When I was in my 20s Ios was known as the party capital of the Greek Islands. The island still attracts a young crowd in the summer but it now also attracts a more affluent crowd with fantastic restaurants, gorgeous boutique hotels and fantastic beaches.
The most common way to visit the island is to go from Santorini to Ios. There are quite a few ways to get from Santorini to Ios and I didn’t find it that clear when I was doing my online research.
So here is my guide which will hopefully make getting from Santorini to Ios easier for you!
⇒ Heading to Ios? Don’t miss my post on the 17 Best Things to do in Ios.
Santorini to Ios – Getting to Santorini
If you’re coming from outside the Greek islands the nearest airport to Ios is Santorini.
Santorini airport is very busy and currently being upgraded. The good news is that there are quite a few flight options available. The bad news is that the upgrade won’t be completed until at least 2020.
In the meantime, there is literally not enough room for the passengers coming in.
This wasn’t a major issue on arrival apart from slightly longer immigration queues. However, I will warn you that on exit this is not a pleasant experience. When I was there it was literally impossible to get a seat and every inch of the airport was covered.
Normally I like to get through security quickly and be able to relax on the other side near my gate. However, for Santorini airport, I would suggest holding off on going through security for longer than normal as once you reach the other side you will likely be standing and uncomfortable. Hopefully, the renovation will be a quick one.
There are no flights from Santorini to Ios as Ios does not have an airport.Paxos is a stunning Ionian Greek Island. Find all about it in my posts:
⇒ The 13 Best Things to do in Paxos Greece
⇒ The 3 Best Paxos Beaches
⇒ 5 Authentic and Delicious Paxos Restaurants
Santorini Airport to Santorini Ferry Port
Santorini Ferry Port is less than 6 miles from Santorini Airport. If you google it you will be told it takes about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, I would suggest allowing at least one hour for this trip.
The issue is the road which leads down to the ferry port. This one-lane winding road can often take around 40 minutes to get down – and to get up on the way back. This is the only way in and out of Santorini Ferry Port at the moment.
Also, there is not much room down at the ferry port so things get very blocked very fast.
I would very much recommend booking a car to pick you up at Santorini airport – whether you are heading to the ferry port or into Santorini. Believe it or not, I was told that there are only 36 taxis on the island of Santorini. That isn’t a typo – 36 taxis.
I had my hotel organise my airport pick up (if you are heading straight to the ferry port (click here for taxi options).
If you are heading straight to the ferry port I would suggest that pre-booking your airport pick up is pretty much mandatory if you want a smooth journey.
The same applies to the return ferry from Ios Greece to Santorini. I spoke with my taxi driver about picking me up on my return to the island and took his details.
I messaged him from Ios so he would be waiting for me when the ferry arrived from Ios to Santorini and he was there. Having said that, there was a bit of a wait as the taxi companies tend to organise a few people together and a bus to get to Santorini airport.
We then had to walk to the small bus and wait in the traffic to get up the long and winding road. Again, even with a booked car, it is essential to allow at least one hour if not more to get from Santorini Ferry port to Santorini airport.
I did not see any other taxis or taxi drivers at the Santorini ferry port. There are many people at the ferry port offering accommodation options but not so many offering lifts.
Friends doing the same trip the day earlier tried a shuttle option but found this almost impossible to find in the chaos that is the Santorini ferry port.
Unfortunately, this will cost you. My taxi from my hotel in Fira to the port was 30 euros. My return taxi from Santorini Port to Santorini Airport was 50 euros.
No matter if you’re going from Mykonos to Santorini or to other Greek islands I am afraid this will apply to any journey in and out of Santorini.
Santorini Ferry Port
It is recommended that you get to arrive at Santorini Ferry Port one hour before your ferry and I would very much agree. The port is chaos.
People and cars everywhere and there are many of them. I was there at the end of May and it was crazy – I can’t imagine what it must be like July/August.
My ferry Santorini Ios ticket had information about the office I needed to go to at the port to pick up my physical ticket (it appears that in most cases it is still necessary to pick up a physical ticket – no QR readers at the check in!). This was an easy and clear process.
At this stage, you will be told what time to board your ferry and the number of your boarding gate. There are then several cafes at the ferry port for sitting and waiting. I liked Chillbox – Greek frozen yoghurt. With toppings.
The chaos then hits when it is time to board the boat from Santorini to Ios. As you can imagine I travel quite a bit as a blogger but I found it very difficult to figure out where I should be at Santorini Ferry Port.
The good news is the people at the final ticket check seem quite with it and will quickly tell you if you are in the wrong place and where to go.
Ios Ferry Port
Upon arrival at the Ios Island Ferry port, things are much easier. This is a much smaller ferry port and very easy to navigate. Also, there are quite a few local hoteliers etc all lined up to meet the ferries so if you have booked your accommodation you will likely find someone with a sign with the name of your hotel.
It is a quick and easy departure out of Ios port for your ferry Ios Santorini and you could easily be at your hotel in minutes.
