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Milos or Paros: Key Differences and How to Choose Between Them

Thinking of a Greek island holiday but don’t know if Milos or Paros is a better choice for you? What a difficult choice! Here’s the complete guide to the key differences between them – find out whether Milos or Paros has the better scenery, beaches, nightlife, food, and things to do for couples, families, active holidaymakers, and those who want to flop on a beach and chill.

Quick Pick  

Paros is a quintessential Greek island, it is expectedly beautiful everywhere you go around it: White houses with blue doors and riotous pink bougainvillea – it’s the Greek islands’ experience in a small package.

Milos is a surprisingly beautiful island, offering unexpected, striking landscapes that sometimes feel like a moonscape. Its tiny fishing villages surround astonishingly lovely coves, bays, and volcanic rock formations.

This makes the lifestyle and the general vibe quite different โ€“ Paros is a more luxurious experience when it comes to hotels, restaurants, beach clubs, nightlife, shopping, and dining, while Milos offers more options for exploration, unique activities, and adventure.

Go to Milos for fun, scenery, activities, and exploration – a holiday of beaches and discovery.

Go to Paros for golden beaches, beautiful villages, sophisticated shopping and dining, and vivid nightlife.

Best Greek Island for Every Type of Holiday

๐Ÿ†Best Island for an Island-Hopping Base: Paros

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Scenery and Natural Environment: Milos

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Historical Sites and Mythology: Milos, although it is a close call

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Beaches: Paros

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Romance: Paros

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Relaxation: Paros

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Food and Wine: Paros

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Families with Older Children: Milos

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Families with Younger Children: Paros

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Nightlife: Paros

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Off-Season Experiences: Milos

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Vale for money: Milos

๐Ÿ†Best Island for Day Trips: Paros, but both are excellent for day trips

Milos vs Paros Overview

Key Facts about Milos

๐Ÿ๏ธ Unique lunar-like landscapes, not found anywhere else in Greece.  

๐Ÿ๏ธ Bigger island – more options for an active holiday – day trips, excursions, and tours for the whole family.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Amazing sunset views.

๐Ÿ๏ธ More than 50 beaches, some of them petrified lava platforms hanging above the sea.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Pebbled beaches, sometimes rocky and rarely sandy.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Direct flights from Athens or Santorini or a 2.5-6.5 hour ferry from Athens.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Plenty of wine and dining options all around the island.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Rich in ancient history, archaeology, and early Christian heritage.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Industrially active island with mineral mines.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Popular, but still a far cry from the crowds of Mykonos and Santorini.

Key Facts about Paros

๐Ÿ๏ธ One of the most popular islands among Greeks and foreigners alike

๐Ÿ๏ธ Dreamy destination with sugar-cube whitewashed houses and lush Med vegetation

๐Ÿ๏ธ Many sandy beaches to explore. Some pristine and some with classy beach clubs

๐Ÿ๏ธ Cosmopolitan villages, some with high-end lifestyle properties and experiences

๐Ÿ๏ธ Plenty of dining, shopping, and nightlife options.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Kid-friendly island, with a wide variety of watersports and excursion options

๐Ÿ๏ธ Good walking trails and hiking opportunities

๐Ÿ๏ธ Direct flights from Athens or Santorini or a 3-5 hours ferry ride from Athens

Location and how to get there

Both Greek islands are in the same island chain surrounded by the Aegean Sea, southeast of mainland Greece. And with only 65 km separating them, they have approximately the same weather conditions.

Map of Greece showing the location of Milos and Paros islands
Map of Greece showing the location of Milos and Paros islands

Paros is located at the heart of the Cyclades, while Milos sits further to the southwest.

Being in the middle of the Aegean Sea, both islands experience summer winds called Meltemi that blow from the northeast, and you should take this into account when booking your stay.

It’s best to discover Milos by ATV or rental car, and also for Paros it’s a lot of fun to discover Paros by ATV or otherwise a rental car.

How to get to Paros Island

Paros Island is about a third bigger than Milos and one of the largest in the Cyclades (after Naxos and Andros), even though it’s only 22 km long!

