Updated September 11th, 2022 by Travel the Greek Way

best things to do on Ios Island- sunset Chora
Sunset at Ios Island Chora

Are you thinking of visiting Ios and wondering what are the best things to do on Ios Island? Find out in this post about Ios’ best beaches, Chora traditional village, archaeological sites, local delicious cuisine, and vibrant nightlife.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island,Magganari beach
Magganari Beach on Ios Island

Ios island in Greece is in the top five most popular Cycladic Islands along with Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, and Milos, and is one of the most stunningly beautiful Greek islands. Ios is located in the center of the Cyclades and quite close to Sikinos island.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island
Cyclades Map and Ios in the circle

In the ’70s and ’80s, Ios was one of the favorite islands of hippies. During the next twenty years, Ios became a young people’s bustling nightlife island, which still exists today, especially in Ios Chora.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, nightlife
Ios nightlife – Pathos Sunset Lounge

However, in the last decade, Ios has been repositioned on the tourist map as a luxury destination that preserves its authenticity, combining it with elegant hotels, resorts, spas, and restaurants, while respecting its rich cultural heritage.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Calilco Hotel
Ios Calilo Hotel

If you are wondering why to visit Ios Island:

  • Ios is a very beautiful, Cycladic island with cubic whitewashed houses
  • Has numerous stunning beaches to choose from, organized or free
  • Its authenticity has remained unchanged over time
  • Has rich history-Bronze Era sites and archaeological/folklore museums to explore
  • Has many natural beauties to enjoy through outdoor activities
  • You can have either a vibrant, all-night clubbing nightlife or a peaceful vacation by choosing the quiet parts of Ios
Best Things to Do on Ios Island, view over Ios Chora
Gazing at the Ios port and Sikinos island

Up next I am going to tell you about the best things to do on Ios island!

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Map of Ios Island

Get your interactive map of Ios here, to drive to any of the places listed on our things to do in Ios.

How to Get to Ios Island

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, ferry Ios port

Ios island is well connected by ferries from Pireaus, Athens’ main port. Depending on the type of ferry, you will need between 4 and 7 hours. From Rafina port, Athens smaller port, in 4 hours and 35 minutes. Book your ferry transfer with FerryScanner or FerryHopper to secure your seat, especially if you travel during the summer.

Where Best to Stay on Ios Island

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Calilco hotel

Calilo (Booking rate 9.0, from €752) is a superb 5-star luxury hotel by the Papas beach, with clear green-blue waters beach, real heaven on earth!

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Papas beach
Papas Beach

Calilo is one of the most stunning hotels I have ever seen in Greece at a secluded location, ideal to chill and relax.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Agalia Hotel
Agalia Luxury Suites

If you’re alooking for more budget-friendly luxury then I recommend Agalia Luxury Suites (Booking rate 9.0, from €263). It is set at a secluded bay, shielded from the winds that can be strong around Ios, with amazing views, beautiful rooms, and a 20min walk from the city center. The beach may not be suitable for families with young children as it gets deep a short distance from the shore.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, villa mata
Villa Mata

Villa Mata (Booking rate 9.5, self-catering, from €26) in Ios Chora is probably one of the best budget properties on Ios island. It has tastefully decorated and comfortable rooms, close to the port and beach, with a very hospitable host, and a beautiful garden. Villa Mata is a great value for money.

The Top Things to Do on Ios Island

Explore Chora Ios

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Ornos Ios port
Ormos, Ios Island Port

Ios island main town, beautiful Chora, just 2 km from the port, Ormos, is built amphitheatrically on a hill. The town has the characteristic Cycladic cobblestone alleys, friendly people, and plenty of entertainment with all kinds of restaurants, taverns bars, clubs, and cafes.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Panoramic Chora
Chora Ios Island

Chora has been built on the Ancient Town of the island and as you stroll the town you see scattered elements of the ancient city.

In Ios Chora, apart from the small preserved Greek Orthodox churches at every corner, stroll the 12 windmills for great photos and memories. At the end of Chora, find the stone and marble-built, open-air theatre “Odysseas Elytis”, a cultural gem for the island.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, traditional cafe
Ios Chora – Photo: Feel Greece

The archaeological museum is housed in an early 20th-century, neo-classical building with few but important findings that help you understand better Ios 3000 years’  history. Open Tuesdays-Sunday, 8.30-15.00.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Panagi Gkremiotisa church
Panagia Gremiotissa Church – Photo Travel tales

 One of the best things to do on Ios Island is to walk up to the top of the hill from Chora for 10 minutes and reach Our Lady of the Cliffs, Panagia Gremiotissa Church. Sunset is the time when it gets crowded up there but you will get the best views of the island.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Sunset in Chora
Sunset from Panagia Gremiotissa Church in Ios Chora
Best Things to Do on Ios Island Agios Nikolaos chapel
Agios Nikolaos Chapel

Once up here it makes sense to also walk further up on a path with flagstones up to the 3 chapels of Agios Eleftherios, Agios Georgios (with a mosaic of the saint above the entrance), and highest up the Agios Nikolaos chapel.

