Last updated on April 19, 2023 by Wandering our World
Take a walk along the less donkey-trodden trails of the Greek Cyclades and discover a world of gorgeous islands at your fingertips, just waiting to cater to your next grand adventure. With over 220 islands calling this archipelago home, it goes without saying that choosing the ideal holiday destination is a seemingly impossible task.
Naxos and Milos are amongst the far less travelled islands but are no less breathtaking and well worth the journey! However they are quite different from each other too…
For example, Naxos feels a little more tourist-orientated and has a much livelier nightlife scene. In contrast Milos feels authentic, the food scene is pretty special, and the landscape breathtaking.
However that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to how different these two gorgeous Greek islands are!
But that’s where we can help!
Below we show you which has the better beaches, landscape, food, culture, which is cheaper and lots more. All so you can make the right holiday decision!
- A Quick Overview
- Which Has Better Beaches?
- Which Has Better Natural Attractions?
- Which Has The Better Culture?
- Which Has The Best Food?
- Which Island Is Cheaper?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Easier To Get Around?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
Naxos vs Milos: A Quick Overview
Naxos: A Quick Overview
Naxos is the largest of the Greek Cyclades islands located in the Aegean Sea.
The capital, Chora, offers those idyllic whitewashed houses and narrow streets that are synonymous with postcard-perfect Greek villages and is one among a number of charming towns scattered across Naxos’ diverse landscapes.
The island has seen a significant rise in popularity, especially among tourists, with some describing the streets as a cultural bazaar!
The combination of rich archaeological sites, gorgeous beaches, unbelievable scenery and food fit for the gods on this island create an appealing destination suitable for all ages and travel types.
But it wasn’t always this way. Naxos’ history dates back millennia, with a handful of major ancient civilizations playing a key role in changing the face and culture of the island.
When calmer waters prevailed after a turbulent history, Naxos became the gorgeous island getaway we know today, bringing foreign travellers a personal taste of the Greek island experience.
Milos: A Quick Overview
Milos is a picturesque island located in the southwestern part of the Cyclades in Greece. This volcanic island is famous for its stunning landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and fascinating geological formations, including colourful rocks and cliffs.
The beaches, in particular, attract international attention, each with its own unique character and charm, thanks to the island’s turbulent natural history.
Milos offers a paradise untouched for some, and while it may not hold a candle to some of the bigger and more westernised islands of the Cyclades, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a place in the running.
After all, travelling to foreign lands is often about grabbing (and enjoying) as much of a culture shock as possible, and Milos is the perfect place for that.
The island has a rich history and culture, developed over thousands of years as it came under the rule of several ancient civilizations. While it shares a few similar aspects in history to other islands, Milos has some incredibly unique aspects to its past that tourists can still get a peak of today.
This island is slowly gaining popularity as a tourist destination, with many growing to see the potential the volcanic island has for vacation shenanigans.
Which Has Better Beaches?
Naxos: The Beaches
Naxos is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. The coastline stretches over 30 km, spoiling visitors for choice when it comes to picking the perfect beach to spend the day.
The crystal blue waters lap against golden sands on beaches that stretch towards the horizon, while small coves lay tucked away in lush greenery for a more secluded and intimate beachy getaway.
Among the island’s most popular beaches is Plaka Beach, one of Naxos’ longest stretches of sand. It is surrounded by picturesque rocky cliffs, with azure waters that are quite the attraction for scuba divers and snorkellers looking to see the local marine life.
The atmosphere is rather tranquil as far as sunbathing is concerned, with families taking full advantage of the soft sands and shallow waters.
However, the waters are packed with adrenaline-pumping activities, from kite surfing to paddleboarding. You certainly won’t feel bored!
Most of the beaches in Naxos are relatively similar. Mikri Vigla and Pyrgaki offer a more secluded feel with a picturesque setting and far less beachfront activity.
Meanwhile, Agia Anna, Agios Georgios and Alyko Beach offer notably unique and charming beaches that link to bustling villages where plenty of seaside tavernas, docks and amenities are offered.
