Imagine a place where azure waters meet golden shores!
IOS ISLAND. Vibrant nightlife intertwines with natural beauty, and where every moment is filled with a sense of pure exhilaration. Welcome to Ios Island, a Greek paradise that will capture your heart and ignite your spirit like no other.
Ios Island is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, where the sun-soaked sands stretch as far as the eye can see. Sink your toes into the powdery softness of Mylopotas Beach, a vibrant coastal haven offering a fusion of relaxation and excitement. Bask in the warm Mediterranean sun, take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters, or indulge in thrilling water sports that will leave you exhilarated and craving more.
For those seeking a more secluded escape, the hidden gems of Manganari Beach await. Nestled in a tranquil cove surrounded by rugged cliffs, Manganari offers an idyllic retreat where you can unwind in harmony with nature. Let the gentle lapping of the waves soothe your soul as you revel in the serenity of this picturesque paradise.
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Touring the Island
Upon reaching the IOS ISLAND, the view before you is enchanting: as pretty as a picture, Chora lies very close to the harbour in Ormos and greets the travellers who arrive on the island. It is built on a hillside, on the top of which there are ruins of a mediaeval castle.
This is one of the finest examples of a traditional village built according to Cycladic architecture. Snow-white little houses, picturesque arcade-covered alleys (stiyadia), the twelve windmills, churches with arched belfries and light blue domes create a unique residential area. Chora’s covered alleys is where the “Kounia”, an ancient local custom, takes place every year in the month of May, as follows: young men build swings for the young ladies who sit and rock themselves while listening to traditional love songs being sung to them in the form of a dialogue.
The most significant chuch among the 365 of them on the island is Panagia Gremiotissa, built on the edge of a cliff in Chora’s highest spot, affording an amazing view of the open sea. This place is the centre of one of the biggest religious feasts on the island, which takes place on August 15th, involving a procession in Chora with the icon of the Mother of God placed at the forefront. Later on, a traditional festival takes place with local island-style singing and dancing till dawn!
Within Chora see the ruins of the Mediaeval fort (1397), built by Marco Krispi, ruler of the island. Visit the ancient town of Ios built on the hill-top of Chora, where ruins of structures, roads and sewerage network are unearthed as well as the churches of Agios Nikolaos, Evangelismou and Agias Aikaterinis, which is believed to be built on the spot where once was the temple of Pythios Apollo.
Get acquainted with Chora’s famous (instagramable) windmills as well as Psaropyrgo Tower at Plakotos dating back to the Hellinistic period. Don’t miss a stop by the 20th c. Amiradakeio Megaron, a neoclassical building that houses the City Hall as well as the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, which showcases a Jean-Marie Dro art collection.
Skarkos, an early Cycladic period settlement, (2,800 BC) denotes the significant presence of man registered as far back as the early antiquity. The exemplary restoration and promotion of this archaeological site has been awarded a prize. A rich collection of finds from the settlement as well as antiquities going back to the island’s historical course are on display in Chora’s remarkable Archaeological Museum.
Palaiokastro stands on the northeast side of the island and used to be a fort during the Byzantine period. It served as an observatory to control the seaways from Constantinople down to Crete. Long-distance communication between forts on the islands of Naxos, Amorgos and Santorini were made with fire signals.
Ormos (aka Gialos) is the island’s main port.See the church of Agia Irene and the ruins of an Early-Cycladic Period settlement on Skarkou hill. Don’t miss Koumbara beach where you can view one of the best sunsets around Greece.
Mylopotas is a popular one kilometre long sandy beach. Visit the small church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) and the reservoir. Follow the fascinating route from Mylopotas to Maganari.
At Maganari you’ll come across remarkable beaches with blue-green waters where part of the film “Le Grand Bleu” was shot. Go see the picturesque coves of Treis Klisies, Kalamos and Plakes with the beautiful shores as well as the Monastery of Agios Ioannis and Kalamos 7.5km NW.
Ramble through Agios Theodotis where ruins of a Roman aqueduct are found and follow the impressive path from the old village towards Gefyri.
Last but not least, visit the seaside village of Psathi where you will see the ruins of Palaiokastro fort (7th – 8th c.) on the top of a rocky hill.
IOS ISLAND. Enjoy the breathtaking clarity of the Aegean Sea, bask in the Greek sun as its turquoise waters lap against white sandy beaches, stroll around picturesque spots by the sea, admire the unique whitewashed island architecture, surf in crystal clear waters and go on some spectacular excursions during the day – but don’t forget to save some energy for the nightlife!
Where: In the Aegean Sea, part of the Cyclades island group, the island of Ios
Why: an alternative youth destination infused with a cosmopolitan flair that competes as an equal with well established destinations like Mykonos and Santorini. Walk through the picture-perfect Hóra, the epitome of elegance and sophistication, swim in the crystal clear water at internationally famous beaches like Mylopótamos and Maganári, and taste mouth watering local specialities!
Must visit: Hora, nestling comfortably on a hill, with its white-washed cubic houses and roofed alleys; the twelve wind mills; Panagia Gremiotissa (Madonna of the Cliffs), at the highest point of Hòra, with an amazing view of the bay and neighbouring Sikinos; Paleokastro Byzantine castle, built at the top of a hill; “Odysseas Elytis” Open-Air Theatre, built in one of the poet’s favourite locations and the well-preserved 2800 BC Protocycladic Settlement of Skarkos.
Where to stay: there are plenty of charming hotels and rooms to let in Chóra, while family-run beachfront guesthouses and guesthouses in the island’s mountain villages will also offer you a pleasant environment to stay in while visiting the island! If you are looking for something more alternative, then choose to stay on one of the island’s official campsites. Note that the island lacks the luxurious amenities you may have come to expect on an island holiday, but what it lacks in luxury it makes up for in adventure!
