach that is notable for its quaint hotels and apartments that open up right to the sea. The buildings are completely white with adorable blue garage details, which feel authentic for a Greek island yet different from a lot of the typical blue and white architecture that you see throughout the Cyclades. The beach also has a great atmosphere with a beach bar offering delicious cocktails and frappes, traditional Greek coffees that are similar to the Covid-19 tiktok trend of “whipped coffee” that was all over everyone’s For You Page!
Papafragas is an interesting, distinctive beach as the beach itself is quite small, peeking out of a cave. Many people climb down to swim in the cave, but beware, it ‘technically’ isn’t legal to climb down it since the staircase is carved into the rock formation and doesn’t have any regulation. However, the staircase isn’t very difficult to climb up and down (it looks more daunting from the lookout point than it actually is), and hundreds and hundreds of travellers are heading down the little pathway to reach the cave.
The beach is small, and the tide can come in pretty high, so we recommend leaving your belongings in the car so that nothing gets stolen and you don’t damage any electronics with the water. That being said, if you don’t want to leave it on higher grounds, you’ll see a lot of people stuffing their things in the tiny, dry caves along with their shoes before swimming. People tend to leave out their belongings all the time in Greece without a problem, but that doesn’t mean they’re 100% safe from being stolen. Store your valuables at your own risk, and enjoy the refreshing cave waters! It is one of the most beautiful swims that I have done in Greece, and there are even small secret caves that you can swim through if you’re brave enough.
Visit the beaches only accessible by boat on a coastal tour
Milos has become a popular destination for the last few years after its rise to fame on social media, but before that, it was more of a destination that Greeks would visit for their vacations. Because of this, a lot of the beaches are not built up for tourism, and some of the cliffs are so rugged that there aren’t even roads leading near to get a glimpse of them, like Milos’ second most famous beach Kleftiko Beach. If you’re going to Milos, it is essential that you check out a boat tour in order to see some of these jaw-dropping locations.
See the dramatic coastlines on this tour that leaves from Adamantas. This full day catamaran tour takes you to five amazing beaches. The first three are all in a row, Kleftiko, Sikia Cave, and Gerakas. These three spots are only accessible by boat, and you’ll get an opportunity to swim in the warm waters. If there is one thing I’ve noticed about Milos is that it is home to some of the warmest waters in the Cyclades. Afterwards, you’ll actually get to see another island called Poliegos, which is inhabited. The boat leaves you to swim in the Galazia Nero, or as it is called in English, the Blue Lagoon. It definitely lives up to its name. I have never seen such blue waters in my life, and no one believes me to this day that I didn’t filter my pictures in front of the waters! Finally, you’ll get to see Sarakiniko Beach, but keep in mind that there are rules that don’t allow boats to get close to the rock formations, so while you can swim and see it from a distance, we highly recommend that you come back another day to get the full experience from the shoreline.
Where to stay in Milos
This family-run hotel is located right near the Apollonia beach, in a lovely Cycladic property.
Mid-Range - Psaravolada Hotel Milos
A beautiful seaside hotel with stunning views overlooking the Aegean Sea, this cosy hotel feels luxurious at a reasonable price.
Get a luxurious suite all to yourself in the main town of Adamantas. Upgrade to one of the higher priced suites if you are interested in an indoor or outdoor heated jacuzzi!
Stop 3: Santorini
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Cyclades without Santorini, would it? Santorini draws in the most visitors of all of the Cyclades every year due to its impressive caldera that dominates the sea views, its incredible white-washed towns with blue domes, and also its party scene, which has become a favourite among party-goers around the world.
There is one thing about Santorini, though. It does live up to the hype. There is a reason that millions of people flock to this island every summer, and that is because it is one of the most beautiful places. It also manages to keep its authentic feel in the traditional villages of Oia, while catering to a large number of visitors.
What to eat in Santorini:
Tomatokeftedes: Tomatokeftedes is a typical dish to the island that is similar to a fritter, made up of grated tomato mainly, along with some other ingredients like zucchini and feta. Renditions made out of meat and zucchini are popular throughout all of Greece, but tomatokeftedes is an interesting take on keftedes whose roots come from Santorini.
Fava: Fava is a traditional Greek dish that is found all over the country as an appetiser, served alongside pita bread. But did you know that the best fava beans in the whole country are grown in Santorini? You’ll find fava at almost every restaurant in the city, and it is a must-try on the island.
