Why Every Visitor To Greece Should Visit a Lesser-known Island Like Milos
While planning our vacation to Greece, my friend Ismael and I knew we wanted to spend some time on one of the lesser-known islands. After much deliberation, we decided to go to Milos, a quiet island of only 5,000 residents whose coastline is dotted with fishing villages and unspoiled beaches.
Milos stood in stark contrast to Santorini, the most visited island in Greece. We avoided hordes of tourists by visiting in October, but even so, Milos and Santorini had fundamentally different atmospheres. This made the two islands a great pair to visit over the span of a week (read more about choosing islands here [coming soon]).
My favorite part of Milos was the dozen or more tiny villages throughout the island, some of which only contained a few houses. The island also has 70 beaches along its coastline, and many of them will take your breath away. In terms of cuisine, we found restaurants with a distinct “mom-and-pop” vibe and very satisfying dishes.
The Many Villages of Milos
For an island with a land area of only 60 square miles, Milos has a surprising number of towns, villages, and settlements. Almost all of them are clustered on the eastern half of the island, but they’re still far enough apart that you’re going to want to rent a car to get between them. Below are the ones we managed to visit, but this definitely isn’t an exhaustive list.
Adamas (otherwise known as Adamantas) is the largest town on the island and the first one you’ll encounter if you arrive by ferry. No matter where you stay, you’ll probably pass through Adamas at some point to get from the north end of the island to the south.
Since Adamas is home to the island’s main port, you can find almost anything you need here, including restaurants, groceries, souvenir shops, and more. There were a few hotels here, but I recommend finding an Airbnb in one of the other villages listed below. Read on to see why!
This tiny fishing village on the northern shore of the island (located here) was probably our favorite. In fact, we spent our first few nights in one of houses here that has been converted into an Airbnb, and it was absolutely beautiful. Waking up and seeing these blue waters first thing in the morning was a perfect way to start the day.
If you’d like to stay in Mandrakia like we did, Airbnb is probably your only option, since this tiny village has no hotels.
Even if you don’t stay in one of these homes, be sure to carve out some time for a visit. The shoreline in this area is made up of distinctive white rocks, which we didn’t see anywhere else on the island.
This little village is basically a row of brightly colored houses tucked away behind steep mountainside and a narrow beach. If I ever go back to Milos (and I sure want to), I’d probably book one of these vacation homes. There’s only one narrow, windy road to get here, but it’s well worth the effort to visit.
While we were wandering the area, a couple from England sitting on their balcony called us over and invited us to try some locally made wine and cheese! They said that they’ve been coming back to Milos year after year and that they wanted to pass on some of the Greek hospitality they received. I guess staying in a place like this puts everyone in a sharing mood!
This remote settlement is only accessible by a steep dirt road and was probably the smallest one we encountered. With just seven or eight houses clustered around a tiny bay, Fourkovouni looked like a perfect place for visitors seeking the most relaxed and quiet of getaways.
Like in the other small villages on Milos, most if not all of the houses here had been converted from fishermen’s homes to vacation rentals.
This town located on the very northeast corner of Milos feels large compared to many of the island’s villages. It’s got a main street with a bunch of unique restaurants on it and a little bay that’s great to walk around if the weather is nice. If you want to be able to grab meals without driving, consider staying in one of the many vacation rentals located on the northern peninsula of town.
There’s also a tiny traditional church on the end of the peninsula worth checking out.
Plaka is the capital of Milos even though it’s not nearly as large as Adamas. Wander the narrow streets surrounded by white and blue apartments and be sure to check out the church, which has this public lookout right behind it with a stunning view.
Along with Pollonia and Adamas, Plaka is a town with many meal options. If you want to skip ahead and read about all the different restaurants we tried, click the link here.
More information on Plaka can be found here.
In addition to beautiful villages like the ones listed above, another central feature of Milos is the incredible number of beaches that line the island’s shores. Read on to see which ones we liked most!
Our Favorite Beaches
With so many different beaches on the island, it’s definitely a challenge to prioritize which ones to visit. A good place to start is to ask locals for their recommendations, but I think the following three choices are a great place to start: Sarakiniko, Firiplaka, and Tsigrado.
This beach located on the north side of Milos is made up of the same white rocks that can be seen from Mandrakia, and this makes for a very interesting, almost lunar atmosphere. If you want to get down to the shore, you’ll have to climb down. This was a truly amazing beach and shouldn’t be missed!
On a side note, Milos is a great place for drone flying. Ismael recently purchased a Mavic Air drone, and the views from above that he captured were incredible! The following videos were shot by him, and we are looking forward to using it again on future trips.
Note that drone flying is not allowed in Santorini; in general, you should always look up the local and national restrictions regarding flying to make sure you’re not breaking any laws.
