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St Nicholas Fort at the entrance to the harbour in Rhodes, South Aegean.
Map of Greece highlighting the position of the islands that make up the South Aegean administrative region of Greece.

Exploring the Past in the South Aegean

The South Aegean region of Greece is made up of the Cyclades and Dodecanese groups of islands in what is the central and south-eastern Aegean Sea. Each of the islands has their own particular character and range of archaeology sites. So whether you enjoy ‘island hopping or staying put for your holiday – there is certainly an island in the South Aegean for you!

Volcanic and Ancient Landscapes of Milos

Milos has a long and fascinating past, both geological and archaeological. Much of the rich archaeological past is a direct consequence of the island’s geological past. This southern most island in the Cyclades lies on a volcanic arch that includes the island of Santorini. And it is the volcanic rocks and minerals that have been the backbone of this island’s economy for millennia.

The Mona Lisa, one of the world's most well known paintings.

Popular Historical Activities on the South Aegean Islands


Overlooking the ancient theatre on the island of Delos.

The island of Delos has been all but inhabited since at least the 7th century BC, and is today one of the most important mythological and archaeological sites in Greece. According to Greek Mythology, it was on this island that Apollo and Artemis were born. Delos became a major sanctuary to these two gods, with a large Hellenistic city developing on the island. Now an extensive archaeological site that has been in the process of on going excavations since 1872 by Greek and French archaeologists … Visit Delos >>


One of the many Byzantine style churches on the island of Ios, Greece.

Besides the many beautifully situated churches scattered throughout the island, of which there is said to be one for each day of the year, Ios has some wonderful archaeological sites open for visitors. The award winning site of Skarkos is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the region, showing what island life was like during the early Cycladic period. All periods of the islands fascinating past are represented by a range of artefacts and object excavated from archaeological sites not accessible to the public … Visit Ios >>


A Byzantine church with a view over the valley to Olympos.

Karpathos is a long thin island on the south eastern edge of Greece, between Crete and Rhodes. Besides magnificent pine-covered mountains and beautiful beaches with cobalt-blue water, the island has many stunning archaeological and historical sites that bear testimony to the complex history of this island. Take a boat trip to remote prehistoric settlements, or hike along ancient paths to Roman sites and Byzantine churches … Visit Karpathos >>


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Famous for the Venus de Milo, Milos is another of the Aegean volcanic islands, but its archaeology was not as dramatically altered as on Santorini. Rather than covering prehistoric settlements in volcanic ash, the economy of the island in prehistory developed with the exploitation of obsidian. Stone tools made using this volcanic glass were much sought after in the past, and have been found at archaeological sites on neighbouring islands, elsewhere in Greece and even further afield … Visit Milos >>.

Popular Boating Excursions Around the South Aegean Islands


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In ancient times Paros was well known for the fine quality of marble. The stone was quarried and sculptures exported all over the classical world, many of which are now scattered further afield in museums around the modern World. These ancient quarries can be visited, along with a range of sites from the early Mycenaean period to the more recent periods of the Middle Ages. Climb to the top of a prehistoric acropolis, or take a leisurely stroll along an ancient Byzantine pilgrimage route.


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Santorini is one of six islands that remains following the eruption of a volcano about 3,600 years ago. This so-called Minoan Eruption, thought to be the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, wiped out the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri on the island, and the ensuing tsunami is thought by some archaeologists to have lead to the end of the Minoan Civilization throughout the Aegean. Covered by volcanic ash, the Bronze Age port-town of Akrotiri is not only very well preserved, the archaeological site is often likened to Pompeii. Visit Santorini >>

Popular Activities on the South Aegean Islands