IOS is MYKONOS’s little brother. Just like MYKONOS, IOS is mainly known for its nightlife BUT is actually more authentic & is a fraction of the price. Thus, this island typically draws the younger crowds. If you’re like us and are not drawn to the party scene, IOS has so much more to offer!
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The best time to travel to ANY of the Greek Islands is usually between May to October. Determining what month to travel to IOS really depends on what you want to get out of this island. If your main priority is day partying & intense nightlife ,then visit IOS in July & August. If you want to experience the quieter and more subtle beauty of IOS, then the shoulder season in June & September is the best time to go due to the warm water and laid back feel of the island. We went in September and avoided all the crowds.
We took a ferry to IOS through Seajets. You can purchase ferry tickets when you arrive in Greece, but we like to be prepared and booked our tickets online ahead of time. Like many other Greek islands, you need to rent a car/ATV/scooter. I would recommend getting an ATV. IOS is a very hilly island and offers countless jaw dropping cliff side views. That being said, ATV’s provide more power than a scooter on this type of terrain (For 2 people, make sure to get a 100cc+ ATV). ATV’s also offer a unique experience when compared to a car. It allows you to enjoy and take in the island when you travel from point A to point B. You feel the wind in your hair and are only two meters away from cliffs, which is nuts. We rented our ATV from Jacob’s which is a 5 minute walk from the port when you arrive by Ferry, and had a great experience.
IOS is also known for its wonderful beaches. There are a TON, i’ll just mention the ones we visited.
MYLOPOTAS – this is definitely the most known beach on IOS. It has a lot of restaurants on the main strip and this is the beach for water sport activities (boating, tubing, sailing, etc). We went during shoulder season, so it was really chill and not busy at all. It felt like we had the beach to ourselves. Restaurants had cute little beach chairs and umbrellas that we took advantage of. Harmony is located in MYLOPOTAS on a cliff above the beach. It is more than just your typical bar & restaurant- it has areas with hammocks and bean bags that you can enjoy the view and they host many events from yoga, to floatopia. This place was closed when we were here (which broke my heart) since it was shoulder season. We still went up to harmony and climbed down the cliffs and had our own private beach area.
MAGGANARI – This beach offered crystal clear water and solitude. There was barely anyone there – do you see the pattern? During shoulder season, IOS doesn’t have many travellers and this is what attracted us to IOS. You get to experience the land’s natural beauty in the way it was intended. But my absolute favourite part of MAGGANARI was actually our ATV ride from MYLOPOTAS to MAGGANARI. This drive took 30-40 minutes on our ATV but is so worth it! Again, this is a hilly island, so you get dramatic cliff views along the way. You actually feel the temperature difference in the air during the ride. You can really feel the cool air at the top start to warm up as you make your way back down. You get to see most of the Island by going to MAGGANARI beach. During our drive, we were stopped briefly by a farmer herding their bulls and goats – it doesn’t get more authentic then that!
As you begin to plan your trip to the Greek Islands, you quickly realize that sunsets are a BIG deal. You don’t dare miss or rush them. You need to find your spot and simply take it all in. No word of a lie, IOS had the most spectacular sunset we have ever witnessed. It started off pink, turned orange, became blazing red and then turned purple before finally setting – such a surreal moment! Best sunset spots are in CHORA.
CHORA– the only main and real village of IOS. This village is situated on a hill, and thus have to make the short walk up to watch the sunset. There are three churches you pass along the way. We went all the way to the top to see the view, but our favourite spot to watch the sunset was actually at the first church. Funny story, while we were climbing, another traveller (who happened to love travel photography) stopped us along the way and asked to take a video and some photos of us at sunset. My response, “of course, we don’t mind at all.” My real reaction in my head, “ahhhh, this is awesome! Play it cool Jess.” We ended up getting some super cute couple shots at sunset and meeting this awesome person who we hung out with after. Check him out on Instagram, he takes amazing landscape shots: northofordinary.
We love airbnb and have used them for every place we’ve travelled to. We stayed at Gianemma Luxury Apartments. We booked Studio 3 through Airbnb which had a pool side balcony. It is located in Mylopotas Beach, which is a great location in IOS. It had an infinity pool with a spectacular view. That is what sold me when we booked this room. The staff are very friendly and hospitable.
SAINIS TAVERNA – You need to go here. The chef personally comes out and breaks down the menu for you. He lets you know what the local catch of the day was and he recommends what you should order – take his suggestions. He will also recommend a wine pairs nicely with your dish! This is definitely a local restaurant with authentic Greek cooking. I am salivating while thinking back to how good the food was. We got saganaki (fried cheese), which is a typical greek appetizer and the moussaka, which is a traditional greek dish made of ground lamb, eggplant and tomatoes topped with cheese. The restaurant itself had a very warm and cozy atmosphere.
PERI ANEMON– located right at the port in IOS. We went here out of convenience, we got to IOS hungry and this place was right in front of us. It just so happened to have the best Gyro we had while in Greece. It was fresh, fast and CHEAP. We tried another gyro place on the island, and it was nothing compared to this place.
THE NEST – located in CHORA. It offers fantastic greek food, friendly staff and affordable prices! We had the traditional Greek Souvlaki. Plus, their wine selection was on point. This place was always hustling and bustling with people. Do I need to say more?
CANTINA DEL MAR – located on MYLOPOTAS beach. We had breakfast here everyday – because it was that good extremely close to our AirBnb. They made a killer greek yogurt and the coffee was great.
PATHOS LOUNGE – Similar to HARMONY, this is more than just your typical bar & restaurant. They too have events going on and have this massive infinity pool. I wanted to go for the infinity pool of course. We unfortunately did not get to go since it was closed due to shoulder season 🙁