The famous and fascinating archipelago of the Cyclades consists of a group of islands of various sizes scattered in the blue waters of the Aegean Sea southeast of Athens. Some of them are well known, such as Santorini and Mykonos, while others remain little known and less touristic but also, such as Milos, of an almost disarming beauty.
The name of this complex of islands derives from the Greek word cyclos which means circle and identifies the position of the islands around Delos, the sacred island of Apollo. The Cyclades were the birthplace of one of the most important civilizations of the Mediterranean and there are many who sustain that these lands hosted the mysterious city of Atlantis.
The beauty of these islands has no comparison, the cities, surrounded by the blue waters of the Aegean Sea and warmed by a clear sun, are recognizable by thetraditional architecture dominated by white houses, with blue windows and doors, narrow alleys, small and countless chapels with domed roofs and the famous windmills.
The Cyclades islands are famous for their beautiful sandy beaches, in fact these are the main attractions of the islands, and some of them are of volcanic origin and the colors of the coastline will enchant you!
The Cyclades Islands enjoy a Mediterranean climate that ensures mild winters and cool summers, thanks to the beneficial effects of the wind known as meltemi.
You can get to the Cyclades with one flight, two flights, a flight and a ferry or a ferry, a drive and another ferry. It depends on the island you choose and the mode of travel you prefer!
The fastest and cheapest way to get to the Cyclades islands is obviously byplane. However, only a few islands have an airport and not all the airports in the Cyclades are served by direct flights with the rest of Europe, so one flight is often not enough.
Santorini and Mykonos are the easiest islands to reach because in the summer months are served by low cost flights departing from many European cities, in low season the number of flights decreases considerably but it is still possible to arrive by plane without stops.
If the island does not have an airport, the only possibility is to arrive by sea. The main port of mainland Greece from which ferries and hydrofoils depart for the Cyclades is that of the Piraeus in Athens, but check also the ferries departing from the port of Rafina, about 30 km from the center.
Ferries to the most important Cyclades islands are very frequent: in the summer months you can count on several departures per day. The smaller islands, however, even in the peak months are served by no more than a couple of connections per week: if you choose one of these plan your trip carefully. In both cases it is essential to book if you travel in high season, even if you travel without a vehicle.
The duration of the sea crossing varies greatly depending on the port of departure and arrival, the type of boat and the shipping company. As an indication only, we can say that to reach by boat Santorini, one of the most distant islands, it takes from five to nine hours starting from Piraeus; for Tinos, one of the closest, it takes only two hours.
A travel formula much loved by tourists who choose Greece as a travel destination is islandhopping, which consists in visiting more than one island during the course of a single vacation. The widespread network of sea connections among the various islands makes this formula easy to organize and not even that expensive.
However, a minimum of planning is necessary to avoid spending most of the vacation on the ferry or waiting for the ship. The golden rule for island hopping in the Cyclades is to choose nearby islands or islands very famous and therefore served by several lines.
Santorini lends itself very well to be the starting point for an island hopping vacation: from here the advice is to reach the nearby islands of Folegandros or Ios, but an increasingly popular choice is that of Milos.
For a completely different experience from Santorini you can move to the remote island of Anafi in a single vacation you will have the opportunity to see the two faces of tourism in the Cyclades, the glamor and the crowds of the most famous island and the tranquility of a little visited island. Unfortunately, it is not a vacation for everyone because Anafi is a small island and ferries are few, so you have to organize your vacation carefully paying close attention to schedules.
Of course no one forbids you to add more destinations to your Cyclades tour and see three or four islands instead of two, but be careful not to overdo it. Decide the number of islands to include in the itinerary according to the time you have available and the ferry schedules (remember that for the smaller islands there are no ferries every day).