Archaeological buffs and lovers of legends can't miss a trip to the sacred island of Delos, the archaeological jewel of the Cyclades. Travelers can see firsthand where the ancients lived and clamber over the ruins they left behind. Held sacred as the mythological birthplace of Apollo, Delos was at the heart of the ancient world as an important religious and commercial center, reaching its zenith in the Hellenic period around the 5th century BC.
The huge site sprawls along the island’s west coast, from the stadium in the north to the old trading warehouses to the south. Standouts include the Sanctuary of Apollo temples and the Terrace of the Lions. The remains of private houses surround the semicircular theater, and the site includes several agoras, monuments, sanctuaries and temples. You can see finds from the excavations at the site museum, including the original lions from the much-photographed Terrace of the Lions. Another must-do is the climb up nearby Mt Kythnos for views over the island, sea and site.
Delos lies a 30-minute sail southwest of Mykonos, only 5km (less than 1 mile) away. You can take an organized tour to Delos, or catch a boat from Chora Mykonos. Factoring in the return boat trips, stays on Delos are a maximum of six or seven hours.
You can’t stay overnight on Delos, which has been uninhabited since 478 BC. Facilities are limited, so pack a picnic and bring all the essentials, including a sunhat and walking shoes.