Ios has a very special place in my heart. I grew up going there with my family every few years so the island has deep rooted memories for me. With that being said, the time here has created many experiences and a few favorite places for me. Ios is known for its beautiful beaches, as well as its “party island” reputation.
The island is located in the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. The population of Ios sits at roughly 2,024 people and is a medium sized island, at 42.9 square miles. The terrain is more desert-like and dry, with far more hills than other islands.
How to Get to Ios
Ferry is your best option for traveling to Ios, and a majority of the Greek Islands in the Cyclades. Ferry tickets are cheap, with the Express ferry tickets usually costing under 50 euro.
I used FerryHopper for booking all of our ferry rides and it makes the process super simple and convenient. Just type in where you want to go and it will pull up your ferry options. I suggest creating an account so you can log in and easily come back to your information for the ferry.
DON’T BE LATE: Just note that getting ON a ferry is usually the biggest shit show you’ll ever be in. My family and I joke about it all the time, but in all seriousness, I can’t understand how after all these years they still have the same boarding system to a ferry. The ferry docks and leaves the port in minutes, so do not be late. The boarding happens so fast you can’t really fathom it when you’re in it. The ship will dock, automobiles will go first, and then all the passengers. This consists of literally everyone speeding their way onto this ship, in no line or order, just shoulder to shoulder lugging every item they brought with them up the ramp and into the base level. You have minutes as you’re at the bottom of the ship to toss your bags on the few industrial size shelves they have open. Usually your luggage will just stay on the floor, as tucked together as you can try to make it and pray nothing happens to it. Then, after that hecticness and a whole lot of sweating, you head upstairs to an extremely calm and relaxed ride on the ship. The difference between the two moments is drastic. Oh, and departing the boat happens just as quickly and crazy too.
All I’m saying is be prepared! Ferry is the cheapest way to island hop but also a bit stressful, especially with a lot of bags.
Where To Stay
- Mylopota Beach: Where to stay in Ios depends on where you would like to be and what you’re doing on your trip. If you’re with a group of friends and looking for a party scene, stay at Mylopota beach or in the Chora (village). Mylopota beach is where all the young adults go to party and there’s no way they’re missing going to Far Out Beach Club, which is an awesome outdoor club with a pool, bar and basically a non stop party spot that Ios is known for. You can always stay in the village as well, which is a 5 minute drive to Mylopota.
- Hotel: We stayed at Petradi Hotel, right up the hill from Mylopota beach. Petradi had hands down one of the most beautiful views overlooking Mylopota. You pay for the view at Petradi. As well as great customer service and a well kept, simple room. You can also get to Mylopota by a 10 minute walk down the hill, or, a bus stop right next to the hotel for about 2 euros can take you to and from the beach. This was super convenient and we used it often.
- Manganari Beach: If you’re trying to relax and enjoy endless beach days away from the chaos, stay at Manganari beach. This is the beach my family and I grew up going to and staying at. It is a beautiful beach, peaceful, quiet and secluded. About a 30 minute ride from the Chora.
- Hotel: Dimitris Rooms Hotel is a simple hotel that we stayed at every year my family and I went to Greece. Amazing customer service, simple amenities, and footsteps away from a family owned restaurant, AntonIOS, as well as Manganari beach.
Mylopota: Again, this beach is known to be a party beach, especially with the Far Out Beach club right by. Come here if you’re traveling with friends and looking for an endless party. The rest of the beach is lined with restaurants, bakery’s and mini markets to get necessities from.
Manganari: The best beach. This one holds so many memories for me, and only the best since it is one of the most beautiful beaches. This is the type of beach you go to for a full day’s worth of sun and taking a swim. Enjoy a relaxing, peaceful time on this beach and dinner at AntonIOS after.
