This Google map image shows Delos island’s location between Mykonos, right, and Rinia, left. Mykonos offers the closest and most convenient access to Delos, with ferry service from the Mykonos Town harbour six days a week
Getting there from Mykonos: It’s relatively easy to reach Delos from Mykonos, which just happens to be the closest populated island.
Every day except Monday, when Delos is closed to the public, excursion boats depart the Mykonos Town harbour in the morning, and return in the early to mid-afternoon. Three different boats — the Delos Express, the Margarita and the Orca — offer round trips that typically depart at 9, 10 and 11 a.m., and return from Delos at 12:15, 2 and 3 p.m. I say “typically,” because the service depends upon both the season and demand. In May 2011, for instance, boats departed Mykonos only at 9 and 10, and returned at 12:15 and 2. In extremely windy or stormy weather, the boats might be cancelled altogether. You don’t have to return on the same boat that took you to Delos; you’re free to select whichever returning boat you prefer.
Return ticket price in 2011 was €17 per person
Tickets can be purchased from a booth on the same pier from which the excursion boats depart. Last year, the price for a return ticket was €17 per person; this year it probably will be slightly higher. A separate admission fee must be paid on arrival at Delos to enter the archaeological site; in past years that fee has been €5 per person. [Guided tours cost significantly more, and tickets for those can be purchased from vendors at the pier. I haven't taken a guided tour since 2006, so I can't tell you what they cost now. Some of the travel agencies in Mykonos Town sell tickets for guided tours, so you can inquire there for pricing. I discussed guided tours versus doing-it-yourself in my post Visiting Delos, the sacred cradle of Greek gods.]
The boat ride from Mykonos to Delos can take as little as 20 minutes, or as long as 40, depending upon the sea and weather conditions. The seas in the channel between the islands often can be rough, so if you’re prone to seasickness, be sure to take anti-nausea pills either before or during the trip. Or, if you’re spending several days on Mykonos, keep an eye on the sea conditions and do your Delos excursion on a day the water is smooth and the winds calm.
Overlooking the Mykonos Town harbour and Old Port. The boats to Delos depart from the long, narrow pier that juts into the harbour in the center of the photo.
A closer view of two of the Delos excursion boats at the pier
It’s easy to find the excursion boat pier, but if you have trouble, just look for the ‘Welcome to Mykonos’ sign on the stone wall …
… it’s just a few steps away from the ticket booth where you can get information and buy your round-trip tickets. Signs usually are posted on the door to indicate any changes to the regular daily departure and return times
Tender boats for cruise ships anchoring near the Mykonos Old Port use the same pier as the Delos excursion boats. This red, white and blue tender is docked in front of the Orca, one of three Delos excursion boats.
Another Delos excursion boat, the Margarita, seen at Mykonos harbour
Delos Express is another of the three excursion boats that make the regular return trips from the Mykonos harbour to Delos six days a week
Another view of the Orca. The excursion boats have interior as well as open-air outdoor decks. The trip to and from Delos can be windy and chilly, so bring along a windbreaker in case you get seated outside.
The Margarita departs the Mykonos Old Port en route to Delos
The Margarita at the excursion boat dock on Delos
The Delos Express prepares to leave the Delos pier to return to Mykonos
The Orca pulls away from Delos as it begins its return journey to Mykonos
Visitors look toward Mykonos from a waiting area near the Delos boat pier
Looking across the rocky Delos seashore toward Mykonos
Rough waters in the narrow channel between Delos and Kato Rematiaris island
Looking toward the Little Venice seaside area of Mykonos Town from a Delos excursion boat returning to Mykonos
Getting there from Naxos and Paros: If you’re visiting Naxos or Paros, you might be able to visit Delos by taking a daytrip from one of those islands.
In past years, Panteleos cruises has offered excursions from Naxos that took visitors to both Delos and Mykonos three days a week, along with a once-weekly daytrip to Mykonos only. The service depends upon demand, so in low or off-season the excursions might not be available.
In 2009, we used the Naxos Star excursion boat to travel from Naxos to Mykonos on a day that there was no direct ferry service between the islands. We got to spend several hours visiting Delos before the excursion boat continued on to Mykonos, where travellers had approximately three hours to wander around Mykonos Town before heading back to Naxos. On the same day, the Alexander excursion boat took people from Paros on a similar trip to Delos and Mykonos.
