The BFH Healthy Travel Guide to the Island of Mílos, Greece
In the past year, I have spent just over 4 months in Milos— and from all this time, this little stood out for me the most. This island is actually my favourite place thus far, on the planet. From authentic local Greek food, to epic hikes, magical landscapes, and the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen… this island has stolen my heart. I had seen pictures of Milos prior to going, but nothing can prepare you to the out-of-this world beauty that the island has to offer. From lunar landscapes to pink sheer crystal-looking cliffside plunging into crystal blue waters… if you’re heading to Greece— Milos should be at the top of your to-visit list.
I stayed 4 nights on Milos last summer and fell so in love that I returned the following spring for another 6 nights. The island is smaller compared to some, but there are so many little hidden gems, and such incredible food that I really could just stay, and stay, and stay! It’s not the cheapest island (you’ll find no hostels here), but it is worth every penny.
The BFH Healthy Travel Guide to the Island of Mílos, Greece
I would legitimately move to Milos just to eat here everyday. In fact, I ate here every day I was in Milos, both times I visited. Whether it was lunch or dinner, O Hamos literally fed me every day I was on the island. This place is what restaurant dreams are made of: they have their own farm (I’ve seen it!), serve many vegetables from their own land, as well as their own lamb and wild goat (that they slow cook to god damn perfection). They also hand make their cheeses, and bring out a desert or digestif to everyone after each meal as a thanks for coming to their restaurant. The entire staff is so incredibly nice, the restaurant is mostly outside in a gorgeous courtyard overlooking the Sea— and somehow the prices are actually affordable. I don’t think you can go wrong here menu wise, everything I tasted was to die for… but my favourites were the eggplant stuffed with lamb and wild goat, the slow cooked goat, the grilled lamb, and the green bean salad. They even have homemade wine! I also hear the slow cooked pork is out of this world.
Another must when in Milos. This little taverna is the only establishment in Mantrakia other than the chapel, and the food is out of this world. In the kitchen is a little nonna churning out serious Greek epic-ness. The grilled sardines, grilled octopus, olives, and greek salad were out of this world… and the view of the sea is the cherry on top.
Methismeni Politeia (Tripiti)
A stone’s throw from Plaka) this epic Greek taverna is another gem of the island. Try the lamb with potatoes and the stuffed tomatoes. They also have a lovely outdoor patio.
Surely one of the best views on the island for a feed (trust me, the food is delicious too). You can’t go wrong with anything slow cooked (lamb, goat), they have an amazing pea dip, and an authentic moussaka.
Plaka is the town at the highest elevation on Milos, and is full of little cafés and shops to explore. Beautiful views, and one of the best feeds is at Avil-Milos. The slow cooked lamb is epic, and I always opt for a side of horta (wild greens).
The north eastern tip of Milos is Pollonia, and this (slightly fancier) area of the island is home to some great feeds. This restaurant is one of the best for seafood (fresh grilled fish), and as usual: a big side of greens!
Milos is home to (an alleged) 73 beaches (about 40 of which are accessible from the land)… considering the tiny size of the island, this is ratio is pretty much insane. Not only are there an unfathomable amount of beaches— but they are actually mind-blowingly beautiful and so drastically different from one another. From Sarakiniko’s lunar landscape, to the shallow blue’s of Mandrakia, to Kleftiko’s majestic cliffs, to Fyriplaka’s multi-coloured backdrop… Milos is truly a beach-lover’s dream. Milo’s geology is truly out of this world, and I say this very seriously: many of these beaches are life changing experiences.
There is no way I could cover them all, but here are some of my highlights:
Sarakiniko is out of this world. One of the most jaw dropping landscapes I've ever seen, and despite having seen pictures of it beforehand, nothing can prepare you for the real life thing. Total lunar vibes, and particularly epic if you can make it there before the crowds hit. The first bus leaves from town to Sarakiniko rather late (around 11:30 am) so my suggestion is to get up nice and early and make your way there before the masses. I rented a bicycle and got there around 9am, and it was completely deserted. The ride there is perfect if you like a bicycle workout; the hill winds up and then back down, but nothing too crazy for a bike with gears. Make sure you keep walking past the initial swimming hole, the back side is just as (if not more) cosmic and gorgeous. There are no shops or taverna's here (a little food truck does show up midday), so plan accordingly with water + snacks.
