A volcanic island with a large natural harbor and a rich geology, Milos has been exploited for millennia in search of minerals and materials such as obsidian, sulfur and gypsum. Let’s explore the best things to do in Milos.
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The island’s geology gives rise to views of the coast that photos can’t do justice to, such as Sarakiniko and Kleftiko, and the kind of beaches that can blow your mind.
In the Bronze Age Milos was home to the town of Phylakopi on its north coast, the largest port in the Aegean at the time.
Later, Ancient Climate was the place where the Venus de Milo was found in 1820. This iconic work of art was produced in the 2nd century BC, and a copy of the original is on display in the Archaeological Museum in the Louvre.
From the port of Adamas you can sail to the southwest corner of Milos, where one of the most photographed natural wonders of Greece is located.
Kleftiko is a sand of white cliffs and outcrops that can only be reached by water.
At the base of the cliffs and rocks there are caves and natural arches, and one of them has a cave through which you can pass and see the captivating layered rock that forms the roof.
Like all the rocks in Milos, these rocks have volcanic origins, and because of their appearance as pillars they are compared to the monasteries at the top of the cliffs of Metreora.
The name “Kleftiko” has its roots in the word “to steal”, and is from the time when pirates hid in these caves.
If you’ve seen any tourist material for Milos, you’ve seen images of this alien environment on the north coast of the island.
But you have to go to Sarakiniko in person to measure all the supernatural beauty of the place.
The sea and wind have shaped the volcanic rocks of Sarakiniko into winding humps and columns.
With no signs of vegetation, Sarakiniko is like a lunar landscape, and you will want to explore it for as long as possible, taking pictures of the white rocks and the clear blue-green sea.
There is a long, shallow cove with a beach at one end and white rocks staggered along the shore where people sunbathe and dive into the water.
Firiplaka, one of the most attractive beaches on the remote southern coast, is surrounded by striking cliffs with red, brown and yellow streaks.
The sand at its feet is pale and fine, washed away by the waves, which are mostly calm unless there is a south wind.
The rest of the days, the children will be perfectly safe playing in the water, which is not beyond their thighs at some distance.
On the east side there is a beach bar with umbrella blocks and deckchairs for rent.
In the centre, the cliffs are bulging, dividing the beach in two.
At this point there is a humungous rock with a crack in the center that opens to a cave in the water.
Milos Mining Museum
The island has a mining heritage as old as the Neolithic, when it was a source of obsidian for the whole Mediterranean.
Later, Pliny the Elder wrote that Milo provided more sulphur than any other place in the ancient world, while it was also highly prized for its rich deposits of alum.
That mineral history is recorded in this museum in Adamas, which offers a summary of all the rocks and minerals that have been extracted over the centuries, such as gypsum, sulphur, barite, perlite, bentonite, alum and millstones.
Also interesting is the collection of prehistoric obsidian tools and weapons.
You can see the role these substances still play in everyday life, and catch up on mining technology in the 21st century.
In the screening room you will hear stories from miners from different periods.
Chances are you’ve never had a bathing experience like Paliochori before.
Southeast of Zefiria this beach has a mixture of dark golden sand and pebbles and is bordered by stratified rocks with red and yellow spots.
These are mixed with sulphur ore and there is a slight smell of sulphur in the air.
When you enter the clear water you may feel that it is unusually hot.
This is due to the many hot springs that bubble up just below the water’s edge.
In Paliochori you are near a dormant volcano, and in the restaurants on the beach you can order food cooked in volcanic heat.
Catacombs of Milos
Comparable to the catacombs of Rome and the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, this network of underground galleries near Trypiti is a Paleochristian burial site.
The catacombs date back to the 1st century AD and were rediscovered in 1840 and excavated shortly afterwards by the esteemed German archaeologist Ludwig Ross.
To date, three sets of tunnels over 180 metres long have been discovered, in which 2,000 Christians have been buried in wall cavities or in the ground in improvised rock-covered tombs.
Only two short sections can be visited, but that is more than enough to get an idea of the place and to decipher the inscriptions on the walls that date back 2,000 years.
Ancient Theater of Milos
No more than 200 metres from the catacombs is a theatre with pristine marble steps overlooking the natural harbour and the dark silhouette of the hills on the west side.
The location alone is reason enough to come.
Belonging to the ancient city of Klima, the theatre was first built in the Hellenistic period in the 3rd century BC and had to be rebuilt after the city was razed to the ground by the Athenians in Roman times.
The theatre is excavated from the hill, and up to eight floors of a monument have been excavated which once could hold 7,000 spectators (compared to 700 today). Don’t forget to test the acoustics and look for the faint remains of the ancient Klima walls and towers nearby.
