- Region : Cyclades
- Population: 5.000
Milos, Cyclades, Greece the home of the celebrated Venus de Milo is maybe the best island for beach holidays and famous for its meandering coastline.
Although Plinius considers it as “most round” (rotundissima), and one apple (“milo” in greek) referring to its name is depicted on its ancient coins, Milos’ shape reminds rather of a horse-shoe, its interior being the natural harbor of the island, where the town of Adamas is located.
The island is built on volcanic rock that emerged from the Aegean Sea around 2.7-1.8 million years ago as a result of the continental drift, which included Europe’s separation from Africa and the filling in of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. The rock formations are prehistoric and the island is built on volcanic stones and lava.
Milos’ volcanic ground is rich in minerals, the exploitation of which has traditionally been the main financial resource for the island, since the Neolithic era (when the trade of obsidian was already thriving there) to date, with one only decline during the Turkish domination. Discovery of new minerals, after the Turkish rule, gave great impetus to local mining, offering jobs to a large number of inhabitants.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the statue of Venus was found on Milos, today exhibited in Louvre’s museum, which made the island famous all over the world. The famed ancient statue of Aphrodite of Milos was found in 1820 by a local farmer. It was then sold to the French Consul, who, in turn, housed her at the Louvre Museum of Paris for all to admire.The unrivalled beauty of the island and the deep blue water of its sea attract more and more travellers.
Milos hast it all, outstanding beaches, crystal clear water and gorgeous sunsets ... with either family beaches ideal for children or spots more appropriate for couples.
Boasting more than 75 amazing beaches of all sizes and types, many with crystalline deep-blue waters, multi-colored carved rocks and white-yellow coasts, they are truly a sight to behold. Some of them are tucked away while others are more out in the open. You can pick from sandy, rocky or pebbled, fully serviced or without any amenities.
Due to its volcanic origins and composition, the diversity of the Milos topography is most in evidence in its coastal bays, inlets and beaches. There are white-yellow beaches, bays with pebbles surrounded by stones, and white, red, yellow and black rocks. The sea also proves to be of colour and depth. There are numerous arranged beaches for swimming and sunbathing, as well as more isolated, natural spots.
Swimming in these seas with the unique geography and island setting is unlike anywhere else and a truly memorable experience.
How to get there
Milos is located in the southwest of the Cyclades, and around 90 miles from Athens. It takes approximately 6-7 hours to arrive as the ferries make many stops at islands along the way. Please note there is a ferry departing from Crete too. However, one can fly to Milos too.
Where to stay
What to do
Visit Plaka, the capital of Milos is Plaka, which hovers over the village of Adamas, at an altitude of around 200m. This picturesque old town with narrow cobbled streets, stone steps and small squares is a treasure trove of tavernas, shops and several beautiful mansions. During the afternoon it is completely pedestrianized as vehicles are prohibited then, so visitors can able to enjoy a rerlxaed stroll around this charming and interesting location, taking in the full extent of its sights, sounds and views. A visit to the castle, which was built by the Venetians in the 13th century, is a must – particularly if experienced at dusk which yields a magnificent sunset and panoramic views over the Bay of Milos. At the top of Plaka stands the shrine to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mesa Panagia). Walking through the narrow streets you will come across a beautiful church on the edge of the cliffs: the Cathedral of Milos, Birthplace of the Virgin Mary or Panagia Korfiatissa. Very often during early evening it is the island’s most popular venue for weddings where many young couples settle on this location for entering into marriage. While in Plaka, it is also worth visiting the Archaeological Museum of Milos. The world-famous statue of the Venus de Milo, which now resides in the Louvre in Paris, was discovered on this island and the gallery holds an exact copy. Many treasures in the museums of Athens also come from Milos.
Enjoy the amazing sunsets. The sunset experience on the island is stunning, rivalling, or even surpassing, the world-famous sunset of Oia in Santorini. The Panagia tis Korfiatissas church in Plaka is the ultimate spot to catch the sunset. Utopia bar is also a good spot. But space is limited so get there early to find a place to sit. The view from these points is sensational and takes in the gulf, Cape Vani, as well as the islet Antimilos, west of Milos. As the sun goes down, look for the lighthouse located by the two islets, the Arkadies, at the gulf’s entrance. Once it lights up, it signals the beginning of another beautiful evening on the island.
