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The Cyclades Islands

The Cyclades islands


The Cyclades (from the Greek word for 'rings' or 'circles') is the central group of islands in the Aegean, so named because of the way they seem to surround Delos, the ancient centre of trade and worship. The Cyclades are well-known for their stark elemental landscape, white washed houses contrasted against the deep blue and azure colours of sky and sea, traditional windmills, narrow paths full of flowers, and most recently the never ending nightlife.

The Cyclades islands consist of the following main areas:

  • Northern Cyclades - Kea, Kithnos, Syros, Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Delos and Rinia.
  • Middle Cyclades - Serifos, Sifnos, Antiparos, Paros, Naxos,
  • Small Cyclades: Donoussa, Iraklia, Schinousa, Koufonissia, Amorgos and Levitha.
  • Southern Cyclades - Milos, Kimolos, Folegandros, Sikinos, Ios, Thira (Santorini) and Anafi.
Cycladic Art


Archaeology has revealed the broad outlines of a farming and seafaring culture that had immigrated from Asia Minor c. 5000 BCE. Early Cycladic culture evolved in three phases, between c.3300 - 2000 BCE, when it was increasingly swamped in the rising influence of Minoan Crete. The Late Neolithic Cycladic culture produced many flat idols carved out of pure white marble, centuries before the great Middle Bronze Age ("Minoan") culture arose in Crete,

Each of the small Cycladic islands could support no more than a few thousand people, though Late Cycladic boat models show that fifty oarsmen could be assembled from the scattered communities, and when the highly organized palace-culture of Crete arose, the islands faded into insignificance, with the exception of Delos, which retained its archaic reputation as a sanctuary throughout antiquity and until the emergence of Christianity.

Sailing in the Cyclades

Wind and Sailing Conditions

Due to the strength of the wind in summer, this group of islands (they are not known as the Windy isles for nothing!) is recommended only for experienced sailors. The majority of charter yachts that go out here, unlike in other parts of Greece, are mainly skippered or crewed charters. The prevailing wind in the summer is the "Meltemi", which blows from the North / North West. It begins in June, blows stronger in July and August at Force 5-6 and may occasionally reach Force 8-9. It may blow for 1-3 days or it may sometimes blow for 2 weeks at a time. It can demast yachts!

During spring and autumn, you may also have to deal with strong winds from the South. Anyone chartering a yacht is advised to take extreme care and check the weather reports regularly. The average temperature in the Cyclades during summer is 25 to 26 °C (79F) and very often 33 to 35 °C (95F).

Planning your trip

You can begin your holiday from a number of locations. From mainland Greece, the closest port is Lavrion, which is on the south west Attica peninsula and roughly the same distance from the airport as Athens main marina. From Lavrion you can sail south towards Kea and then on to Syros, Mykonos, Paros, etc. returning along a circular route so you don't revisit the same islands.

It is sometimes possible to start your holiday from the capital island of Syros, and we can offer a few yachts from Mykonos or Paros. The advantages of starting from here are that you begin in the heart of the Cyclades and don't waste a day or two reaching them. However, there is not a very great selection of yachts to start from the islands and if the weather is bad, your ferry to /from the islands may be delayed. Most of the islands have airports and they are all interconnected by ferry.


Key Locations

  • Mykonos (famous windmills)
  • Delos (ancient site, uninhabited now)
  • Paros (for wine and food)
  • Santorini (volcanic island - for romance!)
  • The small Cyclades - for true Greece, away from the hoardes!
  • Milos - famous for beauty and anitquity
  • Syros - the capital of the Cyclades
  • and all the other islands...

Flights direct to El Venizelos Airport, Athens or to the islands. You can start your route from Athens Alimos Marina (Kalamaki), or Lavrion (Main Port). Several daily ferries and fast ferries from Piraeus to main islands. Please see below for suggested one and two week itineraries...

the islands of the central Aegean

With an average speed of 6 knots - for example - you would need 5 hours to sail 30 nautical miles.

One week itinerary from Athens / Lavrion
1Alimos Marina Check-in at 17:00 Lavrion check in at 17:00
2 Athens - Kea (40 nm) Lavrion - Kea (12 nm)
3 Kea - Syros (35 nm) Kea - Syros (35 nm)
4 Syros - Paros Island (22 nm) Syros - Mykonos (23 nm)
5 Paros - Serifos (36 nm) Mykonos - Naoussa, Paros (25)
6 Serifos - Kea (30 nm) Paros - Kithnos (40 nm)
7 Kea - Alimos Marina (35 nm) Kithnos - Lavrion (30 nm)
8 Check-out Athens at 9:00 Check out Lavrion at 09:00

2 week itinerary from Athens / Lavrion
1Alimos Marina Check-in at 17:00 Check in Lavrion at 17:00
2Voutkari (Kea Island) Lavrion - Kea (12 nm)
3Ermoupolis (Syros Island) Kea - Syros (35 nm)
4Tinos Island Syros - Mykonos (23 nm)
5Mykonos Island Mykonos - Delos - Paros, Naoussa (20 nm)
6 Naousa (Paros Island) Paros, Naoussa - Naxos (11 nm)
7 Ios Island Naxos - Schinoussa (20 nm)
8 Santorini Island Schinoussa - Irakleia (10 nm)
9 Folegandros Island Irakleia - Ios (15 nm)
10 Adhamas (Milos Island) Ios - Santorini (25 nm)
11 kamares (Sifnos Island) Santorini - Folegandros (30 nm)
12 Livadhi (Serifos Island) Folegandros - Milos (30 nm)
13Merihas (Kithnos Island) Milos - Serifos (30 nm)
14Alimos Marina Serifos - Lavrion (40 nm)
15Check-out at 9:00 Check out Lavrion at 09:00

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Tel: +30 24280 94128 | Tel: +30 24210 36676

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