The Cyclades are probably Greece’s most beautiful islands. Their beauty attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, crowding in to admire the splendours of the Santorini, Mykonos, Milo and Folegandros seaside terraces. But that’s not all!
A relatively short distance away from Athens, the Cyclades are also the ideal destination for all those looking for a corner of seaside paradise, just a stone’s throw away from some of the most attractive archaeological sites in the world. These are much sought after tourist destinations by all sorts of travellers ranging from families with children, couples and groups of friends to solo explorers, all of whom love Greece’s beaches.
The Cyclades are made up of 39 islands only 24 of which are inhabited, however. With their small white and blue houses and churches perched on rocks over the sea, you will be enchanted by the experience of getting lost among the maze of streets redolent with history and local culture.
In the Cyclades, there’s something for all tastes: from fashionable destinations with cosy and welcoming bars and resorts to the more remote islands where the concept of tourism is a few decades behind and the spectacular landscapes can still be enjoyed in peace and quiet.
Whatever your idea of a perfect holiday, we have the island for you. Discover these fantastic destinations with us and remember that with Costa Cruises you can set off for your favourite destination whenever you like: simply pack a swimsuit and a camera! We’re officially welcoming you to the Cyclades, where history and the seaside meld into a unique whole.
Anyone who has never visited Santorini in Greece,, should put it down on their list of places to visit at least once in their lives. Known as one of the Cyclades’ most attractive and romantic islands, this spectacular location is famous for its volcanoes and characteristic immaculate churches with their sky blue domes. Whether you’re a photography lover or you’re looking for a romantic destination to spend a few unforgettable days with your other half in, Santorini is certainly the destination for you.
This is sunset island: anyone who has been here knows it. It might seem an overstatement but just wait for the sun to go down and you’ll soon realise that the light here takes on almost magical pinkish colours which are reflected on the water. If you’re looking for the ideal sunset watching location, Oia’s the place. And you can enjoy Greek culinary delicacies in one of the island’s restaurants and experience Santorini’s night life!
As well as being the Greek romanticism capital, Santorini is the perfect destination for those looking to deepen their knowledge of local history and culture. Come and take a look at the Akrotiri excavations, one of the best preserved archaeological sites in world history, dating back to 3600 BC and conserved thanks to a volcanic eruption, exactly like Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Santorini’s enchanting beaches offer great opportunities for relaxation for those wanting simply to enjoy the sun and wind but also plenty of options for all those wanting some water sport fun. So every year the island is a mecca for all those wanting to try their hands at windsurfing or diving, to admire the island’s extraordinary seabed.
You can’t say Cyclades without thinking of Mykonos. As well as being one of the most popular young people’s destinations, Mykonos is the attraction and night life destination par excellence. And if that were all! Here the fun is to be had in a natural, cultural context typical of the Cyclades where every view is irresistible and you can’t put your camera down. There are plenty of reasons to visit Mykonos, from its dazzling night life to its relaxing atmosphere.
For a start there’s Little Venice (Alefkantra) a part of the island which resembles the wonderful Venice. The structure of the zone combines the classic local white architecture with the blue and green hues of an irresistible sea. As well as being a special, romantic place, this Little Venice is also an ideal destination for an afternoon boat trip or watching the sunset in a picturesque location.
The Mykonos beaches are not to be missed. Whichever you choose you’ll find a picture postcard location where everything you might want is at arm’s reach. Soft, golden sand to sink your feet into, crystal clear waters suitable for the whole family and seaside facilities for sun umbrella and bed rental and maximum holiday comfort. If there are children with you we recommend Ornos beach. If you’re here to party, on the other hand, Paradise beach is for you, with seaside partying beginning every day at 4 in the afternoon and some of the world’s most famous performing for you.
If, between a dive and a drink you feel the need for a walk, Mykonos has a maze of beautiful footpaths to get lost on, a place for unforgettable adventures. Like in the rest of the Cyclades, the houses here have been painted that beautiful immaculate white to reflect the sun’s light and protect the island’s inhabitants from the summer sun. This requirement slowly became a style and now the white houses (and the churches with their blue domes) are an unmistakeable symbol of the archipelago.
Looking for respite from the blazing sun? Head into one of the island’s little restaurants and enjoy the best of Greek cuisine. Come and try moussaka, pastitsio or gyros and take some unforgettable culinary memories away with you!
