Insider tips: Explore the Cyclades like a local
Olly Gaspar is a professional adventure travel photographer and blogger known for his captivating visual storytelling and immersive travel guides. Olly has spent the last five years traveling full-time and posting about his adventures on We Seek Travel.
What should I do on my first trip to the Cyclades?
The Cyclades are a group of islands in the Aegean Sea and arguably the most popular Greek Islands. One experience that you certainly shouldn’t miss on your first trip to the Cyclades is exploring the volcanic island of Santorini. This island is famous for its world-class sunsets, blue-domed churches, and breathtaking cave hotels with views of the Santorini caldera. Another must-see island is Mykonos, especially if you’re looking for beautiful beaches and want a taste of the famous Greek Island nightlife. While you’re there, take a stroll through the charming alleys of Mykonos town and admire the iconic windmills by the sea.
What are some hidden gems to see in the Cyclades?
The Cyclades covers roughly 220 islands, so you’d expect there to be plenty of hidden gems! One of them is the small island of Antiparos, just a short hop from Paros Island. Antiparos is a small and charming island that offers a much more relaxed atmosphere compared to some of the other islands in the Cyclades. It also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches and its whitewashed bays have some of the clearest water you’ll find in Greece.
How much time should I spend in the Cyclades?
Realistically, a minimum of 7-10 days is recommended for a typical island hopping adventure through the Cyclades. This allows enough time to visit some of the main islands like Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros, spending a couple of days in each to explore and relax.
What food is the Cyclades known for?
Apart from the iconic Greek gyros and souvlaki, the Cycladic islands are also known for their fresh Mediterranean seafood. One such popular dish is the grilled octopus, caught fresh from the Aegean Sea. The octopus is often served marinated in olive oil, lemon, and oregano, and grilled on a barbecue or open flames.
What is the best way to get around the Cyclades?
The best way to get around the Cyclades islands is by ferry. The ferry system is reliable, efficient, and affordable, and it connects most of the islands on a daily schedule. Many travelers also opt for private cruises or sailing experiences to explore the group, offering a more unique taste of Greek Island life. Once on the islands, travelers can usually get around by bus, taxi, or by renting a car or ATV. Many of the city centers are walkable and feature a narrow maze of white cobblestone alleyways with quaint restaurants, bars, and shops.
What are the best months to visit the Cyclades?
The best months to visit the Cyclades islands are between late May to early October, which falls within the European summer. As you’d expect, the weather is warm and sunny, with the sea being perfect for swimming and enjoying water sports like jet skiing, sailing, or kayaking. However, this is also the peak season for tourism in the Cyclades so many of the famous islands like Santorini or Mykonos will likely be very crowded. Therefore, visiting early or later in the season is a good idea.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit the Cyclades?
Each island of the Cyclades offers a different charm and vibe. Those looking for a lively nightlife scene with nightly beach parties might want to stay in Mykonos Town. Alternatively, couples and honeymooners will find some amazing places to stay in Santorini’s Oia or Fira areas for amazing views of the sea from the edge of the volcanic caldera.
What are the best beaches around the Cyclades?
The Cyclades are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, and perhaps the world! One of the most stunning is the Black Sand Beach in Santorini, also called Perissa Beach. This soft, black, volcanic sand contrasts beautifully with the crystal-clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea and is great for swimming.
Another incredible beach in the Cyclades is Kolymbithres Beach on the island of Paros. Kolymbithres is famous for its unique rock formations and small coves offering a quiet and relaxing place to swim and enjoy the Mediterranean sun.