Once famous for its bustling nightlife and crowds of young people flocking to the island every year to party till they drop, Ios has managed to broaden its possibilities over the years. Today Ios smoothly blends joyful days on the beach with lively evening entertainment, along with more chilled-out options for those seeking a relaxing holiday.
In the main town, Chora, you’ll find buildings of typical Cycladic architecture: winding alleys lined with bars, cafes, and tavernas serving not only Greek but also international cuisines. Chora also boasts a plethora of souvenir and jewelry outlets for some shopping.
Another highlight of Ios are the clean and superb beaches: top-notch Mylopotas beach features the majority of luxury hotels. Once you consider the infamous Ios campground, wild Maganari beach, and the long stretch of soft sand that is Ayia Theodhoti, it’s easy to see that Ios has it all. The island is also extremely popular to snorkelers thanks to its rich seabed, and the diverse landscape makes Ios ideal for hiking though trails nestled in dramatic surroundings.
What to See
This Byzantine castle used to be an observation point for the locals to watch over the seaway from Istanbul to Crete. Today visitors can admire the castle’s walls, as well as a historical church dedicated to Virgin Mary. The view from its hilltop location is magnificent as you can even see the many neighboring islands.
The traditional windmills adorn the northwestern part of Chora. Some of them have been restored and are available to visit.
Archaeological Museum of Ios
The museum displays archaeological exhibits from prehistoricSkarkos settlement, most of which are in excellent condition, as well as ancient Roman relics.
Where to Swim
The island boasts more than 30 beaches, everything from secluded coves to pebbled shores – and the water is always crystal clear. The most famous is Mylopotas, a wide stretch of sand 2km long (approx. 1.25 miles) with sun beds and parasols for rental. Beach bars and water sports are also available for some extra fun. For more soft sand you can visit Koumpara, Gialos and Ayia Theodoti beaches. Nudists (!) can swim at Kolitsani beach and folks looking for convenient amenities should try Maganari. Other beaches, such as Klima and Pikri Nero are only accessible by sea.
What to Eat
When it comes to food, Ios is mainly famous for its cheese, which is traditionally produced in local dairies. Visitors will find a selection of cheese types, such as skotyri (a spicy aromatic cheese) and xino (a white cream cheese), as well as the more common types of hard yellow cheeses – kefalotyri and graviera. Exceptional fava beans, oregano, and capers are also typical products of Ios. You shouldn’t leave the island without tasting tsimetia (zucchini flowers filled with rice) and mermitzeli (a type of homemade Greek pasta). Though any local meat paired with homemade pasta will do your belly right!
Zoe Mouchritsa lives in Athens and specializes in finding the best and brightest things to do in this lively city and throughout Greece. After completing a B.A. in Applied Informatics and Multimedia in beautiful Crete, she jumped full time into blogging and is now editor for WhiteAndBlue.gr. Thank you so much for contributing to Of Revolt, Zoe!