Photo from airplane window on descent to Paros Airport, Paros Island, Greece
On descent to Paros Airport, Paros Island, Greece

Parikia, the main town and port, is connected to the neighboring islands by daily ferries, as well as to Athensโ€™ ports of Piraeus and Rafina by regular or speedy ferries from a handful of ferry companies.

Depending on the type of boat, the ferry trip lasts anywhere from 3-4 hours.

You can also take a flight into Paros’ small airport (PAS) from Athens (a 30-minute flight), Thessaloniki (a 55-minute flight), or Santorini (a 50-minute flight).

How to get to Milos island

Milos Island has a very small airport (MLO) that services some Athens flights and also flights from some other Aegean islands. Most flights to Milos depart from Athens and Santorini. All domestic flights to Milos Island are under one hour.

Photo of Adamantas Ferry Port, Milos Island, Greece
Adamantas Ferry Port, Milos Island, Greece

You can reach Milos by Ferry from Athens or many other Greek islands, especially those within the Cyclades island group.

From Athens, there are several daily departures, the crossing takes between two and a half hours and six and a half hours, depending on the type of ferry and the itinerary. Tickets start from โ‚ฌ60 one way.

Scenery and Natural Environment

When it comes to the scenery and natural environment, the two islands could not be further apart. That is because Milos is completely unique island with a very peculiar geography.

Paros is a utopian Mediterranean destination and an epitome of contemporary Cycladic aesthetics with its mild sandy beaches and cosmopolitan villages.

Photo of Naoussa Marina, Paros Island, Greece
Naoussa Marina, Paros Island, Greece

Milos boasts volcanic soils in all shapes and forms. Some of them are the iconic images you have seen travel the world, as Milos beaches are a regular backdrop for high-end fashion shows and commercials.

Paros is traditional but also modern, stylish, laid-back, and chic, giving you plenty of opportunities to make it your favorite island โ€“ whether you are into Instagramming, shopping, and partying, visiting traditional villages, or lazing on sandy beaches, eating delicious down-to-earth Greek food or sailing and watersports.

Photo of the The lunar-like landscape of Sarakiniki Beach, Milos Island, Greece
The lunar-like landscape of Sarakiniki Beach, Milos Island, Greece

However, Milos is the island that has a unique character to it due to its lunar-like landscapes that, after Santorini, is the most stunning terrain in the whole of Greece.

Unbelievable rock formations both on land and in the sea, intriguing coastline, hot springs, more than 50 beaches, active mineral mines, one of the biggest natural bays in the Cyclades, and plenty of cute fishing villages to discover make Milos a stand-out in almost any contest.

Best island for scenery

Definitely, Milos, it is one of the most unique islands in the whole of Europe.

Historical Sites

Milos has been inhabited since antiquity. It developed its own civilization based on obsidian glass mining (a crucial material for the Cycladic culture) before being settled by Dorians.

Photo of the Ancient Theater of Milos Island, Greece
Ancient Theater of Milos Island, Greece

The Dorians (who also settled in the Peloponnese and on Rhodes) turned Milos into a merchantsโ€™ community before it was conquered many centuries later by the vengeful Athenians in 416 BC.

All of this means that Milos is rich in ancient heritage, visible all around the island, from the ancient theater near Trypiti and Klima villages, to spectacular early Christian catacombs. It is also the site of discovery/excavation of the Venus de Milo (believed to be Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love), arguably the worldโ€™s second most iconic piece of art after the Mona Lisa.

Photo of the statue of Venus de Milo, The Louvre, Paris, France
Venus de Milo, The Louvre, Paris, France

Milos has some great museums (Folk and History Museum, Archaeological Museum, Ecclesiastical Museum, and my favorites โ€“ Milos mining museum and Marmara Sand Museum) offering interesting exhibitions for culture-loving visitors.

It has always struck me as odd that we see and read almost nothing about one of the biggest events in the history of Milos – for many years it was the center of the pirate world.

The single most significant historical site in Paros is one of the oldest Christian churches in Greece, the Holy Church of the Virgin Mary Ekatontapyliani (the “hundred gates one”).

