Cruising the Cyclades Islands

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WorldMediterraneanGreeceAegean SeaCruising the Cyclades Islands
The Cyclades
Greece Cyclades.jpg


Cyclades (Κυκλάδες) is the quintessential group of Aegean islands. Their name comes from the the greek word κύκλος (circle) because they form a rough circle centered around the small island Delos.

In the early Bronze Age, Cyclades was the center of a brilliant civilization, the Cycladic civilization which gave us surprisingly modern looking paintings and statuettes. Today, the Cyclades with its many islands is the most popular cruising area in the Aegean. The islands are arid and rocky which gives them na austere beauty. Their traditional architecture with its white-washed houses and arches blend harmoniously with the terrain. Yet, each island has an individual character and diversity ranging from the volcanic Santorini to the remote Donousa.

For the cruiser, there are many interesting sight-seeing sites as well as many anchorages. From the trendy Mykonos and the cosmopolitan Syros to the uninhabited Rhinia.

It is assumed that you start your cruise from the convenient and relative close to the marinas near Athens harbor of Vourkari in the island of Kea. Kea is the closest Cycladic island to Athens. You can, of course, start your cruise at any other island. Also, you may skip or add islands to the overall cruise.

You start the cruise by sailing in the easy southern direction and then proceed east and finally NW to close the circle. Although distances are short given the many interesting islands it advisable to allow at least a month for the cruise. Should you be pressed for time it best to visit fewer islands and spend a couple of days exploring each island that you do visit. You can either rent a motor-scooter or a car for your land explorations. In many places you may also hire a taxi. Most young drivers will speak some english and the older ones some french.


1037 Nisís Falkonera to Nísos Ios
1038 Stenó Sífnou to Stenó Kafiréa
1040 Nísos Íos to Vrakhonisídha Kandhelioússa
1041 Nisos Naxos To Vrakhoi Kaloyeroi
1444 Nisos Milos to Nisos Paros
1647 Nísos Tínos to Nísos Ikaría
2682 Kólpos Patalion to Nísos Nísiros
G31 North Cyclades
G33 Southern Cyclades (West)
G34 Southern Cyclades
54320 Kiklades Nisoi to Kriti
54321 Nisos Thira
54332 Nisoi Paros & Naxos
54412 Nisos Amorgos & Plans in Astipalaia
54355 Nisos Andros & Dhiekplous Kafireos
41 Cavos Maleas to Cavos Kimis
42 Andros to Chalki Island
415 Ydra to Sikinos
421 Karystos to Naxos
423 Paros to Astypalia

See also Aegean Sea.


In the summer months the weather is dominated by the meltemi which in the west Cyclades comes from the NE and on the east Cyclades from the N.

For details see Aegean Weather.

Weather Windows

The best times to tour the Cyclades are in the Spring, May and June, and in the autumn, September and October. You are less likely to encounter strong meltemi winds and also all the anchorages are less crowded. Other than the weather-wise unpredictable winter months, the worse time to be cruising the Cyclades is during the month of August. In August not only will you encounter a number of meltemi gales but all harbors and anchorages, even the most remote, will be crowded as this is the prime vacation time in Greece and the rest of the EU.


See Aegean Sea.

