Folegandros or Milos: how to choose where to go?

Are you wondering if Folegandros or Milos would be better for your next Greek holiday? These two beautiful Cyclades islands are relaxed and less touristed, but very different and it can be hard to know how to choose between them. This article has you covered with the pros and cons of both islands and all the frequently asked questions about them.

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Quick answers and general tips

Folegandros is a tiny remote rocky island off the beaten track in the Cyclades archipelago with spectacular barren landscapes and a sunset second only to that of Santorini.

It also has a great number and variety of beaches, one of the cutest Choras (main towns) in Greece, and a cosmopolitan vibe to it.

It’s a great choice for quiet and relaxing holidays, swimming, snorkeling, diving, and hiking.

An alley in Chora at sunset, Folegandros Island, Greece
An alley in Chora at sunset, Folegandros Island, Greece

Milos is one of the most stunning islands in Greece, with beaches and landscapes so striking and unique, that it is often used as a backdrop for high-end fashion shootings.

It is also much larger than Folegandros, offering lots of land and sea attractions to discover, super cute fishing villages, sports, mythology & ancient sites, and a vibrant culture and food scene.  

Firiplaka beach, Milos, Greece
Firiplaka beach, Milos, Greece

Quick pick and general tip:

Go to Folegandros to get away from it all, have a romantic escape, relax, swim, see sunsets, and wine and dine informally in Chora.

Go to Milos for striking landscapes, one of Europe’s most famous beaches, layered history and heritage, fishing villages, and fantastic day-trip options.

Folegandros or Milos – Overview


🏝️ Very small island, with only one road less than 10 miles in length connecting the island’s only 3 villages – Karavostasis (port town), Chora (main town), and Ano Meria (rural area). No airport.

🌇 Best sunset after Santorini, with spectacular cliffs, and drops into the Aegean.

🏝️ The most picturesque Chora in Greece is perched high on a cliff in the middle of the island.

🏖️ Wide variety of beaches – sandy, pebbly, and rocky – all very close together, but none offering beach bars and umbrellas.

🏝️ Few cruise ships

🏝️ Oldest continuously inhabited settlement with traditional Cycladic architecture, since 1215.

🏝️ Cosmopolitan, never crowded but an expensive destination.

Small store in Folegandros Chora, Folegandros Island, Greece
Small store in Folegandros Chora, Folegandros Island, Greece

Good for:

🏝️ Couples holidays

🏝️ Relaxing beach getaways

🏝️ Far away, a get-away-from-it-all island paradise

🏝️ Landscape and sunset photography

🏝️ Dining and cocktails

🏝️ Easy to get around

Not so good for:

🏝️ Families – Besides beaches and boat trips there are no other activities available

🏝️ No easy access – long ferry hours from Athens or Santorini

The mountain above Folegandros Chora, Folegandros Island, Greece
The mountain above Folegandros Chora, Folegandros Island, Greece


🏝️ One-of-a-kind moon-like landscapes, unique in Europe.

🏝️ The larger island offers more activities and places for exploration. Day trips and fun for the whole family.

🏖️ Dozens of beaches, some of the petrified volcanic lava platforms emerging from the sea.

🏖️ Rugged beaches, mostly pebbled and rocky. Not many sandy beaches.

🏝️ Easy to get to; direct flights from Athens.

🏝️ Many dining options across the island.

🏝️ Prominent historical island with a rich past, archaeology, and mythology.

🏝️ Year-round lively island with industrial activities and real-life authentic communities.

🏝️ Popular and busy during the summer months.

Tsigrado Beach, Milos, Greece
Tsigrado Beach, Milos, Greece

Good for:

🏝️ Families, couples, solo travelers

🏝️ Sailing excursions with swimming and snorkel stops with lunch served on board

🏝️ Taking photos of nature’s beauty and stunning landscapes

🏝️ Tons of options for explorations, culture and history sites, seaside activities, and watersports

🏝️ Food and wine, cooking classes.

🏝️ Good Island-hopping itineraries

Plaka town, Milos Island, Greece
Plaka town, Milos Island, Greece

Not so good for:

🏝️ Quiet holidays

🏝️ Can get very busy with tourists during the high season in August

Location and how to get there

Both islands are part of the western Cyclades, located south of Athens in the Aegean Sea.

Map of Milos and Folegandros Islands, Cyclades Island Chain, Greece
Map of Milos and Folegandros Islands, Cyclades Island Chain, Greece

Despite being close to each other, Milos as a bigger island has multiple connections to other Cycladic islands plus an airport connecting it to the Greek mainland and Europe directly.

Folegandros is reached only by a long ferry ride.

Getting to Folegandros

Folegandros has no airport and it takes 4 to 12 hours on a ferry from Athens (direct route, tickets from €48 one way) or a flight to Santorini and then a 2-hour ferry crossing to reach it.

The remote location of the island is a blessing as it mandates slow-paced vibes and smaller crowds.