Where to eat in Santorini:
Fino: Fino is an experimental Greek restaurant in the town of Oia that has a lot of delicious takes on Mediterranean cuisine and is even home to an adorable cat that is not shy in jumping on the seat right next to you!
Let’s Eat: Located in the popular resort area of Imerovigli are some great gyros, and it’s hard to go wrong with gyros in Greece. This is a great option for late-night munchies after heading out to the bars in Thira on the way back to your hotel. It’s also perfect if you just want to grab something quick, delicious, and authentic.
Karma Santorini: This trendy restaurant in Oia has a beautiful outdoor patio and fresh Greek dishes that are light and refreshing to beat the Santorini summer heat. Only open during the high season, this restaurant specialises in local dishes while also experimenting with some new takes on classic dishes.
Watch the sunset over the caldera and Oia
If you’re in Santorini, you’ll definitely want to see the most famous sunset in the world. Brace yourself for pushing and shoving from the crowds and crowds of people that all gather in Oia to watch the sunset. There are many spots in the town where you can watch the sunset from, but just make sure to get there about 45 minutes (or more) before sunset to ensure you get a front row view, and a spot to snap the best photos. The most popular spot to watch it is at the Venetian Castle of Agios Nikolaos.
Catch a less busy, just as stunning sunset from a boat
If you still want to see the impressive Santorini sunset over the caldera but crowds aren’t your thing, you can catch the views from a catamaran with this sunset tour. This catamaran tour is a great way to see some of the most famous sights in Santorini from the water, which are a bit difficult to get to from land like the Red Beach and White Beach, and are arguably even more impressive from afar.
The highlight of this tour is probably the spectacular swim in the therapeutic hot springs. From the volcanic waters, you’ll be able to take a dip right before the sun sets and enjoy the amazing, warm waters. Before you head on over to see the sunset, you’ll also get to enjoy a delicious Greek dinner that is home-cooked on board, and not to mention there is an open bar for your whole journey!
Thira is known in Santorini for its bustling nightlife scene that attracts visitors from all over. The lively party scene includes a plethora of bars, clubs, and pubs, so it's easy to be overwhelmed by all the options. Tango Champagne and Cocktail Bar is a fun bar with trendy DJs and music, and it definitely gets the crowds on summer nights. The best part of this bar, though is that it has views overlooking the caldera in its outdoor area. Koo Club is another open-air club that plays a good mix of pop music, and has 2 floors. Tango gets crowded earlier than Koo Club, so if you want to check out both you could go to Tango earlier in the night, and then head to Koo when it is happening more (which in Greece is around 1 or 2 AM). The craziest one, though is Two Brothers. I’m not sure if I would recommend this bar or not, but it is for sure an experience. The atmosphere is amazing but, just beware, if they put a helmet on your head, the workers are going to smack you with a baseball bat.
Apart from the amazing nightlife, Thira is a great destination during the day. The town is full with boutiques that sell incredible Greek artisan products. Handmade jewellery, ceramics, and artwork are some of the many things you’ll find in these shops. You’ll also find plenty of typical souvenir shops selling unique to Greece items to bring home to your family and friends. Not to mention, the town is beautiful. It is built on the edge of the cliff so you get incredible views over the caldera and the Aegean Sea.
Oia is more relaxed than Thira, but not less crowded. It is a bit smaller and has a traditional charm from its fishing village roots. Oia can be jam-packed, but there is a reason why. The white-washed village with blue domes is a common wallpaper. There are numerous churches that have been the muse of photographers across the world, like the Three Bells of Oia, which is open to the public to explore.
Oia is also known for its vibrant shopping scene, which has fewer tourist shops than in Thira, and more artisan, luxurious shops. These are a bit higher priced in general, especially the jewellery and clothing, but there are quite a few that are reasonably priced. Overall, compared to Thira, Oia has a more calm and tranquil atmosphere, although it can be a bit stuffy in the hottest summer months. That being said, can you really say you’ve been to Santorini without visiting the most iconic town? To avoid the crowds, come early in the morning.
Akrotiri is an ancient Minoan settlement on the south coast of the island, which is Greece’s Pompeii. The settlement was destroyed in a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC and was rediscovered in the late 19th century. Excavations are still ongoing, but nowadays, you can explore the well-preserved ruins of the ancient city. The ruins provide insight into how people lived back then, with well-preserved frescoes and pottery, homes, workshops, and public buildings. It is incredible to see all of this frozen in time.