Possible Departure Points

Route/Suggested Stopovers

  1. Start from Vourkari, Kea/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BKea.23Vourkari.7CVourkari.5D.5D.2C_.5B.5BKea.5D.5DHarbour icon Vourkari, Kea [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Vourkari, Kea|Vourkari, Kea]] (Βουρκάρι, Κέα) 37°40′N, 24°19.5′E and
    1. sail SSW to the southern tip of the island/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#islandWorld icon.png island [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#island|island]] 37°40′N, 24°19.5′E keeping well clear of the submerged reef/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.3Cspan_style.3D.22color:red_.22.3Ereef.3C.2Fspan.3EWorld icon.png reef [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#reef|reef]] 37°34.7′N, 24°15.8′E , then turn SE and sail
    2. to the northern tip of Kythnos/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BKythnos.5D.5DWorld icon.png Kythnos [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Kythnos|Kythnos]] 37°29.39′N, 24°26.26′E at which point you turn S and head for
    3. the pleasant small harbor of Loutra/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BKythnos.23Loutra.7CLoutra.5D.5DHarbour icon Loutra [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Loutra|Loutra]] (Λουτρά) 37°26.6′N, 24°25.9′E on the NE side of Kythnos (Κύθνος). The distance from Vourkari is 22 nM.
      • This is a good place from which to explore the island.
  2. From Loutra sail S 23 nM to Livadhi/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BSerifos.23Livadhi.7CLivadhi.5D.5DHarbour icon Livadhi [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Livadhi|Livadhi]] (Λιβάδι) 37°08.6′N, 24°31.2′E the main harbor of Serifos (Σέριφος) island.
    • Do not fail to visit the main village of Chora, a wonderful example of Cycladic architecture.
  3. After departing from Livadhi head SE and sail for 20 nM to Platis Yialos/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BSifnos.23Platis_Yialos.7CPlatis_Yialos.5D.5DAnchorage icon Platis Yialos [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Platis Yialos|Platis Yialos]] (Πλατύς Γιαλός) 36°55.8′N, 24°43.7′E in the island of Sifnos (Σίφνος), famous for its cuisine, its pottery, and architecture.
    • Here you can watch the pottery being made in several workshops. It ranges from the strictly utilitarian cookware to decorative. A visit to the capital of the island Apollonia is highly recommended.
  4. From Platis Yialos head SW and sail to Adamas/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BMilos.23Adamas.7CAdamas.5D.5DHarbour icon Adamas [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Adamas|Adamas]] (Αδάμας) 36°43.5′N, 24°27′E the main harbor in the island of Milos (Μήλος) where the famous Venus de Milo statue was found. The distance is 25 nM.
    • In Milos, an island not often visited by cruisers, you should visit Phylakopi, the Bronze Age Cycladic settlement, and the lovely town of Plaka. There also many beaches with interesting and colorful volcanic rock formations.
  5. After you depart from Adamas and exit the deep bay steer ESE and head for
    1. Polonia Point/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#Polonia_PointWorld icon.png Polonia Point [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Polonia Point|Polonia Point]] 36°46.24′N, 24°31.74′E , then turn to SE and transit the Milos-Kimolos channel,
    2. when you reach Polonia Point turn ESE again and sail to Karavostasi/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BFolegandros.23Karavostasi.7CKaravostasi.5D.5DHarbour icon Karavostasi [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Karavostasi|Karavostasi]] (Καραβοστάσι) 36°36.8′N, 24°57.1′E in the island of Folegandros (Φολέγανδρος) maybe the most picturesque of Cyclades. The total distance from Adamas is 34.5 nM.
      • The thing to do here is to either walk (about 3/4 of hr) or take the bus to Chora. Wander its narrow streets and take memorable photographs.
  6. The next island to visit after Folegandros is Santorini or Thera (Σαντορίνη or Θήρα) with dramatic towns built on the lip of the caldera of an active volcano. Unfortunately there are no good harbors here save for an unfinished marina/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BSantorini.23Santorini_Marina.7Cmarina.5D.5DBerth icon marina [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#marina|marina]] 36°20.1′N, 25°26.2′E on the S side of the island. While sailing directly from Karavostasi to the Santorini Marina is 29 nM, it is recommended, if you are not in hurry, to
    1. first sail to the NE entrance of the caldera/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#calderaWorld icon.png caldera [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#caldera|caldera]] 36°27.9′N, 25°21′E . From there make a loop of the caldera noting the lovely town of Oia, the main town Thíra perched high up, and the island of Nea Kameni which emerged from the water during the eruption of 1573.
