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An Instagram-worthy island if there ever was one, Ios Island is a short ferry ride from Santorini in the Cyclades. It boasts nearly 50 miles of sandy beaches, including stretches that are often named among Europe’s best, all framed by turquoise waters, along with impressive Cycladic architecture and whitewashed buildings perched on the hilltops. While Ios Town, with its blue painted doorways and lovely churches, are just as picturesque as the cliff-top villages of its famed neighbor, they have a more authentic, lived-in feel.
Ios At A Glance
Population of Ios 2,000
What to See in Ios Archeological site of Skarkos & the Churches, Manganari Beach, Ios Speed Boat Adventure, Hike the Trails of this spectacular island
Towns or islands to visit near Ios Sikinos, Folegandros, Antiparos, Sifnos, Naxos, Amorgos, Antiparos, Milos
Things to do in Ios
In the summer, the nightlife is what draws most travelers to Ios with bars packed by around midnight and staying busy until dawn – sometimes well after. It attracts young people, primarily from 18 to 25, from across the globe to drink, dance and mingle with clubs offering all types of music, from R&B and reggae to jazz. While there are some beach bars and cafes in Mylopotas and Ormos, most of the fun is found in the Chora.
ATVs for exploring
ATVs are popular on this island and one of the best ways to explore it. Traffic is limited to the Chora and roads that lead to the main beaches, which means you won’t have to worry about many cars. Visiting Homer’s tomb by ATV is a must, located about 30 minutes from Chora. Experts believe the epic poet decided to spend the last part of his life here as his mother was from Ios. While the “tomb” is simply a headstone, it’s worth the visit located on a hill overlooking the Aegean, offering stunning views of the sea and surrounding cliffs.
As many beaches on the island can only be accessed by boat, joining a boat excursion will allow you to visit several of the best in just a day. Along the way you might spot dolphins, and many tours include visits to the Koumbara caves, stops for snorkeling at shipwrecks, cliff-jumping and a delicious lunch on board. Sunset tours are available too, providing the opportunity to watch the sun go down from the water.
If you’re interested in archaeology, excavations on Skarkos hill have unearthed a prehistoric settlement, with the architecture preserved in some spots up to a height of nearly 10 feet. Most of the buildings have stone-paved floors, two stories and a sewage system. Many artifacts, including utensils made of bone, stone and metal; tools and well-preserved pottery were discovered too.
There are over 300 churches on Ios, spread across the island, some built on the sites of ancient Greek temples. The church of Agia Irene, Saint Irene, was built in the 17th-century in typically Cycladic style and is one that you won’t want to miss, located at the port. The church of Panagia Gremiotissa is set atop a hill above the Chora, and is a fantastic place to watch a sunset.
Ios offers 10 marked trails that cross most of the island, ranging in length from only around a half-mile to about four-and-a-half miles. Five start right in the Chora, and a number of treks lead to some of the more secluded beaches on Ios. One of the most beautiful begins in Chora, passing Agios Spiridon, Agios Prokopios, Anemogenitries and Agii Anargiri before ending at Agia Theodoti beach, providing awe-inspiring views the entire way.
Our Favorite Restaurants & Bars
Famous for serving creative Mediterranean and Greek recipes with a cosmopolitan twist, Grandma’s is located on an open-air deck at Liostasi Hotel & Suites. Its gourmet dishes are prepared using the finest products found on Ios and its neighboring Cyclades islands. Enjoy a menu focused on fresh seafood and fish, with plenty of options for meat lovers as well, while gazing out at the sea and washing the sun go down as the candles are lit, to provide soft light against the evening sky. Dishes are made using genuine Greek recipes with a local twist, accompanied by an extensive wine list that includes regional Greek wines.
It’s hard to beat Pathos if you’re looking for dining with one of the best sunset views on Ios. Located in the idyllic spot with multiple vantage points to marvel at it from, along with the stunning Aegean views, you can be assured the ultimate dining experience under the stars once it sets too. Enjoy a sophisticated yet relaxed setting, sipping cocktails followed by a meal from the exquisite menu prepared by chef Gikas Xenakis, considered some of the finest gastronomy on Ios.
Situated at the edge of the port, one of the most impressive, and newest, restaurants on Ios just opened in 2018 by chef Dionisis Halaj and family. Halaj has worked in some of the most exclusive restaurants in London and Paris before coming to the island to serve his high quality, creative culinary delights. Enjoy delicious food that includes homemade bread with a delectable eggplant spread, tuna dishes and plenty of Greek produce followed by delectable desserts. It’s all complemented by a gorgeous setting and friendly service without the high prices that often come along with it.
Overlooking Psathi beach, Alonistra Tavern is a wonderful traditional taverna in an area where most eateries are quite pricey, yet it offers more affordable delicious meals in a lovely setting. Expect outstanding service and plenty of original Greek specialities, including fresh fish, traditional meatballs and vegetables from the restaurant’s own garden. Perhaps start with a salad tossed with xino cheese and capers followed by grilled squid with rosemary, chicken souvlaki or lamb shank paired with the house wine.
Koumpara Seafood Restaurant
Koumpara Seafood Restaurants sits on the sands of Koubara Beach, framed by beautiful crystal-clear blue waters for some of the best views on Ios. It’s magnificently designed with a menu of outstanding seafood, considered some of the tastiest on the island, while providing impeccable service. The menu offers a wide range of dishes based on fresh ingredients from the land and sea, but the favorites are the fresh seafood options like mussels in white wine, stuffed squid cooked on the grill, shrimp or lobster spaghetti.
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