Learn the in-depth history of the ancient settlement with a professional archaeologist as your guide. Your guide will tell you all the secret facts and discoveries that are continuing to be made about this archaeological site, and it is an impressive way to learn about it. If you prefer to explore Akrotiri at your own pace, you can purchase your tickets in advance with an audio guide included here.
Ammoudi Bay is the spot in Santorini to eat seafood. Wear your comfortable shoes because it is a long trek down and an even longer trek up, at least it feels like it. It is possible to get a taxi up and down, but it is extremely difficult to find one once you are already down there. However, the views of the sea are beautiful, and the cute seaside restaurants with the fresh fish and octopus of the day hung up on the line for you to choose yourself. Even if you aren’t a fan of seafood, it is still a beautiful spot to take in on the island.
Where to stay in Santorini
Budget-Friendly - Youth Hostel Anna
With friendly staff and proximity to the beach and bus stops, this hostel is a convenient choice for budget travellers.
This beautiful property is surrounded by vineyards and has an outdoor pool surrounded by the traditional white and blue architecture that is so loved in Santorini.
Perfect for honeymooners, you can swim out from your room to get the best views of Oia and the caldera.
Stop 4: Mykonos
Mykonos is one of the most glam islands in the Cyclades. The atmosphere is cosmopolitan and luxurious and is a favourite among travellers looking for lively nightlife. Don’t be put off by the fact that a large number of people come to the island just for the parties, the beaches in Mykonos are stunning, and the main town of Chora is a beautiful example of a Cycladic town. For the luxurious traveller, Mykonos has long been known for its elegant hotels, high-end boutiques, and gourmet restaurants.
What to eat in Mykonos:
Kopanisti - This soft cheese is typical to Mykonos and is served alongside Greek wine, tomatoes, and bread for the perfect Mediterranean flavour combo!
Louza - Thin slices of spiced pork are cooked and dried out in the sun, and marinated in spices. The matured meat is aromatic and unique and is a favourite among the island's delicacies.
Where to eat in Mykonos:
Nikolas Taverna - This beautiful beachfront restaurant serves the freshest seafood on the island, following classic Cycladic recipes.
Flour Mills of Mykonos
The Flour Mills of Mykonos are some of the most authentic things standing on the built-up island. They’re located right in the heart of Mykonos Town, also known by the locals as Chora, and date back to the 16th century. Originally, their purpose was to grind wheat and barley into flour. These days, they’re a popular attraction for visitors to the island.
Nowadays, the windmills have been converted into museums which are exhibits showcasing the traditional way of life that exists on the island. However, their main claim to fame is more about the Instagram content! The mills are a super popular spot for photography because they overlook the sea and white-washed buildings of the islands. They’re definitely one of the most iconic sights on the island and you may need to come early to get the perfect shot.
Mykonos Town, known by the locals as Chora, is the main town on Mykonos and is the most common area to spend time. The buildings are quite historical, dating back to the 18th century, and are quite colourful. Of course, the town still has the typical whitewashed Cycladic architecture, but the details on all the buildings are a variety of different colours rather than just blue, like a lot of the towns in the Cyclades. This makes it a distinctive little town that is beautiful to wander the streets of.
Mykonos Town has quite the contrast. The city is romantic and beautiful, making it a great getaway for couples, there are luxurious shops and restaurants, important historical sites, and a bustling party scene. While there is quite a stereotype about Mykonos only being a destination to go party, it is much more than that, making it an attractive destination for all sorts of travellers.
Party at the beach clubs
Probably the main attraction that draws people into taking a trip to Mykonos is the parties. Along the shore, there are many beach clubs that feature day-time parties and bottle service, which is popular among visitors to the island. While of course, there are clubs too, something about the beach clubs are so unique to Milos, and a must-try for anyone looking to delve into the party scene.
Some of the famous beach clubs include Paradise Beach Club Mykonos, which has a pool, ocean access, and daytime celebrations, and Jackie O Beach Club Mykonos that has stunning views, a wide pool, and comfy daybeds if you need to take a break in between the party.
Located in the heart of Chora is where you will find one of the most famous churches in all of Greece. It is literally nothing like any other church in the country, as the church itself is actually a complex of 5 smaller churches, and was built in a rare, asymmetrical design that creates a tiered effect between the churches. The church does follow the Cycladic architectural style, with its whitewashed walls and domed roofs, and it overlooks the sea, making it a popular spot for photography and taking in the wonderful scenery.
Besides just being an architectural marvel, the church is incredibly important culturally and religiously. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the church has become a pilgrimage site mainly for Greeks visiting the island but also for many visitors to the island.