Welcome to Milos, the homeland of the famous Venus and, it is said, the next Cyclades luxury tourism destination. It’s never too late to get a taste of this magnificent island while it’s still affordable, though. Sands as soft as clouds, crystal clear waters for diving and unforgettable sunsets. And all this in a cultural and historical context which will leave you speechless. There are over 70 beaches to choose from, some of which are more famous and organised while others are quieter and perfect for those looking for a break from mass tourism. What counts is the variety and this is certainly not lacking on Milos: sand, pebbles, deserted or fully equipped beaches for children, too. Which is your favourite?
If you’re looking for that perfect snapshot, don’t miss a trip to the small village of Klima where colourful, two floored stone houses offer an irresistible spectacle to photography lovers. The village is right on the beach and its ground floors are less than a metre from the waterline. Known as Syrmata, these were where fishing equipment was kept while the family lived on the upper floor. Just a short distance away you can also visit two beautiful acropolises. Along the historic walls of these splendid ruins there is also a point where a fisherman found the splendid Venus of Milo statue in 1820.
Milo is the ideal destination for nature lovers, too. As the home of an immense dormant volcano this land became fertile over the centuries and, in certain points you can still admire the earth’s extraordinary power. Go to Kalamos and admire the gas and smoke spirals coming directly up from the centre of the earth.
Those who love a remote beach, a magical sunset and a natural landscape set deep in the sea’s turquoise waters must come to Naxos, one of the Cyclades’ gems. Whilst it is one of the archipelago’s largest islands Naxos has managed to conserve the charm of its most authentic period, before mass tourism hit Greece. This Aegean paradise is surrounded by crystal waters which seem to call you in for a dive and a valid alternative for relaxation and beauty for all those passing through, an oasis of tranquillity.
If you come by Naxos, you can’t not take a trip around Chora, the island’s most important town. With its white houses bursting with flowers, it’ll feel like you’ve found your way into a seaside town where time stood still many years ago. Come up to the Venetian castle silently looking out over the island from the highest point in the town to enjoy a picture postcard landscape. If the walk wasn’t enough for you, you can always take a trip around one of the island’s many port towns with seaside promenades to be enjoyed a step at a time.
One of the cornerstones of any Naxos itinerary is Portara, the jewel in the island’s crown. It is a historic port, all that is left of a never finished Apollo temple dating to the 6th century BC.
Love animals? Naxos is home to an immense colony of cats which have become the island’s undoubted icons over the years. You’ll find them on every street corner, resting lazily on windowsills or sunbathing on the cliffs.
Whether you’re coming to enjoy the beach, less crowded than those of the more famous islands, or to enjoy the beauties of the greenest of the Cyclades islands with its long trekking itineraries, you’re very welcome. With its 45 villages, one more appealing and characteristic than the next, Naxos is a gem waiting for you to discover in its entirety.
The little island of Folegandros rises from the splendid azure waters between Sikinos and Milos and offers great beauty in a very small space. Considered by many sector magazines to be one of the most beautiful of the Cyclades islands, Folegandros is known for its magical atmosphere with white houses watched over by a great medieval castle and the Ano Meria ‘themonies’, rural complexes of houses, bakeries, cellars and cisterns. Its main town is Kastro where time seems to have stood still many years ago.
Explore the rural Ano Meria area to imagine what it would have been like to live here many years ago and don’t forget to visit the Panagia church, one of the island’s main attractions. Not to speak of the wonderful beaches which are there to be enjoyed everywhere!
Surrounded by big names like Santorini, Paros and Folegandros, Sikinos is sometimes unjustifiably overshadowed. But it offers the best of Cyclades’ hospitality and traditions in a much less touristy context than its more ‘famous’ sisters. It has few but incredibly varied beaches and its whole surface area is cut across by spectacular hiking routes getting you out into nature.
Sikinos is also famous for its winery open to the public, its traditional festivals and the historical and cultural atmosphere suffusing its quiet village streets. Take a trip to Alopronia and you’ll see what we’re talking about: white houses, remote footpaths and small restaurants to try the local food and wine at. You won’t regret it.
Ios is emblematic of the Cyclades atmosphere: fabulous beaches, fairytale landscapes, busy night life and lots and lots of good food. Welcome to Ios, one of the archipelago’s busiest and most popular islands. As well as being home to a great many little churches, all worth visiting, the island is also ‘made in Greece’ fun personified. Come here to party the night away in one of its multitude of clubs and bars and get out onto the dance floor with friends for a pure fun experience.
