23 Photos That Will Make You Rethink Ios Island Greece
Earlier this summer I travelled to Ios island, Greece, for my second visit to the country in a year.
I flew in to Crete and took a short ferry north to Ios, which isn’t where they make the Apple software (iOS), believe it or not. Sitting in the Aegean Sea between Santorini and Naxos, Ios has a reputation for being a party island. It’s not anywhere near the scale of Kavos, but lots of backpackers and young Greeks end up here in the summer for sunshine, cheap alcohol, and round the clock parties.
Looking over the port beach to the West from the road to Chora
It’s weird then, that I was there for a week and barely saw any of that. But that’s exactly why I went, to see what the real Ios is like. I flew in with my partner in crime Sabina to make a film for the #LifeOnIos project – a series of videos showcasing all the things that make Ios great to visit, for anyone who wants to discover more than cheap-shot fuelled chaos in the old town Chora at night.
The idyllic old town with its maze of streets and many churches
My film is a sneak preview of what to expect from this beautiful island, which you can see below. To see the other films about exploring the old town, meeting business owners, and trying the local foods, check out the best #LifeOnIos videos here.
We stayed in the uber-relaxing Agalia Luxury Suites, across the water from where you arrive to the island by ferry, and spent our time exploring places to eat, drink and swim on this small sunny rock. There are lots of beach options, many that you’ll need a car or taxi to get to, and they range from being fairly quiet to completely deserted. We were there during the week that Greece was dealing with its debt crisis, battling with the rest of the EU, so everything was quieter than the norm, but for tourism on the island it was business as usual.
View across the port bay from Agalia Suites
Greece is full of popular places to go on holiday, but Ios is attractive because it’s not as well-known. When we ate in restaurants we were surrounded by Greek people on their holidays, which is a good endorsement for the island.
It’s a big enough place to drive for an hour before you hit the opposite coast, and the gently winding roads that cross the centre of Ios reveal gorgeous blue-watered beaches in the distance. The bigger beaches have nice local restaurants, with fresh seafood and Greek dishes to try.
Looking down to Agathi Theodoti beach with the island of Irakleia in the distance
Tzamaria beach just in front of our hotel
They have a small beach near the port, an even smaller one right in front of Agalia hotel, and a bigger busier strip on Milopotas beach a few kilometres away. For a nice beach further away from the port, there is Manganari beach which has chairs with umbrellas and a couple of café restaurants. If you want something completely deserted, there are lots of little beaches signposted from the roads, just investigate them at your own leisure.
We really loved Agathi Theodoti on a trip to see the supposed tomb of Homer, that ancient Greek writer and thinker. It’s thought he was buried on the island as this is also where his mother’s grave can be found – but some historians are not entirely sure he actually existed (a bit like that Jesus chap).
View over the port of Ios island, Greece
Looking out to sea from near Homer’s tomb on the north of the island
Back down by the port is a cluster of Gyros places, cafes and restaurants. The Octopus Tree is a local favourite at the far end before the big church. The island supposedly has 365 churches in total, but we didn’t have time to check!
Agalia Suites is built on the site which for many years was home to the best restaurant on the island, and the owners are busy trying to revive that legacy. With a concise menu devised by top Greek chef Gikas Xenakis from Athens, the food is really superb. They also serve great food at Pathos, their sunset lounge bar, and at Free Beach Bar on Milopotas beach, although the views while you eat at Pathos are the best by far.
Sunset view from the restaurant at Pathos lounge
Still dreaming about this beautiful steak and other food at Agalia’s restaurant
A very Greek take on sunset sushi with Dolmades ingredients, at Pathos
Most of the partying that happens on Ios goes on either in the old town of Chora on the hill, or at Far Out, a beach club tucked discreetly at the end of Milopotas beach, known for wet T-shirt contests and that sort of thing. You can completely avoid all the hordes of party animals cramming into Chora’s tiny streets if it’s not the holiday you are looking for. Just investigate Chora by day instead.
It’s hard to get anything resembling a good drink in the old town anyway, most of the bars only serve cheap mixers with fruit juice and bad-quality shots for 1 or 2 Euros, or they charge extortionate prices. The one exception to that rule was Orange Bar, run by a British couple. They focus on serving shooters too, but these are ingenious rock-music-themed concoctions that pay homage to the best rockers through the ages. You’ll definitely leave rocking after these shots anyway…
On the other hand if you make it to Agalia for dinner, I highly recommend the Aztec Chilli cocktail, and their Dark Knight is the best Espresso Martini I’ve had to date!
I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from the trip below – let me know what you think of them and Ios island Greece.
Have you heard of Ios island before? Is it on your list of places to see before you die? Or would you rather stick with the crowds in places like Santorini and Crete?
A spectacular sunset over Milopotas as we came back from a day exploring by car
The beach at Milopotas
Perfect blue waters at the mouth of Milopotas bay
Sabina relaxing in style at Free Beach Bar
One of the big churches in lower Chora
Soaking up rays over the port
A gorgeous private property higher up in the town
The dusty pathway to Homer’s tomb on Ios island, Greece
Striking a pose for Greek Odysseys everywhere
A stunning amphitheatre that is part of an art site that ran out of money
The pool at Pathos Sunset Lounge
People head to Pathos for drinks with the last rays of the day
The only fox on the island!
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A big thanks to Simon from Travel Concept Solution and Villy Manolia for arranging my trip to Ios as part of the #LifeOnIos campaign, in partnership with LuxurIos, Travel Massive and other media partners. All photos and videos are Copyright © Peter Parkorr 2015 and shouldn’t be used without express permission.