The Cyclades islands offer the perfect mix of natural beauty with the authentic Greek experience everyone’s after. Read on to explore our ultimate guide to travelling the Cyclades.

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Route Options for Cyclades Island Hopping

The Med Experience Cyclades Islands Itinerary

Main Islands to Visit in the Cyclades

Where Are the Cyclades Islands

The Cyclades islands are a beautiful group of over 200 islands in the Aegean Sea, southeast of Greece. Famous for their turquoise blue waters and rich history, popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini attract travellers with their traditional charm and archaeological sites. The name "Cyclades" comes from the Greek word for circle, reflecting the islands' circular arrangement. It's a go-to destination for those wanting sun, sea, party, and a taste of Greek culture.

Map of the Cyclades Islands, Greece

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit The Cyclades

For the ultimate Cyclades experience, plan your travels during the sunny summer months from June to September. This is prime time for beach bliss, partying, and all-around island fun.

If you're up for a cooler vibe and fewer crowds, spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) offer a sweet spot with pleasant weather and a more relaxed atmosphere.

The Best Way to Travel the Cyclades: Island Hopping

The best way to travel the Cyclades is by island hopping. From the ancient wonders of Athens to Santorini’s cliffside views over the Aegean Sea, to Ios’s crazy sunsets, the Cyclades promise something iconic at every stop. Explore the blue lagoons of Paros or chill out on Naxos or Syros. Join the fun at Mykonos' world-famous party scene and round off your trip with Tinos- there’s an island for every traveller.

Our guides lead the way on our tours, so you can relax and follow the leader! We pack our trips with a variety of excursions, ensuring travellers get the most out of each island. Our prices cover ferry tickets, accommodation, breakfast, and excursions, delivering excellent value for money.

How to Get to the Cyclades Islands

You’ll find direct flights to Athens from most European countries during the summer months. You can reach the Cyclades islands by choosing between a direct flight from Athens or European cities to island airports or taking a ferry from Athens' Piraeus port.

Of course, flight prices will vary based on demand - for more information, check out flights at Skyscanner.

How to Travel Between the Cyclades Islands

The quickest and safest way to travel is to take the ferry between islands. If you’re travelling without a guide, we recommend securing tickets in advance via sites like Ferry Hopper, but tickets can also be purchased at ports. It’s worth noting that there can be heavy traffic on the way to the port and waiting times will vary, so it's a good idea to arrive early.

From port transfers to tickets, our local guides handle all the complexities of travel on our tours, so you don’t have to worry.

Booking Accommodation in the Cyclades

Where you stay depends on your budget, but ultimately we all want good value and comfort, right? We recommend securing accommodation near town so you’re close to the action and can make the most of your time on each island. Once again, it’s best to book accommodation in advance, as the best spots are fully booked during the summer months.

We’ve booked the most popular places in town for our Med Experience travellers to stay, saving them the hassle of organising this all in advance. Relax and enjoy the poolside views knowing we’ve got you covered. Click here for more information about our accommodation.

Planning Excursions in the Cyclades Islands

If you’re a seasoned traveller, booking excursions or things to do in Greece is easy. The safest way to book things to do in Greece is via sites like

But, if you’re island-hopping the Cyclades on a budget, it can be challenging to keep costs to a minimum, whilst feeling like you’ve had the full Greek experience. Our tours guarantee that you make the most of the experiences each island has to offer with the best value for your money.

Route Options for Cyclades Island Hopping

When planning your Cyclades island-hopping adventure, consider an itinerary that aligns with efficient ferry routes. Starting from Athens, popular routes include Athens to Santorini, Santorini to Ios, Ios to Paros, Paros to Naxos, Naxos to Syros, Syros to Mykonos, and Mykonos to Tinos.

Stick to well-connected paths to optimize your journey. We recommend staying at least two days on each island, to fully immerse yourself in all that each destination has to offer.

The Med Experience Cyclades Islands Itinerary

Our adventures cover all the islands that make the Cyclades iconic. We have two itineraries available, travellers have the option to choose our 9-day Santorini to Mykonos route or extend their journey to include Athens on an 11-day route. More information on routes can be found here.

