Ios island is another stunning island in the Cyclades island group in Greece. For some people it might be known as a party island, but we can tell you that it’s much more than that! Beautiful beaches, typically Greek villages, amazing views, blue-domed churches on the most scenic locations, unexplored bays, and much more. Even when you are not the partying type, there is plenty to see and you won’t even notice the party scene when you time it right.
In this Ios Island travel guide we will tell you all you need to know: the must do’s and must see’s, how to get there and how to get around, and where to stay and eat. So if you are planning to visit Ios Island, this travel guide has you covered!
needed to see it all
Things to Know
Ios is a beautiful island in Greece, which is part of the Schengen Agreement. Citizens or residents from other Schengen countries, EU or EEA don’t need any visa to enter. Non-EU/non-Schengen residents will have to check this website and check if you are on the visa exemption list. If you are on the visa exemption list you don’t need a visa for a visit up to 90 days. On the list you can also find the countries that do need a Schengen visa.
The summers in Ios are warm, dry, and windy. The winters are relatively mild and wet. During winter the average day temperatures can drop to 13ºC (55ºF), but in summer they rise up to 27ºC (81ºF). Be aware of the strong winds that often blow around the Cyclades islands.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Ios is during summer, between May and halfway October. It is advisable to avoid the months of July and August if you like it more peaceful. During these months most of Europe has holidays and Ios is quite a popular destination to party during these months.
The currency in Greece is the Euro.
At the time of writing (February 2020) 1 USD is approximately 0.90 Euro.
A double room in a hotel starts from €20 but this can be more during high season. Dinner for a couple costs around €12 for a budget meal.
A reasonable daily budget is around €50-75.
As Ios is a part of Greece, the official language is Greek. Most people on the island speak English very well so it’s really easy to make yourself understandable.
Free wifi can be found in most accommodation options and restaurants. There is good phone coverage on most parts of the island. With a EU sim card you don’t have extra roaming costs but the standard rates of your provider.
Like most Greek islands, Ios is pretty laid back. The main religion is Orthodox Christian and you can find many churches all over the island. It’s an important part of Greek culture.
Getting to Ios Island
The only way to get to Ios island is by ferry. A one-way ticket from Athens to Ios costs about €54. The ride will take between 4 and 7,5 hours, depending on the boat you choose. Another option is to fly to Santorini and take a boat from there. This costs about €32 and will take 40 minutes to 1 hour. You can easily find and book all ferries here.
Ios is a pretty small island, From north to south it’s about 25km and from east to west about 10 km. The best way to get around is by scooter or by quad. You can only rent a scooter with a valid license for motor or moped (for 50cc scooters only). With a normal car license you can hire a quad. A super cool way to get around, but slightly more expensive. Prices for a scooter vary between €12-18 per day. Getting lost is not really possible on Ios because there are only like 2 main roads on the island. At least, if you are not going off-road 😉
There is also a public bus between the port, Chora and Mylopotas Beach. Prices vary from €1-3. You can pay for the tickets on the bus. There are also buses running that will go a bit further away, but these don’t go often during the day.
Must Sees on Ios Island
Chora, the Main Village
Chora is the main village of Ios island, built on a hill. There is a maze of small walking streets and steps in between all the white houses, bars and restaurants. The beautiful colors of the bougainvillea flowers stand out on these white walls with blue doors and window frames. During the day the town is a peaceful, quiet place while during the night it is the party zone of Ios.
Agia Irini Church
On the south side of the harbor on a hill, there is a beautiful church that offers great views over the bay. It stands out beautiful and is a great spot to watch the sun go down.
You thought that only Mykonos has windmills? Think again! In the Chora of Ios you can find (the remains of) 12 iconic Greek windmills. Some in good shape and from others only the base is still there.
Odysseas Elytis Theatre
This open-air theatre is built in the ancient Greek style. Although it is built in the ancient style, it is not so ancient, because it was built in 1997. The views from here are amazing though!
The 4 Churches on the Hill
Another great spot to visit in the Chora of Ios island is four churches built on the highest point of the town. It’s a steep climb but the views are simply incredible. This is a popular spot to watch the sunset and during peak season it can get pretty crowded here.
Paleokastro (The Venetian Castle)
On the east side of the island you can find the remains of an old castle. There are some old walls and of course, there is a church too. You have an incredible 360-degree view over the rugged coastline from here. To get there you have to walk a small path which takes about 10 minutes.
Ios’ Best Beaches
There are many beaches all around the island, and they are perfect to chill or take a dip into the sea.
Some of the best beaches are:
- Ormos Beach – Right next to the port.
- Mylopotas Beach – A popular beach located in a town next to the main village.
