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17 Best Things to do in Ios

Ios Island used to be known as the Greek island for partying – I remember hearing about it when I was backpacking a long time ago (thank god those days are over).

Ios Greece still attracts a young crowd in the old town at the height of summer but it also now has some great boutique hotels, lovely restaurants (the food is amazing), some hidden gems and importantly a long list of fantastic things to do in Ios Greece.

17 Best Things to do in Ios

1. Take a Boat Trip

If you only do one thing whilst on the Greek Island Ios do make it taking a boat trip. As you can imagine, there are many different boat tour Ios options available.

The Old Town of Chora Ios

The most common option takes off from Mylopotas Beach. It then heads north for some swimming in caves and even cliff jumping if that is your thing.

Speedboat circles on our Ios boat trip

The boat then heads south down the West coast of Ios island Greece. There are several small beaches along the way that are only easily accessed from the water so the crowds tend to be low no matter what time of year you are visiting. These islands include Klima, Pepa, Tripiti and several others.

The typical Ios Greek Island boat trip then ends with a stop at Maganari beach, the second most popular beach on Ios island located at its southern tip.

Manganari beach Ios has full facilities – not as many as Mylopotas but restaurants, bars, sun loungers, and umbrellas etc.

One of the many queit beaches along the Ios eastern coastline

There are many different boat options at Ios in Greece. Take a small boat trip if there are just a few of you and you want to set your own itinerary – this is what we did.

Or there are options for no matter what size party you are with as well as alternatives to add in food etc. It really is lovely heading down the stunning coastline of Ios Greece.

Afterward, we headed to Drakos for lunch (more on that to come) and a few wines and then lazed around on the sunbeds at the Free Beach Club – a great thing to do on Ios island.

2. Blue and White churches and really any Greek Church

Rumour has it that there are 365 churches on Ios. That isn’t confirmed but there are certainly a very large number of extremely photogenic churches on this Greek Island.

The good news is that many of them are the signature super cute Greek Island blue and white as well.

There can never be too many Greek churches

3. The Chora backstreets

Chora is the old town of Ios and filled with winding streets lined with white houses and bougainvillea and blue doors and window sills and other photogenic Greek things. It is definitely worth wandering these photogenic back streets.

However, in general, Chora’s old town is not a great place to go in the evening. It is filled with bars offering many low-cost shot options etc and if you’re over 25 possibly a little slice of hell.

The backstreets of Chora

However, I do recommend heading there during the day to explore. I also had a fantastic lunch at The Nest in the centre of Chora.

Cute fridge magnets on sale in Chora

4. The Top of Chora

So my number two must-do activity in Ios is to walk to the top of Chora to see the churches – and the view. It is extremely easy to find the walk – literally, just head up through the old town and there are many signs.

If you are relatively fit and healthy it is an easy walk-up to the top of Chora and its churches. Also, the walk up takes you through some of the nicer backstreets of Chora.


Once near the top, you will be rewarded with four Greek Island churches. The first is the full blue and white extravaganza Panagia Gremiotissa, the most iconic church in Ios.

It isn’t possible to go into Panagia Gremiotissa (or the other churches further up the hill) but it is easy to wander around and take photos.

A beautiful blue and white steeple

There are then three more cute churches dotted up the top of the hill. I visited Ios Greece at the beginning of June so some beautiful colourful wildflowers were in bloom – very helpful for the foreground of photos.

View from the top of Chora

In addition to the churches, this walk affords some amazing views over Ios island. It is also a great place to take photographs of Skarkos as it is possible to see the whole site from above.

The 3 Churches atop Chora

I visited the churches around 3 pm. It is said that sunset is the best time to visit the churches at the top of Chora so if you can perhaps check out this option as well.

5. Skarkos

Skarkos is the largest known settlement of the procycladic world and dates back to the mid-3rd millennium BC. Excavation began on this well-preserved site in the mid-1980s. The area covers 1.1 hectares.

Skarkos on Ios

It is possible to visit parts of the site for a fee. Photography is limited. Skarkos Ios is outside Chora and a bit tricky to get to without a car or moped/bike.

Skarkos Ios

6. Homer’s tomb

Legend has it that Homer died on Ios. The Iliad one, not the yellow one. Apparently, Homer visited Ios and the fishermen of the north of Ios island posed a riddle to him that he was unable to solve.

He was so distressed that it is said to have caused his death. Homer really needed some work-life balance!

