Information about the island of Ios Greece

ios-greeceIos island is a particularly popular destination in Greece for young people, known both for its intense nightlife and for its beautiful beaches with picturesque coves. The island became particularly famous in the 70s when it welcomed and offered refuge to hippies who left Matala.

But in addition to its nightlife and beaches, Ios has managed to combine the intense life with a calm holiday for those looking for an authentic Cycladic retreat, while maintaining its authenticity and its Greek Cycladic character. The endless blue of the sea joins the gold of the sand and the purple of the sunset with the white of the simple architecture. Tradition and new trends alternate, while gastronomy, entertainment and activities evolve in the place that inspired the timeless poet Homer.

The inhabitants of Ios are kind and good-natured people, people who try to adapt to the changes brought by the passage of time, people you hear them call each other with various humorous expressions that only they understand when they burst out laughing, people who deserve to be love and let them seduce you into their island carefree thinking, people who have the blessing of living on this beautiful island, but also the curse of living on this island that in the winter months everyone forgets about them.


The sights of Ios are of particular interest and show its decisive role in the development of Cycladic culture. The interesting antiquities of the island testify to a rich historical background and the excavations brought to light numerous treasures from Cycladic times, most of which you can see in the Archaeological Museum of Chora. Important are the Ancient City, the Paleokastro and the Prehistoric settlement at Skaros.

Ios is identified with Homer, the most important poet of antiquity, as he is believed to be buried there, in Plakotos. It has attractions from the most recent history of the island, but also modern ones such as: the Odysseus Elytis Theatre, the Giannis Gaitis – Gabriela Simosi Museum and the Jean Marie Dro Museum of Modern Art.

Ios is full of whitewashed churches, which are found in every corner of Chora and all over the island. According to tradition, it has 365 churches, i.e. one for each day of the year, because the traditions still play an active role for the residents, who take care of their maintenance and take care of the surrounding area. Chora alone has 26 churches. Most churches and chapels are open to visitors and many religious holidays are organized to commemorate the saints.

ios-milopotas Many of the churches of Ios have been classified as historical monuments of the post-Byzantine period and are characterized for their unique architecture (basilica with a dome) and their old icons. They have a dome on top and are rectangular in shape. Inside they are simply made with few chairs and pictures, while outside they are whitewashed.

Ios is famous for its countless wonderful beaches and crystal clear waters. Some are considered the best beaches in Greece awarded with a blue flag. Its coastline is 81.5 km where it forms many small bays that host magical beaches and a rich seabed that enchants. Most of the island’s beaches are sandy with turquoise waters.

Many beaches are still isolated and remote, some easily accessible and others difficult to reach, but they are worth it. There are also secluded beaches that can be reached by sea. At Klima and Kolitsani beaches in the winter the loggerhead turtles lay their eggs on the shore.

Due to the diversity of its terrain, Ios is an ideal island for walking, with ancient paths created by shepherds and still in use today. Wild landscapes with archaeological sites and beautiful chapels and with secluded beaches in hidden beautiful coves.

ios beach Despite its large area compared to the rest of the islands, Ios is not particularly densely populated. Chora, built on a hill, is the capital and the main settlement of the island characterized by the original Cycladic architecture, the white houses with bougainvilleas in their yards, the small churches and the small alleys full of bars, cafes, taverns and restaurants with Greek and foreign cuisine, and jewelry and souvenir shops.

Apart from Chora, other settlements are Gialos which is the port of the island and has been developed as a separate resort, the coastal towns of Agia Theodoti, Magganari, Mylopotas and Psathi, which are inhabited only in the summer and have restaurants for food and accommodation.

Ios has modern tourist infrastructure and many amenities for visitors. There are ATMs, banks, supermarkets and gas stations in the port and in Chora of the island. There is also a health center in Chora. Mini markets, taverns, cafes and beach bars usually operate in the rest of the settlements and on the beaches.


ios-historyIos took its name in ancient times from the word Ia, meaning the flowers that grew abundantly on the island. Some argue that it owes its name to the Phoenician word Ios, which means pile of stones because of its rocks.

