Halfway between Naxos and Santorini lies the beautiful Greek island called Ios. Cliffs come down to the sea on most sides of this hilly island with a little more than 2000 inhabitants. The very picturesque town of Chora, in typical Cycladic style, displays white-washed houses with many stairs. Since the paths in Chora are very narrow it impossible to drive a car there.
The name Ios derives from the ancient Greek word for violets “Ia” that grow in abundance on the island. Ios has a strong connection to the greatest poet of Greece, Homer. According to legend, Homer died on Ios because he violated a Pythian code.
Visit Ios when sailing the Cyclades Islands on your Greek Islands Yacht Charter.
Places to see:
- Towns and villages. Ios Chora or Ios Town, the main village on the western side of the island. Built amphitheatrically on the slopes of a hill, it charms visitors with its narrow stone-paved alleys, white-washed houses with flowery courtyards, and churches covered with blue roofs.
- The Church of Panagia Gremiotissa dedicated to the saint protecting the island. In Greek, the name translates to “Virgin Mary of the steep cliff”, most likely due to its location on top of the hill above Chora.
- The Church of Agia Irina, a Byzantine church built in the 17th century AD is on the Bay of Yialos. A beautiful path leads from the church to the beach.
- The Monastery of Pyrgos, also known as the Monastery Agios Ioannis Prodromos, sits on the highest point on Ios. The view from there over the surrounding Cyclades Islands is spectacular.
- The Windmills of Ios are a trademark of the island, standing on the hill above Chora. Twelve traditional windmills that once produced energy to grind grains are now used as homes.
- The Theatre of Odyseuss Elytis is on the highest point of Chora behind the twelve windmills. This colossal structure can hold up to 1100 people. In fact, most of the cultural events like musical concerts still take place here.
- Skarkos is an early Cycladic settlement that shows that already 2800 BC man had a presence here. You can see finds from Skarkos on display in the Archaeological Museum in Chora.
- The Archaeological Museum of Ios. Most interesting are clay statues dating from the first Cycladic period, prehistoric tools, burial columns, inscriptions from Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman times and fragments of marble.
- The Tomb of Homer. Historical references of Herodotus show that Ios was the island where Homer died. Homer died between 1100 and 900 BC.
Things to do in Ios:
- Dive. Dive centers at the beach of Mylopotas offer equipment rentals and excursions to ancient shipwrecks, underwater volcanic caves, and interesting reefs.
- Windsurf. Windsurfing centers are at Gialos and Mylopotas Beach. Nice windsurfing locations include Mylopotas, Gialos, Agia Theodoti, and Manganari.
- SUP, jet ski, kayak. Ios is a perfect destination for many fun water sport activities.
- Hike. Ios has numerous wonderful hiking trails. One such route leads from the beach of Mylopotas, then passes by the areas of Klima and Pikri Nero, and ends at the Manganari Beach.
- Party on the beach. There are many beaches to visit such as Mylopotas Beach, Manganari Beach, Gialos Beach, Koumbara Beach, Psathi Beach, Kolitsani Beach, and Agia Theodoti Beach. In addition to party beaches, Ios has secluded ones as well.
The climate on Ios is Mediterranean, with mild, rainy winters and warm, sunny summers. In general, the island is windy, In summer, it is cooled by a frequent wind that blows from the north. Summers see little rainfall.
Ios Gastronomy Experience:
You will find a huge variety of local cuisine made from local grains, vegetables, meats, and dairy products. Try matsi and mermitzeli (pastas), and sougli (pancakes). A nice vegetarian dish is tsimetia (pumpkin flower filled with rice).
In almost every house you’ll find tzares (clay pots), kioupia (tuck boxes) with smoked meat or figs, cheese in salamoura (brine), olives, and olive oil.
Of course for a taste of traditional Greek food, you can visit one of the island’s restaurants. One to try is the Nest Restaurant in Chora.
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