The Greek Islands: Ios

6
246

The Greek island of Ios is a bit of a strange one. The word I would use to describe how it looks would be “sparse”; perhaps even “rural.” And yet Ios is known as one of the major party islands in the Cyclades, right up there with Mykonos. Why is this?

Well, Ios became popular with backpackers and other vagabonding types a few decades ago — back when it was acceptable to party all night in the Chora and then crash in a sleeping bag on the beach. Today, the Chora is still full of restaurants and boutiques and discotheques that backpackers flock to in the summer months. They don’t sleep on the beach anymore, but tourism still remains a huge fixture on the island of Ios.

I, however, experienced a much different island.

Mylopotas Bay, Ios

Donkey on Ios

But the time I arrived on Ios a little more than a week into September, the partying backpackers had all gone. The discos were shut; the boutiques were all having end-of-season sales; and I got to experience the quieter side of the island. And you know what? It was pretty awesome.

Ios port

Ios Chora

Things to do

If you find yourself on Ios during the shoulder season (which is definitely when I would suggest going), here are a few things you’ll definitely want to do:

Wander around the Chora

The main town on Ios is simply called “The Chora” (or, “The Town”). You’ll notice that there are “Choras” on many of the Greek Islands. The one on Ios is similar to most of the others — it has narrow, twisting streets, and plenty of white-washed buildings and churches. Being on the island at the beginning of the off-season meant that my Intrepid Travel group essentially had the entire town to ourselves to explore. We visited some stores to shop their end-of-season sales, had a couple of Greek coffees, and cuddled with some attention-seeking Greek kitties. It was a chilled-out version of Ios — and one that I really enjoyed.

Churches in Ios Chora

Ios Chora

Square in Ios Chora

Ios Chora

Visit the ruins of Skarkos

If you head downhill and away from the Chora, you’ll find the ruins of Skarkos, a prehistoric settlement set atop a hill. The archaeological site is an active one, but you can still pay to explore the ruins if you feel so inclined. I don’t know that it would be very interesting without a guide (and I’m not sure that there are any), but it’s still worth swinging by to take a look.

Skarkos ruins on Ios

Hike up to the amphitheater

If you want a bird’s-eye view of the island of Ios, hike through the Chora, past the windmills, and to the new amphitheater that looks out over Mylopotas Bay. The amphitheater was built to host cultural performances (in hopes of attracting non-backpacker types), but I’m told that not much actually happens there. It sure does offer a great view, though.

Ios windmills

Ios Amphitheater

Go chapel-spotting

Lastly, perhaps you just want to roam around the island counting churches and chapels. Rumor has it that there are 365 churches/chapels on the island — one for every day of the year.

Church in Ios Chora

Beaches

Mylopotas Bay

By far the most popular beach on Ios is at Mylopotas Bay. You can walk here in about 15-20 minutes from the Chora to find golden sand and some tourism infrastructure (including restaurants, sun beds/umbrellas, and souvenir shops). The water at this beach was chilly even in September, but oh-so clear!

Mylopotas Beach, Ios

Mylopotas Beach, Ios

Others

Other beaches worth checking out on Ios include Gyalos Beach (popular and close to the port), Kalamos Beach (isolated with clear water), and Magganari Beach (actually a series of beaches in a protected cove).

What makes Ios special

I can’t speak to what the island is like in the height of tourist season. But Ios during the shoulder season? It is quiet and beautiful in a very rural sort of way.

Ios

Mylopotas Bay, Ios

The practical stuff

WHERE TO STAY — I stayed at Homer’s Inn Hotel, about halfway between the port and the Chora. The hotel was fantastic — friendly staff, clean rooms, and a killer view from the terrace/breakfast room (see the third photo in this post). It also had a really nice pool to lounge around if you didn’t feel like heading to the beach. Otherwise, there are a handful of hotels at most of the major beaches, along with some accommodation options in the Chora.

WHERE TO EAT — There are lots of varied options in the Chora. I can personally recommend a family-run place called Lord Byron, which had good food and even better desserts. There are also some nice seafood places down near the port, where you can eat outside near the water.

GETTING AROUND — Ios is small enough that you can reach most places on foot, or perhaps on bike. You can also rent cars and ATVs on the island. And, in the summer months, buses run limited routes around the island.

Is Ios an island YOU would like to visit?

 

 

*Note: I visited Ios as part of a complimentary Greek Islands tour from Intrepid Travel through my partnership with them. As always, though, opinions are entirely my own.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Earl!

    Man!

    I feel like I have been living under a rock this whole time. It works! It really works! I suppose I should calm down now..

    But seriously, I could only manage to shave off my underarm with with my beard trimmer, as I don’t carry a razor, and for the first time in a long time I don’t really smell under my arms.

    It’s funny, today on the bus I checked to see if I smelt under there, forgetting that what I am doing is could look weird to other people. Haha.

    So my verdict is: yes, it works. I am so happy I came across this tip man. Not only do I not smell – which I have never wanted to, but, as you rightly say, you can now also wear t-shirts for (slightly) longer as they don’t stink as much.

    This is great for us minimalist, long-term backpackers!

    Thanks again Earl! I will definitely share this epic pearly of wisdom to all those I meet.

    -Sean.

  2. Interesting article; I also have worked out that there is no point in getting cranky and carrying on like a pork chop when travelling. I have also worked out that if I’m in a bad temper for whatever reason while travelling, I am simply better off going back to my room, having a nap, and simply read a book and take it easy for the rest of the day, whether I’m in the backwoods of Mongolia or in a party town in Philippines. I always feel refreshed the next day, and am in a better frame of mind. Also, manners and a smile work wonders, and occasionally you just have to say ‘stuff it’ and accept the situation!

  3. Great life! I enjoyed reading this blog. It inspired me to travel one month per year and to get rid some of my worldly possessions. Thank you for sharing your adventures. Take care!

  4. This looks like a really cool experience. I just started a new job in Sydney at the National Arts School, which is a converted prison. Very cool indeed, but a bit creepy to know that someone was hung there once, many years ago!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here