1 Travel with us to the Cyclades Islands... - The Battered Black Book

Travel with us to the Cyclades Islands…

Summer holidays are upon us and some of the most popular (and most beautiful) destinations are amongst the many Greek islands. 

Warm weather, stunning coastlines, easy flights from most of Europe and not forgetting classic Greek hospitality, it’s no wonder so many find appeal in this part of the world.

BBB work with some true experts in their fields across Greece, so we have a wonderful book of contacts for hotels, villas, cultural experiences and much more. Today we’re focusing on the Cyclades islands; situated southeast of mainland Greece in the Aegean Sea, the Cyclades comprises around 220 islands, only 33 of which are inhabited. Naxos is the largest of the islands, but the most famous in the group are Santorini and Mykonos. Here are our tips of some of the coolest places to stay, things to do experiences to savour…

If you’re looking for a haven, look no further than Milos Cove, on Milos, an iconic 5* luxury resort with magnificent sea views, elegant simplicity and stylish design. Inspired by the island itself, the unique geology and the caves formed by the natural rocks, Milos Cove is a manmade version of a natural shelter – peace and restoration for the body and soul.

Architecturally structured in layers, to echo the multilayered nature of the soul, Milos Cove creates a parallel between soul and building, between a shelter and a psyche that needs to relax and rejuvenate itself. Overlooking the sunkissed beach of Agkali in a stunningly beautiful landscape near Pollonia, Minos Cove Inception Resort offers peace and tranquility but in close proximity to incredible beaches, just 15 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from Adamas Harbour.

Featuring an amazing selection of luxury suites and villas, each with a private pool and breathtaking view of the Aegean, guests enjoy accommodation that is elegant, stylish and unpretentious. Designed to awaken the senses, the luxurious suites and villas boast minimal high-end design and a wide variety of upscale amenities.

The Pathos restaurant perches on the edge of a cliff, offering diners unparalleled views alongside modern Greek cuisine with an Italian twist. Fresh seafood is a speciality, naturally, and the Pathos bar, with its James Bond-like atmosphere, is a must for cocktails. The hotel also has 5 private dining balconies, where guests can dine by candlelight in the most intimate and romantic of settings, privately tucked away with stunning sea views and top class cuisine.

The Obsidian Spa combines modern treatments with ancient spa rituals in order to balance the body, mind and soul. Guests are welcome to invigorate their senses in crafted water tubs, work out their muscles at the modern fitness centre ore awaken their inner self with relaxation sessions in the indoor heated aqua baths. Those feeling more adventurous can take private island tours, luxury boat trips or a host of other experiences, all easily arranged to suit even the most demanding of traveller.

Built around a contemporary interpretation of the Ancient Greek Agora, Scorpios, on Mykonos, is a gathering place meant to galvanize the artistic, spiritual, and social life of its community. Ideas, healing practices, food, art and design lie at the core of the Scorpios experience.

Organic, local, gourmet, predominantly vegetarian, it’s also a lifestyle- the kind that resonates deeply with the notion of Scorpios as a communal domain. Furnished with large, communal tables, the beachfront open-air, open-plan restaurant is thoughtfully designed to accommodate and advocate Scorpios’s core philosophies.

At one of the very rare beach locations on Mykonos offering uninterrupted views across the open sea, horizons of blue mix with yellows, golds and pinks. Be it a chilled gathering of friends or a day of contemplative, creative solitude, the beach is a sublime retreat. A few dozen wooden cabanas and sunbeds, elegant in their simplicity, blend discreetly with their natural surroundings. Privacy reigns supreme until the Sunset Rituals begin around 18:30 each day, igniting the nocturnal energies of Scorpios Beach.

Those with sea legs should charter a yacht at Naxos. The beauty of a private luxury catamaran charter is that you choose your own destination (better still, more than one!) and you go at your own pace. Why not spend a day exploring a few of the local islands, visit the most beautiful, secluded beaches and coves and take a swim in the clear waters. Drop anchor and enjoy a traditional lunch prepared with local produce, accompanied by cold drinks, ouzo, raki and wine. The trips are completely tailor made to suit individual parties, we highly recommend this as a highlight of any holiday.

