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Milos vs Paxos: Which Island is Better for your Next Holiday?

Milos vs Paxos: Which Island is Better for your Next Holiday?

Milos vs Paxos is a dilemma because they are both amazing and beautiful islands, but they are very different kinds of islands. In this complete travel guide to the highlights of each island, I’ll cover their differing landscapes, beaches, nightlife, activities, gastronomy, culture, and general atmosphere to help you find out the differences and what each island is best for, so you make the best choice for your next Greek vacation.

Quick Pick

Milos is one of the most spectacular islands in Greece, with beaches so unique that are used worldwide for fashion shoots and as movie locations.

Its history and mythology ended up in the Louvre, so plenty of that too, along with many activities and island exploration options.

Paxos (Paxi in Greek) is a green, lush, and extremely beautiful tiny Greek island, ideal for a quiet holiday and total relaxation and rejuvenation.   

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

Go to Paxos for relaxation and unwinding – a holiday of beachside chill and seafood tavernas.

Best Greek Island for Every Type of Holiday

πŸ†Best Island for an Island-Hopping Base: Milos

πŸ†Best Island for Scenery and Natural Environment: Milos

πŸ†Best Island for Historical Sites and Mythology: Milos

πŸ†Best Island for Beaches: It’s a tie – Paxos for beauty, Milos for uniqueness

πŸ†Best Island for Romance: Paxos

πŸ†Best Island for Relaxation: Paxos

πŸ†Best Island for Food and Wine: Milos (for wine) and a tie for Food

πŸ†Best Island for Families with Older Children: Milos

πŸ†Best Island for Families with Younger Children: Paxos

πŸ†Best Island for Nightlife: Neither, but Milos has more

πŸ†Best Island for Weather: Paxos has warmer weather, but sea temperature warmer around Milos

πŸ†Best Island for Day Trips: Milos

Milos vs Paxos Overview

Key Facts about Milos

🏝️ Unique lunar-like landscapes, not found anywhere else in Greece.  

🏝️ Bigger island with more options for an active holiday and exploration. Day trips, excursions, and tours for the whole family.

🏝️ Amazing sunset views.

🏝️ More than 50 beaches, some of them petrified lava platforms hanging above the sea.

🏝️ Pebbled beaches, sometimes rocky and rarely sandy.

🏝️ Direct flights from Athens or Santorini or a 2.5-6.5 hour ferry from Athens.

🏝️ Plenty of wine and dining options all around the island.

🏝️ Rich in ancient history, archaeology, and early Christian heritage.

🏝️ Industrially active island with mineral mines.

🏝️ Popular, but still a far cry from the crowds of Mykonos and Santorini.

Key Facts about Paxos

🏝️ Tiny beautiful island with quaint colorful villages and verdant hills.

🏝️ Lush and green landscapes with azure waters.

🏝️ Boat tours to nearby islets for beach excursions.

🏝️ Beautiful Venetian architecture and village waterfront promenades.

🏝️ Requires flight + ferry to reach.

🏝️ Golden sandy beaches are perfect for swimmers.

🏝️ Much less history and archaeology than Milos.

Location and how to get there

Although both are Greek islands, they are in very different parts of Greece, and are not in the same sea.

Map of Greece showing the location of Paxos (Paxi) and Milos Islands
Map of Greece showing the location of Paxos (Paxi) and Milos Islands

Milos is part of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, while Paxos is part of the Ionian islands, located just off the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea.

Milos is in central/southern Greece, in an area popular for island hopping, while Paxos is one of the most northwestern points of Greece and is often chosen because it is a quieter and smaller version of Corfu (Kerkira), immediately to its north.

This means they have very different natural landscapes (including winds), different beaches, and above all, different cultures and heritage.

The sea temperature is usually warmer in Milos (62F in winter (17Β°C) and 70F (21Β°C) in summer) than in Paxos (61F in winter (16Β°C) and 76F (24Β°C) in summer). However, the air temperatures tend to be cooler in Milos due to the winds that blow over the Aegean during the summer. So if you prefer sailing, Paxos has calmer waters.

How to get to Paxos island

There is no airport on Paxos and visitors travel to the Greek island of Corfu and then transit to Paxos via ferry, sea taxi, or hydrofoil.

Photo of a Kamelia Lines ship leaving Paxos for Lefkimmi, Corfu, Greece
Kamelia Lines ship leaving Paxos for Lefkimmi, Corfu, Greece

There is only one airport on the island of Corfu, close to the town, which is called Kerkyra or Kapodistrias, and has the airline code CFU.

International daily flights to Corfu are numerous during the peak season (April-November) and are supplemented by daily domestic direct flight from Athens.  

After you land in Corfu, a short taxi ride (around 15 minutes, €20) will bring you to the ferry port, where you can choose your preferred way to reach Gaios (hydrofoil, water taxi, or ferry), the main town of Paxos in one hour’s time.

How to get to Milos island

You can reach Milos by flying or taking a ferry.

