Holiday Sailing Area: The Cyclades

The Cyclades deriving their name from the Greek word “kyklos”, meaning circle, because they surround the sacred island of Delos, the Cyclades are the most visited islands of Greece. The islands were the cradle of the Cycladic civilization (3000-1000 BC). The early Cycladic culture developed in the Bronze Age and has inspired artists ever since with its white marble figures.

MAP & INTRO

The Minoan’s from Crete colonized the island during the middle Cycladic era, making Akrotiri on Santorini a major trading place. During the late Cycladic period the Mycenaeans dominated, and Delos became their religion capital. The Dorians invaded the islands in the 11th century BC, a calamity that marked the start of the Dark Ages. There are 56 islands in the group, 24 inhabited, some tiny and undisturbed, others famous holiday playgrounds. Most of the Cyclades are rocky and arid, with the exception of wooded and lush-valleyed Andros, Kea and Naxos.

Arguably, every single one of the 56 islands in the Greek Cyclades is worth a visit for one reason or another, however, chances are you’ll only be able to visit a handful during your upcoming trip. Unsure where to start? In this section, we try to shed some light on the different options while exploring the Cyclades by sailboat, catamaran or motor yacht.

Greek Island Yacht Holiday Map of the Cyclades

The Cyclades islands deliver on the promises made by travel posters: rocky islands with terrific beaches and white cubist villages that soar above an impossibly aquamarine sea. Named after the word ‘kyklos’ meaning circle, they circle the sacred island of Delos and are the most visited islands in Greece.

Unlike Crete, Rhodes, or the larger Ionian Islands, these are compact islands that quickly reveal their unique character and personality, derived from their unique traditions, geography, and historical development.

THE BEST WAY TO SAVOR THE CYCLADES

The Cyclades comprise one of the world’s most beautiful and varied destinations with 2,200 islands, islets, and rocks — only 24 islands are inhabited — and they have a World Heritage site.

A yacht holiday provides access that can not be achieved in any other way — your floating hotel suite allows you to travel effortlessly and provides access to the finest islands, villages, beaches, and experiences.

With so much to see and visit, we recommend you allow at least two weeks to explore this paradise or opt for the extra costs of a one-way trip starting or ending in the middle of the Cyclades.

WHEN TO VISIT THE CYCLADES

The islands are at their best in late spring (starting end of April, mid-May) when the landscape is still green, although the sea has not yet fully warmed up for swimming, and when the tourist crowds have yet to arrive. Another option is early autumn (starting 1 September) when the sea is at its warmest and few tourists remain.

Avoid visiting in July or August as the Cyclades bears the brunt of the ‘meltémi’ seasonal wind, which can make moving by boat and sailing uncomfortable and scatters sand and tablecloths. Towards the end of  November, many facilities close and storms are possible. If you must holiday at these times we will be happy to recommend to visit other boating destinations.

DESTINATIONS IN THE CYCLADES

When sailing the Cyclades from Athens you have two choices to start from; Athens Alimos/Kalamaki Marina or Lavrion (Port Marina and Olympic Marina). The biggest selection of quality yachts can be found in Athens Kalamaki – Athens Alimos Marina. Lavrion Port Marina or Olympic Marina are situated further south on Attica and thus much closer to the Cyclades, but the downside is that there are fewer quality yachts available from Lavrion.

 

Greek Island yacht holidays provide the best access to the islands of the Cyclades.

You’ll be surprised at how reasonable your private floating hotel suite (yacht with captain and cook/host) is.

Contact us now for a quotation on your magic Cyclades yacht holiday.

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SAIL AND STAY

Some of our clients like to extend their Yacht Holiday by staying a few days before or after their cruise in Athens or on one of the islands.

A few days in Athens can be a great holiday starter, and if your group is flying in from different or distant countries this allows you time to catch up and recover from jet lag before your cruise. If you’re interested in history and art you may enjoy a visit to the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens and the National Archeological Museum that between them house most of the islands best historic art.

We are happy to recommend great places to stay, dine, explore and shop and can book your hotels and arrange airport and port transfers for you.

If you plan to spend some days on one of the islands, here is a brief overview of tourist numbers you can expect to encounter.

TOURISM IN THE CYCLADES

The Cyclades have been popular with visitors for centuries — today they suffer the impact of tourism more severely than anywhere else in Greece.

