It might be true that Greece is famous abroad for their islands, such as Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Rhodes, and Skiathos, but there are over 500 hundred more which are truly unexplored by travelers. Having lived in Greece for over 10 years, and still traveling back annually, I myself haven't seen them all yet.
This year I decided to explore the island of Milos, where the famed ancient statue of Aphrodite of Milos was found in 1870 by a local farmer, better known as, "Venus De Milo". It was then sold to the French Consul, who, in turn, housed her at the Louvre Museum of Paris for all to admire.
The Cycladic island of Milos sits between the islands on Sifnos and Santorini and is one of the five largest islands of Greece. It is known for its history, geology, hot springs, mineral mines and wild goats! My friends tried to discourage me from going, and told me it's a quiet island with not much to do or see, but for just those reasons, I was set on visiting this large quiet island. With no expectations of excitement and just the idea of sitting on a beach all day and reading, I set out for enjoying seclusion.
Upon arrival, I viewed a large colorful rocky terrain as the boat approached the harbor. Already I sensed something different about this island. I saw tiny colorful homes of fishing villages along the coastline, built on colorful mountainous rock formations. As I disembarked at the port of Adamos, the island first appeared to resemble a typical Cycladic island, with white minimal cubic houses nestled along the shore and slopes of mountains, accented with colors of blue, teal, green, red or grey. While driving to the hotel however, I kept noticing more amazing rock formations that reminded me of the Grand Canyon.
After settling in at a quaint hotel, we headed for the beach. It was then that I knew this island was special. There had to be a story behind these rocks and crystal clear blue, turquoise waters. Milos was definitely already a delightful surprise! I bought every book and map I could find on the island and began searching for information.
There it was in black and white print. I assumed that there were over 5 beaches to explore, but the island boasts over 50! The island is built on volcanic rock that emerged from the Aegean Sea around 2.7-1.8 million years ago as a result of the continental drift, which included Europe's separation from Africa and the filling in of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. The rock formations are prehistoric and the island is built on volcanic stones and lava. Forget about just sitting and reading on the beach, there was too much to explore here!
Milos is definitely a beach lover's island. In order to see all the amazing breathtaking beaches of Milos you should take a boat tour around the island. There are numerous boat tours at the port of Adamas that offer wonderful excursions around the island to beaches you cant even reach or see without a boat. My favorite spot was Sarakiniko, a white beach surrounded by gorgeous white rock formations that lead into the bluish- green sea. Upon arrival I thought I was walking on a Star Wars set! It was so unique and incredibly beautiful. Take note that it is very slippery walking on these rocks and there are catacombs on the bottom of the mountain near the beach area. If you plan to enter them, be very careful when walking through these catacombs, as there is no light, nor warning signs of unexpected lower levels, and you can fall in if you're not looking down.
Paliochori, Agia Kyriaki and Provatas Beaches are also a must to visit. Paliochori is special due to the volcanic temperature that rises through the right side of the beach. It is there that the local restaurants cook delicious local dishes in the sand with the volcanic heat!
There are pockets of warm water and hot springs all over the island that bubble out of the ocean floor, that are said to have mineral healing properties. You can enjoy these natural hot baths of Lakos at Adamos and Alyki beach as well. Tsigrado is a secluded beach that you can only get to by going down a small sand mountain, then down a thick rope and wooden stairs, its great for mountain climbing enthusiasts.
Towns and Villages:
There are a few ancient sights and museums to visit to learn more about the rich history of the island, such as the ancient Roman Theatre, the mining museum and the archeological museum. The island has a long interesting history that dates back to antiquity and was known as a wealthy mineral trade island. The obsidian tools that were developed on the island were found throughout the ancient world. Milos' great past contributes significantly to who the Milians are today.
After the beaches, the most delightful experience was dining at the traditional taverns and restaurants in the towns and villages. Most of the food is locally grown, organic, and extremely delicious. The local dishes include tasty cheese pies, fresh fish, goat, lamb dishes and watermelon pie!
The people are very welcoming and eager to help you get around. The center of Milos is named Plaka, an adorable town that sits 220 meters above sea level, and built along the mountainside. From here you can view a breathtaking sunset at the top of the mountain, by the old castle and church of Panagia Thallasitra.
Strolling through the paved labyrinth streets of Plaka, one cannot help but feel the camaraderie between the town's people, as you watch them speak through their windows to one another from their well-kept homes built next to each other. The sound of local music is heard to keep you company, as you try and find your way up to the old castle, the "Kastro," and church, to see the breathtaking sunset. The center of Plaka has lovely restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Pollonia is another ancient town that used to be name Apollonia, after the Ancient Greek God, Apollo. This fishing village is enchanting with many restaurants, café's and stores. There is a different village to discover daily, so just rent a car and drive through Milos!
The whole island offers small quaint boutique hotels, so be sure to book early as possible due to limited!
Throughout the island you can find catacombs that were carved out during antiquity from the soft rock. Must see catacombs are near the village of Tripiti. They are known as an early Christian underground cemetery, and were dug by early Christians (Approx. 200 years after the birth of Christ). They found over 300 graves, where it is believed that between 5,000 to 7,000 Christians were buried, making these catacombs one of the oldest and most important monuments of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and of the Christian world as a whole, after the catacombs of Rome. The locals say that the catacombs also acted as a hide away from the constant pirate raids.
Overall, Milos is truly an unforgettable experience for those seeking a type of raw experience of Greece - or of an original, unaltered Greece. There is so much to discover about this island, between its history, its breathtaking geological formations, its beautiful beaches, and its friendly people. Milos is a secret getaway for those seeking an authentic Greek island experience.
Check out mymilos.gr for more information on traveling to Milos.