In modern times, the islanders of the Cyclades and the inhabitants of Ios call the island Nio, a name that comes from the Byzantine era. Ios is considered to be the homeland of Homer, from his mother’s side, while it is also considered to be the island where he was buried, in the area of Plakotos, as Herodotus claims…

According to writings of the 2nd AD century, Homer, traveling from Samos to Athens, falls into a storm and his ship washes him up on Ios, where he dies of exhaustion. Another testimony states that Homer fails to solve a riddle posed to him by the fishermen of the island and is killed.

Geography and Climate

ios geography Ios Greece is one of the southern Cycladic islands in the central Aegean Sea with nearest northerly neighbours Paros, Naxos and Amorgos and Santorini to the south. Ios has an area of 108 sq km and it’s about 18 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide. The population hovers around the 1,800 mark.

Ios is a hilly island with the highest point at Mount Pirgos at 713 metres. Ios has only three settlements of note, the hill town capital of the Chora with the port area of Yialos below it to the west, and the Milopotas tourist beach area to the east. There are no inland villages of any great size.

Tourism is the main source of income on Ios with some small scale farming and a little fishing.
Climate on Ios

Ios has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Rain falls mainly between November and March.
From June to September Ios has little rain and the hot summer days are tempered by the strong ‘meltemi’ winds blowing in from the north-west in July/August.

The island has more than 300 sunny days a year and the warmest months are July and August, when daytime temperatures average 28°C. In spring, Ios is much milder, greener and fresher.

Economy of the island

Until the recent past, the island’s economy was based mainly on agriculture (cereals, olives, wine) and livestock. Today the main source of income for the residents is tourism which has led the primary sector to shrink.

Agriculture is practiced on a small scale and only in the interior of the island there are significant areas with terraces (terraces) where cotton, cereals, tobacco, pulses, grains and sesame are cultivated, but the majority of them have been abandoned.

Viticulture is not very developed, but in recent years new vineyards have been planted with the Assyrtiko and Mandilaria varieties, with the aim of producing table wine that is available on the island’s tourist market.

Local products and cuisine

local-products Ios cheeses are the most famous local product. They are prepared in the traditional way in the municipal cheese factory, mainly from goat and sheep milk. The most famous of these are: skotyri (spicy taste and aroma of thrombi), xinos (a creamy white cheese), kefalotyri, graviera and mizithra. You will also find capers and oregano as well as honey, pasteli and pickled figs.

In Ios there is a wide range of traditional products, produced with ecological methods and distinguished for their quality.
Ios has developed beekeeping and produces amazing honey, mainly from thyme that abounds on the island. Especially the variety “Mayiotiko”, produced from the flowers of May, stands out for its wonderful aroma, taste and color.
Like all the Cyclades, Ios has a wide variety of herbs and spices depending on the season such as capers, oregano, thyme, sage, fennel etc.

In Ios you can find wine produced by small producers and with ecological methods and appreciate its high quality. You can also find the traditional Nios tsikoudia, a drink that is produced by distillation and is even stronger than the Cretan one.

Ios has a very developed animal husbandry (mainly sheep and goats but also cattle) which also contributes to the very large production of dairy and cheese. The cheeses of Ios are very famous and are distributed in huge quantities throughout the Cyclades, Athens and other villages of Greece.

Visitors will enjoy abundant culinary experiences in Ios with traditional cuisine, appetizers and local sweets. The cuisine of Ios is the traditional Cycladic, which gives a great basis to olive oil, legumes, fish, cereals and vegetables. The most typical food in Ios is chickpeas and some fish that are dried in the sun and baked in the traditional oven.

What to do

ios-what to do For the vast majority of visitors, daytime activity on the island of Ios is centred around the frantic resort beach of Mylopotas. But if you fancy getting away from the madding crowd for a few hours and want to uncover more of the island than it’s well-known party persona you’ll find Ios has more to offer than bikini-clad beach babes and lethal bombes (the potent local moonshine).

