The Cycladic Islands are one of the most popular destinations in Greece for travelers and locals alike. This island group refers to the islands surrounding Delos, one the most significant mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece.
These islands include destinations such as Mykonos, Santorini and Naxos. The Cycladic Islands are the ones that often come to mind when people think of the Greek islands: white washed houses with blue roofs that overlook the incredible blue of the Aegean Sea.
Several of the bigger islands, such as Mykonos, Santorini, and Naxos, have international airports, so you can fly, depending on your destination. There are flights year-round from Athens to different Cycladic Islands, as well as flights from different destinations in Europe.
If you're looking for a more "traditional" way to get to the Cyclades, you can take a ferry from Athens. Piraeus, the major port of Athens, offers a number of ferries to various islands in the Cyclades.
When planning your trip, consider this two-week itinerary, which will take you around a few Cycladic Islands as well as Crete. If you're interested in exploring the Cyclades by sea, check out this week-long sailing trip, which will bring you to Mykonos and Santorini, among other islands.
From Athens, By Plane
Duration: 45 minutes, plus travel to/from airports
The fastest and most convenient way to get to the Cyclades is to fly from Athens. The Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) offers flights to the Cycladic Islands that have airports. Cycladic Islands with airports include Mykonos (JMK), Santorini (JTR), Paros (PAS), Milos (MLO) and Astypalaia (JTY). Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines offer multiple flights to the Cyclades.
These flights are short and operate year-round, so this is a great option if you're pressed for time. If you're interested in exploring the Cycladic Islands, you can easily fly to one of your choice and then continue on to other islands via ferry.
Alternatively, a number of locations in Europe and the UK also offer flights to the Cycladic Islands, but note that these flight schedules may be more seasonal. London, Munich, and Venice are just a few of the cities, which fly directly to the Cyclades.
From Athens, By Ferry
Duration: 2.5 hours or longer, depending on your final destination
If you're hoping to travel by sea, there are many fast and slow ferries available from Piraeus or Rafina, a smaller port, which is closer to the Athens International Airport.
Piraeus is about 25 minutes driving from the city center and you can take a taxi, private transfer, bus or metro to get there. Rafina is 20 minutes from the airport and can be reached by taxi, private transfer or bus.
Ferry schedules are usually more limited in the low season (mid-June through mid-September), so be sure to check that there are ferries available between Athens and your final destination if you're traveling at this time.
If you're prone to sea-sickness, consider a slow ferry as the high-speed hydrofoils can get quite bumpy in windy conditions. The slower ferries are larger, cheaper and offer ample outdoor space to take in the sights of the Greek islands.
Economy and business class tickets are available for ferry trips and depending on your end point, cabins might be available as well. You can take vehicles on board but note that this will increase your ticket price.
From Other Greek Islands
Duration: varies, depending on where you're starting
If you're traveling around another Greek island group, such as the Dodecanese (i.e. Rhodes, Astypalaia, Karpathos, to name a few), or the Ionian Islands (Lefkada, Kefalonia, and Corfu, for example), you can reach the Cycladic Islands directly or through a combination of modes of transportation, depending on where you are.
Direct and indirect ferries are available between islands in the Aegean, so be sure to check to see what ferries are running from your starting point to the Cyclades. Note that this option may require you taking a ferry back to Athens in order to then get one to the Cyclades, but a variety of options and routes are generally available.
If you're on an island with an airport, such as Crete or Rhodes, you can fly to a Cycladic Island but be aware that all flights to the Greek islands must go through Athens, so there won't be direct options available.