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The 16 most beautiful islands in the Cyclades 

13. December 2020

Would you like to go island hopping in Greece, see different sights of Greece and visit beautiful beaches? Then the Cyclades are just right for you. They are about 200km southeast of Athens, and almost halfway to Crete.

There are a total of 39 islands and around 24 of them are inhabited. (The statistics are not too precise) On thouse islands you can find the typical Greek flair, far away from the big city stress of the metropolises Athens or Thessaloniki. Here life is still as you know it from the old postcards, calm and relaxed. Since we will now be living on Naxos for a year, our goal is to explore the surrounding Cyclades islands and present you the most beautiful sights, activities and beaches.

We have created an initial overview of this in the following. We will certainly adapt the articles further over time and enrich them with further experience.

The most famous islands of the Cyclades are Mykonos, Santorini and maybe Ios. After that it ends with the list for most holidaymakers. Therefore, you will also find the lesser-known islands here, which have not yet been discovered by Main tourism. Such as Amorgos, Paros, Tinos, Andros and Naxos (our new home).

For each island we have summarized the best places, sights and attractions. As mentioned, you can find further details on each of these islands on our subpages. So if you are ready for the Cyclades, then let’s go!

Kykladen Inseln aus der Vogelperspektive

1. Santorini

Together with Mykonos, Santorini is by far the most famous island in the Cyclades. The white churche with the blue dome on Santorini is probably the best known of all postcard motifs from Greece. And the most posted greece building on Instagram these days.

Because of the fame, you will have a very large number of tourists who want to take their photos on such a place. If you are here in high season, it can be annoying to fight with other tourists for a good photo. You just have to be aware of that.

In addition to the hustle, Santorini is nevertheless one of the most beautiful islands in the Cyclades. The island does not have the best beaches, but the island rewards you with an unforgettable sunset and breathtaking architecture. Some friends of Alex’s familly run a small hotel on santorini, which we can really recommend to you.

The guided hike from Fira to Oia is an absolute must for every Santorini trip. At least if you are in Santorini for the first time.

The main attractions of Santorini:

  • Fira: Is the capital of Santorini and the spot to enjoy the view of the island during the daytime. The summit of the caldera is an absolute highlight. From here it is very easy to get to other villages such as Firostefani and Imerovigli. It’s less than a 30-minute walk if you are good by feet. You will find the famous churches with their blue domes along the hike. If you are looking for nice shops, you should be in good hands in the famous shopping road “Golden Street”.
  • Imerovigli: is the village at the end of the caldera and with its 300 meters above sea level it is understood why the call it “the balcony of Santorini”.
  • Oia: is the second largest city of Santorini. The city is very lively and a special pearl, especially in the evening at sunset. There is the Franco bar where classical music is played every evening. An absolute must in our opinion, even if a beer costs about 9 euros.
  • BlackBeach: This is, in our opinion, the most beautiful beach on Santorini. Even if Santorini is not known for its beaches, it is a sepcial feeling to be at a beach with typical black Santorini volcanic rocks.
  • RedBeach: In addition to the black beach, the red stand is also a personal highlight of ours. This beach has its red color because of the ocher rocks of the cliff that surrounds it.
  • Nea Kamini: Depending on how much time you have, it is worth taking a boat tour. The boat tour goes around the volcano and you can even bathe in the hot springs of Nea Kamini.

In conclusion, we would like to say that Santorini is really worth it just because of the breathtaking scenery and it is one of the most beautiful Cyclades islands. It is particularly worthwhile to come here as a couple, for example on your honeymoon. For the beach lovers we would recommend other Cyclades islands with fewer tourists. For Island hopper we would definitely plan a short stopover for 2-3 days.

PS: If you want to enjoy the sunset in Oia to the fullest, you should be there at least 1-2 hours in advance, at least in the main season.

2. Mykonos

Mykonos shares first place with Santorini when we talk about the most famous isnalnd of Greece. However, the target group here is completely different. While Santorini is especially worthwhile for couples, Mykons is the island to party. At least if money doesnt matter to much for you. On mykonos you can party day and night with famous DJs from all over the world. 

In contrast to Santorini, Mykonos also has really beautiful beaches, although you will never be alone here. Get ready for a time of party, fun and alcohol when you visit Mykonos. The bars and restaurants here are really stylish and the party scene is one of the best in the world. Especially the beaches of Paradise, Superparadies Psarou or Eli invite you to dance and celebrate at the highest level.

If you are touring the Cyclades as a group, Mykonos is definitely worth a stop. If all this is too much loud music and partying, we have other islands that are less known and touristic in the following.

