Cyclades Travel Guide

Melina Thalassinou
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Key Takeaways

  • The Cyclades is the perfect destination for those who want to experience Greek island nightlife and see the iconic whitewashed houses with deep blue elements.
  • Mykonos and Ios offer the wildest partying scene, while Paros is a little tamer but equally vibrant.
  • Santorini is the most luxurious destination in Greece and is known for its unique geography and active volcano.
  • The Cyclades complex includes many other islands, such as Amorgos, Kythnos, and Sifnos, each with their own unique attractions, including stunning beaches, scenic landscapes, and rich culture.

If you want to experience the famous Greek island nightlife while also having your eyes feast upon the trademark whitewashed houses with deep blue elements you’ve seen on postcards around the world, then the island complex of the Cyclades is for you! Here is our Cyclades travel guide to get familiar with the striking islands!

The Greek islands of Mykonos and Ios, in particular, offer the wildest partying scene, with countless beach bars and nightclubs carrying long parties that most often last until 9-10 am!

A little tamer but just as vibrant is Paros, with its cobbled streets, local boutiques, and delicious restaurants making the island a top destination for tourists for all the right reasons.

Of course, one cannot talk about the Cyclades islands and leave out the one and only spectacular volcanic island of Santorini. The most luxurious destination in Greece, along with Mykonos, Santorini stands out due to its unique geography and the active volcano that attracts curious crowds worldwide.

However, the Cyclades complex includes many more islands, which will enchant you with their natural beauty, scenic beaches, and rich culture.   

Here is a breakdown of all the islands of the Cyclades to help you choose among the stunning island like Santorini or Naxos:


Amorgos, Cyclades - credits: Kite_rin/Shutterstock.com

Amorgos, the Cycladic island of the endless blue with the wild landscape, is far removed from mass tourism and invites people looking for an alternative Greek island experience to explore it. Amorgos is the easternmost island of the Cyclades.

It is in its privileged geographical position in the Cyclades and its naturally protected port, the port of Katapola, that Amorgos owes its cultural development since antiquity.

Its beautiful town is located on a rocky landscape at an altitude of 350 m., with an unfinished castle in its heart, flowers on the doorsteps, and exemplary Amorgian architecture that will catch your eye.

Due to the limited space available for building houses, the ingenuity of the people of Amorgos Town created through simple but functional constructions the famous 'shadows,' which are passages covered by the sun and create a pleasant environment for visitors to walk on.

Wander the alleys, enjoy a Cycladic breakfast in the traditional cafes, visit the castle and the many churches of the settlement, and don't forget to see the beautiful windmills.

For a spectacular swim, take the road to Vroutsi, and you'll stumble upon the small but gorgeous beach of Agia Anna, one of the most popular destinations on the traditional island. 

Don't forget to plan a visit to the major pilgrimage site of the astonishing Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, hooked like an eagle's nest on the steep cliffs. It does require a rather tiring climb, but it is more than worth the effort; the wild beauty of Amorgos will change your life!


Kythnos loutravillage Milan Gonda shutterstockLoutra Village, Kythnos, Cyclades - credits: Miland Gonda/Shutterstock.com

Kythnos is an incredible destination, close to the port of Piraeus, that will offer you an unforgettable summer vacation even on a low budget! Ideal for long weekends and last-minute trips, since it's one of the islands close to Athens, the unadulterated character of Kythnos goes against the demands of mass tourism and enchants its visitors with its simple, minimalist but utterly genuine style and pristine charm!

Despite Kythnos' port, Merichas, not being representative of the island's aesthetic, a walk around its streets and a stop for food or drinks is highly recommended.

The real beauty of Kythnos, however, -as with most Greek islands- lies in its town -or Chora-, Messaria, where visitors are met with striking landscapes, whitewashed alleys, flowery courtyards, and old churches that make up the most scenic village that will capture you with its old-time charm.

Despite being the social center of Kythnos and, therefore, its most popular spot, it manages to maintain a traditional character that is enhanced by the courtesy and hospitality of its locals!

Don't forget to visit Loutra, a fishing village famous for being the ultimate place to savor fresh fish and seafood in Kythnos. Along with its cuisine, Loutra is also popular for its thermal baths, built by Otto in 1836! Of course, one cannot forget the impressive Katafyki cave, where people can gaze at nature's wondrous stalactites and stalagmites!

