Which Cyclades island should I go on holidays to?

John KarkalatosMay 13, 2024

1. Naxos: for the best beaches of the Cyclades, history, sunsets


"If heaven was on earth, then it would be here" once wrote Nikos Kazantzakis. And he said this because it is an island endowed with all the good things, from amazing sandy beaches and picturesque villages to historical monuments and local products.

The most notable historical monuments are the much-photographed Portara and the castle of Chora, but Naxos also has the oldest olive tree in the world, 5,000 years old.

The most magical moment of the day is when the sun sets in the harbour and Hora is coloured in a romantic and peaceful atmosphere.

The hotels I recommend in Naxos are:

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2. Tinos: for wonderful beach bars, marble villages


An island out of mass tourism, Tinos will surprise you with its amazing beach bars, with Alohari on Rohari beach being the best. Its villages are works of art since they are famous for their marble work. The marble village Pyrgos is an open-air museum full of attractions, visit there the marble craft museum and the museum of the famous greek sculptor Giannoulis Halepas.

Villages that stand out apart from the art of marble, are the square of Agios Georgios in Chora, Volakas with its huge rocks, Isternia with its magical view and the dovecotes in Tarambados. The top monument is Panagia.

For local flavours I recommend Choreftra in Kampos and Agnadi in Ktikados, while for creative greek cuisine with local ingredients Aganda in Two Villages.

The hotels I recommend in Tinos are:

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3. Kythnos: for authentic cycladic beauty


Experience moments of relaxation on a peaceful island that tourism has so far left untouched. Get to know the authentic cycladic beauty in the two picturesque villages, Chora and Dryopida, but also the wonderful beaches, with the postcard-perfect Kolona at the top. Chora has a peaceful nightlife, while there you will also find the street with Flora's paintings.

To eat, the classic hangout is in Chora is Sto Steki tou Detzi with the specialty of goat, caper salad and sfouggata, and for traditional sweets at Tratamento, the pougi (bag) galaktobοureko, and at Kythnon Anthoessan.

The beach bars of Kythnos, Episkopi, Martinakia and Apokrusi are also excellent.

The hotels I recommend in Kythnos are:

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4. Syros: for impressive architecture, less tourists, cheaper island


The princess of the Cyclades, although in the center of the islands, has remained out of mass tourism. Something that the population has other occupations, something that the island has few beaches, have contributed to not being as touristy as the rest.

But it is quite a different cycladic island. The architecture is on another level, Ermoupolis is neoclassical while Ano Syros is medieval, always with cycladic elements. The town hall is like an italian renaissance palace, while the catholic Saint George and the orthodox church of the Resurrection dominate the hills.

Vaporia district is like a painting. It is worth visiting Ai Nicholas o Plousios (the Rich) and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary to see El Greco's painting.

To eat, I recommend Sokaki tis Eftychias for local delicacies and Petrino for traditional Syros dishes.

The hotels I reccomend in Syros are:

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5. Milos: for a romantic getaway, fantastic beaches, boat trips


It is known as a destination for couples and this may be due to the fantastic beaches, perhaps the sunset of Plaka that rivals Santorini, but perhaps the eternal symbol of love, the Venus of Milos, has laid her hand on it.

Be sure to go on sea trips to the exotic landscapes of Kleftiko, Gerakas and the uninhabited island of Polyaigos, places where the waters really have incredible colors. In Fyropotamos, in addition to the indescribable waters, there is also a very nice church with beautiful frescoes that can be visited. The most photographed spot is Klima with the colorful klimata, the traditional parking lots for traditional boats.

Nightlife is calm in Adamantas, Plaka and Pollonia. For authentic cycladic flavors, eat at Zygos and Alevromilos.

The hotels I recommend in Milos are:

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6. Ios: for the best sunsets and views, cheap parties and activities, youth holidays


A destination for the youth, known for the wild parties, the golden beaches but also the tranquility and the traditional architecture.

Chora is picturesque, full of cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. The sunsets are the best in the Cyclades, the best places to enjoy them are at Ios club and Pathos sunset bar or at Panagia Gremniotissa.

