Greece: A Cycladic Sojourn

Santorini, Mykonos, Tinos





Map of Greece and Cycladic islands

The Cyclades is a group of islands, south east of Athens in the Aegean Sea. It comprises some of the most famous islands in the world, making a trip to the Cyclades a memorable experience of a lifetime. The Cyclades derives from the word ‘cyclos’ which means circle in Greek, as the islands of the Cyclades form a circle around Delos, the sacred island of the ancient Greek god Apollo. The islands are visited by millions of tourists every year, being easily accessible by ferry or plane.

Cyclades, Greece

The Cyclades group is popular for gorgeous beaches, crystal clear waters, unique architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. In all there are more than 200 islands, though many of them are uninhabited. They conjure up an image of whitewashed houses, blue domed churches, colourful flowers and narrow alleys. But the character, culture and cuisine are distinct to each island. Some of the most popular islands are Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Tinos, Ios, Sifnos, Amorgos and Syros.


(Around 1 hour by flight or 5 hours by ferry from Athens)


, also known as Thira, is one of the most famous islands in the world. The awe inspiring topography is created due to  volcanic eruptions over thousands of years. The resulting Caldera (crater) creates breathtaking views from around the island and the most magical sunsets ever. The white and blue buildings, the red and black volcanic sand beaches and the rocky landscape combine to impart a unique character to the island.

Santorini, Greece

The most well known villages of Santorini are Fira, Oia, Imerovigli and Firostefani. Fira is the picturesque capital and sits perched atop the top edge of the caldera offering magical views on the Aegean Sea. Sunsets are best watched from Oia. Imerovigli and Firostefani too offer great views over the caldera. Both offer more tranquil surroundings compared with Fira and Oia. There are numerous hotels, from luxurious lodgings to beachfront resorts, villas and boutique hotels.

Culinary specialities of Santorini:

The fertile volcanic soil of Santorini combined with the Aegean weather aid in the cultivation of top quality agricultural produce. Most famous amongst these are Fava beans, White Aubergines, Capers, Cherry Tomatoes, Pistachios and Grapes. Creative chefs make innovative dishes out of these local products making Santorini a gastronomic destination as well. Some popular dishes are Tomato Balls, Fava beans with capers and onions, Chloro cheese and desserts like Meletinia and Koufeto. Cooking classes are available for those who are interested.

Vegetables of Santorini
Vegetables of Santorini

Restaurants, Cafés and Tavernas are present all around the island, some overlooking the Aegean Sea and the volcano. The gastronomy centers mainly around traditional local recipes and Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.

Wines of Santorini:


A significant part of Santorini’s culture is the island’s wine industry. Vine cultivation seems to have been an occupation since prehistoric times. The volcanic soil and the Mediterranean climate aid in producing healthy vines. The yields are low but the grapes are of a very high quality. 

Grapes of Santorini

Santorini is best known for its dry white wines. The wines are crisp, aromatic, acidic and refreshing and made predominantly from Assyrtiko grapes. This variety is the most cultivated on the island, the others being Athiri and Aidani

Wines of Santorini

The red wines are made from Mandilaria and Mavrotragano grapes. Mandilaria is the second most planted variety and produces light bodied deep coloured wines. High quality dry red wines are produced from Mavrotragano grapes, having a smoky and mineral taste. 

Dessert wine of Santorini

A sweet dessert wine, Vinsanto is made from a blend of all the three white grapes. It is a complex wine with rich aromas of coffee, dried fruits, nuts and caramel. It pairs well with cheese, dried fruits, chocolate and baklava.Nykteri is another popular white wine that has a high alcohol content. 

On the island, many wineries are open to visitors for a tour and tasting. Some of them are listed below:

Santo wines
Venetsanos Winery
Gavalas winery
Estate Argyros
Gaia wines

Things to do in Santorini:

Sunset in Oia:

Sunset in Oia

Oia is the best place on the island to watch the magical sunsets of Santorini. 


Akrotiri village, in southern Santorini, is a well preserved archaeological site exhibiting remains of a prehistoric settlement. 

The Beaches:

Santorini is home to some very colourful and unique beaches.

Red beach, Santorini

The Red Beach is one of the most popular ones, the unusual red colour being a result of the red volcanic rock surrounding it.

Perissa  is a beautiful black sand beach, lined with cafes, bars, shops and restaurants.

Kamari beach

Kamari beach is another lively black sand and pebble beach near the Perissa beach. 


Shopping in Santorini

Around the cobblestoned streets of Fira and Oia, there are many souvenir and boutique shops. A wide range of local craft products, clothing, jewellery, artwork etc. is available to satisfy all kinds of tourists.


