Since I’ve been to about sixteen thousand “destinations” in Greece, I thought I’d make a regular blog feature out of writing little travel articles about places I’ve been, with photos and recommendations. Who knows, maybe they’ll encourage someone to come check them out 🙂
Today: Milos, a medium-sized island in the Cycladic archipelago (the same one that includes Santorini and Mykonos), which is not very touristy (although it is very busy indeed in August) and is downright frighteningly beautiful.
Why should I go?
Milos is unspoiled, just as beautiful if not more so than the completely spoiled Santorini, has some of the nicest beaches in the country, has an excellent archaeological museum, several good archaeological sites, and a charming capital that’s perfect for wandering.
How do I get there?
Milos has an airport that gets flights from Athens, usually about once per day (Olympic Air). There are usually several highspeed and slow ferries per day in the summer, and at least one per day in the winter. All the boats leave from Peiraias harbor.
Where should I stay?
There are three main places to stay: the port town of Adamantas, the capital town of Plaka and its neighboring Tripiti, and the beach town of Pollonia. I’d recommend either of the first two, especially Plaka. Pollonia is far away from everything and although there is a nice beach there, it’s not as beautiful as several of the other beaches.
The port town has lots of restaurants, hotels, cafes, and shops. Almost all ships dock here, the airport is nearby, and there are taxi stands and buses here in town. This is probably the easiest place to stay, but it’s not the most beautiful.
Plaka is where the archaeological museum, the Early Christian catacombs, the site of Ancient Milos, and lots of good restaurants and shops are located. It’s also the most beautiful village on the island. My recommendation for a place to eat is Archontoula, near the bus turn-around.
A street in Plaka.
An old Plaka house.
The most important one, and the one you just can’t miss if you go to Milos, is the Bronze Age site of Phylakopi. Built of volcanic stone, Phylakopi was the ancient center of obsidian production. Obsidian (volcanic glass) was the best available material for cutting, so was sold all over the ancient Mediterranean world. This allowed Phylakopi to develop into an important trading center, and the Archaeological Museum in Plaka has lots of examples of obsidian cutting tools, pottery, figurines, and other finds from the site. It’s located near the beautiful Papafranga beach, so a visit to the one can easily include the other.
Phylakopi looking toward the sea.
A wall of volcanic stone.
Other important sites include the ancient theater of Milos (below Plaka) and the Early Christian catacombs (nearby).
There are three museums on the island but I’ve only been to two of them. I didn’t go to the Ecclesiastical Museum as that’s not really my thing. The Archaeological Museum in Plaka, though small, is one of the best local museums in the entire country (thanks to the finds from Phylakopi). In case you’re wondering, it has a plaster cast of the statue of Aphrodite found on the island (the Venus di Milo) which is in the Louvre.
The Milos Minerological Museum in Adamantas is wonderful. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this museum but it was a great surprise. There are great teaching exhibitions on the life of miners and on the minerals themselves (the island, being volcanic, is full of them). When I visited, there was also a great temporary exhibition on shells of the Mediterranean, which is now closed; and there’s a tiny bookstore that has some good stuff in it.
Rock formation in Milos.
Milos’ biggest tourist draw is the beaches; they are beautiful… I’m not much of a beach person myself, but I’ll just post some photos from Papafranga to give you an idea.
Rock channel at Papafranga with hidden beach.
The water at Papafranga.
A popular way to get to many of the more remote beaches is by going on a one-day boat trip around the island, which stops at the really spectacular beaches. This is possible in the summer in good weather (low wind).
When should I go?
The best time to go is May, June, September, and October, which holds true for most of the islands, because in the winter months, many of the hotels and rooms to rent are closed; and in July and August, prices are much, much higher for everything, and there are too many people around.
How much will it cost?
In May, June, September, or October, from Athens, ferry tickets about €15 per person, hotel about €35 for a double room, food about €20 for a restaurant meal for two people. Four nights on the island, including hotel and ferry tickets and food, for two people, about €300 if you throw a few gyros in there and don’t eat at fancy restaurants twice a day.
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