Pebble Beach (Steps from Maganari): Manganari has a left and right hand entrance to the beach. We always stayed on the right. If you do, you can walk right over the small hill to a beach we liked to call, Pebble Beach. This beach in my eyes was the most beautiful beach I have been to and my favorite. Instead of sand, the beach is covered in tiny pebbles. And not the big ones that hurt your feet – just teeny tiny pebbles. The pebbles are so tiny that you can exfoliate your skin with them and also – no need for a towel! Step out of the water and dry off by just laying on the pebbles in the sun. When it’s time to leave, you can just shake the pebble right off, they don’t stick like sand does. Lastly, you definitely will want to bring a snorkel out here as well since the beach has a steep drop off in the water with tons of fish and crystal clear waters.
Koumbara: Located directly next to the port. A great option if you’re looking to not travel far but still soak up some sun and hop in the ocean. Koumbara is right by the Chora and the port which makes it simple and convenient. It also has a bunch of restaurant options directly off the sand.
Things To Do
Hands down a MUST do anywhere in Greece, but especially Ios. It’s the most incredible experience taking ATV rides around the islands in Greece, I recommend it to anyone. Travel around the island in a fun way that lets you see everything around you. On your way back from your day trip, make sure to stop at the many pull over spots and take sunset photos!
Be Cautious: Ios has very steep, high cliffs with big drop offs. The roads are curved tightly. With that being said, I at least have to tell you to be careful when riding ATVs, Vespas or even a car around the Island. Be extra cautious.
You will find ATV/Vespa rentals all over the island and normally located off the main road that connects the port, the Chora and Mylopota beach. Expect between 40-60 euros a day based on the type of ATV you get and place you are renting from. We suggest getting the larger ATVS since you will be going uphill and most beaches you will want to travel out to are a 30 minute+ ride.
Obviously you’re visiting Greece to most likely hit the beach! Thankfully, Ios is known for having beautiful beaches. There are plenty of beaches to checkout on the island, some of my favorites were listed above.
Visit the Chora:
Ios is known for being a party island so enjoy a drink out in the Chora! The Chora in Ios is not the most picturesque setting that you may find on other islands like Santorini and Naxos, but you can still enjoy walking around and popping into a few shops. The Chora in Ios is very steep and uphill with just a few shops along the way, so I suggest stopping into a few and then grabbing a seat and getting a drink in the main center. More on this below.
This tour took us around 7 different beaches in Ios and even took us to the Neverbay cave! The boat provided snorkels and we were able to jump off the boat and snorkel the entire cave, which was an awesome experience. This boat excursion was a perfect way to spend the afternoon, with it only being a 4 hour tour. It was the perfect amount of time to enjoy each beach, swim in Never Bay cave, have a sandwich that they provide for lunch and then head back.
The boat trip took us to 7 beaches, Sapounochoma beach, Klima beach, Pikri Nero beach, Pepa beach, Tripiti beach, Manganari Beach and “Neverbay” for snorkelling. Almost all the beaches were only reachable by boat which made for a really cool experience. Our tour was ran by Mylopotas Water Sports.
Tomb of Homer:
I did not have time to check out this historical site but some of our friends did and they said it was really amazing. If you are a Homer fan or history buff, you won’t want to miss this. Located at the northernmost part of the island on a hill.
Church Panagia Gremiotissa:
An incredible sunset spot that overlooks the entire Chora of Ios. A little bit of a trek, but well worth it. This is a must do!
Note: Something to note about eating in Greece is that they charge for everything! And I mean everything. Water is not free. You can’t drink the tap water in Greece so they will bring bottled waters to your table and charge per bottle. Another thing is that they rarely have butter for your appetizer bread. I love bread and butter so I had to ask every time if they had butter and almost every time they didn’t. Really only during breakfast would they have butter out for bread.
Other than those little fun facts, let’s head to the best part – FOOD.
Nutelleria: The BEST crepes in Ios. We went here plenty of times growing up and the crepes are still incredible. They have tons of different crepe concoctions to pick from and have jars of Nutella lining the wall. You can’t miss this stop, it’s right on the main road as you get to the Chora.