Kayaking around the island is a very different way to explore Milos’ unique volcanic coastline. Paddling through crystal clear waters, into caves, tunnels and arches, swimming in deserted beaches and discovering the small surrounding islands is all part of the experience. No previous kayaking experience is required and both one-day or multi-day trips are on offer. More adventurous kayakers one can try the multiday camping expedition around Milos with visits to other islands as part of the itinerary. There are many different routes available, depending on the weather and mainly the direction of the wind.
Underwater, Milos also has a great deal to offer. The island comprises a beautiful and rare wild sea bed with a vast variety of fish and other maritime creatures. Scuba diving is the perfect way to experience the underwater caves, ship wrecks from the II WW, pirate ship remains, warm water springs and magic underwater scenes. Even lesser experienced or novice scuba divers should make an effort and not pass up the opportunity of a first dive in the triangle of Milos-Kimolos-Polyaigos.
Milos has a certain reputation for its mining history, typified by the sulphur mines located on the eastern side of the island. A visit to these mines is like a trip back in time where until as recently as only 50 years ago sulphur was still being sourced. As a result, these well-preserved facilities offer a real and authentic experience of the full working mines in their period of activity. Artefacts such as tools and objects, the railroad wagons which carried the sulphur to ships, and the layout of the mining plant itself all combine to bring to life for visitors what daily life here must have been like. The sulphur mines operated from 1890 to 1960 with occasional interruptions and only ceased because of the new influx of cheap sulphur, mainly from America, into the market. The Sulphur is also responsible for colouring the pebbles on this part of the island a distinct shade of yellow in varying gradients. Swim in the crystal-clear waters to see them underwater and relax on the beach to experience these extraordinary colours amidst the rocks and coastal inlets. Don't miss to visit the Milos Mining Museum.
The inhabitants of Milos, loyal to their customs and traditions, are inviting you to attend feasts and events where you will have the chance to taste traditional food and local wine, to dance and have fun under the sounds of popular island music.
The Cultural Milos Festival is held every summer, in August, with great success; S&B Industrial Minerals S.A. was the original founder of the Festival, 11 years ago. In recent years it is organized by the Municipality of Milos, with S&B being the major sponsor. The Milos Festival, along with music events, includes also art events and theater performances, held on several sites of the island.
Milos, thanks to its volcanic make as well as to its post-volcanic hydrothermal activity, is blessed with many thermal baths, famous since antiquity for their medicinal, therapeutic and curative actions. Hippocrates, in the Fifth Book of “Epidemics”, mentions the full recovery of an eminent Athenian who suffered from skin disease, after visiting the Lakkos Baths on Milos. Another mention of the island’s therapeutic potential is by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, a famous French botanist, in his traveler’s texts written in 1771. The island is host to numerous hot springs with different temperatures and water composition.
The Milos Archeological Museum, in Plaka, is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building designed by the famous German-Greek architect Ernst Ziller. One can admire a number of very interesting exhibits: A prehistoric collection from Fylakopi, A Sculpture and Bas-relief collection , An obsidian collection, A collection of inscriptions. Useful information: Opening hours: 8:00-15:00; Mondays closed Admission: Full price: €3, Concessions €2 (over 65), free for students and children under 10 Telephone: +30 22870-21620
The Venetian Castle of Milos was built in the 13th century, on the Plaka hilltop which now serves as the capital. Several churches lie around about including those dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Skiniotissa) and the Church of Panagia Thalassitra. The castle was essential throughout history in protecting the island’s inhabitants from pirates who roamed like bandits throughout the Mediterranean. The castle was established by the first Duke of Naxos, Marco Sanudo. Climbing up the castle is recommended at any time of day to experience its architecture and design, but most of all at evening time for one of the most unique and extraordinary sunsets in Greece.
