Why go tilting at windmills???
According to Greek Mythology, Mykonos is where Hercules buried the Giants after a fierce battle. Another version – ‘cuz there’s always another version in Greeks Mythology – the island was named after Mykonos, son of the King of Delos who was the son of Apollo.
If your Mediterranean cruise stops in Mykonos – get it out of your head that you have to spend the entire day on Mykonos, there’s real history, real adventure and real lions to see just a short boat ride away.
Most likely your cruise will sail into Mykonos early in the morning and you’ll be in port until 4ish which is more than enough time to 1) Stroll the quaint port village, 2) Grab a coffee and pastry while watching the fishermen clean and sell their daily catch, 3) Wind through the lovely alleyways lined with white-washed houses and 4) Wander down to the beach where you can see the famed windmills; take your photos and then head back to the dock to set sail for a real adventure.
Tell the kids you’re off to Delos, “The Sacred Island” where two Greek gods were born and where a street is lined with lions. (Click here to see Delos on the map)
Delos: Gods, Lions and Pirates!
Take a short boat trip over to the uninhabited island of Delos which is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece as it is the birthplace of the twins Apollo and Artemis.
Excursion boats leave at 10 o’clock and there are three scheduled returns 12:30, 1:30 and 3 o’clock. The ride takes about 30 minutes and costs about €18 per person. The boats are air-conditioned and there’s plenty of room on the deck so you can sun yourself and fantasize you’re on your own private yacht. Sighhhhhhhhhhhh
One Angry Wife
In a nutshell here’s the story about Delos:
According to Greek Mythology Leto had an affair with Zeus and got pregnant. When his wife Hera found out…all hell broke loose!
Beyond furious, Hera banished Leto from earth. Poseidon took pity on Leto and created Delos as her her own private island/maternity ward.
On Delos, Leto gave birth to not one love child – but to two: Artemis and her twin brother Apollo, the newborn god.
And what a god – Apollo is God of music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, light and knowledge! Artemis was no slacker either – she’s the Goddess of the Hunt, Forests and Hills, the Moon, Archery.
Can you even imagine Leto’s bumper sticker!
Since 426 BC, there have been no deaths or births on Delos after the good folks of Athens “purified” the island by removing all the bones and other remains.
But purified doesn’t mean off-limits!
In 88 B.C the army of Mithridates destroyed the island’s monuments, temples, and slaughtered its 20,000 inhabitants. After that, the island was under constant attack by pirates – that’s right kiddies – we’re talking PIRATES – Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!
The pirates are gone replaced now by tourists and archaeologists.
As the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, Delos was a major sacred site for the ancient Greeks, second in importance only to Delphi. At its height, the sacred island was covered in a variety of temples and sanctuaries dedicated to numerous gods.
The Sanctuary lies at the heart of the ancient remains. Here you’ll find the Precinct of Apollo and the Precinct of Artemis, together with the Sacred Way.
Loads of Lions
The famous Terrace of the Lions is THE signature image of Delos.
Located across the road and facing the Sacred Lake, these imposing massive cats with their mouths wide open as if roaring, stand guard over the site where Apollo was born. Lined up in a row, these posing felines sit atop pillars of brick and rubble creating a monumental avenue comparable to Egypt’s Avenues of Sphinxes.
Dating back to around 600 BC, there were a dozen of these guardian cats lining the Sacred Way but today, only seven remain and these cats are marble replicas since the originals are under protection (from man and nature) in the island’s museum which is just a short walk east of the terrace near the visitor pavilion.
If you’re feeling energetic you can climb the to the top of Mount Kythnos for wonderful views of Delos and the surrounding islands. Note it’s about a 400 foot climb and while that doesn’t sound far, keep it real – if it’s hot and the kids are tired, it’s just not worth it. It’ll take you about an hour to hike up and back but once you reach the summit you’ll have a great view.
Been there/done that
It’s going to be HOT! Bring water, slather on that sunscreen, wear hats, wear good walking shoes/sneakers and wear cool/comfortable clothing. Don’t rush – let the kids wander, let their imagination wander and just soak up the scenery. Oh, and don’t forget the cameras!!!
Don’t be intimidated by Delos – it’s small. Located in the heart of the Cyclades, it’s just 5km (3miles) long by 1.3km (0.8miles) wide, and is basically just a lump of rock in the Aegean Sea.
WARNINGS: Remember the last boat leaves Delos at 3pm. The last boat tends to be crowed as no one is allowed to stay overnight on the island. The site is closed on Mondays.
Bookings: You can book your excursion to Delos online. Below are a couple links get you started. You can also book a guided tour of Delos that takes about 3 hours, but if you’re like us traveling with kids, skip the tour and just enjoy yourselves and let them roam free. Good luck, have fun and share your photos!