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Inside: Why Milos is one of the best Greek Islands for beaches (like post-card perfect Sarakiniko). Plus everything you need to know to plan your visit.
With dozens of popular islands to choose from, it’s easy for a tiny gem like Milos to get lost in the treasure chest that is the Greek Islands.
But with more than 70 unique beaches, Milos wows visitors with perhaps the most dramatic coastline in all of the Greek Islands. From the soaring white cliffs at Kleftiko and the lunar landscape of Sarakiniko to the multicolored, ramshackle boat houses wedged between earth and sea, Milos is a true work of art.
In fact, the Venus de Milo was rediscovered right here on Milos in 1820. The famous Greek sculpture (believed to be Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty) has stood in the Louvre ever since.
Located in the southernmost part of the Cyclades island group, Milos owes its dramatic beauty to its volcanic heritage. Volcanic activity has shaped the island’s incredible rock formations, steep cliffs, and fascinating caves making it a bit of an open-air geology museum.
The volcanic soil is also rich in minerals like iron, barite and sulphur, making the mining industry on Milos the island’s primary source of wealth for thousands of years.
But these days, the mining industry is slowly giving way to tourism. Which means there’s simply no better time to visit.
But first, before I move on to all things Milos, a few words about what it’s like to travel to Greece right now.
Traveling to Greece right now
My husband and I just returned from a 3-week trip traveling around the Greek Islands.
I wrote a comprehensive post about traveling in and around Greece right now during the Covid-19 pandemic: The Ultimate Guide to the Greek Islands
It’s everything you need to know about pre-arrival testing, whether you’ll have to wear a mask, where you can get a Covid test if you need one to return home, and all the essentials for traveling to Greece right now.
If you’re planning a trip to Greece in 2021, it’s a must-read.
A few specific Covid-19 notes about Milos:
- PCR & Rapid Antigen Tests on Milos – If you need a Covid-19 test in Greece to return home to your country, you can get a test on Milos. However, there is no lab on Milos, so if you need a PCR test, those are sent out daily to Athens and it takes 36-48 hours to receive the results via email. Check here for more information on testing on Milos. For testing in Athens, refer to my post above.
- Covid Protocols/Masks – Of the 6 Greeks islands we recently visited, Milos had the most noticeable Covid protocols. Greece does still have an outdoor mask mandate, though in our experience it was only loosely followed on most islands (including Milos). However, our host did mention that there is technically a EUR 150 fine for not wearing a mask (though he hadn’t heard of anyone who’d actually been fined). Generally speaking, we kept our masks handy when walking around town and put them on any time we went in a store or if we couldn’t maintain social distance outside. There were also limits on the number of people in stores. One small shop we visited was limited to one customer at a time. And a supermarket in Adamas had a “pass system” at the door to control one-in, one-out access.
But honestly, the restrictions were reasonable and it wasn’t a big deal. Not much different from what most of us are used to in our own countries these days. It didn’t at all impact our enjoyment of the island.
And now, back to the fun stuff!
Why is Milos a terrific island to visit?
With so many amazing Greek islands to choose from, picking the right island (or islands) for you can be the hardest part of planning a holiday to Greece.
So what makes Milos the perfect choice?
Of all the Greek islands I have visited, Milos has – by far – the most unique and diverse beaches. And that’s reason enough for most visitors.
But it also has just the right amount of tourist infrastructure. Enough hotels, restaurants, and activities to keep visitors busy for a few days, a week, or more. Yet the island still maintains a laid-back, undiscovered vibe.
The bottom line? Milos still feels like an authentic Greek island mostly untouched by tourism.
So now, you might ask…
How long do you need in Milos?
Since we were island-hopping on our recent visit, we only planned 3 days on Milos. But I wish we had stayed longer. You could easily spend a week or more exploring the island’s incredible beaches and lovely towns.
But if you’re short on time, or if you want to squeeze multiple islands into your itinerary, you can definitely see the highlights in 2 full days (like we did). Though it won’t leave much time for enjoying all those beautiful empty beaches!
How to Get to Milos – Flight or Ferry?
There are two ways to get to Milos:
- A flight or ferry from Athens.
- Or, a ferry from a neighboring island like Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Ios, or Naxos.
Flights to Milos from Athens
Olympic Airlines operates 3 to 4 flights a day from Athens to Milos during the peak summer season. Olympic is 100% owned by Aegean Airlines and you can book your flights on either website (schedules and pricing are the same).
The flight time is a quick 40 minutes and flights are often well under EUR 100 one-way when booked far enough in advance. Tip: With Aegean and Olympic, the earlier you book the cheaper the flights.