And if you’ve got a little time left over you can always take a trip to Palaiokastro, the ruins of a magnificent Byzantine fortress, from which the views over Ios and the islands around it are incredible.
You can’t say Cyclades without thinking of Paros, one of the jewels in the archipelago’s - and Greek tourism’s - crown. Ultra-fine sand, crystal clear waters and milk white mini towns perched on the ruins of incredible Byzantine origin footpaths. Here where the natural world is still uncontaminated, the little towns create a simply unique atmosphere.
Come and visit Parikia, the capital, a village of square, ultra-white houses surrounding a splendid Venetian era castle. In addition to being home to a series of unmissable monuments and archaeological sites (visit Panayia Ekatotapyliani church). And in the evening, when you’re tired, you can sit down at one of the beautiful restaurant terraces and enjoy the best of local food.
Surrounded by crystal clear waters and with a world famous monastery perched above it, exquisite Amorgos is a not-to-be-missed gem. With its characteristic sinuous form - making it look rather like a seahorse - Amorgos has retained its authentic, ancient charm, brought to life by a great many footpaths and strolls for an unforgettable experience.
One of Armogos’s musts is the Hozoviotissa monastery, an ultra-beautiful eight floored building perched on the cliffs to the east of the island. Don’t let the large number of steps to the top scare you off: the views will make it all worthwhile.
Come to Amorgos if you’re looking for seaside life and, at the same time, spectacular archaeology itineraries to live this magical archipelago to the full.
Legend has it that Anafi, island of enchanted beaches and fairytale landscapes, rose from the Aegean Sea to welcome the Argonauts. When you get to Aylos Nikolas port you’ll understand how this legend came to be: villages crowding into the coast meld with the ancient beauty of castles and forts designed to jealously defend the island. Chora is perched on the ruins of a historic Venetian era building and offers the best of local life and culture.
Come here for a donkey ride or walk to the necropolises on a holiday set in the magical atmosphere of ancient Greece. There are lots of things to do at Anafi, from personal relaxation to the beauties of a country walk.
Of all the Cyclades, Tinos is the island which perhaps best conserves its Italian traditions and influences. With its ultra-beautiful beaches, the island is highly recommended for all those wanting a top class seaside holiday. Traditional villages, decorated houses and restaurants to enjoy the best local food at: what more could you ask?
Tinos’s attractions definitely include its beaches and, naturally, its archaeological and historical heritage. Come and explore its exquisite churches and cobbled streets, surmounted by Classical arches. We recommend a visit to Loutra, Kardiani and the abandoned houses at Monastiria, where the atmosphere feels magical. In the main village (Chora) you can visit Evangelistria church with its splendid Virgin Mary icons.
Tinos is the marble island: don’t miss out on a visit to the historic marble working workshops and get an insight into this still living tradition.
Island of organised beach facilities and beaches forgotten by tourism, Serifos offers an extraordinarily beautiful atmosphere and unforgettable photo opportunities. The island’s main town, Chora, is probably one of the archipelago’s most beautiful and characteristic: from the centre to Aghios Athanasios, and continuing on its footpaths for a wander between its bars and restaurants. Have a glass of raki (the local spirit) and live the atmosphere.
Perched at the top of the island is Taxiarchi monastery, built in the 16th century to resemble a castle and thus protect the island from potential pirate raids.
Of its beaches, we recommend Avlomonas and Livadakia with their well-organised beach facilities. Aghios Sostis and Psili Ammo, with their hint of a breeze and easy swimming, are also worth seeing. And if you’re looking for something quieter, visit Kalo Abeli or Lia.
Land of sun, fragrances and great flavours. Welcome to Sifnos, where poets Ioannis Gryparis and Kleanthis Triantafyllou were born. Sifnos is a mini Cyclades masterpiece: in addition to dozens of more or less organised or remote beaches, it is home to a grand total of 227 mini churches to be visited. Its trading centre is Apollonia, built in an amphitheatre shape on three hills in the centre of the island. As well as a visit to the not-to-be-missed Folklore Museum, we also recommend that you leave time to sit down at one of its many restaurants and taste the best of local cooking. You’ll adore it!
Sifnos is famous for its pottery tradition with its clay soil having supplied materials for the production of extraordinary masterpieces and this tradition is still being passed down today in the local shops.
