Best Things to Do in Ios Greece for 2024

When I was in my early 20s I only wanted to go to Mykonos, Paros, and Ios Greece on my summer vacation – Santorini wasn’t that popular back then (late 80s, early 90s) and yes, I am that old 😀 . Those 3 islands have been a party destination since the 80s and I still remember the fun I used to have!

So why Ios was and still is, so popular?

Mylopotas Beach
  • Ios is a gorgeous Cycladic island with charming cubic whitewashed houses on an impressive rugged background.
  • It has numerous stunning beaches to choose from, organized or free.
Whitewashed church at the netrance of the port of Ios Chora in Greece.
Church at Ios Port
  • It has a rich history with archaeological/folklore museums to explore.
  • It has many natural beauties to enjoy through outdoor activities.
  • You can have a vibrant, all-night clubbing nightlife or a peaceful vacation by choosing the quiet parts of Ios, it is entirely up to you.

So without further ado, let me tell you all about the best things to do in Ios Greece!

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The Top Things to Do on Ios Island

Explore Chora Ios

Chora Ios Island

Ios island’s main town, Chora, is just 2 km from the port, Ormos, 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. 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.

Ios Chora

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.

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.

The whitewashed Greek Church Panagia Gremiotissa.
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.

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

Homer’s Tomb is located in the north of Ios and is a 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.

Homers Tomb with view to the sea.
Homer’s Tomb

Homer died in the 8th century BCE and there are written references by ancient historians such as Herodotus, Pausanias, Strabo, and Alcaeus that mention that he died on the Ios. Homer’s connection with the island is further proven by representations of coins of Ios in the middle of the 3rd century BCE.

According to the texts, Homer stopped in Ios on his journey to Samos, but unfortunately, he died on the island out of sorrow for not being able to solve a riddle posed by the locals. Others mention that he tripped, hit his head, and died instantly (at least he had a quick death!).

Hike to 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.

Psathi beach

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.

Visit the Early Bronze Settlement of Skarkos

A view to Skarkos Bronze in Ios Island taken from a drone.
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.

Ancient  Skarkos Settlement taken from a drone.
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 BCE).

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

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.

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

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.

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.

Goats eating grass on Ios Island.
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 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

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 budget and family-friendly resort in Mylpotas: Deep Blue Rooms & Apartments
  • Best thing to do in Ios Greece: Book a 4-hour tour on Ios Greece of 7 beautiful beaches: Kolitsani, Sapunochma, Klima, Pikri Nero, Pepa, Tripiti, and Magganari

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

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 nudist beach.

Indulge in the Nightlife on Ios Island

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

Ios Rugged Landscape

Hiking

Ios Island terrain is a rocky, and 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.

9 marked trails cross most of Ios Island. You can find more information on the trails on the Ios Path website.

Speedboat with many people on it i a sunny day.
Speedboat Cruise on Ios Island

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

Taste the Local Cuisine

Smoked gruyere of Niotiko cheese factory

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: Agosto Restaurant.

Where Best to Stay on Ios Island

Ios Chora

Ios Chora Blue Sky

Sea Breeze Hotel (mid-range, adults only) offers beautiful views of Chora Bay, immaculate grounds, excellent hosts, a stunning infinity pool, and breakfast served (Continental, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, American).

Agalia Luxury Suites

If you’re looking for more luxury on Ios Greece, I recommend Agalia Luxury Suites (family-friendly). It is set at a secluded bay, shielded from the winds that can be strong around Ios, with amazing views, beautiful rooms, and a 20-minute walk from the city center.

Mylopotas Beach

Deep Blue Rooms & Apartments is a fantastic budget and family-friendly hotel, virtually on the beach with free sun beds and waiter service. Cracking breakfast, no shortage of clean towels or body wash, and very quiet at night. It also offers port pick up and drop off!

Getting Around Ios

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

I got around the island with a rental car, allowing me 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.

How to Get to Ios Island

Ios island is well connected by ferries from Piraeus, 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.

Lavrio Port of Athens may also have some routes to Ios. Confused about which port to use? Please check out FerryScanner to find the best port for you, and secure your seat, especially if you are traveling during the summer.

Island Hopping from Ios Island

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.

When is Best to Go to Ios

Steps Bar at Chora Ios and many people sitting on the steps and having their drink.
Steps Bar Ios Chora

The warmest time to go to Ios 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 on Tinos Island.

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

What to Wear on Ios Island

This 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?

Landscape of Ios Island taken from a drone.
Ios Landscape

There are a few things that a first-time visitor should keep in mind while visiting the 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 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 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.

Plan My Trip to Greece

Do you need a custom travel itinerary or a transfer within Greece? Are you traveling solo, with your family or friends and need a tailor-made multi-day tour or a transfer?

If yes, please visit my dedicated Plan My Trip Page for a free itinerary!

How to Get to Athens Port (Piraeus) from Athens Airport

Bus X96 Peiraias Port to Athens Airport
Airport Bus
  • Bus: If you are arriving at Athens International Airport you can travel straight to the port by taking the X96 express bus (€5.5, children <6 yo, free entrance), which departs every 40 minutes and the average trip lasts 1 hour – runs 24/7.
  • Metro: (€9) is easily found across airport arrivals (blue line – M3) going directly to Piraeus port. The average trip to Piraeus lasts 1 hour.
  • Taxis are available in front of the airport (around €40 to Athens, €55-60 to Piraeus (depending on the traffic in Kifisos), and take up to 3 or 4 people with small luggage)
  • Rent a car with Discover Cars for reliable, new cars at affordable prices
  • You don’t like driving but love hassle-free solutions? Book a Private transfer with an English-speaking driver from Athens International Airport to Piraeus Ferries, or anywhere else in Greece
  • Are you looking for domestic flights in Greece? Check out the official Aegean Airlines Website.

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

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