The good news is that this also applies on the return trip from Ios. I arrived at the Ios ferry port a good 45 minutes before my ferry. It was very easy to pick up my physical ticket at the office.
There are several cafes in the port on Ios. I highly recommend Thai me Up – apparently, they also have excellent Thai food so may be worth a visit during your stay (Ios port has some fantastic restaurants and is very atmospheric).
It was very easy to tell which Ios Santorini ferry was yours when it turned up and a quick and easy boarding process.
Santorini to Ios Ferry Timetable and Options
The ferry from Santorini to Cyclades Ios leaves from the port at the town of Thira. There are 5 different ferry companies that operate on this route. Travel times vary between 35 minutes and 90 minutes.
Golden Star Ferries and Blue Star Ferries run the route most frequently. With this frequency of ferries and the short distance, a Santorini to Ios day trip is also a great option if you’re limited for time.
The Ferry Ios Santorini
At the Santorini end, it is total chaos getting on the Greek ferries. There are numbers on the rows of ferry seats but they are right down the arms of the seats and impossible to see unless you bend over and look at each row which makes for more chaos.
However, once you have found your seat and are settled they are very nice ferries with comfortable seats.
I took a Golden Star ferry from Santorini to Ios which was fine. I was on the Supercat ferry Ios to Santorini and that was very luxe and had an extensive collection of food and drinks.
If you’re like me you are constantly looking for power sockets for charging. No in-seat charging on the greek ferries. The ferry over had a few power sockets at the very front of the cabins.
The Supercat had several but they were strangely quite high up but they worked.
Should I stay in Santorini?
To be completely honest I wasn’t a big fan of Santorini. It was super touristy and so so busy. Venice on beach steroids.
I visited at the very beginning of June so it is hard to imagine what it must be like in July and August. Having said that, I was in Santorini for less than 24 hours and only went to Fira.
I have heard that Oia is much nicer. I thought it would be more sensible to stay in Fira as it is the location of the ferry port. However, it turns out Oia is only about another 20 minutes farther in a taxi.
Fira does have some positives. Firstly and foremost is the amazing Santorini sunset which was stunning.
Secondly, it is fantastic for shopping. If you have forgotten anything this is a great place to grab a fantastic swimsuit, stock up on fantastic local beauty brand Korres and grab anything else you could possibly need
If you are planning to stay check out this terrific post on how to spend 2 days in Santorini.
Where to Stay in Santorini
And thirdly Santorini has some lovely hotels. I stayed at the Anteliz Suites and absolutely loved it. This charming Santorini boutique hotel is perched on the top of Fira.
As such it has the most amazing views of the Santorini sunset. And a large deck area designed to help you to enjoy that view.
And the staff – Wow – they were so so lovely. I had a personalised check-in sitting outside with a view of the ocean.
I had a few things I needed to be sorted out – like a shattered iPhone and a need for a new bathing suit – and the hotel staff provided excellent and helpful advice. And they were just so nice and friendly.
Eating at Anteliz Suits
I had dinner and breakfast at the Anteliz and loved it. Dinner was a nice light greek menu with some good local Santorini wine.
I enjoyed delicious tzatziki with fresh pita bread and then a tasty chicken salad. I really couldn’t be bothered moving so it was perfect to be able to just relax at the hotel and still appreciate the sunset.
My breakfast was just wonderful. Guests are offered the choice of breakfast on the terrace overlooking the sea or just outside their room (every room has its own outdoor seating area).
Choices are pre-ordered the evening before. I enjoyed a delicious mix of local fruits with jaw-dropping greek yoghurt that looked like mozzarella balls.
Anteliz Suite – The Rooms
My room at Anteliz Suite Santorini was beautiful. It was a nice size and simply decorated in blue and white. The furniture and fixtures of this Santorini boutique hotel were of high quality.
The air conditioning was wonderfully powerful and the room had everything I could possibly need including excellent wifi. The bed at this hotel in Santorini was extremely comfortable.
A highlight was my cave shower which was very cute. And the shower had a nice big head with strong water pressure.
Just outside my room was the lovely little stylish pool. The pool isn’t big enough for laps for there is certainly enough room to cool off – and it is very instagram friendly.
I virtually didn’t leave this lovely hotel whilst I was there so this is a strong recommendation.
Ferries from Ios to other Greek Islands
There are multiple ferries daily from Ios to Piraeus, Paros and Naxos. There are also daily boats from Ios to Mykonos. Plus boats to everywhere from Crete to Kythnos and well most other greek islands it seems like.
There are ferries, catamarans and fast boats so do check which one you are booking.
Who Paid for What with this Post
The island of Ios was kind enough to host the majority of my stay in Ios which included my ferry tickets between Santorini and Ios.
I decided I wanted to see Santorini so I covered my own costs to stay in Anteliz and for those expensive taxi rides.
If you click through on the links in this blog post and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. I just wanted to make sure you were aware of this.
READ NEXT: COMPLETE MYLOPOTAS BEACH IOS GUIDE
Like this post? Why Not Pin It?