Where to stay in Mykonos
Budget-Friendly - Matogianni Hotel
Matogianni hotel is located in a prime area of Chora and offers a variety of room styles, including Cycladic and minimal.
Simple yet cosy rooms are right along the beachfront at this tranquil hotel.
Luxury - Asty Mykonos Hotel & Spa
Incredibly elegant rooms and access to a luxurious spa make for a world-class stay at this Mykonos hotel.
Stop 5: Paros
Paros really is a combination of everything. Most come to Paros for the sandy beaches, but there is more to the beautiful beaches! For example, you can participate in watersport activities and get a bit of an adrenaline rush on your trip. It is also a great gastronomy destination, as there are incredible local dishes to try, trendy bars and restaurants, along with the more traditional tavernas.
Paros has also been inhabited since 4000 BC, so there are plenty of historical relics and stories to be told about the island. Explore the history, gastronomy, and nature of this beautiful island, appreciating its traditional yet modern charm.
What to eat in Paros:
Revithia sto fourno - This classic dish in Paros is baked in a clay pot, filled with chickpeas and delicious spices alongside toasted bread. It seems simple, but the flavours are complex and amazing.
Mizithra - This traditional Greek cheese is a favourite across the country, but in Paros, they use it in salads instead of feta cheese, adding a slightly salty and creamy texture to the dish.
Where to eat in Paros:
Yemeni - This authentic restaurant is located in Naoussa, serving rustic, homemade Greek food, paired with wine from Paros.
Siparos Seasides Restaurant - Taste the freshest seafood overlooking the Aegean at this restaurant, specialising in its fish dishes.
The capital city of Paros is a charming and picturesque town that has beautiful Cycladic architecture, winding streets, and brightly-coloured flowers that line the tops of the streets. The town of Parikia is peaceful and traditional, yet with the feeling of a modernised city.
Some highlights to visit on your trip to Parikia include the Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani, which dates back to the 4th century AD and is considered one of Greece’s most important Byzantine monuments still standing. It was even said to be built by St. Helen, who was the mother of Emperor Constantine. There is a nickname for the church called the Church of 100 Doors, and that is because there are 99 visible doors in the architecture of the church, and the 100th is said to be only visible by people who are truly devoted to their faith.
Overlooking Parikia town, you’ll find the Frankish Castle, which is a medieval castle that was built by the Venetians in the 13th century. The castle has become a popular spot to watch the sunset since it has some of the best views on the island over Parikia and the Aegean Sea.
Naoussa has been named one of the most beautiful towns in the whole Cyclades, which can be attributed to its traditional architecture and picturesque harbour. The fishing village provides you with an authentic Greek experience, filled with cosy tavernas serving up the finest Greek food and small boutique shops with amazing souvenirs, clothes, and more.
The most famous thing about Naoussa has to be its harbour, which is one of the most beautiful harbours in the Aegean. Colourful fishing boats dock here, contrasting against the luxurious yachts and sailboats. It is an amazing place to just soak up the views and take relaxing walks, perhaps stopping in some shops or at a cafe overlooking the ocean.
One of Paros’ most famous beaches is known for its huge bay, but more significantly, its interesting rock formations. The rock formations are incredibly impressive. Formed from huge blocks of granite, the sea has shaped and sculpted the rocks into smooth and unique shapes. This has turned the beach into one of the most beautiful in all of Greece and is a favourite among visitors to Paros. Beachgoers lay across the smooth rocks to get the best sun and then dive into the Mediterranean sea to cool off.
Ancient Cemetery of Parikia
The Ancient Cemetery of Parikia is located right outside the capital, Parikia, and is a well-preserved, large archaeological site that dates back to the Geometric and Archaic periods of Ancient Greece between the 8th and 6th century BC. The cemetery is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Aegean due to its complexity and variety. There is an elaborate collection of tombs, ranging from the more simple ones to large and elaborate family tombs depicted with intricate carvings, showing scenes from life, mythology, and religion. The tombs are also home to a variety of ancient goods like pottery, jewellery, and weapons, providing you an insight to how people lived socially and economically in Ancient Paros.
Where to stay in Paros
Budget-Friendly - Hotel Zannet
Amazing value for money at this quaint, beachside hotel offering private rooms.
This wonderful hotel is family-run and has a beautiful swimming pool and pool bar.
Luxury - Margarita Studios Ambelas
Enjoy a whole suite to yourself including living rooms, and enjoy the amenities offered like the swimming pool, traditional Greek restaurant, athletic classes, and private balconies in every unit.
