The Cycladic metropolis of entertainment

Ios means "flower". Did you know that?

Is one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades, given the name - and also the beauty - of a flower called ‘Ion’ that draped in ancient times. According to the ancient tradition, Ios was the homeland of Homer’s mother and the final resting place of the great epic poet. In ancient times the island was lush, full of beech forests, cedar and other trees, which were cut down and sold as wood to the surrounding islands.

Greece means summer time, crystal blue waters, sunshine, a beautiful island and lots of fun - all qualities that Ios has to offer. One of the cosmopolitan islands of Cyclades, with endless golden, sandy beaches and a vibrant nightlife, internationally recognised as the island of young people. It is a ‘tradition’ that initially started in the early 70s, with the hippies and has since grown as a multicultural mosaic of different cultures and habits.

Hora, the town surveying (‘Agnantema’)!

Upon reaching the island, the view before you is enchanting: as pretty as a picture, Hora lies very close to the harbour (2 km) in Ormos and greets the travellers, built in an amphitheatre-like manner on the slope of a hill, stating from the very beginning the genuine Cycladic architecture, on the top of which there are ruins of a mediaeval castle. This is a listed traditional village with its snow-white little houses, picturesque arcade-covered alleys, paved squares full of fresh cool water springs, the twelve windmills, an open marble theatre (‘Odysseas Elytis’), churches with arched belfries and light blue domes create a unique residential area.

The most important of Ios’ 365 churches is Panagia Gremiotissa, standing on Hora’s highest spot. It is built literally on the edge of a cliff, with a palm tree as a trademark, affording an amazing view of the open sea and nearby island of Sikinos. When the time is right, enjoy a magnificent and unforgettable sunset. This place is the centre of one of the biggest religious feasts on the island, taking place on August 15, and involving a procession in Hora with the icon of the Mother of God placed at the forefront. Later on, a traditional festival takes place with local island-style singing and dancing till dawn!

Hora has numerous hotels, studios, shopping stores, cafés bars and restaurants. After midday it gets crowded full of people walking around the alleys, bustled with life and colour. Every summer its port becomes an attraction for the yachts and cruisers of Greek and foreign visitors.

Palaiokastro stands on the northeast side of the island and used to be a fort during the Byzantine period, useful for controlling the seaways from Constantinople down to Crete. It communicated via visual signals and fires with castles in Naxos, Amorgos and Santorini.

Skarkos, an early Cycladic period’s archaeological site has a rich collection of finds and antiquities which are on display in the excellent Archaeological Museum.

Hora’s sheltered alleys is the "stage" where Kounia, an ancient local custom is performed every May, as follows: young men make swings for young ladies who rock themselves while listening to traditional love songs being sung to them in the form of a dialogue.

A tour around the beaches of Ios

Koumparas is the first beach near the port, awarded with the ‘Blue Flag’, hotels and restaurants (Polydoros is one with traditional Greek cuisine). Nearby is the 1 km long, golden sandy beach of Mylopotas, blue waters and any kind of service, like hotels, water sports, and taverns (Drakos has the best fresh fish). A dirt road (but not bad) leads you to Magganari (if you liked the movie "The Big Blue" - a Luc Besson’s film, you will see the familiarity of some shots taken there).

Agia Theodoti is close to the mills, with a natural bay, and on the right, is the Psathi bay (very popular among windsurfers), and on the eastern side of the island you can dive in Kalamos beach. Is quiet and less crowded, ideal for scuba diving and fishing. Gialos is also known worldwide – as all the others, being top choices for dives in the island’s emerald waters. In order to explore the inland, follow the paths that shepherds prefer to take (Agia Theodoti-Hora, Agia Eirini-Valmáa Beach, Hora-Pyrgos-Psathi, and many others) and discover the pristine natural beauty of Ios through magic scents and colours.


The culinary delights hidden in the Ios are many. The local cuisine is based on the traditional Cycladic style, with ingredients like the olive oil, legumes, fish, honey and fresh vegetables.

A feast of local tastes awaits the lucky visitors: chickpea balls, sun-dried picarel –a taste of the Aegean Sea, tsimetia (stuffed vegetable marrow flowers), vegetable marrow omelette, dolmadakia using fresh vine leaves from the numerous vineyards where the famed niotiko wine is produced. Try also sougli with tsiarides (traditional breakfast), panada (home-made bread sopped in red sauce – an ideal snack!), and goat soup. For desert try the local pumpkin pie made of sweet pumpkin, Mosenta (watermelon pie) and pastota figs (dried figs with sesame seeds).

Don’t leave without getting some of the local cheeses like skotiri (soft goat cheese with herbs), local kefalotyri (hard salty yellow cheese) and myzithra (soft white creamy, almost sweet cheese) as well as some of the excellent thyme honey, pastelia (honeyed sesame bars), watermelon confiture, myzithra pie and pomegranate liqueur.

Useful information
Getting there:
  • Ios is connected by ferry to Piraeus, Rafina, Lavrion and the rest of the Cyclades.
  • A modern, well equipped heliport is open, in case you need this service
Useful phone numbers (+30)
Municipality +30 22863-60400
Police 22860-91222
Port Police 22860-91264
Medical centre 22863-6000
Tourist Information Office 22860-91936
Local buses (KTEL) 22860-92015
Taxi There are five taxi’s available on the island
Archaeological Museum 22860-91246
Museumof ModernArt 22860-91505
"Odysseas Elytis" Municipal theatre 22860-92325