The Cyclades are perhaps the most famous island group in Greece; these are the islands most tourists talk about when "Greek island hopping" is being discused. Many of the islands you've heard lots about: Santorini is known for its laid back attitude and beautiful setting and Mykonos is known for its nightlife and the beautiful people who can afford it. You'll get a chance to escape the beautiful people on the smaller and lesser known islands.
There are airports in Naxos, Mykonos and Santorini which host charter flights from Europe. Smaller airports are found in Paros, Milos and Syros.
Despite what you see on this map, there are about 220 islands that make up the Cyclades, many of them way too small to be put on the map. The islands you see are the actually the peaks of submerged mountains--except for Milos and Santorini which are volcanic islands.
Tinos, a lesser known Cycladic island in the center of the island group is the religious center of Greece. Pilgrims come to seek spiritual comfort at the church of Panayia Meyalóhari.
Little Kea has the largest oak forest in the Cyclades and one of the few remaining in Greece. Bird watching is popular there. The main town, traditional village Chora has castles, churches and an archaeologlical museum to visit.
Ios takes its name from the Greek word for the flower violet. The birthplace of Homer’s mother and the place of his tomb is said to be somewhere on Ios.
Cycladic figurines have been intgriguing scholars for years, offering a tantalizing link between "prehistoric art" and "western art." Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore loved the ancient art of the artists of the Cyclades. Unfortunately, their love created a market for looted statues, and the provenience of those statues was lost, which puts an enormous dent in the ability to study their function in Cycladic culture.<
The Cycladic islands of the Aegean were first inhabited by voyagers from Asia Minor around 3000 BCE and a certain prosperity was achieved thanks to the wealth of natural resources on the islands such as gold, silver, copper, obsidian and marble. This prosperity allowed for a flourishing of the arts and the uniqueness of Cycladic art is perhaps best illustrated by their clean-lined and minimalistic sculpture which is amongst the most distinctive art produced throughout the Bronze Age Aegean. These figurines were produced from 3000 BCE until around 2000 BCE when the islands became increasingly influenced by the Minoan civilization based on Crete. -- Cycladic Sculpture by Mark Cartwright
Most of the Cycladic art has found it's way to Athens in the Museum of Cycladic Art, but there is a Cycladic Art Museum in Syros (Siros on the map), located in Miaoulis Square. Syros is a ferry hub to other islands in the group, so you can take the Athens (Pireus) to Syros ferry (2 - 3 1/2 hours) and then continue to other islands if you wish.
Cyclades Travel Toolbox
The main way to travel around the Greek islands is by ferry. Faster boats make it from Piraeus to the larger islands in just a few hours, contributing to the Greek island hopping popularity of the Cyclades. A good source of ferry schedules in Greece is DANAE ferry tickets online.
If you're coming to the Cyclades from Italy, you can also purchase a Eurail Greek Islands Pass, which provides ferry passage from Italy and back, plus the hoice of 4 or 5 domestic ferry crossings from a choice of 53 Greek island destinations.
Railpass information: Eurail Greece Pass
For general weather and historic climate information for planning your travel, see Santorini Weather and Climate.
Places to Stay
For finding a hotel in Greece, see the booking box below