Photo of Milos Airport, Milos Island, Greece
Milos Airport, Milos Island, Greece

Milos Island has an old, tiny, and generally unimpressive national airport (MLO) serving domestic lines from Athens and some other Aegean islands, which means you will have to get to Athens or Santorini and catch a connecting flight to Milos. All domestic flights to Milos Island are under one hour.

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 anything between 2:40 and 6:30 hours, depending on the type of ferry and the itinerary. Tickets start from €60 one way.

The Scenery and Natural Environment

Milos, after Santorini, has the most stunning volcanic terrain of all the Greek islands.

Photo of beach and the lunar-like landscape of Milos Island, Greece
The lunar-like landscape of Milos Island, Greece

Its unique landscape, inland villages, and lunar-like scenery next to the deep blue Aegean make for a unique destination and a place that is bound to leave you in awe.

Unbelievable rock formations both on land and in the sea, hot springs, more than 50 beaches, active mineral mines, picturesque fishing villages, one of the biggest natural bays in the Cyclades, and plenty of corners to discover make Milos a winner in almost any beauty pageant.

However, Milos is not a green lush island, something Paxos surely is.

Photo of Tripitos Arch, Paxos Island, Greece
Tripitos Arch, Paxos Island, Greece

Paxos is a smaller and more intimate island, with several quaint seaside villages, all surrounded by unbelievably azure waters and lush Mediterranean vegetation, which smell just amazing during hot summer nights.

Paxos, like Milos, has dramatic scenery of cliffs and caves and is also an exciting island to sail around.

Riding a scooter around Paxos is a multisensory experience, where the soundscape of the Ionian Sea complements the sights of colorful villages and the smells of pine forest.

Best island for scenery:

Definitely, Milos. It is one of the most unique islands in the whole of Europe and truly a hidden gem.

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. The Dorians turned Milos into a merchants’ community, only to end up a victim of a fierce conquest by ancient Athenians some centuries after.

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

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 the site of discovery/excavation of the Venus de Milo (believed to be Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love), arguably the world’s second most iconic piece of art after the Mona Lisa, and spectacular early Christian catacombs.

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

Artifacts in Milos’ mining museum narrate its industrial heritage. Other museums including the Archaeological Museum, Folk and History Museum, Ecclesiastical Museum, and my favorite, the Marmara sand museum, provide a lot for culture-seeking visitors who like to make smart stops while the summer heat is making the beach unbearable.

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 small island of Paxos is nothing like Milos when it comes to historical sites and ancient ruins. Its past is not nearly as rich as that of Milos, due to its dependency on the Venetian republic, which ruled the Ionian Islands for centuries.

Photo of the Museum of Paxos, Gaios, Paxos Island, Greece
Museum of Paxos, Gaios, Paxos Island, Greece

However, its history is on display in the Museum of Paxos, on the Gaios waterfront. Plus, there is a tiny beautiful olive-press museum in olive groves on the road from Gaios to Lakka.  

Best island for ancient sites:

Definitely Milos.

Beaches

Milos has some of the most unique great beaches worldwide. Its moon-like landscape making smooth and elegant surfaces hovering above the Aegean is famous globally and surely a thing to be experienced.

Its blue caves, unique stone fjords, and other forms of volcanic activity that serve as beaches are spectacular, but so unique that some don’t find them comfortable for a whole day of beach relaxation and swimming.

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

For a beautiful sandy Tsigarado beach, one even has to climb a wooden ladder leaning on a cliff to reach it.

Sarakiniko Beach, with its white volcanic rocks, seems more like a giant Henry Moore sculpture than a beach. Although there are some sandy beaches, they are not all around the island.

Phot of Sarakiniko Beach, Milos, Greece
Sarakiniko Beach, Milos, Greece

Other famous beaches are Paleochori Beach, Agia Kyriaki Beach, Firiplaka Beach, Papafragasbeach, Kleftiko Caves, and many others, with or without beach bars.

Photo of a wide bay and several Sandy beaches of Milos, Greece
Sandy beaches of Milos, Greece

Paxos is home to your typical ideal golden sand beach, at some places even with natural pine trees shade above them.

Phot of the clear turquoise waters of Kipiadi Beach, Paxos Island, Greece
Kipiadi Beach, Paxos Island, Greece

Mostly found in small coves with forests behind them, Paxos beaches have shallow and easy entrances to azure and emerald-green waters.

The color of the waters around Paxos and in the blue sea caves is astonishing. I think the water is even more beautiful than the colors of famous Cretan beaches like Elafonissi and Balos.

Trip Anthropologist
Levrechio Beach, Paxos Island, Greece

The best beautiful beaches are surely Mesovrika, Voutoumi, Poundra, Kipiadi, Logos, and Levrechio beaches.

Best island for beaches:

It’s a tie. Depending on what you want from a beach, Milos has unusual beaches, not all of them suitable for a full beach day or travelers with mobility issues. Paxos is a quintessential Mediterranean beach island.

Romance

Milos is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in Greece (after Santorini), as it provides amazing options for stunning island photographs and many activities, from sailing around the island and discovering beaches and its otherworldly landscapes.

