The small island of Delos has one of the most important archaeology sites in Greece. The only way to visit the site is to get a day return ferry from a nearby island (Mykonos, Paros or Naxos). 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.
Archaeological buffs and lovers of legends can’t miss a trip to the sacred island of Delos (Dilos), 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.
Whether you catch the ferry to Delos to take in as much of its cultural significance as you can, or go to experience for yourself one of the most evocative heritage sites in Greece, you will not be disappointed. The island of Delos truly does have something for everyone visiting Greece. Let’s visit Delos Island Greece! You can also visit our Cyclades Travel Guide for information on all the best Cyclades Islands.
Delos Weather (When to Visit)
The best time to visit is Delos is spring and early summer (mid-Apr to mid-June) or autumn (Sept to mid-Oct). This way, you’ll avoid the summer high season, with its inflated prices, hordes of tourists and high temperatures (heat waves of 100°F are routine). Avoid August, unless you really like scorching heat, crowds, and overbooked planes, ferry boats, and hotels. In the autumn, you will enjoy warm days with still-warm waters. One drawback: Off-season there are fewer boats and flights to the islands, where some shops, hotels, and restaurants do not open until June and then close in October.
Delos Top Attractions
Terrace of the Lions
Overlooking the Sacred Lake, the Terrace of the Lions is one of the most-photographed tourist attractions in Delos. It is home to a row of magnificent white marble lions — originally there were nine, but only five remain (in fact even these are replicas, the originals being on show in the Delos Museum).
The Sacred Precinct was approached from the south by a broad paved path, running between two Doric stoas to arrive at the second-century-BC Propylaia, the main gateway into the sanctuary. From here, you reach three parallel temples of Apollo, and opposite them, in the center of the precinct, the Keraton, an Ionic temple surrounded by columns built on granite foundations. The Keraton, which was dedicated to Apollo and contained a famous altar with rams’ horns set round it, was probably built on the site of an earlier temple from the seventh century BC.
Swans once swam in the oval Sacred Lake, but today it is empty and has been since 1925 when an outbreak of malaria caused it to be drained. It was here, on the shores of the lake that, according to Greek mythology, Leto was believed to have given birth to Apollo, under a palm tree. The lake, which is overlooked by the Terrace of the Lions, marks the end of the Sacred Precinct.
Temple of Isis & The Archeological Museum
Built on a small hill is the restored Temple of Isis dating back to the 2nd-century BC. The Doric Temple houses the lower half of a statue (from the waist down) of the goddess Isis. Originally an Ancient Egyptian goddess representing the ideal mother and wife, Isis was later worshiped by both the Greeks and Romans. In front of the temple stands an altar to the goddess.
Lying between Mt. Kynthos and the commercial harbor, the so-called Theatre Quarter dates from the third to the second century BC. The narrow, winding streets are paved with slate slabs. The houses, many of which stand four to five meters high, had at least one upper story.
House of Dionysus
In the Theater Quarter, the House of Dionysus is a fine example of a lavish private dwelling from the 2nd-century BC. One of the larger houses, it was originally on two levels, and you can still see the remains of a stone staircase that would have led to an upper floor. The highlight here is the central courtyard, rimmed by elegant marble columns, with a mosaic floor depicting Dionysus riding a tiger.
House of Cleopatra
In the 2nd-century BC, this was a lavish Theater Quarter home owned by Cleopatra, but not the famous Egyptian queen. This Cleopatra, according to a plaque at its entrance, was the daughter of Adrastus of Myrrhinou, and the two headless statues inside the ruins of what was once a 12-room house set around two open courtyards, are that of Cleopatra and her husband Dioscorides.
Delos Recommended Tours & Activities by Viator
Mykonos Catamaran Daytime or Sunset Sailing with Food and Drinks
Set sail on the bright blue Aegean with this unforgettable catamaran cruise from Mykonos. Swim and snorkel in the crystalline coves around the islands of Rheina and mythical Delos, or visit the pristine southern beaches of Mykonos. Drop anchor for a delicious, multicourse Greek meal cooked up right on board, accompanied by unlimited beer and wine from an open bar. Learn more about the Mykonos Catamaran Sailing.
Ancient Delos Tour
Uncover the myths and legends of ancient Greece on an educational tour of Delos from Mykonos. With an expert historian guide, discover ancient monuments like the Temple of Apollo and the Sacred Way. Enrich your historical knowledge at the Museum of Delos; marvel at the archaic Sanctuary of Artemis; and learn about the culture of the Greek empire from your expert guide. Opt to upgrade your tour to include lunch at a Mykonian farm and a walking tour of Mykonos Old Town. Learn more about the Ancient Delos Tour.
Mykonos: Small-Group Sailing Yacht Cruise to Rhenia and Guided Tour of Delos
Discover the beautiful Cyclades Islands the way they were meant to be seen — from the water! On this full-day yacht cruise from Mykonos, sail across the turquoise Aegean to the uninhabited islands of Rhenia and Delos, stopping to swim and snorkel at a pristine beach cove. Customize your day at sea with either a guided visit to the UNESCO-listed archaeological site at Delos or an extra swimming stop, and savor the good life with a light Greek lunch and refreshing drinks onboard. Learn more about the Cruise to Rhenia and Guided Tour of Delos.
Delos Day Trip from Mykonos
Ride the ferry from Mykonos to Delos with a local guide who shares expert knowledge about the UNESCO World Heritage–listed island. Unveil the drama of Delos during this half-day walking tour through the excavated ruins of its main archaeological site. See the Terrace of the Lions, House of Dionysus, Archaeological Museum of Delos and more as you learn about the sacred isle’s place in Ancient Greek history. Meet at the port or upgrade to include pickup from Mykonos hotels. Learn more about this Delos Day Trip from Mykonos.
All inclusive Day or Sunset Cruises on a Luxury Lagoon Catamaran 44
Go on a half-day sailing adventure in the Aegean Sea. Select your preferred departure time—morning or afternoon—and set sail for Mykonos’ south coast or to the mythical birthplace of Apollo on the island of Delos. Relax at the beach, snorkel in beautiful turquoise water, and marvel at Delos’ ancient archaeological site. Enjoy lunch, dinner, wine, and hotel pickup and drop-off included in the tour price. Sail Mykonos’s south coast and explore the islands of Rhenia and Delos Enjoy flexible departure times to suit your travel schedule and interests Kick back at picturesque Aegean beaches and check out Apollo’s birthplace Make the most of limited time with convenient hotel pickup and drop-off. Learn more about this Luxury Catamaran Cruise.
Private Mykonos Yacht Cruise
This private yacht charter offers an easy and luxurious way to see the island’s best beaches plus neighboring isles, all without the hassle of ferry schedules and crowds. Relax on the deck and enjoy wine and other refreshments as your personal captain navigates to the famous southern beaches or the legendary Cyclades islands of Delos and Rhinia. Book a full-day cruise to fit both destinations into a sun-soaked day on the water. Learn more about the Private Mykonos Yacht Cruise.