Paros and Small Cyclades Full-day Sailing Adventure

As for the beaches, Kythnos "hides" some that will blow your mind! First and foremost, Kolona is one of the most popular beaches on the island, where a strip of sand becomes a bridge between Kythnos and the tiny islet of Agios Loukas, offering stunning visuals!

Episkopi, Apokrousi, Skylos, Agios Sostis, Potamia, Fykiada, and Agios Dimitrios, are just a few beaches that will give you the tranquil experience you're looking for. 

Despite being one of the low-key Greek islands, it wouldn't be a part of the Cyclades without at least a couple of bars and nightclubs. Discover the unique nightlife of Kythnos in the heart of Merichas and enjoy a drink or party till the sunrise with a remarkable view of the Aegean sea.


sifnos Konstantinos Gerakis shutterstockSifnos, Cyclades - credits: Konstantinos Gerakis/Shutterstock.com

If there is one of the Greek islands belonging to the famous island group of Cyclades that's an all-around people pleaser, it is the island of Sifnos.

Its cosmopolitan town can cater to the raging younger crowds that want to party, but the element of romance is not missing from its other settlements, such as the famous Castle.

Large sandy beaches, pebbled coves, shallow waters for families visiting Greece with kids, but also a good dose of seclusion for couples and hermits are all on the menu.

Add to that a rich folk tradition and one of the best cuisines in the Cyclades, and you have all the reasons why Sifnos is as close to excellence as it can be!

Following the traditional aesthetic of the Cyclades islands with white-blue blue doors dominating the scene, Apollonia, Sifnos' main town, is vibrant throughout the day but comes to life during the afternoons and nights, with bars that keep their guests away from their beds at least until sunrise.

For a more romantic scene, the old town of Sifnos, one of the most famous Greek Castles, displays a typical example of a Venetian castle and provides its visitors with one of the most noteworthy sunsets in the Aegean.

The island's archeological museum lies here, with a rich collection of archaic and Hellenistic sculptures.

Another advantage of Sifnos is its striking beaches and breathtaking landscapes. From the wild rocks of the well-photographed Chrysopigi Beach to the family beach of Platys Gialos and Vathi and the popular beaches of Kamares and Glyfos, there is something to satisfy even the most demanding of visitors! 

Not to mention that Sifnos has 20,000 acres integrated into the Natura network full of cedars, wild olive trees, aromatic plants, and small springs with running water waiting for you to explore them.


Milos Sarakino beach s kaisu shutterstockMilos, Cyclades - credits: s_kaisu/Shutterstock.com

Milos is famous for its lace-like coast that hosts over 75 beaches of varying shapes and sizes. With crystal clear, deep blue waters, colorful sculpted rocks, and white-gold sandy beaches, you will surely be thrilled by the sight. Due to the volcanic origin of its soil, Milos has a unique morphology that offers diversity and scenery of spectacular rock formations.

On the island, you can find both beaches with white sand and bays with pebbles surrounded by white, red, yellow, or even black rocks. Additionally, in the traditional fishing village of Klima, the picturesque two-story houses with intensely colored shutters and doors, as well as the cute fishing boats, compose a colorful and picturesque setting that looks like it has come straight out of a fairytale. 

If you are visiting the Cyclades for a dose of history and culture, then don't erase Milos from your list just yet, since there you will find the impressive site of the early-Christian catacombs in Tripiti village, as well as the archaeological museum of Milos in Plaka town.


Serifos Milan Gonda shutterstockSerifos - credits: Milan Gonda/Shutterstock.com

If peace and calm are what you want, then Serifos is the place for you! Serifos is a beautiful island that is quiet, easily accessible, and wonderfully welcoming, perfect for rest and relaxing moments!

Traditional settlements, scenic landscapes, beautiful beaches, picturesque churches, and the unmistakable Cycladic ambiance that make the Cyclades that much more unique create an island you'll fall in love with the moment you step foot on its port.

The island's heart beats in Liani or Livadi, a vibrant residential area full of life throughout the day and night. The landscape around Livadi completes the picture with a substantial natural mountain and one of the largest beaches on the island, the beach of Avlomona.

