‹ Back to site

 Print this page

Ios Travel Guide
Ios Mythology

According to the Greek mythology, Neptune was responsible for the creation of the Cyclades island group. It is said that when the nymphs angered him, he turned them into islands. And we are so grateful for that! According to other legends, the name Cyclades, which derives from the Greek word kyklos (that means circle), comes from the Circle that all these islands formed around the sacred island of Delos, Apollo’s birthplace. A third version says that the name derived from the rotating movement the boats made due to the strong winds.  
Various myths are associated with the formation of each island and legends reflect their history.

The Story Behind The Name
From the moment the boat reaches the port of Ios, you will immediately feel that something is different about this Cycladic Island. Ios is a mixture of bohemian chic, alternative culture and deep history. It is said that the Island took its name from the ancient Greek word “Ia”, which refers to the flowers that grow in abundance on the rocky soil. However, some believe that the origin of the name derives from the respective Phoenician word, which means “a pile of rocks”, something that makes more sense if we consider how far back in time this island’s history go. Today Greeks call it Ios or Nios.


Prehistorically Speaking…

The naturally protected port was of particular importance since the prehistoric times, serving as a passage towards Crete. One of the very first prehistoric settlements is located on the hills of Skarkos, which, along with the other smaller settlements that were scattered all over the island, can tell their own story about that period of time. The well-preserved buildings have two stories and stone paved floors, while the settlement seems to have a fully developed sewage system, much like the one used in the similar Santorini settlement. Numerous pottery items, tools and metallic, stone and bone utensils were discovered during the excavations.  

Minoans, Achaeans and Phoenicians

In the 2nd millennium BC, Ios was under the influence of the Minoan and consecutively the Mycenaean civilization and culture that together with the eruption of the volcano in Santorini changed the course of the island’s history. The Achaeans’ domination was marked by the Cyclopean wall that can still be seen across the city hall. Then the Phoenicians arrived on the island and stayed until the 19th century BC. Being great mariners, they brought many trees from other countries, the most known of which is the palm tree. It’s noteworthy that coins from that era depict a palm tree on one side and Homer on the other.

Was It The Birthplace Of Homer?

Homer’s birthplace is claimed by many islands and places, even as far as in Asia Minor. According to the local tradition, the legendary poet’s mother was born in Ios and he himself was buried there. Locals actually point to the ancient town of Plakotos -at the northernmost part of the island-, where the rocky entrance to a tomb can be seen. Many ancient writers and historians researched this topic, like Stravon, Gaius Plinius Secundus and Pausanias, however, no physical evidence of Homer was ever found there.

The Venetian Rule And The Ottoman Empire

The Venetians ruled the island between the 13th and the 17th century, after the defeat of the Byzantine army by Dominicus Skiabbi. Remnants of the impressive 15th century Venetian Castle, which was built to protect the island from the pirates, can still be seen at the north end of the island. At the time, Naxos was the capital of the Duchy, under the leadership of Marcus Sanudus. The Turks then invaded the island, which was not liberated until the 19th century. Being one of the strongest naval forces, Ios proudly raised the flag of the 1821 Greek Revolution among the firsts. Ios took part in the naval battle of Kousantasi on July 9th 1821, in the 2nd National Assembly of Astros-Kynouria on 1823 and in the 3rd National Assembly in Troizina on 1827.

The Original Party Island

In the 1960s Ios was chosen by hippies from all around the world as the new hot spot and this is partly why it’s still considered as the original party island in Greece. Around the 1970s, the Cycladic Island became a very popular destination especially amongst the young European travelers. Today the younger crowds choose Ios for the innumerable bars and clubs and the all-day party mood that reflects the island’s reputation. With an excellent tourism infrastructure, including many hotels, Ios Island features amazing sandy beaches, a fully organized marina and an excellent road network. Numerous traditional taverns and restaurants serve fresh fish and seafood delicacies, while Ios main town, Hora, has the biggest number of bars and clubs amongst all islands in the Aegean Sea!

