Ultimate Travel Guide to the Island of Milos

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Featured image taken by @tmitaeff on Instagram

Located in the western Cyclades, Milos is a hidden jewel of the Aegean Sea. It offers visitors everything they could dream of in a Greek holiday: classic whitewashed architecture, incredible food, historic significance, breathtaking sunsets and a wealth of beaches—75 of them, to be exact. And while the island is well-known among Greeks, it has thus far gone relatively undiscovered by global travelers, making it a worthy alternative to the crowds and high costs of destinations like Santorini and Mykonos.

Formed by ancient volcanic activity, Milos boasts a fascinating landscape, featuring vast caves, thermal springs and mineral baths, colorful rock formations and beaches that resemble the surface of the moon. Thanks to rich deposits of valuable minerals, the mining industry remains key to the island’s economy and its 5,000 permanent residents, who also work in fishing, agriculture and the growing tourism sector.

From a historical standpoint, Milos may be best known for the famous sculpture discovered there in 1820: the Venus de Milo now housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The island is also home to early Christian catacombs older than those found in Rome, and its ancient Greco-Roman theater is one of the finest examples of elevated marble architecture in Europe.

In addition to its beauty and history, Milos welcomes visitors with traditional Mediterranean hospitality, and both its larger towns and tiny fishing villages provide a memorable experience in both cuisine and culture.

Best Time to Visit Milos

With its mild Mediterranean climate, gentle waves and warm seas, Milos is an idyllic place to visit year-round. Tourist season picks up in May and winds down in October, with activity peaking in July and August.

If your primary objective is sightseeing and avoiding the crowds, consider visiting during April or May, when the island’s abundant wildflowers are in full bloom thanks to the winter rainy season.

If you want to experience Milos to the fullest, with ideal temperatures for swimming and water sports, wait until September, when the seas are still warm and crowds have started to thin, yet nearly all businesses are still open for the season.

Getting to Milos

Milos is conveniently located and easily accessible by ferry or plane.

If you choose to travel by ferry, you can catch your boat at the Piraeus port in Athens and expect a two- to seven-hour journey, depending on the type of watercraft and number of other stops it needs to make. Speedy Seajets ferries are the fastest option, with travel times of around two hours, but they’re also a bit pricier than other companies. (Note: If you have a tendency to get seasick, slower ferries offer a gentler, albeit longer, ride.)

Ferries are also available from other islands, including Santorini and Crete; boats operate frequently during high season but dwindle during the winter months.

A direct flight from Athens to the airport in central Milos takes about 40 minutes, with greatest availability between April and October. Book your ticket as far in advance as possible to ensure the lowest rate; last-minute deals on fares to Milos are virtually nonexistent. You may also find it cheaper to fly from Athens to another Cycladic island and then take a ferry, so be sure to compare all possible routes if you’re looking to save money.

Places to Stay in Milos

Asterias Boutique Hotel

This family-owned hotel offers proximity to both Sarakiniko and Papafragas beaches as well as the coastal town of Pollonia. The property provides free parking, daily housekeeping and attentive staff available 24/7. Rooms are bright, clean and simply decorated with wrought-iron furniture. Each room’s private balcony or terrace overlooks sea or mountain vistas, and in-room amenities include satellite TV, fully-equipped kitchen, individually-controlled air conditioning, Wi-Fi and ergonomic mattresses.

Milos Breeze Boutique Hotel

This four-star gem in Pollonia delivers stunning waterfront views and classic whitewashed Cycladic design for an experience sure to delight your senses. Feel the warm sun on your face as you lounge beside the pristine blue pool; inhale the fragrant blossoms of the hotel gardens from your balcony; savor a traditional Mediterranean breakfast of creamy, tangy Greek yogurt topped with a sticky-sweet drizzle of local honey. Every room faces the shimmering Aegean Sea and includes free Wi-Fi, luxury bath products and plush robe and slippers.

