3 May to 17 May 2014
Tour cost £3,500
Single Supplement £650
Cruising the Cyclades on the Aegean Clipper
This idyllic tour offers an unmissable opportunity to experience the rich and varied cultural history of the Cycladic islands. As well as gorgeous natural landscapes and fascinating classical mythology, we will discover early Bronze age Cycladic art with its distinctive figurines carved out of pure, white marble.
We will explore the extensive archaeological remains on the sacred island of Delos, birthplace of the twins Apollo and Artemis; we will visit Naxos, the largest of the islands, where Theseus cruelly abandoned Ariadne; and we will go to the volcanic island of Santorini (ancient Thera), where a devastating eruption 3600 years ago had enormous consequences for ancient civilisation across the Aegean.
The tour includes a number of less-visited islands, among them solitary Astypalaia, and beautiful Amorgos, where the Chozoviotissa Monastery clinging vertiginously to the cliffface is a wonderful sight. The month of May provides the best opportunity for favourable weather conditions to cruise the Cyclades. The Aegean Clipper, which we have used for several years, is one of the most comfortable and spacious gulets operating out of Bodrum.
Jeremy Barnett knows the islands exceptionally well and will take you round the sites, sometimes with specialist local guides. Eve MacDonald also has an intimate knowledge of some of these islands. She will talk on the history, art and broader cultural aspects of the Cyclades from the Bronze Age through to the Byzantine era.
Day 1 The Aegean Clipper awaits us in Bodrum harbour, 40 minutes from the airport.
Day 2 We aim to arrive in Kos by midday and go directly to the Asklepieion (A) where physicians treated patients on lines laid down by Hippocrates. We then leave for Kephalos Bay at the other end of the island. If time allows, we may make a short visit to the ruins of the 5th century basilica of Aghios Stephanos, perched on rocks close to the shore. Overnight in the bay of Kephalos.
Day 3 We leave for Astypalaia, the most westerly island of the Dodecanese. The shimmering white houses of the main town climb up from the quayside to the huge 15th century Venetian castle which once had over one thousand residents. We spend the night at the quiet quayside or in a bay nearby.
Day 4 A long sail to Santorini (Thera) where we spend the night at anchor just off the town of Fira positioned dramatically on the rim of the crater.
Day 5 We take the cable car to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and then move on to the site of ancient Thera, the Dorian settlement on the other side of the island (B/C). It is a fine place, set at the top of a limestone cliff high above the sea. After lunch at a seaside restaurant, we head for Akrotiri (prehistoric Thera) where, with the help of an expert local guide, we visit the unique ash-covered houses. Another night at anchor somewhere in the caldera.
Day 6 If the weather allows, we head for Sikinos and endeavour to collar the only bus on the island to visit Episcopi (B), one of the best preserved Roman monuments in the Aegean. As the quayside is very exposed, we cross to the neighbouring island of Ios for the night.
Day 7 Our destination is Parikia, built over ancient city Paros. We visit the Ekatontapyliani, the oldest church in the Aegean and the small Archaeological Museum with its fine Parian marble sculptures. Overnight in the harbour or nearby.
Day 8 An early start for Delos (A) for an indepth tour of this magnificent site. We spend the night in a bay off Mykonos.
Day 9 We leave for Naxos and take a bus tour that includes the Sanctuary of Apollo at Yria, the Temple of Demeter at Sangri and the unfinished Kouros at Flerio (all A). Lunch is at a village taverna. Back in the town of Naxos, we can walk to the famous Portara, a monolithic 6th century BC doorway which dominates views of the island from both land and sea. We can also explore the Venetian quarter. Overnight in the harbour.
Day 10 To Amorgos, perhaps the most beautiful island in the Aegean where we head first for Katapola and then, late in the afternoon, we drive up to Minoa (B/C), one of the island’s three ancient cities. A night in the harbour or nearby.
Day 11 We set off early for the Chozoviotissa Monastery (B), one of the most unforgettable sites of the Aegean. We look in on Amorgos’s picturesque former capital at Chora. Our gulet then moves on to Aigiali at the other end of the island. This is some of the most dramatic scenery of the tour. A quiet bay for the night.
Day 12 We leave for tiny Levitha, an island farmed by a single family. There is an excellent walk up to the Hellenistic fort for the energetic (C).
Day 13 A leisurely day spent crossing to Kalymnos and a quiet bay surrounded by steep cliffs overlooking the islet of Telendos.
Day 14 Off to Pothia, Kalymnos’s bustling capital, for an early breakfast. We take taxis to visit the Church of the Gentle Virgin at Chora, followed by the archaeological site of Apollo Dalios (A/B). Here, we also see the remains of the early Christian basilica of Christ in Jerusalem. Our final stop on the island is the marvellous Archaeological Museum. At midday, we leave for Bodrum.
Day 15 The airport is some 40 minutes from Bodrum harbour.
Our reading list for this tour is coming soon.
If you would like to make a booking enquiry about this tour, please contact us to check availability.
Recommended flights coming soon.