Cyclades Islands Adventure: Exploring the Coast, Cuisine and Villages of Paros and Naxos
This eight-day Cyclades Islands adventure takes in Athens and the lesser-known Cyclades Islands of Paros and Naxos. Start with a historic tour of the Acropolis and evening cruise in the Saronic Gulf then head to the Cyclades Islands for windsurfing, cooking classes and relaxing beach days.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Explore the Acropolis in Athens on an evening tour learning about Ancient Greece
- Cruise through the waters of the Saronic Gulf on a sunset cruise
- Take to the waves for a windsurfing lesson in Paros
- Feast on fine local food, learning about Greek produce in Naxos
- Relax on the beach or potter around villages exploring both Paros and Naxos
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Day 1: Arriving in Athens and an Evening at the Acropolis
Your Cyclades Islands adventure starts this morning as you head to the airport for your flight from London to Athens, which takes just under four hours. You'll land in Athens in the early afternoon. Your driver will meet you at the airport for your private transfer to the centre of the city.
You have an hour or two to settle in before meeting your guide at the gates of the Acropolis for an evening tour of one of the most important ancient sites in the Western world. The Acropolis has stood watch over Athens for nearly 3,200 years. Crowned by the Parthenon, the site is visible from almost anywhere in the city. Tonight you will be exploring the well-trodden walkways with an expert guide, finding out more about the history and the secrets hidden within its monuments and sanctuaries. As the sun sinks and the tour continues, the area takes on a honey hue and come nightfall, the whole monument stands brilliantly illuminated above Greece's capital.
After the evening's history lesson, should you need any recommendations for a delicious first dinner it's time to put our clued-up local Concierge to the test.
- See an open-air concert from May - October
- Dine in one of many of Athens rooftop restaurants and admire the magnificent views
Day 2: Athens by Boat
After yesterday's long day, enjoy a leisurely morning before a delicious lunch. Then it's time to get your sea legs ready as you take to the waves. Make your way to the harbour at nearby Piraeus to hop on your sailing boat for an afternoon/evening sunset cruise.
Gliding through the shimmering sunlit waters, you'll cruise the Saronic Gulf, passing the islands that dot its waters. These are the closest islands to Athens, and you'll have a tantalising taste of island life as the wind catches in the sails and you sit, sipping cocktails, watching the sun sink in the sky. The skipper is happy to go through the basics of sailing if you are interested in learning but if not, sit back and relax; watching the waves break against the bow of the boat.
Dinner is served as you cruise, dip into Greek meze (bite-size eats) and wine to fuel your evening adventure, before returning to the harbour and home, or to enjoy some Athenian nightlife.
Day 3: To Paros
It's an early start this morning, as you transfer back to Athens airport in time to catch your early morning flight to Paros, the next stop on your Cyclades Islands adventure. You'll be in the air for around 45 minutes, heading south east over the Aegean Sea towards the beautiful Cyclades Islands.
Once you land it's time to collect your hire car and make your way to your hotel. When you have settled into your room, head out into the sun for your first day on the island - you have the rest of the day at your leisure.
A large, hilly and fertile island, Paros is peppered with the marks of many an ancient civilisation, from the Cretans and Minoans to the Macedonians and Romans, it is home to the treasures they left behind. You might want to explore the island's history or spend the day by the sea, lazing on the beach. The island's bustling capital with its ancient ruins is a wonderful place to while away an afternoon, as is the resort town of Naoussa and the charming rural villages that are dotted throughout the island. With wonderful walks on land and excellent windsurfing, kitesurfing and diving to be done in the water - there is plenty to do on this island.
Day 4: Windsurfing in Picture-Perfect Paros
Fuel up on a delicious breakfast, complete with lashings of golden Greek honey before hopping into your car.
After 45 minutes of driving you'll reach Windsurfing beach, which will be your classroom for the day. Your private windsurfing lesson on the beach will take you through the basics before you take to the waves for your first attempt in the water. Your lesson will last for an hour, after which you can relax with a cold drink or maybe another dip in the ocean.
While away a few hours on the beach, snoozing in the sun before driving back to your hotel via lovely Lefkes. The hilltop town clings to a natural amphitheatre, hidden in the hills beneath summits studded with old windmills. Wander through the town's pristine cobble-stoned alleyways past bright-blue doors and bright white walls. Nose around tiny shops, stopping to snap the views before hunger signals it's time for food. A local taverna is your best bet, (we can help with recommendations) serving up a feast of Greek food you'll leave feeling wonderfully full - ready to drive home to your hotel.
This evening relax at the hotel.
- Visit the town of Lefkes in the afternoon
Day 5: Explore More on Paros
Today on your Cyclades Islands adventure you can explore more of the island.
Use your hire car to visit hidden corners of the island, and our Concierge is on hand to recommend any last-minute plans. Visit Paros Park for beautiful views, hikes and and crystal-clear waters.
Day 6: Next up, Naxos
Pack up the car and head to Paros port, for the ferry to Naxos, the next port of call on this Cyclades Islands adventure. The ferry crossing takes around two hours, heading east. Once you have docked you can transfer from Naxos ferry port to your hotel.
The largest of the Cyclades, Naxos packs a punch - the island is home to pretty waterfront towns, Venetian mansions, mountain villages and isolated beaches - there is no shortage of things to do while staying on this jewel of the cerulean-blue Aegean.
You have the afternoon to spend as you wish, exploring the area, stepping out onto the sun-baked cobbles, the air heavy with the scent of olive trees and humming to the sound of cicadas.
As the sun sinks in the sky and casts a gold glow over the sugar-cube houses of Naxos, it's time to head out for an evening of food and history. A private food tasting and history tour awaits, as the table groans under the weight of the fresh produce of Naxos. The island's high mountains (higher than others in the Cyclades) form rain clouds and more rainfall means the island is greener and more fertile than other islands in the Cyclades. The western side of the island is where the delicious Naxian potatoes are grown, while the mountainous areas yield olive oil in the winter months. Follow your expert guide through the narrow lanes of Naxos Town (or Chora), gathering fresh produce. You'll sit down to sample local cheeses, wines and traditional dishes. You will also be taken on a short tour of a Venetian-era castle - to learn about how the three centuries of Venetian rule on the island has shaped the culture and architecture you see today.
Full up on delicious local specialties and wine its time to head back to your hotel.
Day 7: Exploring More on Naxos
Today you have the whole day to relax on this enchanting Greek isle.
You might want a lazy morning followed by relaxed wandering - winding through the streets, exploring the hidden corners and stopping by the waterfront for feast of Greek food. Naxos was the cultural centre of Classical Greece and the island is peppered with reminders of the island's historical past. You might want to explore the ruins of bygone eras, with the island's Byzantine, Venetian and Frankish influences creating a mosaic of history to explore on your Cyclades Islands adventure. Home to the highest peak in the Cyclades, you could hike Mt Zeus, or explore the island's interior finding the enchanting villages of Halki and Apiranthos.
We can help with recommending restaurants and hidden beaches, so you can be sure you'll make the most of your last day on this Greek island idyll.
- Go to the beach and relax!
- Head to Halki for a trek
- Take a tour of the island and its pretty inland villages
Day 8: Homeward Bound
This morning its time for your last breakfast in Naxos, before packing up and hopping into your private transfer, to begin your journey home.
You'll be catching an early morning flight from Naxos to Athens; it's a short flight so you'll only be in the air for 45 minutes. Your flight back to London leaves this afternoon, so you will have plenty of time to have lunch before boarding your four-hour flight back to London, touching down in the capital in the evening.
Charlotte H is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.