Delos

Cyclades Islands

Just over two kilometers from Mykonos is the holy island of Delos. This can only be visited by means of a day trip from Mykonos as it is uninhabited and no one is allowed to stay overnight for fear of damage to what is one of the most priceless archaeological sites in Greece. 

The Terrace of Lions on Delos

Delos or Dilos?

You'll find the island referred to as both Dilos and Delos. Delos is the most common English way of writing it, but in the original Greek the word is spelled Dilos.

The History of Delos

Like many of the other Cycladic islands, Delos was inhabited by the Ionians who arrived here in about 1000 BC, although it was probably first settled over a thousand years earlier by migrants from Asia Minor.

The Ionians made Delos their religious capital and dedicated it to the god Apollo, who was the father of Ion after whom they took their name. They began an annual Delia Festival of arts and sports in honour of Apollo and by 700 BC Delos was a major pilgrimage centre, like Delphi on the mainland. From this it developed into a successful port, but after the Romans left it fell into decline and became a hideaway for pirates but otherwise uninhabited. 

Today Delos remains unique in Greece, cut off from the world, its ruins spread over a large area and giving a good idea of what the island must have been like in its prime. Its most famous sight is the Lion Terrace, originally nine beasts overlooking and protecting the Sacred Lake, so-called because the Lake was said to have witnessed the birth of Apollo on this very island. The lions were made of marble from nearby Naxos in the 7th century BC, though only five lions have survived the ravages of time. The original ones were removed and placed in the Archaeological Museum, leaving replicas to guard the now-dry lake.

Other Delos Highlights

Other highlights include a theatre from 300 BC, beautiful mosaics in houses such as the House of the Dolphins and the House of Dionysos, a large theatre, and the Sanctuary of Apollo, with the remains of three temples alongside each other. It is a site that merits as much time as you can give it. 

Visiting Delos
Boats leave Mykonos in the early morning and allow visitors to stay on Delos for a few hours before returning before the site closes, usually in mid-afternoon. There is only a small cafe on the island with limited choice of food and drinks so take some supplies with you, especially water as there is precious little shade.

You might like these

  • 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.

  • Paros in the Cyclades Islands in Greece

    The island of Paros in the Cyclades is famous for its marble, and on this page you can also see information about flights and ferries to Paros.

  • Milos in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

    The island of Milos in the Cyclades in Greece is noted for its museums and beaches, and read about flights and ferries to Milos.

  • Kythnos

    Kythnos is a small island in the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, with easy access from Athens and popular with Athenians on summer weekends.

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