Milos is the most western island of Greek Cyclades.
It is known for its colorful rock formations, interesting history, and the famous statue of Aphrodite of Milos as well.
The island is a horse-shoe shaped. Actually, in the middle, there is a large nature gulf, formed as a result of the volcanic eruption. And because of it, Milos is known as the „island of colors“.
How to get to the Milos Island
Milos is about 140 km from Athens. Actually, it is in the middle between Athens and Crete Island. During the summer, there are Olympic Air daily flights from Athens, which lasts about 35 minutes. Usually, tourists take daily ferries from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, and then go back home from Athens airport. The ferry trip takes about 4 to 7 hours, and the ticket costs €40 to €70, depending on the vessel and the route. And there are ferries from Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, as well. The ferry schedules you can check here.
The best way to explore the island is by car or motorbike, which you can take in rent-a-car agencies. Also, there is local public transportation, but the buses go to several towns-villages and a few beaches. The bus ticket is about 2.00 €. The main bus terminal is located in the center of Adamas port, close to the Portiani Hotel and taxi station. So you can take the taxis to visit beaches or villages, as well. Additionally, in the ports of Adamas and Pollonia, you can join the various sailing excursions.
Some information about Milos
About 6.000 inhabitants live in the area approximately 160 km. The island is mostly mountainous, with many hills, but the highest peak is Prophets Ilias, 751m high. The climate is the mild Mediterranean, with a lot of sunshine during the year. The winter is mild with little rain. Between June to September, the dry, strong wind Meltemi blows all over the Aegean Sea. The wind is strongest during July and August. Sometimes it can be strong, and even the high-speed ferries could not depart the ports. Even the wind is good for sailing, windsurfing or kitesurfing, you have to check the weather condition, especially if you are planning to rent a boat or yacht.
Since there is no mass-tourism, you can find various types of accommodation, from cheap to boutique apartments and villas. Also, there are hotels, but there are no large resorts.
A few words about the history of the island
The history of Milos is going back to Neolithic times (7000-2800 BC).
During the Bronze Age (2800-1100 BC), Milos became the center of the Cycladic civilization. The most important city was Phylakopi, located in the north of the island. Phylakopi was destroyed by Mycenaean about 1400 BC, which built a new city with sanctuary. It is completely abandoned in 11 BC. And today it is possible to see the only wall remains of the former city.
Then, in the 10BC, the Dorians came and founded a settlement in the area of Klima, below today modern Plaka and Trypiti village. During the Peloponnesian War, the inhabitants tried to remain neutral, but the Athenians captured them in 416 BC. After the war, the Spartans helped them to rebuild the city and during the Hellenistic Period, Milos became prosperous again under the rule of the Macedonians, the Antigonids, and the Egyptians.
From Romans until now
The Roman times were important for Milos because of the mineral trade. From this period, there is the marble amphitheater of Milos below Trypiti, and catacombs made to protect Christian inhabitants in their religious ceremonies and place to bury their dead.
Then, after the decline of the Roman Empire, all the Cyclades including Milos became part of the Byzantine Empire. So, in 1204, the islands of the Aegean came under Venetian domination which lasts until the 16th century, when it was conquered by Ottomans in 1566.
After the Greek revolution for the liberation from the Turkish rule, the island was united to the rest of Greece in 1830, together with other Cycladic islands. But after World War II, many inhabitants left the island because of the hard living conditions. Fortunately, with tourism development in the last decades, Milos became an interesting and desirable touristic destination.
The mining history of Milos
Thanks to its volcanic origin, the mining history of Milos started 10.000 years ago, and it lasts until today. The Neolithic period was marked by the obsidian, black stone, suitable for making the weapons and tools. And after that, the mining industry and trading developed by centuries with various minerals, such as sulfur, kaolin, alunite, pumice, trachyte, and production of salt as well. Otherwise, the modern mining period started in 1862, with the first mine concession, including the production of sulfur, kaolin, barite, bentonite, perlite, siliceous stones, manganese. Today, Milos is the largest producer of bentonite and perlite in the European Union.
The sulfur mine Thiorychia
One of the remarkable reminders of the great mining history is the Thiorychia (Thiafes), the sulfur mine, located near the beach Paliorema, on the south-eastern part of the island. The sulfur exploitation was started from the 5thc. B.C., when Milos was under the Athenian rule and continued also during the Ottoman Empire. But systematic exploitation began in 1862 by independent contractors until 1928 when the company “Theiorychia of Milos” was founded. Since in 1958, the USA exported large quantities of sulfur in global markets at low prices in 1958, the mine stopped the production and has been abandoned. Even today, you can see the remains of industrial equipment, rail, office building, and worker’s rooms.
More about the mining history and geological formations you can find in the Milos Mining Museum (MMM), located in Adamas.
What to see and do on the Milos island
As I have mentioned before, Milos is known to the colorful rocks formations that surrounded the remarkable beaches.
Swimming, scuba diving, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking make your vacation in Milos more interesting.
Also, it is famous for antique history, the mining production, and most of all, the sculpture of Venus de Milo, which today could be seen in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
And of course, you can enjoy traditional Greek cuisine and wines, and join locals’ fests and events during July, August, and September.