It has stood here in Paros since the 4th century AD. It is a complex of chapels, founded by Saint Helen, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Photo of the interior of Panagia Ekatondapilianiparos, Parikia, Paros
Panagia Ekatondapilianiparos, Parikia, Paros

For history and archaeology buffs, there’s also a Venetian castle and a small archaeological museum that holds the findings that are being found on the deserted island of Despotika, just offshore.

Photo of the Venetian castle in Naoussa Harbor, Paros Island, Greece
Venetian castle in Naoussa Harbor, Paros Island, Greece

You can also find the remnants of an Asklepion, an ancient Greek healing sanctuary, and the ancient temples of Aphrodite, Eileithyia, and Zeus Ypatos.

Best island for ancient sites

Milos, although it is a close call.

Beaches

When it comes to beaches, Paros ticks all the boxes!

Photo of beach umbrellas on Agoi Anargyroi Beach, Paros
Agoi Anargyroi Beach, Paros

The island has a wider range of amazing beaches to choose from, including golden beach dunes in Chrisi Akti and the Drios area, rocky Kolymbithres, isolated coves near Santa Maria, and swimming-off-a-pier settlements like Piso Livadi and Aliki.

For its favorable winds, the island is a windsurfing mecca too, hosting international competitions every year.

Photo of Paros beach, Paros Island, Greece
Paros Beach, Paros Island, Greece

There is nothing ordinary about beaches on Milos, they are unique places of geomorphic activity and beauty. Milos is internationally famous for its lunar scenery and rocks with glacรฉ surfaces lingering above the azure Aegean.

tsigrado-beach-milos-greece-2
Tsigarado Beach, Milos Island, Greece

However, its wonderful coves, curvy stone inlets, and other aftermaths of volcanic eruptions that form Milosโ€™ peculiar beaches are not to everyoneโ€™s liking, especially if you are after a day of lazy relaxing on the beach. For example, to reach Tsigarado Beach, you need to climb a ladder leaning against a vertical rock.

Sarakiniko Beach and its rounded rocks look a lot like something made by Henry Moore or Jeff Koons, but there certainly are some sandy beaches on Milos.

Photo of sand and rock formations at Firiplaka Beach, Milos, Greece
Firiplaka Beach, Milos, Greece

Other famous beaches are Paleochori, Agia Kyriaki, Firiplaka, Kleftiko Caves, and others, some with organized beach bars. ย 

Best island for beaches

Paros. You will get a glimpse of what that unique Milos landscape is all about if you visit the Kolymbithres beach in Paros, plus you will have all the other beaches to enjoy.

Romance

Almost nothing among the Greek destinations can compare with Paros when it comes to a romantic getaway or a honeymoon trip.

Trip Anthropologist
Naoussa waterfront dining, Paros, Greece

From strolling around quaint picturesque villages, swimming in azure seas, and lounging around beach clubs on golden sands, to fine dining and partying around Naoussa, Paros simply hits the spot. ย 

On the other hand, if your idea of a romantic trip is to be able to do many outdoor activities together, sail around the volcanic hanging cliffs just off the coast, spend a unique night in fishermenโ€™s cottages in Klima village, or explore ancient sites, then Milos is a better choice.

Best island for romance

Paros, as it has it all โ€“ from daytime exploration to evening romantic dining or dancing.

Food and Wine

You canโ€™t eat badly in Greece, wherever you go. Especially if you chose traditional tavernas, found all around Cycladic islands. Fresh local ingredients and simple recipes that enhance the flavors are their innate secret.

However, Greek cuisine is opening new horizons in which young chefs are experimenting with the gastronomic heritage of the country to come up with energizing new dishes from the same locally sourced ingredients.

Golden-hour-at-Klima-Milos-outdoor-restaurant
Outdoor restaurant in Klima Village, Milos Island, Greece

Milos and Paros are no exceptions, but reservations are a must during high season (July and August) and small tips are greatly appreciated.

As part of the Cycladic archipelago, Milos offers regional staples like fresh fish and seafood, fava-bean dishes along with excellent local dairy products (made from goat and sheep milk) and a variety of pastries.

Konstantakis Residence and Winery makes wine from volcanic soil and is a great place to visit for wine-tasting too, and you can also tour Komini Winery.