CATEGORY: 4 star,   STYLE: Seaside Resort
Location: Mylopotas
Starting price per night: 60.00 €


CATEGORY: 4 star,   STYLE: Beach
Location: Mylopotas
Starting price per night: 62.00 €


CATEGORY: 5 star,   STYLE: Spa
Location: Ios Hora
Starting price per night: 78.00 €

For a romantic and luxury backdrop in Ios

CATEGORY: 5 star,   STYLE: Luxury
Location: Mylopotas
Starting price per night: 77.00 €


CATEGORY: 2 star,   STYLE: Traditional
Location: Ios Hora
Starting price per night: 55.00 €


In Ios Hora

Hora of Ios has been declared as a traditional settlement and it’s a typical Cycladic picturesque village. Visitors will be highly impressed with the distinctive architecture. All the houses are boxy, white, with blue doors and windows, adjacent to each other, while some have small front-yards. The streets are narrow and paved. Hora is amphitheatrically built and enjoys a scintillating view. The most beautiful spots are the Venetian Castle and the Church of Holy Mary Gremiotissa, which is on the very top of the hill, offering an amazing view.     

Prehistoric settlement of Skarkos

At a close proximity to the port of Ios, in a hill lower but close to Hora, excavations brought to light one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the world. The settlement had an excellent infrastructure and an innovative sewage system. The buildings have two stories and impressive morphological characteristics, such as paved stairs, closets, tiled floors and built-in chests. The majority of the findings, such as utensils and tools, are actually in place and very well preserved. During the last years, many more were brought to light, such as stamps –stone and bone ones- as well as a large number of stamped items, something extremely rare of a prehistoric settlement. This proves that the social structure was much more complex than any of us would assume.

Before the settlement there is a parking lot, however we suggest you park way before that and access the site by foot.

Churches and Monasteries

They say that Ios has 365 churches and chapels, as many as the days of the year. In Hora, visitors will get the chance to see 26 of them. Most are from the Byzantine era and you will need special permission to visit. You should also explore the amazing monasteries of Saint John in Kalamos and Saint John in Pyrgos.

The Church of Agios Theodosios is in the village of Agia Theodoti. Within the church you will see parts of ancient buildings, as Christians used to build churches on top of ancient temples’. In the same location there is also a tower from the Hellenistic Period, as well as the remnants of an ancient aqueduct.

Of equal importance is the church of Agia Eirini, dated back to the 17th century and is located in Ormos. The church of Agia Eirini in Hora should also be mentioned, as it’s located in the port’s entrance and it’s considered the island’s symbol.

Odysseas Elytis Theater

The Odysseas Elytis Theater is an open theater, built of local stone and marble in the location Tsoukalaria, next to Hora and at the end of the windmills. This is a unique place in Greece, as it officially bears the name of the famous Greek poet. It has a capacity of 1.100 people, it was inaugurated in 1997 and it’s easily accessible by car or by foot.
The Municipality of Iites organizes there every summer many concerts and theatrical shows, within the framework of the “Omireia” Cultural Festival. However, you can always visit even if there is no event taking place. The view of Hora, the port, Mylopotas and the nearby islands is just breathtaking and the sunset will surely bedazzle you.     

Homer’s tomb

According to tradition, Homer was buried in Ios Island. His tomb is said to be in the location Plakotos, in the northern part of the island, on top of a hill.
Access is easy by car and visitors can also admire the magnificent view from up there. The Municipality is planning on creating on this exact location an Academy of Homeric Studies, with global impact.  

The Archaeological Museum of Ios

The Archaeological Museum of Ios is located in Hora, on the ground floor of the City Hall. It hosts a vast collection of exhibits, found on the island between the 3rd millennium BC until the Roman Era. Everything is divided in thematic modules, while the findings from the excavations in the location of Skarkos dominate. The Museum is open every day, except Monday, from 08:30 until 15:00. (Tel.: 22860 91246).

The Museum of Modern Art Jean Mari Dro

The Museum of Modern Art Jean Mari Dro is a private museum. It’s not open during specific days and hours and it can be visited only upon request addressed to the owner. It’s accessed only by foot, through an alley. The Municipality is planning on taking over its management and run it on a regular basis.

The Museum of Giannis Gaitis and Gabriella Simosi

This museum opened its doors to the public during the summer of 2008 and has managed to concentrate the works of the prominent artist and friend of Ios, Giannis Gaitis, and his wife’s. Many other artists from Greece and abroad are also committed to show their work in these premises. The museum is located close to the Odysseas Elytis Theater, which together with the famous Windmills are a unique cultural site.

