The Greek Islands are the stuff of dreams and legends and island hopping in the Cyclades group of islands is truly a vacation you will never forget.
Home to iconic islands like Santorini and Mykonos the Cyclades offer many options for a wide variety of travellers. With 24 inhabited islands located southeast of Athens, the name Cyclades comes from the word ‘cycle’ or circle and refers to their position around the sacred island of Delos.
TIP * Pronounced “kee-KLAH-dhess”
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When to visit the Cyclades
The best times to visit the Greek Islands are April-June and September-October. The weather is mild and most places have few crowds. High season is late June to early September, and prices will reflect that as will the crowds, the number of cruise ships and accommodation availability. Peak season is July & August.
Best beach and swimming weather: June to September
Best sightseeing weather: March to June and September/October
Further reading: When to visit Greece – a month by month guide
Where are the Cyclades Islands?
This famous group of 30 inhabited islands is located right in the middle of the Aegean Sea, southeast of Athens.
The southernmost island is Santorini which is north of Crete, about 2 hours south by ferry.
It’s important when island hopping in the Cyclades to understand the location of your destinations to maximise the ferry routes and ensure you aren’t wasting time doubling back. It’s also a good idea to learn which islands have airports as many people find a combination of flights in or out of the Cyclades, which travelling between them by ferry, works best.
Santorini is a bucket list destination for most people and for good reason.
Despite the cruise ships and the crowds, it remains one of those places that not only meets your expectations but probably exceeds it. The views truly are the stuff of legends and it is little wonder it is so popular with honeymooners.
There are a surprising amount of things to do on Santorini with beaches, wineries, hot springs, great shopping, hiking and some of the worlds most iconic and photographed sunsets.
OPEN : YEAR ROUND
BEST FOR : HONEYMOONERS, COUPLES, HISTORY BUFFS
How to get to Santorini
The small international airport on Santorini has several flights to Athens a day as well as regular flights in summer from other European destinations like Rome and England. Check flight schedules HERE.
There are also many ferries each day, year round.
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Where to stay in Santorini :
There are 18 towns and villages in Santorini. Most visitors stay in 8 of them but particularly the Capital, Fira or the much-photographed Oia or Imerovigli. All of these are perched on the Caldera and look out over the volcano, with incredible sunsets.
Some people also like to stay in the beachside towns of Kamari or Perissa which are a more affordable alternative.
We love Pyrgos which is an authentic medieval town in the middle of the island as well.
For couples & solo: It’s hard to beat Santorini Supreme for luxury, privacy and gob-smacking views from the private pool. Sweet Peony is also gorgeous and quite good value compared to other villas of its standard.
For something a bit different look at Pyrgos 1870 winery.
In Oia we have had a great stay with our family at Armeni Village who have loft style rooms with daybeds as well.
Where to eat in Santorini
Dinner: Santorini Mou in Oia or Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna in Ammoudi Bay are wonderful. For stunning clifftop views check out Lycabettus and Strogoli for special occasions and Melitini and Pelekanos for traditional meals.
Drinks: PK Cocktail Bar is amazing and check out Le Moustache Pool Lounge too.
Things to do in Santorini
There is a lot more to do on Santorini than people think. The island is slightly larger than Manhattan and has more to offer than sunsets and luxury caldera views.
The most popular activity on Santorini is a caldera cruise, either a day cruise with swim stops and a visit to the volcano or a sunset cruise – very romantic!
Explore the maze of streets in Oia including Panagia Platsani Church and be sure to pop into famous Atlantis Books for a unique bookshop experience. Swim at Black Beach, Red Beach and Kamari Beaches and/or if time is short do a half day tour of the island and a tour of the world renowned wineries with a sommelier.
Novel things to do that are pretty unique include attending a ‘traditional’ Greek wedding! having a professional photographic session done – hard to beat the backdrop or even a ‘Flying Dress’ photography session – the hottest thing on Instagram!
Mykonos needs no introduction as its reputation is known the world over. This party island is Greece’s Ibiza or Cabo with serious beach parties and international DJs and concerts occurring 24/7 in the summer months.
There are also numerous high-end restaurants and bars, designer shopping and lots of beach activities. Celebrities are almost always guaranteed!
It is a pretty island and the beaches are excellent but it can be very crowded and expensive too. Due to its heavy dependency on summer tourism, it is a seasonal island and most things only operate between May and October.
Right next door to Mykonos is the sacred island of Delos, the heartbeat of the Cyclades so there is also a large number of visitors who are on Mykonos just to (often briefly) see that.
OPEN: MOSTLY MAY TO MID OCTOBER
BEST FOR: SINGLES, GROUPS, LGBTI, OVERNIGHT HISTORY & MYTHOLOGY BUFFS
How to get to Mykonos
Mykonos has a small international airport with numerous commercial and charter flights during the tourist season.
There is a fairly new Port for the Ferries and regular connections with Athens ( all 3 ports) and the other Cyclades islands, especially those in the east.
NEED TRANSPORT FOR MYKONOS?
*TIP The public bus on Mykonos is quite good and it’s based out of Mykonos Town. In July and August however there are long queues and it can be hard to get a seat. There is also a water-taxi that services the southern beaches, based in Platys Gialos.
Where to stay in Mykonos
It can be confusing trying to work out where to stay on Mykonos. Some of the most popular attractions are spread across the island and transport can be challenging.
If you’re looking for a home base that will allow you to easily explore other parts of the island without your own vehicle, Mykonos Town may be perfect.
Ornos is also a popular choice especially for families as it has a wide, usually calm, beach.
For couples & solo: Check out Boheme with its ultra-cool Boho interiors in Mykonos Town. Not far from there is Portobello Boutique Hotel which is a lovely mid-range option. Lyo Boutique Hotel is our pick of the hotels in Super Paradise while budget travellers will love Andriani’s Guest House which is in a great location and excellent value.