Milos: The Beaches
Milos is home to over 70 uniquely distinct beaches scattered across its coastline. There is definitely no shortage for any avid beach lover.
Milos’ glass-like waters meet a uniquely diverse coastline that’s undergone decades of change thanks to the island’s volcanic history.
You won’t simply find golden sands here but rather a menagerie of picturesque beaches, some perfect for sunbathing and others deserving of their own Instagram stories.
The most beloved beach on the island is Sarakiniko Beach, which is known for its volcanic rock formations that jut through the almost moon-like sands. This beach is not great for swimming or watersports but it can be appreciated when sunbathing or sightseeing.
Meanwhile, Firiplaka Beach is where to head for a superb all-rounder. It’s got the looks, and it’s got sand and sea perfect for swimming, sunbathing and surfing!
However not all of Milos’ beaches are easily accessible, with more secluded beaches like Tsigrado and Fyriplaka only being accessible on foot. However they offer breathtaking scenery and privacy unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
Some other beaches require some amount of hiking or a boat to reach, but it can be well worth the effort for the view on the other side.
Overall, we think Milos offers an astounding versatility that Naxos can’t beat. While Naxos might have more swim-friendly beaches, there’s something about the rugged, natural beauty of Milos that you won’t be able to forget.
Which Has Better Natural Attractions?
There’s no denying that Naxos is home to some of the most immensely diverse natural attractions in the Cyclades.
This rugged island is a collaboration between lush greenery and the arid landscape that Greek islands are often known for. There is plenty of appeal to nature lovers seeking an island that brims with adventure.
From the soaring Mount Zeus, all the way to the Naxos wetlands, you can hike, kayak, cycle and horseback to your heart’s content here while experiencing phenomenal views and exploring the untamed side of Greece.
Birders will also enjoy the abundance of migratory species that flock to the island in the warmer seasons and other animal lovers will get a kick from seeing the small mammals that rule these parts.
But Milos really is a unique type of natural paradise that’s known for its intensely rugged terrain, diverse landscape and volcanic formations.
The island brims with a unique and charming natural beauty that is hard to describe and is wildly beautiful.
From white beaches littered with volcanic rock, like those found in Sarakiniko Beach, to the thermal springs of Paleochori, the island has become a natural wonderland to all those who visit.
All you need to do is pack a pair of shoes and hike the scenic trails across Milos through lush forests and up rugged mountains to appreciate the beauty. You might even be lucky enough to cross paths with some of the rare birds and mammals that call Milos home.
While both islands offer a unique and vibrant natural environment, our heart lies with Milos. You can’t blame us here, after all it’s also got a volcano and hot springs, meaning you can treat yourself to a spa day without the need for a VIP resort booking…
Which Is Better For Culture?
Naxos: The Culture
Naxos has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has played an important role in Greek history and mythology.
The people of Naxos are proud of their history and culture, and visitors can see this reflected in the island’s architecture, music, and festivals.
In fact the island is home to several museums and cultural centres that showcase the island’s history and traditions.
One of the most famous landmarks on the island is the Portara, a giant marble gate that once linked to a marvellous temple dedicated to the god Apollo, but you can also visit the ancient temples of Demeter and Dionysus.
Not to mention the architectural influence Naxos’ past has had on its towns and villages, with Venetian-style buildings worming their way into the winding streets of Naxos’ most vibrant cities.
Milos: The Culture
Meanwhile, Milos’ long history of human settlement, spanning back to the Neolithic period, has left a lasting impact on the island’s culture and traditions.
One of the most famous discoveries on the island was the Venus de Milo, which now sits in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
She’s an iconic figure known across the world for her beauty and her missing arms. But she was the first of many ancient discoveries, including the ancient theatre of Milos and the Milos Catacombs.
Aside from visiting archaeological sites, one can also indulge their curiosity by visiting one of the island’s many museums that reflect the history and cultural influences of the island in an easy and fun way.
We’d like to say that between Naxos and Milos, one doesn’t really outdo the other when it comes to culture.
Both have history and culture that can be respected for its uniqueness, and both celebrate and preserve their past to the best of the island’s capabilities.