Ferries to Milos from Athens
Ferries to Milos depart from the Piraeus port in Athens. Piraeus is approximately 7 miles from downtown Athens (a 20-minute drive by taxi) and 31 miles from the airport (a 40-minute drive by taxi, cost EUR 50-70). There are also frequent bus connections from the airport (cost EUR 6, travel time is at least an hour).
The ferry takes as little as 2h 30m on the Seajet high-speed ferry with just one stop in Sifnos. Or the journey can take as long as 7 hours on the Dionisios slower car ferry (which makes 3 stops along the way). There are also a few other options in between.
The price difference is negligible between the two, so in this case I would opt for the fast ferry.
But before you depart Athens…
if this is your first trip to Greece, be sure to stop over for at least a few days to see the sights. If time is short, here’s a foolproof one-day itinerary: 24 Hours in Athens
Ferry connections to Milos from other islands
If you’re island-hopping around the Cyclades, there are plenty of ferry connections to Milos from Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Ios, and Mykonos.
The best site for booking ferries in Greece is FerryHopper.com.
Do I need a rental car on Milos?
Like most Greek islands, Milos has a good local bus system that will get you to most of the best places to visit on the island. If you decide to use the bus to get around, I highly recommend staying in Adamas town where you’ll have access to the most frequent bus connections to the beaches.
That said, it’s much more convenient to have your own wheels. A rental car will only set you back about EUR 30 per day (slightly more if you need an automatic) and it’s well worth it to be able to explore Milos on your own schedule. Quad bikes and scooters are even cheaper but not as comfortable.
Your hotel can often help you with booking a car on the island and in the summer season it’s definitely best to reserve in advance.
Driving on Milos
Driving on Milos is fairly straightforward. In the northwestern part of the island through the towns of Plaka and Tripiti, it can be a little challenging (think narrow roads and few directional signs). But along the northern coast and southern coast (where you’ll do most of your driving to reach the beaches) the roads are good and traffic is sparse.
Of course, you’ll want to watch out for goats here and there. But that’s just part of the island’s charm.
Don’t forget to confirm with your rental company where you’re allowed to take the car, quad, or scooter as parts of the island (like popular Kleftiko) are off-limits due to poor roads. Not to worry, any place you can’t reach by car is well-served by boat trips.
Best places to stay on Milos
Since Milos is newer to the tourism scene than its long-popular neighbors, there are fewer hotels to choose from. So, as with a car, book well in advance, especially if you plan to visit in July or August.
Hotels are primarily located in the main port town of Adamas, the hilltop capital of Plaka, or the seaside town of Pollonia. But there are also some located close to the popular beach areas.
We stayed in Adamas and enjoyed the convenience of being close to town for restaurants and shops and being close to the port for arrival and departure. Plus, it was easy to drive out to the other parts of the island during the day.
Here are a few great hotel choices on Milos:
Cave Suites Milos – Best for Couples – Located close to the island’s most unique beach, Sarakiniko, this new hotel is a 5-star option in a sea of lovely 3-star hotels. If you’re seeking the “Santorini hotel experience” on Milos, this is the hotel for you. Spacious suites here each come complete with a private pool. Or, for a more affordable Santorini-style option, try Volcano Luxury Suites Milos where rooms come with a private hot tub on the terrace. Tip: For either of these hotels, you’ll definitely want to have a car.
White Rock Milos Suites – Best for Families – Located in Adamas town with plenty of shops and restaurants within a short walk. This hotel offers 1, 2, and 3 bedroom well-appointed apartments making it a great option if you’re traveling with the whole family or if you just like a little extra space.
Hotel Ippocampos Studios – Best for a Tight Budget -This hotel is a great budget option close to Adamas. It’s also where we chose to stay on our recent trip since we were traveling for several weeks and needed something affordable (we splurged later on Paros and Santorini!). Our room was bright and spacious and had a balcony with a lovely sunset view over Adamas. The walk to town was less than 15 minutes.
5 Best Things to Do in Milos
Whether you have just a few days or an entire week on Milos, here are the hands-down best things to see and do on the island:
1. Explore the Fishing Village of Klima
Milos is dotted with small, charismatic fishing villages but the largest and most iconic is Klima. The village is made up of residences called “syrmata” (or sirmata/sirmas) which are dwellings dug right into the soft rock.
The syrmata are traditional boathouses with a garage on the first floor (to protect the boats from strong winter winds) with a small home for the fisherman above. Each one is painted in a different primary color giving the village the quaintness of a seaside box of crayons.
But you can do more than just visit these colorful boathouses, you can actually stay in one!
Many of the houses have been completely renovated and turned into vacation rentals. If you’re looking for some serious charm for your stay on Milos, try one of these:
All three are just steps from the water and have incredible sunset views. There’s also a seaside restaurant nearby and the catacombs of Milos are just 4km away.
