Ios: THE Travel Guide

Introduction

I love you, Ios.

Oh Ios, I miss you so much. The summer blues hit me hard when I think of your lazy beaches, crystal waters and those crazy nights.

Being my next stop after Naxos, I originally chose Ios as I had read great reviews about its raving nightlife. Being a party island, Ios is an atypical destination for most people. However, through these few nights on this little island (oh, how much I wanted to extend my stay and skip Milos, glad I didn’t though ūüôā , I discovered many hidden gems that makes Ios not only a place with pumping nightlife, but also a much under-rated oasis for all ages and groups. In fact, many Greek families visit Ios for a weekend getaway, the only thing being that they stay on the southern / eastern end of the island, instead of the Chora Town, where the main centre of activity is.

Main Chora Town in Ios (this pic features more residential areas)

The average age on the island was around 20, so I was considerably old on this little gem. But as I said, Ios is definitely an island for everyone.

There were so many Australians on this island, you wouldn’t even be able to imagine. Literally, my starting question to people went from “Where are you from?”, to “Are you Australian?” . I hope it shows how severe the Australian infiltration is (in a good way, of course) . The next 2 nationalities that were conquering the island were the Canadians and the Irish. But it was heaps of fun no matter who was there!

Getting to Ios

Welcome to Ios! (view from the ferry)

Most people get to Ios via ferries (which include several different types). I will elaborate more about that in my upcoming article on how to book Greek Ferries (as I myself had many questions and misconceptions while figuring out the booking process). However, there are 3 main companies that operate the ferries around the Cyclades Islands ‚Äď Blue Star, Hellenic Seaways and SeaJets.

I got to Ios via SeaJets¬†from¬†Naxos’s¬†port. The journey took a total of ¬†5.5 hours and the vessel was the Champion Jets 2.

Departure: 15.40
Arrival: 16.25
Price:¬†‚ā¨33.80¬†(economy)

The closer inhabited islands to Ios are that of Naxos, Paros and Santorini, which is just a 45 minutes ride away by ferry. Thus, most visitors head straight to Santorini or Naxos for a well-deserved break after continuous nights spent partying in Ios.

Accommodation

There are 2 main popular accommodation spots that tend to be sold out pretty quickly. There is Far Out Beach Resort at Mylopotas Beach, as well as Franscescos Hostel in the Chora (main town of Ios).

I picked Franscescos as it was more central, and the fact that you had to take a bus from the main Chora Town to Mylopotas Beach to get back to your accommodation at Far Out just did not appeal to me.

Franscescos

the amazing pool and sundeck at Francescos

Price/night: ‚ā¨40 (single room), ‚ā¨20 (dorms of 2,3, of 4 people)

Website: here 
HostelWorld link: here

Do pick a dorm if you are a solo traveller!¬†Don’t be like me! I personally picked a single room instead of a dorm because I felt that I didn’t want drunk people vomiting all around my belongings in the middle of the night. However, that sentiment changed when I arrived. A dorm allows you to meet new people more easily. Furthermore, their dorms held 4 people at most, which was a conducive number and meant that it wasn’t overcrowded.

my private room in Ios

The rooms were cleaned thoroughly everyday. Amenities for the single room were awesome, you even got your own fridge (which I assumed was to store groceries aka *alcohol ūüėõ ) The service was really good as they helped repair my air-conditioner on the same morning that it suddenly stopped blasting cold air (Room became a desert.) There were hot showers,¬†a super comfortable¬†bed, and adequate space, what else can you ask for? Besides, you would not be doing much sleeping at night if you plan on partying the night away. But you’ll appreciate that nice bed in the morning when you stumble back ūüôā

exterior of my little room

The only thing that I will point out is the lack of WiFi connectivity in your room, however that is put on purpose to create a social environment, that was much appreciated by solo travellers like me.¬†Besides the fantastic room, Franscescos offers a beautiful pool that is most utilised in the morning [if you’re awake] . (People generally flock to Mylopotas Beach in the afternoon to cure their hangovers).

