21 Best Things to Do in Ios (Greece)

the church of the virgin mary gremiotissa

Ios is one of the most favorite islands to visit for young people from across Europe.

It combines outstanding golden beaches, pristine waters, traditional architecture and great nightlife.

In addition, Ios is considered the most affordable party island in Greece, especially compared to the most popular party destinations in the country (such as Mykonos and Santorini for example).

At the same time, here you will find some very good night clubs and bars to visit if you want to party until dawn.

1. Mylopotas Beach – the most popular on the island

mylopotas beach
Mylopotas beach by Nasos Efstathiadis/Flickr

Well-known as a party beach which attracts hundreds of young tourists during the summer season, Mylopotas is not only the longest but is also the most popular stretch of sand on the island.

It is located on the west coast, about 5 minutes drive to the south of Chora.

In fact, Mylopotas is within walking distance from the main village of the island.

However, the combination of scorching heat and lack of shade is what makes it easier to get there by bus.

It is a very beautiful golden beach which offers all the facilities you can think about.

2. The symbol of the island

the church of the virgin mary gremiotissa
The Church of the Virgin Mary Gremiotissa by Dim Leventis/Flickr

The Church of the Virgin Mary Gremiotissa is one of the most important landmarks of Ios and is one of the symbols of the beautiful island.

It is situated on the top of a hill, overlooking the village of Chora (or Ios town).

The church is a typical example of Cycladic architecture, with whitewashed walls, beautiful bell tower and traditional blue domes.

It was completed in the late 18th century and today attracts numerous tourists during the summer season.

3. Visit the Archeological Museum of Ios

ancient artefacts
Ancient Artefacts by John Kannenberg/Flickr

The Archeological Museum of Ios is the most recommended on the island and is an exciting way to get in touch with the past of the wonderful Aegean island.

Here you will find a rich collection of artifacts from different historical periods.

Most of the artifacts are old clay pots and marble statues.

As the island has been populated since prehistoric times, you can expect to learn interesting facts about the life of the ancient people living on the island.

4. Visit Valmas Beach

valmas beach
Valmas beach by Pinterest

Valmas Beach is located on the west coast of Ios.

It is nestled between the cliffs, in a narrow and small cove, not far from the village of Chora.

Except for its irresistible beauty, the beach is well-known for its smooth and sparkling azure waters.

Valmas offers a short stretch of white sand, mixed with small pebbles.

The bottom is covered with pebbles too, and this is the reason behind the incredible underwater visibility here.

5. Don’t miss the popular Gialos Beach

Gialos Beach is a white sand beach which stretches approximately 500 meters along the coast of Ios town, right next to the main port of the island.

It is very popular with tourists because of its comfortable location.

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Because of its shallow waters, the beach is good for families with kids.

The visibility under water is very good despite the sandy bottom of the bay.

Paralia Gialos offers sunbeds and umbrellas if you want to spend the day on the beach.

The sea water temperature here is more than 18°C from mid April till mid November.

6. Windmills in the area of Chora

windmills of chora
Windmills of Chora by Diego Martínez/Flickr

Situated mostly in the beautiful and picturesque outskirts of Chora, the majority of the windmills of Ios are very well preserved.

Private homes or small family hotels, they are absolutely the same as the windmills one can find in Mykonos or Santorini.

Whitewashed stone walls and thatch pointed roofs are the most typical feature of these traditional historical monuments.

If you want to see some of them, you should go to the easternmost part of the village.

7. The best beach to the south – Paralia Manganari

manganari beach
Manganari beach by Abir Anwar/Flickr

Manganari is the best beach to the south and according to many is actually the best on the island, surpassing even Mylopotas in its beauty.

In fact, Manganari has the advantage of being quieter and with smoother waters.

This is not a party beach but the good time is guaranteed. It offers the most irresistibly blue waters, limpid and clear.

It is a great choice for families with kids, because the water in the area is shallow.

8. Visit the bronze age settlement

skarkos hill settlement
Skarkos Hill Settlement by Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Skarkos is an early bronze age settlement, which dates back to the 2nd millennium BC.

According to scientists, it was home to about 300 people and is located not far from the modern town of Ios.

This is one of the best examples of a prehistoric settlement in South Europe, mostly because of the fact that it has remained surprisingly well preserved over the millennia.

It is located at a walking distance from the main village of Chora (the other name of Ios town).

9. Scuba diving in Ios

scuba diving in ios
Scuba diving in Ios by Ios New Dive/Facebook

Ios is an attractive place if you love diving and snorkeling.

The most popular place to visit on the island in this respect is Mylopotas, which is located right next to Chora.

Here you will find the most popular diving school on the island – Meltemi Dive Centre.

The waters around the island offer very good conditions, including visibility under water of about 40 meters, good weather conditions during most of the year, incredible shipwrecks to see and rich marine life (dolphins, seals and so on).

10. Snorkeling in Almyros, Lorentzena and Kampaki

snorkeling in almyros
Snorkeling in Almyros by YouTube

Ios is a very beautiful island with wonderful little coves and bays.

As the visibility under water is very good, you will have a great experience while enjoying your favourite water sport in the crystal waters.

