4 pretty Cycladic islands to visit
When scouring through travel magazines, books and websites it is easy to conclude that it is hard to decide on only a few Greek islands. Greece has over 200 inhabited islands, each with their own specific beauty and peculiarities. Moreover, Greece has numerous island clusters such as the Cycladic, the Dodecanese, the Eptanese, the Ionian… the list goes on. The Cycladic islands, however, are arguably the most breathtaking of them all.
Four destinations within the Cycladic island cluster of over 20 islands are a definite must-see, each for their own reasons. Delos, Mykonos, Ios and Santorini, will be our checkpoints for discovering Cycladic island life. Conveniently, they are in close proximity to each other, so easily connected to one another. They all share the common Cycladic architecture, similar conquests of the past, and similar traditions. In between all their similarities, each is distinctly different as they exude a different sensation for their visitors. Here is an overview of the best experiences in each case.
Mykonos - Cosmopolitan Greece
In the neighbouring island of Mykonos, a different sensation takes over the visitor. It is definitely cosmopolitan and you can tell by the number of celebrities and stars that wander around its high-profile bars and classy restaurants. Perpetually catering for VIPs and jet-setters, even a beach experience is no common matter. The island is an elegant mix of traditional versus luxury and there are three landmarks that any traveller should not remiss in visiting: The Lighthouse of Armenistis provides an amazing vantage point as it has strategical importance, being the main watchpoint of the island against intruders. Explore the numerous windmills that dominate the island. While they are all around the island, the majority of them are in the main Chora (town) facing the north, all lined-up in order, making this setting picture perfect. Finally, visit the area of Little Venice as it is one of the most beautiful places to enjoy a tasty cocktail, while your early evening experience is enhanced by a beautiful sunset.
Ios - Versatile Greece
An island that combines it all - gorgeous beaches, a lively nightlife, quieter more remote locations, and a bit of culture. Ios has the most complex of island personalities as it has a little something for everyone. Beaches that are must-see are Mylopotas and Manganari with fine, golden sand and nice wide, clear shores. They are so long that you will easily find a spot that suits your vibe, whether it is more fun or more relaxing. The Chora or town is the centre of attraction, especially at night. Popular among young tourists, after mid-night be prepared to bump into groups of people out on a bender. If you visit the Chora during the day you can also see the wonderful theatre dedicated to the famous contemporary Greek poet Odysseas Elyths.
“But you must know that only he who fights the darkness within, will the day after tomorrow have his own share in the sun.” - quote from ‘Axion Esti’.
Santorini - Phenomenal Greece
One of the most beautiful islands, not only in Greece but perhaps the world. With such a peculiar geomorphology, it instantly is considered exotic. Crescent-shaped, and with the myth of the Atlantis hanging over it, with a massive cliff drop of strata, a volcano and a town built just under 300 meters from sea level. Unmissable is the truly magnetic sunset that is visible from most anywhere on the island, as the sky is alive with pinks, oranges, reds, and purples. So even if you are visiting Santorini as part of a boutique cruise you will not miss the any of the beauty that is generously offered by nature. Beaches of different colours, red, white and black, a collage of blue dome churches, chapels and cathedrals, donkey rides, wine tasting, and diving are only a few things that add to the intensity of your experience in Santorini.
Delos - Cultural Greece
Our first point of call from Athens is the historic island of Delos. Delos is very special in that it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Centre due to the extensive archaeological value of the land. The island has been mentioned by the ancient historians, poets and philosophers and playwrights as a point of cultural and mythological reference. The infertility of the landscape urged the ancient Athenians to proclaim it a pure and neutral place for the exclusive worship of the gods, and so it was considered a sacred place, existing in a parallel universe from all the worldly woes of the time. Visiting it now is an archaeological playground. It is full of remnants of the old days of glory with well-preserved highlights that will fascinate you: the Terrace of Lions, the column of the Phallus, an ancient theatre, the Houses of Dionysus and Cleopatra as well as a rich collection of intricate mosaics that have withstood the wrath of time. Surrender to the sheer history that screams out from every stone you turn and from every statue, you stare at.