For families and groups: Elia’s Curve is a stylish Villa overlooking Elias beach and can sleep 6 people in stunning, sophisticated luxury or, if you want to stay right on Nammos Beach and live like the rich and famous patrons then Villa Santa Katerina is the perfect luxury option for you.
For small groups wanting to splurge Once Upon a Windmill is a stunning conversion that looks out over the Harbour and can sleep 4 in 2 bedrooms. Perfect for two couples!
Big groups will find A Sea of Honey hard to pass up. This stunning villa designed by a renowned architect can sleep up to 16 people in 8 bedrooms and has a sublime pool with stunning views and daybeds.
Where to eat and drink in mYkonos
Breakfast: Breakfast is always included in hotel tariffs ( amazing ones too!). The Liberty Breakfast Room is fantastic as is Cosmo Cafe and El Burro.
Lunch: Lunch by the beach is part of the reason people love Mykonos. Being able to swim, sunbathe, ride on a jet ski and then wander into the taverna or have food bought to your sunbed is Mykonos 101.
If it’s just a meal you are after then Alesta View has amazing views across the island or Kastro’s in Mykonos Town is an institution. For cheap and cheerful eats To Maereio and Amades Eat Local are great or grab a Souvlaki at Sakis, Souvlaki Story or Lounda Pikantiki.
Our all-time favourite place to have lunch on Mykonos is Kiki’s Tavern in the north of the island near Agios Sostis Beach. Great food, great views, great service and good prices. This is a MUST DO!
Beachclubs such as Scorpios, Nammos, Jackie O’s and Super Paradise are the stuff of legends and are famous ( or infamous) worldwide. These are places where you come for lunch and a swim and leave at sunrise. There are international DJ’s and crazy beach parties in summer at all of them. If you want a sunbed you will need to book in advance.
Dinner: We love Yialo Yialo and Avli Tou Thodori in Platis Gialos or Nikolas Seafood Tavern on Agia Anna Beach. Hippie Fish on Agios Ioannis Beach is world-famous and has amazing sunsets too ( book this very early!).
In Ornos Appaggio and Kostantis are fantastic while in Mykonos Town D’Angelo and Captains are institutions. Vegans must check out Koukoumi Vegan Restaurant in the hills above Kalo Livadi Beach.
Drinks: There’s no shortage of bars on the most famous party island in Greece. In Mykonos Town Katerinas, Scarpa Bar, Galleraki, Bao’s, Negrita and Caprice are the ones you’ve all seen in photos lined up alone Little Venice in the colourful waterfront huts. Nearby Notorious and 54 Cocktail & Sunset Lounge are worth a look.
Things to do in Mykonos
Many people visit Mykonos not for Mykonos but to visit the incredible sacred neighbouring island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo. These people are often also content to just hang out at Little Venice and take photos with the iconic windmills.
You can easily spend the days celebrity spotting at the world-famous beachclubs ( see above) or do a cruise of the stunning Southern Beaches with swimming and lunch. A sailing trip at Sunset is very popular too.
- Further reading:
There’s a good reason why Paros is a perennial favourite for so many visitors.
Beautiful beaches, medieval villages, wineries, harbours and easy access to neighbouring islands, they say Paros is like Mykonos was 20 years ago. It has all the charm and atmosphere but without the crowds and the steep prices, particularly in summer.
There are two large towns, the Port town of Parikia and the more cosmopolitan and lively town of Naoussa in the north. Both are lovely and offer something for everyone.
There is also the magical inland village of Lefkas in the hills and numerous beachside villages dotted around the island.
The island is a good size that allows a full loop as a day trip but not so small you run out of things to do or places to explore.
OPEN: EASTER THROUGH OCTOBER
BEST FOR: COUPLES, SINGLES, FAMILIES, EVERYONE
How to get to PAROS
Paros has a small domestic airport with year round flights especially during the tourist season.
Parikia is the Port town where there are regular connections with Athens and the other Cyclades islands.
TIP : The Airport is quite isolated. We usually hire a car here or it pays to book a private transfer in advance.
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Where to stay in paros
Paros has a lot to offer and a lot of excellent accommodation catering for all budgets. There are no high rise and big all-inclusive resorts so the emphasis is on small family-run boutique hotels and rooms.
There are two main towns, Naoussa and Parikia which is where many stay so they have everything at their door step and no need for a car, although hiring a car for a day or two to explore the island is very worthwhile. Naoussa is more upmarket and more expensive but still much cheaper than Mykonos, although it has a similar vibe to Little Venice with a very lively dining and bar scene.
For couples: We love to stay at Paliomylos Spa Hotel. It’s a stylish, Cycladic hotel with exceptional service as hundreds of our readers can also attest to.
If you are happy to splurge and are looking for an adults-only experience then Lilly Residence and Parian Boutique Hotel are both stunning while great cheap and cheerful options include Irini Rooms and Hotel Iris.
For a fully-self contained luxury Villa check in to Watching the Ships Roll in, high in the hills above the Port with incredible sunsets and a private pool.
For families and groups: If you are after a fully self-contained house that can sleep at least 6 people then you can rent both a one-bedroom and two-bedroom house at Villa Helena right near Piperi Beach. Other family/group friendly places with two and three bedroom apartments include Zoumis Studios.
If you’re look for a private, luxury Villa then Whitestone Dream can be your own slice of paradise, located on a hill above Naoussa. It can sleep 10 people. In the medieval village of Kostas you can book Lunar Power, a big luxury villa with a huge pool and big views, while in the south of the island Passion Project is near Aliki, one of the nicest villages on the island with a lovely calm beach and great food.