Mykonos Full-Day Sailing: Delos Guided Tour & Rhenia Swimming

Taking a walk on the seafront, you will immediately realize that despite being full of countless taverns, cafés, and various shops, it does not cease to retain the charming features of an authentic Cycladic scenery! 

With remarkable diversity, an unmatched picturesqueness, and hundred-year-old neoclassical buildings, such as the one that houses its City Hall, Serifos' town, 5 km away from its port, resembles a movie set. Enhancing its cinematographic character, Serifos is famous for its mine in Megalo Livadi. A visit to its premises will get a taste of the conditions under which the miners of the island lived for many years.


Andros Kite rin ShutterstockAndros - credits: Kite_rin/Shutterstock.com

Andros is the northernmost island of the Cyclades and the second largest after Naxos. It attracts visitors and offers contrasts of natural beauty and impressive cultural heritage, a product of many centuries of history, which began before 3,000 BC. According to Greek mythology, Andros owes its name to the first person who settled on the island, Andros, a hero of divine origin.

Andros' town -or 'Chora'- is built on a peninsula between two major coasts, Neimborio and Paraporti. The old town, with its narrow, picturesque alleys, will excite visitors and lead them to the remains of the Venetian castle on the small island, which is connected to the city by a stone bridge built in the 13th century.

The two beaches of Chora, Neimborio and Paraporti, will satisfy even the most demanding swimmers. Around Chora, along the green mountain slopes, the villages and settlements of the area will wow all lovers of nature. Don't forget to visit the old monasteries of the region: the thousand-year-old Monastery of Agios Nikolaos and the Monastery of Agia Marina.

Additionally, make sure to experience the magnificence of the villages of Korthio, Batsi, and Gavrio, three of the most striking destinations on the island.

Korthio, is a large village famous for hosting the popular beaches of Ormos, Agia Aikaterini, and Tis Grias to Pidima. Batsi is a resort settlement spread around a bay with a sandy beach and a small peninsula, which creates a small port. Every summer, this area is flooded with tourists who come to spend their holidays beautifully, peacefully, and carefree.

For those who love water sports, there is the possibility of surfing and water skiing. Last but not least, Gavrio is the island's port located on a naturally protected coast. 

South of Gavrio, you will find three of the beautiful beaches of the island, Agios Petros, Kypri, and Chrysi Akti (or Golden Beach), offering the perfect cure to the summer heat, as well as some excellent beach bars whose cocktails will introduce you to the nightlife of Andros.


Mykonos - credits: Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock.com

Unless you live under a rock, there is no doubt that you've heard about Mykonos, the queen of Cyclades, and the young people's party island before. The most popular destination in Greece, along with the island of Santorini, Mykonos never fails to wow its thousands of visitors every year.

Mykonos has also been nicknamed 'the island of the winds' due to the unique sea and weather conditions no other Greek islands share that make it particularly windy, which is not a bad thing, especially if you consider the summer heat.

Mykonos' beaches are legendary. With more than 89 km of coastline, every option is available on the island, from long-stretched sandy beaches to small pebbled secluded coves that offer you the island's wild side. Platys Gialos is one of the most famous beaches on the island, fully organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, and water sports facilities.

Agrari and Elia beaches are located 10 km from Chora, the island capital, and are next to each other, forming a vast sandy beach. Elia is the longest sandy beach in Mykonos, and it is fully organized, offering water sports facilities and many options in taverns and bars. On the other hand, Agrari is less popular and much quieter.

The world-acclaimed  Super Paradise Beach is located right next to Paradise Beach. It is less organized than its neighbor and has beautiful crystal clear waters and soft golden sand.

Make a point to visit the church of Panagia Paraportiani, the Castro district, the picturesque windmills, and the Three Wells, which until 1956 were the only source of water supply in the city. Also, make sure to savor the famous traditional appetizer of kopanisti, the local sausages known as' louza,' and fresh seafood in one of its many taverns.

Of course, if you plan to visit Mykonos, you can't leave the sacred island of Delos, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the small rocky island of Rhenia out of your itinerary. Unfortunately, people often confuse Delos and Rhenia, thinking they're the same island. However, they're not. The bare rocky islands adorned by Mykonos are a sight to behold both for their historical value and incredible waters.