Staying in a traditional fishing hut, called syrmata, in tiny villages like Klima, and hopping aboard a boat or an ATV to discover hidden coves can surely be a romantic adventure.

Photo of a Couple enjoying the Gaios waterfront, Paxos Island, Greece
Couple enjoying the Gaios waterfront, Paxos Island, Greece

However, if you are after a relaxing romantic trip with a slower pace in your mind, Paxos might be a better option with its waterfront candlelit dining, scenic walks, and the proximity of stylish Corfu town that makes for a perfect day trip from Paxos.

Best island for romance:

The Ionian Island of Paxos, with its elegant Venetian architecture against a backdrop of lush Med island foliage.

Food and Wine

Gastronomy is one of Greece’s many pleasures. Besides traditional produce and local cuisine, the Greek islands are turning to new approaches to cooking and reimagining traditional dishes, yielding great results. Milos and Paxos are no exceptions.

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

Milos has good quality sheep and goat cheese, pumpkin-based recipes, and a variety of sweet treats. These exist alongside Cycladic staples of fresh seafood, locally grown capers, fava beans, and wine.

Konstantakis Winery is producing local wine on volcanic soil, bringing out exquisite Cycladic aromas in their labels.

Paxos restaurants line the harborfront, so you are eating with the sea often no more than a meter away from you.

Eating by the waterfront in Loggos, Paxos Island, Greece
Eating by the waterfront in Loggos, Paxos Island, Greece

Lots of flavors come from the freshest ingredients combined with a simple cooking style. Don’t miss having a meal at Carnayo Gold and Taverna Vassilis Loggos.    

For coffee, everyone meets at the only traditional coffee shop on the island, Bournaos.

Best island for food and wine:

As a lover of volcanic wine labels, I have to vote for Milos.

Nightlife

Both Milos and Paxos are not nightlife islands, however, Milos is developing a nightlife scene around Adamas and Plaka towns for those interested in live music in bars and cafes. Don’t imagine a Greek islands party scene like you’d find at Paradise Beach in Mykonos, where huge beach clubs stage lavish parties until dawn.

Paxos is even less a nightlife destination, with only a handful of bars staying open until the early hours. Nearby Corfu is the Ionian Islands party place.  

Best island for nightlife:

None, these aren’t islands you go to if you want to party – but between the two – Milos.

Family holidays

Milos and Paxos are great places for a family holiday. Depending on the age of your children, you might want to consider the number of activities on offer when picking between the two.

Young child having a beach day on Paxos Island, Greece
A young child having a beach day on Paxos Island, Greece

So, if your children are older, especially teenagers, Milos would be the perfect pick as they will love not only the unusual beaches, traditional villages, watersports, and cruises around the island, but the whole vibe of it.

However, Milos is not as great a choice if you are with small children whose (and yours) ideal beach day is to walk 100 meters from your room to a sandy beach and spend the day building sand castles, or learning to swim in the shallow waters. Instead, pick Paxos and have a relaxing and fun beach holiday.  

Best island for families:

Both – Paxos for families with younger children, Milos for families with teens.

Weather

Milos and Paxos are actually on two different sides of Greece, separated by the whole of mainland Greece. They have slightly different climates.

Milos, like the other Cyclades islands, experiences the high summer winds called the Meltemi that can sometimes make the seas choppy and the beach experience, well… not so relaxing. However, that same wind makes sure there are no furnace-like days even in July or August in the Cycladic Islands.

Paxos has a standard warm Med climate with no strong winds, but its seas are slightly colder and the annual rainfall average is much higher than Milos (470mm per year in Milos, and 1100mm per year in Paxos).

Best island for weather:

It’s a tie! Both are great – Paxos is a bit wetter, and Milos is a bit windier.

Off Season Experience

Milos is a much larger island than Paxos and as such has independent economic activity even during the months when the tourism industry is not active. If you do not care for swimming, visiting Milos off-season is a great idea, but make sure to avoid it during the winter months when the rains are frequent.

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

Paxos is quiet as it is, off the high season might be too quiet for anyone but those seeking absolute relaxation or a long-term creative retreat.

Best island for off-season travel:

Milos

Day Trips

Both these two beautiful islands are conveniently positioned as to offer great options for day trips.

Milos is centrally located in the Cyclades and offers round-the-island boat trips with diving excursions as well as island hopping trips to the nearby island of Kimolos and other islands.

A day trip to Sifnos, Paros, Naxos, Serifos, Mykonos, and Folegandros (only 2.5 hours possible by ferry) are just some of your day trip options from Milos.

Angelokastro in Corfu Island, Greece
Angelokastro in Corfu Island, Greece

Paxos is perfect for exploring the tiny Antipaxos Island, just a short boat trip from Gaios and of course, the mother of all Ionian Islands – Corfu and its old town. So while there are some good boat trips you can take from Paxi, there are more you can take from Milos.

Best island for day trips:

Again, it’s a tie.

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

There is no clear answer to this – 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 Paxos.  They are, after all, some of the very best Greek islands to visit.

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