With sunsets that rival any in the Cyclades and a hilltop location with seemingly endless views, it’s little wonder that Plaka enchants all who venture into its maze. Explore Milos’ capital with this in-depth guide.
If Milos is the island of colours, Plaka, its capital, is its kaleidoscopic zenith. Blue-topped churches tower over pockets of olive trees, pink bougainvillaea tumbles down whitewashed buildings, their green shutters flapping gently in the breeze.
Plaka is pretty as a postcard: that’s true enough, but its charm runs far deeper than aesthetics alone. It’s the cluster of locals who gather on the city walls each evening to watch the sun dip below the horizon, the quirky sand museum whose owner has ventured far and wide to collect its samples, the jovial evenings in local tavernas where plates heave with fragrant dishes.
Milos is magic and Plaka is the crux of the spell.
I just got back from another fabulous trip to the Cyclades, spending a significant chunk of time exploring all that Milos has to offer – including Plaka and its surprise treasures.
Whether it’s the 13th-century ruins of a Venetian Castle, or its fantastic restaurants and bars, we’re going to delve into the best that Plaka has to offer. Follow along on this journey to one of the most charming towns in the Cyclades.
Things to Do in Plaka, Milos
Tour the Ruins of Plaka Castle (Venetian Castle of Milos)
Milos’ history stretches back millennia – a jumble of various rulers and cultures you can see reminders of across the island. Some are subtle, and others, like the Venetian Castle of Milos, are a bit more obvious.
Granted, the only bit of the castle left is the old walls, but they are a reminder that the island was under Venetian rule from the 13th to 16th centuries. All that local talk of hidden beaches and real-life pirate coves was true, so it’s no wonder such a magnificent fort was built in the hillside town.
Marco Sanudo (the Duke of the Archipelago) began to gain control over several Cyclades Islands in the early 1200s. While the Duke helped spread the message of Catholicism on Milos, most locals are still Greek Orthodox today.
Marco Sanudo began a long stretch of Venetian rule on the island, and while Naxos was his home base, the Plaka Castle was a reminder to locals (and anyone sailing in) that Venetians controlled Milos. A village (Chora) slowly began to pop up near the castle, and the hillside became a thriving agricultural community that is still there today.
It’s a bit of a sweaty schlepp up to the top, especially if you go in the middle of the day. That said, it’s short, and you can stop to soak up views as you go – they are truly spectacular.
A gorgeous 19th-century white-domed church, Panagia Thalassitra, now sits in the castle’s place and is really quite beautiful. Take your time and walk around the property, but be respectful and avoid climbing on the low-lying rooftop.
Seeing the sunset from the church is as impressive as Oia Santorini (but with fewer people).
Pop into the Marmara Sand Museum
Milos is a geologist’s dream vacation. From the white volcanic rocks gently sloping into the crystal blue waters to the long history of mining obsidian and sulphur, there is a lot to explore.
But one local geologist went the extra mile, collecting samples from around the island and opening up the unique and fascinating Marmara Sand Museum.
First off, there’s no charge to go into the sand museum, which is always a nice plus. And once inside, you can browse through collections of sand from Milos, as well as some from around the world. Take your time and chat with the owner – he has a reputation for being very helpful and is happy to let you take a closer look at the sand under one of his microscopes.
There’s also some fun sand art inside, including pictures of footprints, sea stars, and (of course) the Venus de Milos. You can even purchase some of his art to take home with you when you leave.
If you want to contribute to the collection, bring him some sand from wherever you’re visiting.
See a Replica of Venus de Milo
Only a few artefacts in the world have the kind of backstory as the infamous Venus de Milo – and you can see a replica of the marble sculpture not far from where it was actually found in 1820.
Years ago, the story has it that an unassuming farmer, George Kentrotas, was working on his field when he happened upon a Greek sculpture from around 100 AD. This statue was the Venus de Milos.
At first, he didn’t know the importance of his find and just kept it on his farm. Really.
Fast forward a few years, and after a little back and forth and a lot of drama, the statue was found by a representative of the French government just as it was being loaded on a ship sailing for Istanbul. The official bought it as a gift to Louis XVIII, and the rest is history.
You can now see the statue at The Louvre in almost all its original glory. At some point – either during the transportation of the artefact (or during the argument over it) the arms were cut off and lost. You really can’t make this stuff up.
When you’re in Plaka, head a little way out of town, towards the Roman Theatre where you can see a beautiful replica of Venus de Milos alongside original artefacts dating back to the Byzantine era.
Though it’s a copy, many people think you get a much better view of the sculpture here than at the Louvre, and with fewer crowds.
Explore the Ancient Theatre of Milos
Just south of Plaka, you’ll find one of the most impressive historical sites on the island – the Ancient Theatre of Milos.
Milo’s history goes way back, and due to its location and geological resources, there were times of great prosperity. This amphitheatre shows a glimpse back into 1st – 4th century AD, when the Roman Theatre in its heyday could have accommodated up to 7,000 people.
First, it’s technically not an amphitheatre (it’s actually semicircular). But we’re splitting hairs here, as it’s one of the best preserved ancient theatres in the Cyclades and maybe all of Greece.
The open-air theatre is free of charge to visit and sits in a striking location, looking down to the sea and hillside town of Klima. Walking around, you’ll notice similarities to Greek Theatres, as it’s based on Eastern Roman Theatres.
Take time to walk around it and stand on the stage. You can literally whisper, and the sound travels to every corner of the ancient marble theatre. It’s fascinating.
