Bicycling in Milos
Milos is ideal for any level of bicycling activity. The coastal road inside the bay of Milos is a flat, scenic route for a relaxing ride. Most other routes involve alternating up and down hills, or demanding, steep hills and off-the-beaten-path gravel roads.
There are no dedicated bicycle paths, but vehicle traffic outside July/August is very light. Most routes in Milos between villages are 10 km. (6 miles) or less. My favorites, on paved roads, are:
• Adamas to Pollonia and back (10 km. X 2)
• Adamas to Paliochori and back (10.5 km. X 2)
• Adamas to Achivadolimni and back (9 km. X 2)
• Adamas to Provatas/Agios Sostis and back (10 km. X 2)
The most demanding route on paved roads would be to continue on from Achivadolimni to Agia Marina, because of the 3 consecutive, steeper-as-you-go uphill stretches of asphalt leading up to that destination. Mountain bicyclists in great shape might like the challenge of riding past Agia Marina and around the mountains all the way to the tallest peak of Milos, Mt. Prophet Elias (748 m.) Almost as demanding would be a ride from Adamas all the way to Plaka, through Triovasalos or Tripiti (4 km.) It is just as steep as the route to Agia Marina, but a shorter distance.
Typically, you'd start in Adamas, reach your destination for a swim, sunbathing and a meal, recharge your "batteries", and fill up your water bottle before your return trip. It's a good idea to have your bike equipped with battery-operated rear red-flashing light, front cruising light, and reflectors on the wheel spikes if you'd be traveling at night. Sunglasses or goggles are a must, to protect your eyesight from the sun and to keep the occasional bug from getting in your eyes.
If you'd rather not bring your own bike along, there is at least one outlet in Adamas renting out good quality, new bikes at reasonable prices, (€10/day) and capable of light repairs as well.
Andreas' Cruise was by far the highlight of our entire trip to Greece! Andreas' small traditional fishing boat has space for up to 11 people, which makes for a intimate, personalized cruise that will leave you feeling like a celebrity- without the celebrity price. Andreas, a former fisherman, has lived on Milos his entire life and uses this knowledge to showcase the area surrounding Milos in a way that only a local could.
Our cruise began at 11am. There were two other groups the day we went- another couple and a family of four. From the port, we cruised out toward Kimilos and were met with beautiful views of the coast and coastal villages. We then circumnavigated the small deserted island of Poliegos. Poliegos is a mountainous island with quiet beaches and enormous cliffs. Andreas stopped a few times to let us jump off the boat, snorkel, and get a unique view of the cliffs and caves. A few hours into the trip, we anchored in a large cove with a gorgeous beach. We swam and sunbathed as Andreas whipped up an AMAZING meal. Most of the ingredients were picked that day from Andreas' own garden. Andreas grilled vegetables and meat over a fire pit. We also had a salad with fresh goat cheese that Andreas' mother made. As we sat down for this fabulous meal, we were joined by some special guests- a family of mountain goats came running down the mountain path and nibbled on some melon rinds that Andreas had brought for them. Andreas told us that the goats recognize the boat and come to visit him everyday. It was very entertaining! We spent a few more hours on the beach swimming and napping. We eventually returned to the boat and continued our journey around Poliegos. There were many more sights, including a large cave which Andreas backed the boat into so that we could jump off and swim inside. On our way back through Kimilos, we stopped at a cafe where the adults had a coffee and the children enjoyed an ice cream. As a group we walked a short way down the beach near the cafe. We returned to the boat and enjoyed some Ouzo as we made our way (reluctantly!) back to Milos. Our return was perfectly timed to catch the sunset.
This trip is a must-do during your time in Milos! We did many wonderful things in Greece and while on Milos, but time and again we cite this trip as being our favorite part. We have been on many boat trips before while traveling in the Carribean, but none even begin to compare to our day on Perseus with Andreas.
