Paros vs Milos: Which Greek Destination is Better to Visit?
Table of Contents
So, you’ve whittled it down to Paros vs Milos. We’ll start by saying good work! You’ve left yourself with a guaranteed good time. Both of these islands are simply wonderful. Washed by the pearly Aegean in the midst of the iconic Cyclades archipelago, they’re used to giving vacationers that much-needed fix of R&R on the Greek seas.
But it’s not just about kicking back and taking it easy. You’ll also find opportunities to pull on the hiking boots in Paros, along with tempting coastal caves and cliff walks over in Milos. On top of that, you’ll have the taste-bud-tingling delights of the Greek kitchen to sample, along with historic relics that can transport you back millennia to the days of the heroic ancients.
We’ve slung together this quick guide to help you pick exactly which island suits you best. It will run through several aspects of each, from the cost your stay to the style of the beaches. We’ll pick out a few of the key differences between Paros and Milos to help you decide on the perfect one for your coming odyssey…
Paros vs Milos: Price
Travel price collator Budget Your Trip estimates that a week-long jaunt to Paros should cost in the region of $647 (543 EUR) per person. That’s assuming you stay in a midrange hotel (typically around $65-75/night) and spend $30-35 (29 EUR) on food per day. Compare that to the $92 expenditure per day on Milos, which is the estimation from ChampionTraveler once you subtract the cost of long-haul flights and stick to midrange hotel options. So, Milos just beats its Cycladean compadre.
We’re inclined to agree with those estimations. Neither island is as pricy as, say, Santorini, but neither is cheap. Paros is probably just a tad more expensive because it’s both a major transport hub for cross-Aegean ferries and a more popular family holidaying spot. Of course, you can cut the cost of trips to either place by going in low season or shoulder season months. We find that May and September are the best for that.
Winner: Milos, but only just!
Paros vs Milos: Food
With its wild mountains and above-average rainfall, Paros is considered one of the more fertile islands in the Cyclades. It’s known for its production of nuts, olives, oils, and orchard fruit. Standout dishes include the white cheese mizithra, grilled saganaki and chickpea stew. Try all those in tavernas like ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ ΜΑΡΑΘΙ high up in the hills. Seafood is also pretty spectacular here. Octopus is the key dish. Look for it drying before it’s grilled and doused in olive oil and lemon juice in the port town of Naoussa.
What Milos does better is the characterful and rustic Greek dining spots you’ve seen in the brochures. There are ramshackle fishing shacks in Mandrakia Village that can offer grilled sardines fresh off the coals and the whole mezze shebang when it’s lunch time. For dinner, retreat to the plazas of little Tripiti village, where family run kitchens churn out classic dishes like moussaka to the sunset.
Paros vs Milos: Hotels
You won’t be short on hotels on either of these islands. However, there’s probably a slightly superior choice of places to stay on the larger island of Paros. Thanks to its reputation as a bit of a transport hub, many of the establishments are cheap and cheerful options near the main ferry port in Parikia. Venture beyond that and you can catch all sorts, from uber-luxurious couples’ resorts like the Summer Senses, complete with two pools and a minimalist vibe, to family friendly Paros Bay, which is en route to the mainstay beaches of the south coast.
Milos has fewer options – Booking.com estimates around 144 hotels compared to Paros’s 305. However, it does cover a lot of bases. Budget folk can opt to bed down in Adamas harbor, where the simple but sweet Sarakiniko Rooms tick all the boxes. Beyond that is the exquisite honeymoon resort of the White Coast Pool Suites. They’re adults only and have jet-setter infinity pools perched high above the famous white rock beaches.
Winner: Paros, but solely on the sheer number of hotels compared to Milos.
Paros vs Milos: Beaches
They might only be 50 miles apart, but Paros and Milos have quite different geographical makeups. Milos is far rockier. It’s threaded by a coastline of perfect white stone and forged from the activity of ancient volcanos. Paros, on the other hand, is still rugged but comes dominated by huge peaks of its famous marble stone. The geology is important when it comes to beaches because it dictates what the coasts of both islands look like…
Paros the option if you want long, sandy stretches backed by the occasional pocket of palm trees and pine trees. The best of the bunch are Livadia Beach, Krios Beach, and Farangas. They all have a south orientation, which protects them from the dominant Meltemi winds in August and September. The waters are clean and clear, with light waves and a smattering of tavernas and B&Bs just steps away.
