Chances are, you've probably never heard of Ios. It is a hidden gem that deserves a lot more attention. In contrast to Santorini, Ios is a much more traditional island. When walking throughout the island during the day, my friend and I came across many locals enjoying the sunshine from their patios or hanging their laundry on the line. It really gives the island a lot more character.
The place my friend and I stayed was called Yialo's, it was owned by two locals who were extremely helpful and even brought a converter to our room when ours burned out. We had a very nice room and balcony for roughly $70 a night, and the hotel provides a homemade breakfast buffet included with your stay. The hotel also had a great pool area, but if you're planning on hitting the beach, you won't really have time for it!
During the day, Ios' "downtown" area is pretty dead. Considering we were there in mid-may and June is when their high season starts, I'm sure during the later summer months more restaurants are open in the town during the day. Day time activities during the shoulder season look more like hanging at the Mylopotas beach and getting drinks at Far Out Beach Club. If you're not looking to day drink - explore the secluded beaches all around the island. You need 4 wheelers to get to most of them, but not all.
After we talked to the locals at our hotel, they told us we could get to Valmas by foot, so we headed there. Obviously as you can see from the picture, it's breath taking. How amazing would a picnic be here? Gotta do that next time.
Like I said, the main town is pretty dead during the daytime, but after walking around a bit on one of our days there, my friend and I came across a cute cafe where we had the most amazing pasta and sangria. For something more casual, but just as delicious, I guarantee anywhere you order a gyro on the island, it will hit the spot. They gyros were also super affordable...$2! In the port area, there are two locally owned restaurants that were amazing: Engima for a more filling meal, or Sousana's for fresh gyros and dakos after a long afternoon of swimming. I recommend both! If you're trying to hit both in one day head to Sousana's for lunch and Enigma for dinner.
After dinner, the island really comes alive. Remember the downtown area that I said was dead earlier? Well now it's showtime. The clubs and bars start to get packed around 11pm and go till around 6/7am. Now you see why the town is so dead in the daytime...
If you're tight on money, May is a great time to visit because none of the bars or clubs charge cover. During high season, I can only imagine how fast all those cover charges add up. For the perfect night out in Ios, start at Fun Pub. It feels like your college home base bar but with better quality liquor and cleaner floors. Fun Pub is a great place to start the night because, since Ios is a party destination, people from all over the world are there. Since it isn't a club, it's easy to meet others hang out before deciding which nightclub to head to. We ended up meeting people from Ireland, Lebanon, and Canada our first night and had a blast with them.
After Fun Pub, a few great options are Traffic, Shush, who am I kidding...go anywhere you will have the time of your life. In May, just know not every single bar and club will be open. A handful of them wait until June. There were a few sunset pool bars we wanted to visit but were closed due to that, so do your research beforehand and decide whether you want to pay more for high season or stay on a budget and go during shoulder. Even though a few places were closed, my friend and I had the best time, and we are dying to go back!
I hope this post has convinced you to visit Ios when you island hop, even if it's just for the day! I promise you won't regret it.
See y'all next time,