Firiplaka and Tsigrado
If you take a look at the map, you’ll notice that Firiplaka and Tsigrado beaches are practically next to each other, but if you visit one be sure to check out the other.
Both are amazing, but while Firiplaka is a flat and sandy beach that’s easily accessible, Tsigrado is located in a little cove surrounded by steep cliffs. There are pictures online of Tsigrado filled with sunbathers, and when we visited, one couple was actually down on the beach, but we saw no viable way to descend to the sand below. Nonetheless, the view from above is spectacular, and so is the turquoise water.
Another incredible thing about Firiplaka are the bright red rocks that can be seen on the cliffs nearby.
As I mention above, there are seventy different beaches on the island, so I’m sure these three only scratch the surface. In Milos, curiosity and willingness to stray from the paved roads are essential to discover its most beautiful spots!
Besides Milos’s villages and beaches, there are a few other activities everyone should try to fit into their itinerary. One we managed to do; the other we ended up regrettably missing.
Climb the Hill Behind Plaka for Spectacular Views
If you spend a few minutes exploring Plaka, you’ll likely notice a large hill right on the edge of town with a castle on top of it. It’s a bit of a workout, but make your way uphill to get some of the best views of the island.
The grounds of the Venetian Castle of Milos are home to a small church and 360-degree views the island. If you ascend the mountain in the evening, be sure to catch the sunset from the top. It’s the perfect place to watch it set behind the mountains.
Do a little research online and you’ll see that everyone recommends doing a boat tour in Milos. Unfortunately, we tried booking online the day before we wanted to go, and received an automated email saying our reservation was cancelled.
The boat tours bring visitors to the beaches on the western half of the island, many of which are not accessible by land. They also go to the famous Kleftiko Caves.
In order to book, you can try online or just visit one of the boat tour offices on the main waterfront street in Adamas. They also have employees out by the docks who are able to answer questions. One company we were considering was Excellent Yachting, and the cost was about 80 Euros per person.
Be sure to book at least a few days in advance to avoid any potential mishaps! We both want to return to Milos someday to see what we missed this time around.
Where to Find the Best Local Flavors
Throughout the four or so days we spent on Milos, we ended up trying almost a dozen different restaurants. Instead of detailing each appetizer and entrée we had, suffice it to say that we thoroughly enjoyed every meal. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a picture of food is worth a million. Check out the following places and click or tap the images for links to more info on each place.
One seafood place we liked was right on Paliochori Beach. Sirocco Cafe was delicious; our waiter even let us choose which freshly-caught fish we wanted grilled.
In the tiny, landlocked village of Zephyria, a fancy-looking restaurant called To Petrino was another great option. However, our waiter told us that they would be closing their doors until the following spring since the tourist season was coming to an end.
Keep in mind that some places in Milos close for half the year during the off season, and many restaurants close between lunch and dinner, so it’s always good to have a backup plan. Luckily, if you head to the larger towns such as Adamas, Plaka, or Pollonia, you should be able to find multiple options open all day long.
For example, one day we had a late lunch of gyros (pictured below) at Taverna Ta Pitsounakia located right in the center of Adamas.
If you are looking for a great breakfast, “To γλυκοφίλεμα της Ανεζίνας” (no English sign) was a great option in Pollonia. They seemed to have a little bit of everything: desserts, baked goods, coffee, and more. A spicy scramble and some crepes were the perfect reward for actually waking up early!
Practically right next door was Rifaki, also in Pollonia. Their kebab with fries was delicious, and so were the appetizers.
The traditional bakeries on Milos also deserve special mention. We especially liked Mouratos Bakery and visited more than once. Whether you go for a quick breakfast or an afternoon snack, they are a great place to grab a pastry or coffee and are so cozy and welcoming. Be sure to pop in for a visit!
We arrived to Milos by ferry and left for Athens by plane at the end of our trip. The ferry from Santorini was an interesting experience, so you should try if you have time. You can read more about it here [coming soon].
Once you make it to Milos, you’ll need to rent a car if you want to explore all of the beautiful places shown in this post. We booked with the help of our Airbnb host through “Sea Sun Sophia” and the car cost $140 for four days.
I know this was a long post, but Milos is just filled with so many amazing spots that I wanted to at least mention as many as I could! Hopefully this post serves as a comprehensive guide for anyone who has their heart set on Milos. For those who may be considering Greece for their next vacation, this post is a sneak preview of what can be found on one of the country’s quieter islands. Read about other lesser-known Greek islands by clicking here [coming soon].
If you haven’t already, check out my guide to Santorini, Greece’s most popular island (that does deserve the hype)! You can also read more info about Greece in general, including how to spend one day in Athens, by clicking this link [coming soon]. I for one cannot wait to return to this beautiful, welcoming country. What about you? Do you have a favorite Island in Greece? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts! Thanks for reading!