Melian Boutique Hotel and Spa

This popular luxury property in Pollonia fills up fast, so act early to secure your room. The friendly, professional staff will amaze you with their attention to detail; available services include helicopter transfer, car and ATV rental, private sailing tours, room service and private shuttle. The property features a gourmet restaurant, full-service spa, fitness center, private dock, garden and outdoor jacuzzi. Each posh room and suite includes high-end mattresses, luxury mattress toppers, soundproof windows, 40-inch LCD TV and a private veranda with table and chairs.

Hotel Portiani

Just a stone’s throw from the main port in Adamas, Hotel Portiani is also convenient to bus and taxi services, the local market, restaurants, cafés and Adamas beach. Rooms come with private balconies for taking in sea or mountain views as well as free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TV. Enjoy the daily breakfast buffet featuring fresh fruit, pastries and local delicacies; in the afternoon and evening, the buffet is stocked with fruit, biscuits and other sweets.

Miland Suites

This 6.5-acre property in Kanavas boasts eight spacious luxury villas overlooking the Aegean Sea. Guests can relax by the large outdoor pool with waterfall and jacuzzi, partake in an elaborate breakfast spread and read in the peaceful library lounge; it also offers a children’s pool and play area for visiting families. All villas offer free Wi-Fi, smart TV with satellite channels, Nespresso coffee machine and private porch.

Hotel Eleni

The family-owned Hotel Eleni sits just steps from the beautiful beach of Lagada in Adamas, and this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is close to dozens of restaurants, tavernas and cafés. The hotel’s classic Cycladic architecture—from whitewashed walls and blue trim to blooms of bougainvillea—and sea views mean you won’t need to go far for excellent photo opportunities. In addition to taxi and car rental assistance, hotel staff can even arrange day trips around the island on the hotel’s own private boat.

How Long to Stay in Milos

Larger than both Santorini and Mykonos, Milos has so many sights and activities to offer that it requires at least a week to do it justice. If you’re island-hopping, give yourself at least three full days here, but consider extending your stay, especially if relaxing on the beach and swimming in the turquoise waters of the Aegean rank near the top of your to-do list; with its 75 beaches and relative obscurity, you can relax here without having to fight the crowds and inflated prices that plague some of the other Cycladic islands during peak tourism season.

Getting Around Milos

Rent a Car, Motorbike or ATV

Milos is a large island with lots to see and do; renting your own vehicle will give you the most freedom with your schedule. You can rent a car locally at one of several agencies on the island or book through your travel agency. Be sure to book ahead of time, especially during the summer, as same-day availability can be hard to come by.

Take the Bus

The island operates a fairly comprehensive local bus system that travels from Adamas to most of the popular towns and beaches around Milos. Buses run frequently during July, August and September, with additional routes incorporated to meet tourist demand. Fares are quite reasonable at around two euros per trip.

Hail a Cab

Most taxis on Milos are based at either the airport or near the port in Adamas, although there is a small seasonal hub located in Triovasolos. Prices are reasonable compared to some of the other Greek islands, but supply is limited to roughly 15 cabs throughout the entire island, so it could take you a while to find a ride. It’s also worth noting that many taxis will not travel the island’s dirt roads, which make up much of the road network on the western side of Milos.

Things to Do on Milos

Sail Around the Island

A sailing tour is perhaps the most relaxing and scenic way to see all 75 of Milos’ beaches, several of which are only accessible via boat. Some tours also include jaunts to nearby islands Glaronisia and Polyegos as well as snorkeling gear for exploring Kleftiko Bay.

Stroll Sarakiniko Beach

Sarakiniko beach may be the most-photographed stretch of sand on Milos, with a landscape that strongly resembles that of the moon, complete with unusual rock formations and bleached-sand dunes. Popular activities at Sarakiniko include cliff-diving into the crystal-clear sea, sunbathing and investigating the nearby shipwreck. Bring a picnic dinner and plan to stay and watch the sun set over the water.