Ask around about local events. Conservation work as recent as 2015 has brought the theatre into the pristine condition you see today, and it’s a wonderful place to see a show.
See the Sunset from the Walls at Panagia Korfiatissa
Walk around the narrow, cobbled streets of Plaka and you’re bound to find some wonderful surprises around town.
Many people know about the idyllic whitewashed churches on the hillsides of Santorini, but I dare say there are a few in the whole of Milos that are as beautiful.
Panagia Korfiatissa is one of these places, and when you stop by to explore the early 19th-century cathedral, you’ll likely agree. It’s not just the cathedral itself with its beautiful bell towers and white dome high on the hillside.
The sunset views from Panagia Korfiatissa are probably the best on the island (and that’s saying a lot). Be sure to arrive early, as it gets crowded, and you’ll be rewarded with unspoiled views of the sun fading into the Aegean Sea.
Walk around the cathedral, and you’ll notice beautiful tile mosaics evoking images of the ocean below.
Grab a drink from nearby Verina and bring it with you for one of the most beautiful sunset views in Milos.
Best Places to Eat and Drink in Plaka
Plaka is one of the most charming towns in Milos, especially as the sun begins to go down. Here are some of the best spots to have dinner and drinks while watching the sunset.
If you’re looking for a really cool place to have lunch or dinner, head Avli, a charming al fresco restaurant, which literally translates to “backyard.”
They don’t take reservations, so you’ll need to arrive early and wait in line with the largely local crowd for a table. I knew this was a good sign, and the food and service didn’t disappoint.
It truly is a restaurant where you’ll try dishes you’ve never had (and maybe never would have had you not found this hidden gem).
Seafood pasta, feta pie, and ossobuco are a few of the surprises you may find on the menu. And there’s plenty for vegetarians to try, too, like a really unique beetroot yoghurt that is as cool looking as it is delicious.
I’ll let you in on a little secret – sunsets in Plaka are as beautiful as anywhere in Santorini, and yes, that includes Oia. Go to Utopia Caffe for the best sunset views and some incredible cocktails to match.
Looking out at the orange glow over the volcanic rocks popping out of the Aegean Sea is that much better with a cocktail. Trust me.
I’ll be honest with you, the food here is just OK. Stick with a cheese board or light appetisers. But cocktails like the Beez Cup (a strong rum-based libation with passion fruit and orgeat) are divine.
Like many places in Milos, this is only open seasonally from spring to fall.
This cool little cafe is just outside of the heart of town, but you’ll want to take a walk to check it out.
It’s a great spot for a quick breakfast, with simple but flavourful selections like Belgian-style waffles and yoghurt bowls. You can also find a nice cup of coffee in the charming interior space.
But my favourite part about En Plo is the rooftop bar (kind of a local secret). You can order a craft beer, glass of wine, or (rather stiff) cocktail and enjoy some incredible views of the village from above.
Verina Cocktail & Food Bar
This is another cool cocktail bar located in an interior courtyard in the heart of Plaka.
You can grab a cocktail and a snack here, and the food was actually pretty tasty. Opt for a Greek pizza or a sandwich and stick around for some live music.
While some people stay for the sunset, I’ll give you some words of wisdom. Order your last round to go, and you can walk over to nearby Panagia Korfiatissa Church for one of the most incredible views of the sunset.
Know Before You Go: Practical Tips to Plan Your Plaka Trip
- Book your hotel as early as possible; options are limited.
- You won’t find any beaches in Plaka, but you can drive to some of my favourites in under 30 minutes.
Typical Cost of Travelling in Plaka
You can expect to pay around £120- £158 ($150-$200) per day with meals and accommodations.
How Long to Visit in Plaka?
Stay in Plaka for at least 1-2 nights to see most attractions.
Best Time to Visit Plaka
You’ll find the best weather and hotel rates in September and October.
Where to Stay in Plaka
Most visitors opt to get a room in the heart of the village at the best Plaka, Milos Hotels or settle into nearby Trypiti or Klima.
Studios Betty (Mid-Range)
Stay in small but stylish studios in the heart of Plaka, Milos, at Studios Betty. It has a full kitchen, a walk-in shower, and views that more than makeup for the lack of space.
Eiriana Luxury Suites (Luxury)
Eiriana Luxury Suites is a beautiful property with an outdoor swimming pool high up on the hill in Trypiti near Milos.
How to Get to Plaka?
You can’t drive into town, so you’ll need to leave your vehicle at a car park and walk in.
Plaka Day Trip
Venetian Castle – Lunch at Avli – Sunset at Panagia Korfiatissa
Get a taste of the town with a tour of the 13th-century fortress before an epic sunset at Panagia Korfiatissa.
History, Sightseeing, and Cocktails
Panagia Thalassitra and Castle – Sand Museum – Sunset Cocktails at Utopia
Spend an afternoon at the castle and cathedral, learn about geology at the Sand Museum, and have sundowners at sunset.
Charming Villages of Milos
Sarakiniko Beach – Mandrakia – Plaka – Trypiti – Klima
Explore a few of the most charming villages in Milos and the famous “Moon Beach.”
Read More Milos & Greece Travel Guides
- Greece Travel Guide: What to See + Insider Tips for Your Trip
- Learn How to Pack for a Trip to Greece
- When Should You Plan Your Trip to Greece?
- Why You Need to Visit Milos’ Sarakiniko Beach
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