Our Island hoping adventure continued a boat ride away on Ios. Stepping off at the port, you could easily be deceived that this is a quiet little fishing town, but you’d be mistaken. Ios is a hidden gem in the Cyclade islands. Best known for its bustling nightlife and a major attraction for backpackers and younger crowds, Ios is alive when the lights go out.
However, if you’re more wine and chill rather than shots, shots, shots, don’t worry – Ios has you covered too. The island itself is, in effect, is one giant hill, with rocky cliffs down to the crystal blue sea all around. By day, the night owls are sleeping off their hangovers and the streets are so impeccably clean, you would hardly know there was a vibrant party scene, if it wasn’t for the faded banners and un lit neon signs advertising offers on 2-4-1 cocktails.
The shore line is a much calmer affair, with a scattering of cafes and eateries along its coast, the beaches are clean and golden and there is a gentle peace that settle’s around you.
For those that need a little more action, the “Chora” (town) kicks into action from around 11am, where there is a hum of activity. A leisurely twenty minute walk up the picturesque donkey path, passed some of the remarkably quaint churches Ios has to offer (365 in total, one for each day of the year), will lead you into this pretty town, with narrow lanes and funky boutiques built into the crevasses.
On your trip, make sure you continue through the Chora to visit the amphitheatre. Its acoustics are fantastic and overlook the impressive cliff tops, reminding me somewhat of the Minac theatre in Cornwall.
Of course, don’t forgot to say hi to the Island’s cats! Notably one of the things you’ll remember from your trip, these fury felines are sneaky and they KNOW how to play tourists – they’re just too cute to refuse!
Where to stay – We enjoyed a relaxed few day’s at Olga’s place. This family run hotel makes you feel like you are staying with old friends, rather than new guests. Clean and inviting, it is the perfect location, just a stones throw from the beach and close to the steps to take you into Chora. Luckily, we hit just before peak season and often had the entire pool to ourselves, like a private villa!
What to eat – You will kick yourself if you don’t dine at Katogi. This greek style tapas bar fills up quick and you can be waiting up to an hour for a table but there is a reason. During the day, its easy to miss, only given away by the colourful rooster sign hanging from the wall. At night however, it comes alive, into a colourful haven of scrumptious food. I’d recommend between three / four dishes per couple as although the portion sizes look small, they’re deliciously filling. Unfortunately, you can’t pre-book until they open on the day, so make sure you get there early to reserve.
What to wear – Relaxed, beach vibes wont go a miss. Make sure you check out the gorgeous island boutique Join the Dots for some stunning fashionable pieces and accessories, both male and female with that boho flair – I could have bought everything!
How to move – Walking! The narrow lanes don’t lend itself to cars, so it would fee a waste to hire one. You could get yourself a moped to get across the island but with everything to see and do, especially in the Chora, you’ll be sure to spot all those hidden gems if you journey by foot!
What to do – Visit the amphitheatre and enjoy relaxing on Ios’s most popular beach Mylopotas or live it up in the evening, enjoying the nightlife the town has to offer.
What to bring back – As with most of the islands, there are lots of boutique shops offering unique trinkets. There are some especially beautiful jewellery shops on Ios which are well worth a visit.