Solo: Argonauta Hotel in Parikia is gorgeous and means you can happily spend your entire time without a car – very Chic and located in one of the small cobblestones alleys near the Port. If you’d like to be right near the beach then check our Grozos Rooms which are cheap, very cheerful and only a short stroll into the old town.
Where to eat and drink in Paros
Breakfast: There are some amazing bakeries on Paros. One of our first stops every visit is to Tserki before heading out to Naoussa and there we also find ourselves regularly at Ragoussis.
Lunch: We think the best Souvlakia in Naoussa is at Souvlakia Kargas while Sousouro and Cafe Carino are excellent coffee shops. In Parikia head north and the seaside tavernas of Koralli ( get the mussels!) and Tango Mar on the beach.
Elsewhere on the island we have had amazing lunches at To Balcony tou Aki in Aliki and Markakis in Piso Livadi while the Gyros at Mylos Grill outside Marpissa is probably the best on the island.
It’s also great to spend the day ( or at least a few hours) at a good seaside taverna with sunbeds and umbrellas who bring your lunch to you. Aspro at Ambelas, Faragas at Faragas Beach and Punda Coast all do this well although we especially love the taverna and everything about Monastiri Beach west of Naoussa.
Dinner: The Old Harbour in Naoussa is one of the most popular dining precincts in Greece where you will find hundreds of tables lined around the harbour belonging to excellent tavernas such as Mario, Sigi Ikthios and Tsachpines. On the other side of the Old Harbour to the east is a pebbly beach with more tavernas and bars such as Statheros and Taverna Glafkos.
In Parikia Dionysos Garden Restaurant is truly lovely as is Distrato and Mana Mana further along the alley. There are also excellent tavernas along the waterfront that are lively at night such as Mira and Brizoladiko Steak House.
Drinks: There’s no shortage of bars on Paros either with Naoussa somewhat of a giant open-air bar after dinner. We always end up at Agosta on our visits but Barbarossa and Linardo are very popular and much photographed.
Things to do in Paros
Hanging out at the beach is how many people spend their time on the Greek Islands and Paros is no exception. Good beaches include Kolymbithres, Monastiri and Lageri, all connected to Naoussa by water taxi. Other great beaches around the island are Santa Maria, Golden Beach and Chrisi Akti.
There is no shortage of history to absorb too. The medieval town of Lefkas is always worth a visit while the Frankish Castle and Ancient Marble Quarries ( The Venus de Milos came from here!) are fascinating.
One of the most important churches in Greece is in Parikia the byzantine Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani aka The Church of 100 Doors.
There are a lot of cultural activities to enjoy including cooking classes, language lessons and a watercolour workshop . It’s really worth considering a private photoshoot to really make the most of those colours and that light!
We always recommend doing a full day sailing the Small Cyclades island which is always an unforgettable day out or a one day cruise to Antiparos. You can also do a full day cruise over to the Small Cyclades islands ( stunning!).
If you would rather explore the island under your own steam then rent a car for the day or a full day small boat rental.
- Further reading:
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands and has a rugged, mountainous landscape, and long sandy beaches. In fact Naxos beaches are considered some of the best beaches in Europe. It has an excellent reputation for food, especially its cheese, honey and potatoes but it’s nightlife is fairly staid.
Naxos has one main town, Chora, and many people see this as an advantage for Naxos as the port, airport, main town and good beaches are all close together. While it’s a great idea to hire a car to explore some of the more remote parts of the island it does mean that you can have a perfectly nice vacation without one too.
There is a lot to see and do and it’s proximity to a number of other beautiful islands makes it a firm favourite with families, couples and solo travellers year after year. Families with small children especially love Naxos as it has several big beaches with calm, shallow water that are very safe. Many families have returned each year for decades!
OPEN : EASTER THROUGH OCTOBER
BEST FOR: EVERYONE BUT ESPECIALLY FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN AND FOODIES
How to get to Naxos
Naxos also has a small domestic airport with year round flights especially during the tourist season.
Naxos Town(Chora) is the Port town where there are regular connections with Athens and the other Cyclades islands.
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Where to stay in naxos
For couples and Solo: In Chora we love Nissaki Beach Hotel which is right behind Agios Georgios Beach or Hotel Grotta or Nastasia Village, who have newly renovated rooms in a quite spot a few streets back from the beach and the main part of town. in Agios Prokopios Virtu Suites is right across from the beach and have a great Beach Club too.
For families and groups: Check out Ikaros Studios and Apartments in Chora which has a great pool but is only a short walk to this popular family beach.
There are a couple of amazing villas on the island too –
Villa Themis is surrounded by orange orchards in the middle of the island yet is easy to get to and central to many things. Built by a Greek-American artist who lived in NYC it is right near where the Naxos Festival is held each year. It can sleep up to 14 people in 6 bedrooms and has a wonderful shady swimming pool and garden.
At the southern end of the island is Villa Alyko, right next to the famous Aliko Cedar Forest. There are actually 3 villas that can sleep up to 24 people combined and they are right on the beach with amazing sea views.
Big groups love Keep The Lights on, a beautiful Villa right on the beachfront at Plaka Beach which can sleep 10.
Where to eat and drink in NAXOS
Breakfast and coffee: There are some excellent bakeries on Naxos. Naxos Bakery is right near the port entry, Sitari is a few blocks into the old town and have amazing pastries, as does Liofagos. For coffee many people love to people watch at Rendez-vous Cafe at the Marina or Bossa and klik cafes.
Lunch: Yasouvlaki do arguably the best Gyros on the island. For tavernas by the sea look no further than Nissaki and Manolo right on St George Beach or Macao around at Agios Prokopios Beach.
