12 Very Best Islands To Visit In The Cyclades, Greece – Hand Luggage Only
There’s no denying how much I love Greece! It’s a country that’s filled with beautiful places to visit and history and culture that’s second to none, especially in the gorgeous Cyclades Islands. From gorgeous islands like Santorini and Mykonos – to lesser-known gems, there’s a heap of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades that you can’t miss whilst in Greece.
Not only does Greece have some beautiful islands to explore, but it also has some incredible cities; I’m naming you, Athens! Plus, there are lots of beautiful places to see on the mainland, too; and that’s even before we get onto all the delicious Greek dishes to devour on your trip!
You see, each of the Cyclades Islands is totally different. Each with its own vibe and is perfect for different kinds of trips that make it perfect for whatever type of holiday you’re looking for. Best of all, they’re well-connected (either by ferry or flight) and pretty easy to navigate… even if the ferries are sometimes late (just something to watch out for).
So, to make your trip planning that bit easier, we wanted to share some of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades that you can visit when in Greece.
Have the best trip travelling around the Cyclades Islands in Greece. We love them!
Probably one of the best-known Greek places to visit, Santorini is something of a popular island in the Cyclades to visit.
This can be something of a double-edged sword… it’s totally beautiful (gorgeous in fact), has plenty of international connections to the airport and you’ll be spoilt for choice with great hotels, too. But, that does mean that it can get super busy at the peak times of year (and can get quite expensive, depending on where you stay).
Though don’t let any of that put you off, I’d say that you have to visit Santorini – it’s just stunning and a perfect spot for anyone that wants a quintessential Greek island holiday of sunsets, lovely restaurants and gorgeous views.
Once here, be sure to check out the sunset in the clifftop town of Oia (gorgeous, even if it does get busy), and visit Thera for its little bars and restaurants along the caldera itself.
Actually, talking about the caldera, make sure to book yourself on a small-group catamaran tour (like we did) of the caldera, stopping off at the volcanic hot springs and snorkelling spots at both the White and Red Beaches. You can book either the morning or sunset tour and the group is always small, with under 20 persons onboard.
Oh, and don’t forget about the vineyards that are so special in Santorini. There are quite a few that we visited across the island (Santo Wines and Venetsanos Wines, to name a few) and they’re totally delicious. You’ll even notice lots of the vines (that are much shorter in Santorini than traditional vineyards) all across the island.
Now, what I would say is to book yourself a guided winery tour of the vineyards that are so special! Not only will it allow you to visit quite a few but you won’t have to worry about driving or transport when wanting to taste the wines.
Finally, if you need taxi transfers to the ferry port or airport, then book a transfer in advance. As I said, it can get busy and taxis can be scarce at peak times.
Read more: Best things to do in Santorini
Often known as the party island of Greece, Mykonos is so much more than its glamourous beach clubs and on-trend bars. Yes, that is part of Mykonos (and a fun part if you fancy going for a party.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades if you fancy a good mix of fun, history and a gorgeous Greek Island. You can easily spend a week visiting Mykonos, taking in Mykonos Town, spending time on the beaches and just chilling – we loved it for that.
After arriving, be sure to explore Mykonos Town and stop off for sunset drinks at Bao’s Cocktail Bar (our favourite) and grab a table on the veranda at Kastros (again, at sunset).
If you’re leaving the town itself, head over to Agios Sostis Beach and stop by for some of the freshest seafood at Kiki’s Tavern. It’s informal, unpretentious, friendly and totally delicious.
Oh, and don’t forget to book a skip-the-line boat tour to the ancient island of Delos. It’s pretty close to Mykonos and one of the most important islands in Greek mythology.
You can even see the ruins and artefacts that are strewn all across the island site. It’s well worth a trip.
Read more: Best things to do in Mykonos
Milos is one of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades to visit for its gorgeous coastline. It’s just incredible and has been something of a favourite with Greek people for many decades. Filled with beautiful coves, gorgeous beaches and the iconic Sarakiniko Beach (on the north part of Milos) it’s a spot that’s best enjoyed chilled.
