The Abandoned Island of Delos

At this point, you’re probably thinking all I did in Greece was eat salmon risotto, dance all night and lay by the pool with friends from back home.

So… yeah, you’re right. That’s 6 weeks in Greece in a nutshell.

But! Don’t tune out just yet. I learned some stuff about history, really! Lauren & I managed to pull ourselves away from the sparkling pools & emerald beaches for one day to check out…


Delos is one of the most important sites in Greek history particularly for its ties to mythological figures. Considered a holy island even before being designated as the birthplace for the gods Artemis & Apollo, the archeological excavations here are some of the most complete in the world. Lauren & I hopped a ferry in Mykonos Town one morning for the quick ride over.

Though mostly uninhabited (2001 Census accounts for 14 residents) except for boatloads of tourists who pop over for the day, Delos once was a bustling hub of temples, private homes and entertainment venues. The Temple of Apollo served as the Treasury of Greece until it was moved to Athens in 454 BC. After many years as a thriving port and slave market, in 88 AD the island was sacked by Mithradates VI and ultimately was abandoned by the end of the 1st century.

Delos is a tiny island with no fresh water source, so cisterns like this were necessary to provide for the population.

One of many detailed floor mosaics remaining in Delos

The female Indiana Jones? One of many decapitated statues

I’ll let you figure this one out.

Beautiful red poppies dot the scrubby landscape on Delos

Rawrrrrrrrr! Around 600 BC, the folks from Naxos dedicated the Terrace of the Lions to Apollo. Only seven of the original lions remain along the Sacred Way. (And they look like seals.)

Was Delos my favorite part of 3 weeks in Mykonos? Definitely not. It was a welcome respite from my rigorous dancing schedule though and a lovely place for photos, so I was glad Lauren and I made the trek. Here are some tips for your trip!

Tips for Visiting Delos

1. Go early. As with all highly trafficked tourist attractions, you run the risk of having other tourists in all your photos if you go at midday, so get there on the first ferry if possible. It looks so much more abandoned and ruinous without hordes of cruise ship passengers.

2. Bring sustenance. There aren’t any formal restaurants, only a snack shop, so bring food & bev. A bottle of water & a snack will be plenty, as you can see all you really need to see in about 90 minutes. You can certainly stay longer, and archeology buffs & Greek historians would get a lot out of it, but for me, 90 minutes was plenty.

3. Wear sunscreen & bring a hat. There’s little to no shade anywhere on the island and Lauren & I both got a bit pinker than we expected. Also, if you can help it, don’t go on a day where there’s rain in the forecast. There’s nowhere to hide, so you’ll come home drenched.

4. Pay attention to return times. There are not many options for returning to Mykonos, so be sure to note which ferry you’re on and what time it’s departing before you start exploring. The last place you want to be stuck is a ruinous, scrubby 1-sq-mile rock in the middle of the Aegean. (There’s no pool.)

5. Take Dramamine. Though the ferry ride isn’t long, ours was very bumpy and we were both quite nauseous & wobbly. If you have any propensity toward seasickness, take something the night before.


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6 thoughts on “The Abandoned Island of Delos”

  1. I have wanted to go to Delos ever since I was a little girl!!! I read a book in elementary school about a modern-day Greek goddess who went there, and I’ve been slightly obsessed with it ever since 🙂 Your photos are fantastic, and now I’m dream-planning my own trip 🙂

  2. Oh why thank you for making me the Delos model. I’m glad we did this lil trip. It was a perfect day for exploring and 90 minutes later, we were strolling through Mykonos town back to our sparkly pool. Loved it!

    (well, minus that windy ferry ride. could have done without all that…)


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