Last but far from least came the island of Ios. The crew split up, Brynnie and I heading for Ios, Char, Rubs and Liv heading to Croatia and Antonio heading to the east coast of Italy. Well all meet back up September 1st for Outlook Festival.
Ios island has a rap for being the party island, which it totally is if you make it and boy is it rowdy! But it’s also full of families and couples who are there for different reasons so please don’t turn it down if you think it’s only for young party goers. It’s got so much more to offer and just like our other guides, Santorini and Mykonos, I’ll talk you through places to stay, things to do and what to remember.
WHERE TO STAY:
Villa Maria – Searching through booking.com the day before getting to IOS Bryn and I booked our accom. There wasn’t a lot of availability left on the island, so if I were you I would book as far in advance as possible. In saying that, we stumbled upon Villa Maria, and it didn’t disappoint I would honestly stay there again and again. Maybe not for a group of friends keen to party, but for a family or couple it was perfect. Located near the port of IOS, in Chora, the main village, it was a short 5 minute scooter to the center of town. And only 300m to the closest beach. Ios is small, smaller than Santorini and Mykonos anyway, so when booking accom you want to be in Chora. That’s the only place that was available online anyway so I think it’s pretty standard that everyone stays there, or on Mylopotas Beach around the corner but ill explain more on that soon.
Villa Maria is a family run villa with 6 guest rooms and another 4 rooms for the host and her family. There’s a communal pool, a beautiful courtyard and a communal kitchen for the guests to enjoy. It felt like a home away from home and Maria, the host, was like our Greek mum, except younger and when we told her this she cracked up and told us we were too friendly. She picked us up from the scooter hire shop when we arrived and dropped us back at the ferry terminal when we left and I couldn’t help but give her a big hug. The place was really relaxing and carefree, we loved it! 2 days really wasn’t enough, we wished we had another night there. (I would recommend 3 nights on each island, gives you 2 full days to explore and enjoy)
Far Out Club – Alright all you party people, here’s the hostel for you! Located right on Mylopotas Beach (will explain more about the beach further down) and this hostel/beach club absolutely pumps! You have a whole lots of accommodation options to choose from which is rad. Everyday is a party here and it feels like a scene off project X. We went to a wet t-shirt competition here and jesus did the girls take it seriously. Strutting about, sexy dance moves, tits out and the crowd was loving it. There’s a huge pool, with a bar, a stage, a DJ set up and chill areas. If you don’t stay here you can just walk in free of charge and party it up with the hundreds of other people. Yeow!
Francesco’s – Our mates, Ben and Bruno stayed here and rated it big time. Located right in the center of the village, Chora, it’s another cool hostel, less intense than Far Out, but still has a lot of young people backpacking and keen for a good time. The bar/drinking area is for guests only, but we rocked up and they didn’t say otherwise. The perfect place to pre-drink as its so close to the clubs and you’re guaranteed to meet some awesome people too! Cha ching!
Again, like I mentioned in the Santorini blog, use hostelworld.com, Airbnb and booking.com if ya wanna look at all your accom options. There are heaps of sites out there, these 3 are just the bees knees in my opinion.
WHAT TO DO:
Hire a scooter/quad – Starting to catch on to the pattern in Greece? First thing you should do is hire a scooter or a quad. Straight off the ferry, we walked to the closest hire shop we could find and decided this time, to grab a scooter because it was cheaper. We had a totally different response to hiring scooters on Ios than we did Santorini and Mykonos. Santorini and Mykonos were both super chilled, didn’t take deposits, just took our drivers licenses, our money and bobs your uncle, we were off. But on Ios, the hire shop was asking for an international drivers license, which was random – maybe it was just the place we went to? Luckily Bryn has his motorbike license so they were happy to rent us one anyway. Also everyone on the island wears helmets! There’s a €350 fine if you don’t, so this is a must! It’s super hard to get lost on the island, Chora (the main village), Mylopotas Beach and the port are all within 10 mins of each other by scooter. If this isnt an option for you theres buses that run frequently so dont sweat it!
Hit up Mylopotas beach – After dropping our stuff at Villa Maria, we headed straight for Mylopotas beach for some food and relaxation. Located down the hill from Chora, the opposite side of the port, this is the beach the young travelers flock to. The beach itself is full of loungers, umbrellas, water sports and volleyball nets creating an influx of young people keen to chill, drink and vibe. No surprises we bumped into a couple of familiar faces Ben and Bruno, honestly it’s starting to feel like they’re following us though Europe. SZIGET, Mykonos and now here? Epic tho and no complaints we have ourself a crew woohoo! The boys had set up on some loungers at the beach, but these cost €10! Great if you’re doing an all dayer but not the buzz if you’re only going to be a few hours. After not paying because “sorry sir we didn’t see the sign,” we were off to find a volleyball instead. By chance we stumbled upon some Aussies who needed some extras and as Kiwis, we couldn’t deny them. Kiwis vs. Aussies, GAME ON and we won of course. “Let’s switch the teams up” I hear one of the Aussie Lads say… Nah mate us kiwis will stay together thanks.
