The Cyclades are an historic group of islands within the south Aegean sea of Greece. Nonetheless they have been shaped, The Cyclades — which implies the Sacred islands round Delos — their magnificence and dazzling mild can lend itself to a spot of spirituality. These teams of islands, made most well-known by Santorini and Mykonos, are essentially the most iconic sights of Greece. Their whitewashed homes and child blue door window frames are as iconic Greek because it will get.
I spent just a few months touring via Greece and spent ample quantities of time within the Cyclades. In case you’re planning a visit and feeling overwhelmed by all the alternatives, then this information will make it easier to select which islands to go to. These are after all solely my opinion and everybody has totally different tastes!
In case you are planning to go to the Cyclades, be certain to learn my journey information for the Cyclades and Greek ferry information to grasp what you’re stepping into. When you’re able to plan the journey, be certain to learn my Cyclades island hopping itinerary the place I talk about tips on how to plan your journey and the routes I took!
The most effective time to go to the Cyclades Islands
Positioned within the south Mediterranean sea, the Cyclades enjoys good climate 12 months spherical. Nonetheless, there are particular instances of 12 months that you just’ll wish to keep away from, and different instances of 12 months the place nothing is open.
The islands are just about constructed off of tourism so it is extremely seasonal. I’ve been to the islands always of the 12 months and there are positively higher instances than others. You’ll wish to keep away from peak season as swarms of vacationers from everywhere in the world descend on the islands. In case you should go to throughout this time, try to keep away from essentially the most touristic islands.
Peak Season within the Cyclades
The height months are from the top of June to the top of August. These are the months the place the islands could be extraordinarily filled with vacationers from everywhere in the world coming in together with cruise ships.
The costs are additionally the most costly throughout these months as a lot of the income generated on this interval subsidize the shortage of earnings within the different months. In case you’re in search of a celebration and to be with a lot of totally different folks, then that is your interval to go to. Eating places might be packed, seashores might be busy, and there might be loads of life right here so that you can take pleasure in.
In case you are extra into the concept of getting a seaside to your self or exploring with out the crowds, completely keep away from coming in the summertime months. Particularly keep away from coming throughout the center of August across the vacation of the Virgin Mary. All the mainland of Greece clears out and goes to the islands and these locations turn out to be completely packed. That is the most costly time to go to as nicely.
The most effective time to go to the Cyclades
I traveled across the Cyclades throughout the time of Coronavirus and within the peak summer time months. For essentially the most half, it was by no means overwhelming as a result of worldwide tourism exterior of the EU is essentially non-existent. It was nonetheless busy particularly in August, however was by no means excessive for me. Nonetheless, in future years, I believe I’d keep away from coming to the islands in the summertime months, particularly extremely touristy locations like Mykonos and Santorini.
It’s merely means an excessive amount of of a catastrophe throughout the months of July and August to even take into consideration visiting. Not solely do you pay 50% extra, however you’re primarily going to a music competition for that more money.
The most effective months for visiting the Cyclades
The most effective instances to go to the islands for my part are mid September to early November, and the months of April and Might. The climate remains to be very nice within the fall and spring however not overly sizzling. Swimming could be too chilly for some in these instances however that’s a small value for me to pay. The most effective seashores in Greece are in Lefkada and the Ionian islands anyhow so that you’re not lacking a lot. In abstract, keep away from visiting the Cyclades in the summertime months just like the plague.
My listing of greatest islands within the Cyclades
I spent over two months touring across the Cyclades and visited ten totally different islands. I spent 3-5 nights on every island which I believe is sufficient to see the principle sights.
Earlier than coming to the Cyclades, my solely information of the islands have been Mykonos and Santorini like 90% of the remainder of the inhabitants. I wasn’t overly excited as a result of I simply thought it could be a bit faux and over-touristic. After spending two months, I’m gravely mistaken. The allure and fantastic thing about the islands is not like anyplace else in Europe. It truly is a particular place and I can’t wait to return.
However, not all islands are created equal. These are for my part the very best ones by rating and those I’d return to first. In fact, that is solely based mostly on my opinion and based mostly on my expertise whereas visiting!
#1 – Amorgos
Amorgos (the island of affection? unsure) is on the high of my listing of Cyclades Islands. It’s visually essentially the most beautiful and dramatic due to its unbelievable mountain landscapes. The mountain peaks right here attain nearly 1km which is among the many highest within the Cyclades. Driving round in a scooter or ATV will let you expertise the wonderful surroundings of the island.
As well as, the Monastery of Hozoviotissa is surely essentially the most spectacular church in all of Greece. It’s carved into the mountain rocks on the aspect of a cliff overlooking the Aegean. It provides of Petra vibes to me which was surprising however extremely lovely.