TIP: When in Milos, try Pitarakia (cheese-filled pies), Karpouzenia (watermelon pie), and Plastos (vegetable and cheese pie) on a Milos Gastronomy Tour.

Paros is a foodiesโ€™ mecca, as it offers both relaxed traditional tavernas and fancy fine cuisine, gourmet options, and annual new restaurant entries.

Photo of Octopi drying in the sun above the doorway of a Naoussa harbor restaurant, Paros, Greece
Octopi drying in the sun above the doorway of a Naoussa harbor restaurant, Paros, Greece

The Moraitis family has been producing red, white, and rose labels in a family winery for more than a century. Their recently renovated building at Aghioi Anargyroi Beach near Naoussa is a great stop to visit while on the island. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm.

TIP: When in Paros, try Gouna (sun-dried fish), Kavourmas (slow-cooked pork), and Ladotyri (a hard cheese preserved in oil) on a Paros Foodies Tour.

Best island for food and wine

Paros, as the traditional tavernas are as good as those on Milos, but the variety of fine dining is much better

Nightlife

Almost no comparison here โ€“ Paros is a renowned nightlife destination in its own right and its many clubs and bars stage stylish and low-key parties compared to Mykonos and Ios.

Trip Anthropologist
Typical evening in Naoussa, Paros, Greece

Naoussa is a place to go and have fun without the paparazzi and private helicopters, huge reserved booths, or tourist-trap charges, all wrapped in a beautiful waterfront Cycladic atmosphere.

Best island for nightlife

Paros

Family holidays

Paros and Milos are great islands for family visits, and depending on the age of your kids, you might want to try different islands.

Paros is better for toddlers, as the variety of golden sandy beaches will give you and your kids enough space to enjoy sand castles or first lessons in swimming.

Photo taken from the sea of the rock formations of Kleftiko Bay, Milos Island, Greece
Kleftiko Bay, Milos Island, Greece

Teenagers might like Milos better, with its strange landscapes, unique beaches, deep blue sea, and plenty of options for activities and excursions.

The island’s unique landscape offers opportunities for exploration, from the hiking route to the top of the extinct volcano to visiting the old pirate hideout of Kleftiko.

Best island for families

Both – Paros for younger children, Milos for teens

Costs and Accommodation

Both islands offer all kinds of accommodation โ€“ from authentic guesthouses (doubles starting from โ‚ฌ50) to exclusive boutique hotels, be it on the beach or in calm inland villages.

Milos has some unique AirBnB properties in Klima village that offer renovated fishermenโ€™s cabins on the seashore, where you can jump into the Aegean Sea virtually from your doorstep.

Accommodation, dining, drinks and pretty much everything tends to be a bit more expensive on Paros than on Milos, but budget options are available on both islands.  

Best value for money island

Milos

Off Season Experience

Paros is turning out to be an island dependent on the tourism industry, unlike Milos, whose industrial and mining background keeps the seasonality at bay.

Photo of Plaka town, Milos Island, Greece
Plaka town, Milos Island, Greece

This means that off-season visitors might find more authenticity and everyday island life in Milos than in Paros during the low season.

Best island for off-season travel

Milos

Day Trips

These two lovely islands are in a perfect location to provide great day trips. Milos, which lies in the center of the archipelago, provides everything from island hopping tours to Kimolos and other islands to boat trips around its dramatic coastline, including snorkeling and swimming adventures.

Halki Village Naxos Greece
Halki Village, Naxos Island, Greece

Boat tours to the little Antiparos Island, as well as Delos or the Small Cyclades archipelago, are frequent from Paros.

Because Paros is a ferry hub, you can’t get to and from many of the Cyclades and islands closer to Athens from here. Naxos, Mykonos, and Santorini are popular day trips.

Best island for day trips

Paros – but you can certainly do a lot of day trips from Milos as well

So, which is the best Greek island? Milos or Paros?

There is no definite answer to this, but if you like an active holiday, exploration, and stunning, but austere scenery, go to Milos and discover a magical place.

If you’re after a quintessential Cycladic island with great beaches and a livelier shopping, dining, and nightlife scene, choose Paros for a perfect Greek island vacation.

Keep Planning Your Trip to Milos and Paros

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