Dinner: To Elliniko is an institution and regarded by many as one of the best traditional taverans on the Greek Islands. For something a little more modern and very romantic it’s hard to beat Doukato, although Oasis is excellent too. Meze 2 is another very popular choice and Irini’s and Pizzadelia are great for families with young children.
Drinks: There aren’t a lot of bars on Naxos but there are several that are fantastic. Honey & Cinnamon rate a special mention as does Swing Cocktail Bar, The Rum Bar and Kitron. For amazing views check out 520 Cocktail Bar and Toro Rooftop Bar.
At Agios Prokopios head to Island Bar or Naxos for cool beachside vibes and Yazoo Summer Bliss at Plaka Beach.
Things to do in naxos
While many people spend their days at the beach on Naxos there is plenty of other things to do as well especially exploring the neighbouring islands of the Small Cyclades. It’s also possible to visit nearby Mykonos and Delos either by ferry or on a cruise.
Visit Fontaine d’Aria Springs
Hike up to Routsouna’s Waterfall
Visit Eggares Olive Oil Museum
Explore the Old Market and Kastro in the Chora
Find the Faragi and Apollonas Kouros – the remains of giant marble statues
See the Archaeological Site of Yria Naxos
- Further reading:
With similar extraordinary geology and landscapes as the result of volcanic activity it also has stunning beaches, quaint villages and some of the best food in Greece!
Milos has some of the best, and most interesting beaches in Greece. It’s main industry is Mining and there are many mines still in production today. This is why you see amazing colours and landscapes on Milos that you don’t see on the other islands.
It is not as developed as islands like Paros and Naxos and certainly Santorini and Mykonos so it is luckily rarely crowded, as there is simply a limited number of rooms. It often books out completely in summer so be sure to book your accommodation here well in advance.
There are a lot of things to do in Milos and many are things you wont see elsewhere, which makes it very special.
OPEN: EASTER TO MID OCTOBER
BEST FOR: COUPLES, SINGLES, PHOTOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY ENTHUSTIASTS, FOODIES
How to get to MILOS
Milos also has a small domestic airport with year round flights especially during the tourist season. All flights are to or from Athens and the flight is a pleasant 45-minute journey.
By sea, there are several direct routes from Piraeus port in Athens to Milos each day throughout the year. The fastest takes around 4 hours and 20 minutes whilst the longer journey can be up to 14 hours on the Blue Star Ferry. Indirect routes are also available via other islands such as Syros and Paros.
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Where to stay in Milos
Adamas is the Port town where there are regular connections with Athens and the other Cyclades islands. Adamas is a typical port town, full of car rental agencies, boats, cafes and backpackers.
The other main towns are Plaka which is up on the hill above Adamas (charming and great views but its still a pretty small village) and Pollonia which is where we stay. Pollonia is a charming seaside town at the north-east tip of the island and it’s small harbour is full of seafood restaurants, cafes and traditional tavernas as well as a good winery. The small fishing port is home to the ferry that takes you over to neighbouring Kimolos island.
Adamas is a typical port town, full of car rental agencies, boats, cafes and backpackers.
For couples & Solo: We love staying at Unique Suites Milos and cannot recommend them highly enough. Right across from the beach ( with a private beach section with huge bean bags) the suites are modern and very spacious and the service is outstanding.
In Plaka Halara Studios are also exceptional with beautifully appointed rooms and amenities and sweeping views over the sea while in Adamas Miland Suites is in the hills behind the town but have gorgeous suites with amazing views over the island.
In the Southern Beaches Psaravolada Hotel is a beautiful new small resort with suites and rooms looking over the sea. It has an excellent restaurant and is good value given its amenities. Further along at Paliochori Artemis deluxe rooms is a stunning boutique hotel with luxe suites, some with private pools.
For families and groups: Staying in a windmill is very unique and a lot of fun and you can do that at Drougas Windmill.
Milos is also famous for its colourful ‘Syrma’ or fisherman’s huts, most of which are still in use today. Some of these huts are now available for rent and are some of the most unique places to stay in Greece!
Where to eat and drink in Milos
Breakfast: Another island with some great bakeries and in particular Kivotos ton Gefseon ( Arc of Flavours) in Pollonia. Be sure to get their famous Chocolate Pie!
Lunch: Considered by many as the best of the seafood tavernas to line the waterfront bay at Pollonia Gialos is a lovely spot to sit and watch the local fishermen coming and going as is Medusa in Mandrakia, where several fishermans huts are.
Dinner: The legend of O’Hamos has spread across the world with long queues in peak times. Operating for over 30 years just outside Adamas this family established one of the first paddock to plate models in Greece with everything at the restaurant grown by them including the meat, cheese, fruit, and vegetables. There is a huge selection to choose from in the eight-page menus HANDWRITTEN in six languages!
Jordan’s Meating House in Pollonia is a block back from the popular waterfront restaurants and therefore it’s also about half the price. As the name suggests this taverna specializes in ‘meat’ and offers delicious home-cooked meals such as lamb chops, souvlaki and Soutzoukakia ( meatballs in tomato sauce). Live music regularly too.
Things to do in Milos
The main attractions on Milos are quite spread out and the public bus is slow so most people hire a car or scooter and it’s an easy place to drive with few roads and little traffic.
Another good idea is to book a tour with a local guide. There are only a few to choose from but it’s great to be picked up and driven around in a nice airconditioned van with a driver full of local knowledge.
There is a good one focused on archeology and culture and another half-day tour on Volcanology and Geology which is quite fascinating! Otherwise the BEST OF MILOS TOUR is an 8 hour guided tour of all the highlights of the island and hard to beat.
Other highlights are:
- The many wonderful beaches – 72 all up!
