There’s a wide variety of incredible things to do in Ios, it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Greece. This Greek Island is located in the Cyclades island group in the southern Aegean Sea.
With activities in Ios including hiking, watching the amazing sunsets, visiting historic sites, and enjoying the laid-back lifestyle of Greece, you’ll never be bored!
Last September, I spent a month in Ios enjoying all the things to do on this beautiful Greek island, including exploring 75 km of beaches.
This was my second visit to Ios as I had spent the year before sailing the Greek islands for two weeks, with Ios being one of the stops. With so many fun things to do in Ios, I returned to this Greek island to experience more of what it has to offer.
Here’s my list of the top 25 places to visit, and things to do in Ios, Greece.
1. Visit Manganari Beach
Manganari Beach is highly regarded as the best beach in Ios. The beach has earned blue flag status, which means it has met standards for cleanliness, environmental management, and safety. Manganari Beach is separated into five smaller beaches.
Manganari is best visited by boat so you can check out all of the smaller bays in a day and float above the crystal clear water, diving in to go snorkeling or just floating around with a drink.
This day trip on a luxurious speedboat will take you all around the best coves and includes lunch, snorkel gear, and a friendly guide for the day. With prices starting under $50 per person, it’s a great value for Ios. Click Here to learn more.
While these might not be the best beaches in Greece, they are still gorgeous and worth a visit.
There are several restaurants located on the beach including Antonis Tavern and Venus Restaurant and Bar, and if you’re looking for a peaceful place to stay in Ios, you could book a hotel room here.
The beach is 23 km away from Chora, which is the capital of this Greek Island, but it can be reached by bus that leaves from either the Port, Mylopotas Beach or Chora. The bus is €6 return.
2. Take a Boat Tour (one of the top things to do in Ios)
Many beaches on Ios are only accessible by boat. Taking a boat tour allows you to visit several of the best beaches in one day.
We visited the Koumbara caves, Kolitsani beach and due to the wind, we went to the island of Sikinos. The boat tour I took served an excellent Greek BBQ lunch on board. Yes, they had a grill on the boat!
The tour takes you to the best beaches based on that day’s weather. They have snorkel equipment for people to use as well. It was a great way to see more of Ios and get to know some other travelers — I really enjoyed this Ios activity.
The tour is about 4 hours and costs around $50 per person. Learn more and reserve your spot here.
3. Tour the Island On an ATV
One of the most popular things to do in Ios is to explore by ATV. Some of the roads in Ios are dirt and this is the best way to see these parts of the island.
Traffic on Ios is limited to the Chora and the roads to the main beaches, so you won’t have to worry about sharing the road with too many cars.
Much of Ios is hilly, so make sure you rent an ATV with enough power.
A great thing about renting an ATV is that you can rent it for just a day. Parking in the Chora will be fairly easy as well. You can rent an ATV from Jacob’s Rental right in the port and the cost is €40 to €45 a day.
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4. Visit Homer’s Tomb
The famous poet Homer is supposedly buried in Ios. Homer wrote both the Odyssey and the Iliad and decided to spend the last part of his life on Ios because his mother was from this Greek island.
While you do need a car or an ATV to get to Homer’s Tomb, it’s not to be missed.
The tomb is located on a hill in the northeast area of Ios overlooking the Aegean Sea and offers stunning views. There are brown signs indicating the route to the tomb from the port and it’s free to enter.
5. Walk to Agia Irini Church
A short walk to the entrance of the Ios port is the church of Agia Irini (Saint Irene). If you arrive by ferry in Ios Greece, you will see this stunning church on your way in. This church was built in the 17th century in the typical Cyclades architectural style.
Not only does the location of the church offer stunning views of the Port, but if you continue down the path past the church, this will take you to one of the beaches in Ios that’s only reachable by boat or by foot.
6. Eat at Grandma’s
Grandma’s is one of the few choices for fine dining on Ios. Grandma’s is located inside the Liostasi Hotel and offers modern Greek cuisine with a twist.
