Even though it is one of the smallest islands in the Aegean, Delos (just 6.85 km2) was the most famous and sacred of all islands in antiquity, since, according to the legend, it was there that Apollo-Helios, god of daylight, and Artemis-Selene, goddess of night light, were born – it was, in short, the birthplace of Light, which the Greeks always regarded as precious.
Due to the history, Delos - unlike other Greek islands - did not have an indigenous, self-supporting community of its own. As a result, in later times it became uninhabited.
On Delos are found the admirably well-preserved ruins of one of the largest, most significant, and best- organized ancient Greek settlements. The excavations, which started in 1872 and are still in progress, have unearthed the Sanctuary and a good part of the cosmopolitan Hellenistic town. The findings from the excavations are housed in the Delos Museum, and include all or part of some 30,000 vessels, statuettes, small objects, 8,000 sculptures, and 3,000 inscriptions. Most of the sculptures, a few pottery and small objects are exhibited in the Museum's eleven halls.
Once you make a booking, you will get a voucher to your email. Please print it and have it with you. Your meeting point with a guide will be at the quay – 100 meters further than the town hall, where the boats to Delos departs from. There is a kiosk (locals calls it "Deliana"), where you will buy your round tickets for the boat trip to Delos. The price is 18 euros per person.
The guide will be waiting for you there. No need to buy a map for Delos – the guide will take care of it. The site of Delos is explored on foot. So please wear low heeled comfortable shoes, hat, and sun cream.
The boat trip to Delos lasts 30 minutes. Once we arrive to the site, you will need to buy tickets for the entrance to the archeological site. The price is 5 euros per person. Do not worry for the queues – your guide will take care of the tickets.
Our first stop will be at Agora of Competaliasts for the necessary narration of the historical background and excavations that took place on this island. We will take a walk through the area covered with ancient shops and workshops, taking a look how the city was built (drainage, sewage systems, materials and etc.).
Then we will continue to the House of Dionysos, a luxurious 2nd century private house named for the floor mosaic of Dionysus riding a panther. At the entrance to the House of Cleopatra (2nd century BC) we will see headless statues of Cleopatra and her husband Dioskourides. The House of Trident will amaze you with its various mosaics and frescoes still on its walls.
After visiting Theatre of Delos (which could seat from 3,000 to 5,000 spectators) we will continue to the House of the Dolphins and the House of the Masks, both famous for their impressive mosaics.
As we will move along, mountain Kynthos stands proud in front of us challenging to climb on top of it. The choice will be in your hands – though the way up can be quite strenuous but the view is more than rewarding.
As an alternative we could pay a visit to the Temple of Isis and the Egyptian quarter before descending to the Archeological Museum (short restroom break here).
The Doric Temple of Isis was built on a high over-looking hill at the beginning of the Roman period to venerate the familiar trinity of Isis, the Alexandrian Serapis and Anubis.
The Archeological Museum of Delos has sculptures of the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, together with a collection of vases from various periods. The entrance is free (fee included in the entrance ticket of the site).
To hear the myth about the birth of Apollo and Artemis we will stop at The Sacred Lake – the place where Artemis was born. According to islanders, the lake was fed by the River Inopos from its source high on Mt. Kynthos until 1925, when the water stopped flowing and the lake dried up. Along the shores are two ancient palaestras, buildings for physical exercise and debate.
One of most evocative sights of Delos is the 164-foot-long Avenue of the Lions. These are replicas; the originals are in the museum. The five Naxian marble beasts crouch on their haunches, their forelegs stiffly upright, vigilant guardians of the Sacred Lake. They are the survivors of a line of at least nine lions, erected in the second half of the 7th century BC by the Naxians. One, removed in the 17th century, now guards the Arsenal of Venice.
On our way back to the boat we will pass The Temple of the Delians, where once stood a colossal Kouros of Apollo, only parts of which remain extant. Dating to the 6th Century BC, parts of the upper torso and pelvis remain in site, a hand is kept at the local museum and a foot in the British Museum.
Near the pedestal a bronze palm tree was erected in 417 BC by the Athenians to commemorate the palm tree under which Leto gave birth. According to Plutarch, the palm tree toppled in a storm and brought the statue of Apollo down with it.
For the way back we will take the Sacred Way decorated with pedestals of statues, donated by the rich and famous of the ancient times. After 2,5 hours of the most educating and entertaining guidance we will complete the tour boarding back to Mykonos with the sunset colours on our way.