The ancient Greek settlement of Delos is one of the most important archaeological sites in the islands. Said to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, it was also one of the largest ports in the ancient world.
There are countless treasures to see and things to learn on Delos – a half day visit to the island is well worth your time, and is a must for any traveller to Mykonos.
I spent a morning in Delos in May, and it was an awe inspiring experience that I can highly recommend.
How to Get from Mykonos to Delos
Getting to Delos from Mykonos Town could not be easier during the high tourist season of April to late October. Transport options include regularly scheduled ferry services from the Old Harbour in Mykonos Town, organized tours bookable online, and private chartered boats (with or without a guide).
If you are going to Mykonos in the slower winter months you will be rewarded with a nearly empty Old Town and pleasant temperate weather, but you will find it difficult to visit Delos. There are a very limited number of ferries, but tours and charter packages are not often available.
If you wish to try to get to Delos to explore the ruins and experience the ancient Greek archaeology, your best bet is to contact one of the companies (or Get Your Guide) in order to try to arrange a private tour.
Where to Purchase your Tickets from Mykonos to Delos
While it is possible to go to Delos on your own, most people choose to visit this massive complex of ruins on a guided tour. There are a few options as to where you can purchase your tickets.
If you opt for the guided tour, your ticket price will include the ferry cost, the admission to the UNESCO site and a 60-90 minute guided tour of the ruins.
If you are looking to book with ease, your best option is to buy your tickets online on sites such as Get Your Guide, Expedia and Viator. This allows you to compare timings and prices from the comfort of your home or hotel room.
Most tourist shops and information points around Mykonos Old Town sell tickets for the tours (albeit at a slightly higher price point), and you should also be able to arrange tours through any hotel or inn. You can also rock up to the ticket booth at the Old Harbour at any time and buy your tickets there.
Collecting Your Tickets and Boarding the Boat
Once you select the company and departure, you will need to visit the ticket collection building at the Old Harbour to collect the hard copies of your boat tickets. The staff here will also provide you with a coloured sticker that denotes which tour company you are booked with. It is a good idea to arrive at least 20 to 30 minutes before your boat is scheduled to depart; this gives you ample time to collect your tickets, locate your guide (they will likely locate you first by your sticker colour) and board the boat.
Five friends and I elected to book our tickets via Viator, and it was a really simple experience to exchange our online booking reference for the hard copy tickets that we needed to board the boat.
To Guide or Not to Guide?
When it comes to visiting Delos, the vast majority of tourists choose to go with a guide. To be honest, trying to navigate the vast site and understand what it is that you are seeing would be very difficult, but it could be done. Even if you are the kind of person who normally eschews guided tours in favour of independent exploration, this is definitely one instance where a guide will enrich your experience.
Whether you choose to visit the island with a guide or on your own, you are free to visit the museum. The museum is home to countless artifacts, mosaics and sculptures, and will add to your understanding of the island.
To be honest, I can’t imagine going to Delos without a guide. While I have a background in Cultural Heritage Studies, without the guide I would have been wandering amongst the ruins with no idea what I was looking at. The tour was approximately 90 minutes, and then I spent the rest of the time in the museum (and in the café petting the cats and drinking a well deserved coke).
Prices, as of Summer 2017
If you choose to visit Delos on your own, it will cost you €17 for the boat trip, plus an additional €5 for the entrance fee. (Students are free, the cost is €3 for those over 65).
Guided tours depart at 10AM from the Old Harbour in Mykonos Town. Most guided tours cost € 40, and this includes the fee for the boat trip and the entrance fee. If you have more than 6 people in your party, it can be a good value to book a private guide and chartered boat – the fee will be lower per person the more people that you have in your group.