The colorful beaches on the Milos island
In a word, Milos beaches are just wonderful. There are more than 70 beaches, sanded and pebbled, organized, and isolated, with crystal clear water. All around the island, you can see different shades of white, grey, black, yellow, red, brown, and violet colors of rocks that surrounded the beaches. They look unreal!
Some of the fascinating beaches are:
◊ Sarakiniko, the huge white rock, known as “the moon beach” because it looks like you are walking on the Moon surface.
◊ Paliochori, sand-pebbled beach with amazing colorful rock formation and deep blue water.
◊ Fyriplaka, an amazing sanded beach with stunning rocks and colorful pebbles.
◊ Paliorema, an unusual beach with an abandoned sulfur mine and the remains of the mine’s construction next to it.
◊ Tsigrado, a little bay, reached through the narrow rock passage, using the rope and ladders.
◊ Kleftiko: it is not exactly a beach and it can be reached only by boat during excursions. It is a landmark of the island, with remarkable rocks and turquoise water.
More about the wonderful Milos beaches you can read here.
And one of the best ways to see the beauty of Milos is by an organized sailing excursion. If you have enough time, take this trip because sailing around the island is an unforgettable experience. More about this adventure you can see here.
Adamas is the main port on the island, situated in a large and natural golf.
Once it was a small village, founded by Crete refugees, but today it is the tourist center on the island.
There you can find various types of accommodation, banks, post-office, doctors, tourist agencies.
And of course, there are taverns, cafes, and shops with souvenirs and various things.
As I have mentioned before, the main bus terminal is located in the center, and dock with yachts and boats for sailing excursions. Next to the port there is a small beach Lagada, and on the other side is long and sandy beach Papakinou.
The peak of the season is July and August, but it is not crowded as some Greek islands and places could be during the summer. Actually, Milos is perfect if you want a calm and interesting vacation, without all-night fun and parties.
A few interesting spots to visit:
◊ Old Church of the Holy Trinity, a small church close to the port. Inside it, there is the Ecclesiastical Museum of Milos, with a holy icon of the 14th century.
◊ Church of Agios Haralambos – built-in 1870, on the hill of Adamas, with a blue dome.
◊ Milos Mining Museum, with a lot of information about mining history and geological formations.
And of course: the tavern O! Hamos, near Papikinou beach.
The menu is handwritten in several different languages! The local food is delicious, and they serve traditional Greek specialties from local products. And if you like, you can leave feedback written on the back of your chair 🙂
After a meal, they gave us a small white ball in the glass of water. The waiter explained to us that it was Mastiha, which is used as the breath freshener. My sister and I were delighted because we saw this natural resin with a specific flavor during our vacation on Chios Island a few years ago.
More about the fantastic Mastiha, unique product from Chios you can find here.
Plaka (Plaka Milou)
Plaka is the capital of Milos, founded in 1800. It is located on the north of the island, looking at the blue Aegean Sea.
It is a small place, with whitewashed houses, and blue colored doors and windows, typical for the Cycladic architecture.
The cars can’t enter in the center because of the narrow spaces between houses. It is a pleasant walking the narrow cobblestone paved alleys looking for interesting taverns, cafés, little shops with handmade art items, and jewelry, surrounded by flowers and blue walls.
Going around we saw a beautiful whitewashed church, Panagia Korfiatissa, built-in 1820.
From the church courtyard, there is an amazing view of a blue sea and neighboring islets.
And then we saw the remains of the Catholic Church of Rosario – Monastiraki Rosario, built by the French Vice-Consul Louis Brest. In 1820, he helped in the negations about transport and selling the statue the Venus of Milo to France. His wife Catherine was buried in the church courtyard in 1823.
Actually, Plaka is developed around the Venetian Castro, dating back from the 13th century. It is located at the highest point of Plaka and once it was a refuge from pirate attacks. To get to the top, you have to go the steep blue-white footpath between the houses.
So when you get there, you can enjoy the amazing view of the blue sea, Plaka, and the Church of Panagia Korfiatissa, Also, on the way to the top, there is Panagia Skiniotissa church (known as Mesa Panagia) and the church Panagia Talasistra, from 19th century.
And the sunset from his place is simply unbreathing.
So if you have enough time, visit the Folk Museum and the Archaeological Museum, as well.
The Archaeological Museum of Milos
The Museum is located in a small Neoclassical building from 1870.
It is open to the public in 1985 and contains the antiquities discovered during excavations on the island.
Even the museum is small you can see the Prehistoric Collection from the Bronze Age settlement of Phylakope, the Obsidian collection, the sculptures, pottery, and various inscriptions.
But the most important part is the plaster replica of the Aphrodite of Milos – Venus de Milo.
It is the first thing when you enter the Museum.
Venus de Milo
So, let’s remind us a little about Greek mythology.
Aphrodite was an ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty, like Venus by the Romans.
It is supposed that the statue was created in about 100 BC, by Greek sculptor Alexandros of Antioch.
This marble sculpture is 203 cm (6 ft 8 in) high.
