Things to see & do in the Cyclades
So called because they form a circle around the sacred island of Delos, the Cyclades are the sun-drenched stuff of island hopping fantasies. Scattered with sugar-cube houses, blue-domed churches and top notch archeological sites, they look as if they are straight off a film set. What makes them even more enchanting is their variety. You’ll find laid-back isles where traditions hold strong, sophisticated idylls primed for romance and quiet corners away from the restaurant strips on the busier islands. Most of them can be hiked, biked, kayaked or snorkelled. Sure, some areas get busy during the peak summer season, but there are plenty of remote, off radar spots where you can escape the crowds and have the beach to yourself.
To get around you can ferry-hop or join a small group cruising or sailing tour travelling by private boat in a group of up to 16 like-minded travellers, with expert guides to help make sure things run smoothly along the way. Either way you’re living the island dream.
Our Greece Holidays
Where to goNaxos is the biggest island in the Cyclades and home to the group’s highest peak, the 1,004m high Mount Zas. The island is the fabled home of the ancient Minoan princess Ariadne, with the Old Town overlooked by a hilltop castle and scattered with 16th century Venetian homes. If you’re going on a sailing odyssey around the islands you’ll likely start here, and it’s also the main transport hub for the islands.
Then there’s Mykonos, favourite of hedonists and high-flyers and home to fine dining restaurants, posh hotels, a yacht-stuffed marina and a thriving gay scene. It also has its share of quiet coves and pretty countryside to explore. The white villages and iconic sunsets of Santorini have graced a thousand magazine spreads, but it’s also a walker’s paradise with plenty of dramatic trails. On mountainous Amorgos, walking paths lead to ancient churches and unspoiled bay, while on Paros, a network of Byzantine footpaths take you to traditional villages. Less visited than the others are the tiny islands of the Lesser Cyclades and the Western Cyclades. Hike and hop these islands to experience something special on each one, including the Cyclades’ largest cave on Iraklia.
Getting activeStrapping on your boots and hitting the trails on a walking tour is the best way to get to know the Cyclades Islands. Beyond the beaches, trails pass through hills covered in wild herbs, through pretty villages and Venetian towns, past Byzantine chapels and ruined temples, and on to tiny tavernas where the food is as spectacular as the sweeping views. Leisurely is the world of choice when it comes to walking breaks around these parts. Distances are moderate, with between two and five hours walking a day, the terrain is easily negotiated and walks are interspersed with swimming, picnicking, sampling local wine and discovering ancient sites.
You could choose to spend a week getting to know a single island in depth or spend up to two weeks sailing from island to island by yacht or ferry, exploring new paths on every isle. The majority of our walking holidays in the Cyclades are run as small group breaks, with a maximum of 16 people taking part. You could also choose one of our tailor made walking tours. These often include a local guide, but provide greater flexibility on how long you stay and where you walk. Either option will introduce you to locally run hotels and restaurants, so you can be sure your money is going into local hands.
If you want something a little different, you could always opt for a cycling tour. You’ll spend your days cruising from island to island and exploring historic sites, towns and villages by bike, at a relaxed and enjoyable pace. Either guided or self guided, these are suitable for the moderately fit, and always build in plenty of time for swimming, resting and sightseeing.
If you'd like to chat about Greece or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Given the beauty and diversity of the archipelago, with over 200 islands to choose from, it’s not surprising that people are reluctant to stick to just one. Luckily there’s a generous handful of sailing and small ship cruising holidays to get you from port to port. Unlike public ferries, which only travel between the larger islands, a sailing yacht can get you to the small and even uninhabited islands of the Cyclades archipelago, where you can walk to discover deserted villages, Venetian settlements and empty beaches.
You could glide between the islands on a small yacht sleeping just eight passengers, where everyone mucks in to help it sail; or go bigger and fancier (though not floating hotel big) and island hop on an elegant 49 sleeper motor yacht equipped with sunbeds, a Jacuzzi and a bar.
More about Greece
Check out our temperature & rainfall chart which features Crete and Athens alongside a month by month guide to help you discover the best time to visit Greece. Particularly useful if you’re interested in festival & events will be our recommendations on what happens when in Greece.
Our Greece travel guide is as smooth as olive oil, as appealing as a deserted Cycadean island in May, and, dare we say it, as interesting as a tour around the classical sites of the Peloponnese.
Learn where to go and make the most of your time as you pore over our Greece map & itineraries which will take you from Thessaloniki & Mt Olympus in the north to the Peloponnese, the Cyclades and Crete, further south.
Find out what Responsible Travel recommend for travelling in Greece with kids, including Minotaurs, the Med and magic mountains that should never be far from any family-friendly itinerary.
Discover our recommended things to do in Greece ranging from sublime sailing sites and Byzantine island churches to walking in the sandal steps of Ulysses, or paddling the pristine coastlines of Mediterranean island idylls.
If you’re interested in the myths and legends of the ancient world, the Greek mainland, including the Peloponnese, is certain to sate your curiosity.
Greece walking holidays take you along mountain trails and coastal paths with plenty of ancient sites and natural wonders to keep an eye out for along the way.
Greece self drive holidays put you in full control of how your holiday unfolds, whether you want to hike mountains or visit little out-of-the-way beaches for an authentic take on Greek life.
Discover the benefits of a Greece sailing holiday as you contemplate life in the Cyclades, and beyond, from an on board perspective that’s bound to be as relaxing as it will be exhilarating.
Small ship cruising in Greece is about experiencing island life at a relaxed pace, not about being bombarded by entertainment on a floating hotel.
Take yourself off for a week in Greece as you discover the delights of yoga holidays where the sun always shines and the food is just as fresh as the breeze skimming off the Aegean.
With between 1,200 and 6,000 islands, from tiny uninhabited specks to large rocky land masses, Greece is without parallel when it comes to island variety.
At just an hour and a half from Athens, the charms of the Peloponnese are well known to locals, but for international travellers, this peninsula lags far behind the Greek Islands in popularity.
While many people concentrate on the Greek islands, it’s well worth spending some time in the capital.
Wellness holidays in Greece connect you with the therapeutic powers of Mediterranean sea and sunshine – and its healing herbs and plants, which have sustained and revived since the time of the Gods.
Volunteering holidays in Greece give you the chance to work with animal charities that, thanks to the economic crisis, need all hands on deck.
Multi activity holidays in Greece are like an epic: you’ll sail the Aegean, battle your way through white water rapids, hike Olympic mountains, and swim in seas with ancient sea creatures.
Greece travel advice should always start with those who know it best which is why we’ve asked our suppliers to give us their recommendations alongside a few pearls of wisdom related to health & safety in Greece.
Everyone should want to find out how to travel right in Greece, which is why our responsible tourism in Greece page is devoted to helping you preserve the wildlife & environment of this gorgeous part of southern Europe.
From idyllic island-hopping to hiking between fascinating archaeological sites and sublime cycling, find your perfect holiday, and stacks of information on what to see and do, with all our Greece guides in one place.