The island of Ios, in Greece, is a part of the Cyclades Islands in the south of Greece. Ios is a short ferry ride from Santorini, making an extended holiday or even a day trip a viable option.
Over the last few years, Ios has developed into an island that has something for all ages to enjoy. For many years Ios was known as a party island; however, there is so much more that Ios has to offer.
Ios has regularly been voted in various polls as having one of the "Top 10 beaches in Europe" and it in fact boasts 75 km of beautiful, white sandy beaches and turquoise coastlines.
The architecture of Ios is typically Cycladic and features whitewashed buildings perched beautifully on hill tops and dotted around valleys.
Ios still maintains a lively nightlife, the likes of which you will not see in the other islands. Unlike the "package resorts", the nightlife of Ios is concentrated in one place, Chora. The nightlife is very cosmopolitan yet still quite traditional. The main meeting point is in the main square. By day, Chora reverts to a beautiful, tranquil traditional Greek village where you can see the locals chatting in cafes and playing backgammon.
For those not wishing to experience the nightlife, Chora is wonderfully peaceful in the early evening and is awash with clothing and jewelry stores, souvlaki shops and excellent restaurants. Yialos (or the "Port"), is an excellent place to escape the crowds in the evening as is the beautiful Mylopotas beach.
Regular buses or boats are available to take you on various excursions to the other beaches on Ios, where you can find peaceful areas and avoid the crowds.
All in all, Ios has lots to offer for all age groups. It is a stunningly beautiful island and will be an unforgettable experience.
Transportation - Get In
Ios can be reached best from Santorini, Naxos, Heraklion (on Crete island) or directly from Piraeus.
Ferry boats and high speed catamaran services run daily from Piraeus.
All domestic ferry schedules is here [www]
If you plan on travelling to several different islands, it is wise to book all your ferries at once for a possible discount. However, keep in mind that pickup and arrival times are subject to change at anytime.
Transportation - Get Around
The island has three major villages.
- Ormos or Yialos, location of the ferry port of Ios. The direct way from the port up to Chora is a long stair. The bus and car traffic take a much longer and winding road uphill.
- Chora, the main city. Tourist information of the municipality of Ios [www] can also be found at a kiosk at the central bus station at Chora.
- Milopotas, one of the most beautiful beaches on Ios, close to Chora.
Taxi stations are located in Chora at the central bus station and in Yialos right infront of the ferry boat pier.
Rent a car
Additionally you can rent cars and motorcycles in Chora.
When driving at night, use EXTREME caution. Due to the lenient laws on this island, many people drive while under the influence. Although not everyone will be intoxicated, it is wise to take the bus at night, or if you decide to drive, make sure to drive defensively and do not allow an intoxicated person to drive at any time.
Mopeds and ATVs
This is the generally the best way to get around. ATV's will cost you between €15-40 for 24 hours and a moped should cost between €10-30, depending on the season. By far this is the best way to explore the different parts of the island.
Ios is known for its popular beaches. Although they are extremely beautiful, they can also be extremely crowded during the peak travelling times.
With an ATV you are able to explore, go up a mountain and find a secluded beach. There are many parts of the island that go untouched and are truly a miraculous sight.
Boats run between major coastal towns on the island.
Ios attracts a large number of young tourists, many of whom used to sleep on their sleeping bags during the 1970s on the popular beach of Mylopotas after partying through the night. Today Mylopotas beach has been developed to an equivalent mass package tourism resort like Platys Gialos and Paradise Beach of Mykonos.
Excavations on Skarkos hill unearthed a prehistoric settlement, proving that Ios has been inhabited since the early Cycladic period. The architecture at Skarkos is preserved in places up to a height of almost three meters, with most of the buildings evidently having two storeys, stone-paved floors and a sewage system. Numerous well-preserved pottery, tools and utensils made of metal, stone and bone were also discovered.Unfortunately, the Skarkos site remains largely unpublished. In 2008, Ios was among six European locations (out of 109 candidates) awarded the European Union Cultural Heritage prize for its exceptional conservation efforts at the archaeological site of Skarkos.
During later times, Ios made rather few marks in history. According to ancient tradition, Homer's mother was from Ios, and he himself was buried there - and indeed the locals will show visitors the site of the ancient town of Plakotos at the northernmost end of the island, where the rocky entrance to a tomb may be seen. There is no physical evidence connecting this with Homer however. There are signs of Mycenaean settlement. The north end of Ios has a ruined Venetian castle from the 15th century. The island is said to have 365 churches and chapels, like the days of the year.
Things to see
- Chora or Hora - The main village of Ios is very scenic with its small alleys and white-washed houses. During day Chora is a peaceful, quiet place while during night it is the main party zone on Ios.
- Homer's tomb
- The open air theater
- Archaeological museum
- The Old castle, Paleocastro
- Marina, in the port
- The beach of Maganari, on the most southern part of the island, Maganari beach provides seclusion, but not isolation. Since this beach is far from the rest of the main attractions on the island not many people go or even hear about it. The beach provides many athletic activities as well as beautiful and delicious lunch spots on the beach.