Please keep in mind that any small uninhabited island close to a famous island is perfect for an offbeat exploration; smaller islands are more often than not the prettiest and have the most magnificent beaches! 

Remember! Whether you want to explore Mykonos for couples or Mykonos for families, we've got you covered!


sikinos alopronia village Milan Gonda ShutterstockSikinos - credits: Milan Gonda/Shutterstock.com

Nestled between the beautiful islands of Ios and Folegandros, the small Sikinos of not even 300 inhabitants displays a powerful charm you can feel as soon as you reach its port called Alopronia with the Greek mainland ferries.

If 'I'm on vacation' means for you, 'I leave everything behind, I sit for hours on the beaches, I explore old walkways, and I go out at night for a few relaxed traditional drinks,' then Sikinos will seem to you like paradise on earth! 

Apart from Alopronia, the only organized settlement on the island is Chora. It consists of two separate districts, the Castle and the village, which are spread over two opposite mountain slopes. The village is a beautiful puzzle of stone houses in picturesque streets on the left. However, what steals the show is the Castle, the fortified settlement of the 15th century located just opposite.

Along with the crystal clear sandy beach of Alopronia, two more beaches are accessible by car: Dialiskari and Agios Georgios, which are equally gorgeous, with the second one, also offering a delicious traditional tavern Almyra, for fresh fish and seafood.

On the beaches of Agios Panteleimonas, Santorinaika, Malta, and Ai Giannis that are not accessible by car, you can take the boat that departs from Alopronia to visit them. As they are unorganized, make sure to bring with you water, a sun umbrella, and a bite to keep you energized! 

Last but not least, the vineyards of Sikinos have been famous since ancient times. In recent years, the Manali winery has been reviving the tradition, located at a beautiful location on the steep northwestern side of the island. 

It operates exclusively with photovoltaic and wind turbines, while in the organic vineyard, Cycladic varieties are cultivated, giving three exceptional Greek wines you should make your priority to taste.


Folegandros Heracles Kritikos shutterstockFolegandros - credits: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.com

Holidays in Folegandros are ideal for those looking for tranquility, carefree dives, and picturesque cobbled streets. In Folegandros, having a vehicle is not necessary. From the port to the nearby Chora and the village of Ano Meria you can go by bus or taxi, while most of the beaches are accessible by boat or on foot.

Hochlidia, the port beach, and Agali are recommended for those who have children or want direct access to taverns and the like. For the hippies of you lot, however, regular boats can take you to the island's beaches. Livadaki, Agios Nikolaos, Katergo, and all the beaches have one thing in common: they do not have umbrellas and sunbeds.

Therefore, unless you want a 3rd-degree burn on your face and body and/or a heat stroke, ensure you have everything you need with you, such as a sun umbrella, plenty of sunscreen, and lots of water.

Naxos Old Town Flavors & History Tour

What makes the island unique is its town, perhaps the most beautiful of the Cyclades. The oldest part is medieval, in very good condition, and surrounded by a castle built on the cliff's edge in the 13th century. What's more, two churches monopolize the interest of visitors: Panagia Pantanassa, inside the Castle, and Panagia, which dominates over Chora.

Pantanassa was built by Georgios Stai from Heraklion, who took refuge on the island when Crete was conquered by the Turks in 1669. From the churchyard, you can see as far as Milos, Sifnos, and Kimolos.

A visit to Panagia requires more effort, but the amazing view of Chora from above and the temple itself with the three domes and the marble iconostasis will compensate you for your sweat.

Another prominent element of Folegandros is its many squares. Kritikou Square, Kontarini Square, Piazza - the oldest square in Chora -, Dounavi Square: one more beautiful than the other, with tasteful shops to drink and eat.

However, it is also worth dedicating time to Ano Meria, the second-largest settlement on the island the Folklore Museum of the island is housed, presenting the rural household of the Cyclades until the middle of the twentieth century. 

