It’s time to present, my favorite island of them all.. Ios baby!
You can do this island a couple different ways; starting with most popular first.
This is a big party island, as told after the fact I booked a weekend here too. It ended up working out in my favor and will get into best time of year to visit here too later in this! There is 2 months of there year with phenomenal DJ’s and a massive party spot.
This is also a big honeymoon spot because its close to Santorini. Notice how I mention ‘stop’, it’s close by to the other popular islands and actually likely on your ferry stop (you’d be surprised how close the islands are to each other too). You can easily add this onto a honeymoon itinerary for a whole day or clearly I’d suggest 2 nights or even 3 if you wanted an easy island to add on.
This is the part I openly admit this was a mother daughter trip, 2 weeks of the trip and we had an absolute blast- she also loved Ios!! This is a big hiking island, a ton of adventure, things to keep yourself busy *if you rent a car- you’d be shocked!
Lastly, this is a big wedding island too. All the islands honestly are I realized [I know, yay for me since I love it here!] but there are some epic locations to Ios, it’s impressive.
You will be amazed with this incredible place. The images I showcase as a friendly reminder: are all taken by professional camera Fuji Film XT20 with a 16-50mm.
Trust me, add this to your Greece summer island hopping list next year!
Think of Ios as... Ibiza and Hawaii put together.
Yup, that is why it’s so amazing in my opinion. I have personally done a lot of destinations within this year and very island focused. This is a big mix between those two; It’s a big party place but also huge with water/hiking activities to keep you and anyone you are traveling with really occupied.
These were the clearest waters I have snorkeled in yet, one of the most affordable islands by the way- yes! Great spot for everyone technically, its fantastic!
I had 3 1/2 days here and woke up by 6:30am everyday, why? I know a bit crazy on vacation but, there is a ton to do- was ecstatic everyday to explore more. This was my 2nd most excited island, next to Milos but this one just really surprised me!
I took advantage until sundown, also after sundown with some amazing cheap/quick food and chilled for the evenings. Yup, this was more of an adventure & beach hitting- don’t worry had 2 half beach days at least and will mention on where to hit!
This was my most “seeing EVERYTHING” of this part of my 7 island hopping experience. Brace yourself for a ton of amazing information to know;
Know what you are doing before going to Ios or be prepared; hiking wise, water sports (for example: I went through 4 full bottles of sunscreen for 3 weeks-Ios it was used the most)
If you are partying *by the way bring only 1 pair of heels- I barely saw people in heels other than to go out and party. But defiantly have sneakers here too for hiking.
Prepare for everything medically. Bandaids, neosporein, skincare cream *they do not have those kind of cut creams anywhere I went, water ear drops; especially if you are diving, they would have came in handy! This is one of those countries that everything is really in a different language and not like it is in the USA for medications.
Dramamen and water ear droplets are a MUST, I can’t stress this enough! Between the ferries, wind with the waves causing motion sickness, tours, diving/jumping & swimming- you need to bring these two. You can’t find either in Greece- trust me.
Pain relief, allergy, head cold/cold medication, anything you will likely need, even if your skin is really sensitive, your own lotions, soap/shampoo.
Also, I highly suggest even a first aid kit as there is some parts of Greece for hiking and even water sports- got a few cuts. If you are planning to bring your own sunscreen, check the fl oz. I got mine taken away half way through in Athens; they have great friendly travel sized ones on the islands to purchase, so don’t worry!
-Hotels do need to be booked in advance but not as bad as a lot of other islands.
The prices I found *Mid September: around $100 a night, max honestly. This was the last hotel I booked because there was also a good amount of availability when I was looking prior and loved my stay at Leostansi.
-Book your rental car in advance if you are planning to rent a car. I highly do suggest renting a car, we had 3 completely different rental experiences on Ios and returned the 4 wheeler after half a day.
If you are going during off season (September-April/even May) you likely can book when you arrive on the island. We booked the rental car upon arrival with the hotel.
You need to have an international drivers license for ATV and car rental throughout the world as of mid May 2019. You need to carry the copy on you at all times, all pages required!
