Ios is a lovely Cycladic gem that sits nestled between Santorini, Paros and Naxos in the Aegean Sea. The island boasts a particularly stunning coastline riddled with sparkling turquoise coves that serve up an epic stop for island hoppers. For travelers seeking a more budget-friendly destination after hemorrhaging Euros on Santorini, Ios is great option, and generally pretty affordable. Below is my complete guide to the island including the best beaches, resorts, hotels, restaurants viewpoints, sunset spots and more.
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One of the prettiest places in all of Greece is secluded Never Bay.
THREE TO FOUR DAYS. For tourists that want visit the island’s best beaches and secret coves, three to four days is a good amount of time to see it all at a leisurely pace.
Two of my favorite things in the Ios Chora: gelato & cats.
Exploring the island Chora.
Church of Panagia Gremniotissa.
This beautiful 17th century white church is the first landmark visitors see as they pull into the island’s port by ferry. Agia Irini is walking distance from the port.
The island Chora is small, but the vibrant heart of Ios. Scattered along the narrow labyrinth of alleyways are churches, boutiques, windmills and apartments. The Chora is pretty quiet during the day, and comes to life around sunset when most shops, bars and restaurants open up for business.
A small white church sits atop this little hill that faces the island Chora and the Four Churches on the Hill. It’s a lesser known viewpoint, but one of my favorites on Ios. For exact location of the viewpoint, search Άγιοι Ανάργυροι on Google Maps. It’s a 10-minute walk from the Chora.
EKKLISIA PANAGIA GREMIOTISSA
Also known as the Church of Virgin Mary of the Cliff, this beautiful blue domed church sits atop the Chora with sweeping views of the surrounding town and coastline.
FOUR CHURCHES ON THE HILL
There are four tiny white churches that sit perched on the hill that overlooks the Chora. It’s an easy 15-minute hike up to reach them, and the setting from atop the hill is a beautiful place to sit down and watch the sunset.
A south coast beach where calm turquoise water meets soft sand. Great spot to spend the day soaking in the Aegean sunshine. There are umbrellas and sun beds available to rent.
Mylopotas is the most popular beach on the island, home to a long stretch of sand, beach umbrellas, sun beds and calm turquoise water. It’s a short drive from the Chora, a quick ride on the local air conditioned bus.
The epic sparkling waters of Never Bay is one of the prettiest coves on Ios. It isn’t the easiest place to reach, only accessible by boat or a bumpy road and exposed hike, but it’s well worth the effort. The clear turquoise waters are breathtaking, and offer up a lovely afternoon of swimming, floating and gnarly cliff jumps.
Another beach that isn’t the easiest to get to – and its inaccessibility helps keep the masses away. Most visitors arrive by boat, or trek over from Managari, but an exposed hike in the heat can be brutal in summer. For those that make it, this beach is an idyllic haven – a sandy cove complete with calm blue waters and plenty of viewpoints from above.
Heart shaped rock pool at Calilo, the prettiest resort on the island.
A new sister property to famed Calilo, Agalia Luxury Suites overlooks the island’s port close to the Chora. Similar to Calilo, the design of the suites and pools is artful and completely unique. Suites range in size from one to three bedrooms featuring everything from marble tubs to extravagant outdoor plunge pools.
Calilo exploded on social media as the hot new property in the Greek islands. The resort’s 30 stone suites sit on the island’s east coast along with picturesque heart shaped stone pools, floral swings, outdoor stone tubs and infinity pools that overlook a private bay. It’s a popular stay for celebrities thanks to the unique design, remote location and hefty price tag.
Mid-range collection of suites and villas that sit over Mylopotas Beach, a short drive from the Chora. Hideout Suites is one of the newer properties on the island – suites are fresh, clean and spacious, all with Cycladic design cues and private pools.
One of my favorite boutique hotels in Greece. Liostasi is a 10-minute walk from the Chora – the town is completely accessible, but not too close. I walked to town every day – never had to drive or take a taxi. The property faces the sunset, offering up spectacular views over the Aegean Sea from the pool deck and several suite balconies. Rooms are spacious, stylish, clean and modern.
Luxurious five-bedroom villa that’s a short drive from Mylopotas Beach. The five bedrooms make Mylo a fabulous option for groups. Design is minimalist with neutrals that blend with the stone relief walls. The villa has a private infinity pool that faces that Aegean Sea.
A budget friendly option located at the end of Mylopotas Beach. The rooms at Psili Ammos are small, but clean with Cycladic styling. And balconies offer up lovely views of the Aegean Sea.
Dinner with a view at The Mills – the grilled sea bass was delicious!
Greek tapas at Katogi and fresh pasta from La Buca.
Visit for the vibe! Harmony is a Mexican restaurant perched on the cliffs at the north end of Mylopotas. Tapas menu includes street corn, fajitas, grilled prawns, fish tacos, chicken burritos, salads and more. Harmony is home to island’s iconic Floatopia where once a year, dozens of beachgoers show up with fun floaties and jump in the water at Flat Rock.
A nice alternative to Greek food is La Buca’s Italian offerings including fresh pasta dishes, salads and pizza. A must is their salty homemade focaccia that is served smothered in olive oil. So delicous!
Katogi is considered the best restaurant on the island, and for good reason. The delicious Greek tapas at this little gem in the Chora are fresh, delicious and bursting with flavor. Menu is a mix of meats, seafood, salad, lentils, veggies and cheese dishes – something for all taste buds. Reservations are an absolute must – the restaurant is small and fills up every evening.
This is the prettiest dinner setting in the Chora, located across from the windmills in an open courtyard. The Mills serves classic Greek dishes and seafood – my favorites were the homemade pita, tzatziki and whole grilled sea bass.
Popular restaurant in the Chora that serves traditional Greek dishes, as well as seafood options.
Fresh, delicious crepe stop located across from the island Chora.
Chasing windmills on Ios.
If you don’t plan to venture beyond the Chora and Mylopotas Beach, it’s easy enough to explore on foot and access the beach by bus. For visitors with more time on the island, scooters and cars are available to rent at the port. There are no big brand names on the island for rentals. And if you plan to rent a car or scooter, most places require an international drivers license. Americans can get this from an AAA office for $20 by filling out an application.
Colorful spot for drinks in the Chora.
Unlike neighboring Naxos, Santorini and Paros, the island of Ios does not have an airport. It’s only accessible by sea. Ferry stops are frequent – schedules are posted on Ferry Hopper, which I use to to book all my ferry tickets within Greece.