(Continued from Part I)
Ancient Marble Theater of Milos - Part II
When the Vénus de Milo (Aphrodite of Milos) was discovered 4 years later in a field near the theater, Ludwig claimed -albeit unsuccessfully- the statue from France, on the grounds that it had been found on his property. Later, in 1836, Ludwig, now as King, came to Milos together with his son Othon (Otto) King of Greece, to whom he ceded the theater at that time.
Roughly a century later, during WWI, when the French used Milos as a naval base, the French military governor of the island carried out a further cleaning up of the theater to make it accessible to the public and put it to use for various events such as displays by schoolchildren from the nearby Trypiti school, wrestling matches of the then (1930) Milos Sportsmen’s Union, and, more recently, theatrical performances, concerts, etc.
Today the ancient marble theater of Milos retains only seven tiers of seats, with an audience capacity of about 700. A cavea directly above, stripped of its marble seats, seems capable to have accommodated ten times that number. Various architectural findings from the stage, of exceptional artistry and with Asia Minor influences strongly reminiscent of the theater of Ephesus, remain scattered over the excavated orchestra.
Ancient Marble Theater of Milos - Part I
The ancient marble theater appears to have been built on foundations of the Hellenistic period. Bearing a striking similarity to that of Ephesus in Asia Minor, the ancient theater was excavated by the Bavarian architect Carl Haller von Hallerstein, who first read of the theater's existence in an Egyptian newspaper in 1816. Von Hallerstein, architect, painter and archaeologist, sought and obtained the approval of Ludwig, Crown Prince and subsequently King of Bavaria, to come to the island to study the theater in 1817.
Von Hallerstein also persuaded the Crown Prince to buy the land on which the monument stood in order to carry out his excavations unimpeded. He carried out an excavation of the theater, studied it, drew it, and wanted to continue his research, but local conditions did not permit continuation of his project and he left the island after a year, having accumulated a great deal of material from his scholarly research in the minutes of excavation of 55 pages and in his many letters to Ludwig.
(Continued on Part II)
The Catacombs of Milos, dating from the 1st - 5th century, are older, though much smaller, than the ones of Rome, and one of the three most important catacombs from the 74 discovered worldwide, among those of Rome and Jerusalem.
Perhaps only a small part of a sizable necropolis at the foothills of the village of Trypiti, the Catacombs of Milos were used by the early christians first as a burial site and later also as a place of worship and a refuge after persecution by the Romans became widespread. The Catacombs of Milos are considered to be the most important early Christian monument of worship in all of Greece.
Excavations commenced in 1843 by professor Ludwig Ross, 3 years after the discovery of the monument, but after it had been already ransacked by tomb raiders. Thus far, 3 sections have been unearthed, spanning a total length of 183 meters in several passages. It is estimated that upward of 2,000 christians were buried in the 291 arcosolia* and floor tombs used as family graves containing 5-7 dead each. Currently, access to the monument is limited to the main chamber of section B, the Chamber of the Presbyters (Elders), as well as the main chamber of section A, plus a small section of the northwest passage.
Still visible to the visitors of the Catacombs of Milos are inscriptions on the walls including the Monogram of Christ and the ecumenical Christian symbol "IXTHYS", hollows used for lamps and votive gifts to the departed, and a couple of graves of infants.
There is ample evidence that most of the first converts to Christianity in Milos were Jews. There was a substantial Jewish community on the island, as well as indications that St. Paul himself, was shipwrecked in Milos on his way to Athens from Crete. Consequently, when St. Paul encountered his own native ethnic element in Milos, according to professor Adolph von Deissman, "...his teachings fell like a seed on fertile soil".
* Latin term from arcus (= arch) and solium (=vault), after the shape of the tombs carved into niches on the soft rock, on both sides of the main chamber and the passages.
Church of the Holy Trinity
Close by the waterfront in Adamas, there stands the thousand-year-old church of the Holy Trinity (Agia Triada) housing the Ecclesiastical Museum of Milos. The church still operates as a place of worship but is at the same time a gallery displaying some of the finest artistic traditions of the island.
The church of the Holy Trinity itself, in the style designated by experts as a "three-nave basilica with a vaulted dome" is an interesting architectural monument in its own right. According to some authorities, it was built immediately following the "Iconomachy" (842 A.D.) but has undergone several renovations, especially a major one during the Frankish rule, which left its permanent mark in the architecture of the building.
