Ios has 108
sq. km of land mass and 81 km of coast line. Ios is 107 nautical miles
from Piraeus and has a population of about 2,000. A mountainous island,
Ios has very little cultivated land.
There are three large bays and many
smaller ones. Those with private boats will enjoy the many secluded bays. Some of the nicest beaches of the Cyclades exist
on Ios. The beautiful Chora is remarkable for its blue-domed churches. Food is a bit more expensive as it is brought in by ship.
Islanders call Ios
Nio, a contraction from 'Sthn Ios' meaning: in Ios. The ancient Ionians
who colonized it called it 'Nios' maybe for the same reason, maybe not.
Back then it was covered with oak trees and must have been magnificent.
The oaks were used to make boats and now the island has few trees. Most
of the oaks remaining are concentrated in the center of the island at Perivola, where there are fresh water springs.
the best time to enjoy this truly wonderful island in a normal state, before the party starts. In early spring, you can still see Ios as Lawrence Durrell did,
full of silences, fractured only by some distant church bell or the braying of a mule.
In summer, Ios is
taken over by youth. Ios is the party island
to end all party islands–the mother of party islands! It is so popular with Irish vacationers, they claim Ios stands for Ireland Over Seas. Homer is said
to be buried here on Ios. It's doubtful that he rests in peace, what with all the packaged hedonism going on in the towns above him.
Towns and Beaches
Ios' Main Port Ormos (Gialos)
Ormos is where the
ferries land and is its own little resort complete with a beach, campground,
rooms, cafes and tavernas. Its where you'll arrive and depart from and
maybe stay if you didn't make reservations in
advance high season.
The earthquake of 1951 devastated Ormos. It sucked all the water out of the bay only to immediately flood it
back in, damaging buildings. With the increase in tourist trade, Ormos has managed to make a comeback and rebuild. Ormos's beach is okay but there are much better, even
20 minutes away in Koumbara (mother-in-law) another
coastal village reachable by bus and comprised of a few tavernas, bars
and rooms to let. Koumbara has a long stretch of sand that ends at a big rock that's fun for snorkellers.
To the left of the port there's a pretty 17th Century chapel, Ag. Irini with separate Catholic and Orthodox altars.
Ios Town, also called Hora (Chora)
Ios Town is also know as The Village or Hora. Ios Town is on the hill above Ormos and walkable depending on baggage.
Taxis, buses and donkeys make the trip as well. The wide steps were originally
designed for donkeys and are a nice touch when hordes of hungry tourists
are all trying to ascend immediately after docking.
common consensus Ios Town is one of the nicest cycladic towns
in existence with pretty, white washed stone houses, stone flagged streets
and palm trees offering shade. Twelve windmills stand outside the town.
Of the Castle of Marco Crispi built 1400, and Venetian ruler of the
island, little remains. The ancient town has traces of its walls visible
if you look hard enough. Near the Castle, you can see the Panagia Gremiotissa (Our Lady of the Cliffs) with a miraculous icon that floated to Ios from Crete. This icon is housed in the only spot on Ios where visibility sometimes allows a glimpse of Crete.
A new theater offering concerts and culture has been built in Ios Town. The town, however, is not a typical, traditional,
Cycladic one steeped in Greece's past...it's full of fast food restaurants,
bars, discos and geared to party. It has some great juke boxes with
hard to find classics to recommend it as well.
There's an archaeological museum in Hora in the town hall. There are some interesting historical exibits and it's free.
THE Ios Beach is Milopotas, where the hipsters hung initially and still the place to see and be seen.
In the old days it didn't have the road or all the hotels,
umbrellas and water sports that it does today but its still the happening
beach on the island. It's long, wide and sandy. Nudity is common.
Milopotas beach has every possible water sport, plenty of campsites, hotes, tavernas and beach parties lasting all night.
Other Beaches on Ios
There are 35 beaches on Ios. As
you can see from the beach map below, some of the beaches on Ios are more accessible
than others by road or scooter. Many more may be reached on foot or
From Ormos water-taxis
depart for the islands southern tip and the chic golden coves and beach of Manganari
Bay where attire is optional. There are hotels nearby.
A 30 minute walk or bike ride north
from Ormos will take you Kalamos Beach which is
quiet, long and sandy. Kalamos Beach begins just by the pretty church of Ag. Ioannis Kalamos. Past here is the beach of Plakes. If you're needing a bit of quiet, it's often empty.
Ios on the eastern shore is Aghios Theodori with
a fine beach and accessible by bus. The beach is overlooked by the ruined Venetian
fortress Paliokastro. There's a well-preserved Byzantine church inside the fortress.
Psathi further south has a golden sand beach where loggerhead turtles nest
and is popular with windsurfers. A church dedicated to the Virgin fell into the sea at Psathi.
Perivola, in the center of the island, has fresh water springs and the island's few remaining oak trees. The tiny village of Pano Kambos is pretty. In nearby Hellinika you can see mysterous monoliths.
Drinking and Dining
night life part of Ios is self explanatory and everywhere you look.
But in town the favorites are The Dubliner, Sweet
Irish Dream, and Slammer. In Milopotas
is the Cyclades largest disco, the Scorpion. For
a quieter time and nice sunsets the Ios Club on
the path up to town is pleasant and more cerebral.
For dining, in Ormos try Psarades for fish and in Koumbara try Polydoros for traditional cuisine such as tzatziki, taramosalta, fish soups, fresh
seafood and even vegetarian specialties.
In Ios Town or Hora the Lord Byron remains a favorite for
traditional Greek food and rebetiko music. Near the Church is Pithari, one of the best restaurants on the island and with its own barrel
Ios was once famous for its oak forests. Under the Turkish occupation it was a haven for pirates and a
violent, bawdy place. (It may seem that not much has changed during the high season.)
Homer's mother was from Ios, and many say the great poet himself came to Ios to end his days. His tomb is on the mountain at Plakotos on the slopes of Mt. Pirgos in the north, but earthquakes have reduced it to little more than the rock on which it was built.
At the Paliokastro, marauding pirates managed to bore a hole in the fortress gate. They proceeded to crawl through one at a time, only to be doused with boiling oil by the villagers. This gruesome door is still on display at Ag. Theodotis.