With beautiful beaches, mesmerizing landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, Folegandros has it all!


naxos island panoramic saiko3p shutterstock copy copyNaxos - credits: saiko3p/Shutterstock.com

Known as the Greek island favored by families with children, not only because most of the beaches are sandy and shallow, allowing safe swimming, but also because of the broad offering of things to do that will keep your little ones entertained, Naxos is a sight to behold and the greenest island in the Cyclades.

The beaches of Naxos are something to write home about. The whole southwestern part of the island, from the coast of Ag. George to St. Prokopi, Agia Anna, Plaka, and Pyrgaki, offers everything you could ask for: crystal clear waters, organized, sandy beaches, and traditional taverns offering mouth-watering local dishes after your swimming endeavors.

A visit to Naxos Town in the afternoon is a must, as well as an evening walk in the green mountain villages of Apeiranthos and Filoti that maintain their traditional character. As for the sights that will impress history enthusiasts and children alike?

The archaeological ruin of Portara is the first thing you'll see when you enter the island, while the giant Kouros in Melanes is sure to impress even the most demanding of visitors. 

If you're looking for fun things to do in Naxos or wondering why Naxos is the perfect family destination, you can click through each blog post to learn everything you need to know. Our guides will make your life easier by letting you know all the sights worth seeing, especially if you or your family are visiting the largest and greenest island in the Cyclades for the first time!


Syros Milan Gonda ShutterstockSyros - credits: Milan Gonda/Shutterstock.com

Nicknamed 'the mistress of the Cyclades', Syros island is a cultural hub that combines beauty and sophistication. With amazing beaches, attractions, and reasonable prices, I can't think of a single reason you shouldn't visit it!

The capital of the northerly island, which also happens to be the capital of the Cyclades in general, is Ermoupolis, a stunning town that will leave you amazed the first time you rest your eyes upon it; its mansions, its alleys full of shops, and the central Miaouli square are only some of its beauties.

14-Day trip to the Cyclades: Athens, Syros, Tinos & Naxos

The island may not be famous for its exotic beaches. However, Galissas and Poseidonia/De la Gracia are incredible! Syros' selling point for me, though, is the little district of Ano Syros, the old town of the island. The cobbled alleys, the Markos Vamvakaris Museum, and the breathtaking view out to the sea makes for an unforgettable setting!

Don't leave the island without visiting the iconic church of Agios Nikolaos, the basilica with the blue dome, the Corinthian columns, and the neighborhood of Vaporia, where wealthy merchants built their beautiful captain's houses in front of the sea. 

At Asteria, you can take in the mesmerizing view of Syros island, with its unique churches at the top of the hills.


Ios RAndrei ShutterstockIos - credits: RAndrei/Shutterstock.com

The cosmopolitan Ios, or Nios for the locals, with its picturesque coves and windmills, is a typical Cycladic island with white houses, full of olive trees and vineyards, among other large islands such as Santorini, Naxos, Sikinos, and Amorgos.

Chora, today's capital of Ios, is built amphitheatrical and is 2 km from Gialos, the windless port of the island and one of the three largest natural ports in the Aegean. This is where the Aegean Rally takes place every year, with sailboats from all over the world.

You must visit the church of Agios Nikolaos and the church of Panagia Gremniotissa with the characteristic blue dome. The island has 365 churches - unbelievable and yet true!

Well-known beaches on Ios island are the beaches of Mylopotas, Magganari -7 sandy beaches with picturesque harbors, and an international celebrity destination-Ormos, Tzamaria, Balmados, and Alakmata, Kilima, and Plunocho. Near Ormos are the beaches of Kolitsani and Koumbara. 

Wherever you choose to go on the island of Ios, you'll undoubtedly have the time of your life! It is no coincidence that Ios has recently competed with Mykonos for the title of the Greek island with the best party vibe!


paros PitK shutterstockParos - credits: PitK/SHutterstock.com

Combining a vibrant nightlife with incredible beaches, a folklore character, and stunning landscapes, the famous tourist island of Paros is a favored destination of many, both locals and visitors, due to its diverse character and unmatched beauty; there is always something to do in Paros and that something is always fun!

Although the number of visitors to Paros has increased recently, and it is one of the Cyclades' most popular islands, it retains its charm over time. One can discover the Cycladic beauty of the island through labyrinthine cobbled streets, small clearings with the bougainvilleas, white houses that sparkle under the sun, and the endless blue all around. In addition, Paros' beaches are phenomenal.

