Imagine a hillside sprawling with men in leather-clad boots, ancient shields, swords, armor, and helmets — all training like the warriors of Achilles. Here is where the fiercest warriors trained and fought…..the Island of Delos. Now in ruins, this abandoned island was once the grounds for pirates and the Temple of Apollo. Stepping onto this remote island is like stepping into the ancient past. This ancient place filled my mind with information about what molded the Greek culture into what it is today. Before you visit Delos though; here are 10 things to know before visiting the Island of Delos.
10 Tips on Visiting the Island of Delos
1- Make sure to see the Lions of Delos:
The famous Lions of Delos, they were placed here around 600 BC. The lions were used to honor the God Apollo along the path to his temple. There were as many as 12 (possibly up to 16) of these imposing lions, to guide and inspire the worshipers of Apollo. It is believed that this was the birthplace of the Gods Apollo and Artemis.
2- Stay in Mykonos and take a Ferry here
This small protected Island is only a short ferry ride away from Mykonos Greece. These Ferry’s are readily available during the summer months, and in the winter months run on a tight and limited schedule. The ride to the Island only takes about 30 minutes & cost about 10 euros. Check out ferry times here
3- Purchase your Ferry ride online (it is cheaper)
Ferry rides can be purchased either on the Island of Mykonos or here. The Ferry runs about four times per day and currently costs 20 Euros for a there and back ticket. Avoid going in August as the sea can be quite rough and the boat is a smaller passenger boat. They also have 1/2 day guided tours from Mykonos for about 50 Euros as well.
4- Read the history about the Island, it will give the ruins more meaning
First it was a refuge for Pirates who were expelled from Crete (note the stone huts there). Then in the 6th century BCE, all dead bodies were removed from the Island of Delos & people were forbidden from dying or giving birth here to keep its sacred nature for the Gods Apollo and Artemis. In the 4th century BCE, it became the natural meeting place of the Delian League who helped protect and defend Greece from invaders and carved a niche in history for themselves as heroes.
5- It can get hot, so bring an umbrella & there are minimal restroom facilities.
There are minimal facilities on the island, so ‘go before you row’, and bring water and something to shade yourself with as it can get quite hot on the island itself. Tours can take anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on how detailed you want the tour to be, and if you have an archeological guide or not.
6- Visit the Delos Museum
There is also a great little Island of Delos Museum, you should definitely take a look at when you get there. From the outside, it looks like a rickety shanty – but once you go inside there are true ancient treasures inside. I just happened to have extra time waiting for my boat back to Mykonos and wandered in here (otherwise I would likely have skipped it). It houses several important pieces I remember studying in my Art History class in Highschool, so it was really neat to actually see them in person, especially on a remote island like this.
7- Don’t get upset that the ruins aren’t more protected
Because of the financial crisis of Greece in recent years, there are excavations still happening, funded by the French. At first, I was really upset that the ruins were not protected, preserved, or at least covered – it wasn’t until after I researched why they weren’t that I was able to gain a little more understanding of the complicated situation. Excavations are slow and many of the ruins are still in disrepair. So make sure to bring a detailed map of Delos to help aid your imagination in what once was the birthplace of the Hero’s of Greece.
8- Take the audio tour and there are informational signs in English
I would highly recommend getting the audio tour and a map of the place. There are signs to tell you about the different sites on the Island of Delos. Most signs are in both Greek & English, giving a brief and limited explanation of this island and its inhabitants.
9- I missed the House of Dolphins and House of Masks while there, so be sure to visit.
It is a little hard to make your way around the Island and know all there is to offer because of the collapsed ruins strewn about. This is why the map is so important so you won’t miss the key features of the Island of Delos like the House of Dolphins and House of Masks like I did. The mosaics inside are reportedly VERY interesting and well preserved.
10 – Don’t just visit Delos, arrange for a charter to the other surrounding islands as well.
There are multiple charters to the different islands that can range from 50 euros to 1000 euros, depending on what Islands you would like to visit, how much time you would like to spend, how big your group is, and the type of guide you have. Be sure to check out my Guide to Mykonos and stay tuned for my guide to Athens.
As Always…..Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See YOU on the Flip Side.
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Janiel Green is a Travel Guru with 21 years of National travel experience in the USA, and 17 years of International Travel experience. She is a highly educated, courageous, driven and dedicated individual to both her professional and personal life. She is the Founder of Culture Trekking LLC, and is dedicated to bringing a celebratory passion for humanity into her writing to make meaningful, useful, and heartfelt recommendations for a culturally enriched travel experience. For inquires please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org