Adventure Cruises in Cyclades
Sprinkled across the Aegean Sea in the southeast of Greece a Cyclades Islands cruise offers the chance to island-hop through some of the most beautiful and atmospheric islands in the Mediterranean. Although they are all visually stunning, the islands come in all shapes and sizes with a unique attraction for each. The larger more populous islands of Santorini, Naxos and Mykonos are full to the brim with the fashionable crowd, sun worshippers and party lovers alike. These islands hold so many attractions that they have been drawing in visitors in droves throughout their long and rich history. In addition to their traditional sun, sea and sand appeal, the Cyclades are famous for their fine cuisine and local delicacies, not forgetting their wide range of delicious locally made wines and craft beers. There is just nothing quite like watching the sunset over the caldera of Santorini with a cool drink in hand, reveling the night away in Mykonos or soaking up the culture and tranquillity of a night on Naxos. The greatest joy of the Cyclades Islands is that they have so much to offer and they do it all so well.
Cyclades Islands cruises and areas to visit
Heady with glamour, the sun-soaked island of Mykonos is famous worldwide as a high-class party destination with long stretches of beautiful beach to recover from the night before. Mykonos has both party-friendly beaches and more peaceful spots such as the white sand beach at Elia, which is ideal for families and great for water sports. The island is full of hustle and bustle, and the average night starts with fine dining in one of the many laid-back restaurants along the seafront and leads on to a beautiful nightclub or swish cocktail bar. In addition to the wild nightlife, Mykonos is also a hotspot for fine dining specializing in seafood and traditional Greek dishes.
By far the Cyclades' most iconic island, images of Santorini are often the first to appear on books, magazines, and brochures of the archipelago. This is thanks to the astounding natural beauty and rich culture the island has to offer. A small ship cruise can take you around the best and most beautiful parts of Santorini, without the need for the traditional steep climbs. The coastline is particularly dramatic and the beaches particularly so with a variety of different colors of sand. Thanks to the volcanic nature of Santorini, there are black, red, and yellow sand as well as white lava pebble stone beaches.
Naxos island sits at the very heart of the Cyclades archipelago and is well-loved by those looking for a more peaceful and traditional Greek island adventure. The island is trimmed with long stretches of white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters. These can be some of the quieter beaches on the main Cyclades islands with a small ship cruise able to drop you at some of the less accessible beaches in the south. Naxos is not just a beach-lovers' paradise but rich in history and culture with stunning traditional villages found both on the coast and in the lush green mountain. There is also a ruined temple to the goddess Demeter in Sangri village and an archaeological museum in the main town of Chora.
Best time to cruise in the Cyclades Islands
As with much of the Mediterranean, a small ship cruise of the Cyclades Islands is fantastic whenever you choose to step onboard. The high season is from June to August when the weather is at its hottest, and it is a challenge to find a cloud in the sky. This is the best time to visit the Cyclades Islands if you like the heat with temperatures consistently around 30 degrees Centigrade (90 degrees Fahrenheit). It is worth noting that this is a trendy area, and cruises around the Cyclades fill up early on, so booking in advance is wise. Outside of the peak around April to May, the weather is a little cooler, and it is the best time to visit the Cyclades for hiking and visiting cultural and historical sites around the archipelago.
How to get to the Cyclades Islands
Reaching the south of Greece where the Cyclades Islands are found is usually done via the main international airport of Athens. Athens is a substantial airport and offers flights from most major European airports as well as direct flights from New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. From Athens airport is easy to reach the city and then the port of Piraeus. Some small ship cruises depart directly from Piraeus and sail over to the Cyclades overnight. However, for those small ship cruises that depart from one of the archipelago's ports, it is easy to reach the main islands by ferry. Be sure to check the length of time your ferry takes as some are fast and direct, whereas others can take over a day to reach your destination, stopping off at many of the small islands first. It is also possible to fly to some of the larger islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, and Naxos from Athens International Airport, which offers flights from major European hubs and direct US flights from New York.
Cyclades Islands Cruise Tips
- If you are visiting in the high season, be sure to pack some serious sun protection with sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses a must for those long days of endless sunshine.
- Opening hours are something of a mystery on many of the Cyclades Islands. It is common for shops to close in the middle of the day, especially in the hotter months. However, this is not 100% reliable, and some shops can be found closed at unexpected times, mainly for the restocking of the small supermarkets.
- Much of the wine found in this region is local and homemade with a significant price difference between a jug of fresh wine and a bottle of commercially produced, hint the homemade ones are cheaper. There are some fantastic homemade wines to be found, although due to the highly individual taste of Greek wine, in general, it might be worth asking for a taste at a restaurant before committing to a jug.