Category: Top Delos posts

Modern sculptures amid ancient ruins: An extra visual delight for Delos visitors this summer


Photograph of an Antony Gormley iron sculpture displayed among the ruins on Delos island

Sculptures by Sir Antony Gormley, including this 2015 work entitled Connect,  have been installed on Delos island as part of a landmark  art exhibition on display this summer only 


Modern art on ancient site: After exploring the historic ruins on Delos three separate times between 2004 and 2010, I haven’t felt an urge to make a return trip to the island in recent years.  After all, the monuments and the island itself wouldn’t look noticeably different from my previous visits, so there wouldn’t be anything particularly “new” for me to discover. And besides, there are dozens of other major archaeological sites in Greece that I haven’t seen at all — so going to some of those has been a higher priority than  a fourth trip to Delos.

But this summer  I have really been regretting that I can’t get to Delos to see something that is in fact completely new and different, and available for viewing only during this year’s tourist season.

It’s a groundbreaking modern art installation called SIGHT, which features 29 iron “bodyform” sculptures that acclaimed British artist Antony Gormley has positioned among the historic Delos monuments and antiquities — on the island’s coast and harbourfront, atop Plakes Peak and Mount Kynthos, and in one of the galleries in the Delos archaeological museum.


Sir Antony Gormley and one of the sculptures in his SIGHT installation on Delos as seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook

Antony Gormley poses with his 2017 work, Reflect, on Delos island. The photo was shared on the Facebook page for NEON, the non-profit cultural organization that commissioned and organized the SIGHT exhibition.


The SIGHT exhibit is noteworthy for two key reasons: It’s the first time an artist has taken over the archaeological site since Delos was last inhabited 5,000 years  ago, and it’s the first time the Greek Archaeological Council has approved a contemporary art installation on the island.

It’s an historic art event I would certainly appreciate: I enjoy sculpture (from any era) and I would love to see some of Gormley’s work up close. Viewing his pieces on Delos — five of which were created specifically for this event — would give me fresh new perspectives of the island and its significant historical and mythical past. I have been intrigued and moved by photos of the sculptures I have seen on websites and social media, so I know that seeing the pieces in person would be a fascinating experience.

Unfortunately,  a trip to Greece isn’t possible for me before the exhibit ends. But if you are a fine arts and sculpture enthusiast yourself, and you will be visiting Mykonos (or Naxos or Paros, from which daytrips to Delos are also available) before October 31, don’t miss the unique opportunity to experience the island while the Gormley “bodyforms” are on display. 


SIGHT is a project that the Greek non-profit cultural organization NEON organized in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades. The exhibition continues until October 31 2019.

Extensive details and information about Delos and the sculpture exhibit are available on the SIGHT page of the NEON website

Below is an 8-minute video in which Antony Gormley discusses Delos and the inspiration for his work, followed by photos of several of the sculptures displayed on the island.



From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture on the coast of Delos island Greece


From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture atop Mount Kynthos on Delos island Greece


Photograph of the Antony Gormley sculpture Cast III on Delos island


A sculpture from the Sir Antony Gormley SIGHT exhibition on Delos island seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook


From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture positioned in the ruins on Delos island Greece


An Antony Gormley sculpture on the coast of Delos island seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook


Photograph of the Antony Gormley sculpture Shift II from 2000 in the Delos Archaeological Museum


One of the Antony Gormley iron sculptures on Delos island in 2019


Promotional image for the Antony Gormley contemporary sculpture exhibition Sight on Delos island in 2019


Visiting Delos in 2017


This short video includes aerial views of Delos island, film of the excursion boats that ferry visitors between Mykonos and Delos and, at the 1:39 mark of the clip,  a schedule of boat trips and prices for tickets and guided tours in 2017


Time changes: If you’re visiting Mykonos this summer and hope to take a daytrip to explore the historic ruins and museum at nearby Delos island, take note there has been a slight change to the time excursion boats will return from Delos in the evening during 2017. The last boat back to Mykonos will now depart Delos at 7:30 p.m., a half hour earlier than last year.  

