Delos Island Highlights

Delos Island Highlights

Delos island boasts a history unlike anywhere else in Greece. A short boat ride from Mykonos gives you the opportunity to explore what the ancient Greeks called the birthplace of the immortals.

Delos Island is Special

Delos is one of the most fantastic archaeological sites in Greece — a unique and sacred uninhabited island of the ancients. If you plan for one cultural thing during your visit to Mykonos, I suggest taking time out to visit Delos.

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A view of Delos from what was once the commercial harbor as we approached by boat from Mykonos.

Delos History

The Cycladic islands got their name from the Greek word kyklos which means circle.  What were these islands encircling? Delos.  That was how important this island was in the glory days of ancient Greece.

Today, no other island on the planet boasts so many monumental artifacts and antiquities that hail from an era of fantastic culture and art. It took a bit of imagination to transform what was before me into the magnificent city it once was, but the elements were there.

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Views of an ancient and sacred island city.

Delos: The Birthplace of Immortals

Delos island was the mythical birthplace of twins Apollo, the god of light and Artemis, the goddess of the wilderness and fertility. Their birth rendered the island sacred meaning no mortal would ever be allowed to be born on Delos.

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Life on Ancient Delos

Ancient Delos was not only a shrine to the gods but a sacred treasury and commercial center. The Ionians, who came in the 10th-9th centuries, established Delos as the place to worship Apollo. By the 8th century B.C. ancient Greeks gathered on the island to worship Apollo and Artemis — in a big way. Annual festivals meant incredible parties complete with feasting, dancing, singing and athletic competitions.  By the Roman period, the island was very prosperous and utilized as an important port.

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Delos Island Highlights

I had a few hours to walk among the ruins and figure out what was what. I didn’t have a guide to tell me some neat facts but had read up on everything instead. Next time, I will definitely take a tour to gain more insight. There was too much to take in really in a short amount of time.

Stoas of Delos

Covered walkways or porticos used by the public.

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Agora of the Competaliasts

This marble circular building was located in the Agora of the Competaliasts, was dedicated to was dedicated to Hermes, the god of commerce. The agora was one of the main markets at the time where trade happened.

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Agora of the Competaliasts.

Ancient Theater of Delos and Residential Areas

An ancient theater on Delos island once accommodated 5,000 people. Also, check out the ruins of a wealthy neighborhood lied with what were once one- and two-story houses with beautiful floor mosaics. Most notable are the House of Dionysus, House of the Masks, House of Dolphins and House of Tritons.

Avenue of the Lions

This was the most recognizable sight of Delos island. They were plaster cast replicas; the real ones were displayed at the archaeological museum on the island.  The neighboring people of Naxos created sixteen of these fantastic marble sculptures to guard the island.

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Avenue of the Lions in Delos island.

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Lion of Delos.

The Archaeological Museum of Delos

Head to this museum to check out displays of antiquities, statues, mosaics and jewelry.

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Dionysos mosaic of a Delos temple.

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Archaeological Museum of Delos in the background.

Gymnasium

Gymnasium comes from a Greek word meaning naked. Men and boys stayed in shape at the Gymnasium on Delos, exercising in the nude. As one did during that time.

Mt. Kythnos

This was highest point on Delos island with several sanctuaries and beautiful views of neighboring islands.

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Some views around Delos.

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The Sacred Lake of Delos

There was once a sparkling lake. A stone wall that bordered it still stands and revealed where it once was.

The Sacred Way of Delos

The path was once lined with gorgeous marble statues and monuments leading to the Sanctuary of Apollo.

Sanctuary of Apollo

The Sanctuary of Apollo was the most important temple. The House of the Naxians was build next to it.  Beautiful marble and bronze structures and shrines occupied this part of the island in ancient times.

Sanctuary of Dionysus

Built in 300 B.C., the sanctuary had several monuments dedicated to Apollo, some obviously very phallic.

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Approaching the Temple of Apollo.

Fantastic Delos Island Facts

  • Delos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The island is just 5 kilometers long and 1,300 meters wide.
  • Delos island does not have a permanent population.
  • Overnight stays are forbidden.
  • Swimming is forbidden.

Delos Travel Tips

  • Check the docks in Mykonos Town for updated departure times. There are several boats that leave for the island.
  • The site is closed on Mondays.
  • Bring some water, the café on the island may run out during the summer months. Pack a snack if you tend to get hungry.
  • There isn’t much shade on Delos.  Be sure to wear a hat. Bring sunscreen.
  • Wear walking shoes and comfortable clothing.
  • Four hours are allotted when visiting Delos. The last boat returns to Mykonos in the afternoon.
  • You can hire a private guide or go with a tour group to learn even more about the site.

How to Get to Delos Island

Daily boats depart from the old port of Mykonos, weather permitting.  The trip takes 20-30 minutes. Departures are at 9.00 am or 10.00 am or 11.00 am. The boats return at 12.15, 13.30 and 15.00.

Caique boats also link Delos with Platis Gialos and Ornos beaches, but allow for three hours on the isle.

Tickets are €15 to Delos island. You can buy them from the boat kiosks or from travel agents.
There is an admittance fee of €6 for entering the archaeological site.

During the peak summer season, boats travel to/from neighboring Tinos and Naxos island, as well.

How to Get to Mykonos (So you can get to Delos)

By Air

To get to the Greek islands, many international travelers arrive by air, usually with a change in Athens or another major city.  There are some direct seasonal flights to certain island destinations too.  You can find the best flight deals with Vayama.

By Ferry

Ferry: There are ferries to the Athens port of  Piraeus and Rafina. Mykonos also connects with other islands including Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Syros, Crete and more.  I highly recommend booking with Blue Star Ferries.

Getting Around Mykonos

There is a public bus that runs regularly in the summer. It is popular, however, to rent quads and scooters to get around easily.  An international car rental company I can highly recommend is Avis Europe.

Where to Stay on Mykonos.

Check out my earlier post: Where to Stay on Mykonos

For more about what to do on Mykonos, check out my posts on this blog.

Have you ever been to Delos island?

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Explore Delos Island



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I'm a writer and journalist, originally from New York, now loving expat life in Athens. Join me on my travels as I explore Greece and Europe.

Comments

  1. Very interesting! I loved Delos when I went – very mystical.

  2. Delos is a must see for sure. It is an excellent cultural trip for anyone visiting Mykonos.

  3. […] windmills for a photo and the browse through the small museums here.  Take a day trip to nearby Delos, the sacred uninhabited island of the ancients where fantastic ruins will bring you back to the […]

  4. I saw an article before you own the hotel had visited my curiosity that did not tell you about other things that you did, but now I saw that you have different articles on his experience in Mykonos thing that impressed !! You blog and other islands; Did you have the same services to Mykonos vip to other islands in Greece;

    • Hi there! No, I don’t own any hotels LOL. Yes, I have had many travel experiences on Mykonos for sure. There are some islands that offer more VIP options while some simply don’t have them. I think that’s what makes the islands so unique. You can so many different kind of experiences. Was that your question?

  5. […] had been to Delos before and explored this mysterious and fascinating archaeological site by foot.  It was once a […]

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