view from the bar at Franscescos

Of course, the most important reason why Franscescos was such a good choice was the¬†amazing atmosphere every night! Around 10pm every night, fellow hostel mates will start meeting at Franscesco’s¬†bar (also the only place with WiFi besides the reception) . ¬†Everyone is so friendly and jovial, made even more awesome by the carefully selected music (ranging from mainstream pop to hiphop to RnB, and even reggae at some point)

At around 11pm, the hostel offers free starting shots to everyone (really awesome as you get the free shot even thought you might not be staying at Franscesco!) ! Join a nice group and take in mind that they are probably going to be your company for the rest of the (fun) night! And of course, if you meet new friends during your day in Ios, do feel free to invite them to the gathering at 10pm, they’ll really appreciate it, and you’ll probably have a great time!

mountain views from the hostel’s opposite side

Tip: If you explore a little more, walk right behind Francescos and you’ll get ¬†this beautiful view of rural Ios, with farms and harvesting. It was certainly different from what you see in the Chora Town.

Far Out Beach Club

Gorgeous Mylopotas just a a few minutes walk away from Far Out

Price / night: ‚ā¨34 (2 Bed Dorm)

Website: here
HostelWorld link: here 

For those beach lovers who love having the golden sands within a few minutes of walking from your room, the accommodation at Far Out will definitely appeal to you. This beach club is in prime location next to Mylopotas Beach, one of the most visited (yet still reasonably empty because of its humungous area) beaches in Ios.

Far Out is divided into 2 main areas, the partying area and the accommodation area (where your rooms are). The close proximity to the legendary Far Out Club makes it really convenient for the hardcore party goers.

However, one of my friends who I met during the beach party at Far Out commented the lack of social settings in the accommodation areas themselves. Most people tend to socialise only at the party area while it seemed hard to mingle with others in the accommodation area of Far Out. The other downside would be the distance away from the Chora, which meant that if you ventured out into the clubs in town, you either had to stay out partying all night till morning when the local bus starts operating, or take an expensive taxi back home. Neither of these choices seemed very logical, thus Franscescos won by a large factor.

Activities

Nightlife

A comprehensive list of most Bars and Clubs in Ios

The nightlife in Ios was undoubtedly one of the best I ever experienced throughout my (somewhat limited) travels.¬†A self-organised pub/club crawl has never been easier. The clubs were all just a stone’s throw away from each other, making it really convenient to jump from one club to another. Most clubs don’t have a cover charge, which was awesome! One of the¬†unique¬†characteristics about bars/clubs in Ios are the sale of their individual trademark singlets/tees that are without doubt¬†very aesthetically pleasing. You can get a free singlet with purchase of a classic row of 7 shots which usually amount to ‚ā¨25. You can see me donning some of those tees throughout my stay in Ios if you look at my pictures ūüôā

typical (quieter) street in Ios on a night out

List of Bars / Clubs which I visited in Ios at night (in according to preference)