- The Catacombs
- Sailing to Kleftiko Pirate Cove ( the highlight of our trip)
- The Mining Museum – quite fascinating
- A day trip over to Kimolos Island
- Visiting the ‘Syrma’ ( colourful fishing huts) villages
- Enjoy wine tasting and a private tour at Kostantaki Winery in Pollonia
- Hike up to the old Kastro in Plaka for incredible views over the whole island
- Further reading:
Also known as Siros or Syra this island is very different from the others in the group with its colourful neo-classical buildings and many impressive Government buildings, museums, theatres and even a casino! This is the most populated of the islands which also means it is a year round destination.
Syros is steeped in history and, as it is one of the few islands not occupied at some time by the Ottomans but instead the French and Venetians half the island is still Catholic. The capital of Ermoupolis is right next to its sister town of Ano Syros, the original capital and place to spend many fascinating hours getting lost in its inner alleys.
Syros is very chic and cosmopolitan. We often say that if Greece and Italy had a baby, this would be it.
It really is one of Europes best-kept secrets!
OPEN: YEAR ROUND
BEST FOR: HISTORY BUFFS, CULTURE VULTURES, SOLO TRAVELLERS & GROUPS
How to get to Syros
Syros has a domestic airport with year round flights especially during the tourist season. All flights are to or from Athens and take just 25 minutes.
Syros is well connected by boat, and reaching it by sea is simple. The ferry from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, takes between 2.5 and 4 hours depending on which ferry you book.
Syros can also be reached via ferry services from another Athens port, Rafina, which runs from May to October. This daily service takes 1.5 hours.
There are also a number of different boat connections to many of the other Cycladic islands, such as Crete, Thessaloniki, Skiathos, and the Dodecanese islands.
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Where to stay in syros
For couples & Solo: The new DIIO Suites have amazing views of the port and are very well priced. Also with amazing views, but this time of Verona bay, lined with the gorgeous colourful neo-classical buildings and right on top of Ciel Beach Bar, its hard to beat Pafsilipon Suites.
You can also find hotels such as charming Wind Tales situated high on a hilltop in a medieval part of the town.
If you are looking for a bit of a splurge the stunning Aristide Hotel is a design dream and, in our opinion, one of the most stylish hotels in the Greek Islands.
For families and groups: For something really unique, situated high on the hill in Ano Syros up behind Ermoupoli is Anemomylos Windmill which is a fair way from the centre of town but with incredible, panoramic views.
Galissas is one of the most popular of Syros’ tourist resorts and has one of the best and biggest beaches on the island. It’s located five kilometres from Ermoupolis and is on the western side of the island so the sunsets are wonderful. Here Dolphin Bay Resort is very popular with families or Caviri Apartments, which is surrounded by nature.
If you are looking to rent your own luxury Villa check out Villa Ourea. Located high on the hill above Mega Gialos in the south the panoramic views from the stunning infinity pool really are something. Perfect for wedding and events!
Where to eat and drink in syros
Dinner: Our favourite traditional tavernas in Ermoupoli include To Tsipouradiko tis Mirsinis, Lute and the Agrotourism Womens Co-Operative of Syros while Sol Grano does outstanding Italian and Kiyo and Dr Wine do modern Greek cuisine so well.
Drinks: For drinks Ciel Beach Bar is one of the most popular beach bars in the Cyclades for good reason, with its amazing views of the colourful architecture lining the waterfront. Cafe Plous also has amazing views in Ermoupouli as does Boheme del Mar is right on the harbour.
Things to do in syros
Syros may not be one of the most popular islands in the Aegean Sea, but it’s still got a lot on offer for the tourists who do make the trip here.
It’s a relaxing, family-friendly place, boasting a string of beautiful beaches, pretty towns and historic architecture to admire.
Here are some of the best things to do on Syros:
- Explore Vaporia Square around the Port
- Visit Ermoupolis Town Hall – dating back to 1898 and built in the Neoclassical style.
- Take in a recital at Ermoupolis’ Apollo Theatre
- Explore Ano Syros and its medieval buildings including the Syros Capuchin Monastery.
- Do a cooking class
- See the Archeological Site of Halandriani with over 500 graves and artefacts
- Have a session with a Professional Photographer – capture your memories forever!
- Visit the excellent Museums including Syros Archeological Museum, the Industrial Museum and the Historical Archives of Syros – all fascinating!
- Explore the shipwrecks offshore with the Syros Dive Centre
- Further reading:A complete Guide to Syros
Long known as the budget party island of Greece for decades in recent years there has been a small shift in image for Ios as several high end hotels open, in particular Calilo, the Instagrammers new dream in the Greek Islands.
It is a very beautiful island and while the party still continues until dawn in some parts of Chora there are many parts of the island that remain tranquil. It can be a great alternative to the other islands as it is often overlooked due to its party reputation which keeps the prices low. It is also very centrally located.
OPEN: EASTER TO OCTOBER
BEST FOR: YOUNG SINGLES, SOLO, BUDGET TRAVELLERS
How to get to Ios
Ios is located about halfway between Paros and Naxos and Santorini to the south or Milos to the west.
There is no airport on Ios so the only way to get there is by Ferry or Helicopter. Ferries are frequent, especially in Summer and it is a busy hub where many people change ferries from the western Cyclades to the east or to Santorini and Crete in the south.
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Where to stay in Ios
While Chora may be very busy at night it is very quiet during the day, apart from around the port. Explore the cobblestone back streets while the party people sleep it off!
Just south of Chora is Milopotas Beach which is a great alternative to Chora and much quieter.
The Beaches are excellent and are some of the best in Greece.
For Couples: Calilo is THE new place for Honeymooners and couples to stay in the Greek Islands. It comes with a pretty hefty price tag but everyone seems to think it is worth it. Liostasi Hotel is a great spot to stay in Chora – far enough away from the noise but with beautiful views over the bay.