Things to do
- Party - If you have decided to go for Ios, simply party. Chora has plenty of bars and clubs to have fun all night long.
- Watersports - In Milopotas,Yialos and Maganari Beach you can go diving, do wind-surfing, water-skiing or on blow up "donuts" behind speed boats.
- Skarkos, Campos (Near the port in Campos area). Excavations on Skarkos hill unearthed a prehistoric settlement, proving that Ios has been inhabited since the early Cycladic period. The architecture at Skarkos is preserved in places up to a height of almost 3 m, with most of the buildings evidently having 2 storeys, stone-paved floors and a sewage system. Numerous well-preserved pottery, tools and utensils made of metal, stone and bone were also discovered. In 2008, Ios was among 6 European locations (out of 109 candidates) awarded the European Union Cultural Heritage prize for its exceptional conservation efforts at the archaeological site of Skarkos
- Hiking, Start from Chora or Mylopotas (See OSM hiking routes or SKAI terrainmap Ios). Hike the beautiful mountainous landscape of Ios for one day excursions to the mountain peaks of Profiti Ilias or Pyrgos. Or do a 4-day circuit [www] around the Pyrgos Mountain passing the beaches of Klima, Manganari, Kalamos, Psathi, Ag. Theodoti as well as Kalamos Monastery and the ruins of Paleocastro - Always take plenty of water, hat, sun protection, good boots and during the season of Meltemi end July and August also wind protection. - No shops, but nice restaurants and accommodation are available in Manganari, Psathi, Ag. Theodoti. Check in advance for availability. Be aware that a large area of the island of Ios is protected as a nature reserve.
In Ios there are a number of good to very good restaurants. Here are the restaurants that you must visit...
- Piperri Tapas and Meze Dishes (Formerly old Byron's) (Just off the bottom square behind the pharmacy and Astra bar), . Serves tapas and meze. An eclectic mix of Mediterranean and fresh fish.
- Ali Babas (Same street as the Emporiki). 12 lt cocktails served in two goldfish bowls with neon-coloured foot long straws for €35. Pad Thai or green curry, chicken and mushroom pie, fish & chips and "dinosaur ribs". Restaurant fills up in the later hours and the waitstaff take pictures of the partying and then flash them up on the restaurant's big screen. A/C, wheelchair access. Serves alcohol.
- Koulidas (Unique), Koulidas (Towards Plakotos (Homer's Tomb)). Unique view of the island with international cuisine and BBQ.
- Far Out Village. Lovely bar/restaurant facing the beach, and quieter than the next door Far Out Camping pool bar, where the main action is checking out the opposite sex.
- Harmony. Funky Mexican restaurant with views along the beach. Only go there when it gets dark though or you'll be surrounded by flies.
- Katogi (beneath No Name bar). Serves Greek dishes, Mezze style.
- Lord Byron (opposite Pomodoro and Disco 69). Wonderful small restaurant with good ambience. Serves Greek food, also renowned for its cocktails and home-made desserts.
- Arhodiko (on top of Disco 69 near the main square). Previously named Pomodoro. International cuisine
- The Mills. Serves traditional Greek dishes. Really tasty food and good prices.
- Cantina del mar (Beach Bar Ios), Mylopotas beach (on the main beach), . 8AM-1AM. Beach bar that does sandwiches, fresh salads, veg/fruit smoothies and tasty waffles.
- Porkys, Beside Red Bull Bar. Gyros.
- The Nest, Next to the Orange Bar. Traditional Greek Taverna - Greek food made by a lovely Greek family. Excellent food and a warm welcome at moderate prices.
- Harmony, Mylopotas beach (On the right of Mylopotas facing the sea.). Mexican restaurant. Usually has live music.
- Enigma, Port of Ios (Next to the super market at the port.). International cuisine with nice view of the port.
- Funky Garden. Beautiful spot, comfortable and with friendly staff, right on the beach.
- Fiesta Restaurant, Chora, Main Village (follow the road to the port, 2 mins from Sweet Irish Dreams), . A friendly taverna run by Greek and English management. Serves a wide range of Greek specialities and international cuisine. Famous for its homemade pizzas from a wood fire oven, BBQ and house wine.
Ios has everything to offer whether you're young or old. Fantastic nightlife with sounds from every corner of the planet; since the 70s hippies flocked to Ios for their summer solstice.
People from all over the globe converge on Ios during the summer months. Ios' bars and clubs offer a huge variety of entertainment 7 nights a week 24 hr a day. Drinking in Ios is very reasonably priced compared to Santorini and Mykonos.
In the main village there are bars such as Red Bull, Flames, Slammers, Disco 69, Circus Bar, Bulldog, Shooters, Pegasus, Orange bar, Coo, Ammos, Satisfaction, Click, Astra bar, Stellas champagne bar, Barmacy Bar, Shamrock, No name, Jonnys electric, Louies, Blue note, Ios blue, Balsamu, La cuva, Lotus, Agelos, Frankies, Fun Pub, Voodo, Liquid and Dolca Vita.
Night clubs in the village include Rehab, Sweet Irish Dream, and Scorpion.
For a complete up to Date listing of all the Bars on Ios: Ios Nightlife