Stop 6: Antiparos
Just across from Paros is where you’ll find Antiparos, a true traditional gem of the Cyclades. This is the perfect destination if you want to kick back and relax, enjoying a more laid-back holiday. The beaches are secluded and don’t tend to get ridiculously overcrowded, and the beaches are some of the best in the Cyclades.
Antiparos is also known for its rich history and incredible natural beauty, including caves, castles, sandy beaches, and the bluest of waters. Head to Antiparos if you’re looking for a break from the busy islands and just want to take in some beautiful scenery, soak up the sun, and relax.
What to eat in Antiparos:
Grilled octopus - The octopus in Antiparos is incredibly fresh and delicious. Grilled and served alongside olive oil and lemon makes for the perfect seafood bite.
Rabbit stifado - Stifado is a stew cooked throughout Greece using spices, tomato, wine, and onions. Antiparos prefers using rabbits compared to other cuts of meat, making a tender and delicious stew.
Where to eat in Antiparos:
TAVERNA KYKLADES - This quaint taverna has a cosy atmosphere, and serves some of the most traditional cycladic dishes in their most authentic form.
Discover the natural wonder of Antiparos at the Antiparos caves. This is one of the most intricate cave systems in all of Greece and also one of the oldest, featuring a complex underground cave system including tunnels and chambers that have been forming for millions of years. Nowadays, these beautiful rock formations are explorable by visitors to Antiparos. The most impressive area of the cave is arguably the main chamber, known as the cathedral. The entrance is high, and the cave itself is very vast compared to other parts.
For those interested in biodiversity, the cave is home to a wide variety of rare animals, insects, and plants that only live in caves. Probably one of the coolest cave-dwelling species to come across on your visit are the homes of the bats that live in Antiparos!
Built by the Venetians as part of a series of fortifications designed to protect the island from invaders, Antiparos Castle has become one of the most important landmarks on the small island. The strategic location overlooks the town of Antiparos, with high walls and towers protecting the fortress. Exploring Antiparos is a great way for you to get insight into the history and culture of the small island. You can explore the castle with a guided tour offered on-site and see the features of the castle including the large courtyard, a chapel, and a small museum with exhibits related to the castle’s history.
This small, isolated beach is a tranquil spot to take a dip into the Aegean sea and catch some Greek sun. The beach is very beautiful, with sandy coasts and light turquoise waters. The waters are crystal clear, and the sand is soft, so there’s not much to complain about this little hidden gem. The tiny cove doesn’t fit many people, so get there early to secure a spot, and make sure to pick up an umbrella at a store in town as there is no shade anywhere on the beach, and the Greek sun can get hot pretty quickly.
Where to stay in Antiparos
Budget-Friendly - Korali Hotel
This affordable hotel has simple rooms on a beautiful property, just a short walk from the Antiparos port.
Mid-Range - Soros Beach Antiparos
Yards away from the sea is this beautiful, traditional hotel offering a lovely restaurant and free sunbeds at the beach.
This stunning property includes breakfast, and many of the elegantly decorated rooms have views overlooking the Aegean sea.
Stop 7: Naxos
Naxos is the biggest island of all the Cyclades, and it offers a calm, traditional vibe that is known for its delicious gastronomy, beautiful beaches, and incredible history. There are plenty of well-preserved ruins that tell the stories of ancient Greek mythology. Naxos is often accredited as one of the most diverse islands of the Cyclades, with a charming mix of ancient and modern and a stunning landscape with not only beautiful beaches but lush, green mountainous landscapes.
Naxos is a great stop for foodies and for anyone looking to get a true Greek experience and see how locals live on this residential island. There is so much to do in Naxos because of its diversity, and it has consistently become more and more popular among travellers who are discovering the authenticity of the island.
What to eat in Naxos:
All the cheese you can - Naxos is famous for its cheese production because in the mountainous areas of the islands, there are thousands of goats and sheeps being raised, which is what most Greek cheeses are made out of. Naxos gruyere has won the island cheese awards and is the most local cheese that you can try. Naxos also has their own version of the typical kefalotyri cheese, although on Naxos island it is called Arsenio.
Naxos potato - Naxos is known for having the highest quality of potatoes in Greece, and there is even a potato festival in August! Make sure to order a side of Greek potatoes just to see how great the quality is.
Where to eat in Naxos:
Axiotissa - This farm-to-table restaurant prides itself on using local ingredients from Naxos, and serves traditional Greek cuisine in a beautiful courtyard setting, but if the weather isn’t the best, the inside is warm and welcoming as well.