Go to the Tomb of Homer on the North of Ios Island

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Homer Tomb trail
The trail to the alleged Homer Tomb

The drive to the alleged Homer’s Tomb is located in the north of Ios and is rugged, unspoiled, beautiful scenery, with rock fences along the road. There’s not much structure once you get there but the view is spectacular and the history of the spot is great to experience.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Homer tomb
Homer’s Tomb

Like many visitors, you can compile your own little mound of rocks and on the way back down take a little detour on foot to look at the beehives to the left of the entrance.

Hike to Paleokastro

Best Things to Do on Ios Island Paleokastro
Paleokastro

Paleokastro is located on the eastern side of Ios, between Agia Theodoti and Psathi, on a hill that dominates the coast of the island and offers an unobstructed view of Paros, Naxos, Amorgos, and the Small Cyclades.

The castle was built to protect the island from pirates in 1397, by the Venetian Marco Crispo. Inside the castle, there is the picturesque church of Panagia Palioakastritisa.

Do you need a tailor-made itinerary in Greece? Visit my Plan My Trip Page

Visit the Early Bronze Settlement of Skarkos

Best Things to Do on Ios Island Skarkos bronze age
Skarkos Bronze Age Settlement

The site sits on a privileged hilltop between Ios Bay and the fertile area of Kambos, a well-protected and organized site. Fenced off, the place can only be visited daily, except Tuesdays, from 8 am to 3.30 pm. The entrance fee is 4€. Contact +30 22863-91236.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island Skarkos Settlement
Skarkos Site

The excavations which began in 1896 and continue to this day, indicate that the settlement flourished in the middle of the Early Bronze Age (Early Cycladic II period, Keros group, Syros, 2 700-2 400/2 300 BC).

The finds of this settlement of the Early Bronze Age (mid-3rd Millenium BC) are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Ios in Chora.

Ios Island Lighthouse

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Lighthouse
Ios Lighthouse

The Lighthouse of Ios is located at the entrance of the port Ormos (on the left side as the ship enters). You will enjoy both hiking there and the magnificent open sea views.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, the Lighthouse
The Lighthouse

To get to the lighthouse you have to take the trail towards the direction of Koumbara and park just before the Polydoros tavern.

Best Beaches on Ios Island

Magganari

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Magganari beach
Magganari Beach

On the south of Ios and 25 km from Chora lies the most popular and one of the most beautiful beaches of the island, Magganari. In fact, it is not just one beach but several, with 3 large ones and many smaller ones joined together all with golden sand and shallow turquoise waters, ideal for families.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, road on Ios
Driving to Magganari

There are organized parts of the beach, with sunbeds, showers, and two taverns but also more quiet areas if you like to be in a peaceful environment. Look out for the herd of goats that sometimes overruns the beach.

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, goats on Ios
Goats on Ios Island

Tip: By car, you will need about 40 minutes (depending on how many goats there are on the road!), by bus almost an hour in each direction from Chora, 7.5 euro both ways ticket. The last bus leaves at 17:00. Take lots of sunscreens, a hat, and a cover-up for the sun.

Mylopotas Beach

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Mylopotas beach
Mylopotas Beach

On the long lean sandy beach of Mylopotas, just 3 km from Chora you will go for watersports, numerous bars, taverns, and youthful fun, in other words, a busy beach! Mylopotas is organized with plenty of sunbeds, easily reachable by car or bus. Prices for the sunbeds vary from 5 euros on weekdays increasing at weekends to 7 or 10.

Best Club in Mylopolotas: Far out Club

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, yachting Ios
Ios Island sea tour

Visit 7 beautiful beaches of Ios island: Kolitsani, Sapunochma, Klima, Pikri Nero, Pepa, Tripiti, and Magganari with a guided tour from Get Your Guide!