The restaurant is located next to the pool on an open-air deck. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink next to the pool and enjoy the amazing Ios sunset.
If you are looking for a special breakfast, Grandma’s offers a traditional Greek breakfast including locally made cheese. Meals including an appetizer, entrée, dessert and a drink can range from €50 to €100.
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7. Hike The Many Trails
If you’re looking to get some exercise, hiking is one of the best things to do in Ios. There are 10 marked trails crossing most of this Greek island. Some are more difficult as they cross the mountains.
You can go out on your own and find the trails, or you can join this super-highly-rated walking tour around Ios. This way, you’ll have a friendly, knowledgable guide to show you around and it’s only around $28 per person. Click Here to learn more.
Five of the hikes start in the Chora and several of them lead to the more secluded beaches. The hikes range in length from less than a kilometer to over 7km. Look for the signs, or ask at your hotel for directions to the trailheads.
Ios is mostly barren but you’ll be able to catch stunning views of Ios and the surrounding islands from many of the higher trails. Keep in mind that Ios is quite hot in the summer and there is no shade so take plenty of water and wear a hat when hiking here.
8. Do the Ios Bar Crawl
If partying is more your thing to do, then don’t miss the Ios Bar Crawl! You will visit six bars in Ios. The cost includes a complimentary drink, free admission to the bars, six shots, and a singlet.
This is a great way to meet people from all over the world and have a fun time. If you decide to do the crawl a second time, you get a half-price discount. The price changes each season, but last season it was €60. The value of this night out is worth the price.
9. Watch the Sunset at Lorentzena Beach
This isolated Lorentzena or Loretzaina beach offers the perfect view of the Ios sunset. The location of the beach on the west side of the island, and the rocks surrounding it make the sunsets here picture-perfect.
There are no facilities at this beach, so bring enough water and food if you are staying awhile. It was not very crowded when I visited in September, but it’s not a large beach.
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10. Visit The Ruins of Skarkos
For such a small Greek island, there are plenty of historic things to see on Ios. Skarkos is an early Bronze Age settlement not far from the port of Ios. It is one of the best-preserved prehistoric sites in the Aegean.
When I was there, the only other person was the caretaker!
The cost is €4 for entry and it is usually closed on Monday. I also recommend getting a higher vantage point of Skarkos from the Chora on the north side to understand its vast size. You can walk there from the Chora down a path near the windmills.
11. Climb to the Top of the Chora
One of the first things you will notice upon arriving in Ios is the churches located on the top of the hill above the Chora. Climbing to the top is one of my most recommended things to do in the Ios.
The path takes you through the pretty village, rewarding you with stunning views when you reach the summit.
Many people like to climb up here to watch the sunset over the Aegean Sea. Since the area is small you should arrive early if you are in Ios during the high season, which is from May to September. Another option would be to go for sunrise over the hills.
12. Party at Far Out Club
Ios is known for its epic party scene and the Far Out Club is the place to be. It’s located on Milopotas Beach, meaning you can go from sunbathing to dancing in no time! If you’re looking for things to do in Ios in the evening, this is the place to be.
Even better, Far Out has a hostel, hotel, and camping site so you don’t have to go far if you’ve had a few too many drinks, or want to stay well into the night. Something to keep in mind is that Ios operates seasonally and Far Out Village may only be open from May to September.
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13. Shop In the Chora
There are so many unique shops on Ios, especially in the Chora (main village). Many of them are clothing stores, but you can also find housewares and souvenir shops.
My favorite shop is Votsalo, which has a location in the village and at the port. If you’re into shopping, this is one of the top places to visit in the Ios.
One of the best Greek skincare lines is sold in pharmacies in Greece. The brand is Korres and the body lotions are great for recovering from the Greek sun. They also have an amazing sunscreen product.
14. Sunbath at Milopotas Beach
One of the most popular things to do in Ios is to work on your tan! Milopotas Beach is one of the best places to do it. You can head there on your own, or get your sunbathing on in style by joining this private boat tour that takes you to Milopotas.