2. The Caves of Kleftiko
To truly appreciate the dramatic beauty of the coastline, a boat trip around the island is an absolute must. And a boat trip out to the sea caves of Klefkito makes for a terrific afternoon. It’s the most popular day trip on the island and with good reason.
Startling white cliffs meet blue-green transparent waters and the combination is simply magical. Once off the boat, you can swim through a variety of fascinating caves or just enjoy the refreshing waters and the natural volcanic beauty all around you.
There are also full-day sailing trips around the island that visit Kleftiko. But if you want to maximize your time there, book a trip that is specifically for Kleftiko.
Note: While it is possible to drive to Kleftiko, the roads are not paved and most rental companies strictly prohibit taking your car or scooter there.
And now, let’s talk about all those incredible beaches…
3. Visit the Best Beaches in Milos
The beaches of Milos are as diverse as they are lovely. From soaring cliffs to sandy coves to otherworldly landscapes, there’s something for every kind of beach lover. Most beaches in Milos are without any facilities (unorganized) so be sure to bring your own snacks and drinks.
Here are 4 beaches on Milos that you simply can’t miss:
1. Sarakiniko Beach
The island’s most iconic beach, Sarakiniko is the first stop on any Milos itinerary. With vast white rock formations sliced by the turquoise Aegean Sea, the whole landscape is truly out of this world. For the adventurous, there are even a few good cliff-jumping spots nearby. For the less adventurous (that’s me), there’s a small beach area but most people just grab a spot on one of the smooth, lunar-like boulders anywhere along the clear, calm waters.
2. Papafragas Beach
This bottle-green cove is another unique beauty on Milos. A cave leads to a small sandy beach that grants access to this brilliant natural pool sandwiched between giant imposing rocks. A hole in the rock forms a natural arch where the waters of Papafragas connect with the sea.
3. Tsigrado Beach
This remote beach is only accessible by boat or via a steep double-ladder contraption that is not for the faint of heart. In fact, on our boat trip to Kleftiko, our captain mentioned that a visitor was injured there the day before when someone above them slipped on the ladder. But if you can’t resist the silky white sands and clear, tranquil waters, don’t worry. There are plenty of organized boat trips that allow for a stop here.
4. Fyropotamos Beach
Like Klima, Fyropotamos is home to traditional, colorful boathouses. But here they surround a stunning crystalline bay perfect for swimming. The beach itself is a mix of sand and pebbles but you’ll find a few trees for shade. Don’t miss a walk along the bay to visit the chapel of Agios Nikolaos and the ancient ruins marking the entrance to the bay.
4. Stroll the hilltop capital of Plaka
Constructed in 1800 with the typical white-washed Cycladic architecture, the picturesque village of Plaka is a must. The town’s narrow, paved alleys are lined with traditional tavernas, cafes, and shops. And since the village is situated on a hill, it offers panoramic views over the Aegean Sea. It’s also a great place to soak up the sunset views.
If there’s time, don’t miss a stop at the Archeological Museum to view the replica of the Venus de Milo.
5. Visit the seaside town of Pollonia
Built around a lovely, calm inlet, Pollonia is the 2nd most popular area for tourism. With plenty of hotels, restaurants, and shops, it’s a great place to stop for lunch by the sea. The sleepy fishing village is a quieter alternative to staying in Adamas and can be a terrific home base while visiting the island (Heliotropio Studios is a great hotel choice in town).
From Pollonia, you can also take a boat trip over to Kimolos islet where you’ll find more lovely, empty beaches and just one small village.
Hungry? Here’s one restaurant you can’t miss on Milos
And if all that exploring has left you famished, head back to Adamas for this unmissable restaurant.
When both our taxi driver and our hotel recommended the same restaurant (and only that restaurant), we knew we had to give it a try. And I’m so glad we did, it was the best meal we had during our whole 2-week trip to the Greek Islands.
Located just outside Adamas port on the road to the airport, “Oh! Hamos” is a little Garden of Eden just across the street from the sea.
The restaurant’s quirky name is Greek slang for being crazy and having fun, a name that originated from one too many rakis during a family wedding celebration. And with personalized service and a relaxed seaside environment, you’ll feel like part of the family while you’re there.
Oh! Hamos serves up traditional Greek dishes featuring vegetables and meats produced on their own farm or nearby farms on Milos. They even produce their own homemade cheeses. Portions are hearty and prices are very affordable.
If you only go to one restaurant on Milos, make it this one.
So don’t wait…plan your trip to Milos now!
As the legacy of mining on Milos gradually gives way to a future of tourism, now’s the time to visit. While Milos still feels relatively undiscovered,
With the island’s laid-back vibe and all those incredible beaches, Milos won’t be a secret for long.