The Chora of Amorgos is positioned excessive up within the mountains half means between the 2 port cities of Katapola and Aegiali. It positively ranks among the many high of the previous cities I noticed within the Cyclades when it comes to its allure. The buildings are a lot older right here than on different islands however nonetheless someway in immaculate situation. The eating places and cafes someway select essentially the most excellent colour and furnishings mixtures to deliver out its allure.
One thing about Amorgos simply made it really feel further particular and totally different in comparison with the opposite islands. I can’t pinpoint it precisely but when I had to decide on an island to be on the high, this may be it.
Learn my detailed publish about visiting Amorgos!
#2 – Sifnos
Like Amorgos, Sifnos is a bit off the crushed path when in comparison with the opposite islands of the Cyclades. It positively attracts extra locals than vacationers however that’s not a foul factor. Sifnos can also be well-known for having greater than 350 church buildings and monasteries, essentially the most you might be prone to meet in some other Greek island. A lot of them have been famend as historic monuments, together with greater than 70 historic towers – altogether they comprise nearly all of the island’s sights. In the meantime, various seashores, principally sandy, supply rest and enjoyable, mixed with passable vacationer facilities.
Sifnos additionally has the unbelievable mountain landscapes of Amorgos (though not as dramatic) and has three totally different previous cities to select from. From the port city of Kamares, you’ll wish to lease a scooter and cruise up the mountains to the previous cities of the island.
Apollonia and Artemonas are positioned up within the hills and supply countless walks via whitewashed homes, small alleys, belfries and flower pots. There are countless photograph alternatives right here at each flip.
A number of km away, is the even older and extra conventional city of Kastro (citadel). Constructed alongside the aspect of a cliff, the nonetheless inhabited city has buildings from many centuries in the past which provides it much more allure. I used to be essentially the most impressed strolling via Kastro’s slender streets and the dramatic views over the Aegean.
#3 – Folegandros
Folegandros is likely one of the smaller islands within the Cyclades however packs in lots for its measurement. It’s positioned in between Milos and Santorini and makes for an ideal day journey from both island. Nonetheless, I stayed right here for just a few nights resulting from quite a few suggestions from different Greeks.
They don’t seem to be mistaken. Folegandros is particular. It’s one other very mountains island with the peaks being within the middle of the island. The principle street runs via the middle of the island which implies you’re on the highest level wherever you drive. The views you’ll see of the ocean and surrounding islands is totally unreal.
The Chora is the place most individuals will keep and the one place the place there may be a lot of something to do. It’s not large however you possibly can look forward to finding the everyday allure of different island cities.
Be sure that to stroll up the windy path to the Church of Virgin Mary the place you’ll have among the best sunsets within the Cyclades.
#4 – Milos
Milos, the island of Venus, has nothing to be jealous of Santorini, its different volcanic neighbor. Essentially the most useful asset of Milos is its 70 or so seashores, a few of that are among the many most beautiful of all Greek islands. Breathtaking, dramatic landscapes with colourful, weird rock formations and sizzling springs –all owed to its volcanic nature- are additionally a trademark.
Milos is understood for its culinary prowess and the eating places I went to in Milos cooked the very best meals I had within the Cyclades. The standard city of Plaka is positioned up on the hills. Whereas small, it presents all the gorgeous white washed homes, stone streets, and child blue window frames that you would be able to ask for. The opposite cities of Tripiti, Klima, and Pollonia are all definitely worth the go to.
Milos additionally has an enormous number of lovely seashores with very dramatic rocky backdrops. In the end, I discovered the seashores in Ios to be nicer, however after all none evaluate to those within the Ionian Sea.
#5 – Paros
Paros, the second largest of the Cyclades, can also be one among its most well-known. Though I’d by no means heard of Paros earlier than doing analysis on the Cyclades, I believe it’s most likely the third most visited island after Santorini and Mykonos.
The principle city of Naoussa is far more commercialized than different Cyclades cities however nonetheless maintains an exquisite and charming previous city really feel. I got here in August to Paros and it was very energetic. Day by day the waterfront was packed to the brim with folks having fun with the gorgeous sundown and the ocean breeze.
Exterior of Naoussa are a lot smaller and extra quaint villages. Marpissa, Marmara, and Lefkes are should go to cities in Paros for his or her unbelievable magnificence and allure.
Antiparos is a small satellite tv for pc island subsequent door to Paros. It was as soon as a sleepy fishing island however in latest a long time has was a hideout for the ultrawealthy constructing large resorts. Tom Hanks might be its most well-known resident amongst many others. However, the principle Chora of Antiparos is well visited on a day journey from Paros and presents one of the lovely previous cities within the Cyclades. It positively oozes a little bit of a complicated higher class vibe however it’s nicely definitely worth the go to for a day.