This tour includes your driver and snorkel gear and access to their beautiful boat. It comes highly recommended by travelers. Click Here to learn more.
Milopotas is a beautiful golden sand beach, located just a short bus ride from the port or the Chora. Many restaurants have sunbeds and umbrellas for rent and some won’t charge you if you order food or drinks from them.
When you’re ready to cool off, just walk a few feet to the refreshing water of the Aegean. The water is deep enough to swim here and is calm most of the time. This beach also offers some excellent people-watching opportunities.
15. Tour the Archaeology Museum
The small archaeology museum is so small it doesn’t have a name except for “Archaeology Museum”. It’s located at the bus stop in the Chora. The museum’s hours are posted on the door, but they sometimes change since they have very few staff.
The Archaeology Museum is one of the best small island museums I have visited. The museum contains ancient artifacts found at Skarkos and in the Chora, including pottery, statues, coins, and jewelry. The entrance fee is €4.
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16. Visit Odysseas Elytis Theatre
This open-air theater was built in 1997 to represent the style of ancient Greek theatre. It can hold 1100 people. To find it, head past the Chora and the windmills.
You can visit anytime even if there isn’t a performance happening. It offers an epic view of Milopotas Beach from the seats.
17. Do Yoga at Harmony
After all the partying you may be doing on Ios, you may want to unwind with some yoga. Harmony offers yoga classes in the mornings to help you recover from your nights out. As a bonus, it’s also an excellent Mexican restaurant.
Even if you don’t need to recover from anything, the views from the hillside location at Mylopotas Beach can be seen while practicing yoga. Classes are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 am and are €5.
18. See the Windmills
One of the traditional things to do on Ios is to visit the windmills.
There are 12 weathered windmills located high up in the Chora at the top of the mountain slope, which was a great spot for them to catch the wind. In the past, the energy produced by these windmills was used to grind grains, which was a food staple on Ios.
The windmills are no longer operational but are a great piece of Ios history. Some are more intact than others, but regardless, they still make for a great photo.
19. Take a Photography Tour
All of the Greek Islands are great places to take photographs, but finding the right spots can be overwhelming. I decided to take a photography tour with Mark Wilman. He has been taking photographs on Ios for many years and has been visiting Ios since he was 10 years old.
He knows Ios extremely well and offers 12 different tour options. He guides you on what to shoot and helps review your shots along the way. Since I was there in the off-season, I was the only one on the tour! The half-day tour was €60.
20. Go Paddleboarding
Paddleboarding seems to be very popular these days and Ios is a great place to give it a try. The water is calm most days, but if you do fall off your board, it’ll be a relief from the hot sun.
You can rent a paddleboard from Meltemi Water Sports on Mylopotas or Manganari Beach. This is another option for exploring the areas you can’t reach by car or foot.
21. Watch the Ferries Arrive
One of my favorite things to do in Ios is to watch the ferries arrive. You can sit at one of the cafes in the port and watch people get off and on the ferry. It is the ultimate people-watching experience. If you have ever taken the ferry in Greece, you know it’s organized chaos.
You can spot who has come to party, who has come to relax, and see the Greeks drive their cars off the ferry. Not only are the ferries for passengers, but most Greek islands rely on the boats for food and other supplies. With no airports, the ferries are the lifeline of the islands.
22. Party in the Chora
For most young people, the best thing to do in Ios is a party! The Chora is filled with bars and clubs. Many of these bars and clubs do not open till at least 1:00 am. Some of the most popular bars are Traffic, Click, Coo Bar, and Sweet Irish Dream.
The best thing about this is you can party all night, sleep late and still enjoy the beach in the afternoon. People come from all over the world to party in Ios and it is a great way to meet new people from different cultures and make new friends.
23. Eat at Octopus Tree
This tiny restaurant is located in the Ios port and only seems to have outdoor seating. As the weather is usually pleasant, most nights you’ll want to eat outside in Greece anyway.
Everything I had here at the Octopus Tree was amazing, but the fried zucchini fritters were the best thing I had — so good I went back a second night in a row to eat them.
