Greek summer: Discovering the Cyclades Islands' rich history and culture

Greece: a country rich with history, culture and myths, traditions, UNESCO World Heritage sites, inspiring cuisine and, of course, idyllic Islands.

Read along with this 8-day itinerary for exploring the beautiful Cyclades Islands on your own, or a charter yacht. 

Day 1: Arrival in Athens and Kea (Tzia)

After your arrival in Athens, you are ready to board your yacht. Sail to Kea, the closest of the Cyclades Islands.

Kea, also known as Tzia, is an island that effortlessly weaves together beauty, cultural heritage, and striking geological contrasts. Referred to as the "gateway to the Cyclades," Kea serves as an indirect link connecting mainland Greece to the Cyclades while also serving as the boundary that separates the Archipelago from the South Evian Gulf.

The landscape is a visual feast, captivating observers with its lush green fields, towering hills, expansive vineyards, olive groves, enchanting ravines, hidden coves, and tranquil beaches. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the Cyclades' largest oak forest and keep an eye out for the diverse bird population.

Embark on a journey through numerous caves, including the Trypospilies Cave at Kalamos, Agios Timotheos Cave, and Agios Panteleimonas Cave, as well as the intriguing mining area at Orkou. Follow the extensive 81-kilometer network of paths to unveil the remnants of four ancient city-states on the island—Ioulida, Karthaia, Korissia, and Poieessa.

Day 2: Syros

Syros, the capital of the Cyclades, seamlessly weaves together culture, entertainment, and religion, embodying a harmonious blend of the past and present. Even its primary town, perched on two hills, showcases a dual identity. Ermoupoli, a picturesque town with neoclassical architecture, exudes stateliness and grandeur, dominated by an imposing Orthodox church. Ano Syros, the historic upper town, embodies the quintessential Cycladic village aesthetic, adorned with Catholic monasteries and churches.

Enjoy the local cuisine through the culinary scene that tantalizes the taste buds. Indulge in the renowned halvadopita (nougat pie) and the irresistible loukoumi—delectable cubes infused with an array of scents and flavors, crafted from a mixture of sugar, water, and starch. For those craving savory delights, taste the cold meats louza and maratholoukanika, along with the PDO cheese San Michali.

Day3: Mykonos

The next stop is Mykonos, well-known for its cosmopolitan character, intense nightlife, beautiful beaches, great restaurants, and fantastic shopping. Strolling around you can encounter Petros the Pelican and his girlfriend.

In 1958 an injured pelican washed ashore in Mykonos. Fishers took him in, nursed him back to health and named him Petros. Petros became the Mascot and star of Mykonos as he just loved the crowd and visa versa. After he died in 1985, three new pelicans were donated to Mykonos. One honorifically was given the name Petros and today Petros the Pelican and his girlfriend enjoy strolling together along the waterfront all day.

Mykonos is the only Greek Islands that will allow you to Scuba Dive. So get out there and discover the vibrant underwater life diving or snorkeling, while visiting one of the Island’s beautiful beaches as Paranga or Psarou. Swim over caverns inhabited by hundreds of colorful fish and anemones!

Escape to another small Island, Delos, where you will learn about the mythological story of Apollo and Artemis, twins born to Zeus and his wife, Leto. The story goes that Leto came to the island to give birth to the twins. First Artemis, goddess of the hunt and then Apollo, the god of the sun. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must for people all ages, and we recommend to get escorted by an educated archaeologist on site.

Day 4: Naxos

Naxos is the largest and greenest island, located in the heart of the Cyclades. The island offers a plethora of activities and entertainment options for visitors. The whitewashed Chora town, the capital of Naxos, has all the typical historical features one expects to find in this region. Explore the old town, with its Venetian Castle and ancient ruins. Not far away lies Portara, Naxos' iconic landmark, situated on the adjacent Palatia Islet. This marble gate stands as a testament to an unfinished ancient Greek temple devoted to the god Apollo.

Another landmark is Mount Zas, also known as Mount Zeus, which proudly claims the title of the highest peak in the Cyclades. According to Greek mythology, the mighty Zeus was nurtured in a cave atop this majestic mountain. Embarking on a hike to Mount Zas' summit offers not only breathtaking views but also the opportunity to explore the very cave that played a role in the upbringing of the king of the gods.