If you're up for dancing at a beach bar to the point of exhaustion, you'll go straight to Punta Beach on the east side of the island or to the first part of Santa Maria, near Naoussa. Suppose you want something organized but relatively calm. In that case, you can opt for a few beaches: the famous Kolimbithres or Ai-Giannis and the Monastery, and the Molos with the golden sand and tamarisk trees. If you want to swim free from anything that prevents the body from coming into contact with water and the sun, go straight to Laggeri.

The heart of the nightlife of Paros beats in Naoussa. The setting is complemented by boats, small churches, and the colors of the sky and the sea that change every moment of the day. There, you will go to eat at the best restaurants on the island and have drinks in many different bars for every taste.

Walking through the alleys, you will discover stylish shops, patisseries, but also shops with traditional products of the island. Of course, one cannot forget about Parikia. However, the port and administrative center of Paros, which charms with its beautiful mansions and lush gardens, is for everyone who visits.

There, you will stroll in the commercial market between traditional and modern shops, on the beach and the Venetian castle built around 1260 with ancient materials and architectural parts from the Temple of the goddess Athena, patroness of the ancient city of Paros. You will find taverns, bars, cafes, and elegant restaurants, which not all the Cyclades islands boast. 

It doesn't matter what you're looking for. It only matters that whatever it is, you'll find it in Paros!


Tinos Heracles Kritikos ShutterstockTinos, Cyclades islands - credits: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.com

Although it is hardly ever talked about, Tinos is one of the most misunderstood islands because, in the minds of many, it is connected exclusively to the Christian churches that have made it famous.

And yet, it is a quiet island, with beautiful beaches, geological interest, and traditional settlements that are ideal for a walk. In contrast, its beaches offer a wide variety of water sports that will satisfy those looking for an adrenaline rush!

For swimming, families prefer the beaches found in the southern part of the traditional island, from Ag. Fokas to the beach of Ag. Ioannis Porto, as those are organized, sandy, and convenient.

However, if you are looking for more exotic landscapes, Kolimbithra and Kionia are the ones for you. In the settlement of Kionia, you will find the archaeological site of the sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite. 

What's more, a visit to the cave of Gastria, and the waterfalls near the beach of Livada, is also worth your while and can be combined with a visit to the mountainous villages of Pyrgos and Volakas.


kea island Milan Gonda shutterstock copyKea, Cyclades - credits: Milan Gonda/Shutterstock.com

Tzia or Kea is just an hour's boat ride from Lavrio and is the closest habitable Cycladic island in Attica. Kea is sparsely populated, except for Korissia (Livadi), the island's main port, Ioulida, the island's capital, and Vourkari.

The most beautiful areas, however, are located in the northeast. One of them is Pera Meria which has several small beaches, such as Spathi. However, the most famous beaches are Otzias, Gialiskari, Poisses, Xyla, and Koundouros awarded a blue flag.

Arriving on the island, you will be impressed by the rich flora, rare plant species, and countless crops. The royal oak forests, unique in the Cyclades, create an unforgettable landscape, while many herbs, aromatic plants, and beautiful wildflowers thrive. Most of the island, after all, belongs to the Natura 2000 network.

In Loulida, there is the Archaeological Museum, which houses findings from excavations in prehistoric settlements,  from historical times, and parts of an ancient temple in the ancient city of Carthage. Finally, in Chora, you will admire not only the traditional architecture but also examples of neoclassical architecture, such as the building that houses the City Hall.

In the northern part of the settlement is the Acropolis. From the ancient temple of Apollo and the Medieval Castle, only a few parts remain that testify to the area's prestige in the past.

In Kea, many visitors are attracted by its paths built like stone stairs that run through the entire island. The bright terrain and small coves provide unique beauty along the way. Its 36 km long trail network is considered an ideal place for those who love hiking, and in fact, the trails of Kea have been characterized as a 'Network of Cultural Interest Routes.' 

Twelve routes have been selected, with wooden signs guiding the walkers safely. The tour of the main cobbled paths is enchanting as walkers cross them through oak forests, admire the beautiful wildflowers, meet traditional stone-built springs, and whitewashed, picturesque chapels, ending in either beautiful or small coves.