(Around 3 hours by ferry from Santorini)


is another extremely popular island of the Cyclades. It is a lively, cosmopolitan destination having golden sandy beaches lined with bars, clubs, shops and art galleries. The villages are picturesque with narrow paved streets, whitewashed houses with colourful wooden balconies, chapels and windmills.

Map of Mykonos

The main towns are
Mykonos Town (Chora), Ano Mera, Ornos, and Platys Gialos.

Mykonos Town

Mykonos Town
is the capital of the island. It is a lively town with beautiful scenery, whitewashed houses with bougainvillea filled balconies, luxury shopping, stunning churches and picturesque windmills. It is a lovely place to wander around and experience a vibrant nightlife.

Ano Mera, Mykonos

Ano Mera
is a traditional neighbourhood with family run tavernas and a pretty town square. There are two historic monasteries on Ano Mera which are worth visiting. 

Ornos, Mykonos

is a family friendly area with calm waters and beachfront restaurants. It is home to luxury yachts as well as fishing boats and offers a wide range of accommodation.

Platys Gialos

Platys Gialos
is famous for high-end resorts and hotels. The sea front is lined with cafés, restaurants and beach clubs offering umbrellas, sun loungers and food. A range of water sports such as parasailing, windsurfing and yachting are also available.

Some popular restaurants in Mykonos:

Mykonos has a variety of restaurants offering a great range of culinary styles. From seafront places to tiny tavernas, it is easy to find something to suit your palate. 

Restaurant in Mykonos




Sightseeing in Mykonos:

Aside from its lively beaches and vibrant nightlife, Mykonos has many points of interest for the visitors. 

The Windmills:

The windmills of Mykonos

The windmills of Mykonos
are an integral part of its history and landscape. Though no longer operational, they are a symbol of  Mykonos’ past. Most windmills can be found in Mykonos Town  (Chora) and Little Venice area (south of Mykonos Town). 

Delos Island:

Delos island, Cyclades
Delos island, Cyclades

is a small island that can be reached by boat from Mykonos town. According to mythology, the Greek god Apollo and the goddess Artemis were born on Delos. That is why it was considered to be the most sacred island of Greece. The archaeological sites have earned Delos the Unesco World Heritage designation. There are extensive excavations revealing ancient architectural ruins making the half day trip from Mykonos worth it. The archaeological museum displays a rich collection of sculptures, vases, inscriptions etc.


(Around 20 min from Mykonos by ferry)

Tinos island

is a popular island, easily accessible from Athens or the nearby islands of Mykonos, Paros and Naxos. It has charming villages and pristine sandy beaches. There are around 750 chapels and churches around Tinos making it a pilgrims’ destination. The island’s church Panagia Megalochari is one of the most visited religious monuments in Greece. Aside from this significance, Tinos is visited for its hiking trails, surfing and culinary offerings.

Tinos island

The Villages of Tinos:

Tinos has many picturesque villages built in the traditional architectural style. They have the typical cobblestone streets, white cubic houses and bougainvillea filled courtyards for which the Cycladic islands are famous. And they were home to many great Greek sculptors whose marble carving craft is visible in the many chapels, fountains, arches, dovecotes etc. The Cultural Center and the Museum of Marble Crafts display Neohellenic sculptures by renowned artists of that period.

The main villages on Tinos are Kardiani, Isternia, Pyrgos, Volax, Kalloni etc. 

Tinos island

is built into the slope of a mountain and has one of the most spectacular sea views in Tinos. The ancient marble tradition is evident in the streets and the churches which are declared works of art. 


Isternia too has incredible views of the Aegean Sea. There are plenty of cafés and bars in the village where you can enjoy a coffee or sip a cocktail while enjoying a splendid sunset. 

Pyrgos is the biggest and the most scenic village in Tinos. It gives the feel of an outdoor museum, with a strong marble art culture. There are many marble sculpting workshops as well as museums.  

Culinary experiences in Tinos:


Tinos has a strong gastronomic culture based on its local produce. Special amongst them are artichokes, capers, dried tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs, thyme honey, cheese, figs, lemon, olives and pears. The wines produced in Tinos have also gained a reputation for themselves. Traditional flavours, modern recipes and warm hospitality are the ingredients of Tinos’ culinary philosophy. This has led to the introduction of the very successful Tinos Food Paths, which is an annual gastronomy festival, arranged by local professionals. It is well attended by visitors from all over Greece and Europe.



Some of the mouth watering dishes served are fennel doughnuts, artichoke omelettes, fennel fritters, artichoke salad and pies and pastries filled with custard. With many restaurants, cafés, tavernas and wineries, Tinos has a thriving food scene that is waiting to be discovered. It is a wonderful, quiet island to visit after the busy, touristy islands of Santorini and Mykonos.

With a flight connection to Athens from Mykonos, or a direct ferry from Tinos to Athens, this culinary journey to the Cyclades comes to an end. 

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