Upon reaching the island, the view before you is enchanting: as pretty as a picture, Hóra lies very close to the harbour in Ormos and greets the travellers, built in an amphitheatre-like manner on the slope of a hill, on the top of which there are ruins of a mediaeval castle. This is a listed traditional village, one of the finest examples of Cycladic architecture. Mylopótas, Magganári, Psáthi, Yialós, Kálamos and Ayia Theodóti beaches are known worldwide –among others– to be top choices for dives in the island’s emerald waters. In order to explore the inland, follow the paths that shepherds prefer to take and discover the pristine natural beauty of Íos through magic scents and colours.
Ios has made a name for itself as the party capital of the Cyclades, and rightly so. What appears to be a quaint island, with pristine beaches and white houses perched on steep hills takes on a life of its own in summer. After dark, the streets fill with people, and the town starts to celebrate. The island has something of a reputation for not being a place for the faint hearted, or those wanting rest and sleep. It’s somewhat calmer in out of the summer months, it still provides those looking for sandy beaches and fun times in the cooler months.
Historically, Ios has a similar past to the other Cyclades Islands. It is also known to be the burial place of the poet Homer, the ruins of his alleged tomb are in the island’s north. There are some ruins and a monastery to visit for those so inclined, but this is not the place for those looking for cultural holiday. There is a medieval castle crowning the town, many chapels and churches and an amphitheatre built in modern times, but with these exceptions, there is little of ancient cultural value to experience here.
What it lacks in archaeology it makes up for in fun, dancing and good times. Clubs, bars and restaurants are what Ios does best, and there are too many of these to count. During the day, the town appears to be like any other Cyclades citadel town, with quiet, narrow streets and little white houses. At night, the doors of the houses open and the party begins in earnest.
On arrival at the port of Gialos, the first thing to cross most people’s minds is the question of how they are going to make it up the hill. Ios town sits in the side of a very steep incline, and in times past, donkeys aided visitors up to the plethora of white washed Cyclades houses. The road from the port to Ios Town is very steep and takes about 30 minutes to walk up. Buses are available as well. It’s in the town, with its winding, narrow streets, that the frivolities take place at night.
Around the island, there are a myriad of wonderful beaches. The most popular are the Milopotas and Valmas beaches, which are close to the port and the town. Around the island, there is a lot to see and explore, but most is only accessible by scooter, as the bus routes are limited. The roads on the island are notoriously rough and steep, so extreme care should be exercised if you choose this option.
Ios should be experienced, even if only for a night or two. It is an island where the party doesn’t stop, everybody is invited, and the atmosphere is electric. It also makes those who visit appreciate just how much fun can be had, as well as how wonderful peace and quiet can be after a few days of madness and mayhem.