For families and groups: Bay View Villas are in a quiet part of Chora between two excellent beaches and have panoramic views over the bay.
At the south of the island there is also an amazing Villa to rent called Magnificent Marble which can sleep 8 people in 3 bedrooms and panoramic views of the beach and surrounds with heaps of privacy. Or for a smaller group check out Staying in Greece Villa, overlooking Chora which sleeps 4 in modern luxury and has a huge swimming pool and bar in the complex.
Solo: Ios Palace Hotel & Spa in Milopotas will treat you like royalty and looks out over the beautiful beach below. We also like Seabreeze Hotel in Chora which is on the other side of the harbour yet an easy walk into town.
Where to eat and drink in Ios
Lunch: Head to Drakos Tavern in Mylopotas for a great meal by the sea or Harmony Ios on the other side of the bay. Both also great at sunset.
The main dining precinct on Ios is at the back of Chora below the Church of the Virgin Mary of the Cliff. Here you will find lots of cheap dining options – Gyros, Thai etc… as well as some excellent tavernas such as Katogi Tavern and Sainis. Dine early and get out before the bars fill up or stay and join in!
Overlooking the harbour you will find Ithaka and Peri Anemon, both excellent as is Allo Tapas Bar.
There is no shortage of bars on Ios. Ios Club Sunset Bar is famous for its views while Click Cocktail and Yialou Beach Bar are perennial favourites. Late at night places like Lost Boys, Slammer, Sweet Irish Dream and Fun Pub is where you will find hordes of young people, often until sunrise.
Things to do in Ios
As mentioned Ios has some of the best beaches in Greece.
There are also lots of watersports to do including Suba Diving, Windsurfing and Kitesurfing. You’ll find numerous hire places along the beaches at Gialos and Mylopotas. You can also do a boat cruise around to some of the best beaches and even visit Santorini for the day on a private tour!
Skarkos is an early Bronze Age settlement found close to the port and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Cyclades. You can also visit the Tomb of Homer, the famous philosopher and author of the first book ever published in the West, The Iliad.
There are numerous churches of course and the remains of a Venetian Castle in PaleoKastro. Odysseas Elytis Theatre is a must-see, especially if you can visit as part of a concert or festival in the summer months.
There’s also some nice shops on the island especially in Chora where you will find many boutiques, jewellery stores, gift shops and galleries.
Right between Milos and Paros is one of Greece’s loveliest islands that hardly anyone has heard of.
Sifnos has all the charm and amenities of its more famous neighbours with few crowds and no cruise ships nor airport. Its holidaymakers tend to be regulars who secretly sneak in and out and keep the island all to themselves.
The island is renowned for its food, ceramics/pottery and hiking trails.
If you’re looking for a really laid back place for your Greek Island holiday then Sifnos is possibly it!
OPEN: EASTER TO MID-OCTOBER
BEST FOR: COUPLES AND FAMILIES, HIKERS AND FOODIES
How to get to SIFNOS
There is no airport on Sifnos so the only way to get there is by Ferry or Helicopter.
It is connected to the ports of Piraeus and Rafina in Athens and the other Cycladic islands as well as Crete, Rhodes, and other Dodecanese and East Aegean Islands.
Depending on the day you may catch a high-speed ferry or a more conventional, slow one.
NEED TRANSPORT FOR SIFNOS
Book Ferry tickets HERE
Book Hire Car HERE
Book Private Airport Pickup HERE
WHERE TO STAY IN SIFNOS
For couples and solo travellers: The capital, Apollonia is where the main dining and shopping precinct is and it really comes alive at night. Arhontou and Gerofinikas are both gorgeous and well located here.
If you would prefer to be by the sea then book either Aegean Eye Apartments in Kastro with their incredible views of the sea or Elies Resorts in Vathy, with its cute little tavernas under the trees on the sand.
For families and groups: Families are often happy in the port town of Kamares with its long, shallow sandy beach and several good tavernas and shops. Here check out Margado as a great mid-range hotel or Kamares Port Villa for groups.
Platys Gialos is the other popular choice with its looping, sandy horseshoe-shaped bay flanked by crystal clear water which is relatively calm and safe for swimmers. Here you can hire stand-up paddleboards, boats or other watersports equipment which are all available nearby. Here check out Platys Gialos Hotel Sifnos, Alexandros Hotel and Villa Alnetti.
Where to eat and drink in SIFNOS
Lunch: In Kamares we like to walk right around to the end of the bay to Delfini who do beautiful traditional Greek food with a great view. In Platis Gialos Omega3 is your best option with excellent food right on the beach, although To Steki has had a long term following as well.
If you are driving around the island it’s worth the drive to Vroulidia Beach for lunch at either Ta Vroulidia or Katerina’s Beach Cafe. In Vathy you will find a couple of small tavernas right on the beach and covered by big shady sea-loving trees. Our favourite is Symposio at the end.
Dinner: Most of the best restaurants in Sifnos are in Apollonia. You will need to book ahead for Cayenne which does innovative modern Mediterranean food with a twist in a lovely courtyard/art gallery setting.
There are often queues of people waiting to get into Drakakis and Okyalos who both do excellent Greek food at very good prices. Worth the wait!
Things to do in SIFNOS
Other things of interest to see is The Church of the Seven Martyrs, shopping, especially for ceramics which are renowned all over Greece and visiting the art galleries and boutiques.
Sifnos Trails is an excellent website with up to date maps, tips, and information for Hikers.
Further Reading: A Complete Guide to Sifnos
Located right in the middle of Santorini and Milos is the lovely island of Folegandros. Quiet, original and stunningly beautiful this may not be the island all your friends have been to but this is where you can have an authentic Greek experience with few other tourists and a laid back summer vibe. It has retained its traditional cuisine and boasts a healthy gastronomic scene of its own.