Which Has Better Nightlife?
The island of Naxos is known for its lively nightlife, with options to suit every taste. The island’s main town, Chora, is home to a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants that stay open late into the night.
Tourists can enjoy live music and dancing while soaking in the atmosphere at beach bars and tavernas scattered around the island.
Plus each town boasts its own unique restaurants that offer a quieter and more laid-back atmosphere for those who simply want to enjoy a bite to eat and perhaps a candlelit dinner with their loved ones.
Milos, on the other hand, takes a softer approach to evenings. You won’t find any raging parties and nightclubs here, but more low-key evening fun.
A few of the local towns, like Adamas, Plaka and Pollonia, offer vibrant bars and tavernas that continue to serve well after the little one’s bedtimes, but for the most part, the nightlife of Milos consists of streetside restaurants, long evening strolls through winding streets and stopping to listen to the buskers on the street corners.
It may not have a riveting party scene, but nothing says you can’t take in the beautiful scenery with a drink in your hand.
In general then, it’s no contest really. If you’re a night owl and looking for an island packed with party energy, Naxos is the best of the two.
Which Has The Best Food?
Naxos: The Food
Naxos’ cuisine is a fusion of tastes that are inherent to the island’s rich history and geography.
Thanks to the size of Naxos, it has a keen advantage over others in the Cyclades, meaning the island is able to sustain large enough farms that cater for a variety of meats. Not to mention the prime position on the Aegean Sea, giving optimal fishing grounds too.
Guests will therefore be enthralled with a menagerie of traditional dishes, from the humble Naxian potato to the various cheeses, beef dishes and seafood specialities that Naxos has become known for.
The restaurants on the island have built a sustainable, fresh foodie paradise that comes in clutch with stellar views and some impeccable wine selections too, plus you get the added variety of Westernised restaurants sneaking in thanks to Naxos’ thriving tourism scene.
Milos: The Food
Milos has a far more sea-inspired cuisine which has created a selection of unique and aromatic traditional dishes.
The island has a rich food history, with most of the traditional dishes on the island consisting of freshly caught seafood like squid and octopus.
Of course, you’ll still be able to find delicacies like moussaka and souvlaki on the menu to add some variety to the island’s cuisine.
But nobody goes to Greece to chow down on a cheeseburger, we’re here for the tapas and fresh, flavourful dishes made from generations-old recipes, which seems to be a Milos speciality.
So overall, for an authentic and unbeatable Greek experience, Milos is our clear winner.
Which Island Is Cheaper?
Naxos averages around €205 per person per day, including accommodation, food and activities. This figure varies based on the time of year, with peak season seeing a steep increase in prices of accommodation and activities especially.
Your accommodation type can also alter your average cost exponentially, as luxury accommodation can easily reach €500 if you go for really fancy villas and resorts.
Budget travellers can get away with spending a little over €100 per day per person or even less, but this may require some sacrifices in terms of activities and travel.
Similarly, Milos can average €210 per person per day, inclusive of accommodation, food and activities. During peak season, though, this price can increase quite dramatically as accommodation and activities increase their prices throughout the season.
Luxury travellers can expect to be out of pocket close to €790 per person per day, especially with the tariff increase expected from luxury accommodation, high-end dining and private travel arrangements.
Whereas a budget traveller can spend a little over €100 per day on an all-inclusive holiday, but they won’t be able to enjoy the more high-end activities and dining options.
Overall, if you spend your money wisely, both islands can be budget-friendly travel destinations that are worth your while. But if you’re counting pennies, then Naxos tends to be the cheaper option.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Luxury: Aqua House is a gorgeous rental accommodation which sits right beside the sea, so you can simply step out your door and into the ocean. It’s located well to explore Milos, plus there’s even kayaks you can use. See photos and rates!
Budget: If you’re looking for luxury on a budget then Manios Suites, which is situated on Agia Anna beach, will be perfect. The private balconies with unobstructed beach and sea view are, of course, the highlight of a stay here. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Situated just steps from Agia Anna Beach, the incredible Avgoustos Suites Naxos is luxury embodied. With hot tub and even a romantic bed for sunbathing on your private terrace – complete with sea views – this has to be one of the best hotels for honeymooners in Greece. See photos and rates!