Milos Archaeological Museum
From the third millennium to the 12th century B.C. Milos had the most important port in the Aegean, in Phylakopi, in the north of the island.
During the excavations carried out at the end of the 19th century, this site housed outstanding objects from the Early Cyclades, the Minoan and Mycenaean periods, many of which are in Room 2 of the Archaeological Museum.
There are stamped ceramics, figures, a bathtub and the convincing Lady of Phylakopi, a 14th century BC shrine. In the entrance hall is a copy of the Venus de Milo, where there is also a 6th century BC burial jar and obsidian tools made on the island.
Rooms 3 and 4 have later finds from the Geometrical, Archaic, Classical, Hellenic and Roman era such as tools, coins, statues, votive steles, reliefs from tombs and tables with the island’s own “Meliatic alphabet”.
In the village of Plaka, on the eastern flank of the pass, you reach a narrow staircase that goes up the slope.
After a little effort, this will put you on the second highest peak in Milos, on the site of a 13th century Venetian castle.
Plaka Castle was a refuge from pirate attacks, and although there is not much left today, you have to climb to the top to have a panoramic view of the whole island.
As you climb, you will pass two beautiful whitewashed churches, Panagia Skiniotissa and Panagia Thalassitra.
The staircase fills up with people just before sunset when people rush to see one of the most magical sunsets in the whole of the Aegean.
It may not be easy to get to this beach, as you have to take a dirt road through the steep hills a few kilometres east of Zefiria, but you won’t regret the journey once you get there.
Paliorema is more than a place to sunbathe and swim, because the beach is backed by the ghostly ruins of a sulfur mine.
The company was in operation for some 100 years from the mid-19th century, and the heartbreaking working conditions can be seen in the Milos Mining Museum.
Also in the museum are the tokens that the miners used to buy food in the mine shop.
As for the site, there are streaks of sulphur on the rocks, and you can venture around rusty pieces of heavy machinery, rails with wagons, a loading crane facing the sea, cave houses and the entrances to the tunnels.
A small cove at the bottom of red and yellow cliffs, Tsigrado Beach is not for people afraid of heights or with mobility problems.
Unless you arrive by water, the only way down to this beach is through a steep and narrow crack in the rock.
There is a rope to hold on to and then a ladder will take you to the last few metres.
A sign at the top of the cliff warns you to descend at your own risk.
And yet, dozens of sun seekers hide every day, and that’s because the beach is glorious.
There’s a vast expanse of sand, while the sparkling water is a striking shade of turquoise.
You can also wade through a small cave, where the walls are illuminated by the sunlight in the water.
Like Kleftiko, Sykia can only be reached by boat and usually stops here on the way back to its most famous neighbour.
Sykia is a collapsed sea cave with a small pebble beach in an impressive caldera of white textured rock.
The light created by the water and this white stone is a joy to behold.
Normally your tour boat will wait outside the cave entrance and you will go inside in a RIB to take a dip in the bright blue water and take pictures of the beach.
Village of Trypiti
At a short distance from Plaka and the catacombs, Trypiti is a traditional village organized in rows on the hillside and commanded by the Church of Agios Nikolaos.
These houses were built on the ruins of Old Climate, and it is here that the Venus de Milo came to light in 1820. Along the ridge at the top of the village is a line of historic windmills, built in this elevated position to capture the breeze but now converted into accommodation with stunning views of the port.
Like Plaka Trypiti, this is a great place to watch the sun set over the island’s natural harbour.
Adamas World War II Bomb Shelter
In 1941, Milos was the Wehrmacht’s foothold for launching its Invasion of Crete, and bunkers like this one were excavated at Adamas to provide protection for personnel and to store resources and equipment.
Adamas is the largest of all, and was used as a shelter by many of the island’s inhabitants during an Allied bombing in 1944. The long bunker tunnels and 12 chambers can be traded for only 2 euros.
Taking advantage of the atmosphere, the bunker is a kind of art gallery, with graffiti, paintings and imaginative installations.
Very different from any other beach on the island, Firopotamos is both a beach and a small fishing port.
This adds another layer of charm to the scene, as the whitewashed fishermen’s houses reach out to the water and have blue-painted doors on the ground floors for their “syrmata”, where the boats are stored.
The beach has a mixture of pebbles and white sand, and being in a cove away from the open sea the water is perfectly clear and a dreamy shade of light blue.
At the tip of the cape, at the eastern entrance to the cove, there are some ruins for photos worth sharing.