The beaches are amazing and are considered among the best in Greece. The best are Mylopotas, Magganari and Tripiti where you can go on a boat trip. To eat, I recommend the Drakos tavern in Mylopotas.

The hotels I recommend in Ios are:

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7. Sifnos: a paradise for gourmets


Sifnos and kitchen could be synonymous since it is the hometown of Nikolaos Tselemendes, the cook who changed greek cuisine. The restaurants are always first news, among the best are Oceanida, Omega 3, ouzeri Margarita, Cantina, Orea Sifnos, both for traditional tastes and for gourmets.

Local dishes that everyone should try are mastello (roasted lamb with red wine and dill cooked in a clay pot) and chickpeas.

The traditional villages Apollonia and Artemonas and the golden beaches complete the experience. Two small churches are the trademarks of the island, the Seven Martyrs and Panagia Chrysopigi.

The hotels I recommend in Sifnos are:

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8. Santorini: for sea excursions, shopping


Besides the famous caldera, Fira and Oia, there are some lesser known reasons to visit Santorini.

The first is the sea excursions inside and outside the caldera, with the top activity the sunset in Oia. Magnificent the sunset on the caldera, but even more so when you see the sun sinking into the sea from a boat. There are still many excursions that are organized to explore the geological formations, for swimming and with grilled food on board.

The second reason is the shopping you can do in clothes, jewelry and many other items of well-known greek designers, as well as volcanic stone crafts.

The hotels I reccomend in Santorini are:

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9. Paros: for drinks with a view, idyllic villages


One of the most characteristic images of the Cyclades is the old port of Naoussa, where taverns and bars are stacked next to the picturesque harbour with the boats. And as if that wasn't enough, at sunset the sunlight is reflected in the calm waters creating an atmosphere with magical colours.

A popular destination for young people among other things with picturesque villages, lively nightlife and amazing beaches. Naoussa is picturesque but Parikia is also picturesque but much less crowded and sunset views, a value for money destination.

To eat, I recommend the Glafkos restaurant in Naoussa on the beach. A visit to the Kolymbithres beach with its characteristic rocks is also a must.

Lefkes is a surprising village. Very picturesque, touristic, calm, car-free with whitewashed streets, squares and the Holy Trinity with its tall bell towers.

The hotels I recommend in Paros are:

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10. Mykonos: for fancy parties


Everything crazy you hear about Mykonos is true. It is the island of extravagance, intense nightlife, fancy parties and amazing beaches. Paradise club is well-known for its parties, but many are organized here and there. But since it's Mykonos everything is expensive, even the food, at least in the prominent places.

Everyone passes by the iconic windmills for photos and then heads to Little Venice for a romantic stroll as the sun sinks into the sea. At night in Matogiannia, the heart of secular Mykonos beats.

The hotels I recommend in Mykonos are:

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11. Koufonisia: for exotic beaches


As soon as I saw the beach in Koufonisi Chora, before I even set foot in the port, I thought that if the beach of Chora is like this, imagine what the rest are like. And really, one is more exotic than the other, with Pori being the best for me.

Even though it has established itself as a popular destination it remains peaceful with an overall experience that helps to banish the stress and anxiety of winter.

Definitely go on a trip to Kato Koufonisi for swimming in a deserted landscape. Those who go there eat at Venetsanos, a tavern housed in an old building.

The hotels I recommend in Koufonisia are:

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12. Amorgos: for authentic Cyclades


Amorgos is well-known as an authentic Cycladic island, not only in terms of picturesqueness but also for the slow way of life that introduces visitors, food with local ingredients, local sweets and drinks.

Peaceful, different, with its own vibe, it has many loyal visitors. It is also called the island of the deep blue because of the 1988 french film of the same name, which in turn took its name from the view of the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa.

Chora is considered one of the most picturesque village in the Cyclades, while at night it turns into a hangout for the youth with live music playing in several places. Eat in Chora at Transistoraki, Jasmin, Arbaroriza and for dessert at the much-photographed Kallisto.

The hotels I recommend in Amorgos are:

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