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help planning my cyclades' island route ?

my boyfriend and I (age 23) are coming in from Germany to Greece for about 16 days (mid to late august) The only island I am certain of that we want to visit is Santorini. After some research Iv'e decided its best we stick with the cyclade islands so we can commute easily from island to island. So far my plan is to fly into Athens in the morning and directly fly out to Santorini that evening. We don't really care for Athens but we will save it for the last 2 days, to catch our flight back securely.

Now the islands I narrowed it down which I like best are (in no order) Milos, Paros, Mykonos and Naxos. Ideally I would like to spend about 4 days per island.

we would like some nightlife, so I was going to go with Mykonos but I decided its probably a bit too expensive and although we prefer some nightlife, I'm sure the other islands can offer that too (although I'm aware not as much, which is ok)

we really don't want to be just laying pool side or by the beach the entire time, although we want to see beautiful beaches and swim of course, we prefer islands that have more to offer. We enjoy hiking, activities, would love to explore picturesque villages, boat tours, etc.

I've read about each island and they all sound great, but its definitely hard to choose which one would be better for us.

I believe I narrowed it down to

day 1- fly into Athens in the morning, take flight out to Santorini in afternoon or evening

Santorini for 3 nights maximum ( or would you recommend just 2? )

Now I have no idea yet which islands are closest to which so If any of you know I would greatly appreciate it.

Day 4,5,6,7 - Naxos ? Can we take any day trips from Naxos to another island ?

day 8,9,10,11 - Paros ? This island seems beautiful

day 12,13,14 -? not sure if we should do Mykonos or Milos. budget wise I know Milos would be better, however I am tempted to visit Mykonos because of all the "hype" . not sure

Day 15 and 16 would be in Athens where we will catch our flight back.

This is just a rough draft, we are able to cut a day or even add a day as we haven't booked any flights or anything yet.

I think most likely what I will do is actually just stay 3 nights Santorini, 5 days on Naxos, 5 days Paros, 2 days Athens.

With day trips from Naxos and Paros to some of the close islands.

Posted by
11123 posts

On Paros, you can also visit adjacent Antiparos, a bonus. Paros and Naxos were our favorite of the Cycladic Islands and are near each other, Santorini our least favorite. We stayed out a beach on Mykonos and did not encounter any partying after hearing all the hype. We had better Greek experiences on Naxos and Paros without the cruise ship hordes. Also look at Syros.

Posted by
1157 posts

I haven't been to Santorini so can't comment on it . . . it's one of those islands that apparently people will love or not due to the crowds. However it may be what you want so go for it. 2-3 days is probably enough then you can ferry to Naxos, one of the best of the Greek Islands with something for everyone. I spent 8 days there and could have stayed longer! You can do a day cruise to Delos/Mykonos with Delos one of Greece's best archeological sites from Naxos. The entire island is off-limits for living there. Mykonos is another island that you'll like or not due to the crowds but at least you'll get a taste for it to see if it's for you. Since you'll be on Santorini I would omit Mykonos and spend more time on Naxos.

You can then ferry to Paros from Naxos and maybe spend the extra time there as opposed to staying on Mykonos. I haven't been to Paros but from all accounts it's another of Greece's nicer islands.

Milos is a very nice island that you can get to from Paros and/or Naxos. It's known for nice beaches and unique geological formations. We spent 4 days there and it was enough time to see the entire island.

Here's a link for a map of the Greek Mainland and Islands which will show you how close or far apart they are and ferry routes. There may be more island options from Santorini like Amorgos, a gem of an island which you then can ferry to Naxos. Click on the + sign to zoom in.

Posted by
3118 posts

Google Maps will give you a look at which islands are closest to Santorini: Zoom in for more details. Ios is well-known as a 20-something party island during the summer months. It's very close to Santorini and your money will go far there.

Posted by
1362 posts

Milos is a bit hard to get to as it is kind of all by itself so dropping it is probably a good idea.
Since you are young and are looking for some nightlife perhaps you might want to consider Ios. Its the first stop on the ferry route to Naxos. It is quite well known for its patry atmosphere but is just a fraction of what you will pay if you go to Mykonos.
Perhaps you can do two days there and do 4 in Naxos and Paros.

Naxos and Paros are both serviced by day excursion boats. they depart Naxos go to Paros to pick up passengers and do day trips to the small Cyclades islands and also do a great excursion to Delos and Mykonos. That way you get a taste of Mykonos whit out having to pay Mykonos prices. If you want to do the excursion its probably better to do it from Paros as you save the hour hop from Naxos to Paros.
Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos
Day trip Delos and Mykonos