This incredible swimming hole is about 5 and a half km’s from Sarakiniko, on the way to Pollonia. The buses to Pollonia do stop right outside Papafragas, and then you walk a few minutes to the cliffs, and can ascend down onto the beach by kind of shuffling down the backside of the cliffs. You can swim through a little crack in the cliffs (to the left) and out into beautiful sea coves. This whole area used to be the prehistoric town of Phylakopi.
Fyraplaka (or Firiplaka)
Like Sarakiniko, one of the most memorable beaches of my life. This and Sarakiniko were two of the major reasons I absolutely fell in love with Mìlos. No words will do this place justice; the view you get as you ascend onto the beach is jaw dropping. The sheer cliffside made of pink, blue, and white crystal looking rock is just mind blowing next to the sea's many shades of blue. The beach is very big, and depending on the tide you can walk out far past majestic boulders that line the beach. There are some sun loungers on part of the beach as well as a little bar, but not much in terms of food. Only two buses come to Fyraplaka, one in the AM and another round 4:30pm to leave back to town (Adamas)- so make sure you don't miss the last bus. I actually rode a bicycle there... something I don't really recommend unless you're a SERIOUS hill lover. I actually ended up hitchhiking home with the bicycle in someones trunk!
This beach is right next to Fyraplaka (same bus stop) and is pretty special because accessing the beach requires descending into the fissure of the cliffside, via ladders and ropes. It’s a fun activity, and worth checking out, but the beach is pretty small and all in all neighbouring Fyraplaka is definitely where the swimming is at.
One over from Tsigrado (although the road there requires going back all the way to the airport) this popular touristic beach is like a more populated Fyriplaka. Personally I prefer the Fyri, but Paliochori is beautiful and a great option for those who like a busier/ more developed (day beds, etc) scene.
Mandrakia (or Mantrakia)
I'm a broken record player here, but again: total magic. Milos truly blew me away on the beach front. Mantrakia has no direct bus routes, so it was almost deserted when I visited. To get there I got on the bus to Triovasalos, and then walk (or hitchhike) down. The Mandrakia area has many beaches/ places to swim. Tourkothalassa beach is the big crystal blue watered beach you see as you first arrive into the area; you'll then walk down near the postcard worthy fishing boat harbour, where people swim on the opposite side (behind the chapel). As you continue into the town you'll see Medusa Tavern (which was one of the best meals I had on Milos), and a set of steps that leads down into shallow waters that was my favourite swimming hole in the area. You can then cruise along the coast to more small beaches and big rocks perfect for some sun bathing and cliff jumping. If you continue walking east along the coast, you’ll eventually hit Sarakiniko!
Landscapes of Mandrakia
Firopotamos Beach: next to Mandrakia, possibly the best swimming beach. Fine sand and the perfect depth that reaches out as far as the eye can see. The beautiful cliffside is similar to Fyriplaka, and is just so beautiful contrasting the blue waters of the sea. Parts of the beach down towards the cliffs have gorgeous little rocks too (the whole island is full them actually).
In the tourist season (mid June onwards) there’s a beach bar that blasts tunes and I believe offers snacks too. Otherwise it gets quite quiet down there (bring your own water!). Make sure to wander off towards the tip (past the parking lot) to see some ruins, and a great spot for cliff jumping.
This area is an ancient pirate den, where pirate used to hide out amongst the impressive boulders. It’s no doubt one of the most impressive landscapes on Milos, and although it’s more often visited by boat/ snorkeling tour, you can also hike down from the road above. The hike is quite pleasant, but to really enjoy the area you definitely want to snorkel and explore the Kleftiko caves— so either bring your own gear or opt for a day trip on a boat. There’s no sand, but if you hike down, there’s access to the water from flat rocks down at the very bottom.