  1. One Euro Shot Bar: The sustenance for my alcohol for the few nights that I was there, I think I would have blown my budget had this gem not appeared in front of me on my first night. There are plenty of bars around the town square that offer 1-Euro shots so I don’t really have a specific one to recommend. I would have taken a picture of the prices and shots, however it really did not cross my mind then. These 1-Euro shots hit you hard, and the fact that most clubs do not have entrance charges meant that I just walked out, popped a few shots, and went back in.¬†Music¬†wasn’t¬†perfect but it was great on your wallet!
  2. Shush :I loved the concept of this silent disco,the fact that you were  able to use your headphone to interchange within 3  channels of music, and that everyone was singing different songs, was really funny and allowed for individual preference.
    • Opening hours: 11pm – 5am
    • Facebook Page:¬†here¬†
    • Instagram: @shushbarios
  3. Lost Boys : The fact that trademark singlet was worn by everyone has a reason, and that is because the music at Lost Boys is bomb. They play really attractive remixes of the mainstream hits , so this place appealed greatly to me.
    • Opening hours: 9pm – 2am
    • TripAdvisor Review:¬†here¬†
    • Facebook Page:¬†here¬†
    • Instagram: @lostboysbar
  4. Slammers : This place was one of the more unique clubs in Ios, where they are famous for their Slammer Drink. You get a drink of your choice (usually a vodka / tequila mix), and get slammed on the head with a fire extinguisher, skateboard or baseball bat and more after downing the drink. A perfect way to start the night groggy-headed.
    • Opening hours: 11pm – 5am
    • TripAdvisor Review:¬†here¬†
    • Facebook Page:¬†here¬†
  5. Pash : I generally liked the cosy environment in Pash, not to mention that the music was generally fantastic, with a variety of EDM music (Kygo, Snake) being played consistently.
    • Opening hours: 11.30pm – 5am
    • TripAdvisor Review:¬†here
    • Facebook Page:¬†here
  6. Flames¬†: This bar was cool because of its signature¬†Flaming Shots and famous Slapper Shot¬†(similar to the slammer shot but you a really painful tight slap on your face),¬†however the music was mostly HipHop / RnB, which was not really to my liking. I can’t rap for nuts.
    • Opening hours: 10pm – 4am
    • Facebook Page:¬†here¬†
  7. Sweet Irish Dream¬†: The club that everyone heads to around 3-4am, because its the only one open by then. This is where you’ll find the ones that stay up till early morning, crashing in their beds till late afternoon, then going through the same cycle again. Rinse and Repeat. Music was decent here though, mostly mainstream since everyone knows those songs.
    • Opening hours: 2.30am – 7am (thats why everyone goes here eventually)
    • TripAdvisor Review:¬†here¬†
    • Facebook Page:¬†here
  8. Blue Note : This was the first bar that the people at Francescos will bring you to at around 12 midnight. Though it was packed, I did not really like the way they spun the popular tracks, something was just not catchy about the way the beats dropped. The trademark singlet was also (honestly), the worst singlet I had bought in Ios.  I should have gotten one from Traffic / Circus / Flames instead.
    • Opening hours: 11pm – 4am
    • Facebook Page:¬†here

List of Bars/Clubs that I wanted to go to but did not because of bad memory / lack of time / wasn’t able to think properly

  1. Traffic¬†: Heard that this was a cool club that spins 90s music, was unfortunate that I couldn’t visit it though
    • Opening hours: 11.15pm – 5.15am
    • TripAdvisor Review:¬†here¬†
    • Facebook Page:¬†here
  2. Circus : I heard that this bar had amazing live music and a fire show, definitely something different from the usual club songs
    • Opening hours: 11.30pm – flexible
    • Website:¬†here
    • TripAdvisor Review:¬†here
    • Facebook Page:¬†here¬†
  3. Alt Bar : I scrambled to Alt to snag their trademark tee but unfortunately was too late to enjoy the music. What a pity as I really wanted to visit Alt. Alt is a shot bar, with their most popular shots being the Flower Shot and Harry Potter shot.  Alt closes early so be sure to get that within the first few hours of partying! This bar also has beautiful photos on its Instagram page!
    • Opening hours: 9pm – 2am
    • TripAdvisor Review:¬†here¬†
    • Facebook Page:¬†here¬†
    • Instagram: @altbarios

Tip:  I suggest you pre-drink outside (either your own drinks from the supermarket or the 1 Euro Shot Bar ) before entering the clubs.

Beach Parties

Making merry at Far Out (Life is (not) a beach party people. A beach party is part of life.)

Far Out Beach Club’s Website:¬†here

Prices: Long Island (‚ā¨8)

If Ios’s nightlife is hands down one of the best I’ve experienced , it’s daylife (the only time I’ll use this word) is equally awesome. The main place to be at would be Far Out Beach Club which only starts pumping around 2-3pm. The best raves are in the evening at 4.30-5pm. During the times that I was there, the music was fantastic, which a delightful combination of both mainstream pop as well as remixed oldies, with a little hiphop smattered in between.

Far Out has massive pools encouraging a chilled-out afternoon to soak in the golden rays while sipping on your cocktail. There are also plenty of opportunities to mingle around and get to know new people.

