When you think of the Greek islands, Mykonos and Santorini usually leap to mind first. Every summer, hoards of bottle-popping party-seekers flock to the chic beach clubs of Mykonos, while heart-eyed honeymooners stroll hand-in-hand along the whitewashed streets of Santorini. Both islands are breathtaking, but they’re also packed with tourists to the point where it can almost be off-putting. Now is the time for savvy travelers to look elsewhere within the Greek Isles, and we’ve got just the island for you—Milos!

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Part of the Cyclades, beautiful, laid-back Milos is home to some of the best beaches in all of Greece. In fact, there are more than 70 gorgeous beaches on this beloved volcanic island, each one different than the last. Spend your days exploring the picturesque villages on Milos’ eastern side, or venture out in a 4×4 vehicle to the remote western coast, where you might just find an entire patch of sand all to yourself. With incredible volcanic terrain, relaxed seaside tavernas, quaint boutique hotels and a plethora of jaw-dropping beaches, it has all the components of a storybook Greek island escape. Below, we’ve gathered up 9 reasons to visit Milos now, before crowds and commercialization set in and change the island forever.

Sarakiniko Beach

Photo courtesy of Compass & Twine

1. Sarakiniko Beach (AKA, Moon Beach)

While we think Milos easily deserves the award for “Best Beach in Greece,” that title is always up for debate! However, if there’s one thing we know for certain, it’s that Milos has the most diverse array of them, including the lunar-like Sarakiniko Beach. Easily one of the most unique stretches of beachfront on the planet, Sarakiniko’s chalky white landscape seems to have come from straight off the surface of the moon. Swim in the cerulean waters, lay out on a smooth rock face, or join in (at your own risk!) on some awesome cliff jumping. Just past the small inlet beach, a whole world of cliff-jumpers leap off the lunar cliffs into the blue Aegean.

Seaside Taverna_Medusa Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Compass & Twine

2. Seaside Tavernas

Fresh local food and family-owned restaurants still run the show on Milos. You can find laid-back open-air tavernas perched along the seaside with nothing else in sight. Take Embourios Taverna, for instance. The first two locals we chatted with upon arrival to Milos pointed us to this restaurant. We’re still not even sure if Embourios is the actual name of the restaurant or just the name of the tiny settlement of three boathouses, restaurant and a lighthouse. The best part is—it doesn’t matter! You can easily find Embourios, because there’s nothing else around. Once you arrive, sit back for hours enjoying a leisurely lunch of fried feta with honey, fresh fish, white wine and not a single care in the world. For a similar seaside setting, snag a table at Medusa near the town of Mandrakia. This popular open-air lunch spot boasts rickety blue wooden chairs, fresh-caught octopus hanging outside on drying lines, and the shimmering Aegean Sea just steps away.

Plaka hilltop town

Photo courtesy of Compass & Twine

3. A Postcard-worthy Hilltop Town

Milos’s capital, Plaka, is a picture-perfect hilltop town with classic Grecian whitewashed buildings. It’s small enough where you can park at the base and meander up the stone streets to the pedestrian-only center at the top. Here you’ll find boutique shops with colorful kaftans fluttering in the windows and buzzing cafés with bougainvillea-draped facades. Come in the evening for some pre-dinner shopping, then make your way to Archontoula Restaurant in the center of Plaka for a fun al fresco dinner.

Kleftiko Caves

Kleftiko Caves | Photo courtesy of Compass & Twine

4. The Caves of Kelftiko

Situated on the remote southwestern side of Milos, Kleftiko can only be reached by the sea. This unique volcanic coastline consists of remarkable caves, impressive rock formations and crystal-clear water. Also known as ‘bandit’s lair’, Kleftiko used to be a famous hiding spot for pirates. Today, it’s a playground for visitors arriving on every type of boat, from little dinghies to super mega-yachts. Whether you come by a private boat or group excursion, you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time snorkeling, swimming, and exploring the jaw-dropping caves and rock formations. The water around Keftiko is a brilliant, jewel-like shade of turquoise and it gets even more electric inside the caves!

5. Sunset Cocktails at Utopia Café

There’s nothing better than a Grecian sunset. When that tangerine sun melts slowly into the Aegean, you’re going to want to be situated in a prime spot with a cocktail in hand. Milos happens to be home to one of the best sunset cocktail settings in Greece. Come golden hour, there’s no confusion on Milos as to where folks are headed. Utopia Café is located in the hilltop town of Plaka. The back of the café opens up westward to an enchanting black and white checkered cliff-side terrace overlooking the Aegean Sea and a horizon line that’s peppered with islands in the distance. Come early to grab a front row seat or stand under the pergola-covered bar area and soak in the magnificent views.

Fishing Village

Photo courtesy of Compass & Twine

6. Charming Fishing Villages

Blue and white fishing villages dot the dramatic coastline around Milos. You’ll often see traditional “Syrma” fisherman homes sitting directly on the shoreline with water lapping up against boathouse doors. For the most colorful lineup of waterfront homes, visit the town of Klima. A short walk down from the town of Tripiti, Klima boasts the most well-preserved cluster of classic, two-story fishing houses. Equally picturesque, the village of Firopotamos on the northern coast offers a tranquil setting of waterfront fishing homes, plus a beautiful beach where you can swim out and soak in the scene from the water.

Rock Mining_Paliorema Beach by sulfur mines

Paliorema Beach | Photo courtesy of Compass & Twine

7. A Rocky Past, a “Venus de Milos”

In the early 1800s, a local farmer on Milos unearthed a beautiful statue of Aphrodite. Today, that statue is known as “Venus de Milos” or “Aphrodite of Milos” and is one of the most celebrated sculptures from Ancient Greece. It currently resides in Paris in the halls of the Louvre. Rock mining has been integral to the island of Milos since the Stone Age, and it continues to be a prominent industry to this day. Perhaps best know for obsidian, naturally occurring volcanic glass, Milos’ terrain boasts a bevy or rocks and minerals from silver and sulfur to perlite and bentonite. In fact, one of the island’s most spectacular beaches, Paliorema, sits at the base of an abandoned sulfur mine. The remains of the old mine coupled with the brilliant yellow and orange rock coloration creates an eerie but enchanting beach destination.

Delmar Apartments and Suites

Delmar Apartments and Suites | Photo courtesy of Compass & Twine

8. Quaint Boutique Hotels

You won’t find any big name Marriotts or mega resorts on Milos. Instead, the island is full of small, locally run boutique hotels filled with character and charm. Places like Delmar Apartments & Suites, Skinopi Lodge, and Tania Milos serve as relaxing retreats to return to after a day of sailing or beach adventure. Whether you choose a home base in the scenic village of Pollonia or the hilltop town of Plaka, you’re never far from the water on Milos.

Tsigrado ladder and rope beach

Tsigrado Beach | Photo courtesy of Compass & Twine

9. Tsigrado Beach—Rope and Ladder Skills Required

Visiting Tsigrado Beach on Milos’ southern shore is not for the faint of heart—unless you arrive by boat. If you approach from land, your only option is to go down a rather sketchy combination of rope and ladder components lodged precariously inside a narrow crevasse of a cliff. It’s definitely a thrill getting down, but once your toes reach the sand, you’ll look up to find a beautiful little beach cove and the clearest cerulean water. Beautiful and unique beach scenes like this are waiting to be discovered throughout Milos.

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