That’s the only significant change (so far, at least) to the information provided in my Visiting Delos in 2016 blog post. Prices for the boat rides remain at €20 per adult and €10 for children aged 6 to 12. Kids under 6 can still ride for free. 

Guided half-day tours still cost €50 per adult and €25 per child between 6 and 12 years of age. There is no charge for kids under 6 to join the  guided tours, which are available from May 2 until the end of October.



The ferry ticket and tour prices do not include the government-imposed fee for admission to the Delos archaeological site, which is €12 per person again this year, and which is payable at the entrance gate on the island.

For full details about Delos excursions from Mykonos, consult the website for Delos Tours — the company that operates the boat service between the islands.

For photos and information about what you can see and do on Delos, check out my previous articles about daytrips to the island

In the meantime, take a look below at the three videos I have posted to inform and inspire you prior to your Delos visit.


This 2.5-minute clip, flimed by, shows drone views of the Delos archaeological site


This 6-minute film, by sitesandphotosvideo, offers an overview of some of the most significant sites on Delos


Learn more about Delos and its fascinating history in this beautifully-filmed 23-minute video by Andonis Kioukas


Visiting Delos in 2016


 Delos island photo by Delos Tours

The “sacred island” of Delos is seen in a photo from the Google+ page for Delos Tours, the firm that runs ferries between Mykonos and Delos. 


Delos daytripping: It has been nearly two years since I last wrote about Delos island, and because there have been some noteworthy price changes for 2016, I’ve written this general information article to update my series of Top Delos Posts published from 2012 to 2014. (Apart from ferry schedules and the new prices for ferry tickets and admission to the Delos archaeological site, the information in my previous posts remains current.)


 What is Delos?

Here’s a brief background for readers who might not be familiar with Delos. The island, situated just over 2 km west of Mykonos, is one of the most important historic and archaeological sites in Greece. It’s often called “the sacred island” and “the island of light” because, in Greek mythology, it was the birthplace of Apollo, the god of light, and Artemis, the goddess of night light.

During its glory days between 166 BC and 69 BC, Delos was a wealthy shipping hub and one of the world’s leading centers of commerce. Home to more than 30,000 people, the city went into decline after it was looted and razed in two separate attacks; residents gradually left the island, and eventually Delos was abandoned completely and almost forgotten.


Delos island

The ruins of the Quarter of the Theater and the island’s once-great commercial port sprawl across the lower slopes of Mt Kynthos on Delos


Delos regained international attention when archaeologists began excavating its ruins in 1872. Small numbers of travellers, mainly from Europe, started visiting the island to view the fascinating historic sites that were gradually being unearthed. Over the decades, the trickle of tourists turned into a steady stream of sightseers from around the world, and today Delos is a top tourist attraction drawing more than 100,000 visitors each year. Delos is widely considered a “must see” attraction for people visiting Mykonos, and I personally recommend that visitors schedule a half-day trip to Delos during their Mykonos holidays, especially if it’s their first visit to Greece.

In 1990, Delos was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. A description for UNESCO’s Delos listing says “The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port.”

And according to the Delos page on Visit Greece, the official tourism website for Greece, “nowhere else in the Globe is there a natural insular archaeological site of this size and importance. No other island on Earth hosts so many monumental antiquities from the Archaic, the Classical, and the Hellenistic periods, i.e. the centuries of the great Greek art, on a territory used exclusively as an archaeological site.”


What’s on Delos?

Delos Terrace of the Lions photo by Bernard Gagnon

The Terrace of the Lions is one of the most popular attractions on Delos island (Photo by Wikimedia contributor Bernard Gagnon)


All of Delos is a protected archaeological site, and visitors are not permitted to stay on the island overnight; hence, there are no accommodations (the nearest available lodging is on Mykonos). Besides the extensive ruins, which extend across most of the island, there is a museum that houses sculptures, wall paintings, pottery and thousands of small artefacts discovered during the excavations. A cafe in a separate building sells beverages and light snacks.

