At first sight, Ios is the island of the young, restless, and partying travellers. The image of Ios has been linked to sun, sea, and sex for decades. And it is partly true, at least from June to August, but Ios is so much more if you give it a closer look. You just need to leave the trodden path and hit for the villages away from the popular beaches and Chora.
Ios is boasting the well-known seductive Cycladic landscape with whitewashed houses, picturesque clifftop villages and narrow cobblestone alleys not to forget the stunning beaches for every taste!
In Ios everyone enjoys the summer heat at the gorgeous beaches swimming in the crystal clear, turquoise-blue waters of the Aegean Sea. And when the sun dives into the sea Chora Ios comes alive. This is when all young people head for the village on top of the hill to enjoy the wild parties until the sun rises again.
Ios – how to get there?
You can easily reach Ios by ferryboat from Piraeus port in Athens and from other Cyclades islands like Paros, Sifnos, Santorini, and Milos. In high season, during summer, extra routes are linking the port of Ios to the port of Heraklion in Crete as well as with Rafina port in Athens. The latter is situated rather close to the International Airport of Athens “Eleftherios Venizelos”.
Ios island has no airport, but you can fly to Santorini National Airport (JTR), also known as Thira Airport, serving domestic flights from Athens to Santorini as well as many international airports around Europe, like from UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Latvia.
Ios – Things to do
Among the Cyclades Ios is the party queen of the young travellers with a lively nightlife in Chora Ios. During the day you can enjoy swimming at gorgeous beaches and enjoying strolling around in picturesque Chora, but there are lots of other activities in Ios. Find a list here below.
Watersports in Ios
In Ios you can spend time with one of your favorite watersports, like windsurfing, water skiing, kitesurfing, wakeboarding. At Milopotas, Yialos and Maganari Beaches you can go diving, do windsurfing, water skiing, or enjoy the thrill of banana and tube rides.
Ios Water Sports Center
Party – Best clubs in Ios
Ios is next best in Greece when it comes to partying all night long – only overtaken by Mykonos. The clubs in Ios have a great party atmosphere, even the narrow streets of Chora with all the young people pub-crawling is bursting with a great party-feeling. Here there is something for every taste – most clubs are open till sunrise. Many clubs are offering modern dance hits and upbeat music. The three most popular clubs in Chora are Scorpion, Disco 69, and Sweet Irish Dream.
Explore the island of Ios
You can choose to follow the many old footpaths around Ios to small villages or go on a jeep safari to secluded beaches.
Ios – What to see?
Skarkos is the most important prehistoric archaeological site in the Cyclades. It is a settlement from the early Bronze Age. The amazing prehistoric settlement was awarded with the European Union Cultural Heritage prize for its exceptional conservation efforts. You will find it just a few kilometres from the port of Ios in the Campos area.
The windmills of Ios are beautiful samples of traditional Cycladic architecture, standing on a hill above Chora. They are not in use.
Scientists believe that the Tomb of Homer is to be found on the northern side of Ios. It is believed that Homer’s mother was from Ios, and that he himself was buried there. 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 can be seen. There is no physical evidence connecting this with Homer though. There are signs of a Mycenaean settlement.
The Venetian Castle in Ios was of great strategic importance in Medieval times. The castle had visual contact with the Castle of Apalyros in Naxos and supported control of the inner naval area. Today, nothing but a few remains are to be seen in the region of Paleokastro, in between Agia Theodoti and Psathi.
Panagia Gremiotissa – this tiny church of Virgin Mary Gremiotissa stands on a high hill above Ios Chora and is the trademark of the island.
In the Archaeological Museum of Ios you can see various archaeological findings excavated on Ios island – prehistoric tools, Cycladic objects, and figurines. The museum is in the center of Chora in the Amiradakio Megaron.
Odysseas Elytis Theatre is an open theatre named after the Nobel-winning Greek poet, Odysseas Elytis. Located close to Chora it is the center for many cultural events on Ios, such as concerts, theatre festivals and other performances during the summer months. From up here you have a spectacular view over the island and the Aegean Sea.
Best beaches in Ios
Ios has regularly been voted in various polls for having one of the “Top 10 beaches in Europe” and it boasts 75 km of beautiful, white sandy beaches and turquoise coastlines. Head to Mylopotas beach, Gialos beach and Manganari beach to have a taste of Ios beach party scene. Are you into more quiet beaches? Agia Theodoti beach, Koumpara beach, Kalamos Beach and Psathi Beach will reward you with serenity and virgin natural landscapes! Some of them are difficult to access, with dirt roads and steep walking paths, but if you have the stamina, they are worth it! Another option to reach these pristine beaches with privacy and crystal-clear waters is by boat.