Start by exploring the delightful capital, Hora, which is a wonderful place to roam by day while the night time revellers are nursing their hangovers down at the beach. This is one of the prettiest towns in the whole of the Cyclades – a lovely concoction of narrow, arcaded alleyways, stone-flagged streets, traditional whitewashed Cycladic homes and intriguing shops.

If you take the stone steps up towards the village from the port you’ll see the ruins of the ancient walls which once surrounded the town. The remnants of the walls on the west and north entrances to the town suggest it was inhabited as far back as the Archaic Period, several centuries BC. The walk is well worth doing at least once if only to enjoy the spectacular view of the bay below.

ios-museum You can delve into the island’s rich history by visiting the town’s archaeological museum (open 8am – 2pm every day except Mondays). Hora’s 12 windmills, in the square which is a focus of local religious festivals, are among its most distinctive features (Symilar to the picture postcard image of Mykonos).

Visit the Church of Agia Aekaterini where the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo were unearthed in 1903.

At the top of the town there’s the chapel of Agios Nikolaos (one of around 400 chapels to be found on the island) and under the ancient castle you’ll find the Church of Panagia Gremiotissa (Our Lady of the Cliffs), built during the Turkish occupation. Legend has it that the islanders built the church on a spot dictated by a miraculous icon of the Virgin which was discovered on the shores of Ios after the Cretans hurled it into the sea to save it from the Turkish invaders.

The island’s natural beauty has always been a magnet for artists and many live here either permanently or part-time, including surrealist painter Helmut Kand whose work has been exhibited all over the world. Some of the Austrian artist’s paintings and sculptures, inspired by the landscapes, sun and sea of the Cyclades, can be seen in the Modern Art Gallery in Hora.

Travel to the north east corner of the island to see the Paleokastro Venetian fortress, built in 1400 by Duke Marco Crispi (of the noble Venetian family which then ruled Ios and many of the neighbouring islands). The remains of the old Venetian town can still be seen inside. At the nearby monastery of Agias Theodotis you can see the door which medieval pirates once broke through, only to be scalded to death by boiling oil poured on their heads by the victorious islanders. A celebration is held here on September 8th each year to celebrate the event.

tomb-of-homer In the north of the island, 4.5 kilometres from Hora, you can visit the site reputed to be the burial place of one of the world’s greatest ever literary masters, the Greek poet Homer. This is a matter of some conjecture but it’s widely believed that Homer’s mother was born on the island and that he spent the last years of his life here. It’s difficult to prove as no-one is even sure when the creator of the Iliad and the Odyssey actually lived (probably around the 8th century BC) much less where he died. The ancient town has long since collapsed into the sea but the entrance to a tomb still remains.

The windmills of Ios connect the past and the present in the best way, fully integrated today in the traditional settlement of the country as a beautiful tourist attraction. They are located in the right part of the country of Ios in a really windy spot, Spring Square or as it is better known as Windimmls Square.


Hiking paths

Beyond the beaches and the beauty of the island, the hiking trails of Ios, which are 6 in number and, through them, one can explore even the smallest corner of this small young people destination. These paths,start from the Chora of the island and end at the beaches that are far from it. The hikes are organized and coordinated by local volunteers. At the same time, two notable sights of Ios are the Lighthouse of Ios, located in the port, and the monastery of Panagia Gremiotissa, in Chora of the island.

Chora of Ios

chora-the-capital-of-iosA typical Cycladic capital, picturesque and stark white, it is built on the site of the ancient city, of which only the temple of Pythian Apollo survives today, near the church of Agia Ekaterini. At the top of the hill is the church of Agios Nikolaos and around it the ruins of the medieval castle (1397).

The windmills, the narrow alleys and the old settlement, which has been declared preserved, preserve its picturesqueness. The closest and best beach is that of Mylopotas, which has equipment for water sports and is 3 km from Chora.
In Ios chora you will find from picturesque taverns to bars, pubs and discotheques, where the fun lasts until the morning.