Some of the antiquities and sights most popular with tourists include: spectacular floor mosaics in the House of Dionysos, the House of the Dolphins, the House of the Mask, and the House of the Tritons; a marble amphitheater; several different agoras, sanctuaries and temples; the Sacred Lake and the Terrace of the Lions.


Delos Tours photo of mosaic in the House of the Dolphins on Delos

A detail of one of the colourful mosaics in the House of the Dolphins (Photo from the Delos Tours website.)


Bernard Gagnon Wikimedia Commons photo of Delos theater

The marble theater, seen in another image by Wikimedia contributor Bernard Gagnon, could seat up to 5,500 spectators


You’ll see many of the island’s top sights while a narrator describes the history of Delos in this informative 9.5-minute film by Expoza Travel.


Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where you’ll find information about Delos ferry ticket and site admission prices, ferry schedules, guided tours, private charters to Delos, and more.


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Visiting Delos will be easier this summer with Sunday openings, longer hours & extra ferries


Tourists explore some of the historic ruins on Delos island near Mykonos

This summer’s extended hours and Monday openings mean tourists will enjoy the best opportunity ever to visit the historic ruins on Delos island near Mykonos


 [Editor’s Note: See my Visiting Delos in 2016 post for current information about ferry ticket prices and entrance fees for the Delos archaeological site.]


Delos every day: Tourists travelling to Mykonos this summer are in for a big treat — they’ll be able to visit the ancient city and archaeological museum on nearby Delos island seven days a week, and even during the early evening for a change.

Delos is one of the most important archaeological locations in all of Greece, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s easily reached on a short ferry ride from Mykonos, but restrictive opening hours have long made it difficult for many people to see Delos — especially thousands of cruise ship passengers who visit Mykonos for only part of a day during a short call into port. Indeed, the island is totally off-limits to the public at night, and for years has also been completely closed to tourists on Mondays (as has been the case with most museums and archaeological sites elsewhere in Greece).

But “never on Monday” isn’t the case for Delos this summer, thanks to operating hour changes that the Greek government announced several weeks ago for the 2014 tourist season.

As I reported in my March 4 post, Delos is one of 33 major Greek museum and archaeological sites that will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, from April 1 until the end of October.

For years, the Delos ferries have departed Mykonos Town at 9, 10 and 11 a.m., making return trips at 12:15, 1.30 and 3 p.m. (In low season and winter, when there is substantially less demand, there is only one return ferry on Fridays and Sundays). When I learned that the government would be extending the visiting hours for Delos, and opening it to the public on Mondays, I contacted Delos Tours to find out what, if any, schedule changes might be forthcoming for excursions to the historic island. (Delos Tours is the joint venture company that operates the boats which are used to ferry passengers from the Mykonos Town harbour to Delos and back.)



New return trip in late afternoon/early evening 

Delos Tours owner Maria Chatziioannou told me that plans were in the works to add an extra afternoon ferry departure; however, she was still waiting for the Greek shipping ministry to officially approve additional ferry trips and couldn’t confirm any schedule details for me at that time.

Just this afternoon, however, Maria was able to send me Delos Tours’ new summer ferry schedule.

From Tuesday through Sunday, ferries will depart Mykonos as usual at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. and return as usual at 12:15, 1:30, and 3 p.m. The big change is that a late afternoon/early evening return trip has been added to the roster — a ferry will depart Mykonos at 5 p.m. and return from Delos at 8 p.m. That’s excellent news for people whose cruise ships or ferries don’t arrive at Mykonos in time for them to catch the morning departures (and good news, as well, for anyone already on Mykonos who might happen to sleep in after a late night enjoying the island’s infamous restaurant, nightclub and party scene).

However, on Mondays there will be only two ferry trips, with boats departing from Mykonos Town at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and returning from Delos at 1.30 and 8 p.m.