    2. Exit the the caldera on its SE side/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#SE_sideWorld icon.png SE side [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#SE side|SE side]] 36°21.5′N, 25°20.9′E , and then proceed to the marina/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BSantorini.23Santorini_Marina.7Cmarina.5D.5DBerth icon marina [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#marina|marina]] 36°20.1′N, 25°26.2′E . The total distance with this detour is about 37 nM. The "must see" places in Santorini are:
    • Minoan Akrotiri - the extensive and one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean
    • The town of The town of Thíra & the Museum
    • A visit by a local tour boat to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni
  7. Our tour takes you from Santorini to the easternmost island of the Cyclades Amorgos (Αμοργός). It is a long, for the Cyclades, 39 nM NE sail to Katapola/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BAmorgos.23Katapola.7CKatapola.5D.5DHarbour icon Katapola [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Katapola|Katapola]] (Κατάπολα) 36°49.7′N, 25°51.8′E the main harbor of the island.
    • The main attraction here, and it is a must, is a visit to the 1088 AD Monastery of Hozoviotisa built within a cave on a cliff overlooking the S, stormy rocky shore. It is one of the most dramatic sites in the Aegean.
  8. If you want to go to a small, out of the way island, sail N from Katapola to the lovely cove of Dendro/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BDonousa.23Dendro.7CDendro.5D.5DAnchorage icon Dendro [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Dendro|Dendro]] (Δέντρο) 37°05.7′N, 25°48.2′E in the small island of Donousa (Δονούσα). It is a 17 nM sail.
    • You may, of course, skip this island and go directly to the next stopover.
  9. The next stopover is actually in either of two islands or, even better, visit both:
  10. From either Mersini or Ayios Georgios you sail NW for to Port Naxos/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BNaxos.23Port_Naxos.7CPort_Naxos.5D.5DBerth icon Port Naxos [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Port Naxos|Port Naxos]] 37°06.3′N, 25°22.5′E the port of the largest island of the Cyclades, Naxos (Νάξος).
    • It is well worth to drive in the interior of the island and visit its nice villages.
  11. Next, our tour takes to one of the loveliest towns of the Cyclades: Naoussa/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BParos.23Naoussa.7CNaoussa.5D.5DHarbour icon Naoussa [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Naoussa|Naoussa]] (Νάουσσα) 37°07.5′N, 25°14.1′E in the nearby island of Paros (Πάρος), 10 nM W of Port Naxos.
  12. From Paros you can sail NE and visit either bustling and fashionable Mykonos (Μύκονος) or secluded Rhinia (Ρήνεια). You can, of course, visit both.
    1. The distance from Parikia to Mykonos Marina/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BMykonos_Marina.5D.5DBerth icon Mykonos Marina [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Mykonos Marina|Mykonos Marina]] 37°27.8′N, 25°19.6′E is 26 nM and from Naoussa 21 nM.
    2. The distance from Parikia to South Bay/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BRhinia.23South_Bay.7CSouth_Bay.5D.5DAnchorage icon South Bay [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#South Bay|South Bay]] 37°23′N, 25°14.3′E in Rhinia is 20 nM and from Naoussa 16 nM.
  13. The next port of call on the tour is cosmopolitan Ermoupolis/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BErmoupolis.5D.5DHarbour icon Ermoupolis [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Ermoupolis|Ermoupolis]] (Ερμούπολις) 37°26.1′N, 24°56.8′E , the capital of the Cyclades, in the island of Syros (Σύρος). The distance to Ermoupolis is:
    1. 16 nM WNW from South Bay, and
    2. 19 nM WSW from Mykonos Marina.
    • Syros is a lovely island well worth exploring by car.
  14. From Ermoupolis it is 26 nM NNW sail to Batsi/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BAndros-Greece.23Batsi.7CBatsi.5D.5DHarbour icon Batsi [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Batsi|Batsi]] (Μπατσί) 37°51.5′N, 24°47′E in the island of Andros (Άνδρος).
  15. Finally, we sail 26 nM SW from Batsi back to Vourkari, Kea/wiki/Cruising_the_Cyclades_Islands#.5B.5BKea.23Vourkari.7CVourkari.5D.5D.2C_.5B.5BKea.5D.5DHarbour icon Vourkari, Kea [[Cruising the Cyclades Islands#Vourkari, Kea|Vourkari, Kea]] (Βουρκάρι, Κέα) 37°40′N, 24°19.5′E in Kea thus completing our tour of the Cyclades.

Possible Arrival Points

You can stop your cruise in any of the islands but if you complete it you will end back in

Distance & Duration

See also Aegean Distances Tables.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)


See Aegean Sea.


See Aegean Sea.


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