Ios, a stunning Cycladic island in Greece, has captured the hearts of travellers worldwide.
Famed for its pristine beaches and lively party atmosphere, this breathtaking destination offers the perfect blend of relaxation and excitement for young and old alike.
However, there’s more to Ios than its vibrant nightlife, as the island is brimming with hidden gems waiting to be discovered by intrepid explorers.
From its picturesque cliff-top villages with narrow alleys to the sparkling waters of Manganari Beach, Ios boasts a rich history and culture that begs to be explored.
The island comes alive with activities and attractions such as ATV tours, seaside hikes, and visits to historic landmarks like Homer’s Tomb. Whether you’re looking to embark on an unforgettable adventure or simply unwind by the clear blue sea, there’s no denying that Ios has it all.
The best time to visit Ios is during the summer months when the Greek sun is at its peak, illuminating the island’s many wonders.
However, be mindful that this is also the peak season for crowds, so be prepared to share the island’s beauty with fellow travellers.
Regardless of when you visit, Ios is a destination that offers unforgettable memories and incredible experiences, making it an essential part of any Greek island-hopping adventure.
Getting to Ios
Ios is a beautiful island in the Cyclades region of Greece, known for its picturesque landscapes and vibrant nightlife.
To make the most of your visit to this captivating island, planning your travel in advance is essential. In this section, we discuss two primary transportation options for reaching Ios: by air and by ferry.
Ios does not have its own airport.
However, you can fly into a nearby island and catch a ferry to Ios. The closest airports to Ios are Santorini (JTR) and Mykonos (JMK). Both islands have regular flights from major cities in Europe, especially during the summer months. British travellers can find direct flights from London to both Santorini and Mykonos.
Once you have arrived at either Santorini or Mykonos, you can take a ferry to Ios. The journey takes approximately 1-2 hours, depending on the ferry type and the route. You can book your ferry tickets online in advance or purchase them at the port.
Ios is well-connected to other islands and mainland Greece through daily ferry services. The most popular route is from Piraeus, the main port of Athens. The journey takes about 4-7 hours, depending on the ferry type. You have the option to choose between high-speed and conventional ferries. High-speed ferries are faster but are more expensive compared to the traditional ones.
Here are some popular ferry routes to Ios:
- Piraeus (Athens) to Ios: 4-7 hours
- Santorini to Ios: 1-1.5 hours
- Mykonos to Ios: 1.5-2 hours
- Naxos to Ios: 1-1.5 hours
- Paros to Ios: 1.5-2 hours
Ferry tickets can be booked online through various websites or purchased at the port. It is advisable to book your tickets during the high season (June to September) to ensure availability.
To summarise, reaching Ios requires a combination of air and sea travel. Fly into a nearby island like Santorini or Mykonos and then take a ferry to Ios. Alternatively, travel by ferry directly from mainland Greece, such as from the port of Piraeus in Athens.
Ios, a beautiful Cycladic island in Greece, is known for its pristine beaches and lively party scene. However, it has much more to offer than just nightlife and sunbathing. In this section, we’ll explore some of the top attractions on the island.
The Chora, also known as Ios Old Town, is the island’s picturesque capital. This charming village is a maze of narrow, winding alleys lined with whitewashed houses adorned with blue-painted doors and windows. As you stroll through the streets, you’ll discover hidden gems, including quaint cafes, local shops, and charming bars situated in a captivating hilltop location.
Ios is thought to be the final resting place of the great Greek poet, Homer. This legendary site, known as Homer’s Tomb, is located at the northern tip of the island and can be reached after a short hike. The tomb itself dates back to the Hellenistic period and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Aegean Sea.
Skarkos Archaeological Site
One of the lesser-known attractions in Ios is the Skarkos Archaeological Site which holds the ruins of a prehistoric settlement. This fascinating site offers a glimpse into the island’s history, which dates back to the early Cycladic period. While exploring Skarkos, you will see ancient artefacts and well-preserved stone structures, shedding light on the island’s past inhabitants. To further enrich your experience, consider visiting the nearby Archaeological Museum to learn more about Ios’s history and view a collection of remarkable artefacts discovered around the island.
Mylopotas Beach is the most popular and busiest beach on Ios island due to its close proximity to Chora, the main town1. This beautiful beach stretches along a golden bay with crystal-clear turquoise waters. Mylopotas Beach is known for its water sports facilities, such as windsurfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking, making it an ideal spot for thrill-seekers and beach lovers.
Manganari Beach is a must-visit for its pristine beauty and tranquillity2. This picturesque beach is located on the southern coast of Ios, away from the bustling town. Manganari Beach is famous for its shimmering waters and soft golden sands, surrounded by low hills and rocky landscapes. The calm atmosphere and laid-back vibes make it the perfect spot for relaxation and sunbathing.
