Long known as the budget party island of Greece for decades in recent years there has been a small shift in image for Ios as several high end hotels open, in particular Calilo, the Instagrammers new dream in the Greek Islands.
It is a very beautiful island and while the party still continues until dawn in some parts of Chora there are many parts of the island that remain tranquil. It can be a great alternative to the other islands as it is often overlooked due to its party reputation which keeps the prices low. It is also very centrally located.
OPEN: EASTER TO OCTOBER
BEST FOR: YOUNG SINGLES, SOLO, BUDGET TRAVELLERS
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When to visit Ios
July and August see the highest number of visitors. Outside of these months, visiting in the autumn or in springtime means lower prices for accommodation and still mild weather.
Wind can pick up between August and October, but it isn’t so bad that it will ruin your vacation. If it’s a windy day in the Cyclades we head to a protected beach, usually south facing. Every island has them!
Best beach and swimming weather: June to September
Best sightseeing weather: March to June and September/October
Where is Ios?
Ios ( pronounced Io) island is in the Cyclades group approximately halfway between Paros/Naxos and Santorini.
It is 109 square kilometres in area and has a population of around 2200 people.
How to get to Ios
There is no airport on Ios so the only way to get there is by Ferry or Helicopter. Ferries are frequent, especially in Summer and it is a busy hub where many people change ferries from the western Cyclades to the east or to Santorini and Crete in the south.
Athens to IOS
If you’re coming from the mainland the port of Piraeus in Athens there is a year-round ferry service to Ios stopping first at Paros and Naxos. This generally takes around six to eight hours, but it depends on what type of ferry you catch.
You can also catch a ferry from Rafina and change in Mykonos.
Santorini to IOS
Two high-speed ferries per day leave Santorini bound for Ios which take 35 – 40 minutes You can also catch Blue Star Patmos which takes one hour and is more stable and better in windy conditions.
Some people choose to fly to Santorini and then take a ferry to Ios which cuts several hours of travel time if the timetables work out.
The island is also connected to other Cycladic islands via ferry, including Folegandros, Sikinos and Milos, so you’ll have the chance to do some island hopping while you’re in the area if you like.
Ios Port, Chora
Getting around Ios
We use and recommend Welcome Pickups. They partner with private drivers and taxis on the island but have a sophisticated and secure booking platform ( which most drivers do not).
There are regular buses the service the island. Schedules can be found here.
Many people like to take the bus from the Port to Chora as it is high on the hill and can be a hot walk with a suitcase.
There are a few Taxis on the island but they can be hard to get in Summer. The can usually be found at the Port for ferry arrivals but it can pay to book in advance by calling 0030 694 4693 957.
There are also little water taxis serving the main beach towns.
Car and Scooter rental
Scooters, ATVs and cars can be hired from places near the Port and in Chora.
We use and recommended Discover Cars for car hire. For ATVs and Scooters check out Anemos Moto Rentals or Costa’s Moto Club.
Further reading : Driving in Greece
While Chora may be very busy at night it is quiet during the day, apart from around the port. Explore the cobblestone back streets while the party people sleep it off!
Just south of Chora is Milopotas Beach which is a great alternative to Chora and much quieter.
The Beaches are excellent and are some of the best in Greece.
For Couples: Calilo is THE new place for Honeymooners and couples to stay in the Greek Islands. It comes with a pretty hefty price tag but everyone seems to think it is worth it. Liostasi Hotel is a great spot to stay in Chora – far enough away from the noise but with beautiful views over the bay.
For families and groups: Bay View Villas are in a quiet part of Chora between two excellent beaches and have panoramic views over the bay. At the south of the island there is also an amazing Villa to rent called Magnificent Marble which can sleep 8 people in 3 bedrooms and panoramic views of the beach and surrounds with heaps of privacy.
Solo: Stylish Ios Palace Hotel & Spa in Milopotas will treat you like royalty and looks out over the beautiful beach below. We also like Seabreeze Hotel in Chora which is on the other side of the harbour yet an easy walk into town.
IMAGE: IOS PALACE HOTEL
Lunch: Head to Drakos Tavern in Mylopotas for a great meal by the sea or Harmony Ios on the other side of the bay. Both also great at sunset.
The main dining precinct on Ios is at the back of Chora below the Church of the Virgin Mary of the Cliff. Here you will find lots of cheap dining options – Gyros, Thai etc… as well as some excellent tavernas such as Katogi Tavern and Sainis. Dine early and get out before the bars fill up or stay and join in!
Overlooking the harbour you will find Ithaka and Peri Anemon, both excellent as is Allo Tapas Bar.
There is no shortage of bars on Ios. Ios Club Sunset Bar is famous for its views while Click Cocktail and Yialou Beach Bar are perennial favourites. Late at night places like Lost Boys, Slammer, Sweet Irish Dream and Fun Pub is where you will find hordes of young people, often until sunrise.
Things to do on ios island greece
As mentioned Ios has some of the best beaches in Greece.
There are also lots of watersports to do including Suba Diving, Windsurfing and Kitesurfing. You’ll find numerous hire places along the beaches at Gialos and Mylopotas. You can also do a boat cruise around to some of the best beaches and even visit Santorini for the day on a private tour!
Skarkos is an early Bronze Age settlement found close to the port and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Cyclades. You can also visit the Tomb of Homer, the famous philosopher and author of the first book ever published in the West, The Iliad.
There are numerous churches of course and the remains of a Venetian Castle in PaleoKastro. Odysseas Elytis Theatre is a must-see, especially if you can visit as part of a concert or festival in the summer months.
There’s also some nice shops on the island especially in Chora where you will find many boutiques, jewellery stores, gift shops and galleries.