The Cyclades

The Cyclades are what many people think of when they imagine the Greek islands. They are the archetypal picture-postcard view of dazzling white houses, deep blue skies and seas, windmills, and pretty churches with pale blue domes. But it is only in the Cyclades group of islands where you get all these features together, and even here not every island has them, though they are certainly among the most appealing islands in the Aegean. 

Thira on Santorini

If you see a photograph of the Greek islands in the press there is a strong chance that it will have been taken on one of the Cyclades. This is the archetypal picture of a Greek island in many people’s minds, and the way Greece likes to promote itself both overseas and at home. It will show a jumble of dazzlingly white houses set higgledy-piggledy against a hillside, with somewhere a blue-domed church, and with an ink-blue sky behind. It doesn’t reflect the look of all the island groups, but it is certainly what the Cyclades look like for most of the summer and is likely to be your first glimpse if you arrive by boat.

The name Cyclades comes from kyklos, a circle, and a glance at the map will indicate part of the reason for this, but the other factor was that roughly in the centre of this circle was the sacred island of Dilos. The Cyclades are probably the most significant group of islands from a historical point of view, as during the years 3000-1000 BC they produced the Cycladic civilisation which was one of the most cultured in Greece and is the only Greek civilisation to have its own museum dedicated to it in Athens. It produced art work that has had a lasting impact on the world.

Mykonos

Naxos is the largest island and is more truly in the geographical centre of the group along with its neighbour, Paros, and despite them being at the hub of the transport network in the Cyclades, neither has been spoilt by tourism. The same cannot be said of nearby Ios and Mykonos, which both almost sink under the weight of incoming fun-seekers in summer. It is easy to get away from all that, though, if you wish, as there are some 24 inhabited islands in the Cyclades, some of them with very small populations and totally unaffected by the mass of visitors elsewhere.

Kimolos

The administrative capital of the Cyclades is Syros, another island you are sure to visit if you travel around the group, and this too is not as affected by tourism as you might think, given its status. However, if only visiting one island in the group most travellers stop off at Santorini (Thira), whose volcanic crater and black sand beaches are a contrasting but equally potent picture of the Cyclades.

Syros in GreeceSyros

But there are quieter islands too, usually because it takes slightly longer to get to them. These include Kythnos, Serifos, Kimolos, Schinoussa and Iraklia, where you can really get away from it all. To find out what there is to do on each of the islands, where to stay and where to eat, click on the links below. 

  • Amorgos
  • Anafi
  • Andros
  • Antiparos
  • Delos
  • Folegandros
  • Ios
  • Kea
  • Kimolos
  • Kythnos
  • Milos
  • Mykonos
  • Naxos
  • Paros
  • Santorini
  • Serifos
  • Sifnos
  • Sikinos
  • Syros
  • Tinos
  • You might also like these posts:

    • Naxos in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

      The island of Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades and on this page you can see information about flights and ferries to Naxos.

    • Tinos in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

      The island of Tinos in the Cyclades has several daily ferry connections from Rafina on the Greek mainland and is most famous for the Feast of the Assumption.

    • Syros

      Syros is in the Cyclades islands, with Ermoupoli as its main town and some good beaches, described here on the Greece Travel Secrets website.

    • Sikinos

      Surrounded by bigger and better-known Cyclades islands such as Ios, Naxos and Santorini, Sikinos is a delightfully untouristy island.

    • Sifnos

      Sifnos is one of the smaller islands in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea.

    • Serifos

      Serifos is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, a rugged and mountainous island with a small population.

    Latest Posts

    1. Greece Extends Second Lockdown Until December 7

      Greece will extend its second nationwide lockdown until 6am on Monday, December 7, in efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) and limit the rising number of intubations and fatalit…

      Read More

    2. New Archaeological Museum to Open in Ermionida, Greece

      The Greek Culture Ministry recently announced plans to open a new archaeological museum in Ermionida, a municipality located in eastern Peloponnese.

      Read More

    3. Greece Among Top 3 Booking Choices for US Travelers

      Greece is among the top three international destinations that American travelers are booking, according to a survey on tourism recovery in the post-coronavirus era released by the United States Tour O…

      Read More

    4. Greece’s Air Traffic Controllers Call Off Strike, AEGEAN Reinstates Flights

      Unions representing air traffic controllers, electronic security engineers and aeronautical telecommunication officers in Greece announced that they were calling off strike action to take place during…

      Read More

    5. General Strike in Greece on Thursday to Affect Transport

      A 24-hour strike called by Greece’s main public sector umbrella union ADEDY for Thursday, November 26, will affect public transport in Athens and ferry travel.

      Read More

    6. Greece to Remain in Lockdown, Efforts Made to ‘Save Christmas’

      Greece’s government and health authorities expect the country’s second lockdown to continue into December, adding that it was too early to lift containment measures as Covid-19 is still spreading fast…

      Read More

    7. Qantas to Require Covid-19 Vaccination on All Int’l Flights

      Passengers wishing to fly internationally with Qantas will be required to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination, the airline’s CEO Alan Joyce said this week. The head of Australia’s flag carrier said…

      Read More

    8. Strike in Greece Causes Changes to AEGEAN, Olympic Air Flights

      AEGEAN and Olympic Air have announced flight cancellations and reschedules during November 25-27 due to industrial action announced by Greece’s air traffic control personnel and electronic security en…

      Read More

    9. Air Travel in Greece to Face Disruption Nov 25-26 Due to Strike Action

      Greece’s air traffic control personnel and electronic engineers have announced work stoppages on Wednesday, November 25 and a 24-hour strike on Thursday, November 26, which are expected to impact air…

      Read More

    10. Covid-19: Greece will Not Close Airports During Second Lockdown, Rules will Apply for Travel

      Greek borders are not closing as a result of the second lockdown the country will enter on Saturday to halt a second wave of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. Greece’s airports will remain open to domesti…

      Read More