Among the thousands of islands dotting the Greek deep blue seas, in the middle of the azure basin of the Aegean, stand the enigmatic Cyclades. The Cyclades island group add up to a total of 19 islands. Each of these islands have their own history and character and tend to make the decision of where to go quite difficult for the visitor. However, the majority of tourists tend to visit the most cosmopolitan and lively islands of the Cyclades: Santorini, Ios, Paros, Naxos and Mykonos. With Santorini as a starting point, a visit to the hotspots of the Cyclades is a certainly a must!
Towards the south of Naxos, between Sikinos and Santorini, lies the island of Ios. This is a mountainous island which has no cultivable tracts of land and its coast consists of dozens of tiny bays and three larger ones: Agia Theodora (east), Kalamos (southwest) and Mylopotamos (west). This island possesses wonderful sandy beaches, a variety of churches, a crystal clear sea and a majestic landscape with olive trees, vineyards and clean air, which forms a combination which tourists, mainly the young, cannot resist.
This island earned itself a rather negative reputation in the 1960s and 1970s as a groovy hippie hangout. Over the past years this image has mellowed, but Ios still is considered the party island of the Cyclades, as youth from all over the world make their presence apparent each summer.
Paros, the third largest island of the Cyclades after Naxos and Andros, has become one of the most popular islands of the Cyclades over the past couple of years. This island has crystal – clear waters, sandy beaches and marvelous examples of Cycladic architecture combined with a cosmopolitan life – elements that attract Greeks and foreigners each year. Rolling hills surround the center and south – east of the island, which is agricultural and occupied by endless vineyards, and contain the famous Parian marble – well – known since antiquity for its exquisite quality. This island has a full range of tourist amenities and is offered for vacations with high specifications. The fact that many tourists visit the island more than once is not strange at all.
Naxos, in between Mykonos, Amorgos and Paros, is not only the largest island in the Cyclades but also the most fertile. As one will notice on the map, this island lies almost in the center of the Aegean. Visitors will have quite a lot to see here as the meadows run down to vast beaches, cliff sinking suddenly in the sea, rocky mountains with fertile valleys and springs and streams throughout the island. In addition to its agricultural production, Naxos has considerable mineral wealth (marble, granite, emery). Its green landscape, endless sandy beaches, picturesque villages, Venetian castles and many archaeological and historical monuments attract a herd of visitors , particularly those who enjoy hikes.
Naxos’ exclusive atmosphere is most evident in the old town (Palia Hora), with the imposing churches and the enigmatic Portara, from which one can gaze through and enjoy the romantic sunset.
MYKONOS ISLAND: (www.mykonos.net)
An island with a reputation such as Mykonos has, with a high tourism rate and a rather artificial lifestyle, inevitable has both fanatic friends and critics. As one will notice, everything about this island is combined exquisitely. Mykonos provides everything anyone could imagine, accompanied by an international crowd.
Mykonos, situated between Tinos, Naxos and Syros, is not only a crazy, party island, but also a picturesque summer resort with all- white houses near the crystal- clear waters of the Aegean. The tourist who visits Mykonos will become acquainted with jagged coasts, impressive rocks, old cottage houses, countless secluded churches, huge windmills and much more! As for nightlife, Mykonos is the place to be! The island is a unique sample of Cycladic town planning and architecture, with a special charm. In Mykonos, one has the chance of “bumping” into intellectuals, politicians, artists, members of the international jet- set, fashion designers, tycoons, top models, photographers, archaeologists etc. Despite the huge tourist development, Mykonos still maintains its traditional character.
To get to any one of the Cycladic islands, travelers can either take ferry boat ride from Piraeus or Rafina port or through a quick flight. Islands with airports and flight connections are Syros, Mykonos, Paros, Santorini and Milos.
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