Islands I would recommend renting a car: (most important in order)
Ios, Milos, Kythria *this absolutely required a car, it was a big island.
Naxos, is a good sized island but did the bus transportation for this and was completely easy/fine.
Do not rent a car in Athens, Mykonos and defiantly do not rent in Santorini
Money saving tip: Book everything including airport transportation with your hotels, each and every one. You will be so surprised how much time/money you would save.
If you are planning on getting a rental car or decide when you arrive there-you likely pick up at the port and the hotel can easily book it for you.
Booking a car in Ios...You should REALLY book a car- it is a way different experience and the bus schedule. If you are going out, use the bus or driver- that’s fine but there is free parking and easy parking those not drinking.
You can cover this island in pretty much 2-3 days and fully enjoy it. If this is not a full party everyday trip- get it!
Notes on renting a car in Greece: Talk about my worst experience with rental cars of any country yet.
I will go over the very important tips on how to have a good, safe (yes, some of the cars were questionable) driving experience…
Most importantly, have your international drivers license and on you, printed. They do check.
If you are planning to rent a car, request for automatic; as many cars in Europe are stick shift and they have extremely limited automatic cars. The companies will also likely have you pay up to $10+ extra to have automatic vs manual.
If the car you are given is not in good shape, including checking the AC* do not accept it. Ask for another one, it is not worth your safety and you are paying for this.
Request a newer car when you are booking. I know it sounds crazy but they rent just about any cars to people in Greece and they are beaten so bad especially the rental companies. You wouldn’t regret always requesting this on every rental car in the future, I learned my lesson big time on this.
Book in advance, they only have to many cars and especially on higher season/busy island spots that you really should have a car in. I was there end of summer and got the last car *so I was told. On Ios we only had this automatic perfect car for 1 day. We could have gone with a different rental car company but our hotel only had them as a recommendation.
Well, I personally did 16 of the almost 20 beaches of Ios so I am just the person to go to on this advice ;)
Fair warning; you will likely question your life on some of these paths/roads that lead you down to the beach. These roads are unlike anything Iv’e ever seen, I was told you have to rent a car before coming here due to the roads/big hills- saving you some time/headache, get a damn car when you are on Ios!
The trick to seeing all these beaches in a matter of (3 days of 6am-8pm+ of straight exploring) is to section them together as some are really close to one & other.
Mylopoyas Bay: Ah, LOVED this beach so much and ended up there about everyday too. It is where most of the water sports/tours go out of, restaurants, tons of epic chairs (yes, epic day beds,chairs, like so chic looking) there was even a big swim floaty place that came in handy for this part of the beach themed trip.
You can hike here if you keep following the road down and all the way at the end, can difficult climb, *park at the bottom, cars can’t handle going up this hill. The hiking can be any level you want here, just do not forget your water. I did a tough rock hiking climb and it was such rushing experience- also recommend too.
Manganari Bay: This one is the most reccomended next to Mylopoyas BUT, it takes about 45 min by car and defiantly up to an hour and a half by ATV- there was a few people who did this drive I saw down but did not seem pleasurable, get a car rental for this. Tours are about $40-$50 USD and renting a car is $40, so clearly, get the car!
Absolutely loved Manganari, there is free beach chairs if you dine with the restaurant, easy to park, pretty easy drive and mostly on the main road. The waters was incredible and there is 2 parts to this beach, northern part and southern- you can walk between the two to view point them both. A ton of people swimming here as this was close to no wind here as well.
Plakoto: This is the road you drive on where you question your life, if you can rent an SUV would really come in handy on this part. This is the most untouched beaches due to the severe wind coming in from the north also the fact the road.. (I cant even call it a real road that’s how crazy it was) are absolutely insane to drive on. Well worth it, there was no one in sight and the viewpoint from above was unlike anything... anything iv’e experienced on a solo part of my trips.
*There is 2 beaches I found on this adventure- one was not even on the map.
Driving down to Plakoto, *no service by the way so just keep going or have maps downloaded. You will come up on a house, a random house and there’s 2 dogs. You can continue to drive down to that beach or I went straight, drove another mile or so to the cliffs to find another epic beach.