Ciao Bella Garden: Don’t get me wrong, we eat plenty of Greek food while in Greece, but something we also can’t get enough of is the Italian food! Pasta is something we found ourselves craving almost every night and this place was amazing. Try the Spaghetti Aglio Olio or the Calzone, both delicious!
Mills: Located at the back end of the Chora and an easy 5 minute walk from our hotel Petradi, is this Greek traditional restaurant. It has plenty of outdoor seating, all surrounded by old, white, Greek mills. Enjoy a yummy meal here and beautiful surroundings.
Bamboo Seaside Restaurant & Bar: Located on Mylopota beach, this restaurant was a huge hit for our group! They had yummy margarita pizza and a to DIE for tomato pasta. You can easily sit to eat in the beautiful restaurant that has a shaded cabana and beautiful atmosphere, or, have the food delivered right to your beach chair on the sand.
La Buca: Yes, another incredible Italian place on the main road next to the Chora. I can’t decide whether I like this place or Ciao Bella Garden more, they both were amazing. But I can say, everyone was in love with the Carbonara and the Gorgonzola Gnocchi here.
Melidomi: If you love lukumades (Greek honey puffs) then you have to stop after dinner and grab these in the Chora. They not only have the classic honey and cinnamon lukumades, but also chocolate sauce and other toppings as well. Made fresh right in front of you.
Club Sandwich: Such a go to spot after going out! This is a quick stop right next to the main square of bars and clubs and has great gyros and Nutella crepes. This definitely hit those late night cravings after a night out.
AntonIOS: This is a family owned restaurant on Manganari beach that my family and I always went to growing up. It has some of the best, homemade, authentic Greek food you can get. Made fresh as always. Also, it has one of my favorite made Greek salads I’d eaten on this trip.
The bar scene in Ios is awesome and what the island is known for. As you wind up the narrow streets of the Chora you get to a small, open courtyard with surrounding bars and clubs. People are crammed, sitting next to each other in this open square, with a thin path to walk through in order to get from one end to the other. It’s the perfect space for going out since you’re right next to any bar you’d want to stop in. Here are some of our favorites!
Note: Something to keep in mind is that clubs do not open until about 2am in Greece, and close past when the sun comes up! It’s crazy but you will find yourself eating dinner later in Greece and going out and staying up far later as well.
Ios Blue Bar:
Location: Chora, Ios 840 01, Greece
Ios Blue Bar is a casual yet fun bar, similar to the others located directly in the courtyard yard. Drinks are a bit more expensive though but super fun and fruity.
Location: Chora, Ios 840 01, Greece
This bar is located on the side of the courtyard and known for probably the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of – taking a shot and then getting ‘slammed’ in the head (while wearing a helmet) with any object they have at the bar. We’re talking getting slammed in the head by a hammer, skateboard, fire extinguisher, literally anything they have on hand. But that’s why they’re called Slammers and what they’re known for so as always, give it a try!
Location: Chora Ios Cyclades, 840 01, Greece
This is a club near the courtyard that was a really fun time! Something you should know is that Ios bars have a thing where you pay 20-30 euros to take whatever number of shots and then you get a jersey in return! It’s crazy cause each bar has either one style or a handful of jerseys to pick from. It became the joke of each night to see how many jerseys our friends could take home. This definitely creates a memorable experience for the entire group!
Location: Ios, 840 01, Greece
A super fun go-to club and yes – you can get a jersey here! And another yes – it is “69” branded lol.
Located at Mylopota beach.
As I shared earlier, this beach club is a full party all day long. Think Vegas type of pool party. Basically, you won’t want to miss it so come during its open season. Photo speak for itself here!
Ios is a special island. And not just to me because of my families connection and history to it, but it truly has a little bit of everything for everyone. You can get away and be secluded on a beach or in the center of one of the largest party scenes. No matter what you’re vacationing for, Ios will in no way disappoint.
And don’t forget to read all of my other Greece travel guides on my blog! If you’re making a stop to Athens, Greece on your way out you have to checkout my “Guide to Visiting Athens Greece in Under 2 Days” blog post.