Wondering why Milos is worth visiting? Milos is one of the jewels of the Cyclades islands. Granted, it might not be in the spotlight like Santorini, or dress the insides of the travel brochures like Mykonos, but there’s something truly special about this speck in the Aegean Sea…
First off, it’s volcanic. That brings a rugged, raw geology that rarely fails to get the camera’s a-clicking. We’re talking lunar-like landscapes of alabaster stone, pumice rock, and hexagonal basalt columns, all ribbing the coastline from north to south, east to west. Go inland and the theme continues, with soaring peaks and fumaroles, along with a wide central caldera bay where the charming harbor town of Adamantas clutches the shore.
It’s not all about the rocky backcountry, though. Milos also comes up trumps with some traditionally Greek charms. Villages like Tripiti and Plaka brim with cute tavernas and fish-sizzling grills, webbed together by cobbled alleys where felines slink beneath the bougainvillea. The island is also far less busy than many of its compadres in this part of the Aegean, with some spectacular places to stay but none of the hustle and bustle. Let’s take a look at 7 of the top reasons why Milos is worth visiting this year…
The towns and villages
It’s likely that the charming harbor area in Adamantas will be the first place you encounter in Milos. It often makes a good first impression. Far smaller than other ferry ports in the region, it’s a chilled little marina with a salt-scented promenade that arcs for just over a mile from the jetties to the end of the town, replete with cafés and beer bars as it goes. Lovely stuff.
Further inland to the north is where most travelers will head. That’s the home of the dual villages of Tripiti (also spelled Trypiti) and Plaka. They’re officially separate but are no more than a 15-minute walk apart. Both straddle a high hill close to the stunning north coast beaches. Both have whitewashed cottages and blue-painted Orthodox onion domes to boot.
We’d say Tripiti is better for getting lost amid white-painted buildings and slowing the pace of your holiday. Plaka is a little livelier, closer to the main historical sites, and has a soaring Venetian castle that really comes into its own when the sunset hour approaches.
Few people know this, but arguably the most famous statue of the ancient Greek world was uncovered on Milos back in 1820. It’s now in the Louvre and goes by the name of the Venus de Milo (see? The clue’s in there!). It is just a hint at an isle that’s been inhabited for millennia, which means this corner of the Greek Aegean has a long story to tell.
You can unravel some of that in the vast archaeological dig site known as the Ancient City of Melos. It spreads along the shoreline just below the villages of Plaka and Tripiti. Much of the site dates back to the Hellenistic era, but there’s also a half-ruined theater that’s mainly left from the Roman period. You can drop into the Archaeological Museum of Milos that’s nearby to get the full story on it all.
For something a little more haunting, be sure to hit the Milos Catacombs. They dip under the rocky surface of the island, spreading through countless tunnels and caverns, most of which were carved out by the Romans. Their purpose? Christian burial grounds, which are estimated to have held up to 2,000 individual bodies at their peak.
The boat trips
Some of the best boat trips you’ll ever take in Greece will be on Milos. There – we said it! Big words, but they can be backed up. Every morning a whole cohort of ships leaves from the harbor in Adamantas to circumvent the island and reveal all the natural wonders that abound around its coast. They can take up to 11 hours to complete that, so seeing Milos by sea really is an odyssey.
There are two main types of boat trip to choose from: The full day and the half day. We can’t be more certain about this: Take the full day! This is likely to be your main activity and main expenditure on Milos (apart from hotels), and there’s SO much to see. Finally, if you’ve got the cash, opt for a yacht tour, not a double-decker tourist boat. They’re smoother rides and a better experience all round.
Some highlights that show why Milos is worth visiting just for the boat trips are…
- Klima – A quaint fishing town with colourful wooden shacks right by the water’s edge. A good place for a seafood lunch.
- Vani – Multi-colored rock formations and old mining quarries.
- Sikia – A swimming cove inside a cave. Surely one of the most amazingplaces on the island as a whole.
- Kleftiko – A hard-to-reach spot on the far south-western side of the island that’s a Milos must. It’s got soaring rock stacks that jut from the Aegean Sea and perfectly white cliffs.
The unique swimming locations – why Milos is worth visiting for snorkel lovers!
Milos’s volcanic geology isn’t that great if you’re after sandy beaches. However, if you’re the sort that loves rocky lagoons and inlets with wild swimming spots straight off the cliff, this is the place to be.