The main attractions of Mykonos:

 

  • Party beaches (especially Paradise und Superparadies): If you feel like a fancy partys, you’ve come to the right place. The party beaches are not only dinking and party, they have thier own style and can be compared to Ibizas Party beaches in spain. Even if the Island is compleaty diffrent. These two beaches are a clear recommendation for all party lovers among you. Fun and good vibes and good music are for sure.
  • Little Venice: The Little Venice of Mykonos is located directly in the capital Chora. The easiest way is to follow the road to the famous windmills (Kato Milli) and then continue towards the sea. It is less than 20 minutes walk from the habor. The place is a real pearl of the island and a must see especially at sunset.
  • Mykonos Brewing Company: Another interesting attraction, besides the great parties, is the Mykonos Brewery. Yes, Mykonos has its own beer. The brewery is in the middle of the island. A tour including 3 beers to try costs 10 euros. For 5 euros more you can even get all 6 different beer types the brewery has to offer. So the price-performance ratio is definitely better here than in any other bar or club. 
  • The windmills (Kato Milli): The windmills are the symbol of Mykonos. Therefore everyone has to bring at least one picture of the windmills from their stay in Mykonos. They are also right at the harbor and can hardly be overlooked.

3. Ios

Next to Mykonos is Ios the second party island in the Cyclades. The clubs here are not quite as exquisite, but you have a great nightlife scene even for a smaller budget. Even if many locals try to convince the tourists that Ios has much more to offer than just the nightlife, it is currently what defines the island. Those who love the nightlife will definitely get their money’s worth here on Ios. You can party with Greek flair in the small alleys until sunrise. There are many trendy bars where you can dance to modern electro beats or well-known chart songs.

If you are looking for a lot of like-minded people, you should visit the island in the high season between June and September. Outside of these months, things tend to be calmer and more comfortable here. In addition to the many bars and clubs in the capital, there are also some clubs that are located directly on the beach. These include Mylopotas Beach, Kalamos Beach and Manganari Beach.

Special Tip: FarOut is our personal highlight. A mixture of campsite, hotel complex, pool club and just a stone’s throw from the beach. In addition to a supermarket, public toilets and showers, you will find everything a party heart desires on the premises. International DJs are invited here every year to get you dancing with the best sounds in the afternoon.

4. Paros

Paros is located in the middle of the Cyclades and is one of the islands that is particularly noticeable for its beautiful beaches and natural landscapes. Another highlight for us are the small, rustic villages on the island, which have hardly changed in the last 100 years.

It is also interesting that Paros and the neighboring island of Naxos are known for their famous white marble. Many famous statues of antiquity were made of marble from Paros or Naxos. For example, the Venus de Milo, which, along with the Nike of Samothrace and the Discobol of Myron, are one of the most famous statues in Greek history. These were created out of the marble of Paros.

The main attractions of Paros:

  • Parikia, the capital with its unique churches in the Byzantine style and the famous Kastro.

  • Naoussa, the small fishing village with its 2500 inhabitants is located in a bay in the north, protected from the wind. The bustle of the Greek fishermen can be seen while sitting in a greek small. The surrounding small, uninhabited islands are easy to reach from here. 

  • Lefkes, one of the many remote mountain villages that are worth a look. From here you have a wonderful view on the open sea. Those of you who like beautiful hikes should definitely take a walk from Lefkes to Podromos. The approximately 3 kilometer long path leads past beautiful fields and a wonderful landscape.

  • If you like to eat fish, you should definitely stop by the port of Piso Livadi. Here you can get the best fish, freshly caught and served. In combination with a glass of the local wine – an incomparable pleasure.

  • In Paros Park you have the choice between several marked paths which all lead to the famouse lighthouse of paros. But the final destination of thouse paths is a beautiful beach with crystal clear water.

5. Antiparos

Antiparos is actually Paros’ little sister. From the city of Pounta (Paros) is a ferry to Antiparos every 30 minutes. The ferry takes just 15 minutes for the trip. You can also take car with you on the ferry to Antiparos.

In the summer months there is also a second ferry that departs from Parikia, a little bit mor in the north of pasros. However, you cannot take a car with you on this ship. Antiparos is a small island for people who like it even more relaxed and quiet.

The main attractions of Antiparos:

  • Beautiful beaches
  • A mini promenade in the small capital
  • Beautiful caves
  • The oldest stalagmite in Europe (stalactite rising from the ground)

A personal highlight is that Tom Hanks has also settled on the island. He even received Greek citizenship a few months ago and the architect, who built his house is Alex’s godfather.