Naxos is the largest island within the Cyclades and in addition the “capital” in olden instances. Whereas different islands have their major city (Chora) up within the mountains as that made it more durable for marauding pirates to assault, the Chora of Naxos was all the time the principle port city.
The Chora of Naxos is sort of a extra rustic model of neighboring Mykonos. Whilst you’ll undoubtedly cross via the Chora, the encompassing cities are the place Naxos actually steals the present.
I’d wager that among the most picturesque and photogenic cities in your complete Cyclades are on Naxos. Filoti, Apeiranthos, and Koronos are my favourite cities to wander via and take pictures. It’s not as excessive white as different islands however that offers it a extra distinctive allure for my part.
Naxos can also be house to quite a few seashores excellent for lounging, kitesurfing, and even diving. There’s lots to do and eat right here.
Learn my detailed publish about visiting Naxos!
#7 – Ios
Ios is named the social gathering island for Greeks. Mykonos steals the thunder usually due to how unique and finished up it’s, however people who wish to social gathering with out breaking the financial institution come to Ios. The Chora is definitely fairly picturesque because it’s constructed alongside a hill however I discovered it to be higher for footage from afar (of the Chora) than strolling inside it.
Maybe it’s as a result of I had been to so many different islands earlier than Ios however the within the Chora was not as spectacular as others. However, the island nonetheless boasts unbelievable mountain landscapes and maybe the very best seashores within the Cyclades.
Once more, the Cyclades usually are not the highest seaside spots in Greece. That honor would go to the islands within the Ionian sea like Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Lefkada. The seashores within the Cyclades don’t evaluate to these islands. Ios might be as shut because it will get from the locations I visited. There are lengthy sandy stretches of seaside with tremendous clear blue waters.
#8 – Santorini
Santorini wants no introduction to anybody. It’s essentially the most visited island in Greece and doubtless one of the visited islands on the planet (if not essentially the most). Tens of millions of individuals come right here yearly which routinely makes it a much less fascinating place for me.
It is just too crowded and too touristy. Positive the views and footage you possibly can take from Oia, Santorini’s most well-known city, are nice, however you might be primarily ready in keeping with a whole bunch of different folks to take the identical photograph. I do know this as a result of I had an Airbnb proper in entrance of the well-known three blue Domes. The road of individuals would begin from 7am and wouldn’t abate till 11pm. This was additionally throughout COVID, the place I used to be instructed the quantity of vacationers was at 20% of the capability as regular instances.
In case you are planning to spend the massive bucks and keep at a really unique resort overlooking the ocean, this may very well be higher as you’ll have extra privateness. Nonetheless, I simply assume after spending a lot time on the opposite islands, Santorini left me lower than impressed. I do know 99% of individuals will go to Santorini regardless and purely out of FOMO and that’s okay. I additionally wished to go to out of FOMO. It’s nonetheless a really visually pleasing island and is value seeing.
Nonetheless, it’s simply not a spot I’d go rush again to.
#9 – Mykonos
Mykonos is named the social gathering island of Greece. Folks flock right here from everywhere in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, Cruise ships, and the prefer to see the Chora and expertise the nightlife. Mykonos might be most well-known for its quite a few seaside golf equipment which might be social gathering by day, and social gathering by night time.
The Chora of Mykonos is positioned proper on the port and is definitely one of the picturesque cities within the Cyclades. It satisfies every little thing you’d need in a Cyclades city with its lovely windmills, whitewashed church buildings, stone streets. It’s additionally house to the well-known Little Venice that are colourful homes positioned on the waterfront that’s well-known for its views.
Mykonos was my first island within the Cyclades purely as a result of there are flights that go there from Greece and Europe. I visited in July 2020 as Greece was reopening to the world. There weren’t many individuals in Mykonos which made it far more of an pleasurable expertise. I actually favored the Chora and particularly the sundown bars. Nonetheless, July 2020 noticed about 10-15% of regular capability. There have been no cruise ships in any respect. The Chora isn’t an enormous place in any case, and I may solely think about how horrible it could be in regular instances.
The value for meals and alcohol are considerably dearer on Mykonos and Santorini. I’d think about a 50% value enhance from Mykonos versus the neighboring islands.
With that mentioned, I believe Mykonos remains to be value a go to if not simply to verify off the FOMO guidelines. Nonetheless, I’m purely rating it on the backside as a result of it’s one of many final locations I’d re-visit after seeing so many different extra charming and fewer frequented islands.
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