Homer’s Tomb

Homer’s tomb is now commemorated with a large stone plaque and is located at the northern tip of Ios island. It is a short walk up from the car park area and the views are absolutely amazing. Visibility of the nearby islands of Naxos and Irakla is fantastic.

There isn’t a lot to do here but I think the views alone make this a worthwhile place to visit on Ios island.

The path to Homer’s Tomb

You might enjoy reading some of my other articles about the Greek Islands:

Paxos Restaurants
Things to do in Paxos Greece
Best Paxos Beaches
Santorini to Ios
Mylopotas Beach
Most Beautiful Islands in Greece

7. Odysseas Elytis Theatre

Next up is the stunning modern theatre, Odysseas Elytis. Although it was completed in 1997, the theatre was modelled on the ancient theatres of Greece and feels like it must be considerably older. Its stands are made out of marble and can accommodate 1100 people.

Odysseas Elytis – an amazing view

Concerts are regularly held at the Odysseas Elytis Theatre between May and September. It must be an amazing place to see theatre or hear music. The theatre itself is stunning and the views are outstanding.

8. The Modern Art Sculptures of Ios

On the way to Homer’s Tomb, you will pass some slightly unusual modern art sculptures. Whilst they look like they have been in place for some time they are actually relatively new. Their, ahem, shapes may be a bit of a give away that they are of more recent time.

Yes, that is what you think it is

The second photogenic modern art sculpture is located at the Gaitis museum which is just above the Odysseus Elytis Theatre. Greek artist Yannis Giatis is responsible for quite a bit of the more modern interesting design on the island of Ios. You can see more of his work at the Liostasi hotel.

Modern Art on Ios

9. Free Beach Resort at Mylopotas Beach

Several of the most exciting restaurants/clubs/hotels on the island of Ios are owned by the Luxurios Group. They are a family-owned sustainable hospitality group who love Ios.

I visited a couple of Luxurios Group Ios properties and just loved them. They are bright and fun and feature quirky designs and details.

Funky lounging at the Free Beach Club

The Free Beach Bar and Restaurant is their property on Mylopotas Beach. This Ios beach club is like some Dali-esque dream in pastels and there is a lovely good sized pool in the middle.

The Free Beach Bar and Restaurant Ios has sun loungers, suspended beds, shaded areas, full sun and well everything you could possibly imagine. There were even dance lessons going on while I was there and a cute shop. Free Beach Bar offers a full menu as well as cocktails etc.

Loved this swinging bed at the Free Beach Club

The Free Beach Club in Ios also has some lovely sun loungers with umbrellas on the actual Mylopotas beach. I settled into one of these beds for the afternoon and was very happy.

There was no charge to use this sunbed on Mylopotas Beach – just the assumption that you would purchase at least one drink which of course I did.

Comfortable lounging on Mylopotas Beach

The Free Beach Club and its beach loungers are located about halfway along the beach so it is much quieter. Mylopotas Beach is so big that apparently, the middle and end section (eg the opposite end from Chora) is often not terribly crowded even at the height of summer.

This was definitely to my mind the best place on the beach for relaxing.

The water of Mylopotas Beach is incredibly clear and clean and so lovely to swim in. The sand is slightly golden rather than white but still very clean and soft to walk on.

The Mylopotoas Beach sea isn’t particularly rocky so you won’t need special shoes to go in to avoid damaging your feet.

Thinking about visiting Santorini? Read all about it:

Santorini Greece Black Sand Beaches
Santorini Wineries
Where to watch the Santorini Sunset

10. Drakos at Mylopotas Beach

If you’re after the quintessential Greek taverna experience look no further. Drakos has been running for over 40 years and it is easy to see why. It has an amazing location at the southern end of Mylopotas Beach virtually on the water.

Most of the seating at Drakos Ios is outside so you will be sitting very close to the source of your meal.

Polpo on the line at Drakos

This is a restaurant that knows its seafood. The seafood at Drakos is prepared out on the deck in many cases – with octopus hanging off strings. Whilst we were there fresh fish was brought in on ice and weighed and chosen. There was seafood everywhere and it was very photogenic.

Tasty lightly fried shrimp at Drakos

Unsurprisingly Drakos’ signature dishes are octopus and squid. We enjoyed some delicious grilled octopus – smoky and seared on the outside and oh so soft on the inside. The calamari was lightly fried in a tempura-style batter and just delicious.

Live preparation at Drakos

The fava at Drakos is also a specialty and delicious. The Drakos Greek salad is prepared with local fresh white cheese which melts in your mouth.