6. Naxos

Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades and our new home. There are a variety of activities here: mountain hikes to the highest mountain Zas (1001 meters high), wonderful and endless beaches, cute mountain villages etc. The island is also known for kite and windsurfing. Due to the narrow bay between Paros and Naxos, there is a  wind tunnel, that brings windy conditions all year long.


Here is a small selection of sights that we would like to recommend to you:

  • The Chora of Naxos Town the place where we have probably spent most of the past few months. A variety of cafes, taverns and small shops are waiting to be explored.
  • Old Market The Old Markt is located in the small and nice streets that lie directly behind the city’s Paralia.
  • Portara of Naxos The famous 2.500 year old landmark of the city, which can be seen directly at the arrival from the sea. It is located at the beginning of the city and definitely worth a visit.
  • Filoti a cute little mountain village in the middle of the island with its famous Cafe Platanos right in the middle of the village square. Beautifully situated under a century old oak.
  • Halkidiki This mountain village is especially famous for its church. A must for those who love Greek culture as much as we do. The small pass alone that leads from the village to the church through the beautiful olive grove is worth the trip.
  • Apiranthos: Another small mountain village, which I remember mainly because of its cute little museum. The view over the whole island from there is amazing.
  • The Kouros of Apollonas is a must see for all of you with historical interest. It is also called the Colossus of Dionysus and is a large unfinished statue weighing around 80 tons. The statue was created between the 7th and 6th Century B.C. It was never completely finished and is in a recumbent position. It was made from the famous white marble of Naxos.
  • Another highlight that you can only be experienced on Naxos is the ascent to a 1001 meter high mountain, Zas of Naxos. From here you can see not only the island itself, but also the surrounding islands such as Paros, Mykonos or Ios when the weather is good. Very impressive!

The beaches of Naxos:


Since the island with its almost 400 square kilometers offers a variety of  beaches, it is difficult to choose the best ones. Our criteria therefore also includes good accessibility from the city of Naxos. Basically, the best beaches in the southwest of the island are located under the town of Naxos. Because in the northern part of the island you have very strong winds and mountain passes meander along the coast.

Agios Prokopios probably the most famous beach on Naxos. Because there is pebble like sand that does not stick on the skin or blow in the face on windy days. And furthermore you have always crystal clear water. This combination makes this approximately 2 km long beach a real pleasure. In the main season, this beach is always very well visited due to its easy accessibility.

Aghia Anna lies a little further behind Prokopios. This beach is also well protected from the wind and relatively calm. Clear water and light waves promise pleasant bathing pleasure. Some cafes, restaurants and supermarkets can be found directly behind the beach area.

Mirki Vigla: There are two beautiful beaches here, but they are also very windy. So perfect for surfers, kite surfers or other water sports enthusiasts.

Pyrgaki: a huge sandy beach about 25 minutes from town. Here you are rewarded with an almost lonely beach landscape, at least in the off-season.

Kastraki Another very nice beach with a direct view to the neighboring island of Paros.

Between Agiassos and Pyrgaki there are several small beach bays that should definitely be explored if you have a little more time. My personal favorite beach of yours is called “little Hawaii” by the locals.

At sunset you should have visited the Portara in town at least once. The view to the open sea and the inner city is unique.

7. Milos

Similar to Santorini, Milos is a volcanic island. It is particularly known for its high cliffs and rough rock formations. The exciting thing is that Milos is still the island of the Cyclades, which has the most beaches. The beaches are not always very long, but each beach is individual. The inner part of the island is very much characterized by mining. Milos has the first mine in the EU from which perlite and bentonite was extracted.

The sights in Milos:

  • Sarakiniko: is probably the most famous beach of Milos with its white rocks and crystal blue water. Due to the white rock, the water looks even clearer and more turquoise than anywhere else on the world.

  • Plaka: If you want to enjoy the evening with a beautiful sunset, this is the right place for you. Plaka is also recommended for hiking enthusiasts.

  • Klima: is a small fishing village, which doesnt look like a typical Cycladic village becuse of its colorful houses right on the cliffs. Especially from the sea, an unforgettable unique sight.

  • Trypiti is a village that stands out for its great white church in the middle of the village center. From the hill you have an incomparable view of the coast and the sea.

  • The Roman Theater One of the most famous statues in Greece was found here and later exhibited in the Louvre. The Venus de Milo. Therefore, the place where the Roman Theater once stood has a magical aura that can be experienced.

  • Adamas: As on other Cyclades islands, the city with the main port of Milos is well worth seeing with its many cafes, restaurants and taverns.