Travel Time Between the Cyclades Islands

The lengths of ferry travel times depend on factors like availability and the specific destination, with times ranging between 1 and 9 hours. Check out the approximate travel times between islands.

* Keep an eye on ferry schedules and be mindful of potential delays for a hassle-free adventure. We recommend double-checking closer to travel dates for the latest information regarding scheduled travel times. You can check this information on sites like Ferry Hopper.

Athens → Santorini

- Fastest Ferry Time: 4h 50m
- Slower Ferry Time: 8h 50m

Naxos → Syros

- Fastest Ferry Time: 1h 5m
- Slower Ferry Time: 1h 20m

Santorini → Ios

- Fastest Ferry Time: 35m
- Slower Ferry Time: 1h 15m

Syros → Mykonos

- Fastest Ferry Time: 25m
- Slower Ferry Time: 1h 20m

Ios → Paros

- Fastest Ferry Time: 35m
- Slower Ferry Time: 2h 30m

Mykonos → Tinos

- Fastest Ferry Time: 20m
- Slower Ferry Time: 35m

Paros → Naxos

- Fastest Ferry Time: 25m
- Slower Ferry Time: 1h 45m

Tinos → Athens

- Fastest Ferry Time: 2h
- Slower Ferry Time: 5h

Main Islands to Visit in the Cyclades


While Athens is not technically one of the Cyclades islands, it serves as an ideal starting point for your journey, as it’s well-connected to the rest of Europe. From ancient wonders to the modern energy in places like Plaka, Athens, often referred to as the 'City of the Gods,' is a crazy mix of old and new that's certainly not one to miss.

We start our 11-day tour with our Athens Orientation Walk - a chance to explore the city. After a day of adventuring, our travellers can unwind over drinks with a view of the Acropolis from our accommodation, Selina Thatrou’s rooftop bar - pretty special right?

Top Things to Do in Athens

  • Visit the Acropolis and the Parthenon
  • Visit the Plaka neighbourhood
  • National Archaeological Museum


Set your sights on the stunning Santorini for the first leg of your island-hopping adventure. Think cliffside views over the Aegean Sea and dreamy sunsets that blanket the domes of Fira’s blue roofs and white architecture. Santorini is synonymous with Cycladic travel and a destination you must experience! From hiking Oia’s Caldera to Wine Tasting at golden hour to sunbathing on Black Beach - our trips tick off all the must-do experiences in Santorini.

Top Things to Do in Santorini

  • Watch the sunset in Oia
  • Visit Red Beach or Black Beach
  • Wine Tasting Tour


Your next stop by ferry should be Ios. Famous for its vibrant nightlife, Ios is a must-do destination for any traveller looking for strong cocktails, EDM, and after-dark adventures. Our itineraries take you to the heart of the action in Chora on a pub crawl. The goal? To make sure we’ve left no stone (bar) unturned!

The following morning is all about relaxing on Mylopotas beach - the ultimate hangover remedy. In the afternoon, we go tubing before jumping onto a Speedboat Safari excursion. Explore caves, snorkel over shipwrecks, and unwind on secret beaches- this is living!

Top Things to Do in Ios

  • Sunbathe at Mylopotas Beach
  • Explore Chora Village
  • Speedboat Safari


Paros is your next port of call. This charming 4000 BC-year-old island is known for being one of the most picturesque islands in Greece. On our first evening in this paradise, we have our Greek Night excursion. Indulge in delicious Greek food and let your hair down with some traditional Greek dancing.

Another vital Paros excursion on the agenda: sailing the blue lagoons of Antiparos. Tourists travel from all over the world to swim and snorkel in Europe’s clearest blue waters - this is an absolute must if you’re looking to ‘do’ the Cyclades properly!

Top Things to Do in Paros

  • Visit Naoussa Village
  • Beach day at Kolymbithres Beach
  • Snorkel in the blue lagoons of Antiparos
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