Ag. Anargiri & Neraki: Nearby each other, that was an easier drive down to Anargiri but have to go way before sun down *with the eastern side in general- it cools down fast and gets almost fully shaded on some beaches I noticed.
Psathi: A bit out there and on the very east side of the island. Crystal clear water, great sand on this beach!! *I don’t love Mylopoyas sand on parts the beach is rocks. There is no beach chairs or day beds here, its one of those “down to earth beaches” I’d say you can apparently even see across to Naxos or Iraklia on a clear day too!
There is 1 restaurant here- I mention restaurants on beaches being important due to delivering drinks including coffee and snacks honestly, ha!
Northern Beaches: Kabaki, Plakoto & Petalidi
Note: these are the ones I was alone for, reference my instagram stories (@thefaceofdestinations) as this was the most insane drive of my life, but worth it.
Northern/west beaches: Kolizani, Valmas, Faros, Koubara, Diakofto
Southern/west beaches: Kakovolo, Sapounochoma, Klima, Prasonisi, Pikronero, Tripiti. Accessed only by boat: *look on the map for reference
Southern/eastern beaches: Tris Eklisies, Papa, Kalamos & Plakes (last 2 can be accessed by car *may suggest SUV as this is an off road. Did not make it to these or I would have seen all the beaches of Ios, crazy enough but my car couldn’t handle this part.
In my opinion, seeing just about all these beaches and parts to Ios. I would say the beaches accessed only by boats were my favorite, Southern/western Beaches! (I know, I’m sorry but you should defiantly plan a boat excursion, its worth it!) AND the top 3 I talked in depth about above.
The Manganari experience with my pineapple swim float, snorkeling and just utter peacefulness was worth that drive too- a handful of people miss that beach since its pretty far but don’t miss- you’ll regret it, most recommended for a reason!
Now, most of the west side of Ios you can only access by boat. There is a ton of tours and specially a company that does it all on Mylopoyas Bay (Mylopotas Watersports www.IOS-SPORTS.GR)
I mean literally everything, Waterski, wakeboard, tubing/banana boat rides, stand up paddle boarding, wind surfing, kayaks *most recommended if you don’t end up doing a boat tour.
Bet you didn’t know there was a World War II Plane Wreck you can seee for yourself too, off Ios *Irakleia Island. It’s incredible and if you are an avid diver, HAVE to see!
They even offer night dives and pricing varies but, for my 4 hour boat tour and had about 5 stops to snorkel/the views along the way was $40USD- very very reasonably priced so if you had a group, I’d highly suggest renting yourselves a boat for the day with everyone as this tour did fit up to 10-12 people but on a small boat.
You should really see for yourself these beaches + waters- Ios IS the clearest water I have ever snorkeled in my life and Iv’e seen almost all the Caribbean honestly. It is worth putting aside drinking one night/not going so hard the night before to experience this part of Ios. Don’t forget your go pro!
More tourism companies/good to know;
Getyourguide.com, for all my international travels I use this website- its fantastic!!
Another great way to go with an amazing tourism company on travels is with other local businesses in ‘city central’- Ios being the port of Chora- you will find arriving on the island.
I had the pleasure of a complimentary stay at one of the many amazing Small Luxury Hotel awarded properties. I will make your next trip to Ios simple, book with them.
The location, the epic pool and 2 story decks to lay out on, the view, the breakfast, amazing customer service, highly awarded restaurant; Grandmas is in there, the balcony with the rooms & complimentary champagne was upon welcome.
I’d suggest not doing the basic room at all though, at all- the bathroom was the smallest iv’e ever been in, ever. If you book with them, I would suggest the suites, the Junior or Executive, both are absolutely stunning and honestly I would have paid to of stayed in those rooms. This hotel was not expensive in price either depending on the season, look into further pricing and availability!
The only little note was there was a ton of bees, a ton- it was so odd and they said it has only happened this year with the bees. It is to the point they have to burn coffee beans in parts of the outside to keep the bees away.
Food: Easy. This is so easy. Because my mom and I spent under $10 a day on food in iOS and ate like kings.
