The Cyclades islands (/ˈsɪklədiːz/; Greek: Κυκλάδες [kikˈlaðes]) are the most popular group of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Its name "Cyclades" derives from the Greek word cyclos, which means "circle" as the islands form a circle around the sacred island of Delos, one of the most important religious centers of ancient times.
The natural landscape of the Cyclades is arid and wild. The beaches have crystal water and are covered with sand or pebbles. Geographically, the islands of the Cyclades are considered the peak of a submerged mountainous terrain, except for two volcanic islands, Santorini and Milos. The climate in Cyclades is generally mild and dry, temperatures are cool and northern winds known as "meltemia" blow in the summer, making the atmosphere chilly even during the hot summer days.
About Cyclades islands
The most popular island of the Cyclades is Santorini, a volcanic island with quaint villages hanging on the edge of a submerged caldera. From every spot of the caldera, visitors can see the top of the volcano and enjoy the most romantic sunset views in the world. Due to its wild natural beauty and the fabulous sunset, Santorini is a very popular wedding and honeymoon destination.
The second top island of the Cyclades is Mykonos, famous for its traditional architecture and wild nightlife. Enjoy the sunset from the windmills on the hill above Chora, walk around the picturesque village of Mykonos Town (Chora) and Little Venice and swim in exotic beaches. At night, the heart of entertainment beats at the bars and clubs of Chora. Paros and Naxos are also very popular islands of the Cyclades. In general, every island has something different yet charming to offer to visitors. Frequently connected by ferry or plane from Athens, Cyclades islands constitute the most typical destinations for holidays in Greece.
Cyclades is the most famous archipelago in Greece!
Famous islands: The 2 most famous islands of Greece are located in the Cyclades: Santorini • Mykonos
Amazing sandy beaches: The beaches on the islands of Cyclades are among the most beautiful in Greece. They are characterized by soft sandy sand and crystal clear waters. Some islands like Naxos Naxos, Milos & Koufonisia are famous for that.
Wild beauty: The islands of the Cyclades are mostly arid with dramatic landscapes, cliffs and mountains offering an amazing contrast with the blue sky and sea.
Always sunny: Between June and August, in only rare occasions someone will see clouds in the Cyclades. And even more rare is rain, In fact, it is among the places that have the longest duration of sunshine during the year.
Traditional villages: The villages of the Cyclades is what characterize them the most: whitewashed houses in villages on the seafront of perched on hills and cliffs, with narrow alleys, bougainvillaeas, small taverns and restaurants, cocktail bars and local shops. Everybody has seen photos in tourist guides of villages such Oia in Santorini, Naoussa in Paros or Chora of Mykonos.
Party destination: Some islands of the Cyclades are known for their vivid nightlife. The most famous are Mykonos, for the jet setters and the LGBT community, but also Ios, for younger party animals.
Island-hopping: All islands are located in a relatively close distance to each other and there are well connected by ferry. The most popular island-hopping routes are between the islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Paros as they are well connected with daily ferries.
Variety of islands: While the most famous islands are Santorini and Mykonos, there are also much calmer (and cheaper) alternatives. Discover all islands in our travel guide of the Cyclades. We strongly recommend Paros, Naxos, Milos and Amorgos.
Attractions: The Cyclades islands have a very rich history that started in Ancient times. As an archipelago, there were conquered but many civilizations. Visitors today can visit the vestiges of the past: Delos in Mykonos • Akrotiri in Santorini, • Temple of Demeter in Naxos, museums, and many more. Also, one of the most famous attractions is the active volcano of Santorini.
Proximity to Athens: The islands of the Cyclades are reachable by ferry or by plane. You need 45 minutes to reach the islands with an airport, like Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros and Milos. By, ferry, it depends on the vessel and island location. Islands like Andros, Tinos, Kythnos and Kea are reachable in a 1-hour ferry ride. Mykonos in 2 hours. Paros is 4 hours, Naxos in 5 hours and Santorini in 6 hours.
Where to go?
While there are around 220 islands and islets, not all of them are inhabited. Some islands like Santorini, Mykonos, Paros and Naxos are very popular while some others are also very beautiful but much calmer and a perfect alternative for a relaxing holiday. Discover our Cyclades Travel guide with 23 islands in the Cyclades listed by popularity.
The best period to visit the Cyclades is between June and September. The weather is great and the sea temperature is perfect for swimming. August is the hottest month and must be avoided if you want to hike.
How to get there?
The Cyclades islands are located in the Aegean sea, on the eastern side of Athens. The islands are easily accessible by ferry and some of them also by plane. Discover how to get to each island.