For the new-comers, don’t worry, it was my first experience at a beach club too. Truth be told, I felt that there were too many people for my liking at the beginning. However, it was the same feeling you experience whenever you venture away from your comfort zone. A few minutes in and you’ll be grooving away with the music! The party settles down around 6pm, where people start heading back to their accommodation to have dinner, and prepare for the exciting night ahead.

Rejuvenate at Mylopotas Beach

Being in closest proximity to the Chora Town, Mylopotas is the most-visited beach in Ios. It is also where Far Out Beach Club is situated. Most of the beach visitors lie in Mylopotas in the morning, using the golden rays to cure their hangover. Indeed, it is a¬†gorgeous beach, that spans across this broad bay. The beach has so much space to do your own activities (play beach volleyball, frisbee etc.) that you might not even feel like leaving ūüėõ

Watersports & Excursions

Panoramic View including Mylopotas Watersports

Prices: Kayak Tour (‚ā¨29)

Meltemi Watersports
Website: here 
Tripadvisor Review: here 

Mylopotas Watersports
Website: here 
Tripadvisor Review: here 

There is a massive list of watersports that you can partake in, ranging from windsurfing, wake boarding to jet skiing. Many shops along Mylopotas Beach offer these services, however I would recommend Meltemi Watersports and Mylopotas Watersports as they seem to be more established, which translates into higher safety considerations and a great experience. Tubing is one of the more interesting activities that they have on Ios. Basically, you get onto a float that can take up to 8 people, and pull you around on a speedboat. The fun part comes when they flip the tube suddenly, capsizing you on purpose. They even have different types of tubes, with individual ones for the adrenaline junkies.

Day excursions and dive trips being advertised

The shops also offer boat trips around the island of Ios, where they bring you to secluded bays and quiet snorkelling spots. A popular boat trip is the one to Sikinos, another island in the close proximity of Ios.

The manager gave me his card!

Explore other beaches

Manganari Beach

After renting your ATV, it is a fantastic idea to explore the island. Instead of spending your days hungover by Mylopotas Beach, why not venture out and view more of this gorgeous island that you are on? Most people I have talked to have not even exited the boundaries of the Chora and Mylopotas Beach. Well, to each his own.  I just felt that it was a bit of a waste to travel the long distance to Ios for the sole purpose of partying.

I decided to travelling to Manganari Beach after a short talk with the hostel’s receptionist on the better beaches in Ios. It was definitely worth it. The vast beach was not populated at all, giving me the solitude and peace to unwind. There was even this little rocky outcrop out in the sea that you could walk to via a path. Just keep in mind that it takes¬†35-45 minutes¬†to get to this secluded paradise (Even at reasonable speeds of 70km/h on a 100cc quad bike)

Cruising towards Manganari on empty roads, just beside the ocean

I have to say that the journey to Manganari might even triumph the experience at the beach itself. Trust me, cruising down the empty roads of Ios on a quad would potentially be one of the most exhilarating experiences in your life. You feel so free, and its electrifying. Along the way, you would inevitably wind around the mountains and end up with spectacular ocean views. Not to mention, it makes for pretty cool photos as well.

Other beaches that you can consider visiting would be

attempting to take an artistic shot

Homer’s Tomb

Tripadvisor Review: here

This was an archaeological site that I visited after I rented my quad bike / ATV to get around the island. It took a mere 20 minutes zooming down picturesque highways to get to the site, where you park and walk down a scenic path to get to the tomb. The site is located just beside the coast, thus you could get beautiful photos of the Aegean Sea behind you.

there was a spot at Homer’s where you could capture beautiful pictures!

There used to be an ancient town which has long vanished crumbling into the sea. However, the rocky entrance to some tombs remain. Dutch Archeologist Pasch van Krienen claimed one of the tombs as Homer’s , who can be seen imprinted on the Hellenistic coins in Ios.

