Travel Guide to the Cyclades Islands
Ancient ruins, white sand beaches, gorgeous Greek food and unbeatable weather are all reasons the Greek Islands are a must visit destination for budget travellers. A Mediterranean getaway under the hot Greek sun awaits and plenty of fun is sure to follow.
Grab a table on a restaurant terrace overlooking the Aegean sea, pour yourself a glass of ozou and listen to the sound of the tide coming in at sunset. Greece is whispering your name and once you return from an epic adventure to its islands, you won't ever be able to get its voice out of your head again.
The Greek Islands can cater to a traveller's every wants and desires, and if you fancy something else, there is always another island to try. From the Cyclades party island of Ios to the whitewashed buildings of Santorini, there is something for everyone looking for a Greek Island getaway.
There are around 220 Cyclades Islands, so you will have a variety of great places to choose from for your budget travels. The Cyclades have some very well-known islands that lie in the Aegean Sea that should be on the top of your list, if you are looking for a Greek getaway.
The beauty of the Cyclades Islands is that there is an island for every type of traveller. If you are looking for budget, you can find that. If you want something a little more upmarket, the Greek Islands have that too. Moreover, the Cyclades has different types of islands, one for every holiday. Low-key spots like Syros are great for explorers wanting authentic Greece. Meanwhile, Mykonos packs a party for visitors to its shores.
The beautiful island of Santorini is the most popular destination for Greek Island travellers. Pronounced Thira in Greek, this island is the result of a volcanic eruption many moons ago, and as a result means that the entire island is built up high, with every element of it sloping down to the Aegean sea. What this means for its visitors is gorgeous views of that beautiful blue ocean & even more perfect sunset views all the time. The whitewashed buildings here gleam in the bright sun and offer a uniquely Greek sight. The island's best town to visit is Oia with its romantic streets and picture perfect views of the Aegean Sea. Many of the town's restaurants offer seaviews that are perfect during sunset. After a night in Oia head over to Fira to visit the ancient ruins of Akrotiri. The island has the best Minoan ruins and artefacts outside of Greece's Crete.
Lively, fun and full of travellers looking for a party, that is Mykonos in a nutshell. The island is one of the smallest in the Cyclades chain, but that doesn't mean it is short on charm. The beaches of Mykonos attract visitors who want warm weather and great surf. It is the perfect Greek Island for a beach holiday and Super Paradise Beach is a favourite spot for thousands of tourists each year, as well as the famous bar that overlooks it - Jackie O's. The historic Mykonos Town offers guests the chance to relax with modern amenities. Yet, it also has beautiful cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses that many would expect from a traditional Greek Island. Be sure to snap some pictures with the iconic windmills of Mykonos, if you can pull yourself away from the beach.
Delos is just a short distance away from Mykonos. While it doesn't have the same allure as Mykonos – fun, sun and parties – it does offer you a chance to see Greek history up close. Hop on a boat to ride the short distance over to Delos and you will find the ancient ruins of the Lions of Delos and Sacred Lake's marble statues. The island has little other than ancient ruins, and today it is uninhabited. However, if you are a history buff or like exploring sites off the beaten path, Delos is a perfect Cyclades Island to venture to.
Naxos is the largest of the islands in the Cyclades chain. It is home to stunning beaches and quaint villages to explore once you land on its shores. Stop off at the island's capital Hora and view the old castle located in the town. The Venetian mansions that were built centuries ago offer a glimpse into the town's past, especially when they are up against the other whitewashed houses in Hora. Some of the residents of Naxos still wear traditional Greek clothing, but that is optional for you when visiting. If you tire of the beaches and sipping drinks in the cafes, head into the island's interior to hike the mountains. Rent a bicycle and pedal around the roads to explore the island that was the birthplace of Zeus.
Situated near Santorini, Folegandros is still being discovered by tourists. Be one of the first to explore this great Greek Island on a budget journey and view its natural beauty. Compared to some of the other Greek Islands, Folegandros is still pure and untapped. Even the landscape still looks untouched and it provides travellers with hiking and rock climbing opportunities galore. The island's capital Chora was built on the edge of a cliff, and the views of the sea are tremendous from the top of the town. The beautiful 13th century Venetian castle is a must see when in Chora.
While the island has fantastic beaches for you to soak up the Greek sun, some are a bit challenging to get to. But that is what makes Folegandros perfect, because it is still an escape. Folegandros is what many of the Cyclades Islands used to be. So, get there before it is all gone, and busy with tourists.
The island Ios is not too far from Folegandros, and hopping on a ferry at Karavostasis to get to Ios is simple. It will take less then 90 minutes to make the journey. Like many of the other Greek Islands, expect to see whitewashed villages and sunny beaches. However, something you will find that may be different is that Ios is one of the top party islands in the Cyclades. The houses ascend the hillsides in the island's main port town Chora. It is there that you will find the nightlife hotspots that will have you dancing until dawn. Once you finish, grab a hot Greek coffee and sleep off your hangover underneath a beach umbrella on the sand. Once you awake, explore the city further to snap some of the prettiest pictures you can take on your holiday. While you are there, visit the tomb of famed Greek author Homer and the ancient ruins at Skarkos.
Located between the Greek mainland and Crete, Milos was the former home of the statue of Venus. The amazing find now lives in Paris' Louvre. While that great treasure is no longer there, you will find treasures in the nature variety. Formed by the crater of a volcano, Milos has some of the most distinctive features of all the Cyclades Islands. Visit Plaka for its amazing Venetian fort along with the Archaeological Museum to see some of the great artefacts found on Milos. The island has a disproportionate amount of beaches compared to residents. While there are only 5,000 residents on Milos, the island boasts 70 beaches. If you want to have a sandy shore all to yourself, you can have it on Milos.
A scenic island with classic fishing villages, Andros is the second largest island in Cyclades. Hiking trails, beaches and plenty of outdoor sports activity is at your doorstep in Andros. Due to the island's boating and fishing past, the capital of the island, Hora, is home to a number of captains and ship owners. Narrow streets line the town with is combination of Medieval and Neoclassical architecture. The island's Museum of Modern Art houses an eclectic collection of paintings and sculptures for visitors to view. After seeing all the modern art you can take in, try the Olive Museum in Pitrofos to see the history of one of Greece's most famous exports.
If you want to find another island that is off the radar of most travellers, then Syros is the place to visit. The island's capital of Ermoupolis provides visitors with cafes, restaurants and your typical Greek island fare. The houses and buildings ascend the hills in the town and look down toward the harbour. But once you leave the town you will find yourself in rural Syros. The great thing about Syros is the limited amount of tourists that travel to the island. You won't find packed beaches with people under umbrellas. Nor will you hear loud pulsating music that escapes into the night. The island has been referred to as a "real" Greek Island, devoid of all the things that make the others tourist hotspots. If you want truly authentic Greek culture and cuisine, Syros is the place to book your next holiday.
Whatever you are looking for in a Greek Island holiday, you can find it in the Cyclades Islands. From party hotspots to islands oozing with history, there is an island for every budget traveller looking for adventure.