Which Is Easier to Get To?
Naxos has two main ways of being reached, sea or air travel.
There are plenty of ferries to choose from, each with varying travel times that come through from the port of Piraeus, Athens.
Of course, if you’re island hopping, you can also grab a ferry from many of the small ports along the archipelagos that will pass through Naxos on their way to or from Athens as well. The journey can take anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending.
Naxos is also one of the few islands in the Cyclades to boast a national airport too, and while this does not support direct international flights, smaller commercial airlines can be used to reach Naxos from Athens International Airport.
As for Milos, it can be reached by plane, by ferry, boat or private charter.
Catching a ferry or boat from the Port of Piraeus, Athens, is relatively easy, with quite a few of the local ferry companies offering direct ferries to the island. By ferry or boat, you’re looking at a 4 to 5-hour sea journey.
But luckily for those who don’t fare well on open water, you can fly into Milos as well. There are a few commercial flights from the Athens International Airport that will take you directly to the island’s national airport in a plane journey that lasts around 40 minutes.
While both offer relatively easy access, Naxos, being the bigger of the two, offers a broader range of access from other islands as well. Meanwhile Milos offers access to and from Athens, unless you use private charters from other destinations.
How Is Easier To Get Around?
Naxos: Getting Around
Naxos offers a broad range of transport methods around the island, making it fairly accessible to all.
From rentals to public transport, Naxos has plenty of mechanisms that can be used to make travelling around the charming villages far easier.
The Naxos Airport, as well as the main towns, are the best places to find rental companies that hire vehicles like ATVs, Scooters and small cars.
The roads around the villages are fairly well taken care of, but they can lean into being more rugged than the suburban tarmac we’re often used to. The narrow streets might mean that a scooter or bicycle may be more suitable for a tight squeeze.
However rentals do offer more freedom of movement and mean you don’t rely on schedules and routes like public transport. So renting is definitely worth thinking about.
Speaking of which, public transport is something that travellers to Naxos generally warn against. The buses work on a limited schedule and on limited routes.
Very often, that means that instead of a simple A to B journey, you’ll need to select multiple stops and multiple buses to get from one point of the island to another.
Milos: Getting Around
Similarly, Milos also offers a range of different transport methods, with rental cars being the most popular choice.
Hiring a rental vehicle is as simple as visiting the Milos Airport or journeying into the capital, Plaka.
The rental companies in the area offer private transport ranging from scooters to small motor vehicles, which guarantee far more flexibility for touring the many beautiful attractions on the island.
Public transport, while available, is infrequent and does not share the same range that private vehicles can, meaning you’d have to negate some experiences if it’s outside the bus network. So keep in mind that cheaper (i.e. public transport), in this case, does not always mean better.
Milos vs Naxos: Which Is The Better Choice?
When it comes to making the final decision on which island would be a better holiday destination, it’s always difficult, especially when two fantastic destinations like Naxos and Milos are pitted against one another.
Naxos is a break from the more tourist-filled Greek islands without completely removing yourself from the experience.
It’s easy to get to, and a mere island hop away for some, especially if you’re planning on touring more than one of the Cyclades archipelago.
This large island offers plenty of activities that suit any type of travellers, from adventurous families to loved up honeymooners. It’s an island crammed with natural beauty, stunning beaches, incredible culture and pumping nightlife, all wrapped into one package. So it would seem clear that Naxos is the winner? Right?
Not quite… As Milos offers a stunning island getaway to a place that many can only dream about.
The appeal of a smaller, more secluded island destination is quite attractive to some, especially travellers seeking a more tranquil setting.
This volcanic island has plenty of hidden wonders, amongst ancient ruins, volcanic formations, caves and beach coves – you’ll always find something to keep you busy.
The culture is vibrant with friendly locals and plenty of charm, although Milos doesn’t always fall into everyone’s typical tourist destination stereotype it’s an incredible up-in-coming island that deserves more praise.