When to Go

The experience of the Cyclades is radically different in summer compared to winter. In summer all services are operating on overload, the beaches are crowded, the clubs noisy, the restaurants packed, and the scene hopping. Walkers, nature lovers, and devotees of classical and Byzantine Greece would do better to come in spring and fall, ideally in late April–June or September–October, when temperatures are lower and tourists are fewer. But off-season travel means less-frequent boat service; in fact, there is sometimes no service at all between November and mid-March, when stormy weather can make the seas too rough for sailing. In winter, many shops, hotels, and restaurants are closed, and the open cafés are full of locals recuperating from summer's intensity. The villages can feel shuttered and the nightlife evaporates. Cultural organizations, film clubs, concerts of island music, and religious festivals become more important. The temperature will often seem colder than the thermometer indicates: if it is in the low 50s, cloudy, drizzling, and windy, you will feel chilled and want to stay indoors, and these islands are at their best outdoors.

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