After arriving be sure to spend some time enjoying the crystal-clear waters of Sarakiniko. Just be sure to take plenty of sunblock and drinks and snacks with you; there are no amenities here and the sun can get really intense.
Don’t forget to book an intimate boat tour (less than 10 people) around Milos, too. These will get you to the hidden spots around the west part of Milos that are all inaccessible by land. You’ll take in the likes of Kleftiko and the cave of Sykia which are just so beautiful.
For a bite to eat, hop over to the picturesque harbour village of Mandrakia; It’s tiny, beautiful and totally intimate. Here, you’ll find Medusa, a restaurant, that serves up some traditional Greek food that’s just so yummy. Their fresh fish is so good.
Finally, when in the main town, be sure to grab a table at O! Hamos! Tavern. Still family-owned, its food is just delicious and their baked feta is just too good to miss. Don’t miss it, you’ll thank me once you leave stuffed!
Read more: Best Greek Islands to visit
Not too far from Naxos or Ios, Paros is another gem of an island that has so many similarities to Mykonos (beautiful town and coastline), without the hefty price tag. Plus, it’s a lot less busy than the more popular spots of Santorini, too.
This all makes Paros one of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades to visit whilst island hopping. This is exactly what we did and loved every moment; we took the ferry from Santorini (direct to Paros) and it was totally easy and super fast. For ease with the ticketing, we booked ours on FerryScanner and just showed our QR code when boarding.
Once in Paros, be sure to stay in or visit the gorgeous town of Naousa. It’s quintessentially Greek, with whitewashed little houses and cobbled alleys – it’s just stunning. Here, you’ll find plenty of little seafront bars and restaurants that serve up some tasty Greek treats. We loved Kafeneion – I Palia Agora, where you can sit in the alley and devour the tastiest treats. Their grilled octopus is so good.
If you’re looking for a gorgeous hotel, about 15-minutes from Naousa, then check into Summer Senses. We stayed here during our trip to Paros and loved it. It’s so peaceful and calm and they even have the most gorgeous rooms with private pools.
Fancy some time on the seas? Book a stunning sailing cruise to the islands of Iraklia and Schinoussa. Just make sure to pack your swimming gear as you’ll get lots of chill time to snorkel and swim, too. It’s so good.
Read More: Best places in Greece to visit
The smaller sibling of Paros, Antiparos is one of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades that’s a regular celebrity haunt due to its peaceful island vibe. Which, makes it one epic place to go and chill.
Only around 15-minutes from Paros by boat, it’s a Cyclades Island you can visit for a day if you’ve got a car on Paros. This is what we did and it was well worth the crossing.
Once here, check out the streets around Antiparos Port; you’ll find lots of independent stores, cafes and little foodie spots around every corner. Driving south, take a drive towards Paralia Apantima (beach) and chill out at the beach bar that’s great for food.
Oh, and if you want to see the unique coastline that makes Antiparos so gorgeous, head to Ubini Rocks. It’s totally quiet, chilled and beautiful. We spent a few hours exploring this area and even followed some of the trails around the coast. One thing to note, however, is that the road here is a full-on dirt track. We did this in a small car but it could be difficult if the weather is wet.
Fancy staying longer on Antiparos? Check into the Rooster that’s totally special and overlooks Livadia Beach (which is incredible, by the way). Yes, it’s a little more pricey than other spots on the island; but it’s gorgeous.
Read more: Best things to do in Santorini
Just a few kilometres (as the crow flies) from Paros, Naxos is a beautiful Greek island that has a good mix of bars, independent restaurants and gorgeous countryside and beaches. It’s easily one of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades for
Getting peckish? Grab a table at Doukato Restaurant in the old town itself. We love the vibe of their outdoor seating area and the moussaka is so yummy. For evening drinks with friends, hop into Like Home Bar Naxos, it’s small and cosy but has a lively vibe that’s well worth visiting for an evening with friends.
