Last update : 03/09/2023
Are you planning to explore the Cyclades Islands, and looking for information to make your next trip to the Greek islands a success? Today, we’re going to give you some tips on how to make the best choice among the islands of the Cyclades. All according to your tastes and desires. You’ll soon realize that each island has its own special characteristics. From the more famous Mykonos and Santorini, to the more authentic and remote Amorgos and Serifos. Despite the country’s relatively small size, Greece is actually immense, with each of its islands having its own characteristics and its own world.
So in the Cyclades, take the time to stop, dive into the crystal-clear water and enjoy the passing of time while savoring the delicious local specialties. After reading, feel free to leave a comment to help us flesh out this list. Come on, off to your next travel to Greece!
How many islands are there in the Cyclades?
The Cyclades archipelago is made up of 147 islands and islets, of which only 24 are inhabited. During your vacation in the Cyclades, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy incredible landscapes as well as a rich heritage. The Cyclades are in fact the cradle of one of Europe’s first great civilizations, the Cycladic civilization. Cycladic architecture, with its white cube-shaped houses and blue domed churches, is the emblematic image of this Greek archipelago. In this guide you’ll find a selection (subjective, of course) of the 9 most beautiful islands in the Cyclades. Nicknamed the “Pearls of the Aegean”, these islands will not leave you indifferent!
Which Cycladic island to choose? Our selection of the most beautiful islands
Santorini, the island the best-known of the Cyclades
It’s hard to talk about the Cyclades without directly mentioning Santorini, one of Greece’s most famous islands! This is where we were able to admire the most beautiful sunsets of our lives every evening. We loved discovering authentic villages like Oia and Fira on the edge of the Caldera. Our only recommendation for discovering this island without suffering too much from mass tourism: travel out of season and get up early! Indeed, tourists from all over the world crowd into the narrow streets of Santorini’s villages.
Personally, we decided to get up every day at 7am so we could enjoy the villages before the cruisers arrived at 10am. If you want to get the most out of Santorini and its famous blue domes, we recommend you browse our full guide.
Often mistakenly summed up as the festive, touristy island of Mykonos, we found a great deal of charm. To tell you the truth, we really fell in love with this Greek island. Discovering it out of season undoubtedly allowed us to discover a Mykonos that was more authentic than its image as a party destination. On our Cyclades road trip, we decided to discover Mykonos and Santorini on the same trip. Allow two hours to cross between these two Greek islands by ferry.
In our opinion, the best time to go to Mykonos is off-season from May to June or September to mid-October. After this date, many restaurants and shops will be closed, which can be a shame.
Milos, the third Cycladic island in our selection
Milos isn’t the best-known island in the Cyclades, but you’ve probably already heard of it! This island is known for its crystal-clear waters, its magnificent sunsets and its calm compared to the other Cycladic islands. The island of Milos is still wild in places, and it’s a pleasure to wander around its small fishing ports. The island is less crowded, which has the advantage of costing much less than the other Cycladic islands! A good choice if you’re on a budget and want to spend a quiet vacation. A must: the small village of Mandrakia.
We recommend you take the ferry to Milos, allow 2h30 from Santorini for example to make the crossing. When to go to Milos? The weather is ideal from May to October.
Naxos is a Greek island in the Cyclades, brimming with natural and cultural wonders. It’s the largest and highest island in the Cyclades! Imagine strolling along the palm-fringed white-sand beaches, swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea… The definition of happiness! You can also explore incredible archaeological sites, such as the ancient Temple of Apollo, or visit traditional villages admiring the charming whitewashed houses.
Hiking enthusiasts will also be delighted! Mountain trails offering breathtaking views of the island and the sea. All in all, Naxos is an ideal destination for those looking to combine relaxation, cultural discovery and outdoor activities. There’s no doubt that you’ll fall in love with this magnificent island. You’re sure to fall in love with Chora Naxos, the island’s main town.
Paros lies right in the center of the Cyclades archipelago. This island is one of the most beautiful in the archipelago, and is said to be home to the finest white marble on the planet. Its famous marble was used to sculpt the legendary Venus de Milo. On Paros, you’ll find magnificent white sandy beaches, picturesque villages and authentic Cycladic architecture. The villages are truly magnificent, with their flower-filled alleyways and numerous bars and restaurants. If you’re looking for a central island in the Cyclades, with a gentle, family atmosphere… Choose Paros with your eyes closed.