Yep, there aren’t many drags of powdery sand here. Instead, the focus is on hidden coves shrouded by soaring basalt and frozen lava flows. It’s dramatic and it’s different to many of the other isles in the Aegean. Some of the very best places to dive under, swim and snorkel on Milos are:
- Kleftiko – This amazing part of the Milos coastline showcases the true drama of the island. High cliffs of dazzlingly white rocks drop straight into a sky-blue sea. Come to snorkel in grottoes and under rock arches, and explore deep caves once used by smugglers.
- Sarakiniko – Created by ancient lava floes and whittled and carved by the northerly wind swells in the Aegean Sea, this otherworldly spot on the north coast simply can’t be missed. It’s known for its Moon-like landscape and blazing white stone, which hits a zenith where the main inlet wiggles inland to offer a perfect turquoise bathing area that’s like a natural swimming pool.
- Sikia – Sikia is Greece’s answer to the Marietas Islands in Mexico. If you’re not sure what we mean by that, it’s basically a beach inside a cave, but with the roof blown off. Pretty cool, huh?
It’s not as busy as other Aegean islands
The Aegean islands, and the Cyclades (of which Milos is a part) in particular, are up there with the most coveted holidaying destinations in Greece – nay, Europe! They beckon with some of the best beaches (check Paros for those) and the liveliest nightlife (Mykonos is the ticket for that). They are also the chain that hosts Santorini, an island with such dazzling sunsets and such luxurious honeymoon hotels that it surely needs no introduction.
Still, though, little Milos manages to exude the feel of a more off-the-beaten-path spot. Yes, it’s getting more popular every year, but it receives just a fraction of the arrivals of its near neighbors. Compare the number of people coming into teeny-weeny Milos Airport with the annual arrivals into Mykonos Airport. The first saw just 77,000 passengers in 2018. The second handled upwards of 550,000 in the same year!
The upshot here is that you get a little extra space and can enjoy the feel of a more laid-back, less-touristy isle. There won’t be hordes of sunset watchers cramming the lookout points in Plaka. You won’t have to jostle in the tavernas of Adamantas to get a space by the bobbing boats. It can also bring down prices in the local hotels…
The cost – Milos can be a cheap alternative to Santorini!
When most people think of the Aegean, they think of Santorini. Make no mistake: That isle, spread over the dusty rim of a collapsed volcano, is one of the most bucket-list destinations in Europe. However, it’s not alone in its majestic rock formations and striking outline. Milos is often considered a suitable alternative, with similarly eye-watering sunset shows and enthralling geological history to uncover. Only…it can offer all that for just a fraction of the cost of Santorini. Nice.
Let’s take hotels as an example. In Santorini during the midsummer rush, you’re probably looking at paying at least $200/night for one of the caldera-view accommodations. And that’s being conservative. Over on Milos, meanwhile, it’s possible to score sea-view hotels for as little as $100/night, not to mention some downright luxury places for $150/night.
You should also notice that Milos is cheaper for dining out than other, more popular, isles in the Cyclades chain. The beers in the happy-hour sunset bars cost less than on Mykonos. Meals out in the rustic tavernas of Tripiti village tend to be less than on Paros or Naxos. It’s just an all-round easier place on the wallet than other nearby destinations.
There are some wonderful hotels on Milos. We’ve already seen how they can beat Santorini on the price front, but that won’t mean compromising on quality. There are plenty of jaw-dropping establishments. We especially love the ones that make the most of the island’s sheer-cut coastline to offer high-perched suites with sweeping views of the Aegean. But we also can’t deny there’s something special about the down-to-earth Greek inns that reside between the narrow backstreets of Adamantas and Plaka village.
Some hotels that we think showcase why Milos is worth visiting for the accommodation alone are…
- White Coast Pool Suites ($$$) – An adult’s only resort that’s simply perfect for loved-up romantic stays and honeymoons. Away from the bustle of the harbor, it offers sleek and minimalist suites that spill out onto infinity pools above Sarakiniko beach. Wow.
- Cave Suites Milos ($$$) – Another major luxury option that oozes Scandi-cool style, the Cave Suites Milos has been built to meld seamlessly with the environment. The view from the pool takes in the whole western half of the island.
- Georgia Rooms Milos ($$) – Simple but sweet, the Georgia Rooms Milos will take you to the charming heart of Tripiti village. The best units have balconies with views over the rugged hillsides.
- Captain Stavros ($-$$) – A bargain option that whisks you to the wild peninsulas on the north side of Milos. Rooms have small kitchenettes and views over the small island of Kimolos across the strait.