Small increase in ferry ticket prices on May 1

As of May 1, prices for return ferry tickets will increase slightly from the current fares, which have not changed in several years.  An adult ticket will cost €18 (up from €17), while the price for children aged 6 to 12 will be €9 (a nominal increase from €8.50 at present). Kids under 6 can travel for free.

Guided tours also are available at a cost of €40 for adults and €20 for kids aged 6 to 12 (no charge for younger children). Guided tours are offered every day, but only on the 10 a.m. ferry departure. Full pricing and schedule information — as well as online advance ticket booking — is available on the Delos Tours website:

For more information about Delos, click on the links below to see some of my previous posts:

♦ Visiting Delos, the sacred cradle of the gods

♦ Visiting Delos: So much to see, indoors & out

♦ Visiting Delos: How to get there


The Orca Delos ferry

A view of the Orca, one of the Delos ferry boats, as it departs the Old Port at Mykonos Town en route to Delos island


Visiting Delos island, the sacred cradle of Greek gods


Delos island

Fascinating ruins and antiquities abound on Delos island


House of the Trident on Delos island

… an outstanding archaeological site where visitors encounter the vestiges of ancient Greek history and mythology as they wander the vast outdoor museum to explore remarkable ruins like the House of the Tritons, above


Daytripping back in time:  One of the top sightseeing attractions for visitors to Mykonos isn’t even situated on that island — it’s a short ferry ride away, on a separate island altogether.

It’s Delos, a UNESCO world heritage site where visitors can observe scores of antiquities and other riveting remnants of ancient Greek civilization just by wandering through remarkable outdoor ruins and a museum filled with amazing archaeological treasures.


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Visiting Delos: So much to see, indoors & out


House of the Masks on Delos island

The House of the Masks …


The Temple of Isis on Delos Island

The Temple of Isis …


House of Hermes on Delos Island

The House of Hermes …


House of Dionysus on Delos island

… intricate mosaics, like this one in the House of Dionysus …


The Agora of the Competialists on Delos Island

… and ruins and antiquities practically everywhere you step, like these in the Agora of the Competialists, will enthrall you for hours on Delos


Delos Archaeological Museum

And when you need a break from the intense summer sun, you can cool off while viewing hundreds of sculptures, mosaics, frescoes and antiquities …


Delian lions

… including the original marble Delian lions, now displayed in their own special gallery inside the Delos Archaeological Museum


Ruins and treasures aplenty:  If you’re a big history and archaeology buff, a half-day excursion to Delos probably won’t offer nearly enough time to explore the vast outdoor ruins, let alone the treasures inside the Delos Archaeological Museum. There’s plenty to see, and after three separate visits we still haven’t seen it all.

But visiting Delos involves a lot of walking, usually under a hot, bright sun, and that makes it even more challenging to view as many of the island’s highlight attractions as possible in just one trip.


Hordes of tourists at the four houses with mosaics

Competing for viewing space with hordes of people in huge guided tour groups certainly doesn’t help, either. When we took a guided tour in 2006, we practically got trampled trying to see some of the spectacular mosaic floors at the four famous houses — the House of Dionysus, the House of the Tritons, the House of the Dolphins and the House of the Masks. About half a dozen different tour groups, with up to 50 people in each, converged on the houses at nearly the same time. There was some pushing and shoving as people from different groups tried to squeeze past each other to view or photograph the mosaics, and I couldn’t begin to count the number of times that I got bumped and jostled or had my feet stomped by other tourists trying to get in front of, behind or around me. It wasn’t pleasant, and I only got brief glimpses of some of the mosaics. The floor mosaic in the House of Dionysus was the only one I was actually able to photograph.