Folegandros looks a little like a much smaller version of Santorini but feels more like Sifnos. Home to only around 700 permanent inhabitants, the island of Folegandros may be small, but during the summer months it can get busy.
While Folegandros isn’t on the usual tourist route for most Greek Islands itineraries, it’s still packed with a number of things to do. Beaches and hiking are just the beginning while there are historic monuments to discover and charming villages to lose yourself in as well.
OPEN: EASTER TO OCTOBER
BEST FOR: COUPLES, SOLO TRAVELLERS AND PEOPLE OFF THE BEATEN PATH
How to get to FOLEGANDROS
There is no airport on Folegandros so the only way to get there is by Ferry or Helicopter.
It is connected to the ports of Piraeus in Athens via other Cycladic islands like Milos and Santorini where you could also choose to fly into or out of.
Depending on the day you may catch a high-speed ferry or a more conventional, slow one.
NEED TRANSPORT FOR folegandros
Book Ferry tickets HERE
Book Hire Car HERE
where to stay in folegandros
The island of Folegandros is rugged and hilly, and it’s on one of those hills that you’ll find its capital, Chora, located 200 meters above sea level.
This charming town is a beautiful place to stay in Folegandros. Think soaking up local life, eating in traditional tavernas, and looking out on an amazing sea view studded with islands.
For couples and solo travellers:
In Chora its hard to beat Aeri, which mixes modern and tradition and boasts amazing sea views and an outdoor pool. We also love Onar Suites & Villas – a stone’s throw from Radia Beach – and the elegant Amosuites & Spa who have fantastic open-air hot tubs, in the lovely port town of Karavostasis.
For families and groups:
Close to Chora is the small town of Ano Meria. Known for its beautiful landscapes and traditional feel, it’s another good option if you have a car and want peace and quiet. Check out self-catering places, such as Under The Palm Tree Studios (come for the views) or the very stylish Lemon Tree Houses (featuring an outdoor pool).
Where to eat and drink in folegandros
Most of the island’s eateries are located in Chora, the capital, where you can find everything from a welcoming café to an easygoing bar or a traditional restaurant. Here our favourites are Souvlaki Club and O’kritikos Grill House for cheap and cheerful meals and Melissa and To Goupi for romantic dinners.
There are also many low-key eateries found around popular beaches, such as Agali Beach, which are helpful if you’re spending the day by the sea. Here we think O Psaromiligkas is not to be missed!
Don’t expect much in the way of nightlife, but there are a few bars that stay open until 2:00 in the morning.
Things to do in folegandros
While Folegandros isn’t on the usual tourist route for most Greek Islands itineraries, it’s still packed with a number of things to do. Like any self-respecting island in the Aegean Sea beaches and hiking are the tip of the iceberg.
Good beaches include Agali, Agios Nikolaos, Katergos and Livadaki while Fira Beach is perfect to capture the amazing sunsets.
Other things to do include visiting the Ecological and Folklore Museum, seeing Chrissospilia Cave and Aspropounta Lighthouse and hiking between Ano Meria and Chora.
There are also a couple of festivals worth mentioning. TheSummer Festival takes place in early July when the whole island joins in the celebrations, with musical performances and concerts. There’s also the Sailing Festival in August, when the Nautical Club of Folegandros hosts a swimming and sailing competition at Karavostasis.
Located around an hour south-east of Naxos or 2-3 hours north-east of Santorini is the rather extraordinary Cycladic island of Amorgos.
With its beautiful beaches, pretty towns and authentic farms and villages Amorgos is also home to one of the most incredible Monasteries in Europe and a shipwreck featured in numerous films.
Amorgos has a permanent population of around 2000 residents many of whom are farmers, fishermen or are in hospitality.
It is only accessible by boat which keeps tourist numbers low and that is unlikely to change due to its unusual terrain.
OPEN: EASTER TO OCTOBER
BEST FOR: COUPLES, SOLO TRAVELLERS, HIKERS, HISTORY BUFFS AND RELIGIOUS TOURISTS
How to get to Amorgos
There is no airport on Amorgos ( and likely never will be) so the only way to get there is by Ferry.
It is connected to the ports of Piraeus in Athens via other Cycladic islands like Naxos and Santorini where you could also choose to fly into or out of.
NEED TRANSPORT FOR Amorgos?
Book Ferry tickets HERE
Book Hire Car HERE
where to stay in Amorgos
Located south-east of Naxos the island of Amorgos is long and narrow and very hilly, and is almost 50 square miles in area. There are three main towns, the main port of Katapola, the smaller port town of Aegiali ( aka Ornos Egialis) and the inland village of Chora. Most visitors stay in the two first ones. The population of Amorgos is around 2000 people.
For couples and solo travellers: Aegiali has more in the way of bars but also makes for a good base for hiking. Hotel options here include the charming Filoxenia, which overlooks the sea, or for something more unique, you could even stay in a cave hotel! In Katapola we love Amorgos Pearls, with its beachfront location and incredible sunsets!
For families and groups: The newly built Amorgion Hotel has been a big hit already with it’s great pool and family apartment. Generous triple rooms too!
Where to eat and drink in amorgos
Hungry explorers who have been to see the extraordinary Panagia Hozoviotissa monastery are often found dining in the tavernas of Chora, probably the best on the island. Transistoraki and Kallisto are amazing! There are a few cute bars and cafes here too.
In Aegiali, Yachendo is right on the waterfront and offer homemade dishes cooked daily with whats at hand. Limani is another popular spot with very traditional and affordable food.
Katapola is home to a great Creperie Cafe called Elichrison which is a great place to have breakfast and watch the ferries come in. The Corner Taverns is also on the waterfront and a great place for dinner as is Ανέμι and Youlaki Amorgos.