Koumpara Beach is a hidden gem in Ios, situated in a secluded cove3. Accessible by car or a short hike, this beach offers unspoiled natural beauty, away from the crowd. The clear blue waters and pebbly sands make for a great swimming experience. The surrounding cliffs and lush greenery create an enchanting atmosphere for those looking to escape the busy island life.
Activities Around the Island
Ios Island is a perfect spot for water sports enthusiasts. Visit Manganari Beach for various water sports activities, such as windsurfing, paddleboarding, and snorkelling. You can also join a 4-Hour Cruise of the Best Beaches (from €49 p.p), which is a must-do water activity while at Ios. Additionally, Take a Boat Tour is considered one of the top things to do on the island, as it allows you to explore the coastline and discover secluded spots that you may not have otherwise found.
For those who love exploring nature by foot, Ios offers many picturesque hiking trails. Hike to Paleokastro, an ancient Byzantine fortress that promises panoramic views of the island and its surroundings. You can also take a walk to Agia Irini Church, a historical gem you don’t want to miss. Furthermore, the island is home to many other scenic trails, so don’t forget to wear your hiking boots and set off on an adventure.
Whether you’re an adrenaline-seeker, a history buff, or just looking for a relaxing beach holiday, there’s something for everyone in Ios. So go ahead and dive into the many interesting activities around the island for a truly memorable experience.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Ios, a popular Greek party island, is well-known for its bustling nightlife and entertainment scene. This island destination attracts the youth, and its nightlife is centred around the main village of Chora.
Popular Clubs and Bars
While visiting Ios, you can find several clubs and bars to immerse yourself in the island’s energetic atmosphere. Here are some popular spots to consider:
- Scorpion Nightclub: Known for its lively events and late-night dance parties, Scorpion Nightclub is a go-to spot for visitors looking to dance the night away.
- Astra Bar: This stylish establishment offers an extensive cocktail menu and often features live DJ sets, making it an ideal spot to mingle with fellow travellers.
- Slammer Bar: Famous for its “slammer” shots and various games, Slammer Bar guarantees a fun and engaging experience for its patrons.
- Orange Bar: With its warm and inviting atmosphere, Orange Bar is well-known for its delicious cocktails, friendly staff, and its distinctive orange-coloured setup.
Remember to be responsible and enjoy Ios’ famous nightlife responsibly. Enjoy your time on this picturesque island, and make the most of its exciting entertainment options!
When visiting Ios, Greece, you’ll have a variety of accommodation options to choose from. In this section, we’ll cover luxury hotels, mid-range hotels, and budget hostels to help you find the perfect place to stay during your trip.
For those looking for an extra touch of luxury during their stay, there are several upscale options on the island. Some top choices include:
- Liolios Hotel & Spa: This 5-star hotel offers elegant rooms and suites, a spa, an infinity pool, and fine dining. It’s the ideal place to relax and indulge.
- Ios Palace Hotel & Spa: With stunning views over Mylopotas beach, this hotel features a spa, swimming pools, restaurants, and stylish rooms for a luxurious experience.
If you’re seeking a comfortable stay without breaking the bank, there are plenty of mid-range hotels available. Some popular choices are:
- Relux Ios Hotel: A 4-star boutique hotel with modern rooms, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant. It’s perfect for travellers seeking a stylish experience at a more affordable price.
- Far Out Village Hotel: Located near Mylopotas beach, this hotel offers a serene stay with comfortable rooms, a pool, a restaurant, and easy access to the beach.
For travellers on a tight budget, there are several affordable hostels available in Ios. Some options to consider include:
- Far Out Beach Club: An affordable, lively hostel near Mylopotas beach, offering dorms and private rooms, swimming pools, a beach bar, and daily events.
- Ios Resort: A budget-friendly option with both private rooms and dorms, a friendly atmosphere, and a central location close to nightlife and attractions.
When planning your trip to Ios, remember to book your accommodation in advance for the best availability and options. No matter your budget or preferences, you’re sure to find a great place to stay on this beautiful island.
Dining and Cuisine
When it comes to dining on Ios, you’ll be delighted to discover a range of options, with an emphasis on authentic Greek cuisine. From traditional tavernas to tantalizing seafood, the island’s culinary scene will leave you craving more.
Traditional Greek Tavernas
A visit to Ios would be incomplete without enjoying a meal at one of its traditional Greek tavernas. These warm and welcoming establishments offer a variety of mouthwatering dishes, such as moussaka, souvlaki, and Greek salad. One popular option to try is Grandma’s (mentioned in Goats On The Road), which is known for its homemade flavours. As you dine in these family-run tavernas, you’ll experience first-hand the warmth of Greek hospitality and be treated to delicious, authentic meals.