The classic greek salad at Drakos

Another highlight was the zucchini flowers. There are two preparation options – with rice or with fresh local cheese.

We tried both and I definitely recommend the local cheese option – I could have eaten many of these. Small lightly fried shrimps are another Drakos specialty and very moreish.

Amazing octopus at Drakos

We had a couple of bottles of wine and sat and ate and drank for a good couple of hours over lunch and it was just wonderful. When it comes to Ios things to do I would put visiting Drakos at the top of your list.

Appetisers by the sea at Drakos

You might enjoy reading some of my other articles about Greece:

Greece 10 Day Itinerary
Greek Landmarks
Things to do in Thessaloniki
Halkidiki Beaches
Facts about Greece

11. Mylopotas Beach

There are at least 30 Ios island beaches – but the main beach is Mylopotas Beach. Located only 3km from Chora, this is 1km long beach is the most popular on Ios.

There is a lot going on along Mylopotas Beach. There are many sets of sun loungers and umbrellas, extensive water sports, boat trips and of course swimming.

Mylopotas Beach has many sunloungers.

Mylopotas Beach has some of the most popular restaurants and beach clubs on Ios as well. The sand is golden and soft and the water translucent.

The area closest to Chora eg the northern end of the beach tends to be the busiest. For some quiet head at least halfway down the beach or further as even at the height of the season, there will be space.

Why not have a purple sun lounger?

The beach itself and its many sunbeds and umbrellas are very photogenic, as is the clear water. Along the beach are several of the places mentioned in this post such as Drakos and the Free Beach Bar.

12. Manganari Beach

The second most popular beach on Ios is Manganari. Manganari beach is located at the southern tip of the island. Many people visit Manganari Beach Ios on a boat trip from Mylopotas.

It is, of course, possible to get to Manganari Beach via car or moped. This Ios beach is 23km from Chora.

greece ios manganari beach 2

Like Mylopotas, this is a beautiful beach of golden sands and clear water. And its location means it is far less visited than Mylopotas beach but has a similar level of facilities.

Manganari Beach has a few restaurants, sun loungers, watersports, boats, beach umbrellas etc.

greece ios manganari beach 1

Also, Manganari beach is located in a bay so there are calm swimming and easy snorkelling. This is the quintessential stunning Greek Island beach – so much so that the movie Infinite Blue was shot here.

13. Gorgona Hotel

This whitewashed Ios hotel with pale blue shutters and colourful trims is located at the southern end of Mylopotas beach next to Drakos Restaurant.

Gorgona Hotel on Mylopotas Beach

The location of the Gorona Hotel Ios is quite frankly outstanding. It is literally only a few metres to the beach. There is no need for the Gorgona Hotel to have a pool. Mylopotas beach is its hotel swimming pool.

Terrace at Gorgona

The beautiful big breakfast room at the Gorgona hotel looks out over the beach as do all of the rooms. Inside the rooms are simply decorated in white with colourful accents. And the bathrooms at this hotel in Ios are an amazing azure blue.

The very blue bathroom at Gorgona

It would be very easy to stay at this hotel for a week and just swim and eat at Drakos next door every night and not move.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor Book Now

14. Taste of Joy

The second Luxurios property I visited in Ios was their Taste of Joy restaurant. I didn’t actually eat here- I just came to take photos.

It appears the same designer was used for Taste of Joy as for the Free Beach Club. It isn’t quite as out there Dali-esque as the Free Beach Club but still looks fabulous and is very photogenic.

And apparently, the food at Taste of Joy Ios is great.

Room for a few at Pride of Joy!

15. Liostasi Hotel

A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the world, this is my kind of Greek Island boutique hotel. Designed by a Greek theatre director Liostasi Hotel’s chic design is in keeping with the classic colours of the Greek islands.

However, it features quirky design touches like its modern art sculptures and its stunning pool which features quotes from Homer’s Oddysey around its frame – which is lit up at night. Only in Greece!

The Liostasi swimming pool at night

The rooms at the Liostasi Hotel in Ios are stunning. Simple and white but with every creature comfort you would expect from a 5-star hotel. Acqua di Parma toiletries (not often seen), high-quality towels and bathrobes, coffee machine etc etc.

The view from the terrace at Liostasi

Grandma’s restaurant at Liostasi Ios comes with outstanding reviews for good reason. Firstly, its fantastic breakfast (buffet and hot choice to order) has won awards in Greece.