Santorini, Cyclades - credits: Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock.com

Who hasn't heard of Santorini and its unparalleled beauty? The magical ambiance of the wild scenery of Santorini has amazed its visitors day in and day out for hundreds of years, probably more than all the Cyclades islands combined. Possessing an active volcano only adds to the allure of the island, known for its unique beauty. 

The three elements that make Santorini so sought-after are its aforementioned unique geometry, Santorinian wine production that has remained strong since ancient times, and the Cycladic aesthetic that invites photographs to turn its streets into postcards every chance they get.

Santorini is a couple's paradise due to the magical sunsets it offers and the heart-stopping views out to the Aegean from the famous caldera. Romance is Santorini's middle name. 

Regardless, even people that travel to Santorini with family or even solo will find more than enough things to do in Santorini, such as marveling at the remnants of the huge volcanic eruption, visiting the island's unusual beaches, trying the delicious cuisine in its many Santorini restaurants, and exploring the local bars and clubs that keep the nightlife of Santorini alive!

The Greek islands of the Small Cyclades; the perfect island-hopping opportunity

Schinousa, Small Cyclades- credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com

Continuing our tour in the Cyclades, this time we are gonna reach the small Cyclades islands of Herakleia, Keros, and Koufonissia. Leave any obligations behind and surrender yourselves to the dream-like small Cyclades islands that will surely awake your wanderlust and present the perfect opportunity for an island-hopping adventure!

Relatively unknown compared to the rest of the Greek islands, the Cyclades and their world-famous party scene, all the islands of the Small Cyclades operate as places of seclusion with enchanting sceneries and fascinating atmosphere.

n case you are looking for an alternative summer destination characterized by authenticity and tranquillity, featuring secluded beaches with amazingly deep blue waters, you definitely need to look for one of the following choices. 

Each small Cyclades island is more beautiful than the previous one, so get ready to experience locations of wild Cycladic beauty, unspoiled traditional settlements, and have a taste of life in the Aegean sea almost frozen in time.


The charming sandy beach on the Small Cyclades island of Koufonisia - credits: www.discovergreece.com

The small Cyclades island of Koufonisia contains two islands, the main Ano Koufonisi and the uninhabited during the winter months Kato Koufonisi. This small island is a paradox of its own. It is the most densely populated island of the Small Cyclades islands, related to its size, and out of its 360 people, almost 110 are teenagers and children.

Therefore, it is quite a lively island, an ideal family-friendly option off-the-beaten-path, while the island's lovely nightlife makes it fun for everyone. Just keep in mind that the island's finest bars are relaxed and by the sea, definitely nothing fancy, while there are no more than a couple.

Most of the families of the island rely on fishing activities to survive, preserving the local traditions which you will have the chance to experience. One thing that you are not gonna need on the island is a car. Everything is just a short walk away, so you can walk from one end of the island to another in no time, using the ancient traditional paths covering the whole expanse of Koufonisi.

Alternatively, please know that this Small Cyclades island offers boat transfers. For those that want to have a more nature-oriented experience, the camping site of the island offers you the chance to sleep under the bright Aegean sky and gaze at the beaming stars during the night. With almost zero light pollution, the night sky of Koufonisia is a memorable sight!

Despite the fact that Ano Koufonisi, where there are hotels and rooms for you to stay, is quite small, there are certainly so many things for you to see that you will never feel bored for a second.

The Chora of Koufonisi is a small settlement that reflects the typical Cycladic architecture, with streets and alleys relatively unchanged through the years. The local delicacies are many, but what you should not miss is fish! There, you will find the freshest fish, literally taken out from the sea minutes ago.

Choose one of the many traditional restaurants, mingle with the warm-hearted locals, and enjoy a typical Cycladic Mediterranean meal at a fantastic location. Depending on when you are gonna visit the island, there are many local festivals for you to attest to, the best way to live like a local!

The most important one happens on August the 15th when the people of Ano Koufonisi hop on their boats and get to the smaller island of Kato Koufonisi to celebrate Virgin Mary.