If you are exploring the island by car be sure to stop into Στον Πύργο, a traditional country taverna under big shady trees.
Things to do in AMORGOS
People come from all over the world to see the incredible Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa. This was built in 1117 and is the second oldest Monastery in Greece but even more impressive is its astounding location.
Built into the craggy rock face, at 300 meters above sea level, this white-washed building looks more like a castle than a monastery. To reach this storied monastery make your way past Chora and prepare for a hike – there are over 1,000 steps up to the entrance and the spectacular views of the island.
There is also a Venetian Castle to explore, the Churches of Agia Anna and Agios Geogios Valsmitis and well as many other beautiful small churches and chapels dotted across the island.
History buffs will enjoy the Archaeological Collection of Amorgos Museum and Amorgos Minoan Site which dates back to the 4th century.
Nature lovers are also in for a treat with several great beaches, namely Aegiali Beach near the port, Agia Anna Beach and Kalotaritissa Beach at the south of the island. This is where you will also find the shipwreck Olympia, used in the movie ‘The Big Blue’.
There are also sea caves to explore and plenty of hiking opportunities too.
Further reading : A Complete Guide to Amorgos
Located in the northern Cyclades above Mykonos Tinos is often overlooked by visitors who seek out the more familiar scenery in the southern islands.
Home to over 8000 people Tinos is a medium sized island – about the same in area as Paros, but is quite mountainous.
Tinos is most famous for its Church of Panagia Evengelistiria, believed to be the site of a visitaion from the Virgin. It also has over 80 windmills and 1000 dovecotes which are unique to the island. On Tinos you will find good beaches, charming villages, lots of hiking trails and unique architecture. It is a very authentic destination and one that is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts.
OPEN: EASTER TO OCTOBER
BEST FOR: OUTDOORS ENTHUSIASTS, SOLO TRAVELLERS, PILGRIMS
How to get to TINOS
Tinos is located in the Northern Cyclades and is just north of Mykonos.
There is no airport so all visitors arrive by Ferry. There are ferries from the main port of Athens, Pireaus, but also from the seaside town of Rafina in Western Athens.
where to stay in tinos
Located in the Northern Cyclades Tinos is a mountainous island that is not very developed. Most hotels are in the towns and villages in the south of the island such as Tinos Town and the beaches of Agios Romanos, Sostis and Ioannis Porto.
For couples and solo travellers: Lithos Luxury Suites are located near the Town Centre in Tinos Town and have stylish rooms, some with jacuzzis. Also check out Infinity View Hotel, a fairly new establishment on the outskirts of the harbour that offers very high quality and standards.
Byzantio Beach Suites and Wellness is a popular place for people seeking to get away from it all too.
For families and groups: Poseidonio Hotel is a great place for families and groups. Located right across from the small fishing harbour in Tinos Town it is surrounded by shops, cafes and tavernas and also Nama Boutique Hotel a few doors up.
Where to eat and drink in tinos
Breakfast and Coffee: PEGU Mar in Agios Fokas is a great spot at the beach for coffee and a bite while watching the world go by. In Tinos Town head to Kiriakatiko and Triantarki, both local institutions. Great Loukamades too!
Lunch: It worth a drive up into the mountains for the food alone let alone the views! Grab a table in the garden at Kastanas in Arnados, Κροκ Μεσιέ in Krokos or Tereza in Mirsini. This is a some of the best village food you will find in the Cyclades!
By the sea hang at at Luma All Day Bar in Agios Ioannis Porto or Kapari in Agios Sostis.
Dinner: In Tinos Town be sure to try Myrtilo and To Koutouki tis Elenis for some exceptional traditional food. Tarsanas is also great. Out at Fokas above the beach book a table at Olive in vrekastro for amazing food and sunset views. Marathia on the beach is also great.
Things to do in TINOS
The Panagia Evangelistria ( Megalochari) Church is the most famous attraction on Tinos and people come from all over Greece to pay pilgrim to the miraculous icon that was allegedly found after the Virgin Mary appeared to a local nun.
The Church has a long red carpet leading right up to it and the pilgrims crawl along it to enter the church. The biggest festival of the year here is on August 15 when then Dormition of the Virgin Mary is commemorated across the country.
Other highlights of Tinos are:
- Ballis Winery
- The Huge Rocks of Volax
- Livada Lighthouse
- Elli Torpedo Monument
- The Dovecotes in Apergados
- Giannoulis Halepas Museum
- The Museum of Traditional Ceramics
- Museum of Tinian Artists
- Turtle Head Rock & Hike
- The beaches, including : Paralias Agios Fokas, Ioannia Porto, Agios Sostis, Pachia Ammos and Agios Romanos.
Further reading: A Complete Guide to Tinos
Other islands in the Cyclades
I have covered 11 of the more popular islands in the Cyclades group in this guide in detail, but there are more!
Right next to Paros is the quite lovely island of Anti-paros, a popular day trip for Paros visitors and home, each summer, to Tom Hanks.
Delos is the most important of all the Cyclades islands to historians and archeologists and it is right next to Mykonos ( it is unihabited).
Next door to Milos is Kimolos, a much smaller version of Milos with only 900 residents.
Underneath Naxos is a group of islands called the Small Cyclades. They consist of Koufonisia, Schinoussa, Iraklia, Ofidoussa and Donousa. They are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece and are popular with people seeking long, lazy summer holidays with little to do but the sun and the sea.
To the North of Tinos is Andros, the most northerly of all the Cycladic islands and to the west of Tinos is Kea, Kithnos and Serifos, all beautiful, authentic and rarely crowded. The last three are on the Western-Cyclades ferry route along with Sifnos and Milos to their South.
As you can see there is a lot to see and do in the Cyclades and you could easily spend an entire summer there hopping from one island to the next and still need to return!