There are many more beaches that you can explore either on foot, by car, or by taking a sailing tour of Ios island. Some of my favorite beaches are:

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, koymbara beach
Koumbara Beach
  • Koumbara posh beach where you can swim with a view of Sikinos island and enjoy a beautiful sunset – Go to Pathos Sunset Lounge for sunset cocktails
  • Tiny Jamaria beach two steps from the harbor is almost invisible from the road and is usually uncrowded
  • Agia Theodoti and Psathi, with their wild beauty and tranquility, are the place to be if you want to get away from everyone and everything,
  • Kolitsani beach, close to Chora, is set in a sheltered bay with lovely calm and crystal clear water, and very little shade so be prepared, a nudists beach

Indulge in the Nightlife on Ios Island

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, chora sunset
Ios Chora at Sunset

The Chora is filled with bars, clubs, and cafes and it will remind you of Ibiza but Greek-style. Many of these bars and clubs do not open till at least 1:00 am. Some of the most popular bars are:

 Traffic, Click, Coo Bar, Sweet Irish Dream, Ios Club Sunset Dining Bar.

Discover Outdoor Activities in Ios

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, hiking group
Hiking Ios – Photo: all over Greece

Hiking

Ios Island Terrain is rocky, barren landscape with most hikes being demanding and requiring experience on similar ground. Its highest mountain peak is Pyrgos (704m) with Profitis Ilias at 514m and Vouni at 409m.

There are 9 marked trails crossing most of this Ios island. You can find more information on the trails on the Cycladen.be

Best Things to Do on Ios Island speedboat
Speedboat Cruise on Ios Island

Book a Get Your Guide tour on Ios Island: Speedboat Cruise from Mylopotas Beach

Taste the Local Cuisine

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, cheese makers
Cheeses at Niotiko

The cheese and honey of Ios are excellent because of the richness of the mountainous terrain of the island, the arid landscape, and the abundance of aromatic plants, such as thrombin and thyme.

In the restaurants, you will taste everything, from gruyere and kefalotyri to spicy scotyri and creamy sour. Look for them also at the Niotiko Cheese Factory.

Fine Dining in Ios Island: Best Agosto Restaurant https://www.agosto.gr/

Getting Around Ios

You can use the local buses, find the Ios Island Bus Timetable here.

I got around the island with a car from RentalCars.com as it offered the freedom to explore Ios in depth. I love to stop wherever I want and discover hidden places on an island – and get lost sometimes! – so I always use a car.

Island Hopping from Ios Island

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, happy couple on an Ios chapel
Ios Chapel

Ios is perfectly connected by ferry with almost all islands in the Cyclades as well as Rethymno and Irakleio in Crete. That makes Ios island an ideal base for your Greek island hopping. Book in advance your seats in FerryScanner or FerryHopper.

When is Best to go to Ios

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, Steps Bar Ios
Steps Bar Ios Chora

The warmest time to go to Ios island is between April and October and even in November, as the Cyclades have calm winters. July and August are the busiest, hottest, and windiest (meltemia) months for the Cyclades and Ios island.

A great time to go to Ios is during Easter, with magnificent Greek Orthodox celebrations, a lot of food, wine, and nightlife as well, usually in April. You may want to read a post about Greek Orthodox Easter 2022 on Tinos Island.

Easter in the Cyclades is very popular between Greeks so you better check for availability early on Booking.com.

What to Wear on Ios Island

This, apparently, depends on the season you are visiting but anytime between May and October, essential things to have in Greece are:

What Difficulties you may Encounter in Greek Islands?

Best Things to Do on Ios Island, ragged landscape
Ios Landscape

There are a few things that a first-time visitor should keep in mind while visiting Cyclades Islands:

  • The roads are not always in good condition or they may be too narrow for what you are used to. You need to be careful especially if you are driving at night
  • Many of the unorganized beaches have no trees or other shade available, water, or food supply. You should carry your own supplies if you are visiting a remote beach
  • When it gets windy (June – August meltemia), it just won’t stop. It can also get a bit chilly in the evening. Take a jacket with you.
  • If you go hiking in summer on an island with no trees, you can get very easily heat stroke. For more info on travel dangers and precautions in Greece, read here my post on hiking safely in Greece
  • The wind is very variable in Ios, on a hot day it’s even more than welcome and it keeps the insects away, remember to have anti-mosquito with you. Many select the beach of the day on Ios taking into account the wind conditions
  • For Solo Travelers: Greece is a perfectly safe country for everyone regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. In addition to that, Greek people are gene-programmed to be hospitable and are always eager to offer directions to your destination or any other advice, so ask freely.

Do you need a tailor-made itinerary in Greece? Visit my Plan My Trip Page

Where is your dream summer destination? Would you go to Ios?

I’d love to hear about where you’re spending your vacation this year, especially if you have any exciting travel plans! There are so many things to do on Ios island. I hope that you get the chance to try as many as possible. Till next time, Evgenia❤️

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Hi! I am an Athens-based Greek obsessed with exploring Greece and bringing you the best travel experience ever!

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