Caldera-Vista-Catamaran ferry in Folegandros Port en-route to Santorini
Catamaran ferry in Folegandros Port en route to Santorini, Folegandros, Greece

Getting to Milos

National airport connecting Milos to Athens via several daily flights during the high season.

Milos Airport, Milos Island, Greece
Milos Airport, Milos Island, Greece

Daily ferries from other islands are available and the Athens crossing is serviced by regular and high-speed ferries (a 3 to 7-hour trip) for €60 one way, several times a day.

Scenery and natural environment – better in Folegandros or Milos?

Milos is unique and its most peculiar landscapes are formed by prehistoric volcanic activity, guaranteeing spectacular vistas and great exploration opportunities.

Bleached rock formations, underground tunnels, volcanic rock platforms that seem to hover above the sea as well as old fishing villages all along the coast are famous throughout Greece.

Glaronisia rocky islets, Milos, Greece
Glaronisia rocky islets, Milos Island, Greece

Folegandros is a tiny island packed with high rugged cliffs and is undeniably beautiful, despite not having the geological variety of Milos.

Rugged cliffs of Folegandros Island, Greece
Rugged cliffs of Folegandros Island, Greece

Best for scenery: Milos, of course.

Are historical sites, museums and mythology better in Folegandros or Milos?

Before being settled by the Dorians, who transformed it into a merchants’ community, Milos had been inhabited since antiquity and had developed its own civilization (based on obsidian stone excavations by archaeologists).

It was a thriving economy until falling victim to a ferocious conquest by ancient Athenians some centuries later.

Always absent from the histories of Milos is its key role in maintaining and facilitating piracy and the slave trade in the Aegean Sea. You’ll find lots of coves where pirates hid their boats but the slave trade markets have disappeared.

Venus de-Milo, The Louvre, Paris, France
Venus de-Milo, The Louvre, Paris, France

All of this indicates that Milos has a rich heritage, evident throughout the island, from the ancient theatre close to the villages of Trypiti and Klima to the location of the Venus de Milo discovery and excavation.

The Venus, representing the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, is arguably the second-most famous work of Western art after the Mona Lisa, both of whom are housed at the Louvre Museum, Paris.

Other museums (including the Archaeological Museum, Folk and History Museum, Ecclesiastical Museum, the Mining Museum, and my favorite quirky museum – the Marmara Sand Museum) have much to interest culture-seeking visitors in their collections.

Folegandros is very different from Milos.

Apart from the imposing Church of the Virgin Mary of Folegandros on the hill above Chora (together with other Chora churches) and a cute little Folklore museum in Ano Meria, it doesn’t have much to offer in terms of culture or ancient sites.

Church of Virgin Mary of Folegandros, Folegandros Island, Greece
Church of Virgin Mary of Folegandros, Folegandros Island, Greece

Best for archaeology, museums, and mythology: Milos, definitely.

Where are the beaches better – Folegandros or Milos?

The beaches of Milos are among Europe’s best and most distinctive. Milos is well known around the world for having lunar scenery with smooth, graceful surfaces hovering over the blue water of the Aegean Sea.

Magnificent blue caves, stone fjords, and other kinds of volcanic formations that serve as beaches offer fantastic sights but some of them are not comfortable all-day coastal destinations.

You even need to climb a wooden ladder leaning against a rock to get to the lovely sandy Tsigarado Beach!

Sarakiniko Beach, Milos Island, Greece
Sarakiniko Beach, Milos Island, Greece

TIP: Sarakiniko Beach is a unique experience and one of the most-visited beaches in Greece!

Folegandros beaches come in all shapes and sizes – from golden or white fine sand, pebbly, rocky, to concrete platforms perfect for jumping.

Actually, very few Greek islands offer such a variety of beaches on such a small territory. Great for moving around during the day without losing too much time in between.

Agali Beach, Folegandros, Greece
Agali Beach, Folegandros, Greece

TIP: Agali Beach, among the many beaches in Folegandros, is a true island gem and a destination in its own right.

Best for beaches: it’s a tie! Milos has more unique landscape beaches, and Folegandros has a better vibe.

What is better for romance – Folegandros or Milos?

Although Milos is one of the best honeymoon/wedding destinations in Greece, precisely because it offers a lot of activities, Folegandros has a more refined romantic charm to it.

Folegandros sunset from above Panagia Church and Chora, Folegandros, Greece

The fact you don’t run around chasing attractions, combined with very little to do besides succumbing to glorious swimming and evening cocktails watching the magnificent sunset somehow makes Folegandros unbelievably sexy.

Best for romance: Again it’s a tie!

Where to go for food and wine – Folegandros or Milos?

Gastronomy is big in Greece and the Greek islands, with the influx of people, ideas, and ingredients spurring this trend.

Seafood Risotto, Milos Island, Greece
Seafood risotto with mussels and shrimp, Milos Island, Greece

Both Milos and Folegandros have a wonderful food and wine scene, with Folegandros swinging towards contemporary cuisine the past few years more than Milos.  

🍴 Milos food: Fantastic goat and sheep cheese, traditional sweets, Cyclades favorites like fresh fish and other superb seafood, locally grown capers, fava beans, and wine.