Especially attractive are the small beaches to the north of Koumpara, including Almyros, Lorentzena, Kampaki and others.

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They are quiet and isolated, far from the tourist crowds of the popular beaches.

11. Don’t miss the outstanding Kolitsani Beach

Situated in a small cove less than a kilometer to the south of Chora, the beach of Kolitsani is easy to reach but still remains a bit isolated if you want to get there on foot.

Nestled between the cliffs, it is always smooth and quiet, even on windy days.

Locals say that Kolitsani Beach is the most beloved stretch of sand in the area of Chora because of its clear and limpid water.

There are some wonderful restaurants in the area, so you can recharge your energy after a long day at the beach.

12. Reserve a speed boat trip around the island

boat trip around the island
Boat trip around the Island by sheyneg/Flickr

One of the most exciting experiences to taste in Ios is the speed boat trip.

This is a great chance to see as much as possible and to get the most of your holiday on the island, especially if you visit Ios for a lesser number of days.

This is the fast version of the day boat trips and you will be able to see the most beautiful coastal cliffs and coves.

The only difference is the higher speed of these boats.

Of course, you will be able to swim and snorkel around at a location of your choice.

13. Visit the Tomb of Homer

tomb of homer
Tomb of Homer by Abir Anwar/Flickr

Situated on the barren hill slopes in the northernmost parts of Ios, the Tomb of Homer is a recommended place to visit.

As it is a bit remote and isolated, big crowds of visitors are quite a rare view here.

The tomb of the great poet dates back approximately to 1100 – 900 BC.

You will find this place about 10 km northeast of the capital of the island Chora.

The place itself is impressive, offering a great panorama.

14. Spend a day in Psathi

Psathi by Titanas/Flickr

Psathi is a small village on the east coast of Ios.

The area is very quiet and isolated, with a long stretch of fine golden sand, which is considered the best one in this part of the beautiful island.

The seawater is tempting, smooth and limpid, great to snorkel, swim or dive.

Here you will rarely see other visitors, even during the busiest tourist season.

15. Visit Agios Theodoti Beach

theodoti beach
Theodoti beach by Diego Martínez/Flickr

On the east coast of Ios, between rounded and barrens hills, is nestled one of the best beaches to visit in this part of the Aegean.

It is 600 meters long and offers white fine sands and crystal clear azure waters.

As it is a bit remote and isolated in the sparsely populated eastern part of Ios, this wonderful stretch of white sand remains quiet and free of visitors even during the busiest months of the summer season.

16. Take a walk to Paleokastro

view from paleokastro
View from Paleokastro by Abir Anwar/Flickr

One of the most important landmarks of Ios is located on the east coast of the island.

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On top of a hill, not far to the north of the small coastal village of Psathi, lie the ruins of an old Venetian castle.

Surrounded by nothing else but cobalt blue waters, Paleokastro offers a hard to describe in words panoramic view.

On the place you can find a lovely small chapel, housed in a whitewashed building with a small bell tower and white cross on top.

17. Go to Sikinos

ios harbor and sikinos
Ios harbor and Sikinos by Charles Haynes/Flickr

Sikinos is the closest neighbor of Ios.

The islands are distanced less than 9 km from each other.

Sikinos actually isn’t deserted, although it is very sparsely populated with only a couple of small villages.

Here you will have a really good time, enjoying the sky-blue clear waters, almost empty beaches, pristine nature and incredibly good wines.

Talking about wines, don’t miss visiting the popular Manalis Winery with some of the best wines on the Cyclades.

18. Rent a scooter or ATV for better experience

rent an atv
Rent an ATV by Chris Brooks/Flickr

Considering the sparsely populated territory of the island and the fact that many of the must visit places are scattered around the territory of Ios, you should definitely think about renting a scooter or ATV.

This is a great way to get to some not so easy to reach areas, especially if you decide to rent an ATV.

You will be able to reach isolated beaches and coves as well as to visit some of the remote and authentic small villages.

19. Buy original souvenirs and gifts

souvenirs and gifts
Souvenirs and gifts by Joanna Bourne/Flickr

Walking around the streets of Ios, you can easily find something original and unique to buy as a gift for your family and friends.

One of the places you should definitely visit is Mirabello Art Gallery.

Here you can easily find something that suits your taste and style.

This place is especially recommended if you want to buy a gift for a friend who loves music and art.

20. Join a day boat trip to Santorini

boat trip to santorini
Boat trip to Santorini by somma1977/Flickr

One of the most exciting and recommended experiences while in Ios is to join a day boat trip to the neighboring tourist paradise of Santorini.

The islands are distanced only about 20 km from each other.

That’s why you could easily visit it within a day.

Santorini is really scenic and you will have a great day walking around the narrow stone-paved streets.

On the other side, it is not as affordable as Ios and is much more crowded with visitors.

The day boat trip to Santorini is a great way to get the most of your holiday.

21. Wine and cheese tasting

wine cellar
Wine cellar by Nelo Hotsuma/Flickr

While most of the Greek islands are popular wine tasting destinations (and Ios is not an exception), you should also try some of the unique local types of cheese.

One of the most popular of them is called skotiri and is made of goat milk.

It is a great way to feel better the deep and strong taste of the traditional local wines.