The Cyclades are an archipelago of 23 larger and over 200 smaller islands located in the Aegean Sea, southeast of the mainland. Considered a paradise for sailors, and sometimes also as the ‘most Greek’ Greek islands.
I was able to see four of these islands in July. A bit by accident, because somehow they were never high on my travel list, maybe except Santorini. However, cheap tickets to Athens prompted me to look for easily accessible (from the Greek capital) and interesting islands. I looked at the pictures of the Cyclades and … I got lost 😊 I wanted to see and sail around them all!
I had less time than willingness, which is why it ended up in four.
The choice was dictated, of course, by photos and what I was able to read, but not only. Logistics also had a large impact on the choice of islands – the idea was to move between islands relatively quickly and efficiently.
I admit immodestly that the trip at the end was organised well enough 😉 A ready route is ahead of you, what can be easily adapted to your time capabilities.
Note: I really recommend a post about ferries in Greece – you will find technical tips about tickets, passes, reservations, etc.
I deliberately eliminated Santorini and Mykonos islands from the route, which are probably the best known from the Cyclades. The date of departure in the second half of July suggested that there would be crowds, besides, the prices in the season are really high on these islands.
However, if you want to add them to the trip, there will be no problem. There are enough ferries, Aegan Airline and Ryanair also fly to both islands.
First stop, Amorgos
It was a night ferry trip from Athens, from the port of Piraeus. A little tiring, as after a day of sightseeing around the city, however, the saving of time and financial resources prevailed (for details about night ferries, types of places and tickets, see the entry mentioned above).
The cruise lasted quite a short time, about five hours. It reaches the town of Katapola. It was before 5 a.m. and I expected total emptiness. But not, not really. Cafes in the port were open, waiting with breakfast, taxis and buses to various hotels waiting for passengers. So even if you have to wait to check in to your little hotel, there will be a place.
Amorgos is a large island, there is a lot to see. There are regular buses between the towns, it is worth going to Chora – the capital. A beautiful and atmospheric place. Along the way, you must see the Hozoviotissa monastery and the beach next door.
Amorgos captivated me with its authenticity and traditional, a little fishing atmosphere of the island.
Second stop, Koufonisia
After about an hour’s ferry ride you’ll find yourself in another world, in the so-called small Cyclades. Koufonisia is a small island, you’ll get anywhere even on foot, although most people choose to rent a bike or take a boat- after buying a full-day ticket, you can travel without restrictions between attractions (mainly beaches).
Amazing views and water color. There is one town on the island with a tourist base and restaurants. Due to the size, the number of places is limited, so book your accommodation in advance. There are also organized full-day trips to the island from island Naxos, but I rent a place in Koufonisi for at least one night, the town definitely has a charm.
Third stop, Naxos
Koufonisia is best connected to the island of Naxos. A short cruise and another world again. Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades, and the capital itself (also called Naxos) is already a larger city. Cars, buses, also the airport, although due to its size only small planes flying from Athens or charters land there. Naxos has ancient monuments and beautiful beaches. The island is also said to be the greenest among the Cyclades.
The old town itself is a maze of narrow streets with shops, cafes and restaurants. Beautiful, although quite touristic.
Fourth stop, Paros
And again a slightly different climate and less than an hour by ferry. The capital is Parikia, but it’s also worth visiting Naousa and arrange accommodation there. The most party and posh place of those mentioned. It is worth going for a walk through the streets and, above all, the port, where taverns by the water create a unique atmosphere.
Naousa can be reached by bus from the bus station next to the port.
There is also an airport on Paros, where mainly planes from Athens and Thessaloniki land.
Nearby is the island of Antiparos, which can be reached by local ferries leaving the port of Pounda.
End stop, Athens
From Paros (from Parikia) to Athens you can again get by night ferry. This ferry also stops in Naxos first.
If you prefer to travel during the day, no problem, there are more ferries. More specifically about ports in the Athens area I wrote in the stated article, it is worth mentioning that the ferries to Cyclades depart from two ports – Piraeus and Rafina, depending on the company. Night ferries start from Piraeus.
If you have more time, you can think about adding other islands. But even these four will let you get to know the Cyclades. Such a trip is quite intensive, but absolutely worth the effort.