Touring The Best of the 220 Cyclades Islands
Greece has approximately 1200 islands, but depending on their size and depending on who you ask, that number can jump to 6000. Every island has something different to offer, and all our glorious in their own way, so no matter where you choose to visit, you’re certain to be pleased. At the same time, it’s important to look at what each island offers, so that it is in
keeping with your personality, your lifestyle and your budget. Some are very popular and extremely busy during the summer months, such as Santorini, Mykonos, Zante, and many others, so if your idea of a vacation is to lay on the beach and relax, these may not be your best bet.
The islands of Greece are divided into groups, such as the Ionian or the Cyclades Islands, among many others. The Cyclades Islands, are those that form a circle around the island of Delos, nestled in the Aegean Sea, are comprised of about 220 islands, and draw hundreds of thousands of people each year, especially the larger, more popular ones. Obviously, a typical holiday to the Cyclades can’t possibly fit a visit to each of the over 200 islands, so one has to be very selective.
The Best Cyclades Islands
The most popular islands in the Cyclades total 29 ,and would constitute the best Cyclades Islands, including Paros, Santorini (aka Thera), Naxos, Milos, Tinos, Mykonos, Adiparos, Delos, and Ios. With so much natural beauty, incredible architecture, gorgeous sandy beaches and turquoise waters, and wonderful people, it’s no wonder they attract so many tourists year after year.
Andros is northernmost island from the Island group, and has a great naval tradition. It’s landscape is less enchanting than those spectacular landscapes of the other Cyclades but it boasts sandy beaches and rocky coastlines and mountain ranges that alternate with fertile flat lands. You’ll find lush plant life and abundantly flowing streams here too.
One of the most enchanting, yet lesser known islands of the Cyclades is Tinos. Greeks and others from all over flock to Tinos to pray and fulfill their vows at the Fortunate Virgin Mary, or the chapel of Panayia Meyalóhari.
A favorite holiday destination is the ever-popular Mykonos. It’s renowned for its beautiful architecture, beaches, and nightlife. Mykonos is the destination for native celebrities, too.
Kea, located close to Attica, is known for its beauty and scenery: steep mountain tops, small fields, olive groves, valleys, attractive coves, wineries, and off-the-beaten-track beaches. Bird-watching is a pleasure here, as Kea boasts the largest oak forest that’s home to a variety of bird species.
Santorini or Thera, also Thira, was explored by Cousteau in hopes of discovering the Island of Atlantis. Santorini Island is a world-renowned jewel that attracts people from all walks of life, including many celebrities who own properties here. It’s located at the southernmost part of the Cyclades.
According to Greek Mythology, Anafi emerged from the waters to shelter the Argonauts. This island is simply a paradise of beauty that’s awash with crystal clear beaches.
Kythnos, in close proximity to Attica is perfect for someone looking for a quiet getaway. It’s also known as “Thermiá,” for its thermal springs.
Ios Island, called “Nios” by natives is named for the violet flower and is said to have been the birthplace of Homer’s mother, as well as Homer’s resting place. Just like other Cycladic Islands, the picturesque homes are white-washed and dotted along alleys. There are 365 churches on Ios, with Panayia Gremiótissa being its most important and built on the edge of the cliff.
Serifos Island is another relaxation destination with quiet harbors, golden sandy beaches and pleasant landscapes, with the signature Cycladic white washed homes and buildings. The tourism growth hasn’t much affected the island’s character and its traditional features.
Kimolos is a small and beautiful island located on the western area of the Cyclades, and in close proximity to Milos Island. It boasts incredibly beautiful beaches with sands that vary from delicate grains to pebbles.
Sifnos is an island filled with culture, and rich with potter and gastronomy. In ancient times, it was of the richest islands because of its wealthy gold mines. A visit to Sifnos will not soon be forgotten as there is much to do here.
Sikinos is a place to relax and ideal for a quiet vacation getaway. Located between the popular islands of Ios and Folegandros, you’ll enjoy a delightful scenery and again, a typical . Cycladic island architecture with ample balconies and low stone fences to take in the memorable views of the blue waters of the Aegean.
Delos, a sacred island in the Cyclades, and the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, is rich in culture and ancient ruins. It’s definitely worth a visit according to tourists from all over the world who flock to the island for a glimpse of life in ancient times through viewing impressive monuments and mosaics. Delos is not inhabited, and is instead a heritage site.
Paros, located in the center of this island group is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of all the Cyclades, with its Incomparable natural splendor, and pristine beaches. You’ll find Byzantine footpaths that lead you to traditional towns and impressive landscapes.
Naxos is a must-see island. It’s the greenest island in Cyclades with remarkably mountain peaks and fertile valleys. Numerous gorges and stunning seascapes add to the natural beauty of Naxos, and the traditional towns are perched at the top of the mountains to provide breathtaking views. Naxos is an island for everyone, with great ruins, lovely churches and monasteries, as well as Venetian forts that all coexist in harmony with the typical Cycladic homes.
Milos is an island not to be missed. In ancient times the island experienced a tremendous amount of volcanic activity, leaving behind an number of exciting landscapes, that provide a playground for various activities. The oddly shaped rock formations, in addition to their colors fills the soul, especially as they serve as the backdrop to the white sandy beaches.
The Rock Formations on Milos Island
Iraklia is the epitome of unspoiled paradise on Earth. This tiny island is located on the western fringe of the Small Eastern Cyclades island group. It boasts a dense plant life, and numerous natural springs, crystal waters (with shipwrecks in the ocean-bottom!), and scenic bays and caves.
Schinoussa is situated directly in the center of the Small Eastern Cyclades Island group, just south of Naxos. It too is a small island with three notabl towns–Hora, Mesaria and Mersini.
Donousa is the northernmost island of the Small Eastern Cyclades and lies east of Naxos and north of Amorgos. The island section has numerous coves to explore, most of which hide magnificent sandy beaches.
Koufonisia Island is actually made up of two islands, Pano Koufonìsi, or Upper Koufonìsi , and Kato Koufonìsi, or Lower Koufonìsi. The two islands are separated only by a narrow strait and are situated southeast of Naxos. Pano Koufonìsi, with a land area of 5.5 square kilometers has a population of just over 350 residents.
Antiparos is situated southwest of Paros. This is another marvelous destination for a peaceful holiday.
Amorgos reaches the south-easternmost point of the Cyclades and really has an impressive scenery. The landscapes are complete with mountain peaks and coves, and of course, enticing waters for swimming. Hiking and climbing are very popular here.
Syros is the island where tradition and Western influence work in harmony. Ermoupoli, the island capital, which literally means “town of Hermes” is a great site.
Folegandros, or Polykandros, offers complete relaxation inside a typical Cycladic landscape, a treat for anyone looking to get some rest while soaking up the sun, with natural beauty all around, as it was mostly untouched throughout the development of the tourist industry.
The best Cyclades Islands to visit will, of course have lots to do with personal taste and budget.