Blue-domed churches and white cubic houses line the cobble stone streets of the Cyclades, forming a labyrinth that leads to a beautiful blue sea. Greece’s prized group of 220 islands includes the infamous party town of Mykonos, the stunning volcanic island of Santorini, and the picturesque fishing village of Paros.
Thousands of years ago, the Cyclades were inhabited by the Minoans, the Romans and even the Turks. Today visitors can still see these influences throughout the islands — from the sacred island of Delos to the Venetian fortress of Exobourgo.
Most who come to the Cyclades choose to island hop: Take a flight to Mykonos or Santorini, then hop on a boat or ferry to the surrounding islands. If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, head to the less popular islands of Naxos and Siros, which offer the same Greek isle experience but with fewer crowds. Or, do as the Greeks do and head to Tinos, one of the largest islands of the Cyclades, lined with long stretches of sandy beach.
Greece enjoys a Mediterranean climate with about 11 hours of sunshine a day at times, and temperatures averaging 77 F to 86 F from May through September, with the hottest months being July and August. But even the warmest days are generally tempered by seasonal winds, called meltemi. The mountainous regions are cooler. The average temperature in Athens during January and February is 50 F, and there is normally snow on the mountains.
Mid-June until the end of August is high season for most of Greece, as the weather is warmest during this time. April to mid-June is also very popular among visitors as the weather is still very warm, though not unbearably hot. You may be able to pick up some deals at this time of year. Late August to mid-October is Greece’s shoulder season. The temperatures are still high and most resorts and attractions are still open, but prices are fairly low and it’s easier to find affordable flights and accommodations.
October to April is off season. You’ll find the cheapest deals during these months, but many popular tourist destinations close down around this time, too. Unless you’re in Athens you may find there is little to do and hardly any hotels or restaurants open.
Visitors can island hop around the Cyclades via ferry or plane depending on which island you’re going to, but keep in mind some inter-island journeys are longer than others. Transportation options within each island vary, but some of the most popular are local bus networks, taxi, moped and car rental. There are two main airports for travelers visiting the Cyclades Islands: Mykonos Island National Airport and Santorini (Thira) National Airport.