Villa Aurora at Tinos is a brand new villa, situated above the desirable Agios Petros Bay. The villa totally blends in with the surrounding Cycladic landscape and is a true haven. The traditional stone flair of the villa has been playfully blended with minimal accents, creating a comfortable yes sophisticated interior.

The villa sleeps 6 across 3 bedrooms, has a private pool, gardens, shaded outdoor dining area and a pathway down to the beach. Fully air-conditioned and with maid service twice a week, the villa is private yet easily accessible, just 3 minutes walk to the beach and 20 minutes in the car to the town and port.

Those interested in archaeology and historian culture will find plenty of interest at Delos, Mykonos. It’s hard not to feel awe-inspired when visiting this historic holy place. The House of the Naxians, the Temple of Artemis, the Pythion, the House of Dionysos and the ancient theatre, the homes of the Delians and the Temple of Isis are just some of the most famous sites. There’s also the Terrace of the Lions, with five of the marble lions that guarded the Sacred Palm that Leto, Apollo’s mother, held onto when she gave birth to the god of light.

The Archaeological Museum holds one of the world’s finest collections of ancient Greek sculpture. Since its inauguration in 1904, it has been among the most important collections in Greece. Nine rooms house sculptures, mosaics, pottery, inscriptions, jewellery, funerary statuary and grave stones. Look for the torso of the Archaic kouros from the Sanctuary of Apollo, the statues of Dioskourides and Cleopatra as well as Boreas abducting the nymph Oreithia…

Inside The Temple οf Isis you’ll find the statue of Isis herself, patron goddess of sailors, and one of the most significant attractions on the island. The site stands out among temples to other foreign gods and can be found in the foothills of Mt Kynthos.

Originally made of wood, the ancient Theatre it was replaced by the stone structure seen today in the third century BC. It could hold 5,000 spectators in all and the entire area has archaeological remains, private dwellings from the time of Kleopatra and Dioscorides.

There are plenty of guides and tours to do, both bookable in advance or arranged locally.

For a gem off the beaten track, head to Faneromeni Beach, Antiparos, located at the southernmost part of the island, a few kilometres south of Soros. You will find this small sandy beach under the church of Faneromeni at the end of a long rocky road where huge rocks have created a sheltered haven for tranquillity and incomparable dives. Faneromeni is not an organised beach, there are no sun beds, umbrellas or a beach bar, but the tranquillity and beauty of this place are second to none. For the more adventurous, we’d recommend packing up some essentials and making the effort – you won’t be disappointed.

Our hot tip for a restaurant with a view is the incredible Lycabettus Restaurant in Santorini. Literally perched right on the edge of a cliff, this is a restaurant unlike any other. Inimitable sea views and dining under the stars at night, Lycabettus perfectly blends grandeur with comfort, elegance with simplicity. Executive chef Pavlos Kiriakis has won the award for ‘High-End Gastronomy Overall Experience’ in FNL Best Restaurant Awards two years running and it’s easy to see why. First class service tops off the experience, guaranteeing diners an unforgettable experience.

Greek culture is heavily based around food, and it’s no surprise that each island has its own ingredients and twists on traditional recipes. One of the joys of travel is to experience local delicacies and new flavours with fresh ingredients. The Cyclades have their own dishes and perhaps one of the most famous (and popular) of these is Ntomatokeftedes, or tomato fritters in English. The recipe originates in Santorini, which is the home to a very specific top of tomatoes called Santorini tomatoes, which are about the size of cherries with a sweet taste and intense red colour. These little fried balls can be found everywhere and are totally delicious. Recipes vary, but here’s one for when kitchen inspiration hits… Why not make some this weekend, enjoy with a glass of wine and plan your next trip?!

For information on any of these places, to discuss flights or any other travel related enquiries, please contact Anna Hayward on anna@thebbbook.com.