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Why Should I Visit Ios?

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Ios at a glance

Synonymous with uninhibited fun and wild nightlife, Ios has for decades been a favourite travel destination of young Europeans, and you can visit it with a ticket to Ios.

Increasingly, though, Ios is showing other sides to its character. Well-known for its stunning beaches, magical sunsets and beautiful Cycladic architecture, it is also worth visiting for its archaeological sites, private museums of contemporary art, and up-and-coming culinary scene.

Cosmopolitan and bohemian, eccentric and romantic, the fabled birthplace of Homer’s mother achieves a perfect balance between eternal youth and laid-back maturity, appealing to those who are young – or young at heart!

10 reasons to visit Ios
  1. To wander around Ios Town, built in the shape of an amphitheatre, with its traditional Cycladic architecture. The picturesque capital of the island, with its white houses and covered streets (stigadia), stone benches and steps, is an enchanting place. Make a stop at the twelve windmills (Anixis Square) at dusk, and at the 14th-century Catholic Church.
  2. To enjoy Ios Town from the most beautiful vantage point, especially at sunset, the church of the Virgin Mary Gremiotissa (1797), built on the edge of a cliff overlooking the town. The views from here extend as far as Sikinos and Santorini.
  3. To visit the Yannis Gaitis Museum to admire unique works by the great Greek painter and sculptor, who spent much of his time on Ios, as well as pieces by modernist artists from Greece and abroad.
  4. To get a taste of the island’s legendary nightlife at one of the countless bars and clubs on the streets and squares of Ios Town.
  5. To look out over the Aegean Sea from the walls of the 16th century Old Castle, which stands atop a 300-metre hill on the northeast side of the island.
  6. To wander around the Archaeological Museum of Ios, which displays the most important finds unearthed during the excavation of Skarkos Hill and the ancient cemetery, covering a period from Early Cycladic to Roman times.
  7. To explore the reputed site of Homer’s tomb at Plakoto, above the bay of the same name, and admire the fantastic view of the Aegean.
  8. To visit the open-air Odysseas Elytis Theatre, named after the Nobel-prize winning poet and located in the breathtaking environs of his favourite part of the island, Tsoukalaria. Designed by architect Peter Haupt and inspired by ancient Greek theatres in Sicily, the theatre was built using Parian marble and has a capacity of 1100 seats. The views of the horizon, the port and Mylopotas, especially at sunset, are absolutely magnificent.
  9. To attend the famous “Homeria”, a cultural festival of theatrical performances and concerts held each May under the auspices of UNESCO.
  10. To spend time at the archaeological site of Skarkos, a unique Early Cycladic settlement built in a radiating pattern on a hill surrounded by stone walls. The ancient city dates back to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC and reflects the architecture and daily life of the time. It has won the Europa Nostra Award for exemplary restoration of a European monument of cultural heritage.
The top 5 beaches

Manganari: An exotic paradise of four bays that together form a breathtaking lagoon and one of the most famous beaches in the whole of the Aegean. With fine golden sand and shallow blue-green waters, it is protected from wind and waves, making it ideal for families with children and for relaxing far away from crowds. Part of the beach has tourist facilities, while the rest offers tranquillity and plenty of room for beach games. It is well worth visiting if you choose a ticket to Ios.

Mylopotas: The island’s most famous beach boasts a one-kilometre stretch of white sand with crystal-clear emerald waters. Offering every amenity, it affords unique opportunities for enjoyment to lovers of adventure and water sports, as well as to those who prefer to sit back with a refreshing cocktail in the shade of a beach bar.

Kalamos: A haven of peace and quiet on the east coast of the island, this long stretch of golden sand is surrounded by rocks and crystal-clear blue-green waters. Its magnificent seabed attracts scuba divers and snorkellers. Make sure you have everything you need before you go, as there are no tourist amenities here.

Koumbara: A refuge of relaxation and tranquillity near the port of Ios, with some great options for eating out at the traditional tavernas of the area. A magical location with spectacular sunsets.

Saint Theodoti: A long, sandy beach with deep crystal-clear waters and natural shade provided by tamarisk trees. Its location offers excellent views of the sea and the neighbouring island of Sikinos. The beach is named after the 16th-century church of the same name that stands on the hill overlooking it.

Don’t leave Ios without…
  • Exploring the island’s hiking trails. Follow the route from Ios Town to Pelakania, passing through the Perivolia region with its lush vegetation and fruit trees.
  • Visiting the Jean-Marie Drot Museum of Modern Art in Mylopotas. The rich collection of paintings, sculptures, engravings, photographs and furniture is housed in the mansion of the French philhellenic painter who was drawn to Greece by its natural landscapes and the quality of its light.
  • Stopping to admire the elaborate pebble mosaics of local artist Yiannis Loukianos at the Ios port.
Γευστικές εμπειρίες
  • Sample the sweet local wine from the island’s small vineyards.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with pumpkin pie and mosenta (a baked dessert made with watermelon).
  • Try favourite local mezes such as tsimetia (courgette flowers stuffed with rice), courgette omelette, sun-dried whitebait, dolmades made with vine leaves, chickpea fritters and tomato rissoles.
  • If you choose one of the ferry tickets to Ios, don’t forget to try the famous local cheeses: spicy skotyri (soft goat cheese with herbs), white kefalotyri, xino, and sweet mizithra.
  • Enjoy local handmade pasta such as matsi (noodles) and mermitzeli (orzo).
  • Stop off at a traditional bakery for some classic Cycladic snacks such as kalasouna (filo parcels filled with onion and cheese) or ladenia (flatbread loaded with tomatoes and onions) to keep you going while you’re out and about or on the beach.
  • Try a sougli, a small pancake with pork meat traditionally served at breakfast, and panada (bread dipped in red sauce).
  • Don’t miss the local watermelon preserve.
Trivia

During the period of Ottoman rule, Ios was known by the Turks as “Little Malta”, because of its natural harbour, which afforded complete protection against the winds. It is a name used by sailors to this day.

MAP OF IOS
Useful Information