Being an island in the heart of the Aegean Sea, Ios offers a bounty of fresh seafood. Dining at a seafood restaurant during your visit is a must, as you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in the freshest catch of the day. Often prepared using traditional Greek recipes and local ingredients, dishes such as grilled octopus, fried calamari, and fish soup are just a few of the standout options you’ll encounter.
In addition to the local tavernas and seafood establishments, Ios is also home to a growing number of more modern and luxurious dining options. These eateries cater to those seeking elegance and contemporary cuisine, offering divine dishes made with local produce and beautifully presented plates. While visiting Ios island, you can embrace the flavours and aroma of age-old Greek classics while also exploring contemporary gastronomic twists in its diverse dining scene.
Tips for Visiting Ios
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit Ios is between June and September when the weather is warm, and the sea is perfect for swimming. During this period, the island is bustling with travellers and partygoers. If you prefer a quieter trip, consider visiting in May or October when the crowds are smaller, and the weather is still pleasant.
Ios is a Greek island with a blend of traditional customs and modern party culture. Here are some local customs worth noting during your visit:
- Respect the local dress code: Dress modestly when visiting religious sites such as churches or monasteries. Covering your shoulders and wearing knee-length bottoms is a good rule to follow.
- Dining etiquette: In Greece, meals are often shared among members of a party. You may want to order several dishes for the table, and everyone can taste each one. Tipping around 10% of the bill is customary in restaurants.
- Siesta hours: Many local businesses close for a short period in the afternoon, typically between 2 PM and 5 PM, for a siesta. It’s a good idea to plan your activities accordingly.
Taking some basic safety precautions can ensure you have a hassle-free holiday in Ios:
- Keep an eye on your belongings: Although Ios is generally safe, it’s wise to be cautious, especially during the peak season when the island is busy. Secure your valuables and don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach or in public spaces.
- Stay hydrated: Ios can get very hot, particularly during the summer months. Drink plenty of water and stay mindful of sun exposure to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
- Swim safely: The Aegean Sea can be rough at times, with strong currents and powerful waves. Keep a close eye on weather conditions before swimming and be cautious if you’re not a strong swimmer.
By following these tips, you’ll be on track for an enjoyable visit to Ios. Enjoy your trip!
Frequently Asked Questions
Top activities in Ios
Ios offers various exciting activities for visitors to enjoy. Some of the must-try activities include relaxing at Manganari Beach, taking a scenic boat tour, exploring the island on an ATV, visiting the historical Homer’s tomb, and hiking the many trails around the island. Don’t forget to experience the stunning sunsets at Lorentzena Beach and visit the archaeological site of Skarkos.
Getting to Ios from Athens
Getting to Ios from Athens is quite straightforward. You can take a ferry from Piraeus or Rafina port in Athens to Ios Port. The ferry journey takes approximately 4.5 to 7.5 hours, depending on the type of ferry and the route. There are also seasonal direct flights between Athens and Santorini, and from Santorini, you can take a ferry to Ios, which takes around 1 to 2 hours.
Ios nightlife highlights
Ios is known for its vibrant nightlife, with a lively bar scene and clubs to keep you entertained. Some popular spots to enjoy the nightlife include Astra Cocktail Bar, Disco 69, and the famous Ios Bar Crawl. Additionally, many bars and clubs are located in the island’s main town, Chora, where you can enjoy a fun night out full of music and energy.
Ios or Santorini?
While both Ios and Santorini are beautiful Greek islands in the Cyclades group, they offer different experiences. Ios is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, hiking trails, and lively nightlife. On the other hand, Santorini is famous for its iconic caldera views, luxury hotels, and romantic sunsets. If you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere, Ios may be the right choice, whereas Santorini offers a more upscale and romantic experience.
Best hotels in Ios
Ios has a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Some of the top hotels on the island include Liostasi Hotel & Suites, Agalia Luxury Suites, and Far Out Hotel & Spa. These hotels offer excellent service, comfortable rooms, and beautiful views, making them great choices for a pleasant stay on the island.
Recommended duration in Ios
The recommended duration for a visit to Ios can vary depending on your interests and the activities you wish to enjoy. For a relaxing beach holiday and to explore some of the island’s must-see sights, a stay of 3 to 5 days should be sufficient. However, if you want to experience the vibrant nightlife, engage in outdoor activities, and truly immerse yourself in the island’s charm, a week or more would be more suitable.
Hailing from the historic city of Thessaloniki, Nikos Tsakiris is a passionate explorer, seasoned writer, and co-founder of Greek Island, the definitive travel blog for the Greek Islands.