Ios is a popular destination and is located in between other famous islands such as Sikinos and Santorini in the Cyclades. Known for its partying, Ios has so much more to offer and can rival any of its neighbours with its attractions too.
There is definitely more nightlife on this island, and in areas Ios has the 18-30s feel to it, but we were delighted to have more choice for our evenings. Moreover, we found the prices of this island much cheaper, whilst not impacting on its quality, a trip here can definitely fit a smaller budget holiday.
We were pleasantly surprised by its beauty after hearing it was more of a party place. Although its party reputation is true, you won’t find the extortionate prices of Mykonos and you’ll find stunning beaches to relax at and areas to explore. We’ve compiled a list of things to do and are happy to show you Ios next in our travel blog.
How long to stay
We chose to stay here for 5 nights and it was a much welcome longer stay than some of the other islands. It was nice to be able to actually spend some time relaxing after lots of day trips and short stays at other places. In truth (and a common theme with our other travel guides), we would have happily have stayed here longer.
The prices here were much cheaper than those of its neighbouring islands, but this did not affect the quality of what it had to offer. We had some of our favourite food here compared to the other islands, at better prices and even bigger portions.
Ios has stunning beaches close to the centre which makes it a perfect place to chill, and the range of entertainment during the evenings is plentiful. So much so, that out of all the islands we visited in the Cyclades, Ios is the one we plan to return to first out of all the others. You will have so much fun here!
How to get there
Just like our visit to Folegandros, Ios does not have an airport and you will need a ferry to visit. Most people who visit the Cyclades will be island hopping by use of ferries, which is what we did. The most important thing is checking in advance which ferries arrive and depart on certain days. The timetable for ferries visiting Ios is relatively frequent, so you should have no problem booking one in advance.
We used Ferry Hopper to organise all our travel around the islands and were not let down once. Just be aware that ferries will usually arrive 1-2 hours later than schedule as they have a lot of stoppages at different islands.
The easiest way to get to Ios if you’re travelling straight here, will be to fly to Athens and get a ferry from Piraeus port. You can find the cheapest flights to Athens here.
Where to stay
When doing our research, we found two really nice areas to choose from. The Chora is an amazing area in Ios and a perfect place to stay. It has the winding, narrow streets around the whitewashed buildings, and some amazing panoramic views of the island the higher up you get. There are also two beaches very close to Chora.
Close to the Chora is, Mylopotas Beach, which is the second most popular area to stay on the island (after the Chora itself). We chose to stay somewhere in the middle to get the best of both worlds. Our hotel was Petradi Hotel, the views here of Mylopotas Beach were sensational, especially during sunset. We felt so lucky to have somewhere so beautiful to stay with a big terrace during sunset.
The walk to Mylopotas Beach on the way back up could be tough during the heat, but we had an ATV to counter that and it was only a 5 minute drive. We could walk to the main area of Chora within 10 minutes too. Having a beach such as Mylopotas Beach on our doorstep was amazing.
How to get about
Thankfully, the main areas that you want to visit by the Chora are local, so you can just get buses if you’re not wanting to go too far. Some of the best beaches to visit are by boat, but if you’re wanting to visit some on the other side of the island such as Manganari beach or landmarks such as Homer’s tomb then you’ll need a form of transport.
We recommend hiring an ATV or scooter to get around the island, but try to get one with a higher engine than 100cc. As the island is bigger, and has many steep roads you may find yourself struggling with anything smaller. We were very happy with Anemos Rentals, who provided us with a reliable ATV.
Places to visit
We’ll start with the Chora because it is just so beautiful. We found so many opportunities for photos around here and the buildings are so lovely. Winding, narrow paths will lead you to getting lost but it’s all part of the fun! There are some beautiful boutique shops around here, and lots of amazing bars and restaurants. The views from the top of the Chora are stunning and you’ll see the blue domed churches and backdrop of the ocean from here.
Panagia Gremiotissa Church
Perhaps the most famous place to see the sunset in Ios. This church is located at the top of the Chora and you’ll see arrows on the paths that lead a vague way to the church. It’s a beautiful, white church with three smaller churches above it. The panoramic views of the island here are breathtaking and will leave you with a lasting memory. This is definitely the best place to visit during an Ios sunset!
These beautiful windmills are iconic with the Chora of Ios. Be sure to stop by and take a photo. There’s benches nearby where you can stop to take a break and enjoy this classic Greek scenery.
“Odysseas Elytis” Theatre
Placed quite close to the Windmills, this marble theatre is closely modelled on the ancient style amphitheatres. In the distance, it provides stunning views to Mylopotas beach. Check out if any events are scheduled, it can hold up to 1,000 people.
This was a lovely trip which helped us explore more of the island and see its landscape. You will need to have hired a vehicle to see Homer’s Tomb, and it’s around a 30 minute journey from the Chora. Homer is amongst the most famous poets of Ancient Greece, who saw out the last of his days in Ios.
On your journey here, you’ll head to the most northern part of the island and drive past beautiful vineyards and olive trees. If visiting, we suggest to take this opportunity to check out the northern beaches of Ios such as Agia Theodoti and Psathi.