You know it is a good place to eat when most of the patrons are Greeks. They usually have fresh fish as a special and you must try one of their salads, but I suggest sharing the salad as it’s huge.
As you head up the road from the port, you will see a white-lined staircase. This is the old donkey path from the port to the Chora, and is a great hike as well. If you take this path, you will pass by the ancient Chora walls and see many local Greek houses.
As mentioned earlier in the post, this day tour is highly recommended and includes a knowledgeable local guide to take you along the paths to the Chora. Definitely worth the $28 or so per person. Click Here for more info.
Not only is this a nice walk, but many hotels or hostels are located along here. Be careful walking in the dark as the path isn’t well-lit and is uneven.
25. Party at Pathos Beach Club
This party place reminds me of Ibiza, Greek style. Pathos has a restaurant, a pool, and a bar. It’s one of the best places to catch the sunset as well.
There is a €10 entrance fee, but you could literally stay here all day. Come for lunch, swim in the pool, watch the sunset, have dinner, and party the night away.
Bonus Things To Do in Ios, Greece
Here are a couple of extra things to see in Ios.
26. Get To Ios By Helicopter
If you’ve got an extra grand or so to spend, then a helicopter is without a doubt the coolest way to get to Ios or any other Greek islands. You can book the chopper for groof ups up to 2 people and they’ll take you from Athens to any island, between islands, or back to Athens. Click Here to learn more.
27. Visit the 365 Churches
Ios is known as the island with a church for every day of the year.
Although this may just be a popular myth as no one has ever counted them all. Visiting churches is one of the top things to do in Ios, and there are certainly enough churches here to make visiting each one a challenge.
Some churches are large like the one at the entrances to the Chora and some are so small it seems only one or two people could fit inside. Most of these are privately owned and are rarely open, but they are all beautiful and picturesque.
28. Sample Local Wine
Greek wines date back around 6,500 years, with Greece being one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. So, it makes sense that one of the best things to do in Ios is to sample the local wine.
Many Greek wines are available in the grocery stores on Ios, with my favorite being the Ihthe wine.
Ihthe has both white and red wines, with the red being the best in my opinion. Look for the wine with the little tugboats on them and you have found it.
FAQ About Ios
Answers to frequently asked questions about visiting Ios, Greece.
There are many things to do in Ios during the day. While at night it’s known for fun parties, during the day you can go to the beach, join a fun boat tour of the gorgeous islands, do some shopping, sample the tasty food and wine, or (if it’s not too hot), do one of the hikes.
Yes, Ios is worth a visit for sure. It’s an underrated island in Greece and a perfect destination to visit for a few days, or as a day trip from Santorini (which takes around 35 minutes).
Yes and no. You can definitely find fun parties on Ios, but there’s a chilled-out scene here as well.
Ios is a safe island. As with anywhere, be mindful of your belongings when walking in crowds, or when leaving your belongings on the beach. Keep hydrated when you’re in the sun (or when you’re partying!), and always wear a hat and sunscreen.
Comparing Ios to Santorini is a matter of personal preference. Santorini is more popular and is more expensive than Ios. Both are beautiful and both have something to offer travelers. If you’re looking for a quieter option, Ios is it.
Deciding which is better, Mykonos or Ios is a matter of personal opinion. Ios is sandwiched between Santorini and Mykonos, and while all three islands are gorgeous, Mykonos is more known as the party destination. The beaches may be a bit nicer on Ios, and it’s a more affordable destination. Mykonos has more going on and also has an airport.
It takes about 35 minutes to get from Santorini to Ios by ferry. See the ferry timetable here.
Now You Know What To Do in Ios Greece
My best tip is to take the early ferry from Piraeus, if coming from Athens, so you can be in Ios by the early afternoon. This way you can arrive and start exploring all the exciting things to do in Ios right away.
As you can see there are many things to see and places to visit in Ios. You can spend your days at the beach getting a tan, learning about local history, and partying all night long. I recommend doing all of these things to get the full Ios experience. Have fun!
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