Milos is the 5th largest Cycladic island out of 29 main islands (and 220 in total!), with an area of 151 km² (58 square miles). It's slightly larger if you include the neighboring islands Antimilos and Akradies that are part of Milos.
Despite its size, the island isn't as touristy and well-known as its famous neighbors — Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Ios, and Mykonos — yet.
It's an incredible island, with a rich history (there's evidence it's been inhabited for 3,000 years!) and spectacular beaches that line its coast.
The main villages, beaches, and attractions are conveniently clustered together on the Northern side of the island. The rest of the island is sprinkled with spots that will take your breath away.
I recently spent two weeks in Milos on a working holiday (thank you, digital nomad life!) and was blown away by how interesting this island is.
In my opinion, it's only a matter of time until it becomes as popular (and busy) as the likes of Santorini.
Here are 9 facts I learned about Milos during my time on the island.
Aphrodite of Milos Statue
You may have heard of a little statue that goes by “Aphrodite” or “Venus of Milos.” If you've been to the Louvre Museum in Paris, you might've even seen it there.
Did you know it was discovered in Milos in 1820?
This is perhaps the island's claim to fame, especially in the last couple of centuries.
The marble statue was discovered by a local near the Ancient Roman Theater and the village of Trypiti. It's believed to have been created between 130 and 100 BC, during the late Hellenistic period. Standing at an impressive 2.04 meters (6 ft. 7 in) tall, the statue depicts Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.
At the time of discovery, Milos (then Melos), was part of the Ottoman Empire. Following a dispute with France, the statue was given to Louis XIII. He, in turn, donated it to the Louvre in 1821.
It is unknown what happened to her arms, but some theories state that they broke off and were lost during transport to Paris. We'll never really know!
You can visit the site on your own or with a tour. The visit is included in the Best of Milos tour.
Fun fact: the Statue of Poseidon was also found in Milos (Melos) in 1877 and is believed to be from the same time as Venus de Milo. You can see the statue now at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
The island of Milos originates from a combination of volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Some of the most distinctive volcanic rock around the island have come from this process.
This includes the black glass, called “Obsidian,” that can still be seen around the island, especially while hiking. You can also find it at the Milos Mining Museum, in Adamas. Most of the Mediterranean countries that have obsidian have purchased it from Milos. That's kinda cool.
Milos and its Cycladic neighbors are part of the “South Aegean Volcanic Arc” that extends between Turkey and mainland Greece (almost 500 km!). The arc was created when the African tectonic plate moved under the Aegean Sea.
Exciting and colorful rock formations can be observed along the coasts of Milos while sailing. The island's most famous beach, Sarakiniko, is believed to have been created by poured and frozen lava following a volcanic eruption.
It's believed that volcanic activity on Milos goes back about 3,000,000 years, and its creation will leave you amazed while you're walking, driving, swimming or sailing around the island.
It's hard to see the same thing twice as you explore the Milos coast, or inland for that matter.
A Pirate's Dream
One of the most fascinating things I found out about Milos was that Kleftiko Bay used to be a base for pirates during the island's Turkish occupation. It's now one of the most famous attractions in Milos, accessible only by boat or a long hike.
During my sailing trip, I had a chance to snorkel and swim around the bay and was shocked to find out how massive it actually is. I expected a couple of boats to fit inside at most, but once we swam through a cave to get to the other side, the bay opened up before our eyes.
Can you spot the boat in the picture below? Hint: it's in the distance! I took this picture from another cave at the other end of the bay, right before we swam back to our boat.
No wonder pirates loved this place, they can hide for days and wait for unsuspecting victims to pass by. And the view isn't awful, either.
Ancient Roman Theatre
The Ancient Roman Theater of Milos is another one of my favorite places on the island due to its historical significance — it's left behind from 3rd century BC, during the Hellenistic period. It was destroyed during Roman times and rebuilt out of marble.
The theater remains remarkably preserved, and I was delighted to be able to walk around, take a seat and imagine how grandiose it was at its peak.
Nestled on a hill, facing the South side of the island, the acoustics and the views over Milos Bay are perfect. It is believed to hold as many as 7,000 people during performances, however, in its present condition, it can only fit around 700.
The theater is still used from time to time for musical and theatrical performances – and it should be, the portion that remains is in almost perfect condition!
Milos has many unique and quaint fishing villages, some bigger than others. Klima is the largest and best known of the bunch and dates back to 1000 BC, after the original settlement at Fylakopi was abandoned.
The traditional fishing villages are famous due to the syrmatas – storage space for small boats dug into volcanic rocks and adorning colorful and distinctive garage doors.
They're excellent for photo opportunities and bring a certain charm to Milos that you won't find on other Greek islands.
In Klima, the syrmatas have two floors. The ground floor has a kitchen and was mainly used for storing a fishing boat, and the top-level was used as a living space. Most of the other villages only have one-floor syrmatas.
If you want to experience what it's like to live in an authentic syrmata, you're in luck! Most of them, especially in Klima, are now rental properties.
The catacombs found in Milos are so significant, they're only second to the catacombs in Rome and the most important monument of Early-Christians in all of Greece. They're believed to actually be older than the ones in Rome, dating as far back as the 1st century. That's a pretty big deal.
Over time, Early-Christians used the catacombs as a burial site, place of worship, and place of refuge. It is estimated that over 2,000 Christians were buried in these 1,500-year-old catacombs.
Though only a small portion of the burial labyrinth is open to the public, it's an impressive site nonetheless. At €4 for a guided entry, it's more than worth the visit. In the meantime, you can take a virtual tour on their website.
Milos was invaded by Germans between 1941 and 1945, During World War II.
There are a couple of WWII monuments around the island that you can check out.
A network of tunnels underneath Adamas that was used as a bomb shelter still exists to this day. The tunnels now act as an art gallery that's worth checking out.
The art gallery is a very unique concept and it'll only set you back €2!
Milos' mining history goes back thousands of years and has brought great wealth and employment to the island over centuries. Mining wealth and tourism are now the two primary sources of income for the island.
Various volcanic activity left the island with many minerals Miloans mined and traded. For example, obsidian was used for cutting tools and weapons, bentonite was used to make soap, and the list goes on. For more information on the various minerals discovered, head over to the Milos Mining Museum site.
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Paliorema is now an abandoned site but very cool to see. However, mining activity is still very much present on the island and you'll encounter it as you drive around.
Looking to explore Milos' mining history? Consider taking a morning tour – you have two choices. The geological and volcanic tour leaves from Provotas and includes a catamaran portion, a visit to the inactive Kalamos volcano, and swimming time. If you're staying in Adamas or Pollonia, there's another land-only tour that starts there, skips the volcano and stops at the Milos Mining Museum instead.
If you're planning a trip to Greece and are considering a visit to Milos island, check out everything you need to know in my Comprehensive Travel Guide to Milos.