Visiting Delos from Mykonos

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: May 19, 2020

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3 Best Delos Tours from Mykonos

  • Guided Boat Tour to Delos

    Excellent tour of Delos with professional guide. The tour leaves from Mykonos Town; if you’re staying at one of the beach towns, select hotel pickup/dropoff as it makes the day much easier. There’s also a private tour option for groups of 2 to 10.

  • Boat Tour to Delos and Rhenia Island

    This is a great tour for those who would like to see Delos, but don’t want to spend hours there. It takes you to beautiful Rhenia island for swimming, snorkeling, and a bbq lunch (onboard). Then to Delos for a short, guided tour when the island is usually much quieter than in the morning. Highly recommended.

  • Guided Delos Tour from Cruise Ship Port

    If you’re on a cruise and have a limited amount of time, this Delos tour offers pickup and dropoff at the cruise ship port in Mykonos.

Delos, Greece

Touring historical sights of Delos.

The stone lions of Delos.

Delos Island History

In ancient times, Delos was the most important island in the region. In fact, the Cyclades island group gets its name from the fact that the islands form a circle around Delos. Mykonos, by comparison, was considered poor with limited agricultural prospects. A holy island, Delos is the mythical birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, and women were once forbidden from giving birth there; instead, women were ferried to Mykonos for the labor and delivery of their children.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site on the small island of Delos is one of the best-preserved and most important archaeological sites in Greece. First settled by the Greeks around 3000 BC, the island became a shrine to Apollo around 800 BC and a thriving, multicultural center of trade in the centuries that followed, with Syrians and Egyptians adding shrines of their homeland gods to the existing Greek ones. Under the Romans, Delos became a duty-free port and important slave market, but the island’s importance diminished as trade routes shifted and by 300 AD the island was languishing in obscurity, used as a hideout by pirates. Delos is accessible by boat from Mykonos. Use your imagination to transform these extensive, well-preserved ruins into the gleaming city that once stood here.

As you make your way around the ruins from the Sacred Harbor, where the tour boats dock, sights not to miss include the Sanctuary of Apollo, lined with the remains of three temples dedicated to the god, the Artemision – a sanctuary of Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, and the Terrace of Lions, lined with the much-photographed replica lion statues. (The actual lions can be found within the site’s small but interesting museum, located near the center of the island.) Nearby is the overgrown Sacred Lake where Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis after hiding from the wrath of Hera, Zeus’ wife, Zeus being the twins’ father.

In the Theater Quarter, formerly home to Delos’ wealthiest inhabitants, spot the mosaic depicting the wine god Dionysos riding a panther at the House of Dionysos, and another superb mosaic featuring lions, dolphins and griffins at the House of Dolphins. If you have time, it’s well worth climbing Mt Mynthos for great views of the surrounding islands and to visit the Sanctuaries of Zeus and Athena.

Ancient Theatre and Ruins on Delos.

The boat pier on Delos where tours dock and depart from.

Visiting Delos from Mykonos

There are four boats daily from Mykonos Town (Chora) to Delos during high season, with departures from 9am to 5pm. Return boats run between 12.15pm and 8pm. There are fewer boats from November to March. Buy tickets from the kiosk at the southern end of Mykonos Town harbor. When purchasing tickets, find out which return boats they’re valid for. Boat tickets are 20€ round trip, and do not include the entrance fee to Delos Island, which is 12€.

  • Delos Island boat schedule, pricing information, and online booking
  • Visitors to Delos are given a map outlining three self-guided walking tours. Depending on which one you opt for, these take from 90 minutes to five hours, so it’s best to decide in advance how much time you’d like to spend on the island.
  • You can purchase detailed Delos guidebooks both at the Delos ticket office and in bookstores on Mykonos. Guided tours can be booked at the same time as the boat tickets (adult/child 50/25€ including boat, entrance fee, and guide).
  • Wear a hat, sunscreen, and good walking shoes. The only place to eat is a basic café at the Delos museum; it’s worth bringing a picnic lunch and plenty of drinking water.
Guided boat tour of Delos.

A guided tour of Delos is recommended. Without a guide it’s just a collection of ruins without much meaning or context. With a guide it’s a very interesting introduction to Greek history.

Delos from Mykonos

Tourists purchasing boat tickets at a ticket booth

Tickets for the boat to Delos Island can be purchased in advance online, or at the ticket booth on the Mykonos Town waterfront.

A tour boat docking at a small stone dock

Boats to Delos are small and fill quickly; in the busy summer season, it’s a good idea to buy tickets first thing in the morning, or in advance.

Window seating on the interior of a boat

The boat trip to Delos from Mykonos takes 30-45 minutes. There is ample seating, and drinks and snacks are sold onboard.

View of Delos island from the boat

View of Delos Island when arriving by boat.

An empty stone walkway surrounded by ancient ruins.

After arriving on Delos and paying admission, you are free to explore across the entire island.

Stone lion statues, surrounded by wildflowers

The island’s famous stone lions are only replicas. The original statues are displayed in the island museum.

Greek mosaic artwork

In addition to the stone lions, the Delos Museum also houses original mosaics from the island…

antique book in French about the excavation of Delos

…as well as artifacts from the island’s original excavation. There is no additional charge to visit the museum.

Ruins of ancient Greek statues and buildings

There are ruins everywhere on Delos, and few signs; it can be difficult to know exactly what you’re looking at. Taking a guided tour is recommended.

stone ruins of an ancient Greek home

Without a tour, however, it is still fun and interesting to imagine the homes and buildings as they existed long ago.

Island with wildflowers and Greek ruins

Even at its busiest, there’s plenty of room on Delos, and on the more remote parts of the island it can feel like you’ve got the whole place to yourself.

Tourists boarding a boat on Delos Island, bound for Mykonos.

It’s important to keep track of the time, so you don’t miss the boat back to Mykonos. I don’t know what happens if you’re left behind on the island, and I don’t recommend finding out.

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  1. Booking Delos Tour in Advance

    We are going to be in Mykonos the first week of October and will have a rental car to get us to the port. Should we book the tour ahead of time or just head over to the port when we get there to book a tour?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Personally, I would book in advance but could you show up without a reservation? Sure, and you’d likely be fine.

  2. Delos Tours from Mykonos Town

    Is the Old Port walking distance from Mykonos Town? We’re staying at the Belvedere. Thanks!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Yes, the Old Port is an easy walk from all Mykonos Town hotels. From the Belvedere it’s about a 10 or 12 minute walk (assuming you don’t have luggage).

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