Yummies: Yes, a place called yummies that has everything and MORE you could imagine. The gyros were amazing here and they have absolutely everything on the menu. Literally could eat here lunch/dinner everyday happily.
Nutelleria: Crepes, the best darn crepe menu iv’e ever seen. SO good, had that about 4x in my 3 days here. You need to go more than once and get the ice cream too, its homemade!
Best night life;
Where to begin? I’m going to just simply list them out for everyone, as friendly reminder- When I did go in mid September, I was there 1 weekend after the big closing DJ weekend.
Pathos: A MUST for sunset and seeing for yourself! You will be missing out on your Ios trip if you do not stop at this amazing beach club, with the infinity pool and perfect spot for sunset! They play epic music during the entire sunset time and the vibes, drinks, everything- was so spectacular!
Other great spots and highly recommended:
Astra Cocktail Bar, Ios Club Cocktail Bar, Click Cocktail Bar, Baru Bar, Coo Bar Ios, Lost Boys, Yialou Beach Bar, Steps, Circus Bar, Helious Rock Bar, Valsamo Cocktail Bar, Atlas Bar Ios, Traffic Bar, Scandal Bar, Lemon Bar, Coo Bar Ios, Rehab Bar, Pash Night club*, Slammer Bar.
How long would I recommend? What/why exactly are you going to Ios for?
3-4 days. This is ... Ibiza & Hawaii put together. I know, heaven and that is why I LOVE IT. Due to the partying but island vibe so there is a ton of day clubs along with so much adventure with hiking [like crazy hiking too, if you love hiking this is the place for you]
Clearly the weekend is best but the best time partially is July to almost last weekend of August, only 2 months but it is super busy apparently at the day clubs and even just out in general. You can do weekdays too but check the line ups in advance.
YUP- the BUSY time of this island Ios is July-end of August. I went September 6th-9th and it was an insanely perfect time for not many people at all, AT ALL. It was also a very low price time for all hotels too.
A quick + easy island stop on your Greece trip?
Minimum 2 full days. Or if you wanted a quick day trip, take the earlier ferry and the latest ferry back. I would really recommend a 2 night minimum stay.
If you are going to really enjoy Ios, party a bit, adventure, hiking, enjoy snorkel or diving plus simply love the island life..
You could do 5-6 days honestly easily and not get bored in my opinion. Maybe longer if you want to do every single hike here [funny enough my dad is a huge hiker-now wants to go to Ios very bad lol]
Ferries & what you need to know:
Depending on what season you go, the price also roughly varies, times & amount of people budging their way on. Likely you are going to nearby islands from each other so I booked this ferry ticket from Santorini to Ios on a Friday a week before.
Remember, you should get your tickets in advance. There is 3 general companies to use and its very *time of year sensitive on when you should purchase them.
For example, I booked the week of for all my ferries, but I went very end of August into September which is a fantastic time to come/not as crowded.
Prices will vary on time of year.
Ios to Santorini was around $40 USD one way, and an hour ferry over.
Prepare for traffic getting into the ports, Santorini being the worst one defiantly. Leave early enough and plan for traffic- if you do not make your ferry; you re-purchase another ticket & another ferry (if there even is one) which, absolutely sucks. Absolutely ask someone where your port is as soon as you arrive. There is not really signs or even labels on what exact port/boat you are leaving out of.
Friendly feedback if you are planning on doing Athens:
I would suggest for only 1 day or max 2 days if you absolutely want to see A LOT.
Personally I did 2 Athens nights *separate due to hotel wise. I had a hotel nearby the airport that evening arriving from Naxos (which I also defiantly recommend, do not go into Athens if you are there for only 1 night!) Or in Athens if you want to do 2 full days.
I would HIGHLY recommend Dolce Athens Attica Rivera if you wanted to stay nearby the airport. I would always stay at this hotel, every time flying through Athens, there is an insane dinner buffet, the property itself is amazing, I booked one of the bungalow villas and was crazy beautiful views. The beach chairs, pool, the beach out front and can even walk in the water as its so shallow. It was a really easy, awesome stay!
It is about an $80 USD cab round trip ride and cash only.