Eat & Drink
TYPE: Hotel Restaurant,   STYLE: Contemporary Mediterranean Cuisine
Location: Ios Hora

TYPE: Bar - Restaurant,   STYLE: Contemporary Mediterranean Cuisine
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Bar - Restaurant,   STYLE: International
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Bar,   STYLE: Mainstream
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Bar - Restaurant,   STYLE: Contemporary Mediterranean Cuisine
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Club,   STYLE: Mainstream
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Taverna,   STYLE: Mediterranean & International Cuisine
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Bar - Restaurant,   STYLE: Tex Mex
Location: Mylopotas


TYPE: Restaurant,   STYLE: Italian cuisine
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Club,   STYLE: Mainstream
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Club,   STYLE: Mainstream
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Club,   STYLE: Mainstream
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Bar,   STYLE: Rock Music
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Taverna,   STYLE: Fresh Fish & Seafood
Location: Mylopotas


TYPE: Bar,   STYLE: Rock Music
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Bar,   STYLE: Greek Music
Location: Ios Hora


TYPE: Bar,   STYLE: Rock Music
Location: Ios Hora


Practical info
General Info


The climate in the Aegean Sea is pretty much typical every year. During the summer, the heat is dry around 30-35 degrees Celsius and usually 3-4 degrees lower than in continental Greece.

The famous “meltemia”, which are strong winds, blow all around the Aegean Sea, but especially in Cyclades, during the month of August. Sometimes they are too strong, something that necessitates the prohibition of sea traveling.     
During the winter months there is a lot of rainfall and humidity. Snow rarely makes its appearance.


National prefix for Greece is +30 if you are calling from abroad. The majority of numbers in Athens start with 210 -fewer start with 211- and are followed by 8 digits (e.g. 210 3050020).
Area Code for Ios: +30 22860, which is followed by a 5 digit number (e.g. 22860 55555). If you wish to call abroad, you have to start by dialing the other country’s national prefix (i.e. Germany is 0049, England is 0044, etc.) and continue with the area code and the number where you wish to call.


Euro €
Euro Coins: 1 and 2 euro coins (gold and silver color) 10, 20 and 50 cents (gold color) 1, 2 and 5 cents (copper color) 1 euro = 100 cents/centimes
Euro Bank Notes: come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. It is not always easy to receive change from 200 and 500 euro notes.

Getting there


Ios can be accessed by high speed, semi high speed and conventional boats. During the summer months there are daily itineraries between the ports of Piraeus and Rafina (about an hour drive from Athens) and the main port of Ios.
The high speed boat ride takes about 4.5 hours to reach Ios Island; the semi high speed boat takes about 6 and the conventional boat can take up to 7-8 hours, depending on the layovers.

Ios is also connected to all the other islands of Cyclades, during the summer months (Santorini, Amorgos, Anafi, Koufonisia, Serifos, Kythnos, Mykonos, Paros, Tinos, Syros, Folegandros etc.).
Blue Star Ferries (semi high speed boats): For accurate timetables and tickets visit the Blue Star ferries website at www.bluestarferries.com.
High Speed (high speed boats): For accurate timetables and tickets visit the Hellenic Seaways website at www.hellenicseaways.gr.
Aegean Speedlines (high speed boats): For accurate timetables and tickets visit the Aegean Speedlines website at www.aegeanspeedlines.gr.
Ventouris Sea Lines (conventional boats): For accurate timetables and tickets visit the Ventouris Sea Lines website at www.ventouris.gr.

Local Transportation

Ios has a very good road network and an excellent public transportation system with new buses, which depart regularly from the port to various destinations (villages and beaches), but more often to Hora and Mylopota, where most of the hotels are located. There are bus stops every 500 meters or so, however if you kindly ask the driver, he will drop you anywhere you want, as long as it’s on the way.


Tel.: +30 22860 92015


Few taxis can be found in the island. The main taxi stand is just outside Hora. You are advised to ask beforehand about the fare, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. You can hail them, while on the street, but if the driver has been called already, he might not give you a ride. You can always ask, but don’t be surprised if they don’t stop.

Main Taxi Stand: + 30 22860 92015

Taxi Drivers
Mastrantonaki Maria: +30 22860 91437 & + 30 6944 293588
Mpouzalakos Panagiotis: + 30 697 7031708
Moraitis Konstantinos: +30 22860 91745 & + 30 6932 680896
Nikiforos Georgios: +30 22860 91606
Stratis Kyriakos: + 30 697 7760570


There are many car rental agencies on the island, mainly located around the port, but also in Hora and in Mylopota. Make sure you book well ahead, especially if you are planning on visiting the island during the months of July and August (peak season). If the agency does not have an office in the port, they will gladly bring the car to you upon your arrival.