And as always, it doesn’t matter if you get lost on the way, there is always something exciting at the end of every road in Ios!

taken on the way to Homer’s tomb
path to Homer’s Tomb

Pathos

Perfect way to end the day at Pathos by the infinity pool (more pics below)

Website: here
TripAdvisor Review:  here

Price: Entrance (‚ā¨10)¬†(can you believe it!), Cocktails (‚ā¨10 each)

Gorgeous View
with stunning sunsets ūüôā
a very romantic spot

Newly opened Pathos was the most luxurious place I visited in Ios. With a gorgeous infinity pool, live DJs and a perfect view of the sunset, it seemed like a miracle that I was enjoying these for a ‚ā¨10 entrance fee. This place was actually recommended by my hostel’s receptionist as well. I was so glad I decided to visit. Because my main purpose was to catch the sunset, my quad bike rental shop extending my rental hours for free!, which allowed me to return my quad after the sunset! So nice of them ūüôā

Silhouette sunset pic

This place was hands down the best location to catch a magnificent sunset in Ios. The only downside for me would be the architecture that did not really match the typical one they have in the Cyclades. Some statues were really enormous and did not suit the style of a small Cyclades island like Ios. Otherwise, I loved the ambience Pathos created.

Panoramic view of the infinity pool

Also, Pathos seems like a really good place to take a date to ūüėõ

Tip: Dont get too surprised when the DJ starts spinning some unexpected dramatic tunes to match the sunset! He played Tchaikovsky’s opera music¬†while I was there. What even.

Some smoky festivities by the DJ after sunset

Tip: Do get your belly filled before entering Pathos for sunset viewing as the price of dining and drinking in Pathos is downright exorbitant. And apparently, the food and drinks aren’t even fantastic.

Doesn’t this convince you to visit Ios already? Only ‚ā¨10 for an entrance fee and you get a gorgeous infinity pool ūüôā

Visit the Windmills

You can also make a short trip to view the old windmills in town. Some of them look quite decrepit but they’re still worth doing a short stopover. It is also highly possible that you will pass by the windmills on your trip back to Chora Town after a long day of exploring the island

Hiking

There are apparently many trails to do some exciting hiking in Ios. I did not have the time or energy to do them but if you’re a hiking kinda guy/girl, do feel free to check them out!

Cruise and Explore

Somehow, the best feeling was just to cruise down the empty roads of Ios and just explore the island. It was best to do it in little Ios, rather than the busier islands of  Santorini and Naxos. It was certainly liberating to feel the wind in your hair as you zoom down those roads without a care in the world.

10/10 would do it again
amazing mountain views, with an ocean backdrop

Transport in Ios

Bus

There are a few buses that run across the island, but the most popular one would be the public bus to ¬†to Mylopotas beach, where Far Out Beach Club is. The pick up point is located near Yummy’s (A gyros shop in town). It would be pretty distinct as you would see hordes of people waiting for the bus. ¬†There is apparently also a daily bus that runs to Manganari Beach.

For a more detailed timetable of the bus schedules and fares in Ios, check out this website here

ATV / Quad Bike

My baby in Ios

Renting a quad is still one of the most economical ways to get around Ios. It is reasonably cheaper compared to the other islands. I rented my quad bike for ‚ā¨25/day (take note that this was peak season : it was a steal)¬†It would be even cheaper if you had someone else to share the cost with, as the quad bike can sit 2 people. As Ios is one of the smaller and less populated islands, I had the most exciting time of life just cruising down the highways (most of the time¬†alone), while admiring the amazing scenery and landscapes along the way.

Tip: Try to rent your quad for more than a day, you’re more likely to get a discount this way.

I rented my quad from Vangelis Motors. The owners are really friendly and meticulous in introducing the mechanics of the bike. They offer car and motorbike rental as well. I really appreciated the fact that they extended my rental hours when I went to Pathos to catch the sunset. That was very nice of them!

Vangelis Motors Website: here 
Facebook Review: here 

Another shop that I heard was decent for renting quads /motorbikes/ cars was Jacob’s Rental.

Jacob’s Rental Website:¬†here¬†

Car

Car rental is possible in Ios, check out the shops that I have listed above. This would be a more suitable choice for groups of 4-5.

Food in Ios

After I returned from Greece, I was quite saddened that I had fewer pictures of food while I was in Ios. This was probably due to the fact that lunches and dinners in Ios were mostly composed of cheap gyros, as is the norm there. However, I did dine at some decent eateries and I’m excited to share them with you.