After the mass, food, and drinks are at the center of everyone's interest. Fresh fish, local products, goat cheese, wine, and many more are some of the things you are gonna try if you get there.

Have in mind that these festivals are pivotal to the mindset of Greeks, therefore this is your best chance to live a true, authentic Greek experience in one of the most off-the-beaten-path Greek islands!

But what about the natural beauty of Koufonisia? In order for you to realize the scale of the beauty of this corner of the small Cyclades, photos, and videos are more than inefficient. There are so many options and untouched destinations on both the islands that just listing them would probably take ages!

Another thing that you will quickly realize while on Koufonisia, is that the small Cyclades islands emit strong energy of freedom and relaxation, therefore many campers and nudists are to be found there.

Nevertheless, some must-see attractions are the traditional 19th-century windmills of the island, and then every sandy and secluded beach at Ano and Kato Koufonisi. Do not forget to swim at Pori, one of the island's most famous beaches, where your senses will go wild and enjoy the crystal clear emerald waters of the central Aegean Sea. 

For those that want to check as many beaches as possible, there are really frequent boat trips from the port of Koufonisi that will take you to some of the most secluded, almost private beaches and magical caves of the Aegean. 

Keros island

An archaeologist working on a secluded pebbled beach on the Small Cyclades island of Keros - credits: enetpress.gr

With almost no one on it since 1968, Keros is a large Greek island on the Small Cyclades complex that belongs to the inhabited islands, but just barely. It only has one inhabitant, a shepherd who does not spend all year long there too.

Nowadays, the quiet island is protected by the Natura 2000 environment protection network and excluded from every construction and habitation activity by the Greek State. Keros used to belong to the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa of Amorgos, until 1952. The main reason for its abandonment was the lack of drinking water and the drying of the existing wells.

During the decade of 1960s, the Greek Archaeological Society started excavating on the island, revealing one of the most important centers of the Cycladic civilization, with habitation dated to 2700 BC.

The quiet island popular for having people since classical times, due to an inscription describing the tax people of Keros had to pay to the major city of Athens. Excavations on the island continue with an aim to shed some more light on the rich ancient past of Keros. 

The island's awarded local specialty is history and you must make sure to explore it thoroughly, just like most of the Aegean islands! 


The sandy coast road east of the port of the Small Cyclades island of Herakleia - credits: lifo.gr

Located at the south of the famous bay of Naxos island and connecting with ferry routes to Naxos, the rest of the small Cyclades islands and the port of Piraeus, Herakleia, one of the most secluded islands with about 100 inhabitants, is certainly the place of dreams with its exquisite sandy bay and impressive sea floor enchanting its visitors.

While there is no dramatic rocky landscape on the quiet island, it is just as mesmerizing with its natural beauty and the truly breathtaking sunrise. It is a small unspoiled island worth visiting!

On Herakleia you are not gonna find banks (except for 1 ATM), authorities of any kind, camping sites, gas stations, taxis or buses, any charming beach bar, or any other luxurious option.

On the other hand, you will find, warm-hearted people that will treat you like friends, endless options for idyllic beaches to live your best beach life, traditional paths to take you to every inch of the island, picturesque narrow alleys, and scenic settlements.

If you choose to visit Herakleia as your summer destination or a stop to your island-hopping adventure, you need to know that time has no meaning there. 

Leave any of your anxieties behind and dive into the mindset of Herakleians, that will welcome you with open arms. Do not miss the chance to explore the island's ancient past and visit the cave of St. John, an interesting walking destination where you can wander around stalactites and stalagmites millions of years old or dive in its water and check the wrecks of WWII.  

Waste no time and pay a visit to the small Cyclades island of Hercules. The island's daily life will enchant you.

Final Thoughts

Read above the list and find the Cycladic island that better suits you; you're in for an absolute treat! Combine more than one of the Cyclades islands, during your visit, with the help of our Greek Island Hopping guide and if you are still unsure, discover the best Greek island for you, based on your preferences.

The island complex of the Small Cyclades is definitely an option addressing the most demanding traveler seeking quiet refuge. Get your chance to visit some of the small islands mentioned above that are just a ferry trip away, get ready for your island-hopping adventure, and check out one of our Greece tours & Greek island tours

This Greek island experience will become a life highlight!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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