Every May the “Homage” takes place, with a Pan-Cycladic Student Theatrical Meeting, exhibitions and sports competitions, while throughout the summer concerts and theatrical performances are presented in the open theater “Odysseas Elytis”.


magganari Magganari is one of the most beautiful areas of the island with a lot of traffic. It has wonderful beaches with golden sand and secluded harbors, the most famous of which are Treis Klisies, Louka, Kalamos and Plakes.

Part of the movie “Infinity Blue” was shot in the area.
It is worth visiting the monastery of Agios Ioannis, 8 km from Kalamos beach.

Magganari’s calm and translucent waters make it an ideal destination for swimming and snorkeling. Dive beneath the surface, and you’ll discover a vibrant underwater world teeming with marine life. Snorkeling gear is readily available, allowing you to explore the hidden treasures of the sea.



Mylopotas is a small coastal settlement, located 3 km southeast of Chora and gathers many visitors due to its wonderful sandy beach, which has equipment for water sports. It is particularly crowded and noisy, full of young people.
Hotels and rooms for rent will cover the needs of your stay, as well as organized camping.

Mylopotas of Ios is perhaps the most well-organized beach of the island. Being more than 1 km long, the umbrellas and sunbeds, although there are many and divided into sections, are often not enough for everyone. In this case, all you have to do is protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and enjoy your bath. The golden sand and crystal clear waters of the beach are protected from the waves caused by the northern summer winds. If you like to swim with a mask, choose to sit at one of the two ends of Mylopotas, where there are rocks.


On the beach you will find many beach bars, each with its own sunbeds, as well as water sports centers. There you can rent equipment or take lessons in many extreme sports. There is no shortage of seafood taverns in Mylopotas. Both at the edges of the beach and at the back, you will have many options. The fun in Mylopota with loud music at the beach bars starts at noon and continues until late at night.
Getting here is very easy as the beach is very well connected with frequent bus routes.

Where to stay

When planning a visit Ios, one of the crucial decisions you’ll face is choosing the perfect place to stay. Fortunately, Ios offers a variety of accommodation options to suit all preferences and budgets, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay on this idyllic island.

For those seeking to immerse themselves in the island’s vibrant nightlife and bustling atmosphere, Ios Town, also known as Chora, is the place to be. This charming town is perched on a hillside overlooking the sea and is dotted with picturesque white-washed buildings and narrow cobblestone streets.

Here, you’ll find a wide range of accommodation options, including boutique hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and even rental apartments. Staying in Ios Town means you’re within walking distance of the island’s best bars, restaurants, and clubs, making it an ideal choice for partygoers.

Visitors are usually hit with offers of rooms to they step off the ferry. Many offer decent rooms at decent prices but the waterfront agency kiosks also offer good hotels.

There are rooms to rent all along the steep hill road to Chora but those hoping for a good night’s sleep are advised to avoid the Chora itself. This is the main nightclub area and street party noise can last until the early hours.

Youngsters and backpackers usually head for the Francesco Youth Hostel for cheap dormitory beds and a few rooms. The centre of Chora is packed with hotels and self-catering studios. The old quarter is the nosiest while the quieter new quarter is found on the road to Mylopotas beach.

As a favourite party island for youngsters Ios has a couple of big camping sites around the main beach of Mylopotas. Far Out Club Camping is set in olive groves behind the beach and has tent pitches to small bungalows while the Purple Pig and Stars has a pool bar and wi-fi,

More hotels and apartments can be found at Manganari beach in the south-east of Ios and there also a few good hotels sited in the port of Ormos.


ios-nightlife Ios Town, also known as Chora, is the epicenter of the island’s nightlife. As dusk falls, the narrow streets and whitewashed buildings come alive with the sound of music, laughter, and clinking glasses. The town is brimming with bars, clubs, and tavernas, each offering its unique flavor of entertainment.

The evening typically begins with a bit of pre-party pregaming at the island’s many bars. Here, you can enjoy a laid-back atmosphere, chat with fellow travelers, and sip on a refreshing cocktail or local Greek beer. Some popular pre-party spots include Harmony Cocktail Bar, Sweet Irish Dream, and Pathos Lounge Bar.