Dinner at Grandma’s restaurant Liostasi is also a culinary delight. And there is a spa. And there is an outdoor cinema. And the staff at the Liostasi hotel in Ios are lovely.

And there are amazing sea views. And it is perfectly located for the sunset. Liostasi really has everything for an outstanding Greek Island boutique hotel experience.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor Book Now

16. Ios Club

I absolutely loved Ios Club. What a spot for sunset – and what a back story. Hippies first started coming to Ios in the 1960s and this was one of their favourite spots to watch the sunset. However, at that time it was literally a grassy hill.

The view from the Ios Susnet Bar

A bar was built on this location in the 1970s/1980s that was quite popular. However, it was not updated over time and ended up being rather rough looking.

That changed when the lovely current owners bought the property in 2014. She did a major renovation and Ios Club is now a very stylish and modern beach club/bar.

The Ios Club sunset bar is over several levels, offering a huge range of views.

Drinks at Ios Club

A highlight of Ios Club is the music. It is a tradition to play classical music at sunset on Ios in this spot and they have upheld that. However, once the sun sets it moves to modern music.

Ios Club has a fantastic aperitif menu – perfect sunset drinks. I very much enjoyed the Italian aperitif.

The lounging area at Ios Club

A terrific dinner is then on offer at Ios Club. We started with the Greek selection. Grilled octopus, fried Atherina fish, roasted shrimps, Tarama with sesame, olives and of course amazing Greek bread.

We then followed the starters up with skirt steak and the same style of cooking for our chicken. There was no room for dessert.

Dinner at Ios Club

17. The Windmills of Ios

The majority of windmills on Ios are found in Chora. Twelve windmills “stand watch” over the town and two have been renovated. In the past, these windmills were used to produce energy to grind grains.

Today, the windmills of Ios keep the unique architecture of this Greek Island’s past alive and provide an excellent photo opportunity.

Ios windmill

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Ios Travel Guide. Here are some logistics to help you to plan your trip to Ios.

How to get to Ios Greece

If you’re coming from outside the Greek islands the nearest airport to Ios is Santorini.

Flights to Santorini

Once at Santorini airport the port is a 15-minute taxi ride away -theoretically. It is normally much longer than that as the traffic backs up massively on the one road in and out of the port.

I would suggest allowing 45 minutes to get between the airport and the port.

Read my complete post on How to Get from Santorini to Ios and whether you should stay in Santorini

Sunset over Ios from Ios Club

The ferry from Santorini to Ios leaves from the port at the town of Thira. There are 5 different ferry companies that operate on this route.

Travel times between Santorini and Ios vary between 35 minutes and 90 minutes. Golden Star Ferries and Blue Star Ferries run the route most frequently.

Ferry times and Options.

Alternatively, there are ferries between Piraeus in Athens and Ios. Depending on which boat you take the trip will last between 4 and 8 hours.

In the summer there are also ferries from the Athens port of Rafina to Ios. There are quite regular ferries between Ios and the other islands of the Cyclades like Santorini, Sifnos, Paros, and Milos.

Very funky pool and loungers at Pride of Joy

Who Paid for What with this Post

The island of Ios was kind enough to host the majority of my stay in Ios. I paid to spend a night at the lovely Liostasi and I paid for my flights to get to and from Santorini (The island of Ios covered the return ferry tickets).

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.

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Ios Greece has far more to offer than just shots in its old town Chora! There are boutique hotels, brilliant restaurants and at least 17 Instagrammable Things to do in Ios Greece! #iosgreece #greekislands #greece
Ios Greece has far more to offer than just shots in its old town Chora! There are boutique hotels, brilliant restaurants and at least 17 Instagrammable Things to do in Ios Greece!

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Saturday 13th of July 2019

I have never been to Greece but I have been inspired to try someday by this post and also by my wallpaper on my computer for this week. I want to go swimming!

Jasmine Watts

Friday 12th of July 2019

This is absolutely amazing! I would love to visit this place someday.

Flossie McCowald

Thursday 11th of July 2019

Holy cow, Instagrammable indeed! Those photos are incredible. What an amazing and fun trip you had!

Angela Tolsma

Thursday 11th of July 2019

I haven't heard of Skarkos before, I would totally do that. I love the colors here and can't wait to visit one day.

Marjie Mare

Thursday 11th of July 2019

Those pictures worth a thousand words. They are absolutely beautiful and make me want to visit this place.

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