(photo of The Terrace of the Lions by GreenBeanPrime/Flickr)
When I was planning my trip to Greece last summer, I asked my friend — and fellow travel enthusiast — Kate Schwab lots of questions because she had recently vacationed there. She helped me with Santorini and was patient while I endlessly debated To Mykonos or Not To Mykonos. Eventually I chose Naxos and Paros over Mykonos. It wasn't an easy decision, as one of things that I missed out was the archeological wonderland of Delos, which Kate writes about below.
If you tire of sunning yourself on one of Mykonos' golden shores, a historical excursion is just a boat ride away. The small island of Delos is often referred to as the birthplace of Greek culture (and is famous for being the birthplace of Apollo and Athena) and it's just 20 minutes from Mykonos Town. It's easy to purchase tickets from one of the numerous travel agency kiosks surrounding the pier and boats run fairly frequently in the morning. Do keep in mind that since the island has no hotels or restaurants, so be sure not to miss the final departing boat for Mykonos around 3 PM or you may find yourself in one for one deserted night!
photo of the Temple of Isis by Spinorbital/Flickr
Once safely deposited on Delos, travelers have free reign of the island. You're given a map and a ferry return schedule and voila! This freedom is a wonderful opportunity to take your time and explore. There were times when my friend and I couldn't see or hear a soul around and were simply surrounded by ruins. One of the most famous sights on Delos (and all of Greece really) is the Terrace of the Lions (pictured above). Originally, 9 to 12 of these stone creatures created an imposing facade along Sacred Way, the main thoroughfare of the ancient capitol.
Between 900 AD and 100 BC, Delos was the commercial capitol of Greece and the ruins of ancient agora (marketplace) reflect that. In addition to the agora, an impressive amphitheater remains intact as do the walls of the Temple. One of the coolest parts of Delos is found within the walls of the House of Dionysus. This private home dating back to the 2nd century has a still-intact mosaic of Dionysus riding a panther on the floor of the atrium. There are beautiful mosaics all over Delos. It's really astonishing to see these colorful tiles and think of the amazing progress the ancient Greeks accomplished.
photo by Jdlasica/Flickr