When the clock strikes midnight, the real party begins. Ios boasts an array of clubs and beach bars that cater to all musical tastes. You can dance the night away to the latest EDM beats, groove to reggae rhythms, or even revel in classic rock hits. FarOut Beach Club, Scorpion, and Coo Bar are just a few of the venues that keep the party going until the early hours.

Many establishments on Ios organize thematic nights and events throughout the week. From toga parties to foam parties and neon-themed extravaganzas, there’s always something unique happening. Check the local listings or ask around to discover the latest theme nights during your stay.

Part of the charm of Ios’ nightlife is the opportunity to savor local flavors even in the wee hours. Tavernas and street food vendors stay open late, serving up mouthwatering souvlaki, gyros, and other Greek delicacies to fuel your late-night adventures.

As the night comes to a close, some revelers head to the island’s famous windmills to catch a glimpse of the stunning sunrise. These iconic landmarks offer a tranquil setting to reflect on the night’s festivities and appreciate the natural beauty of Ios.


ios-beachesIos can boast beaches that are the envy of many. The island regularly picks up ‘best in Europe’ awards among 75kilometers of sandy shore. Mylopotas is the busiest and the noisiest; a party beach crammed with music bars and fast food cafes. Beyond Mylopotas, it is a different story – beautiful, unspoilt beaches are the norm. Many beaches are remote and relaxed but island travel agents will arrange transport by road or boat.

The north coast has a number of attractive beaches but they are widely separated. Many more coves can be found in sheltered bays but are remote and without facilities so they tend to be very quiet. The most beautiful beach of them all is Manganari, now a major target of day trip coaches.


Local cuisine

ios-cuisineThe cuisine of Ios will surely meet the requirements of even the most demanding. The flavors it offers vary from pure Greek, European and Asian.Starting with breakfast, there are also plenty of options for those who want to start their day strong, with fresh natural juices and mouth-watering fruit salads.

Fast food is scattered around the island and will temporarily satisfy your hunger until you decide to eat the main meal (lunch or dinner) of the day. There are restaurants in the country, on the beaches and in other areas of the island, which challenge you to discover them. Explore the island and your effort will be rewarded, with tasty dishes, large portions and great views.

As for the seafood, it couldn’t be fresher! Almost every day, the boats bring fresh fish to Gyalos (the port) for the gourmets. Accompany them with wine or ouzo in the local fish taverns and you won’t miss out!


Gifts, clothes and jewelry, have their due on the island. Original ideas for gifts, clothes for everyday use or for a night out and natural jewelry, by Greek and foreign designers. Most shops are located in Chora of Ios, in the port, but also in Mylopotas.

Several smaller shops with a variety of items will cover all your needs regarding the sea (sunscreen, swimwear, etc.) and are located in the Chora of Ios, at the port and of course in Mylopotas.

Moving around Ios

ios-busRegular bus services run between the three (though the buses can get horribly crowded at the height of the summer). Excursion buses run to Manganari Beach in the south east corner of the island and across to Ayia Theodhoti on the east coast. You can also catch one of the local caiques (water taxis) which run between Ormos and Manganari via Mylopotas during the summer months.

But if you hire some wheels you’ll be able to see another aspect of the island – besides the frantic party playground which is sadly the only impression many visitors have of Ios. Rent a car, jeep, motorbike or scooter from one of the hire firms in Ormos or Hora and you’ll be able to uncover an island of ancient monuments, chapels and churches where traditional religious festivities are held throughout the year and more than 30 beaches (most of which are not served by public transport).

There are few paved roads on the island so there’s little chance of you losing your way. A visit to Manganari is a must because this is one of the most enchanting places on the island. From Hora, drive the short distance down the coast to Mylopotas then take the road climbing up into the hills towards Kalamos Monastery before turning south to Manganari. Here you’ll find four wonderful beaches, a swish hotel, plenty of watersports, some good tavernas.and the opportunity to work on your all over tan!