The Catacombs of Milos are widely held to have been the first major communal cemetery of the early Christian era. The original format was three major independent underground stoa (A, B, C) cut into the porous volcanic rock and each one was associated with a further, smaller one. Newer entrances constructed in the 20th century now connect the galleries and allow easier access for visitors. The cluster fills a rectangular burial chamber in the form of cubicula which are characteristic of Rome’s catacombs. The galleries have different widths varying from one to five metres, and different heights from 1m60 to 2m50. The walls of the galleries are carved arches, "arcosolia" within which shaped graves while a large number of burials. Some of the arcosolia have colored decoration up to the rim, usually in red expanse of the drum ceiling typically rendered in deep blue. Very few traces of the original colours remain, along with some decoration and inscription. Together, these relatively few signs offer clues to the activity and beliefs of the earliest Christians in these parts: their names, are important for the information they provide us for Christians names, the utterings of their clergy, and the anegls they called upon in protection for these graves. The Catacombs were not simply used as a cemetery and rerpository of bones but also as a place of worship. Evidence of this is to be found in the block of stone that remains in the middle of the central gallery and which clearly serve as an altar. A survey conducted in 1928 uncovered evidence (with four stone feet) of a box or casement chamber which is most likely to have been a reliquary housing the bones or relics of one of the first bishops of Christian-era Milos.
Fun begins at the beach, with a cold beer or a refreshing mojito at the at one of the many beach bars around Milos island. After sunset the ‘fun-ometer’ begins to rise. Many people walk to the staircase at the confluence of three most well-known bars in Adamas, opposite the main pier. That is the meeting point for almost all groups of friends at the start of the evening for a few drinks.
Adamas is the main port of Milos and the first impression most people first get of the island upon arrival. The village is built alongside the Bay of Milos, which is one of the most sheltered natural harbours in the Mediterranean. Constructed in 1835 by the Sfakians, who sought refuge on the island after a failed rebellion against the Turks, it is living history and working port to this very day. Adamas is the main tourist centre for the island and offers everything most visitors are looking for. From cafes and restaurants to ouzo bars and night clubs, from supermarkets to pharmacies, clinics and shops, this is the main spot. Milos is not a huge island so its distances are minor with the longest taking around forty minutes. Staying close to Adamas and thereby the principal conurbation of the island places visitors right at the heart of the island and within easy reach of all the beaches. Adjacent to Adamas lie two extremely pleasant beaches with crystal-blue waters, and close to the village too. Lagada is justly popular and Papikinou beach has been awarded the blue flag for its cleanliness.
Milos has a second port, Pollonia, which lies on the northeastern side of the island, 14km from Plaka and 10km from Adamas. It is the main departure port for ferries to the island of Kimolos as well as the many boats and yachts that cruise around the Cyclades and the islands and coastline of Greece, not to mention routes around the beautiful island of Milos itself. Pollonia is a fishing village where early each morning the fishing boats come straight in from the sea and offer their fresh catch to anyone waiting on the quayside to buy it. This is a wonderful way of coming by the freshest local fish, either to cook yourself or to have prepared and served by any of the picturesque tavernas which line the seafront. Nearby is the Lighthouse of Pelekoudas, where it is believed a temple of Apollo once stood and which in turn gave its name to the village. The ruins of the ancient city of Phylakopi are perfectly visible on the approach from Adamas and dotted around several beautiful beaches.
Zefyria was the original capital of Milos and was built by the Venetians. A major earthquake in 1767 caused it to be abandoned and deserted. Today it is a small village, where residents are mainly engaged in agriculture. It is well known for its yearly festival, held in mid-August, in honour the Blessed Virgin Mary Portiani. The church of the Virgin Mary Portiani is the old cathedral and was built in the 17th century. Zefyria is about 5km along from Adamas and 9km from Plaka. The village is passed through on the route to the beaches of Agia Kyriaki and Paliochori.
Leaving from Adamas, the main port of Milos and heading towards Plaka, are two beautiful villages almost joined to one other. These are Triovasali and Plakes. They offer several tavernas and restaurants as well as shops. Renowned for their churches, these are particularly vivid places during the season of Orthodox Easter with its many wonderful traditions and rituals.
Mandrakia is another Milos seaside settlement with several well preserved ‘wires’ which secure the fishing boats during winter when not in use. Primarily a fishing village today, Mandrakia offers some accommodation and a restaurant. It is located about 5km northwest of Plaka.
You should also make a day excursion by boat (many catamarns, sailing ships boats leave from Pollonia and Adamas), to see some beaches that can only be reached from the sea as well as caves and fantastic rock formations.