Day 5: Paros

On day 5 you wake up next to the Island of Paros in the bay of Kolimbithres for your morning water sports, or to enjoy your breakfast with an incredible view. Paros has a breathtaking Butterfly valley, and a visit to the graphic town of Naoussa is a must.

Explore the bay of Kolimbithres, a magnificent bay where wind and sea have sculptured the granite into smooth but bizarre shapes. Amongst these rocky outcrops, there is a succession of small, sandy coves of shallow, lucid blue water to be explored.

Visit the butterfly valley. The dappled shade, and running water can make for a pleasant break from the scorching summer heat. The valley is a private garden, but tourists are warmly welcomed by a small café with a fountain and well-marked paths through the undergrowth. You can walk or discover the valley by air balloon.

Go to Naoussa for a glass of ouzo and a delicious mezze at one of its myriad bars.

Day 6: Milos

In the morning we will anchor at Kleftiko before going up to the bay of Milos onto Adamos.

This island has its unique charm due to the rare morphology of its terrain and its mineral wealth. The sea also has left its mark on the landscape; It has sculpted the coastline into countless indentations and inlets, mostly covered by fine white sand.

The civilization of Milos is considered to be as ancient as that of Crete and spans a period of at least 5.000 years. Its fame spread throughout the world thanks to the masterpiece of the Venus of Milos, a statue found buried on the island in the 19th century, which can be found nowadays in the Louvres Museum in Paris. The capital of the island Plaka, stands on a hillside overlooking the sea at the foot of the castle. It is a most attractive town, with architecture in the characteristic Cycladic style.

Tour the islands archaeological and theological sites, as Milos is renowned as a holy island.

Kleftiko, the caves, located on the south side of the Island form an excellent breakfast spot where you can take some time to enjoy snorkeling in the crystal clear waters.

Day 7: Kythnos

We set sail to Kythnos, one of the lesser-known Cylcades Islands. Here you’ll spend the final full day of your charter holiday.

The island boasts over 65 pristine beaches, many of which can be reached via off-road access tracks, adding an adventurous touch to your coastal explorations. Scenic villages dot the landscape, featuring charming narrow cobbled streets, classic white-washed houses, inviting squares, historic churches, and iconic windmills that together create a picturesque and timeless setting.

Loutra stands out as the most renowned resort on Kythnos, offering a wide array of restaurants. What sets this area apart are the hot springs, a unique feature in the Cyclades, celebrated for their therapeutic properties dating back to ancient times. You'll encounter two hot springs here: the Agioi Anargyroi, located within a hydrotherapy center (spa), and the second one known as Kakavos, often referred to as the "Spring of Caucasus," located just 50 meters from the first. Kakavos boasts a temperature that reaches 52°C, providing a truly rejuvenating experience.

While in Loutra, consider visiting the Church of Agios Georgios and the quaint church of Stavros (Cross). Another notable point of interest is the Staircase of the Mine, once a bridge used for loading iron ore in the port. You can also explore Vryokastro, the ancient capital of Kythnos, situated in the Apokrisis area, about 7.5 kilometers to the west.

Be sure not to miss the opportunity to explore the Katafyki Cave, which ranks among the largest and most impressive caves in the country. Inside, you'll encounter a mesmerizing world adorned with rich stalactite and stalagmite formations, creating a breathtaking underground spectacle that adds a unique dimension to your Kythnos adventure.

Day 8: Return to Athens

Athens, named in honor of the goddess of Wisdom, Athena, stands as one of the world's most enchanting cities.

Savor your remaining morning hours as you enjoy a final meal while gently cruising the serene waters. Upon arrival, don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich history of Athens by exploring its iconic landmarks, including the Parthenon.

With an abundance of historical and cultural treasures to discover in this timeless destination, you might find it worthwhile to extend your stay for one more evening before bidding farewell and returning home. 

8-day Cyclades Islands Yacht Itinerary
8-day Cyclades Islands Yacht Itinerary

This itinerary allows you to explore a bit more of the Cyclades Islands. It offers a perfect balance of relaxation and exploration in the Greek islands. As always, you can adjust the itinerary to match your interests and preferences. Enjoy your 8-day Greek island adventure!