Explore Plaka

This quaint, quintessentially Cycladic village is rich with narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses and majestic churches. It’s also home to the ruins of a Venetian castle that sits on a hilltop overlooking the town; hike to the top for a closer look at its remains along with panoramic views of the island. While you’re in town, indulge in an authentic Greek meal at one of the many restaurants and swing by the Archaeological Museum to see its replica of the famous Venus de Milo.

Tour the Ancient Catacombs

In the small village of Trypiti, you’ll find early Christian burial and worship sites dating back to the first century A.D.—some of the oldest catacombs known to exist. The tour is short, leaving you time to visit the nearby ancient theater.

View Art in a Bomb Shelter

A bomb shelter leftover from the German invasion of the island during World War II has been repurposed into what has to be one of the world’s most unique art galleries. Admission to this Adamas-based attraction will only set you back a few euros, but its operating hours are limited, so plan accordingly.

Go Beach-Hopping

With more than six dozen to choose from, Milos is a beach-lover’s paradise. Just a few of the standouts include Tsigrado, a secluded location that requires you to descend a pair of ladders to reach the shore; Firiplaka, with its rust-colored rocks and aquamarine water; Papafragas, made up of two narrow coves surrounded by steep, rocky cliffs; Paleochori, a well-developed and popular beach on the southern coast; and Papakino, whose tree-lined shores and soft sands are a favorite with windsurfers.

Dive into a Pirate’s Lair

You’ll need to book a tour or complete a rugged hike to reach remote Kleftiko Bay, but you’ll be rewarded with access to fascinating underwater caves easily visible through the crystal-clear sea. This famous cove, whose name translates to “Bandit’s Lair,” once provided shelter to the bands of pirates that roamed the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages; today, it’s a popular tourist attraction for visitors willing to take the time and trouble to reach it.

Places to Eat in Milos

Best Breakfast: Milors Café

This all-day café in Adamas delights diners with daily offerings of made-to-order waffles, crepes, pancakes and more. Fresh juices, fruit and excellent coffee make it a breakfast standout, but feel free to stop by later in the day for salads, sandwiches, pastries and ice cream.

Best Lunch: Jordan’s MEAT-ing Steakhouse and Grill

The cheeky name is well-deserved: this no-frills grill in Pollonia puts meat on the center stage. Melt-in-your-mouth offerings include steaks, burgers, kebabs and souvlaki as well as traditional Mediterranean dishes like moussaka, stuffed peppers and pastas. There’s also an extensive menu of salads and appetizers for those looking for lighter fare.

Best Dinner: Medusa

This friendly waterfront café near Mandrakia beach serves freshly-caught seafood along with some of the island’s most spectacular sunset views. The simple, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine allows the fresh flavors of the food to shine in dishes like grilled octopus, house-baked bread slathered with tomato sauce and lightly-seasoned ladotiri (local cheese). Come early and don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of a wait—the food is that good.

Best Dessert: Palaios Coffee and Pastry

This charming café in Plaka makes everything from scratch—even the milk is pasteurized on site! The menu features a wide variety of sweets and pastries, from the classic baklava and orange cake with olive oil to mille-feuille and freshly-churned ice cream.

Top Photo Spots in Milos

  • The jewel-toned waterfront houses of Klima Village
  • The whitewashed churches at the Venetian Castle
  • The dramatic cliffs and underwater caves of Kleftiko
  • The moonscape of Sarakiniko beach
  • Sunset from the hilltops in Plaka

Final Thoughts

Milos may not get the headlines that Santorini and Mykonos do, but those in the know prefer to keep it that way: this delightful island in the Cyclades delivers a top-notch Aegean experience without the crowds and hype. If your wish list includes dazzling sunsets, crystal-clear waters, picturesque Cycladic homes and churches, quaint villages and amazing food, your dream vacation begins and ends in Milos.

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