Of course, you can’t miss the Temple of Apollo which overlooks the harbour area and is one of the island’s most prized archaeological sites. Plus, it’s so easy to stroll over, especially if you’re based in the old town itself.
That being said, if you fancy getting out of the old town, head into the countryside of Naxos itself. Nearby (by car), you’ve got the gorgeous Routsouna’s Waterfall (which is around a 45-minutes hike from the centre of the nearby spot of Keramoti.
Finally, for a gorgeous beach, head to Alyko Beach. The water is pristine here and it’s great for swimming. That being said, the wind can be strong so make sure to wear plenty of sun block. That wind can fool you into thinking you’re not burning.
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North of Milos, Serifos is one of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades that’s much less developed than the likes of Mykonos. This makes it the perfect Greek island to visit if you’re wanting a true little escape whilst in Greece. It’s so tranquil.
After hopping off the ferry, head straight over to Mpakakaki for their Greek meat dishes. All cooked and grilled fresh, it’s a spot you can’t miss.
Once you’re nice and full, head onto the open road and visit Psili Ammos. It’s totally unspoilt and relatively quiet if you visit in the weekdays. Just be sure to pack lots of liquids; there are not always facilities right on the beach, here.
Talking of beaches, another firm favourite is Ganema Beach that’s on the other side of Serifos. Best of all, it all has a gorgeous little foodie spot, the SAAN Eco Restaurant that overlooks the bay.
Oh, and if you’re hitting up the mountain roads, pop into Οι Πλάκες for dinner and views over the island. Though, remember, in the summer months it can get busy. If you want to avoid a wait, arrive early and get ready to leave stuffed.
Read more: Best things to do in Zakynthos
It’s said that people have called Syros home for over 5,000 years… and it’s totally easy to see why! Although relatively small, this Cyclades island is a perfect little getaway whilst hopping between these gorgeous Greek gems.
If you want to explore some of the island’s majestic churches head over to Anastaseos church in Vrodado or pop inside the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas that’s situated within Ermoupolis itself. Both are incredible to see and epic to see as you explore the island.
Though, if you’re more of a beach bum, head to Kini Beach that’s perfect for a day on the shore.
Read more: Best things to do in Zakynthos
Right in the heart of the island group, Sifnos is one of the best islands to visit in the Cyclades if you’re looking for a totally peaceful island trip.
After arriving in Kamares by boat, you’ll want to grab lunch at Argyris which is a family-owned spot that makes the best souvlaki in all of Sifnos. Oh, and their homemade tzatziki is too good to miss!
Afterwards, take some time to visit Vathi Beach (for its shallow and warm waters) and Chrisopigi Monastery that’s on the other side of Sifnos.
If that sounds like you’re thing, be sure to pop over around sunset. The orange hues are just incredible.
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Halfway between Santorini and Paros, Ios is a great island for all ages and all types of visitors. Truth be told, it’s got a little bit of everything; making it a great trip for couples, mates and families alike.
If it’s the beaches you love, check out the idyllic Magganari Beach that’s a great family spot; especially as the waters are nice and calm.
Alternatively, if you’ve got a car, head towards the Tomb of Homer and see some of the island’s history that dates back millennia. Not only that, the drive to the tomb is totally beautiful.
Read more: Best things to do in Kefalonia
Neighbouring Mykonos, Tinos is the kind of Greek island that’s well worth a visit for its stunning coastline.
After landing onshore, make sure to spend some time in Tinos Town itself and explore the Αrchaeological Museum of Tinos and eat at Mikro Karavi which serves up a delicious grilled goat dish.
Plus, don’t forget to visit the shrine of Panagia Evangelistria, visit Pachia Ammos beach and pop into Ballis Winery Tinos to try some of the island’s best wines.
Read more: Best Greek Islands to visit
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