Adamantas: (Αδάμας) aka Adamas is the main harbour hub, but there are a few places to swim in walking distance. Walking East from town (towards the airport) you'll find Papikinou beach, which is a long narrow stretch of sand that basically extends itself all the way to the airport. Many locals swim here; also a great place to take a dip before of after feasting at O'Hamos. Walking West from town you will pass the main inter-ferry dock and just a few minutes further you'll see a little beach on your left. It looks like an extension of the hotel (and it kind of is) but the beach is not private, so enjoy!
Milos is a hikers dream; the island is small enough that you can see some some amazing landscapes all in one hike, but big enough to allow for a serious sweat. You’ll notice that a big half of the island is quite accessible by public transport/ roads, whilst the other (smaller) half is really off-grid; the latter is great for some more solitary hikes, but you may want to rent a car to get to some of the more remote destinations. Picking up one of the maps at the travel agencies will surely inspire you to craft up a route of your liking, but here are some of my favourites:
1. Mandrakia to Sarakiniko along the coastline: yes! You can walk between these two beaches along the coastline and it’s hell-a beautiful. Although you can do it from either direction, it’s easier to find your way leaving from Mandrakia. Start walking in the direction of Sarakiniko (away from Medusa Taverna) and whether you take the beach way or follow the road— you’ll no doubt end up on the right path. You’ll continue to walk until the path very clearly splits into two— take a left (it will ascend into the classically Sarakiniko lunar landscape, and from there it’s a bit of a maze (nothing too complicated) and you will swerve your way all the way to the beach. When in doubt, stay a bit higher up on the cliffs (to the right), but honestly the path is pretty dang visible.
2. Kleftiko: This most south eastern tip of Milos is unbelievable. This hike also requires a vehicle, because getting to Kleftiko is a ways away (in the no-mans land of Milos, aka the area not covered by rental company insurance). Look: we rented a car and went there. You’ve gotta go slow (and ideally opt for a 4x4 ATV). Anyways, many people do it, but you do you. Once you make your way to Kleftiko, there’s a small wooden sign pointing you in the direction of the water, and intuitively/ following a (kind-of) path, you make your way down to sea level (about 45-60 minutes down, and 60-70 minutes back up). The views on the way down are top notch and the whole area down there is surreal. Highly reccomended. You can also opt to take a boat ride/ snorkelling trip to Kleftiko— either way, it’s well worth it.
3. Northern beaches loop: beach-hop till you drop. The “northern” side of the island (basically all the beaches surrounding Plaka area) are very much walkable. You can start at Mandrakia and work your way around counter-clockwise through Firopotamos, Spillia, Trachilas, Plathiena, Fourkouvouni, and Klima. How far you make it will depend on your stamina, and how hot it is out that day. Luckily you’ll be greeted by the most inviting waters at each destination to cool off in-between hikes. Although there aren’t buses to/ from each destination, hitchhiking is very easy on Milos. You will have no problem catching a ride back into town if you get pooped. In the high season, most of these beaches will have at least a Taverna where you can get some water.
Boat tour to Kleftiko
Kleftiko is a must while on Milos. Located on the remote south west tip of the island, you can access it by car + hike, but a more easy/ common way to experience it is a boat tour. You can find them at any travel company in town; and they will probably include snorkeling in the area and lunch on the boat. You can snorkle in the caves at Kleftiko, which is rad.
boat Tour to Poliegos
The neighboring island of Poliegos is gorgeous, and many of the boat tours that head to Kleftiko also include a pit-stop in Poliegos. The waters here are unfathomably blue and inviting, and the landscape (like all of Milos, really) is just jaw dropping.
Day Trip to Kimolos
Kimolos is like a mini-Milos, and is often referred to Milos back in the 80’s. There’s a few ways of getting to Kimolos, including day-trip boats, and much easier (and cheaper) ferry boat from Apollonia. The boat schedule can be found online
Rent a Bicycle
Parts of the island are less accessible by bicycle (unless you've got some serious stamina) but renting a bicycle and riding from Adamas to Sarakiniko (and beyond) or taking the bike towards the airport and over the hill to the long beach on the opposite side of the harbour is very doable. I did ride all the way to Fyraplaka but honestly it's a bit of a crazy ride up and down hills. If you're a hardcore cycle lover and have experience with hills, this island is a cyclist dream. Wide roads, and relatively well kept too. Rentals are about 10 Euros/ day, at Safari (in Adamas) Tel: 2287028115 (they don’t have a website, but by asking in town you’ll easily find them- about 5 min walk from the port).
