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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Travel Restrictions for Russians

    The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) on Monday issued an aviation directive (NOTAM) which extends the travel restrictions imposed on Russian citizens traveling to Greece. The directive, which…

    Read More

  2. Olympic Air Announces Flight Cancellations, Reschedules

    Olympic Air has announced flight cancellations and reschedules due to a work suspension of the PanHellenic Union of Licensed Aeronautical Telecommunication Officers between September 21-23. According…

    Read More

  3. Greece Announces Relief Measures for Households, Businesses in Flood-hit Areas

    The Greek government on Monday announced support measures, including state aid and tax relief, for people and businesses in areas affected by flooding caused by the “Ianos” storm over the weekend. The…

    Read More

  4. Fraport Greece Takes Part in Rescue Campaign of Ithaki’s Green Toad

    Fraport Greece, the manager of 14 regional airports in Greece, is actively supporting the campaign for the rescue of the green toad (bufotes viridis), an endangered amphibian species living on the Gre…

    Read More

  5. Greece Sees 86% Drop in Tourism Revenue in Jan-July Period

    Greece saw revenues from inbound tourism nosedive during the first seven months of the year, according to provisional data released by the Bank of Greece on Monday. Greek tourism’s poor performance du…

    Read More

  6. GNTO to Support Tourism Promotion of Salamina Island

    The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) is exploring ways to promote Salamina, a historic island located in the Saronic gulf, a few kilometers off the coast of Piraeus. “GNTO actively supports…

    Read More

  7. 100 Destinations Now Have ‘Safe Travels’ Stamp of WTTC

    The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on Friday announced that the Philippines has become the official 100th destination using its ‘Safe Travels’ global safety and hygiene stamp. The stamp was dev…

    Read More

  8. Athens-Attica: New Covid-19 Measures Include Teleworking, Suspension of Concerts

    A series of additional restrictive measures to curb the further spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in the wider Athens area of Attica were announced on Friday by Greek Civil Protection Deputy Minist…

    Read More

  9. Ireland Announces 14-day Quarantine for Arrivals from Greece

    The Irish Government on Thursday removed Greece from the list of exempt countries for quarantine due to the coronavirus (Covid-19). As of Monday, September 21, all travelers arriving to Ireland from G…

    Read More

  10. Victoria Hislop Officially Becomes Honorary Citizen of Greece

    British best-selling author Victoria Hislop was officially sworn-in as a Greek citizen during a ceremony in Athens on Thursday. The author in July had been granted the Greek citizenship by Hellenic Re…

    Read More