Sticking with the northern side of the island, if you do find yourself here, check out Paleokastro, which is located between Agia Theodoti and Psathi. Part of it has fallen into the ocean but it is an interesting glimpse into what life would have been like during the middle ages.
Now this would normally go in our ‘where to drink’ section but we thought it should be a place you visit regardless, due to its atmosphere for the sunset. Even if partying might not be your thing, this place offers one of the best sunsets on the island and the atmosphere and music (Gladiator soundtrack) make it a special time.
If you do like parties, then you’re in luck. This place not only has amazing views but also hosts awesome parties. Whether that’s daytime pool parties or you’re fancying going out later on, you’ll have a great time. It’s around a 15 minute journey from the Chora and has parking outside. You may fancy a taxi for this one if you want to try out their cocktails!
Agia Irini can be found within a 5 minute walk from the harbour. This whitewashed church looks lonely, but it is beautiful and offers great views around the harbour.
Last on our places to visit is, Skarkos. Skarkos is a bronze age settlement and one of the most important prehistoric archaeological sites found in the Cyclades. If you enjoy history, you’ll find this place an excellent visit.
Ios has some of the best beaches in the Cyclades to offer. The waters are crystal clear and you’ll find all types of different beaches here. There’s a number of beaches in Ios so you’ll be spoilt for choice. We’ll discuss a few of them but decide what you’re after. Is it seclusion; is it accessibility; or is it facilities that you want? Some of the beaches are in close proximity to Chora, but you’ll find some on the northern side of the island. These ones are usually practically empty and all yours. Some of the others, you may need to get a boat ride to.
If you want to access some of these hidden gems, we recommend using Meltemi sports. As well as offering watersports, this company provided a well organised trip to some of the best beaches Ios has to offer.
This stunning beach was our favourite. It is in closer proximity to the Chora, which is handy and has lots to offer. You’ll find crystal clear waters here, as well as many sun loungers and restaurants along the beach front. We found this place perfect to chill and have dinner, as well as drink some lovely beers on the beach.
What was more impressive, was how reasonably priced it all was! Tip – we recommend going further away from the entrance, there’s some lovely bars/restaurants the further away you go and they are much quieter. We particularly enjoyed Almyra By The Sea.
Agia Theodoti is a beach not too far from Homer’s Tomb. Located on the northern side of the island, you’ll be free from the crowds as you’ll be 20 minutes away from the busier side of the island. It’s a lovely place to visit to get away for some peace and quiet, and it has gorgeous turquoise colours in the ocean.
Psathi beach is the next beach along the coast from Agia Theodoti when heading east. Another very quiet beach offering peace and amazing views out to sea. There’s a volleyball net here which offers something a little different compared to the other beaches.
Pikri Nero was the first beach we visited on our boat trip. This offered complete seclusion compared to the others in Ios and was absolutely stunning. You’ll see soft golden sand and transparent blue and green waters.
This is a great beach of natural beauty and again offers seclusion. No roads lead to the beach so you’ll find peace here. The pretty, azure waters make for great photographs.
Not a beach as such, however we loved a visit to Never Bay. Located closely to Manganari, this bay had some awesome looking waters and great spots for a photo. It is common for people to swim to the rocks for a photograph for Instagram. Further along the rocks, you’ll find small caves to swim by and explore.
Manganari is the most photographed beach on the island and it’s easy to see why. Its lush, golden sand and unusual shaping make it a great visit. It is much busier around here, and you’ll find specific trips that take you, as it is on the other side of the island.
Gialos Beach and others
Gialos Beach is the closest one to the Chora, however it is not as busy as Mylopotas. That isn’t to stay it isn’t popular, because it is, and this one has super views out to the harbour. You’ll find a wide range of facilities here, which make it a great beach to see, especially if you’re nearby. For more beaches that we haven’t covered, you can check them out here.
Where to eat
- The Mills – Located at the top of the Chora next to the Windmills is our absolute favourite from our stay here. The prices were very reasonable and the quality was fabulous, as was portion size. We often ordered way too much but it was all so nice – we couldn’t resist!
- Sainis Taverna – This is a special, intimate restaurant and you’ll need to book in advance for a reservation here. The menus are different depending on what food they have in, and it’s delicious!
- The Nest – Another excellent choice of restaurant. Similarly to The Mills, portion size here is large and the quality is great!
Where to drink
We’ve already mentioned Pathos lounge and you absolutely should go there, even just for the sunset. You will be spoilt for choice when looking for nightlife and i’m sure you’ll have done your own research of where you want to go based on your own interests.
Some of our favourites included, Click cocktail bar. This was actually the one we enjoyed most, we loved the live music and the welcoming atmosphere. It wasn’t as rowdy as some of the other places but really made us feel like we were on holiday. For a louder cocktail bar and more of a party atmosphere, check out Astra. Astra opens up later but offers cocktails at a reasonable price, it often ends up a place where people drink before hitting the clubs. Finally, if it’s sports that you’re after, check out Fun Pub. This has a great atmosphere and is an Irish style pub with a really friendly owner.
We hope you find this guide useful. Check out our video below which will show some of our favourite beaches shot with our drone.
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