The Cyclades consist of over 200 islands. How do you decide which one to go to? Sharron Livingston looks at six of the most popular ones.
If you had a bird’s eye view the Greek-owned Cyclades, they would look like an intriguing mosaic of 20 tufts of verdant earth floating on the turquoise waters of the Aegean sea. It’s an incredible formation created by the geological changes that took place millions of years ago.
According to the Greek mythology, Poseidon, God of the sea, was so furious at the behaviour of the Cyclades nymphs that he turned them into islands.
However they were formed, The Cyclades — which means the Sacred islands around Delos — their beauty and dazzling light can lend itself to a spot of spirituality.
They are at their best in May and still gorgeous throughout the summer months. By September though, life is slowing down and some businesses shut up shop.
Nevertheless, for most of the year the wild rugged volcanic scenery remains whitewashed with sugar cubed Cycladic architecture that looks superb against the dark or vegetal backdrop with the deep blue sea lapping at their shores. Here are six suggestions.
Some say the most beguiling and popular island of this Aegean archipelago is Santorini. Everyone will have seen that iconic image — you know, the one with the cliff-top blue-domed church standing out amid shimmering white architecture that looks dazzling against the blue skies and seas.
Cruise ships stop there, weddings take place there just for the scenic photography and holiday makers clamber over the ramparts of the 13th century castle in an almost cult-like fashion, to be sure of the best view of the sunset.
There are beaches, a pebbly one at Kamari and a black sand ones at Perissa and Karterados and these are overlooked by jagged cliffs and a brilliant light that seems peculiar to the cyclades — it can be mesmerising.
The hillside towns of Fira and Oia are quaint with sometimes steep steps and knotted alleyways and make for idyllic afternoon exploration. And in the evenings the roof terraces of restaurants are light and alive with diners enjoying libations and alfresco dinner in the warm night air.
This island is all about relaxing sophistication. Just ask Angelina Jolie did. She holed up here for a month after filming her second Tomb Raider film.
Olympic Holidays say: “Holidays in Santorini are perfect for those looking to witness stunning natural landscapes in a romantic setting. Santorini is also famous for its traditional archaeological heritage — so whether you’re looking for relaxation or cultural enrichment, rest assured there is much to see and do during your holiday in Santorini.”
Bare hills, sandy beaches and a glitzy vibe makes up this 86 square kilometre island. There are barely 10,000 locals yet the island is set upon by tens of thousands of tourists looking to party. Nightclubs are two a penny, there are several pubs and shops stay open throughout the night.
This is a fun island and, naturally, its most famous beach, Paradise Beach, has its share of nightclubs, a campsite, and the odd restaurant. Nearby is Super Parade, a gay nudist beach which may not be to everyone’s taste. For a little peace and quiet, head to Agia Ana, though it may seem comparatively undeveloped.
Its main town, Hóra, is full of fashion shops but as tempting as it is to go shopping, stay away between 10am and 5pm when the cruise ships stop by.
Olympic Holidays say: “Holidays in Mykonos are ideal for travellers looking for sophisticated nightlife, beautiful sandy beaches and great shopping opportunities. With so much on offer including an intriguing history, you’re likely to want to spend your holidays in Mykonos every year.”