In 1820, a young farmer Yorgos Kentrotas found it by the case in the field near Trypiti. It was buried in a wall within the ruins of the ancient city of Milos. There were two pieces: the upper torso, and the legs, covered in drapery. So, a French naval officer Olivier Voutier from the French fleet helped him in the discovering. Also, he informed about it Louis Brest, the French Vice-Consul on Milos.
After a lot of negotiations, the statue was bought in the name of Marquis de Riviere, the French Consul to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople. He presented it to French King Louis XVIII in 1821 in Paris, who donated it to the Louvre Museum. And even today, after 200 years, Venus de Milo is still there, attracting the attention of the visitors.
During the excavation, a few sculptural fragments of the separate left arm holding an apple, jewelry, and an inscribed plinth with a name of sculptor were found. But they lost after discovering.
“Take Aphrodite home”
A few years ago, the inhabitants of Milos started a campaign “Take Aphrodite home”, dedicated to coming back the statue to Milos, to her home on Milos Island. It is still wondering was she bought or stolen because, in that period, Milos was under the Ottoman rule. But the Venus de Milo has not come home yet. More about this project you can read here.
On a walking distance of Plaka, there is Trypiti village. The Church of Agios Nikolaos is located in the center, surrounded by whitewashed houses, a few taverns, and apartments.
Trypiti is known by a founded statue of the Venus de Milo, catacombs, and the ancient theater of Milos.
The Catacombs are located next to the ancient city of Melos.
Actually the settlement Trypiti got its name because it was full of caves in the white volcanic rock.
The catacombs are dated from the 1st – 5th centuries. Together with catacombs of Rome and the Holy Land, Milos catacombs are among the most famous in the world. Actually, it is supposed that they are older than those in Rome.
The inhabitants used it as a burial site for their beloved. Later, it was a place of worship and a refuge for years as well.
The catacombs were excavated in 1843. The complex of corridors and chambers is about 200 m long. The galleries are 1 to 5 meters wide and from 1,6 to 2,5 m high. It is estimated that about 2,000 inhabitants were buried there. There are two types of tombs: horizontal and arched, but also floor graves. In some of them, there are still remains of inscriptions and decorations. Visitors can see only a few small chambers.
Well, it is pretty dark inside, but the visit the catacombs is a very interesting experience.
The ticket for adults is 4 EUR to adults, 2 EUR to people over 65, free to EU students. Visiting hours are Monday – Sunday, from 9 AM to 6,45 PM, and it is closed on Tuesday. More about Milo catacombs you can find here.
The ancient Theatre of Milos
About 200 meters from the Catacombs is the ancient Theatre of Milos.
The first construction probably dated to the Hellenistic period and the ancient city of Klima. But the remains we can see today belong to the Roman period in 4th century AD. And it was used to the beginning of the 7th century AD.
Nestled on the rocky hill, the theatre could host about 7.000 visitors.
The first exploring started in 1735 when the Jesuit monk finds a few rows of marble seats and part of the auditorium. But the first excavations were started in 1816 by the German architect, and later in 1836, during the rule of King Otto, the son of Ludwig I, King of Bavaria.
In the last decades, there were some more excavations and some reconstructions. From 2016, some cultural events held in the theatre.
So today we could see the remains of the orchestra, the floor of the stage building, some parts of the façade of the scene buildings, and construction. If you visit the theatre, take a break and sit for a while on marble rows (some of them are renowned with Parian marble).
Try to imagine how the theatre looked like in the time of its best days, enjoying the sounds of orchestra and actor’s play. Enjoy the view of the blue sea from the theatre in silence. It is an amazing feeling to be surrounded by great ancient masterpiece.
Klima is a small fishing village, below today Trypiti village. So just hike down to the sea and you will come to this interesting place. Once it was an important ancient harbor.
There are several interesting fishing villages, mostly on the eastern side, such as Fyropotamos, Mandrakia, Areti, Fourkovouni, Agios Konstantinos.
For these villages are characteristic small, two-storey white houses, known as “Sirmata”. The doors and windows are painted in different colors on every house. The ground floor is used as a garage for the boat, and on the first floor, there are apartments. Some of them could be rented during the summer.
About 20 km from Adamas, on the northeast of the island, is Pollonia. They are connected by daily bus transportation. It is a second port on Milos, but it is much smaller than the port in Adamas. From here, you can catch the ferry to the neighboring Kimolos, small and interesting island to spend one or more days.
In this small fishing village, you can find many various types of accommodation, some shops, rent-a-car agencies, cafes. Also, it is known by excellent fish restaurants on the promenade. The small sandy beach is close to the port as well.
Dreaming about Milos
Milos is a perfect place for active and interesting vacation, calm and hedonistic as well.
No matter if you visit it with friends, partners, or with kids, you will fall in love with Milos immediately.
However, in this corona-situation, we are still limited to travel. Only we can do is look at the photos and think about stunning beaches, interesting sights, and wonderful sunsets. But I hope that it will change soon and that we can travel again, all around Greece and the world.
And I hope that Venus de Milo, one of the most famous works of ancient Greek culture, will come back to her home soon.