Ios, Greece: the party island with secluded beaches
- Recommended for:
- Beach, Gap Year, Nightlife, Budget, Mid-range
Always overlooked Ios is the original Greek party island offering a vibrant and bohemian nightlife, yet still retaining everything that makes it typically Greek
Ios really is about the laid back lifestyle. There’s not a great deal to do other than enjoy the beach life, relax, drink, eat and party the night away. With no airport it is slightly harder to get to and this means it is overshadowed by its neighbour Mykonos. However, in my opinion, if you make the effort to get here you will be rewarded by the best nightlife of all the Greek Islands.
Where to stay
Most people stay in Chora, which is the main town on Ios. The Chora is situated on the hill above the port and is where all the action happens.
My favourite hotel is Ios Resort. What makes the hotel so great is undoubtedly the owners Mike and Maroussa. Mike meets all guests from the ferry and is a great host. The hotel itself has modern rooms and is within five minutes of all the nightlife yet is located in a peaceful setting for those who want some sleep.
If you’re a dedicated beach lover then stay down the hill from Chora at Mylopotas beach. The best choice here is the Far Out Beach Village where you can choose to stay in the main hotel for a little luxury, the village hotel for run of the mill with standard facilities, or the camping club, which allows you to pitch your own tent, rent a tent or stay in a basic beach bungalow.
If you want to be in the Chora and are on a budget then I'd recommend Francescos. This hostel has been here for years and offers cheap dorms for around 15 euros a night. It's also a great place to meet like minded travellers young and old.
At the other end of the scale and offering complete luxury is the Liotasi Hotel & Spa. The hotel is luxurious with a spa on site and is uniquely styled. Its location offers incredible views, especially at sunset, and it's a peaceful area yet only 15 mins to either the beach or the Chora.
A day in the life - eating, drinking and partying
If you're up early enough or haven’t been to bed yet you will find most people head down to Mylopotas Beach to sleep and catch some rays. The Far Out Beach Village gets busier during the day and offers a party atmosphere with people dancing around the pool. There are also plenty of watersports to do if you want to dip into the sea and cool down from the midday heat.
Come dinner time there are so many choices you are spoilt. If you’re still down at the beach there is a Thai restaurant, which is surprisingly authentic. My personal favourite here though is Harmony, which is probably the coolest restaurant on Ios. It’s a Mexican restaurant and bar in an open air setting and has a great vibe. The portions are large and very tasty with the chili burger and nachos being particularly good. They usually have some excellent live music and it is a good place to begin your night.
If you are going to be eating in the Chora the two places I recommend are Lord Byrons (www.lordbyronios.gr) or Piperri. Lord Byrons is a beautiful restaurant with a nice courtyard area. Inside it’s painted in a deep blue and the staff are very welcoming. The food is Mediterranean cuisine and if they have the Lobster risotto on the menu it’s a must. Piperri is run by Mark, known locally as ‘OiOi’. His beautiful restaurant is small but wonderfully decorated with artefacts from around the world. The food that is produced from the small kitchen is presented well and tastes gorgeous. For something local I would recommend the Mykonos sausage.
After dinner it's time to go out! Everyone young and old goes out for a good night in Ios.
The Chora is like any typical Greek village with small cobbled alleys, whitewashed walls and blue roofs. However, hidden in all these quaint buildings is some of the most raucous, no holds barred nightlife you will ever experience. There are plenty of places to party on this planet but Ios really is in a class of its own.
Early evening is a great place to go is the Fun Pub. It has a killer pool tournament every night, a large jenga game, karaoke and as the evening goes on the music gets louder and the atmosphere, as in the name, more fun.
After enjoying the Fun Pub head up to the town square, which offers plenty of bars to choose from. One of the most unique is the Slammer Bar. Order a tequila slammer here and you might be shocked to have a helmet placed on your head before your drink is served! The bar staff then proceed to slam your drink on your head before giving it to you to down after which your hit again with either a hammer, fire extinguisher, bar stool, skateboard or beer crate. Definitely crazy and typical of wild Greek nightlife.
Flames is another one of my favourite bars with great rock indie music and a fun crowd. Their signature drink, fittingly, is the Flaming Lamborghini and the bar staff are often setting the bar alight and the DJ demanding everyone take their shirt off before he plays any more music.
I also enjoy Shamrock Bar and Red Bull bar but both are quite small and can get very busy.
Most of the bars around the town square close at 4am, however many people head out to the Scorpion Club which is on the road down to Mylopotas Beach where the party continues until closing time at 9am. Yes I did say 9am and, surprisingly, the club is busy until this time every morning in peak season with everyone having a good time.
If the above sounds all too much you can sit in the lower square of the Chora and be oblivious to all the goings on enjoying some typical Greek music and a glass of wine after dinner. This contrast is one of the reasons I love Ios so much.
It is so easy to get stuck into the way of island life you won't want to leave. Many people come here for just three nights and end up spending three months. No doubt once you do leave you will of course return. Enjoy the uncomplicated Ios lifestyle and if you happen to be there the same time as me I will buy you a shot!