If you’re visiting either Naxos or Paros, check with local ferry ticket agencies and tour companies to find out if any of the Delos or Delos + Mykonos excursions are available.
Don’t forget your anti-nausea pills!
Again, if you’re prone to seasickness, be sure to bring along anti-nausea medication. It was extremely windy in the Cyclades on the day we took the Naxos Star to Delos, and the seas were rough, with whitecaps. As the boat left St George’s Bay on Naxos and headed deeper out to sea, the waves got bigger, crashing loudly against the prow and spraying the windows the entire length of the boat. Inside the passenger cabin, it felt like we were riding through a car wash, and the many young children on board initially had a riot watching water splash against the windows whenever the boat hit a big wave. But their glee lasted only a few minutes. As the sea got rougher and the boat dipped and rose in the swells, kids and adults alike started turning green and reaching for paper seasickness bags. There was a lot of vomiting followed by near silence as nauseous passengers laid down on the floor or sat back with their eyes closed, undoubtedly praying for a fast arrival at Delos!
Below is a short videoclip showing the waves washing against the Naxos Star’s windows, followed by a series of photos showing the boat and excursion signs in Naxos.
If you’re on Naxos, look for a travel agency displaying one of these posters. They’ll confirm availability and pricing for the excursions to Delos and Mykonos.
Another Delos excursion poster we saw on Naxos. If you’re visiting Paros, check with ticket agencies there to find out if trips to Delos are available.
Passengers on the upper deck of the excursion boat Alexander. It arrived at Naxos port while we were waiting for the Naxos Star to take us to Delos and Mykonos. The Alexander already had some passengers on board but, as far as we could see, it didn’t pick up any new passengers at Naxos …
… and minutes later left for Paros, where it collected a full load of passengers at the port in Naoussa. It reached Delos shortly after our boat arrived there.
Not long after the Alexander departed for Paros, the Naxos Star arrived at the Naxos Town port to take us to Delos
An interior cabin on the Naxos Star. If you look closely, you’ll see a painting of Jesus Christ in the rectangular white frame in the background. I’m certain He received a lot of prayers from passengers who got seasick during our voyage.
When passengers started feeling seasick during our ride to Delos, many people — especially children — laid down on the floor for the rest of the voyage. Out of respect for their privacy, I didn’t take any photos of the seasick passengers.
Another view of the Naxos Star interior
Waiting to board the Naxos Star at the end of its stopover on Delos
The Naxos Star departs the Mykonos Old Port for its return trip to Naxos
Visiting from cruise ships: Mykonos gets a lot of cruise traffic, with many ships docking at the island’s New Port at Tourlos, and others dropping anchor in the bay near the Old Port at Mykonos Town. If the ships arrive in port early and stay late enough in the day, passengers can easily get to the pier in time to catch one of the excursion boats to Delos.
But some cruise ship itineraries actually include a stop at Delos, sending passengers to shore there by tender. If you’re taking a Greek Islands cruise, be sure to check with your cruise line to find out if your ship will be stopping right at Delos.
I’ve heard there are some cruise ships that have received permission from the Greek government to visit Delos on Mondays, when the island is closed to the public, as well as in late afternoon and early evening after normal closing hours, but I haven’t been able to confirm if that’s true.
If you really want to splurge and see Delos the way the rich and famous do it, you can arrange exclusive private tours through independent operators, including Hellenic Adventures. According to an article in the March 2012 edition of Condé Nast Traveler magazine, Hellenic Adventures will take two people on a private charter boat trip to Delos, with guide, for only $3,140. Or if you can gather eight people together, the price is a mere $3,840. Just think of the envious stares you’ll get from the ordinary ferry-riding folks when your traditional Greek caique glides into Delos harbour!
Below are some of our photos showing the Nautica and Star Clipper off the coast of Delos.
Busy seas off Delos: An orange and white tender boat from the Star Clipper approaches the Delos harbour while the excursion boat Alexander, right, arrives with daytrippers from Paros. At center is the Oceania Cruises liner, Nautica.
Passengers walk near the Delos seafront as the Nautica looms large in the bay
Ancient ruins contrast with modern transportation technology. The two ships are the Star Clipper and the Oceania Cruises Nautica.
A Star Clipper tender boat passes the day excursion boat Naxos Star
Another view of the Nautica, anchored just off the Delos coast
A Star Clipper tender departs the Delos port, bound for the cruise ship
The tender boat approaches the Star Clipper
The Nautica looms large above the Delos ruins