If you continue on the road east from Kalamos Monastery you’ll come to lovely, unspoilt Kalamos Beach which is set in a nature reserve and is mercifully free of tourists. The water is crystal clear so take your snorkelling gear to explore the marine life, especially around the rocks at the end of the beach. The hidden cover of Papa lies to the south of Kalamos and if you follow the road north you’ll arrive at Plakes which is one of the island’s most remote and beautiful beaches.

If you take the road north east from Hora and drive right across the island you’ll come to Ayia Theodhoti – a large sheltered bay, facing the island of Iraklia. The beach is overlooked by the ruins of the Paleokastro fortress, built in 1400, which contains the ruins of a Venetian town and Byzantine Church.

Psathi is an unspoilt beach to the south east of Ayia Theodhoti – popular with nudists and windsurfers. Naturists appreciate the solitude while windsurfers are drawn by the rollers which break onto the beach on windy days. Be warned that the rough road leading to the beach is hazardous for motorcyclists.

Take the road to the north of the island to visit the tomb reputed to be that of the great Greek poet Homer, creator of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer’s mother is thought to have been born on the island the poet himself is alleged to have ended his days here (around the 8th or 7th century BC).

On the north west stretch of coastline beyond the port you’ll find Koumbara Beach (a popular spot among local residents who dine in the excellent Polydoras Restaurant here). The secluded beaches of Lorentzena and Diamoudia, north of Koumbara, can both be reached by car.

Car hire

Car hire is not essential on Ios, especially for those who plan to visit only the trio of tourist centres at Yialos, Chora and Mylopotas. Bus services run between these three every 15 minutes although the buses can be very crowded in the high summer.

An hourly bus service operated between Yialos and Koymbara and there are daily excursions buses that leave Yialos, Chora and Mylopotas for more far flung beaches at Agia Theodoti and Manganari.

Several taxis operate out of Chora, Mylopotas and the port and visitors can haggle the price for trips to the more remote beaches and organise pick-ups to get back home.

There are few paved roads on the Ios and little chance of you losing the way despite the lack of road signs. The main road runs from Koumbara to Mylopotas via Yialos with a branch north to Agia Theodoti. Ios is not known for its walking trails but there are some good walks to be had. Cycladen offers a number of good walking routes on the island.

How to get to Ios

By Air

There is no airport on the island of Ios but Santorini Airport (JTR) is less than 60 minutes away by ferry and international charter flights also land at Mykonos Airport (JMK) where there are more ferry services from the nearby port.
Most visitors choose to fly directly to Athens, Santorini, Mykonos or Crete and then take the ferry to Ios Island.

There ferry links to Ios from several islands in the Cyclades group that also take domestic flights such as Paros, Naxos, Sikinos, Folegandros, Anafi and Syros.
Santorini has regular summer charter flights but there are no regular charter flights to Santorini in the winter months.
Mykonos Airport is located about four kilometres from the port and has a regular bus service operating from the airport to the main town.

By Ferry

ferries Ferry services to Ios operate from two ports on the mainland, Piraeus and Rafina, both a bus ride from Athens International airport. Over the main holiday season, ferries to Ios run quite frequently, up to three ferries each day with a journey time of three to eight hours depending on the type of ferry.

Blue Star Ferries has three crossings weekly from Piraeus and daily sailings from Rafina, both between six and eight hours journey time. Blue Star also has daily sailings to Mykonos (four hours) and three sailings weekly to Santorini (one hour) as well as 10 crossings weekly to Naxos and Paros (one to two hours).

Hellenic Seaways operates routes twice daily to Mykonos and Paros, daily services to Naxos and on to Piraeus, as well as daily sailings to Crete (about three hours) and three times weekly to Santorini.

NEL Lines operates routes to many other islands in the Cyclades including Anafi, Folengandros, Kea, Kimolos, Lavrio, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini and Syros.

Faster services to Piraeus, Mykonos and Santorini are offered by Sea Jets which also runs high speed ferries daily to Crete, Folengandros, Milos, Naxos, Sifnos and Tinos.

Regular buses connect the port and the town but is not too far to walk the wide stone steps up the hill to the Chora if you are travelling light. A tourist office (tel: 091028) is at the end of the harbour and opens about 30 minutes before boat sailings.