Heimdall’s tip for viewing the mosaics

Heimdall, a destination expert for Antiparos, has planned his Delos visits strategically so he has been able to view and photograph the mosaics without the crowds and hassles we have encountered. Heimdall told me he catches the very first (9 a.m. ) Delos ferry from Mykonos, and heads directly to the four houses — basically moving in the direction opposite to the one most tourists are inclined to take when they enter Delos. This plan of attack puts Heimdall at the mosaics long before the tour groups and other throngs of sightseers descend en masse, giving him a prime opportunity to shoot unobscured photos of the stunning mosaics. Sometimes he’s the first person to arrive, so he doesn’t have to worry about shadows or squeeze past other people blocking the narrow wall openings through which the mosaics can be viewed.  Be sure to check out his impressive Mykonos & Delos album on flickr. (I’ll admit I’m jealous Heimdall got those amazing pics, because I had to settle for stealing quick glances of the artwork — usually over somebody else’s shoulder!)


Don’t miss the museum

Many visitors don’t bother going in the Delos Archaeological Museum, preferring to explore the outdoor sites, but it’s worthwhile visiting its galleries to view the many sculptures, reliefs, mosaics, pottery, figurines, jewellery, and scores of small tools and household items that had been used in day-to-day life in ancient Greece. It’s also where you’ll see the original Delian marble lions; the ones on the outdoor Terrace of the Lions actually are replicas. (The gallery with the lions was roped off the last two times we’ve been to Delos, so we had to view and photograph the lions from several feet away. )

Many of the museum’s treasures were discovered in the late 1800s during a major archaeological excavation project that the Ecole Française d’Athènes  (French School at Athens) launched on Delos in 1872. (The research project actually continues to this day.) In 1904, the Archaeological Society of Athens built what was originally a five-room museum to house and display some of the finds, while many more antiquities unearthed on the island were sent to Athens for display at the National Archaeological Museum. Expansions in 1931 and 1972 increased the Delos museum’s size to nine rooms.

The photos below will give you a good idea of what you’ll get to see, both outdoors and inside the museum, when you visit Delos yourself.


Map of ruins on Delos island

You can view and download this basic map of the Delos archaeological site from the website operated by the Greece National Tourist Organisation (GNTO). I have circled the area where the four houses with the famous mosaics are situated. If you take the 9 a.m. ferry from Mykonos to Delos and head directly to that area upon arrival, you should be able to view and photograph the ruins at your leisure before large tour groups arrive and crowd the site.


Delos island

Inside the entrance gate to Delos. The Orca, one of the excursion boats from Mykonos, is docked at the pier just outside the ticket booth.


the Sacred Way on Delos Island

A couple strolls the 13-meter-wide Sacred Way


Delos island

Tourists explore the ruins closest to the entrance gate


Delos island

This visitor looks like she’s walking through a field of tall grass …


a pathway on Delos island

… but she was actually walking one of the paths that meanders through the ruins


Agora of the Competialists on Delos island

This small round structure in the Agora of the Competialists was constructed from marble and dedicated to the Greek god of commerce, Hermes


Delos island

A narrow street separates rows of stone houses


 Delos island

A pair of columns tower above plants and tall grasses


ruins on Delos island

A solo visitor walks a path surrounded by ruins of ancient buildings


Delos island

A column stands next to a footpath that passes between ruins of ancient houses


Sanctuary of Dionysus on Delos Island

Two phallic monuments at the Sanctuary of Dionysus


Sanctuary of Dionysus on Delos island

Explicit phallic images adorned many public and private buildings on Delos. The phallus is a symbol of the god Dionysus; in ancient times, the Greeks believed that phallus symbols would ward off evil spirits.


Establishment of the Poseidoniasts on Delos island

Columns in the Establishment of the Poseidoniasts


Delos island

Tall stone walls remain intact on this large house


Stoa of Phillip in the ruins on Delos island

The Stoa of Phillip next to The Sacred Way


A Minoan fountain on Delos island

A Minoan fountain


a pathway on Delos hillside

A pathway on a Delos hillside. Good walking shoes are advised, but we — and other tourists — have walked extensively on Delos wearing sturdy sandals.