The rare architecture of this very old church in combination with the decorative mosaics of the courtyard as well as the religious exhibits it contains are apt to appeal to the visitor’s feelings not only as tokens of Christian Orthodox worship and tradition but also as superior works of art.
Kleftiko, Milos: Bandit's Lair
The famous cove of Kleftiko (Bandits' Lair) was an old pirates' hideout and now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Milos. Kleftiko is famous for its crystal-clear water, elaborate caves and imposing rock formations, and is the destination for several daily sailboat cruises during the summer months.
Kleftiko is only accessible by boat. Sailboats for hire go as far as Kleftiko stopping there for 2-4 hours for swimming, snorkeling and cookout on the beach. The larger, "Round of Milos" boats go by Kleftiko making approx. a 2-hour stop for swimming before continuing their regular route around the island. You cannot claim to have seen Milos if you haven't visited Kleftiko at least once.
Adamas, the main port and largest village of Milos
Adamas (or Adamantas) was established shortly after the sparsely populated village was settled by Cretan refugees from Sfakia from 1820 to 1830. There is historical evidence, however, that Adamas was settled from the neolithic age. Adamas was formally established as a municipality in 1844 with its current name, which means "diamond" in Greek. Today, with a population of 1,700, Adamas is the largest village and main port of the island of Milos.
See also my Adamas Travelogue
Note: some other member here on VT has mistakenly published a photo of Kamares, Sifnos, claiming it depicts Adamas, Milos. This glaring error has remained on her Milos travel page for more than 6 years, while she refuses to even acknowledge it, let alone correct it. She stubbornly claims she has never been to Sifnos and stands by her illusion that her photo of Kamares, Sifnos, is somehow Adamas, Milos.
Snorkeling in Milos Part II
(Continued from Part I)
Keep in mind that in practically all locations, it is just as interesting to walk, hike and explore the scenery outside the water. A water-resistant camera is highly recommended, and plenty of bottled water and some snacks are a must, as there are no restaurants, bars or any trace of civilization nearby, with the exception of Paliochori. If you are on a daily cruise to Kleftiko and Sykia, the sailboat crew will provide snacks and refreshments. For the other destinations, you are on your own.
There is no snorkeling equipment for rent in Milos as far as I know, with the exception of the diving centers in Pollonia. Personally, I would not use rental equipment on my nose and mouth. There is at least one store in Adamas, however, called Naftilos (Nautilus) that sells inexpensive gear such as masks, snorkels, and fins.
Warnings and precautions:
It is advisable to visit southern locations when the wind is from the north, and vice versa.
There are no sea-born predators to worry about, but while snorkeling, be on the lookout for sea urchins on the rocks and avoid skin contact with sea anemones. Stinging jellyfish is small, seasonal and extremely rare.
Also, be alert for the presence of any speedboats or rubber dinghies close to the shore, rare in May/June or September/October but seemingly everywhere in July/August.
Theft of your belongings left ashore while you are swimming is highly unlikely. There is virtually no crime in Milos apart from the occasional petty theft, and a complete absence of violent crime.
Traffic accidents, especially involving motorcycles, though rare, are just about the only concern or danger on the island.
In Milos, there are a few sailboats that can be hired for charter cruises, usually outside the high tourist season. Particularly, a couple of sailboats I can recommend for you, are the Andromeda and the catamaran Chrysovalandou:
Milos - A Sightseeing Itinerary
Part IV: Profitis Elias and Tramythia
From the early-christian era baptistry you can take a path or walk through a meadow all the way to a Prophet Elias, a small church atop the hill visible from the ancient city ruins.
(This small church is not to be confused with a church by the same name, at the summit of Mt. Prophet Elias, the tallest peak in Milos, in the area of Halakas, across the bay.)
