Cyclades Islands, map

The Cyclades Islands are located in the central part of the Aegean Sea, and have a Mediterranean climate, with mild and moderately rainy winters and warm and sunny summers. The wind blows frequently: in winter a cold wind from the continent can blow, while summers are characterized by the almost constant blowing of the Meltemi, a wind that reduces the feeling of heat, but at the same time maintains a bit cool the temperature of the sea, and can also make the sea rough and create marine currents.
The main islands of the Cyclades are Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Kimolos, Delos, Ios, Kea, Folegandros, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Rineia, Serifos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Syros, Tinos and Santorini.
To the south of Naxos we find the small archipelago of the Lesser Cyclades, which includes the islands of Ano Koufonisi, Kato Koufonisi, Donoussa, Schoinoussa, Irakleia and Keros (with the neighbouring islets of Ano Antikeri and Kato Antikeri). The Lesser Cyclades have a climate similar to that of the nearby islands of Naxos and Ios.

The average temperature ranges from around 11 °C (52 °F) in January and February to around 25 °C (77 °F) in July and August.
Here, for example, are the average temperatures in Santorini: as you can see, daytime temperatures normally remain below 30 °C (86 °F) also in July and August. During heat waves, when in other areas of Greece the temperatures can reach 40 °C (104 °F), in the Cyclades they typically remain lower, around 34/35 °C (93/95 °F).
Santorini - Average temperatures
Min (°C)9910121519222219161311
Max (°C)141416192227282726221916
Min (°F)484850545966727266615552
Max (°F)575761667281828179726661

In winter, especially in January and February, the islands can be affected by outbreaks of cold air from the continent, and in these cases there may be cold days, with highs below 10 °C (50 °F), and a strong wind able to increase the feeling of cold. Sometimes it can even snow, especially on the northern islands, and on the elevations of the islands equipped with hills and low mountains.

Snow in Tinos

The rains on the Cyclades are not abundant, since they are generally below 500 millimeters (20 inches) per year, and sometimes below 400 mm (16 inches); they are concentrated in the cold period, from October to March, when they can occur in the form of showers or thunderstorms.
Because of the long summer drought, the landscape is typically semi-arid, especially on the flat islands, on the southern slopes and along the coasts; on the islands that have some elevations, the highest areas and the slopes exposed to the north and west are generally more verdant.
Here is the average precipitation in Milos.
Milos - Average precipitation

The amount of sunshine on the Cyclades is great in summer, when clear skies are the norm. In winter, periods of bad weather, with cloudy skies, alternate with sunny periods.
Here are the average daily sunshine hours in Naxos.
Naxos - Sunshine


Since the wind that blows in summer tends to keep the sea temperature a bit low, the sea on the Cyclades Islands is never very high; however, it reaches a maximum of 23/24 °C (73/75 °F) in July and August; in June, it's still a bit cool, about 21 °C (70 °F). Here, for example, is the sea temperature in Mykonos.
Mykonos - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)161515161821232323211817
Temp (°F)615959616470737373706463

Best Time

The best time to go to the Cyclades Islands for a beach holiday is the summer, from June to mid-September.
It's better to bring a sweatshirt for the cool evenings, which occur mainly in June, but given the intensity of the wind, those who are sensitive to cold can feel a little cool also in July and August, and thus can equip themselves also in these months.
For hikes, spring is good, in April and May, but since it's usually not too hot, you can walk round the islands also in summer.

Back to the Greek Islands.