Other beaches that should be visited on Milos are Sarakiniko, Provatas, Papafragas and Kiriaki.

Another tip is the famous boat tour around Milos. From the water there is a a lot of of beautiful rock formations, beaches and other sights that you can never be reached from the mainland. Since this has become a very popular way to explore the island, there is a variety of boatstours on the island.

There are all kinds of boat tours in different price categories, from motor boats to yachts and catamarans. The prices are quite affordable at about 35 per person. If you would like to travel around the island on a private yacht, its alos possible righ here.

8. Amorgos

If you are looking for a good island for hiking, Amorgos is a very good choice. If you want to find out more about the island and its hiking routes, there is an excellent official website where you can learn more about the different hiking routes. Particularly noteworthy are the routes from Langada to the Timios Stavros chapel or from the Chozoviotissa monastery. Another highlight is the approx. 9km long path from Potamos via Langada to Tholaria.

In addition to the beautiful hiking routes, there are a lot of other sights on Amorgos.

  • Kalotaritissia probably the most beautiful beach on the island. Nice sand and turquoise blue water.
  • The shipwreck of “The Big Blue” An absolute highlight is the old shipwreck, which also served as a film set in the film “The Big Blue” from 1988.
  • Chora as with many other Cyclades islands, the capital on Amorgos is a feast for the eyes. When you arrive here, be sure to take a few hours to explore the beautiful cafes and restaurants. And a tour up to the windmills is also a must.
  • Aegiali und Katapola Two villages, two small ports. Those of you who cannot get enough of the small Greek ports with their fishing boats and taverns, are in the right place in both villages.
  • Panagia Chozoviotissa is a small monastery in the typical Byzantine style located directly on a cliff above the sea with a breathtaking view.

9. Syros

If you are a fan of architectural engineering, Syros is your island. Mainly neoclassical buildings like the town hall or the city theater “Apollo” in the capital Ermoupoli can be found here. The island is one of the most populous islands in the Cyclades and is the administrative center. Therefore the capital is correspondingly large and there is a lot to explore. The Vaporia district is particularly noteworthy with its neoclassical houses.

Other highlights of Syros

  • Ano Syros: The small mountain village of Ano Syros offers an magical view with its many, small alleys and corners. You get the feeling that time has stood still for the last hundred years. Donkeys are still used for transportation due to the inaccessible alleys.
  • Galissas A mountain village in the west of the island, with an unique panoramic view over the coast and the distant mountain landscape.
  • Finikas Beach: The islands second largest port is located here and is therefore best known for its fishing boats. The place is popular by tourists.

  • Ano Meria: There are deserted places on Syros too. The north of Syros is largely untouched and contains a multitude of fields, steep and rocky hills. The area is mostly covered with prickly bushes. The shore itself is rocky and rugged, but it also offers a number of beaches of great natural beauty.

10. Delos

According to Greek mythology, Delos is the birthplace of the two children of Zeus: Apollo (the god of light) and Artemis (the god of the hunt). The island is not inhabited and only 3 km away from Mykonos at its narrowest point. It forms the front area of ​​several small and medium-sized islands that belong to Rinia. The boat journey between the small islands alone is an experience. It is definitely worth taking a boat from Mykonos and booking a tour for 4 hours. The archaeological sites will take your breath away if you have any basic historical interest in Greek mythology. The temple of the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis was built 800 BC. and has stood almost untouched in its place for over 2800 years. Therefore, the place has really earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The most beautiful sights of this historically significant island

  • The archaeological museum
  • The Temple of the Delians (Temple of Apollo)
  • The terrace of the lions
  • The house of masks
  • The Sacred Lake (where Apollo was born)

However, this is only a small selection of all the really impressive monuments and temples. Especially when you realize that everything was built about 800 years BC. I hope you are as impressed as me by visiting thouse historical sites: The Sanctuary of Apollo, the Sanctuary of Dionysus, the Temple of the Athenians, the House of Dionysus, the House of the Dolphins.

An important tip at the end: Even if you can explore the island on your own, I recommend that you take a tour with a guide. The sights and historical places hold a lot of stories that can be experienced much better with a trained guide. If you have done such a tour, you can of course go there again without a guide to look at your favorite places again. A tour with a guide costs around 50 euros and you will be picked up directly from the hotel. Here is an example of a recommended Delos Tour

11. Tinos

Tinos is more of a quiet island and has been largely spared from mass tourism. In addition, the island is a pilgrimage place of the Orthodox Greeks. With its beautiful churches, it is more than worth seeing even if you are less religious.