Dream like in its beauty, Antiparos is the destination par excellence for all those looking for a relaxing holiday sunbathing in the Cyclades. Its ancient name was Oliaros, a Neolithic settlement and one of the oldest in the archipelago. The island’s main town was built in the 15th century on the ruins of a Venetian castle. Its cobbled streets, square houses with their cooling breeze and enormous vases with profusions of bougainvillea make for an enchanted experience.
If you’re a hiker, come and visit the Antiparos caves, famous for their stalactite and stalagmite formations, some of Europe’s oldest!
Last but not least, its beaches: take a trip to Ayios Georgios and you’ll thank us when you get back on board.
Kea is a small, easy to get to island with a range of scenarios which will leave you speechless: steep mountains, grassy meadows, olive groves, vineyards and picturesque castles are the backdrop to a natural beauty to be explored on foot. As well as being home to the archipelago’s largest olive forest, Kea is also a paradise for bird watching fans. The island’s central rise is the site of its main town, a mini masterpiece of square white sun-kissed houses.
A must is certainly the Kefalà neolithic archaeology site near Agia Irene.
Lastly, Kea is one of the favourite destinations of sailors who come here every year, for its proximity to Attica.
Welcome to Donousa, the northern-most island in the Cyclades archipelago. This little 13 square kilometre gem offers a great deal of seaside holiday options, from rocky bays to ultra-fine sandy beaches to sink your feet into. Its 110 inhabitants are subdivided into four main villages: Stavròs, Mersini, Haravgi and Kalotaritissa.
Legend has it that god Dionysus offered Ariadne such a safe haven in Donousa that Theseus never managed to find her. There are many archaeological sites on the island, testifying to its antiquity. Donousa is also the starting point for a range of boat trips to beautiful caves, some of which are home to seals.
The beautiful island of Schinoussa is in the heart of the Cyclades and owes its name to an endemic plant. Thanks to Mersini port, it is a reference point for sailors passing through Greece.
It is not only a place for splendid, wild landscapes but also golden sand beaches and the long trekking itineraries which have made it famous. It takes only two hours to circumnavigate the island but don’t forget your camera! The island is ideal for a relaxing holiday in pristine nature, far away from the tourist crowd.
Come for its proximity to Santorini and Mykonos, remain for its enchanting beaches ideal for all sorts of tourism. The whole of the Syros coast has been awarded the clean water blue flag ranging from those with beach facilities such as Achladi, Gallisas, Vari, Kini and Poseidonia, to the more difficult to reach beaches as yet untouched by tourism where peace and quiet still reigns supreme.
Syros is a magnificent island for an unforgettable quiet holiday for sun, sea and diving. Ideal for children, too!
Iraklia is a small Cycladic island counting just 115 residents. Its natural beauties include luxuriant vegetation, natural springs, gentle hills and crystal clear water in which to go snorkelling and admire the ancient ruins.
Its beaches are ultra-beautiful and, at some periods of the year, you can see seals and the caretta caretta sea turtle. Its two villages are small and quiet and this is thus the place for you if it is peace and quiet and beauty you’re looking for.
Also known as Thermia for its spa waters, Kythnos is probably one of the least visited islands in the Cyclades, but it is well worth a visit. This is the place not simply for the spa baths but also its incredible 65 golden sand beaches dominating the coast.
And after diving into those pristine waters, there’s nothing better than a stroll through one of the island’s characteristic villages of square white houses where local hospitality and Greek cuisine are the order of the day. Walk the footpaths linking up the various mini towns to soak up a natural world made of apricot trees and caves.
Welcome to Heraklia, protected area and island measuring some eighteen square kilometres, in a diamond shape. With its 150 residents, peace and quiet is undoubtedly the island’s main characteristic. When you get here you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a far off land belonging to another era.
Enjoy the good food, enchanting beaches and sea beds buzzing with life where snorkelling is an authentic pleasure. From archaeology sites to mini churches, there is plenty to visit, too, between one dive and the next!
An island near Milo, Folegandros is 32 square kilometres in size and 650 people live there. Bleak hills and rough rocks notwithstanding, the island’s vegetation gives it a more gentle appearance. Folegandros is famous for its honey and beautiful beaches: come here if you’re looking for a truly different Cyclades holiday!
Set sail for the Cyclades with Costa Cruises
Set off for the Cyclades tomorrow! Whether you’re looking for Mykonos’s night life or a walk along Folegandros’s pristine footpaths, the beauty of the Cyclades will blow you away. Sun, sea, nature, volcanic landscapes and thousands of years of history are awaiting you in the world’s most beautiful archipelago.