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!
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The 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 to tourists for all the right reasons.
Of course, one cannot talk about the Cyclades and leave out the one and only 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 island 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:
Amorgos - credits: Kite_rin/Shutterstock.com
Amorgos, the Cycladic island of the endless blue with the wild landscape, is far removed from the 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 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, and flowers on the doorsteps, and an 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 useful constructions the famous 'shadows', which are passages covered from the sun and create a pleasant environment for visitors to walk on.
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 island. Don’t forget to plan a visit to 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!
Loutra Village, Kythnos - 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 popular 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!
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!
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 - credits: Konstantinos Gerakis/Shutterstock.com
If there is one Cycladic island that’s an all-around people pleaser, it is the islands 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 Cycladic aesthetic 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. Here is where the archeological museum of the island lies, 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 - 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 are sure to be thrilled by the sight. Due to the volcanic origin of its soil, Milos has an impressive morphology that offers diversity.
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 the 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 - credits: Milan Gonda/Shutterstock.com
If peace and calm are what you want, then Serifos is the place for you! A beautiful island that is quiet, easily accessible, and wonderfully welcoming, Serifos is 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 heart of the island beats in Liani or Livadi, a vibrant residential area full of life throughout both the day and night. The landscape around Livadi completes the picture with a huge natural mountain and one of the largest beaches on the island, the beach of Avlomona.
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 special 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 also famous for its mine located 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 - 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, while 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 area: the thousand-year-old Monastery of Agios Nikolaos and the Monastery of Agia Marina.
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 port of the island 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, 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 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’ beaches are legendary. With more than 89 km of coastline, there is literally every option available on the island from long-stretched sandy beaches to small pebbled secluded coves that offer you the wild side of the island. Platys Gialos is one of the most famous beaches of the island, fully organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, and water sports facilities.
Agrari and Elia beaches are located 10 km from Chora and are next to each other forming a huge sandy beach. Elia is the longest sandy beach in Mykonos, it is fully organized offering water sports facilities and many options in taverns and bars. Agrari is less popular and much quieter.
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.
Sikinos - 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. 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. On the left, the village is a beautiful puzzle of stone houses in picturesque streets. 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 that 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 in order 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 3 exceptional Greek wines you should make your priority to taste.
Folegandros - credits: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.com
Holidays in Folegandros are undoubtedly an ideal choice 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, as well as Agali, are recommended for those who have children or want to have direct access to taverns and the like. For the hippies of you lot, however, there are regular boats that can take you to the beaches of the island. Livadaki, Agios Nikolaos, Katergo, all the beaches have one thing in common: they do not have umbrellas and sunbeds.
Therefore, unless you want to get a 3rd-degree burn on your face and body and/or a heat stroke, make sure you have everything you need with you, such as a sun umbrella, plenty of sunscreen and lots of water.
What makes the island unique is its town, perhaps the most beautiful of the Cyclades. The oldest part of it is medieval, in very good condition, and is surrounded by a castle built on the edge of the cliff 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.
Beautiful beaches, mesmerizing landscapes, and rich cultural heritage; Folegandros has it all!
Naxos - credits: saiko3p/Shutterstock.com
Let’s start with the most popular of the bunch. 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 wide offering of things to do that will keep your little ones entertained, Naxos is a sight to behold.
The beaches of Naxos are something to write home about. The whole southwestern part of the island, from the beach of Ag. George to St. Prokopi, Agia Anna, Plaka, and Pyrgaki, offers everything you could possibly 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 you're wondering why Naxos is the perfect family destination, you can click through to each blog post to learn everything you need to know. Our guides will make your life easier, by letting you know of all the sights worth seeing, especially if you or your family are visiting the Cycladic island for the first time!
Syros - credits: Milan Gonda/Shutterstock.com
Nicknamed as ‘the mistress of the Cyclades’, the island of Syros is a cultural hub that combines beauty and sophistication. With amazing beaches, remarkable attractions and reasonable prices, I can’t think of a single reason why you shouldn’t visit it!
The capital of the island, which also happens to be the capital of the Cyclades in general, is Ermoupolis, a stunning town that will leave you awestruck 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.
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 breath-taking view out to the sea make for a setting that is sure to be unforgettable!
Don’t leave the island without visiting the iconic church of Agios Nikolaos, the basilica with the blue dome, as well as the Corinthian columns, as well as the neighborhood of Vaporia, where rich merchants built their beautiful captain's houses in front of the sea. At Asteria, you will have the opportunity to take in the mesmerizing view of Syros island, with its unique churches standing out at the top of the hills.
Ios - 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, located 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 and Balmados and Alakmata, Kilima, Plunocho. Near Ormos are the beaches of Kolitsani and Koumbara.
Wherever you choose to go on the island of Ios, it is certain you’ll have the time of your life! It is no coincidence that in recent years Ios competes with Mykonos for the title of the Greek island with the best party vibe!
Paros - credits: PitK/SHutterstock.com
Combining a vibrant nightlife with incredible beaches, a folklore character and incredible landscapes, the 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 in recent years, and it being one of the most popular islands of the Cyclades, it retains its charm over time and 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. 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. If you want something organized, but relatively calm, opt for the famous Kolimbithres or Ai-Giannis and the Monastery, but also 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 Laggeris.
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. 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.
It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, it only matters that whatever it is, you’ll find it in Paros!
Tinos - 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, while 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 on the southern part of the 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, 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 - 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 relatively sparsely populated, with the exception of Korissia (Livadi), which is the island's main port, Ioulida, which is 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. The most famous beaches, however, are Otzias, Gialiskari, Poisses, Xyla, as well as Koundouros, which has been 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, which are 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. 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 Kea, a significant number of 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 -mainly 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 - 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. Possessing an active volcano only adds to the allure of the island that is known for its unique beauty.
The three elements that make Santorini so sought-after are its aforementioned unique geometry, its 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 visiting the striking black and red sand beaches, trying the delicious cuisine, and exploring the local bars and clubs that keep the nightlife of Santorini alive!
The small Cyclades
Kleftiko Milos - credits: wearetravelgirls.com
The Cyclades may be one of the most cosmopolitan and sought-after island complexes in Greece, there are however some islands, known as Small Cyclades, which manage to stay under the radar. These Cycladic islands are Koufonisia, Heraklia, Donoussa, Schinoussa, and Keros island, maintaining the truest and most authentic side of Greece, completely unspoiled by mass tourism.
Therefore if you are looking to escape the crowds, and in most cases, the modern luxuries of cosmopolitan cities, visiting the Small Cyclades will be like you’ve found heaven on earth. With traditional villages, unorganized and pristine beaches, as well as a unique and homey atmosphere, the lesser-known islands of the Cyclades promise you a relaxing and stress-free stay in Greece.
The Cyclades are the trademark of Greece and the destination most people think of when they think about the Greek islands. It’s true, there is no place like a Cycladic island with its impeccable aesthetic, cosmopolitan vibe, and some of the best beaches in Greece. If you want to make the days of your holidays count, don’t think twice.
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 Cycladic 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.