The highlights of Tinos are

  • The Kechrovouni Monastery is a really large and important monastery of the Greek Orthodox Church. It is organized like a own village. A good change from the beautiful beaches, restaurants and hiking routes.
  • Kardiani is a village that is relatively difficult to reach. But because of the beautiful hiking trail and its unique bay, it is still worth a visit.
  • Pyrgos is a mountain village, which is particularly known for its marble.
  • Volax is surrounded by round rock and thus a village, which is very spectacular to look at.
  • Tarambados is known for its unique “pigeon houses”, which have been preserved from the Venetian era. These very typical houses are spread all over the island, but most of them can be found in Tarambados. A short walk takes you to a small viewing terrace from which you have a great view of the famous “pigeon houses”. Definitely worth a photo.
  • Kolimbithra is another small village that should not be missing from our list due to its two small but beautiful beaches.

12. Andros

Andros is probably the island with the most hiking routes. There are over 18 designated routes. From easy to difficult, from 30 minutes to 6 hours, so there is a route for every hiking enthusiast. The best thing to do is get a hiking map on site and choose the right route based on your skills and physical fitness. If you don’t want to wait that long, we recommend the Andros Routes website. Here you can find all the information you need for hike route planning.

The most beautiful sights of Andros

  • Apikia Since Andros is particularly known for its hiking routes, many tourist will begin their hiking tours here.

  • Felos beach is one of the beautifully located beaches in the middle of a small bay.

  • Gavrio is the city with the main port of the island. Many small restaurants, bars, boutiques and taverns are waiting to be discovered by you.

  • Andros is the capital of the island. A short walk through the streets and along the promenade is worthwhile.

  • Sandy beaches between Gavrio and Batsi Agios Petros, Chrissi Amnos and Kipri ​​have to be mentioned there.

13. Sifnos

Sifnos is the gourmet paradise of the Cyclades. All those connoisseurs who came across the Cyclades especially because of the Greek cuisine will definitely be rewarded in Sifnos. Beside the great Cusine Sifnos is fame of ots ceramic work, special plates and cups can be admired while eating. But you can also admire vases and other objects from the local ceramic stores.

Sifnos is also a smal hiking paradise. You can get a useful hiking routemap directly at the port for 5 euros on which all important information are listed. Two routes that I would like to highlight here are:

  • Artemonas via the Panagia Poulati monastery to the village of Kastro

  • Apollonia to Mount Profitis Ilias

14. Serifos

Serifos is the rather small and barren island under the Cyclades. This has the advantage that you don’t come across other tourists very often and you have a lot of time for yourself. Locals are very friendly and appreciate tourists even more. The accommodation on the island is much more traditional. Anyone who likes traditional Greece as it was 30 years ago has come to the right place. Time has stood still here.

Nevertheless, there are beautiful beaches and very good tavernas where you can enjoy the sunset on Serifos. In the south of the island there is an old iron mine, which was shut down in the 1970s. It invites you to take an exciting look into the past.

So if you prefer it quiet and traditional, you should take a closer look at this island. Highlights of this Island

  • The port of Livadi
  • The beautiful Livadakia beach
  • Hora, the capital
  • The Moni Taxiarchon monastery
  • The village of Panagia and the view over the plains
  • The beaches of Karavi, Avlomonas, Lia, Agios Sostis Psili Amnos

15. Folegandros

Folegandros is also known as the “little Santorini” because of its impressiv sunset. There are wonderful villages to discover, each with its  very individual flair. In the capital of Folegandros named Hora you should definitely admire the church above the village. From here you have an unique view over the whole island.

For those who are interested in hiking, we can definitely recommend the route to the lighthouse at Cape Mileo, which is still active since 1912. The beaches of Folegandros can be reached best by feet or by boat, so a day trip by boat is worthwhile. The island is quite small, so you don’t need a car, a scooter is completely sufficient.

16. The little Cyclades

The four small islands with their many uninhabited siblings between Naxos and Amorgos are also known as the “small Cyclades”. Most tourists visit them together within a day trip from Paros or Naxos. Each of the islands has its unique charm. Iraklia, Schinousa Koufonisia and Donousa are the 4 inhabited islands. They have become increasingly popular in recent years, but the islands barely have more than 50 residents in the winter. Accordingly, there are 3-4 taverns on each island mostly near the harbor, at least one church and a small supermarket. For those of you who like it simple, these islands are highly recommended.

Especially if you have your own boat, it is exciting to explore the uninhabited islands of the small Cyclades. Many interesting and hardly explored places are hidden here.

Good to have you here…  

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