Sailing Ancient Delos

The Cyclades name comes from the Greek ‘kyklos” which means circle, Delos the sacred island is the center of this Cyclades archipelago. Delos is located next to Mykonos and easy to visit in a day trip.

Delos Background

Delos is one of the most important historical, mythological and archaeological places in Greece. Delos is the mythical birthplace of the twins Apollo and Artemis, the daughters of Zeus and Leto. This must visit Apollonian sanctuary is only 5 km long and 1,3 km wide and established at least since the 9th century BC.

Delos reached his glory peak when Greeks gathered here to worship Apollo (god of light, harmony and balance) who was after Zeus (King of the gods) the most important god in the Greek mythologic. Centuries later the commercial activities developed rapidly at the duty-free port of Delos. Rich merchants, bankers, ship-owners from all over the world settled here attracting craftsmen to build their luxurious houses.

Delos was attacked a couple of times and was abandoned around 69 BC and the decline started rapidly thereafter. In 1872 the excavations started and are still going on. Delos is on the UNESCO World Heritage list; it’s not difficult to go back in time in this ancient city.

Visiting Options

There are three options to visit Delos during the day; it is forbidden to stay on the island after 20:00PM. Boats to and from Delos run from Mykonos, Paros and Naxos.

  1. You can book a multi-lingual guided tours to Delos from Mykonos (50EUR) including boat transfer, entrance fee and guide. The tour will take four hours.
  2. You can go by yourself as well, taking the boat (20 EUR return) pay the entrance fee of 12 EUR, do the tour and museum on your own or get a guide at the entrance (10 EUR).
  3. My favorite option but the most expensive one (110 EUR). Full day sailing tour with one hour on Delos (12 EUR) including lunch and drinks. See below a more detailed description of this sailing tour.

I was lucky during my Delos visit! The British artist Antony Gormley had an extraordinary exhibition. All over the Delos island his impressive metal sculptures and installations were displayed. It was really an added value to my Delos experience, loved the sudden surprise when another metal sculpture was displayed in some corner. His sculptures taking a naturalistic, cubic and more abstracted forms, either stand or lie on the ground, exposed to the elements. I even saw one in the water!

Question: How many Antony Gormley sculptures do you count in my pictures in this blog? Scroll down for the answer.

Sailing tour to Delos

This option is the best for people that like culture but want to relax and enjoy the scenery too; of course you must be comfortable on a sailing boat. The advantage of this tour is, that it’s not main stream. The Delos tours on option 1 are very busy, 50 people all at once. This sailing trip from Set Sail is with only ten people on board (including crew).

It’s more intimate and personal and you could be on your own. The sailing boat sets sail at 10:oo AM from the New Port in Mykonos and anchored at the bay in front of Delos; a small dinghy brings you to shore. There you can visit Delos on your own with the map you receive from the ticket office. I passed many guided tours when I walked to the museum to see the statues excavated from the island.

I walked to several sacred places and saw many temples including the theater. The views (you can walk up 113 meters on Mt Kynthos to have the best views) are splendid with the blue sea in the background.

Tip: Bring water, sunscreen and a hat; the sun can be strong and on Delos are hardly any places to hide from the sun. 

After one hour on Delos, we sailed to the next island Rineia. We spent the afternoon at this amazing bay. We had lunch on board; feta salad, pasta with tuna and wine. Music was playing, chatted with my fellow crewmembers and we jumped in the clear azure waters and even snorkeled a bit. Perfect way to spent my last day in Greece!

On the way back the wind picked up and sailed back to Mykonos. The waives splashed over the front of the boat and us; but I was still smiling! The boat did a detour past the windmills and Little Venice and then headed back to the New Port. I definitely recommend this tour if you like culture but not for five hours but for only one and the rest of the day chill and enjoy the clear waters of Greece!

Answer: You can count five Antony Gormley’s sculptures. If you had four, I approve. The first  sculpture in the first picture is indeed very very tiny to spot…. (left top corner)

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