Milos isn’t like that at all. Its coast is a symphony of jaw-dropping inlets and carved, fjord-like coves. You’ll enjoy swimming in the crystal lagoons of Sarakiniko, but don’t come in search of soft sand – it’s more clifftop sunbathing. If we had to choose, Firiplaka Beach would steal the show, mainly thanks to its pebbly sand and shallow shelf. Generally, Milos’s beaches are more dramatic but harder to reach. Many require a ride in a boat taxi and don’t have restaurants or tavernas on the sand.
Winner: Milos – there’s just nowhere else quite like it!
Paros vs Milos: Things to do
A jaunt to Milos is really about one thing and one thing only: Exploring the shoreline. Milos is famed across Greece for its unique white stone, which is on fine display along the north coast reserve of Gournado-Fylakopi. That’s home to the legendary Sarakiniko Beach. Go there to encounter a Moon-like landscape and some of the clearest green-blue waters this side of the Maldives. Boat trips are a great way to see that, along with the rock stacks in Tsigrado and rust-tinged Paliochori Beach. On top of a dramatic coastline, Milos also offers sunset shows from its Venetian castle, and the ancient catacombs and theatre sites of Plaka.
Paros is a bigger island than Milos. It manages to pack a much more varied array of things to do into its 196.3 square kilometers, too. You can escape to long-lost mountain villages like Lefkes to see haunting Byzantine relics in old Orthodox churches. You can witness the ancient Panagia Ekatontapiliani church – one of the oldest in Christendom! You can party the night away in Parikia’s bars and tavernas. All that’s capped off by some lovely south-facing beaches and a traditionally Greek harbor at Naoussa.
Winner: Paros – it’s a bit bigger and more varied
Paros vs Milos: The general vibe
The main thing to note about the debate of Paros vs Milos is that it’s a debate between a relatively well-known island (Paros) and one of the more off-the-beaten-path spots in the Cyclades chain (Milos). That’s key because it changes the whole atmosphere, especially in the high summer months between May and August.
Paros will get really busy in the warm season. It’s one of Greece’s top family vacation isles, so hotspots like Golden Beach and Livadia Beach can be packed with sunbathers and swimmers. Thankfully, it’s still a big enough island to give those secret locations, but you might need to venture to the more rugged east coast to find them. On the flip side, the towns of Naousa (in the north) and Parikia (the west) can offer some rambunctious nightlife in venues like Pirate Bar and Evinos.
Milos is altogether quieter and more chilled. You can find some buzzy bars and Greek cafés serving wine and ouzo in the narrow streets of Plaka and Adamas, but they aren’t anything like the wild party bars of places like Mykonos or Paros. What’s more, Milos never gets the same crowds of week-long vacationers as other places in the Cyclades. It’s more of a day-trip destination, so the coves are quiet in the mornings and you’ll feel like a real local after the sun sets and the boats are gone.
Winner: Milos – quietude wins the day.
Paros vs Milos: Getting around
Paros has very good links between its two main towns. You’re likely to arrive on the boat into Parikia on the west coast. From there, there’s a straight, well-maintained road linking to the port town of Naousa up north. In fact, that highway runs a ring around the whole of the island. You can drive the lot in around 1.5 hours if you want! There are also regular buses – more during the high season – linking the two towns and the major beaches on the south shoreline.
Milos isn’t hailed as one of the most rugged Cyclades islands for nothing. Beset by rocky crags and cut through by cliffs, it’s not exactly the easiest place to lay roadway. The best way to get around that problem is to take to the water – boat trips and boat taxis to and from the beaches are the norm in these parts. You can rent a car, but we don’t recommend it, mainly because the whole western side of the island is out of bounds to hire vehicles. The roads there just aren’t good enough. One alternatively is an ATV (costing about 35 EUR/day in the shoulder season), but be sure to drive carefully and have the proper licensing for those.
Look – there are far worse things to be stuck on than the decision of Paros vs Milos! Both of these islands are mega stunners. They both offer that fix of Greek sun and sea, whitewashed tavernas with grilling fish fillets, and cobbled villages topped by Orthodox churches. You can’t go wrong with either if that’s the sort of trip you’re pining after.
We would say that Paros has the more classically sought-after beaches. That’s mainly down to its geography, which allows for sand stretches along the west and south coasts. Milos, on the other hand, rarely fails to draw a gasp with its lunar-like coastline of blinding white stone and swimming lagoons. Very different; both awesome.
Milos might be a touch cheaper but there’s a bit more choice on the hotel front over on Paros. Meanwhile, Paros is better if you’re keen to go on a driving adventure, but Milos is 100% better for launching boat trips to wild swimming spots.
The choice is yours.