To Elliniko - This hidden gem is a family-run restaurant that uses only the freshest locally sourced ingredients. This is a favourite among locals who come to enjoy the traditional Greek cuisine being served.
Katsourbos - This popular seafood restaurant offers stunning views of the Aegean sea. The restaurant is renowned for its fresh seafood dishes and casual atmosphere.
Portara is a large marble gate located on the small island of Palatia which is just across the coast of Naxos. The gate was part of a large temple that was dedicated to Apollo, one of the Greek gods and was built in the 6th century BC. While the whole temple was destroyed in the 6th century AD, the gate survived and can be visited to this day. There is a small causeway that connects Palatia island to Naxos, so it is very easy to reach the other island, making it accessible to visit without the necessities of a boat.
Looking for expert information on Portara? You can take a walking tour of the area, which will take you to the former Temple of Apollo, as well as many other historical sites in the city, like the old Venetian castle and the Roman Catholic Cathedral. This tour is great for anyone interested in Ancient Greek history and mythology.
Not to be confused with the previously mentioned Chora in Mykonos, but Chora is also the name of the main town on Naxos island. If you’re wondering why they’re both named the same, it is because Chora literally translates from Greek into Old Town, making it a popular namesake for towns across the country. Chora is one of the most distinctive and stunning towns in the Cyclades and is a bit different from the other main towns. While most boast Cycladic architecture, Chora combines Cycladic architecture with elements from Venetian architecture. When arriving by ferry, you’ll step out and be welcomed by the main port of Chora, along the shoreline.
Agios Prokopios Beach
This large beach has often been voted among the best beaches in the whole Mediterranean. The beach is incredibly wide and vast, with soft white sand and the bluest of waters. There are facilities on the beach as well, such as umbrellas for rental, although you may have to claim your spot early as those can fill up relatively quickly depending on the time of year you visit. Make sure to check the forecast in advance because the beach can be quite windy, especially towards the end of July and in August. It isn’t windy every day, but the wind can make it uncomfortable, so just make sure to do some research to make the most of your time beforehand.
Agia Anna Beach
This beach is more crowded than the previous Agios Prokopios, due to the fact that it isn’t as vast. That being said, the beach is equally as beautiful and is the second most popular beach on the island of Naxos. Sunbeds and daybeds are available for rent, and hotels line up next to the beautiful beach. The water is calm, clear, and bright turquoise, making it one of the best swimming spots on the island. This beach has a lively atmosphere, as locals and travellers come to swim in the warm waters and lay in the warm Mediterranean sun.
Temple of Demeter
This ancient Greek temple was built in the 6th century BC and was dedicated to the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility, Demeter. For a long time, this temple was one of the most important religious centres on the island of Naxos and was greatly important to its residents. The marble temple is well-preserved, with columns and part of the roof of the temple still intact, and it is located in a beautiful, rugged spot of the island.
Where to stay in Naxos
Budget-Friendly - Summer Dream 1
This beautiful, traditionally decorated hotel offers private rooms with shared balconies at a reasonable price.
Mid-Range - Saint George Hotel
Sea view rooms right in the heart of Chora are located just 10 yards from the Agios Georgios Bay.
Luxury - Portara Seaside Luxury Suites
Elegant rooms offering indoor jacuzzis and suites with sea views, as well as fully furnished apartments.
Since the Cyclades are made up of over 220 islands (although some are inhibited), unfortunately, this makes it hard to fit all of them into one trip, but here are some honourable mentions that are worth a visit if you have the time, or if you’re looking to replace one of the islands in the itinerary.
This small Greek island is known for its traditional villages and beautiful beaches. A trip to this island is peaceful and tranquil and attracts visitors looking for an authentic Greek island experience on a residential island.
Sifnos is the culinary capital of the Cyclades, known for its delicious local cuisine. There is also a thriving art scene on the island, specifically famous for its beautiful pottery. Of course, there are a number of beautiful sandy beaches as well.
This gorgeous island attracts a vibrant, young crowd as the island is known for its lively nightlife. Although popular among backpackers and party-goers, the island is home to stunning beaches and picturesque villages, making it a well-rounded destination in the Cyclades.
Syros is the most populated of the Cyclades and is one of the larger islands as well. Its main town Ermoupoli is home to beautiful neoclassical architecture. This is a great island if you’re curious about the history of the Cycladic islands and traditional culture. There are plenty of ruins and historical locations to visit on this island.