Ios, Greece has recently has been on tourists’ radars and for good reason I might add – just picture white-washed houses, stunning bougainvillea, turquoise clear waters and traditional Greek food found all in one island! Ios is part of Cyclades, a group of islands in the Aegean Sea, halfway between Naxos and Santorini. With a length of 18 kilometers (11 miles) and width of 10 kilometers (6 miles), it is not a very big island, but it has plenty of beaches and places to explore to last you several days. Not only is it one of the most gorgeous islands in Greece, but the locals are also very friendly. Even though Ios has a reputation of being a party island, it is certainly not limited to only its party scene. In fact Ios has some of the best beaches in the country. Follow along this travel guide to Ios, Greece to find out what are the top things to do and which beaches to visit.
When one thinks of Greece, their mind immediately goes to little white houses, clear blue waters, and endless hours of sunshine. Ios certainly does not disappoint. It is surrounded by beautiful beaches, the main village, Chora is situated on a hill filled with little white houses overlooking the island, and the weather? Yup, make sure to bring enough sunscreen with you if you plan to visit during the summer. Another notable characteristic of Ios is its bougainvillea flowers. They can be found all over the island, painting the whole island a stunning pink-violet color. In fact, one of the many theories for the origin of the island’s name, is that it derivers from the Ancient Greek word, “la”, meaning flowers.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to get to Ios, Greece
- 2 Getting around Ios, Greece
- 3 Where to stay in Ios
- 5 Things to do in Ios, Greece
- 6 Beaches in Ios, Greece
- 7 Nightlife in Ios
How to get to Ios, Greece
Although there is no airport in Ios, there are several ways to arrive to the island. If you are traveling from northern Greece (i.e. Thessaloniki) or from another country you can find cheap flights to Athens with Ryan Air. From there, you can take the metro to Piraeus Port, where you have several ferry options, including high speed. I always use Ferryscanner to book my tickets, they have a user-friendly website and the whole process of booking ferry tickets is easy, fast and secure.
If you have time to see two islands during your vacation, I recommend visiting Santorini first (either by boat or by plane), spend a few days there and then take the ferry boat from Santorini to Ios. The ferry ride is only 35 minute by high speed and an hour and a half by regular speed. The price of the ticket ranges from 7 euros for regular speed, to ~30 euros by high speed, depending on the time of day and the season.
Getting around Ios, Greece
I highly recommend renting a car to explore the beaches that are far away from Chora. Although there are several car rental companies found on the island, we were pretty satisfied with Europcar. If cars are not your thing, you can also rent motorcycles or ATV’s (although I do not recommend ATV’s as they have been proven to be unsafe). There is also a local bus service, with tickets being 1 to 2 euros that takes you to all the touristic beaches. Keep in mind that your options are limited if you depend on the bus. Most hidden beaches of Ios are yet to be discovered by tourists and it is worth your while to rent a car or motorcycle to explore the island at your own convenience. Lastly, there are daily excursions by boat that will take you to various beaches that are only accessed by the sea.
Where to stay in Ios
The best places to stay in Ios, Greece are either near the Chora (city center) or near Mylopotas Beach. Mylopotas is arguably the best beach on the island and only a 15-20 minute walk or short drive away from the main town. Likewise, staying near the Chora offers proximity to the hustle and bustle of island life, near restaurants, shops and bars. For those seeking a more secluded and quiet option, staying near Magganari Beach is ideal.
Hotels in Ios, Greece
Liostasi Hotel: Liostasi Hotel checks off everything a modern travel would need, including amazing service, contemporary design, ideal location and privacy.
Hide Out Suites: Dreamy suites overlooking Mylopotas Beach with spacious and sophisticated rooms. Hide Out Suites is the epitome of Cycladic luxury.
YoUtopia Ios: Brand new 3-bedroom villas just 15 minutes away from Ios Chora with exceptional 360 views of the island. Ideal for families or couples looking for a quiet and restful vacation in Ios.
Magganari View Villa: Just 100 meters away from the renowned Manganari Beach, Magganari View Villa features 3 large bedrooms and one spacious living room, perfect for large families or a group of friends.
Armonia Pension: Not only does Armonia Pension have a great view of Ios Chora but it is also just a couple of minutes away by foot. An affordable choice, especially for travelers looking to stay near the center of island life.
Petra Holiday Village: Traditional Cycladic houses where natural stone and wood prevails. Quaint location right near a beach, yet far enough from the Chora for a peacefully stay.
White Loft: Built with a minimal yet elegant aesthetic, White Loft offers suburb views of the island. Opt in for the superior suite for a private Jacuzzi.