Tip: Always bring about bottled water with you, buy them from the supermarkets in the Chora. Most of the restaurants in Ios do not serve iced water from the tap (as compared to other islands). They usually offer the expensive option of purchasing bottled water from themselves. It is a good idea to get bottled water in a pack of 6 (1.5 litres) as they are much cheaper that way. It will last you for your stay of 3-4 nights.

The Nest

TripAdvisor Review: here 
Facebook Review: here 

Price: ‚ā¨8 (Spaghetti Bolognese), ‚ā¨9 (Pastitsio)

This was my first dinner in Ios and my Spaghetti Bolognese gave me a hearty welcome to the island. The Nest was a pretty chic place in the middle of Chora Town. The service was excellent and they tried their best to accommodate your needs, changing the ingredients of the dish  and repeatedly asking you how the meal went. The menu offers a wide range of Greek specialities as well, providing large portions at value-for-money prices. I would recommend this place for a casual meal with your friends.

Mozaik

TripAdvisor Review: here 
Facebook Review: here 

Price: ‚ā¨11 (Pad Thai with Chicken)

I was craving for some Asian food midway through my trip, which happened to be in Ios. To my delight, I cheerfully stumbled across Mozaik one night while searching for dinner. It offers a fusion cuisine that incorporates Thai flavours and style into Western dishes. The chef was supposedly from Thailand! After hearing that, I was confident that the food would at least be decent. Without much surprise, the Pad Thai that I had was awesome. After a few weeks of not having Asian food, my taste buds were literally screaming in glee. The prices were definitely inflated compared to what you get in Thailand, but the portions were  huge (for me), and I would consider it well-worth as I was eating good Asian food on a small party island in Greece.

Christos Taverna

Roasted Chicken drizzled with Wine

TripAdvisor Review: here 

Prices: ‚ā¨13 (Roasted Chicken with Wine), ‚ā¨1 (Bread & Olive Oil)

I ate at Christos Taverna when I drove my ATV to Magganari Beach. There were only 2 eateries on Manganari Beach. I had organically intended to dine back at the main Chora Town as it was significantly cheaper. However, the drive to Magganari took ages and thus I was starving by the time I reached the beach. I ordered the Roasted Chicken with Wine. Honestly, the chicken was not that tender but the sides (of potato and rice) were decent. The prices were a little exorbitant for the quality of the dish.  The ambience though, was downright mesmerising. The taverna provided a beautiful view of the bay containing Magganari beach. I could actively imagine this taverna becoming a wonderful setting for a nice candlelight dinner by the beach.

View of Manganari Beach from my table at the restaurant. Awesome! Do you see the little outcrop there?

Yummy’s

Tripadvisor Review: here

Price: ‚ā¨2.50 (Chicken Gyros)

The go-to gyros place in Ios , this gyros shop is frequented mostly by late-night stragglers stumbling out of Sweet Irish Bar (the latest club to close). It is located centrally and serves really affordable gyros of different variants. I can guarantee you that you’ll visit this place at least once if you visit Ios. You’ll appreciate the simple beauty of a gyros once you walk out of Sweet Irish, aching from all the grooving and shouting you’ve been doing over the past 3-4 hours. Besides, it is just a few metres away ūüôā

Nutelleria

TripAdvisor Review: here 

Price: ‚ā¨5 (Nutella Crepe with Strawberries & Banana)

Nutelleria is essentially a shop where they serve up delicious assortments of crepes and pancakes. Their signature one would be, as their name suggests, the¬†Nutella Crepe¬†(which can have a variety of toppings added with it). I tried it once and wow, it was really thick and so flavourful. It isn’t that cheap though, but you have to give yourself a treat here and then.

Overall

To me, Ios was the best island that I visited during my trip to Greece. I really enjoyed the general change in atmospheres from day to night. You could be having a relaxed tanning session , an adrenaline-pumping drive around, or even an exciting dive in the morning. However, the island takes an entirely different personality at night, where throngs of people party to the latest beats and spins by popular DJs. Ios was beautiful, highly underrated and undiscovered by most. If you’re looking to have a good time, and a nice balance of relaxation and play, do consider making a trip here!

 

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