List of beaches in Ios
- Mylopotas Beach – Sandy, party, windsurfing, watersports – located 2 km southeast of Chora
- Gialos Beach – Sandy, diving club, family friendly, windsurfing, water sports, habour – located 2 km east of Chora
Partly organized beaches
- Manganari Beach – Sandy, family friendly, nudism friendly – located 19 km southeast of Chora
- Kalamos Beach – Sandy – located 10 km southeast of Chora
- Koumbara Beach – Sandy, water sports, nudism friendly – located 3 km west of Chora
- Agia Theodoti Beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, nudism friendly – located 9 km northeast of Chora
- Kolitsani Beach – Sandy, nudism friendly – located 2 km south of Chora
- Papa Beach – Sandy, secluded – 11 km southeast of Chora
- Psathi Beach – Sandy, secluded – located 17 km east of Chora
- Plakoto Beach – Pebbled, secluded – located 13 km north of Chora
- Cape Karatzas Beach – Pebbled, secluded – on the northern side of Ios. No shade and no tourist facilities.
- Diamoudia Beach – Pebbled, secluded – located 7 km north of Chora
- Kambaki Beach – Pebbled, secluded – located 10 km north of Chios
- Lorentzena Beach – Pebbled, secluded – located 5 km north of Chora
- Neraki Beach – Pebbled, secluded – 12 km northeast of Chora
- Plakes Beach – Sandy, secluded – located 12 km east of Chora
- Tripiti Beach – Sandy, secluded – located 20 km south of Chora – only accessible by walking trails and boat
- Tris Klisies Beach – Sandy, secluded, nudism friendly – located 20 southeast of Chora
- Tzamaria Beach – Pebbled, secluded – located 3 km from Chora
- Valmas Beach – Pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly – located 3 km southwest of Chora
- Vathirema Beach – Sandy, secluded, nudism friendly – located 19 km east of Chora
Weather and climate in Ios
Ios has a typical Cycladic climate with cool springs and autumns, mild winters with only little rainfall, and hot summers with average temperatures of 29 degrees in the day hours. Like all Cyclades islands the north winds Meltemia are blowing from late July till medio August, giving great conditions for windsurfing.
Where is Ios Greece?
Ios is one of the islands in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea, to be found halfway between Naxos and Santorini. It is a hilly island with cliffs down to the sea on most sides, about 18 km long and 10 km wide. Ios is part of the Thira-region and the population was around 2,000 in 2011.Read more
The port of Ios
The port of Ios is at the head of the Ormos harbour on the northwest side of the island. From there the bus or a 15-minute walk up the steep donkey path takes you to the village, known as Chora as at most Greek islands. Chora is a picturesque Cycladic village with whitewashed houses, stairs, and narrow paths, that makes it inaccessible for cars.
Today, the main path through this village is touristic with restaurants, shops, bars and clubs. Apart from the port and the village of Chora, Ios has only some small settlements, just a few houses and some tavernas near the popular beaches like Theodoti, Kalamos, Maganari.
History of Ios
Excavations on Skarkos hill revealing a prehistoric settlement, provide evidence that Ios has been inhabited since the early Cycladic period. In some places the architecture at Skarkos is preserved up to a height of almost 3 meters, and it seems most of the buildings had two floors, stone-paved floors, and a sewage system. Numerous well-preserved potteries, tools and utensils made of metal, stone and bone were also discovered. 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.
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.
Ios’ development in recent years
The local authorities have since the 1990s worked on Ios’ development towards attracting different types of tourists (not only young partying people like in the 1970s and the 1980s). With the help of European Community funds some roads have been made, all of them paved, and a scenic amphitheatre has been created by the German architect Peter Haupt at the top of the village hill named after the Nobel-winning Greek poet Odysseas Elytis. Still, though, only few cultural events take place up there.
Ios was the setting for the movie Ginger and Cinnamon (Dillo con parole mie). Also, scenes from the film Big Blue (Le Grand Bleu) were shot in Manganari.
Ios has alway attracted young travellers, many of whom used to sleep with their sleeping bags during the 1970s on the popular beach of Mylopotas (near Chora) 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.
Regular buses or boats are on offer to take you on various excursions to the remote beaches on Ios, where you can find areas of real tranquillity and avoid the crowds.
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 the party island, however, there is so much more that Ios has to offer. Chora still has a vibrant night life, but if you prefer a quiet night out there are other places like Yialos or the Port, or the beautiful Milopotas beach which are excellent places to escape the crowds during the evening.
The local authorities have since the 1990s worked on Ios’ development towards attracting different types of tourists (not only young partying people like in the 1970s and the 1980s). With the help of European Community funds some roads have been made, all of them paved, and a scenic amphitheatre has been created by the German architect Peter Haupt at the top of the village hill. Still, though, only few cultural events take place up there.