Psili Ammos: Overlooking Mylopotas Beach, Psili Ammos offers an authentic Cycladic experience, with its hospitable owners, unrivaled sunset views and quick access to the beach and local bus system.
Almyriki: Perched on a hilltop overlooking Mylopotas Beach, Almyriki is a new modern and welcoming accommodation. Ideal for couples or groups up to 4 members.
Yialos Ios Hotel: Situated 300 meters away from the port, Yialos Ios Hotel has a mixture of traditional and modern suites, all walking distance from great eateries.
Levantes Ios Boutique Hotel: Contemporary boutique accommodation with a view of Mylopotas Beach, Levantes offers various-sized modern rooms for couples and up to groups of 6 adults.
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Things to do in Ios, Greece
Visit Homer’s Tomb
The island of Ios is considered to be the burial place of the great poet Homer. Tradition has it that Homer was buried here because Ios was the homeland of his mother. His tomb is situated on a beautiful hillside with the view of the Aegean Sea. If you have time to spare from beach hopping, this scenic detour is definitely worth visiting.
Take Day Trips from Ios to neighboring Cycladic Islands
There are daily boat connections to nearby islands that are worth visiting. These include Paros, Naxos, Santorini, Syros, Tinos, Mykonos, Folegandros, Amorgos, Kimolos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Anafi, Serifos and Iraklion (in Crete). Times and prices of each ride depend on the day and season so be sure to check out the local tourist office for further information. Likewise, a day trip to various beaches or nearby attractions is a great option especially if you’re a big group of people. Below are a few of the best boat day trips in Ios.
Shop in Chora
For all those girls (and boys) that just need to buy something every time they visit a new place, Chora is just the place. Its narrow white roads are filled with shops that sell clothes and gifts. My favorite shop was Innioranza. Owned by an Italian that loved Ios so much, he felt compelled to open a shop here. All of the items in the shop are individually designed by him.
Have a drink at Pathos Sunset Lounge during sunset
Notice how this is the only name of a bar/restaurant I’ve mentioned? I trust that you will find enough of those on your own. The island is not that big after all. But, Pathos Sunset Lounge is a MUST! Situated right on the cliff side in Koumbara, this bar/restaurant offers a one of a kind sunset view of the whole Aegean. I especially enjoyed their infinity pool which really made you feel like you were swimming in the air. With renowned chefs, wedding ceremonies, special concerts and guest DJ’s, Pathos Sunset Lounge offers it all. I will let the pictures do the talking.
Visit other historic spots: Archeological Museum, “Odysseas Elytis” Theater and the Gaiti-Smiosi Museum
I added the last three historic spots together because I believe that they can all be visited in one afternoon. The Odysseas Elytis Theater is right next to the Gaiti-Smiosi museum. This ancient greek style theater hosts many theatrical plays and music concerts. However do not hesitate to visit even if there is no show going on to enjoy the view! Giannis Gaitis and Gabriella Simosi were two artists that fell in love with Ios and the Cycladic light. The Gaiti-Smiosi museum of modern art is at a high spot with the view of all of Chora. Lastly, the Archeological museum located in Chora exhibits objects from the Early Cycladic era and collections from epigraphs from Classical and Hellenistic times as well as the historic development of Ios.
Beaches in Ios, Greece
There are around 40 beaches on the island but only a handful of them are accessed by car. Some of the most notable beaches include: Mylopotas, Magganari, Aghia Theodoti, and Plakes. If you have limited time, or limited transportation, then Mylopotas is just a short walk from Chora. This beach is the most famous one due to its proximity to the center of the island. It is filled with restaurants and beach bars. Be sure to also check out the various water sports offered at Mylopotas Beach.
Nightlife in Ios
I cannot write a travel guide to Ios without mentioning its nightlife scene. During the day Chora is a quiet neighborhood full of shops and restaurants but during the night the clubs open and the center is transformed into one big party. Tourists from Australian, Northern Europe, and Italy, especially, come to Ios just for the party atmosphere. Indeed, infamous party stories have been passed down from generation to generation, making Ios a tradition for young partiers to visit this island. As a result, the average age of tourists is around 22. There’s no need to mention names as there are countless bars and clubs to visit. Just step outside of your hotel room walk to the center and your options are endless. Most bars and clubs close 8 AM, so there is plenty of time to bar hop and explore your options.
Finally I want to end this post by saying that no matter what your intentions are for visiting Ios, whether it is for partying, or for visiting their beaches, one thing is for certain: you will absolutely fall in love with Ios. You can read about Ios’ neighboring islands Paros here, and Naxos here, and for more travel guides to Greece islands here.