If you’re looking for an island off the beaten track in the Cyclades, choose Serifos. Here, tourism developed rather late, making this island one of the most authentic in the archipelago. Yet Serifos is easily accessible from Athens, with a 3-hour ferry ride. Chora, the island’s capital, is also one of the most beautiful villages in the Cyclades and well worth a visit. The island boasts over 70 beaches and coves, as well as numerous hiking trails, all offering incredible views of the Aegean Sea.
Amorgos is a unique and exceptional destination that’s sure to win you over. As you approach its shores, you’ll immediately be dazzled by the majesty of its steep slopes and omnipresent nature. Wilderness lovers will fall under the spell of this island made famous by Luc Besson’s film Le Grand Bleu. Hikers will delight in the magnificent trails the island has to offer. These include the path leading to the Panagia Chozoviotissa monastery, accessible from Chora, the island’s capital. Amorgos has few beaches, mainly pebbly coves. Visiting Amorgos in spring can be a good idea. This will allow you to discover the flower-filled landscapes and soak up the traditions linked to the celebration of Easter.
A mere twenty minutes by ferry from Mykonos, you’ll find the authentic island of Tinos. This Cycladic island has two distinct facets. On the one hand, the sacred island attracts thousands of pilgrims. On the other, Tinos is an agricultural and craft island. The first face is concentrated mainly in the capital, with its unassuming port topped by a monumental church. The second stretches inland, where the beautiful landscapes are dotted with numerous ancient villages, rarely visited by tourists.
Tinos is also renowned for its stone craftsmen, who have shaped the island’s landscapes into superb terraces embellished with dovecotes. The architecture is remarkable: churches and houses are adorned with skylights and finely carved marble slabs. If you love architecture and history, you’ll love Tinos. As you can see, the cultural and religious aspect is very important on this Cycladic island, but the island also has many surprises in store for you. Indeed, the island also boasts beautiful sandy beaches and many delicious restaurants.
Ios, the last Cycladic island in our selection
Located close to Santorini and Naxos, the island of Ios is a real gem of the Cyclades islands. The island boasts over 32 kilometers of fine sand. Enough for long, lazy days on the beach. But there’s more to Ios than its beaches! The island is also full of typical villages, with narrow streets and white houses, where you can stroll in peace and quiet. In the evening, Ios takes on a whole new dimension. The island is renowned for its lively nightlife, with numerous bars, restaurants and clubs where you can dance the night away. But rest assured, if you prefer quieter evenings, you’ll also find plenty of places to relax and enjoy the island’s peaceful ambience.
Visiting the Cyclades Islands, how to organize your trip well?
How to get to the Cyclades
To find the best mode of transport to your destination, we recommend you always look on the OMIO comparator. This will give you an overview of all available modes of transport. You’ll be able to compare prices very easily.Learn more
When to go to the Cyclades?
The Cyclades enjoy a Mediterranean climate, which gives them a long tourist season. Summer is pleasant thanks to the meltem, a refreshing northerly wind that blows across the archipelago. Spring is also very pleasant, albeit brief. April can be a little chilly, but by June, mild temperatures start to set in and there are few crowds. In our opinion, this is the ideal time to travel in the Cyclades.
However, from the end of July to the end of August, the Cyclades are in full tourist season, with crowds and high prices for accommodation, so we strongly advise against this period, unless you want to explore lesser-known islands such as Sefiros. October is synonymous with the end of the season, with uncertain weather, but prices at their lowest.
How to rent a rental car at the best price in the Cyclades
If you’re looking to rent a car on your trip, we recommend taking a look at the RentalCars website. This will enable you to find the best prices and conditions for your rental.Learn more
How to find the best hotels to visit the Cyclades
In order to find the best hotels and benefit from the best conditions (security, cancellation…) we go almost exclusively through Booking.com for our trips. We recommend that you take a look at the available hotels before you leave. You can filter them according to their ratings. The customer reviews are very numerous and recent, which means you can avoid unpleasant surprises when traveling!Learn more
How to find ideas for activities to do on your holiday
If you want to get ideas for activities to do on your vacation and want to book in advance, we also recommend taking a look at the GetYourGuide site. This will give you an overview of the activities on offer in your destination, so you don’t have to wait until you get there to book your places.Learn more
Thank you for reading
We hope this article helps you plan your next trip to the Cyclades!
You can also follow our daily adventures on Instagram 🙂
Clem & Alex