Planning Your Time

The Cyclades are more for lazing around than for book-nosed tourism. Start with the livelier islands (Mykonos, Santorini), add one or two of the larger islands (Naxos, Paros), and finish up with an untouristy one like Folegandros. Although it is true that feverish partying can overwhelm the young in summer, in other seasons the temptations are fewer, gentler, and more profound. If you move fast, you will see little, and the beauty is in the general impression of sea, sky, mountain, and village, and in the details that catch your eye: an ancient column used as a building block, an octopus hung to dry in the sun, a wedding or baptism in a small church you stopped by (Welcome, stranger!), a shepherd's mountain hut with a flagstone roof—they are endless. There are important sites such as Delos's ruins, but just enjoying the island rhythms often proves as soul-satisfying.

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