Join in with: One of the most impressive celebrations is that of Panagia Gremiotissa, on August 15, when there is a procession of a famous icon depicting the Virgin Mary around Hóra followed by a feast with performances of traditional instruments and dances!
Hot tips for young people:
• Follow ancient paths (Ayia Theodóti-Hóra, Ayia Iríni-Valmá Beach, Hóra-Pýrgos-Psáthi, Hóra-Áyios Spyridonas-Perivolia-Áyios Prókopas-Pelekaniá) that are still used by the local shepherds to explore the interior of the island and to discover its hidden beauties!
• The mountains of Ios are ideal for climbing, mountaineering or biking, while from its peaks you can enjoy a panorama of the island and the never ending blue of the Aegean!
• On the beaches of Mylopótamos and Manganári there are special facilities for water sports, ranging from wind surfing, water skiing, scuba diving and sailing lessons to kite surfing and canoeing.
• The intoxicating night life of the island will certainly impress you! Every night cafés and bars along the narrow paved streets of Hóra and the beach bars all around the island are packed with crowds of young visitors enjoying colourful cocktails, dancing their hearts out all night long and spilling uproariously out into the streets and onto the sand!
The beaches of IOS ISLAND
Among the main reasons that make Ios one of Greece’s top summer holiday destinations are its sandy beaches and turquoise waters lining its coast. Located between Naxos, Sikinos and Santorini, it has one of the safest ports in the Cyclades island chain. It owes its name to the ancient Greek word, ia, meaning flowers that grew in abundance on the island in antiquity. Ios had passed into obscurity during the Roman and Byzantine years, while, in the Middle Ages, it was raided by pirates several times. It was, however, particularly active during the Greek Revolution, writing its own page in modern Greek history. Attractions include its famous lighthouse that dominates the entrance of the port, as well as the beautiful “Odysseas Elytis” open air theatre that can seat 1,100 spectators.
Mylopotas is the most popular beach on the island and is known for its long expanse of golden sand and crystal clear waters, as well as its famous campsite. Inevitably the beach gets very busy from June to August and is not the place for those in search of solitude. Mylopotas has everything from restaurants, cafes and sunbeds (for a fee) to water sports facilities and the necessary equipment for rent.
Among the prettiest beaches on Ios, Kalamos is located next to the equally famous Papas beach in the southeastern part of the island. This beach covered by fine white sand framed by rocks is the ideal place for those in search of seclusion and tranquillity. The turquoise waters and its stunning seabed also attract snorkelling enthusiasts. As there are no restaurants or cafes nearby, it is advisable to bring necessary items, such as umbrellas, water and some snacks. Although getting there may be relatively challenging over a difficult dirt road, a dip in Kalamos beach certainly makes the effort worth the trouble.
This enchanting and rather secluded cove surrounded by greenery is around 17 km from Ios port. The palm trees that were planted along the beach after a private initiative, add an exotic touch to the place, making it a favourite among locals and travellers alike.
Many people camp here by the sea every summer setting up their tents on the white sand that stretches from one end of the beach to the other. Getting there by boat entails passing by the beaches of Pikri Nero, Sapounohoma and Tripiti before getting there.
Alternatively, it can be reached by driving to the settlement of Kalamos which has a wide flat area for cars to park. From there, it’s a 25-minute walk on a small path before the quiet, clear blue waters of the beach appear.
This large and remote beach is on the eastern side of the island and has unlimited views of nearby Iraklia island. It is around 17 km from the Chora and is easily accessible on an asphalt road.
It has no infrastructure for travellers, apart from a small hotel near the sea. Ample shade is provided by the few tamarisk trees. There is another small cove right next to Psathi and separated by a small pier with many moored fishing boats.
The second most famous beach of Ios after Mylopotas, Manganari is an idyllic place with light coloured sand and crystal clear waters that combines tranquillity with the island’s vibrancy.
Manganari is essentially a beach interspersed with a series of small coves forming a unique, photogenic landscape. There is now a well-paved road that leads to Manganari, making it easy to reach.
Although it is located 23 km away from Chora (the main town) of Ios, Manganari is extremely popular with Greek and foreign travellers. It is fully equipped, with cafes and taverns nearby. However, as it is quite a large beach, there are plenty of calm and secluded spots.
Although getting to this deserted small beach entails a long walk, the wonderful turquoise water makes the extra effort definitely worthwhile. This is the perfect place for those with a penchant for hikes on narrow paths overlooking the sea as well as the privacy of secluded beaches. Due to its remoteness visitors should make sure they have the necessary supplies before heading out there.
The beach nearest to the Chora, Tzamaria, which means glass in Greek, is one of the lesser known ones on the island. It is essentially a fairly narrow strip of sand, stretching just below the road that leads from Gialos to Koumbara. As it is located opposite the island’s port, it offers romantic views of ships coming and going to Ios. It is also well-sheltered from the wind.
With great views of Iraklia and Amorgos, Agia Theodoti beach is located in a bay with the same name in the northeastern part of the island. It is 10km from Chora and is an ideal destination for those wanting to avoid crowds. It is an impressively large beach, stretching more than 650 metres in length and boasts crystal clear waters lapping on a golden shore. There is no beach bar, except for one canteen which serves coffee and snacks. There are also sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent. There is plenty of space for bathers to set up their own equipment if they wish.
IOS ISLAND is connected to Piraeus and other Aegean ports. Conventional ferries make the route “Piraeus – Ios” in about 6.5 hours while high-speed ones in about 4.Ios is also connected with the ports of Lavrio and Rafina’s