The meadow as well as Prophet Elias lie in the area of Tramythia, also part of the ancient city. Remnants of marble columns scattered in the church yard, attest to the fact the church was built on top of the ruins of an ancient temple, probably dedicated to the ancient Greek God Apollon. The unobstructed bay of Milos view from Prophet Elias is breathtaking, especially at sunset.
A 17 m. long mosaic from the Roman times has also been unearthed in the Tramythia area. The entire area is off limits to construction, pending archaeological excavations, and has only been used as farmland in recent years.
Continue to Part V
Milos - A Sightseeing Itinerary
Part VIII: Preparations -Timing
It is advisable to plan your timing.
Avoid making this trip on a Monday, since both the Archaeological museum and the Catacombs will be closed.
Also, the visiting hours of the museums and the catacombs are usually up to 1:00PM or 1:30PM. All other sites are out in the open, and they can be visited anytime. Therefore, plan the date and time of your visits to the above monuments and museums accordingly.
If you set out late in the morning, you may want to skip the first Plaka leg and go directly to Trypiti. You may then go to Plaka another day to visit the Archaeological and the Folklore museums.
As far as preparations go, it goes without saying that you'd need a pair of comfortable shoes. To me at least, this means nothing short of air-sole sneakers. A small backpack is also a good idea, to hold your map(s), bottled water, and a sweater or jacket for the cool evening hours.
Sun glasses are highly recommended as well, and so is a good camera, even though it may not be used inside the museums or the catacombs. Since most of you would be making this trip in the summertime, I'd add to this list some high SPF suntan lotion, a towel to wipe off sweat, and a cap.
Milos - A Sightseeing Itinerary
Part VII: Back to Plaka to watch the sunset
If there is still enough time, then you owe it to yourself to make it back all the way up to Plaka, for one of the most magnificent Aegean sunsets you'll ever have the chance to experience.
If you are tired, or out of time, then simply go to "Marmara", which is none other than the church yard of Panagia Korfiatissa church. As an alternative, the patio of Utopia bar is just as good a place to watch the sunset from, assuming you find a spot to sit down (unlikely, unless you've reserved the seat hours in advance).
If you do have a bit of stamina left, then by all means, follow the path to Kastro and take the steps to Panagia Thalassitra church, for an even more elevated view from the church yard. It is not surprising that lots of couples choose to get married in the church yard of either Panagia Touriani in Klimatovouni, or Panagia Thalassitra in Kastro.
For those of you in the best of physical shape, it is recommended you take the steps all the way up to the summit of Kastro, to watch the sunset from the church yard of Mesa Panagia. It is an experience of a lifetime.
After sundown, you may walk the steps down to Plaka and finish a rewarding day with an equally splendid dinner at Archondoula's and a walk in the alleys of Plaka, to visit the cafe/bars, the tourist shops and the friendly neighborhoods of this traditional Cycladic village.
Continue to Part VIII
Milos - A Sightseeing Itinerary
Part VI: Klima and Klimatovouni
After the catacombs, you'll want to walk down to Klima, the seaport of the ancient city in 1000 B.C., now a quaint fishing village with the unique "syrmata" dwellings. You may walk all the way from the far left to the far right of the shore, admire the syrmata, chat with the locals, and snap a few photos. Notice the remnants of an ancient Roman pier, which looks like a tall rock by the water.
You may then choose to have lunch at Panorama, a hotel/restaurant at the highest elevation than any other building in Klima, with great views of the village and the bay as well, before taking the steep road up to Trypiti once again. You may choose to have lunch at the Trypiti restaurants instead.
If it is close to sundown, then take a right to the road to Klimatovouni instead of Trypiti, and go all the way to the end, to the church of Panagia Tourliani. You can view one of the most beautiful sunsets of Milos from the church yard.
Continue to Part VII
Milos - A Sightseeing Itinerary
Part V: The Catacombs
You may then visit the Catacombs (300 m. from the ancient theater), or you may visit them prior to all of the above sites. In fact, visiting the catacombs first may be a good idea. There is a dirt road connecting the catacombs to the ancient theater, so you don't have to climb the steps back up (phew!) to get to the rest of the ancient city ruins.
Continue to Part VI