- Magganari Beach – All the way in the south of Ios.
- Loretzaina Beach – A small beach on the west coast, perfect for sunset
- Theodoti Beach – On the east coast of Ios. A gorgeous beach which is popular for cliff jumping.
Homer was a famous poet, and the rumor goes that he is buried on Ios island. You can find the ‘tomb’ by traveling to the north of the island.
Must Do’s on Ios Island
Go Around by Motorbike or ATV
To see all the beautiful sights around Ios island we highly recommend to rent a motorbike or an ATV. A motorbike is slightly cheaper and it will get you around well, but if you want to hit some rough roads an ATV might be better.
Chill On One of the 32 Beaches
As mentioned above, there are many beaches all around the island, 32 to be exact. Plenty to choose from to spread out your beach towel and chill all day.
Go Cliff Jumping
With its amazing cliffs, there are a lot of cliff jumping spots all spread around the island. One of the most famous ones is the cliff just behind the Harmony restaurant at Mylopotas Beach. Another good spot is Agia Theodoti. Or just drive around and find some great cliffs to jump from. Be aware: always check for rocks in the water and check if it’s deep enough to jump!
Enjoy Ios’ Nightlife
Ios is pretty famous for its nightlife. Especially during high season, many people come down here to party, so if you like a drink go to Chora in the evening. There are plenty of bars to choose from, and hopefully you won’t get lost in the many small streets afterwards.
Watch the Sunset from the 4 Churches on the Hill
The four churches at the highest point of Ios’ main village offer epic views, and as told in the ‘Must See’ section it is very popular to watch the sunset. Go early to claim the best spot! Don’t worry too much though, there is plenty of space.
Find Hidden Bays
One of our favorite things to do on Ios island is to find hidden spots. There are many small bays around Ios island and some of them are pretty hidden. With a lot of research we found a beautiful bay close to Manganari Beach where you can do some cliff diving and swim through small caves. So get off the paved road and follow some rough gravel roads to explore places not many people go.
During our visit to Ios Island we had the pleasure to stay at the Kritikakis Village Hotel. Located close to the beach, and next to the footpath/steps to the Chora, the location was great. It’s called Kritikakis Village because it’s built in the typically Greek village style, with small footpaths and steps it looks like you are wandering through the Chora. There is a nice pool with sundeck and the views from the rooms over the bay are beautiful! Sunsets are also incredible here as the sun sets exactly in front of the hotel. We can definitely recommend this hotel to you!
Where to Stay
One of the best places to stay on Ios island is close to Chora, the main town of the island. The town itself is a little bit land inward on a hill, and if you like to party then it’s best to stay right in the centre. However, we recommend staying somewhere close to the port, where you can find a beach and it’s on walking distance from the town (via steps). Here it’s much quieter because you won’t have any nuisance from the bars. Another great place to stay close to Chora is Mylopotas, which has a beautiful beach and is very pleasant with all the restaurants and shops.
Budget Hotels in Ios:
Located close to Gialos beach and the port, and a 15-minute walk from Chora, this is a lovely place to stay.
Double room from €21 per night
This one is also located close to Gialos beach and the port. It’s a great budget option to stay close to Chora.
Double room from €21 per night
Mid-range Hotels in Ios:
Nice hotel with swimming pool located right at Gialos Beach.
Double room from €51 per night
As mentioned above, a beautiful hotel with swimming pool, close to the beach and the main town.
Double room from €47 per night
Luxury Hotels in Ios:
Beautiful hotel with large pool close to Mylopotas Beach.
Triple suite from €170 per night (min. 3 night stay)
Beautiful luxury hotel with pool, located close to the port.
Double room from €176 per night
Where to Drink
- Far Out Beach Club: Awesome beach club at Mylopotas Beach.
- Lost Boys Bar: Bar run by Australians who can tell you how to get to some hidden bays.
- Astra Cocktail Bar: For some great cocktails!
Where to Eat
- Peri Anemon: Greek food close to the harbor.
- Pleasure: Delicious Greek food in Chora.
- Cantina Del Mar: Lovely restaurant for all day food at Mylopotas Beach.
What to Bring
- Shorts, tees, and singlets – It is hot in summer!
- Swimwear – To hit the beach!
- Flip flops – Would you go anywhere without it?!
- Jumper – It is windy during summer, and when you go around by motor/quad it can feel a bit chilly.
- Camera – To capture all the memories you make.
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We hope that with this information we made you really excited and well prepared for a trip to the amazing island of Ios. It is definitely one of our favorite islands of the Cyclades. Do you have more tips, or did you like the blog? Leave something in the comments below.
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