Where to swim
Situated in the main bay of Milos and very easily accessible by car, Achivadolimni is the go-to beach for any windsurfer in search of fun waves. Windsurfing teachers are on hand to give lessons there and then. Achivadolimni is a relatively large beach and neighbors, on its east side, the official camping site of Milos. Behind this beach, on the other side of the main road, is a natural lake with salty to brackish water formed by sea water and rainfall. Achivadolimni is also close to the airport.
The beach of Provatas, also known as the golden beach, is famous for its amazing yellowish to golden red sand and emerald sea. It is located to the south of Milos and it is easily reached by car and bus. Being so accessible and with its large sandy beach, Provatas is well suited to families.
For the adventurous looking for a more deserted beach, then a drive to Triades could be the answer. Located at the western tip of Milos, the final ten kilometres of the journey are via less-travelled and often rough roads. This is not a drive for the feint-hearted. The beach itself rewards those who make the trip: deserted expanses of coastline with fine-grain sand, almost like glass.
Gerontas can be found at the southernmost part of Milos and it is slightly more difficult to access because of the unfinished road towards the end of the drive. The last part towards the beach cannot be made by car and entails about a ten-minute walk to arrive. Gerontas beach has no facilities and, as such, is nature at its most unspoiled and peaceful beauty. Its natural arc, formed at the tip of the cliff and ending directly in the sea, is a truly lovely sight to behold.
The beach of Paleochori is located in the south of Milos and it is easily accessible via the road. From Adamas, the port of Milos, it is only a 15-20 minute drive and it is also accessible by bus. Paleochori distinguishes itself by having a pebbled beach instead of a sandy one. The beach is divided into a western and an eastern part by rock formations, and the two sides of the beach are connected through a narrow passage. Swimming in the sea brings with it a light — and in places more intense — odor of Sulphur, emanating from underwater sulphur springs. Paliochori is special due to the volcanic temperature that rises through the right side of the beach. It is there that the local restaurants cook delicious local dishes in the sand with the volcanic heat!
The charming little beach of Tsigrado is situated in the south of Milos and it is easily accessible by road, but probably the most difficult one to reach on foot after parking the car. Driving there is not an issue but from the top of the cliff it is a descent of around fifty meters down its steep face. Once there, the beach itself is delightfully incorporated into a small bay and the various coves and caves around that can be explored by swimming across.
Most probably the longest beach in southern Milos, Fyriplaka is the perfect place to go to on the days when the northern wind, blows with four or more grades of the Beaufort scale. It is easily accessible from the main road and it is also served by bus, which may be advised considering how popular this beach on busy days with car parking spaces at a premium. The cliffs of Fyriplaka hold amazing colours of red, white and yellow thanks to the presence of minerals that have been mined in Milos for hundreds of years. At places the cliffs have small caves that can also be used to lay down a towel and shelter from the sun or the sand on particularly windy days.
Kleftiko is one of the landmarks of Milos and a must-see for any visitor to the island. Kleftiko is known to have been the old pirates’ hideout, where they would stash their stolen treasures. The only way to access Kleftiko, which is situated at the south-western tip of Milos, is by boat. During the summer months there are many daily boat tours, departing from the port of Adamas or from the southern beaches,that will sail around the island, stopping at several beaches including Kleftiko. Hese tours give enough time to enjoy a pleasant swim around this famous cove of crystal-clear seawater with its gigantic rock formations, caves and tunnels.
On less windy days, the stunning white beach of Sarakiniko, located in the north of Milos, certainly calls for a visit. It is a small beach and at peak season it can be quite busy with swimmers, because of its natural beauty and accessibility, but should not be missed all the same. Sandwiched between magnificent (almost polished) white rocks and cliffs originating presumably from calcium minerals, the sensation of being on the beach is almost like walking on the moon. The water at the mouth of the beach is also quite shallow, up to the point the bay where it becomes deeper, making it ideal for families with young children.
Where to eat & drink
Milos has its own unique culinary culture.
We loved the pitarakia (traditional local cheese pies with onions and herbs) and ladenia (a pizza-like regional speciality) at either the Artemis or Xydous bakeries in Adamantas.
If you’re prepared to drive for food, then it’s worth trying the Mouratos bakery on the road from Adamantas to Plaka.
For full breakfast meals, Paleos in Plaka and Kivotos ton Gevseon in Pollonia both offer warm family environments, local products and delicious sweets.
Don’t forget to buy Milos’ famous flower honey as well as the island’s flavor-packed capers.