If you’re on a quest to find the Greek island of your dreams, the sun-drenched Cyclades are the best place to start. Impossible to describe without sounding like a kitsch holiday brochure, the islands boast stunning azure coves perfect for afternoon siestas and skinny dipping – yes, they’re that secluded. Add white washed villages, pretty churches and awe-inspiring archaeological sites to the mix, and you’ll have the very best of Greece at your beck and call.
Day One – Paros
After spending the morning soaking up the vibe in Mikonos, Greece’s answer to St-Tropez and Ibiza (only better), you’ll sail to laidback Paros to enjoy its relative quietude. Work on your tan amid dramatic granite blocks at Kolymbithres beach or dive into Paros’ excellent windsurfing, kite-surfing and diving opportunities. Celebrate the first day of your Cyclades yacht charter by throwing your taste buds a curve ball at Barbarossa, a restaurant known for its contemporary Greek cuisine.
Day Two – Ios
It’s surprisingly easy to avoid Ios’ party-hardy crowds. Find your rustic bliss by hiking little-used trails to hilltop monasteries or your seaside tranquillity by hiding on a remote sandy beach. Manganari beach is far from the capital’s madding crowds and perfect for a lazy siesta after lunch. The calm, crystalline waters make the beach ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Fun fact: Manganari’s snow-white sand and dazzling blue sea are seen in Luc Besson’s epic film Le Grand Blue.
Day Three – Santorini
The best way to soak up Santorini’s startling coastal views is by walking along the clifftops from Fira to Oia. Rewards on arrival include ice-cold Yellow Donkey beers and a sunset that will stay with you long after your Cyclades yacht charter has ended. If you prefer to spend your day horizontally (who could ever blame you?) head to white beach to be dazzled by its insanely beautiful colour scheme. Oenophiles can sip their way through the afternoon on a stellar Santo Wines wine-tasting excursion.
Day four- Milos
Although Milo boasts some of the best beaches in the Aegean, it’s so often overlooked. This means you’ll have beaches like Sarakiniko, one of Greece’s most startling natural attractions, practically to yourself. Sarakiniko entices sunworshippers with its topaz coloured sea and sandy beach while Instagrammers are lured in by its surreal rock formations. In the evening, delight on authentic Greek cuisine under a canopy of pink bougainvillaea at Oh Hamos, a rustic family-run restaurant.
Day Five – Sifnos
Sifnos is known as a haven for ceramicists and basket weavers so it’s the perfect place to find the most delightfully unique souvenirs. Browse boutiques hidden along winding streets for artisan-made ceramics and baskets or visit colourful workshops and see talented potters in action. The island is also known for its sizzling food scene and Sifnos’ unassuming little port, Kamares, has plenty of restaurants where you can discover what that delicious fuss is all about. Charming Delfini, with its waterside terrace, is our favourite.
Day Six – Serifos
Serifos is the ideal place for nature lovers and water babies who prefer to keep their idyllic beaches to themselves. The island’s best coves (Kalo, Vagia and Skala) are only reachable by boat or teeth-rattling dirt tracks which means you can sunbathe in blissful solitude. Naturists can explore Serifos’ raw rugged beauty on a network of marked hiking trails that guide you to anything from pretty churches and quaint villages to fascinating archaeological remains.
Day Seven – Kythnos
Low-key Kythnos shines through its verdant hills, scented gardens and dreamy beaches. Its capital, Hora, hides labyrinthine lanes where you’ll find gorgeous white churches, small cafes called ‘kafenia’ and boutiques selling handmade ceramics. After sauntering around Hora all afternoon, head to Loutra, a photogenic natural harbour. Here, you can plonk yourself down at a café at the water’s edge and dig your toes in the sand while admiring Loutra’s purple-toned sunset.
Day Eight – Athens
Your last port of call is Athens, where you can explore the attractions of an exciting capital city while soaking up landmarks that are centuries, or even millennia, old. For example, the jaw-dropping and world-famous Acropolis, built in the 5th century BC, can be admired from almost every corner of the city. Athens’ creative street-art means eclectic cultural surprises lie around every corner too. Cap off your Cyclades yacht charter at a rooftop restaurant (like Sense) and be rewarded with contemporary Greek cuisine and breathtaking Parthenon views.