6 archaeological sites in the Cyclades: a journey back in time

Site de Thera à Santorin

Discover our selection of archaeological gems in the Cyclades and immerse yourself in the historical and cultural heritage of ancient Greece.

Ready to take a trip back in time? The Cyclades archipelago is a prime destination for discovering the region’s rich cultural and historical heritage. This archipelago is an invitation to travel to the heart of an ancient and mythical Greece. In this article, we present the most fascinating archaeological sites in the Cyclades. Incredible historical epics await you!

Akrotiri, the sunken city of Santorini

sites archeologiques cyclades akrotiri

Photo credit: trabantos / Shutterstock

  • 🏝 Island: Southwest of Santorini
  • 🤩 Characteristic: Minoan city engulfed in ashes
  • 💙 We like: Colorful frescoes and well-preserved advanced architectural structures

A unique and fascinating experience for your trip to the Cyclades! Akrotiri, the sunken city of Santorini, is an archaeological site not to be missed. This ancient Minoan city, buried under the ashes of the Santorini volcano eruption in 1627 BC, is an exceptional testimony to Greek antiquity.

When you visit this archaeological site, you’ll have the chance to discover a surprisingly large, well-preserved ancient city, with colorful frescoes and complex architectural structures. Archaeologists have worked tirelessly to uncover this ancient city and have succeeded in preserving much of it, offering a unique opportunity to see how the Greeks lived thousands of years ago.

To fully appreciate your visit to Akrotiri, we recommend a guided tour to learn more about the city’s history. You’ll also have the opportunity to admire the extraordinary frescoes of this ancient city, considered by some to be the finest of Greek antiquity.

The sanctuary of Apollo on Delos

sites archeologiques cyclades sanctuaire apollon

Photo credit: Lev Levin / Shutterstock

  • 🏝 Island: Northwest of Delos
  • 🤩 Characteristic: Ancient sacred site with temples and monuments from different periods
  • 💙 We like: Admire temples and monuments from different eras, enjoy panoramic views of the Aegean Sea

The Greek island of Delos is home to one of the most important and fascinating archaeological sites in the Cyclades: the Sanctuary of Apollo. This ancient place of worship, dedicated to the Greek god Apollo, was considered one of the most sacred places in ancient Greece. The sanctuary is made up of temples and monuments dating from different eras, bearing witness to the region’s rich and complex history.

A visit to this sanctuary of Apollo is an opportunity to better understand the importance of the island of Delos in the history of ancient Greece. What’s more, the sanctuary offers spectacular panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. It’s an ideal place to visit if you’re a keen photographer!

What makes this archaeological site so special is its close relationship with the legends of Greek mythology. Indeed, Delos is considered the legendary birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, giving the sanctuary a special place in the country’s history. If you’d like to learn more about the site, you can take a guided tour that provides more information about its importance in Greek mythology.

Ancient Thera and its ruins on Santorini

sites archeologiques cyclades ancienne thera

Photo credit: Klaus Brauner / Shutterstock

  • 🏝 Island: Center of Santorini
  • 🤩 Characteristic: Ancient primordial city of the island
  • 💙 We like: The mix of architecture and periods in the ruins

Back to Santorini, to the ancient city of Théra (or Ancient Thira)! This ancient island capital is located on the plateau of Mount Messavouno, some 400 metres above the Aegean Sea. Ruins dating back to Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times can be found here, including houses, temples, squares and roads.

There’s also a small archaeological museum in Thera, displaying archaeological finds from Santorini, including sculptures, inscriptions and pottery. As an added bonus, you can even see graffiti dating back to 800 BC!

The Ancient Theatre of Milos

Théâtre antique de Milos face à la mer

Shutterstock – proslgn

  • 🏝 Island: Village of Tripiti, Milos
  • 🤩 Characteristic: Built by the Romans, destroyed by earthquakes, rebuilt on its ruins
  • 💙 We love: the theater’s spectacular panoramic view of the Aegean Sea

Discover the splendor of antiquity with a visit to the Ancient Theater of Milos. Nestled in the charming village of Tripiti, this historic gem is just one kilometer from Plaka. Stroll down the path from Klima (40 minutes), or opt for a winding drive that will take around 15 minutes.

When you arrive, history comes to life. Take a comfortable seat on the theater steps. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a lost civilization, admiring the restored architectural elements such as the stage, the five staircases and the marble ornaments. If you’re lucky enough to visit Milos during the summer season, find out more about the program of theatrical and musical performances.

Built between the 1st and 4th centuries A.D., the Ancient Theatre of Milos survived Athenian attacks and was rebuilt on its own ruins. During your visit, imagine the stories that have marked this place, feel the freshness of the marble under your fingers, admire the breathtaking view of the sea and let yourself be carried away by the sound of the breeze caressing the theater’s terraces. It was here that the iconic « Venus de Milo » was discovered.

The archaeological site of the ancient city of Karthea in Kea

sites archeologiques cyclades karthea

Photo credit: Eleni Mavrandoni / Shutterstock

  • 🏝 Island: Southeast of Kea
  • 🤩 Characteristic: Ancient city with temples, theaters and sanctuaries from different eras
  • 💙 We like: A well-preserved ancient city, enjoy panoramic views of the Aegean Sea

Walk in the footsteps of one of the Cyclades’ most fascinating archaeological sites. It’s the ancient city of Karthea, located on the island of Kea – a true jewel of antiquity.

The ancient city of Karthéa was an important city in antiquity, with temples, theaters and sanctuaries dating back to different eras. Many of these historic structures are still well preserved today! On a tour of the ancient city, you’ll discover its many hidden treasures and learn more about daily life in antiquity.

As well as discovering the historical heritage, you’ll also be dazzled by the panoramic views of the Aegean Sea all around. Take advantage of this unique atmosphere to lose yourself in the streets of the city and its adjacent hills!

To make the most of your visit, we recommend that you take a guide who will introduce you to the history of the ancient city. This is an escapade in time that will leave you with memories and emotions for life!

Portara, the gateway to the temple of Apollo on Naxos

Site antique de Portara à Naxos

Shutterstock – vivooo

  • 🏝 Island: Islet of Palatia, Naxos
  • 🤩 Characteristic: monumental gate, unfinished, surrounded by mystery and legends
  • 💙 We like: the possibility of admiring a sunset through the door

The majestic marble portal of Portara, also known as the Temple of Apollo, is the jewel of Naxos. Situated on the islet of Palatia, just off the port, this historic monument is easily accessible via a causeway.

To visit this ancient site, be prepared for a short climb up to the structure. Climbing the hill may seem difficult, but the experience is well worth it. The sight of the sun setting over the magnificent Portara is not to be missed. Take the opportunity to explore the ruins of the ancient temple, and soak up the history of this unique place.

The Portara is an emblematic monument of ancient Greece. Erected in the 6th century BC during the reign of the tyrant Lygdamis, it was intended as the entrance to a gigantic temple, although it was never completed. Its history is steeped in legend and controversy – dedicated to Apollo, Dionysus, or perhaps Athena? As you stroll around the site, let yourself be carried away by the mystical atmosphere, the salty sea breeze and the song of the seabirds.

As you journey through the archaeological sites of the Cyclades, you will have touched on the incredible cultural and historical depth of this region. Each site is a portal to a bygone era, inviting you on an unforgettable temporal adventure. So, are you ready to pull up anchor and sail through the ages, listening to the thousand-year-old murmur of the Cyclades?