Usually you have to be 21 years old to rent a car and you definitely need a valid driving license. Insurance is optional. Make sure you check the condition of the car beforehand. If you sign for its mint condition, this is how you should return it, otherwise you will be charged with damages. Also, you need to return the car with the amount of gas it had when it was delivered to you.

Be careful. No agency should withhold your driving license or ID card. These can only be photocopied, if necessary, and then delivered back to you. You should carry them at all times.

You should always remember that the streets on all the islands are small, sometimes dangerous, on steep cliffs and with abrupt turns. You also need to remember that you cannot park anywhere. Buses are bulky, the streets are narrow and if you are on the way, a tow truck might move your car and you will most definitely get a ticket. Remember not to violate the speed limits. Except from dangerous, some streets are often crossed by animals and/or pedestrians in the middle of nowhere.

Same rules apply in case you are interested in renting a motorcycle or a scooter. Only in this case you need to be extra careful and always wear a helmet.

Ios Rent A Car Tel.: +30 22860 92300
Jacob’s Rent a Car Tel: +30 22860 91047 & +30 22860 91700 & +30 22860 91638
Chiou Dimitrios Tel: +30 22860 91066
Fousterios Dimitrios Tel: +30 22860 92470
Far out Tel: +30 22860 91468
Vangelis Rent A Bike: +30 22860 91919
Trohokinisi: +30 22860 91166

Local services


Two bank branches can be found on the island of Ios: Emporiki Bank of Greece (blue color logo) and the National Bank of Greece (green color logo).

Opening hours
Monday to Thursday: 8.00 - 14.30 Friday: 8.00 - 14.00

National Bank of Greece: +30 22860 91354 & +30 22860 91565
Emporiki Bank:  +30 22860 91296


Banks exchange all major currencies, traveler’s cheques or Eurocheques; the commission is always lower for cash. Post offices exchange cash, but not traveler’s cheques, and usually charge lower commissions than banks. Travel agencies and larger hotels exchange cash and traveler’s cheques but usually charge a higher commission. Banknote exchange machines can be found in most tourist areas.


The Greek post is called ELTA. Post Boxes in Greece are YELLOW and usually divided into international and domestic. RED Post Boxes are rarer and they are used for URGENT mail. REGISTERED mail is handled by an employee and the customer should always be given a receipt.

Post office in Ios: +30 22860 91235


In case an unfortunate incident happens to you or someone else while on the island, do not hesitate to file a report to the local police station. Additionally, if you have any problem with your accommodation you can also report it to the police.

Tel.: +30 22860 91222


Municipality of Ios: +30 22860 91505
Port authority: +30 22860 91264
Tourist Information: +30 22860 91936
Weather Forecast: www.meteo.gr

•    Police: 100
•    Fire Department: 199
•    Ambulance: 166

•    Health Center: +30 22860 91227

•    Michael Petropoulos: +30 22860 91562

An exotic Cycladic paradise

Magganari is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches of the Aegean. Three quiet coves form an exotic lagoon. Protected by waves and wind, these coves are ideal for relaxation and valuable quiet time, away from the bustling crowds. The first beach is organized, while the other two are not.

An easily accessible, cozy getaway

Gyalos is a beautiful sandy beach, only few meters from the port, however it has crystal clear waters. It's easily accessible by foot or by bus (Port-Hora-Mylopotas). Gyalos is really popular, due to its proximity to Hora and the port, and this is why there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, traditional taverns and water sports centers.

Golden sand, emerald waters

The beach of Agia Theodoti is one of the most quiet ones in Ios and represents the ideal spot for those seeking for some quality, relaxation time away from the crowds. You can swim in the crystal clear waters and enjoy the sun in the golden sand or have an amazing meal in one of the traditional taverns of the area. Access is easy by car, however many travel agencies organize daily excursions in this beautiful getaway.

An isolated heavenly getaway

The beach of Kalamos is located on the eastern part of the island, about 16 kilometers from the port. The monastery of Agios Ioannis is on the way and it's definitely worth a visit. The beach is isolated and if you are lucky you might not find anybody there! Enjoy swimming and snorkelling in the amazing crystal, clear turquoise waters.

The best sunset spot

The nice beach of Koumpara is located northwest of the port and you can access it by foot (takes about half an hour), car or bus, following the direction towards Gyalos. There are many traditional taverns there, as well as rooms to let, but generally it's a very quiet location. The landscape is magical and it's the ideal spot to watch the most scintillating sunset!  