Terrace of the Lions on Delos

The Terrace of the Lions


Terrace of Lions at Delos

Spring wildflowers surround one of the Delian lions


Establishment of the Poseidoniasts on Delos

Columns in the Establishment of the Poseidoniasts


 House of Hermes on Delos Island

Visitors approach the House of Hermes


House of Hermes on Delos Island

Looking up at the House of Hermes


wildflowers and ruins on Delos island

Looking toward Ano Remiataris island across a field of wildflowers and ruins


House of Dionysus on Delos island

Columns rise above the stone walls of the House of Dionysus


House of Dionysus on Delos island

Columns and the mosaic floor inside the House of Dionysus


Temple of Isis on Delos island

The Temple of Isis


Temple of Isis on Delos island

Overlooking the Temple of Isis from the adjacent hillside


Building remnants on Delos island

Rows of column segments, bases and other foundations of ancient buildings


Delos view of Mykonos island

These visitors have a good view of Mykonos as they explore the ruins


a house on Delos island

Looking down on the remains of an ancient house


palm tree on Delos island

An elegant palm tree near The Sacred Lake


House of the Tritons on Delos

Lion head consoles carved into a column at the House of the Tritons


ancient commercial port on Delos

Seaside ruins of the ancient commercial port on Delos


Delos snack bar and archaeological museum

Approaching the snack bar, left, and the Delos Archaeological Museum. The snack bar has seating on an outdoor shaded terrace, but prices for its beverages, light snacks and souvenirs are quite steep. If you’re travelling on a budget, bring bottled water and a picnic lunch with you to Delos.


Delian lions in the Delos Archaeological Museum

The heads of three of the original marble Delian lions


Delian lions in the Delos Archaeological Museum

Peeking below the bellies of the Delian lions


a fresco in the Delos archaeological museum

A plaster wall painting in the ‘daily life’ gallery


panther mosaic in the Delos archaeological museum

A colourful panther mosaic


sculpture in Delos archaeological museum

The museum has six separate rooms of sculpture and reliefs


sculpture in the Delos archaeological museum

A close view of the face of one of the sculptures


Delos Archaeological Museum

Phallic symbols and sex-themed artifacts in a display case


Mosaic of Hermes and Athena

This giant mosaic of Hermes and Athena has been mounted on a wall at the juncture of two Hellenistic sculpture galleries


Mosaic of Hermes and Athena

I waited for the gallery to empty so I could snap this photo of the mosaic …


Delos archaeological museum

… without getting someone else’s head and body in the picture


Hermes and Athena mosaic

An image near the upper right-hand corner of the frame for the huge wall-mounted Hermes and Athena mosaic


Delos archaeological museum

One of the wall paintings in the daily life gallery


wall painting in the Delos archaeological museum

Another wall painting in the daily life gallery


wall mural in Delos archaeological museum

Another colourful plaster wall painting


Delos Archaeological Museum

A giant frame supports the tall Statue of Ofellius Ferus


sculpture in the Delos archaeological museum

People at my gym practically kill themselves doing squats in the hopes of someday boasting a rock-hard butt like the one on this sculpture …


Delos Archaeological Museum

… while this sun-streaked, trim torso confirms that six pack abs have been revered since ancient times


antiquities in the Delos Archaeological Museum

An interesting collection of facial expressions!



Visiting Delos: How to get there


Google map showing Rinia Delos and Mykonos

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


[Editor’s Note: Please see my Visiting Delos in 2016 post for current Delos information, including new ferry ticket prices and new fees for admission to the Delos archaeological site.]


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,  1:30 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 3. 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.



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Visiting Delos: Get an overview of the ancient ruins with a scenic hike to the summit of Mt Kynthos


Mt Kynthos on Delos island

A visitor points toward Mt Kynthos from the Delos harbour


Delos island

From the mountaintop, visitors can appreciate the vast extent of ruins on the island. The Delos Archaeological Museum is the large building at upper right.



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