Alykes Thermal (Hot) Springs
Milos has many hot springs that reach up to 90 degrees C. One of the easiest access points are the Papakinou Hot Springs located in the sea, across from the energy plant in Adamas. The problem here is there seems to be weird foamy run-off from the plant, which is questionable. In town there is the ‘Lakkos bathhouse’ spa, but they chlorinate the pools (no thanks). In Papikinou you can literally see bubbles and steam coming up from the sea (there’s also a sign on the side of the road), so if you have enough time on Milos, try scoping out another hot spring location that’s not right next to a large plant (and let me know when you find it!!).
Traditional “Syrmata” settlements
You’ll surely see these traditional mid 19th-c villages without even seeking them out. Notably in Klima, Mandrakia, Fyropotamos, Mytakas, Ag. Konstantinos, Fourkouvouni, Skinopi, and Pachena— little fishermen dwellings that are often built right into the carved out rock. Although many are refurbished and turned into Airbnbs and rentals, these ‘homes’ were originally used to store boats during stormy weather, and the fisherman might live in a small room above. All the kitchens, plumbing, etc, is modern addition.
Catacombs/ ancient theatre of milos
The catacombs are a network of underground early-Christian burial sites (1st century AD and were rediscovered in 1840), and are located next to the Theatre of Milos (built in Hellenistic times in the 3rd century BC and had to be reconstructed after the city was razed by the Athenians in Roman times). This spot also boats absolutely mind blowing views of the island/ sea. Both located in Tripiti.
After spending a summer in Europe, I pretty much vowed to never see another museum ever again… but the Milos Mining Museum is pretty dope if you’re fascinated by all the incredible landscapes of the island. You’ll learn how they have been extracting various minerals since the Neolithic Age, as well as a wide range of rocks found across the island (like obsidian and Melian volcanic rock). Located in Adamas.
folk and History Museum
There are a lot of museums on Milos, but the Folk and History Museum is pretty neat too because it displays the traditional lifestyle of Cycladic islands. You’ll see a traditional home (from fireplaces, kitchen and living quarters), learn how they used to store water in cistern, a traditional winepress, as well as traditional fishing and farming tools. Located in Plaka.
Plaka for sunset
Is a must. If you’re there in high season: brace yourself for some sardine action, but the view is transcendental and worth the hardcore human ratio. If you want to sit down, try Utopia café, otherwise head towards the Panagia Korphiatissa church for a big public deck with the best views in town.
Milos has some traditional celebrations that if you can coordinate, would be pretty special to experience. The first is Greek Easter, which Greeks celebrate as the start of spring. All the houses are cleaned and decorates with lace and ornaments (yes, outside too!), fresh chicken eggs are dyed red and traditional sweet bread wafts across the island and can be found in all the bakeries. You’ll find special easter “manoras” (little pies) and “mizithra” (cheese tarts) too.
Next, and perhaps more exciting, are the mid-summer fairs which are held in honour of a saint. Days are spent dressed up and the evenings are full of celebration food, dancing, and live music in the temple’s courtyards and village squares. Local wine flows in abundance and grills are set up all over the place grilling up fresh seafood and local produce and meat. Violin will play until wee hours of the morning. Dreamy. You’ll have to inquire about specific dates for each year, but last year festivities occured 13/14th of August as well 23-25 of September.
Finally, there’s Kyriavgoustos aka the ‘Big Bonfire of August’, which aptly named, is a bonfire night to celebrate summer solstice (June 21st) each year. On this longest day of the year Milos locals celebrate by jumping through the flames (which symbolized a strengthening of the immune system before the winter cold hits).
Foot: The island is relatively small. Many of the best beaches require a little bit of walking (like Sarakiniko, Fyriplaka, Kleftiko, etc). Many buses will take you near the beaches, and hitchhiking is also super easy year round.