Karma Beach Bar – Located right on the sand, Karma took my fancy with its laid back, chilled style. It was the definition of island time! Hammocks hanging from the roof, palm trees, cushions surrounding low tables and sand floors, it’s cool, calm and tropical, I recommend it big time. Bryn and I shared a Margarita pizza and got two iced cappuccinos, which was honestly one of the best I’ve ever had and that’s a big call! Was so damn good.
Harmony Restaurant – Even better than Karma Beach Bar, you’ll find Harmony sitting on the right side of the hill on Mylopotas beach. This golden gem was my favorite part of our stay in Ios so you can’t forget about this when you go! The view of the beach is wicked while you sip on beers, sangria or cocktails and sit on loungers, hammocks or picnic tables. Games of petanque, chess or in our case a gigantic game of jenga, sets you up for an amazing evening. Oh and did I mention the live music with a dude playing Chet faker, Ed Sheeran and similar? There were 7 of us, Ben, Bruno, Tayler (the boys chick mate from NZ), another kiwi couple we got yarning to and us. We sat drinking, playing jenga and cliff jumping untill 8pm then headed upstairs for dinner. “Mexican food, yes!” my tummy says as we sit down at the table. Good friends, good music, good location, it was for me, one of those best days ever.
Party party party – As most of you know, IOS has a crazy party scene. Head into IOS center and make your way through the narrow streets filled with clubs. After pre drinking at Francescos Hostel, we all wondered in and out of different clubs, partying our way through the night. Our fav was Circus, a small pub with live music and Aussie lads singing and playing the drums and gat, it was choice!
City of Chora – Take some time to wonder through the streets of Chora village. The city is white and picturesque, full of narrow winding paths with loads of boutiques, restaurants and nightlife. Stroll around and get a feel for the real Greece, the cars cannot fit through here so its only accessible by foot.
Eat a gyros – Like Bryn said in our Mykonos blog, fill yourself up on Gyros Pittas, they’ll save you money and full your belly! Best way to get through Greece.
Church of Agia Irini – Right at the port of Ios is the picturesque church of Agia Irini, built in the 17th century. If you have time, this is a beautiful thing to do. The white church is not only beautiful but we found it was free of touritsts and very relaxing. We climbed all over it and sat right in the bell tower watching the boats head out of the port for their sunset tours. The view of the port and Yialos beach is pretty beautiful, especially if you’re here just before sunset.
Explore – The island isn’t huge, so get on your quad and go explore. We took off to the West of the island (opposite direction of Chora and Mylopotas Beach) and came across a huuuuuuge beach club up on the hill called Pathos. It was honestly so big and so hardcore we thought it was some VIP famous persons club house. It wasn’t, so we went up for a drink and a swim and woah the view was insane. There was an infinity pool, music pumping, loungers and drinking areas stretched right across the mansion beach club. If you’re in IOS, head to Pathos even for just one drink (that’s what we did coz that’s all we could afford) and you’ll see for yourself how insane it was. Exploring and finding new things is essential and although I’ve given you a run down on things to do and places to stay, I urge you to leave the house with no plans and no expectations…see what you find and where you end up.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- The place we hired quads from on IOS were rather strict, so if you don’t have an international drivers license, check out a few places before writing the idea off. I’m sure other hire shops would be as chill as Santorini and Mykonos. Also helmets are a must!
- Get yourself to Far Out Beach club for some arvo drinks and party party. Cranks from the arvo untill about 10pm then everyone shoots into the town center
- Mylopotas Beach is where all the travelers are at! Other beaches around the island have a more family, couple vibe
- Definitely go to Harmony Restaurant, you won’t regret it
- No matter where you stay, everything’s super accessible, even if you don’t have scooters, there’s busses running from the port, to the town center and to Mylopotas Beach all the time
- Dont get scared off this island just cause you think its only for partying, its honestly got an awesome chill vibe to it as well.
Ios left us wanting more, but as all good things come to an end, it was time to hop on the 7 hour ferry back to Athens. A full days travel and we’ve arrived in Croatia, ready to see what this beautiful country has to offer…
Leah | free & addicted
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