Cycladic Island Hopping Route
The Cyclades islands are the main treasures found in Greece's Aegean sea. Santorini and Mykonos have become international destinations, and other Cyclades islands are gaining more and more popularity, becoming destinations along the Greek Island Hopping itinerary. So which one should you visit on your route? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. Each island offers a different atmosphere, culture, and crowd. Here are some suggestions on where to start your Cycladic Island Hopping Itinerary.
- Route Name: Cycladic Greek Island Hopping
- Duration: 12-14 days
- Best time to go: Spring, early summer and autumn. (Summer high season brings many crowds)
- Best by Ferry
- Highlights: Beach parties at Mykonos, ancient sites in Naxos, Biblical settlements in Paros, hilltop villages of Santorini.
The first stop on the Cycladic Island hopping itinerary starts in Mykonos- the Island of the Winds. Here, you'll find the unforgettable features of the 16th-century windmills, the charming old town with small alleyways and footpaths, vibrant bars and restaurants, and of course, larger-than-life beach parties that rage onto the night.
How to get there
From Athens, you can either catch a flight or take a ferry to Mykonos. There are several of airlines (such as Ryanair, Sky Express, and Olympic) and three ferry services to the island.
Things to do in Mykonos
- To get a sense of the island, it’s best to get oriented with the main town of Mykonos. Wander through the small streets and pathway, which has been preserved by the municipality, where you can find Greek tavernas, restaurants, typical souvenir shops and international brand name stores.
- Part of Mykonos’ past was heavily influenced by foreign conquests, such as the Venetians. One unique area is Little Venice, or Alefkantra, where the waves chase the shoreline, and the windows and canopies are painted in many colors, resembling similar architectural style as the original city it was named after.
- Make your way up to the iconic windmills to snap a photo opportunity of the island's historic 16th-century landmark. Since this attraction is extremely popular, you’ll want to go early or later in the evening.
- Of course, you'll want to sample some great Greek cuisine while on the island. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Starting with Jimmy’s Gyros for a traditional, juicy gyro wrap. Or Madoupas Café for some local mezze. Or if you want a gorgeous scenery to accompany your meal, head over to Kiki's Tavern for a charming dining experience near Agios Sostis beach.
- End your night at one of the many clubs and bars that make up the town's vibrant nightlife, such as Skandinavian Bar and Argo.
The ideal itinerary is to spend your time relaxing on the beaches of Mykonos, which is one of the main draws for travelers visiting here. Whether you're looking to party on the beach or relax on shore, Mykonos has 25 beaches to choose from. For a family friendly beach, head 2 KM from the main town to Ornos, where the beach has accommodating cafes, sun beds, and parasols. For the prime party beach, head over to Paradise and Super Paradise, which is lined with bars and clubs pumping music and pouring drinks from midday to the early hours of the morning. For peace and tranquility, seek out Elia, Kalo Livadi, and Kalafadi. For some secluded beaches that are less developed, head to Merchia and Agios Sostis.
Getting from Mykonos to Naxos
The best and most economical way to get from Mykonos to Naxos is by ferry. There are currently four ferry companies that run regularly between the old Mykonos harbor and Naxos. Make sure to take into account the traveling time, which is around 1.15 minutes to 1.40 minutes.
Next up on the Greek Island Hopping itinerary is Naxos, one of the largest island in the Cyclades. Laid back, family-friendly, forthcoming with its ancient history and architectural sites, making this island the archetype of the Greek islands. As Naxos does not draw as much high traffic tourism as its sister islands, Santorini or Mykonos, it is great news for people who don't want to compete with other on their holiday. It is also by far the greenest island with fields full of potatoes, olives, and fruits. With so much land for grazing, dairy production is at an all time high.
Things to do in Naxos
Begin your exploration of the island walking around the Naxos town (Chora), where you'll take in the view of Portara, an unfinished doorway to the ancient and classic temple for Apollo. Beyond the whitewashed houses, you'll find the fortification structure of Kastro and the Tower of Glezos, which serves as part of the Sanoudos. For more archeological sites, rent a car and visit the Monastery of Kalamitsia, Temple of Demeter, and the picturesque inland villages of Naxos. Apeiranathos, Koronos, and Halki are just some of our favorites.
Beaches of Naxos
Naxos has a combination of isolated and developed beaches to choose from. The main beaches of Naxos are Agios Georgios, Agios Prokopis and Agia Anna. For quieter beaches, seek out Plaka, Ayios Prokopios, and Prygaki. If you're looking for some active beach time and extreme water sports, then Mikri Vigla beach, Orkos, Agios Georgios and Laguna is your best bet.
Naxos to Paros
Naxos' port is located in the Chora and has accessible ferries to Paros, which takes around 45 minutes for the fastest ferries.
Being the second largest Cyclades Islands, Paros is known for its traditional villages and secluded beaches, where you can also find charming chapels and churches, such as the church of Panagia Ekatantapiliani, dating back 326 AD. But aside from the religious complex, it also offers a family-friendly vacation spot, crystal clear waters with golden, sandy beaches, and towns and villages with a laid back and welcoming atmosphere.
Things to do in Paros
- The trendy town of Pariokia is where you can find the vibrant hub for tavernas, restaurants, cafes and boutique shops welcoming travelers to its doorsteps.
- Watch the sun set on the Aegean sea at Agia Anna
- Head to the picturesque harbor of Naousa, where you can witness the traditional fishing culture, hanging sun-dried octopi, and charming waterfront terraces. Try some local Parian wine at the Moraitis Winery and Museum in Naousa.
- For a quick day trip, explore the excavated sites on Antiparos, which is just a 10-minute ferry ride from Paros.
- Visit the remains of the 2.500-year-old Apollo temple on Despotiko.
Beaches in Paros
The popular beaches of Paros are Kolymbitres and Santa Maria. Khryssi Akri (Golden Sand) is where you can find the strong winds for some water sport. Sifneiko Beach and Agia Anna is great for a romantic spot to watch the Greek sun set.
Paros to Santorini
Getting to Santorini from Paros takes around, give or take, two hours by ferry.
SantoriniSantorini does not need much introduction because it is the number one Greek Island destination. The unforgettable Greek sunset dropping off the edge of the sea, the iconic blue-domed buildings and white-washed settlements, the abrupt cliffs and swooping vistas are the attractive aspects bringing travelers to return time after time
Things to do in Santorini
There are plenty of things to do on Santorini, so make sure you plan your days well and get ready for some walking.
- Wander the steep paths of the romantic village of Oia, which is pedestrian friendly and where you can find small boutique shops to go scavenger hunting for some local products.
- Find the popular three domed church for your obligatory Santorini picture, then make your way to see the windmills facing the caldera.
- For dinner, check out the many Greek tavernas offering some of the best local cuisines, such as Anemomilos Restaurant or Skiza Café.
- You can also explore the ancient city of Thera or the excavated sites of Akrotiri.
Beaches of Santorini
Santorini beaches have a certain uniqueness to it. They are composed of volcanic rocks and peddles, which may cause some problems for those seeking to lay on the sandy beaches. While the beaches may not be ideal, swimming in the blue sea is still a great option. In Oia, visit the popular beaches of Ammoudi (at the base of Oia), Baxedes, and Koloumbos. Lastly, the volcanic rocks Red beach and White beach in Perissa offer the typical beach experience in Santorini.