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.

Some other Cyclades pages

  • 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.

  • Things to Do on Mykonos

    There are plenty of things to do on Mykonos, one of the most popular Greek islands, such as nightlife, beaches, churches and visiting the ancient site of Delos.

  • 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.

  • Schinoussa and Iraklia Travel Guide

    This is the first travel guide to Schinoussa and Iraklia, two tiny islands in the Cyclades, published by Real Greek Experiences.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mykonos

    Mykonos in the Cyclades islands in Greece has cheap and luxury hotel accommodation, car rental, ferries from Athens, Santorini, Crete and other Greek islands.

  • 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.

  • Kimolos

    Kimolos is in the Cyclades islands of Greece, close to Milos.

  • Kea

    Kea is in the Cyclades group of Greek islands and this page from Greece Travel Secrets shows how to get there by ferry and what to do when you've arrived.

  • Ios in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

    The island of Ios in the Cyclades group of islands in Greece is noted for its nightlife in summer, as well as its beaches, churches and the grave of Homer.

  • How to Get from Mykonos to Santorini

    You can get from Mykonos to Santorini, and of course from Santorini to Mykonos, by ferry, by plane (sort-of) or even by helicopter.

  • Folegandros

    Travel information from Greece Travel Secrets about Folegandros in the southern Cyclades, close to Sikinos, with flight and ferry information.

  • Cyclades

    Travel information about the Cyclades group of Greek islands including Mykonos, Santorini (Thira), Naxos, Paros, Delos, Tinos, Siros, Milos, Amorgos.

  • Best Time to Visit Mykonos

    The best time to visit Mykonos depends on if you want crowds or quiet, heat or cooler temperatures, all of which affect when is the best time to visit Mykonos.

  • Antiparos

    Travel information about Antiparos near Paros in the Cyclades Islands of Greece from the Greece Travel Secrets website.

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