Bus: The buses will take you to-and-from most of the beaches on the island, but make sure you check what time the last bus leaves at because sometimes they’re pretty early. The timetable is posted at the roundabout in Adamas and is also available online. Note: the bus schedule is limited in the off-season, and if you’re planning on travelling without a car: make sure to visit in the high season. Mid/late June onwards.
Bicycle: A pretty great way to get around Milos, if you’re in decent shape. There are two ways to get up the hill from Adamas to the northern beaches, and (as I’m sure they will tell you at the bike rental shop) the eastern road is much easier (although, still a sweat-fest). From there you can easily make your way to Sarakiniko, or if you’re up for a challenge you can ride all the way to Pollonia. When I rented a bicycle the first time, I rode all the way to Fyriplaka but (truthfully) I don’t recommend it. I was pretty much hallucinating by the time I got there.
Quad/ Scooter: This is the ideal island for a quad or scooter! Note that you need an international driver’s license to rent one on the island (they are very strict about this with new laws in place fining rental locations $1000 Euros for any tomfoolery).
Car: A car really isn’t necessary on Milos. You can get (almost) anywhere on foot, or by bus. If you’re travelling with a group, a car might be the cheapest (and most convenient way) to get around, but definitely not needed. My first time on Milos I relied solely on bus/ foot/ rented a bicycle one day. My second time I did rent a car once with a friend to make our way to Kleftiko and Fyriplaka (it was the off season!). The only reason to rent one (IMO) would be if you’re only on Milos for a very short amount of time and want to see a lot, or if you’re keen to hike in the ‘off-grid’ part of the island. If renting a car isn’t an option and you want to see Kleftiko, do a day trip on a boat.
Boat Tours: Highly recommended if you’re not going to rent a car, as a way to get not only to Kleftiko, but make other pit stops around the island.
Ferry: A great way to get to-and-from other surrounding islands (trips including Ios, Paros, Santorini, Sifnos, Folegandros, and Serifos). A great site to ferry shop is Ferry Hopper.
Plane: Milos has a small airport on island, and I actually flew from Rhodes (where I was previously in Symi) to Milos, for cheaper than it would have cost me to take the ferry. Inter-island ferry service is actually quite fun- but if you can find a way to fly there for cheaper, do it.
Where to stay
Like I’ve said, the island is pretty small. The first time, I stayed in Adamas (very central) and the second time I opted for Triovasalos, because it was in walking distance of one of my favourite places (Mandrakia). You can’t really go wrong if you stay in Adamas, Plaka, Triovasalos, or Tripiti — because the main bus goes to/ from all these areas, and then towards the other places of the island. If it’s your first time, probably best to stay in Adamas. Also, Pollonia is a slightly ‘fancier’ area, but unless you’re renting a car during your trip, I’d avoid basing yourself out there (since you would have to take the bus along the entire coast to Adamas to get to areas down south, like Fyriplaka). I’ve used both booking and airbnb to stay on Milos; you’ll find options for every budget (although as a general rule, Milos isn’t cheap… hopefully the links below help make your trip a little more affordable!). You can also camp (during the high season) at Milos Camping Achivadolimni, which can be booked on booking.com (this is definitely the cheapest way to stay on Milos!).
Milos has an endemic Viper (Macrovipera Schweizeri) and this snake’s bite is deadly. The ‘cure’ is an injection that requires an emergency helicopter ride to Athens (don’t ask me why they don’t carry the antidote on Milos. It’s insane). Anyways, these Vipers are grey/ brown and camouflage with the Milos landscape so *you’ve been warned*. That being said, I have yet to see one. So, just be mindful!
Either buy your ferry ticket a long time in advance (big ships have a very small amount of ‘discount’ cost tickets when you buy a long time in advance, or buy them the morning of. These ferries are big and tickets selling out is basically unheard of. You can stop by one of the 3 travel agencies in Adamas port (across from the ferry terminal) to get your ticket the morning of your ferry.
Hitchhiking is super easy on Milos, it’s a small island and people are so friendly.
Don’t throw TP in the toilets, use the bins. This is pretty much a universal Greek rule because their pipes are tiny and can’t really handle the paper.
Water on Milos isn’t drinkable, it’s desalinated from the sea and hell-a toxic (unfortunately).