Once you’ve partied it up in Mykonos and watched a romantic sunset in Santorini, find your way to a smaller island called Ios, which is a perfect blend of both.
I was lucky enough to discover ‘the rock’, as locals call it, when I went on Contiki’s 13 day Greek Island Hopping tour solo in 2013. The 3 days I spent here relaxing, eating and meeting friendly new faces were some of the happiest of my life. I was hooked.
My experience of traveling solo for the first time opened my eyes and allowed me to take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling buddy. I was determined to return to Ios and one up the experience I’d previously had. So in 2015 I booked a flight, quit my job and went back to Greece, where I landed the ultimate summer job in a pool bar on the island of dreams.
I spent 2 months on this unforgettable little island. Most tourists who visit know it as ‘the party island’, but having lived here, made friends here and worked here, I now know differently. It’s no secret the island has an incredible nightlife scene with over 50 bars concealed in the labyrinth lane ways of the main town Chora, but if you choose to venture away from the town, you can find so many gems hidden all over the little island. These are a few of my favourite Ios shaped adventures…
Haven’t seen a Greek Island sunset? Definitely add this one to the bucket list. Take a picnic to the top church in the main town and watch as the sun sets behind the hill, or try restaurants with prime sunset positions like Unique or Harmony.
Ios’s golden hour dream spot that really raises the bar is Pathos. This lounge bar is a 10 minute taxi or bus ride from the main town. Chill on a sun lounger as you take in that unmissable view or bring your swimwear and cool off in the infinity pool, obligatory mojito in hand.
The legend goes that the great poet Homer took his final breath in Ios, and now lies buried on the northernmost part of the island, on a hill at Plakoto. You can’t reach the location by public transport, so get off the beaten track and visit the site by hitching a ride from a local, or hire a car for the day.
Hold onto your swimmers and get ready. Mylopotas beach, the main beach, has a huge variety of water sports to test your skills. Get your heart pumping by windsurfing, wakeboarding or tubing, or if you’d rather a rare experience exploring the bottom of the Aegean Sea, diving courses are available too.
If you’re up in time for breakfast, congratulations! If not, Ios has got you more than covered for brunch spots. For seaside smoothies and the largest baguettes you’ve ever consumed in one sitting head to Cantina Del Mar. If you’ve been travelling for a little while and are in need of a home away from home vibe head to Hellenic Social for the a tasty ‘bondi hipster’ brunch with a twist, like their Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict.
Enjoying tasty traditional Gyros in Ios is unavoidable and you can pick up a generous sized one from all around the main town for as little as 2.50 euro. Once you’ve had your fair share of Gyros it’s worth ticking off some of the local restaurants in Ios. At the end of Mylopotas beach is Drakos Fish Taverna. Famous for the obvious, it serves the freshest fish and seafood in Ios. Another top restaurant not to be missed is Sally’s Arhondiko. At Sally’s you can watch the sun go down while enjoying traditional Greek Saganaki and moussaka or treat yourself to one of her delicious homemade pies – every night there’s a new option on the menu!
If you’ve explored all the beaches on the Island like Mylopotas and Managari and are in search for something a little more upbeat during the day you can’t miss the beach club at the bottom of Mylopotas called Far Out. Think day parties, sport competitions, National day celebrations and live performances. 2016 saw international DJ’s including Will Sparks and Australia’s DJ Tigerlily perform live at the venue.
If you want to take it down a notch while still enjoying a great atmosphere, food, Insta worthy views and poolside beats then head to Hermes Pool bar. On Monday’s you can experience their famous BBQ Pool Parties with a guest DJ and a BBQ cooked by the animated Greek hotel owner Niko.
Want to see more glorious Ios sunsets, night time adventures in Chora, water sport shenanigans and general Greek Island lols. Head on over to Contiki to watch YouTube superstar Casper Lee travel Ios with absolutely (and we mean absolutely) no regrets.