The three main islands are dominated by tourism season:

  • Mykonos – with its teeming old town, sophisticated restaurants, clubs and hotels, and selection of nudist and gay beaches  is the most popular island
  • Santoríni – the volcanic island provides a dramatic natural backdrop for luxury cruise liners and attracts upmarket tourism
  • Ios – the original hippie island is a paradise for hard-drinking budget tourists and backpackers

Páros, Naxos, and Mílos are popular and their beaches and main towns are busy at the height of season.

Naxos, Amorgos, and Folegandros have become fashionable destinations.

Kythnos, Serifos, Sikinos, Kimolos or Anafi remain relatively low in tourism. Tinos with its imposing pilgrimage church and Syros with its elegant Venetian architecture provide authentic experiences without large crowds.

Andros and Kea are popular weekend havens for Athenians, and Sífnos is a smart, chic destination for tourists of all nationalities.

 

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ANTIQUITIES

The earliest signs of human habitation in Cyclades are remains of Neolithic settlements discovered in Kythnos that date from 9000 BC. The history of Cyclades begins from the Neolithic

The history of Cyclades begins from the Neolithic and early Bronze age. The islands were the cradle of the Cycladic civilization (3000-1000 BC). The early Cycladic culture developed a style of white marble figures that have inspired artists for centuries.

The Minoan’s from Crete colonized the island during the Middle Cycladic era, making Akrotiri on Santorini a major trading place. During the late Cycladic period the Mycenaeans dominated, and Delos became their religion capital. The Dorians invaded the islands in the 11th century BC, a calamity that marked the start of the Dark Ages. There are 56 islands in the group, 24 inhabited, some tiny and undisturbed, others famous holiday playgrounds. Most of the Cyclades are rocky and arid, with the exception of wooded and lush-valleyed Andros, Kea and Naxos.

The northern-most of the Cyclades, Andros is lush and green in the south and barren in the North. The fields are divided by distinctive dry-stone walls. The island was first colonized by the Ionian’s in 1000 BC. In the 5th century BC, Andros sided with Sparta during the Peloponnesian war. After Venetian rule, the Turks took power in 1566 until the War of Independence.

A craggy yet green island, Tino s was first settled by Ionian’s in Archaic times. In the 4th century BC it became known for its sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite. Under Venetian rule from medieval times, Tinos became the Ottoman empires last conquest in 1715. Tinos has over 800 chapels, and in the 1960s the military Junta declared it a holy island. Many Greek Orthodox pilgrims come to the church of Panagia Evangelistria in Tinos

Mykonos, one of the most popular of the Cyclades, was under Venetian rule from 1207, then independent under the Community of Mykonians from 1615 when the island flourished as a self-sufficient society. Visited by intellectuals in the early days of tourism, today Mykonos thrives on its reputation as the glitziest island in Greece.

PLACES TO VISIT

 

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REVIEWS

02-09/07/2016

Dear Captain Peter, Andriana, and beautiful Malena…from the very first moment stepped on Malena you have treated us very lovely and since then the time has flown, and here we are on our last night on board. We would like to thank you for all the good memories and your hospitality. Peter, you are a great Captain with a big sense of humor, you were always been available for us and you did your best, to make all have an unforgettable time. With your guideless, we ‘ve seen beautiful places, dined at wonderful tavernas, swimming in amazing waters. It was an unforgettable week for us and we would definitely come back to explore new places and to live a new adventure with you if possible. From now on you have a family in Istanbul and we know that we have a friend in Greece! Thank you again for the unforgettable journey!

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  • A fantastic week sailing! | Erik
    We are a family of 8 and wanted to sail for a week on the Greek islands. As we are not advanced sailors, we chose to hire a skipper. We had the luck to get Walter as a skipper in the Piraeus Marina, where we started for our week in the Saronic Sea. Arriving on Saturday, we started our sail ...
  • Sailing the Argo-Saronicos in July 2017 | Melissa
    My two daughters and I sailed with Walter and Aleka in the Argo-Saronic in July and couldn’t possibly have had a better experience. From the planning stages, it was a pleasure. He was helpful finding a sailboat that fit our needs and budget. We were very inexperienced in sailing, so his input led to the right boat and the right ...
  • Thanks to Ocean Nomads! Highly recommended!
    I had one week on board of “Argo”. Yacht is good, clean, and it is very easy to sail. Walter is an owner, and he assist with all issues. Great man and experienced skipper. Highly recommended! Stas Blokhin