Sparkling emerald Cycladic waters

Mylopotas is probably the most popular beach of Ios island. One kilometer of thin white sand, emerald, crystal clear waters, fully organized, with many water sports centers. In the area you will find many hotels, rooms to let, bars, restaurants, taverns and a small market. 

Windsurf paradise

Psathi is an amazing, virgin beach. It's quiet, peaceful and not organized, so be prepared! The landscape is unique as the beach is divided into two smaller exotic ones, which are very popular amongst windsurfers due to the strong winds on this part of the island. The waves are high enough providing an excellent camvas for practice. Psathi is on the way to Agia Theodoti and access is feasible by car.


Local Specialties & Recipes

no results

Local Products
Local product - Cuisine

Ios has some very distinctive and unique traditional products. You should definitely try the local cheeses: white kefalotiri, xyno (sour: soft white cheese), skotiri (mix of cheeses and aromatic herbs) and sweet myzithra. 
You should also try the local pastries, such as pasteli, xerotigano (diples), amygdalota (marzipans) and pure thyme honey. 
All the restaurants and the taverns serve amazing delicacies, like revithokeftedes (from chickpea), tomatokeftedes (from tomato) and tsimetia (stuffed zucchini blossoms).

Ios Events

There are many cultural activities and local festivals taking place in Ios, especially during the summer months. Once a year, each of the 365 churches of the island host a small fiesta on the name day of their Saint. On the eve, everybody gathers in the church’s yard and they are served free wine and grilled meat.
The most significant local feasts in Ios are the following:
·    On the 24th of June and on the 2nd of August ~ St. John Prodromos at the monastery of Pyrgos.
·    On the 15th of August ~ Panagia Gremiotissa in Hora
·    On the 29th of August ~ St. John's is celebrated in Kalamos and in Psathi.
·    On the 8th of September ~ Agia Theodoti. The saint’s icon is also carried on foot to Hora.
·    The most important cultural event of the island is the Omireia, which honors the famous poet and it’s organized under the auspices of UNESCO. Omireia started in 1991 and every year during the first two weekends of May attract thousands of people. Activities include lectures, theater and dance shows, art exhibitions, painting contests, concerts, workshops and pot luck dinners.

Cycladia Tips
Cycladia Tips for Ios

Ios is a truly beautiful island. Hora has countless bars and clubs, practically on every corner. The drinks are not expensive (about 5 euro each) and the music varies from rock to pop and from dance to electric and heavy metal. There is something for every taste.
·    If you are visiting the island because of the night life, then you should definitely go during the month of August, when everything is jammed packed. However, please bear in mind that people do drink a lot and might stir trouble.
·    If you are interested in exploring the island in a more relaxing mood, then you should visit during the month of June, in the beginning of July and in September.
·    The majority of hotels are located in Mylopotas. Some choose to walk from there to Hora, however there is no point, since the buses run every 10-15 minutes, the ride is about 5-7 minutes and the fare is rather cheap.
·    Try the exceptional fresh fish and all the local seafood delicacies. Prices are a bit high but it’s worth it.
·    The beach of Magganari is one of the most spectacular ones in the island. It actually consists of three separate smaller coves, one right next to the other, forming some sort of a lagoon, with shallow, warm, emerald waters. The exotic landscape is simply breathtaking. Try the second cove, right in the middle. It’s less crowded, if you don’t mind that there are no umbrellas and sun-beds, as opposed to the first one.
·    Mylopotas is an endless sandy beach. There are many spots where umbrellas and sun-beds are provided. Check out the prices first. They are not the same everywhere!
·    At the end of Mylopotas beach there is a picturesque fish tavern, right on the water, enjoying a fabulous view. If it’s not windy, get a table on the pier and order the lobster spaghetti, which is simply divine. If it’s windy, prefer the tables within the premises or the ones you will first see as you access the tavern. Otherwise, you are going to get all wet, as the waves smash on the pier!

Shops & Galleries
Shops and Galleries in Ios

If you wander around Hora you will discover numerous little shops, jewelry stores and stores with clothes, folk art, souvenirs, home accessories and decorations, handmade rugs and small super markets. Few stores can also be found in the port.  
BOLERO – clothes and accessories – Hora: Tel. +30 22860 91782
FLORET – Flowers and souvenirs – Hora: Tel. +30 22860 91491
GRAND TURISMO – Souvenirs – Tel. +30 22860 91430