🍷 Milos wine: Do not miss Konstantakis Winery. You can take tasting tours of the cellars and the grounds.

🍴 Folegandros food: A dish unique to Folegandros is matsata – a pasta-like dough topped with all sorts of sauces – from vegan to rabbit.  

🍷 Folegandros wine: Ktima Paliomilos. Beautiful stonewalled winery with a great restaurant.

Best for Food: Milos, as it offers better traditional food options in family-run taverna settings.

Where to go for Shopping – Folegandros or Milos?

Both islands have nice boutiques, souvenir stalls, and traditional food delis that can even make the goods you buy airplane-wrapped.

Besides that, don’t expect the shopping variety and experience of Athens, Santorini or Mykonos.

Alycona, Punta Square, Chora, Folegandros, Greece
Alycona, Punta Square, Chora, Folegandros, Greece

Best for shopping: Folegandros, as the chic crowd commands higher-end shops and galleries.

Is Folegandros or Milos better for nightlife?

Neither Milos nor Folegandros are among the nightlife islands of the Cyclades.

Milos is building up a nightlife offer around the towns of Adamas and Plaka, while Folegandros has several very lively cocktail bars that bring DJs during the summer that light up a whole square in Chora after midnight.

Vibrant evening around Folegandros Chora, Folegandros, Greece
Vibrant evening around Folegandros Chora, Folegandros, Greece

Don’t expect discos or all-night parties as in Mykonos with celebrity-filled parties until dawn.

Best for nightlife: Milos, but only just.

Is Folegandros or Milos better for family holidays?

Milos offers such an amazing variety of activities, that it might be one of the best family islands in the whole of Greece.

Colorful fishing village of Klima, Milos Island, Greece
Colorful fishing village of Klima, Milos Island, Greece

From Klima (an ancient fisherman’s village), ancient sites, museums, and trails, to day trips to Kimolos island and the Kleftiko stone arches in the sea, Milos wins this one hands-down.

Kastro, Chora Folegandros, Greece
Kastro, Chora Folegandros, Greece

Folegandros is just the opposite – nothing to do until dinnertime comes except for swimming, snorkeling, diving, or taking a beautiful half-day boat tour around the island.

Best for families: Milos, definitely

Is Folegandros or Milos better for a good hike?

Both Greek islands have a well-developed and maintained network of hiking paths that were once the main communication grid for the locals and their year-round activities.

As a bigger, busier, and industrial island, Milos has a larger number of kilometers you can walk, but Folegandros, due to its size, it’s easier to cover with its (relatively) shorter hiking trails.

Map of Milos Attractions and Main Routes
Map of Milos Attractions and Main Routes

The amazing scenery of both islands is best experienced via its hiking routes.

Best for hiking: Milos, but only because of the island’s unique landscapes.

What’s the weather like in Folegandros and Milos?

Weather-wise, both islands are the same as they are close by and tend to be affected by the strong summer northern winds called Meltemi.

Windy day on north-facing Vardia beach, Folegandros
Windy day on north-facing Vardia Beach, Folegandros

Summers are hot and dry, while the winters tend to be rainy and windy.

Best for weather: it’s a tie! Folegandros has better beaches for when the northern winds hit.

Off Season Experience?

Since Milos is a larger island than Folegandros, its community and economy continue to thrive even during the low-season months.

If summer and swimming are not your thing, going to Milos off-season is a terrific option, but avoid winter when it rains a lot.

Adamantas Ferry Port, Milos, Greece
Adamantas Ferry Port, Milos, Greece

Folegandros is a summer destination. It is very quiet and low-key during the November-May period, so it’s better to choose a bigger island for a winter visit.

Just a handful of places remain open and there are very limited accommodation options).

Best island for off-season travel: Milos

Is Folegandros or Milos better for day trips?

These beautiful Greek islands are well-positioned to offer plenty of day trip ideas. However, Milos tops the charts with these 2 not-to-be-missed excursions:

Amazing white cliffs and crystal clear water in Kleftiko Bay, Milos Island, Greece

1)      Kleftiko – Cliffside part of the coast with sea caves and inlets used by pirates as hideouts, nowadays the best open-water swimming site in Greece. Boats and yachts-only access.

2)      Kimolos island excursion – a very small island just off of Milos is a perfect place for a full-day trip.

Psathi Village, Kimolos island Greece
Psathi Village, Kimolos Island Greece

Folegandros is close to Sikinos Island, so a day trip is possible even with standard ferry companies.

Best for day trips: Milos

How long to stay in Folegandros and Milos?

I always recommend a week per island, as only then you can get to understand what it means to live on a Greek island and relax as well.

In an ideal itinerary, combine the two islands and spend an active week in Milos, followed by a relaxing five to seven nights in Folegandros, chasing its stunning beaches.

So, which is better – Folegandros or Milos?

If you love an active holiday, visit Milos and explore its wonders, but if you crave relaxation and gorgeous beaches, visit the charming island of Folegandros. 

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