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The island of Ios, which can be found in a chain of islands known as the Cyclades, is always a popular choice for people taking holidays in Greece. Whilst neighbouring island Santorini is known as the relaxing island with beautiful sunsets, ios is known for its partying and under 30s crowd. You’ll mainly find a mixture of Australians, Canadians, Americans, Swedes, English…and in the middle of August, lots of Italians.
Most of the action in the day takes place at Far Out Camping down on Mylopotas Beach. During the summer Far Out hosts lots of infamous day parties, including Swedish Midsummer, Irish Day, Aussie Day, Canada Day and July 4th. There are also wet T-shirt competitions, and even when there isn’t an official event, it still gets pretty busy. People either hang out on the beach on the sun loungers, or lie by the pool at Far Out checking out the beautiful people.
Whilst ios is all about the partying, there are some other things to do, although this island is not somewhere you come to sightsee. You can hire a quad bike for the day and visit Homer’s Tomb, or laze on the beautiful and much quieter Manganari Beach.
The nightlife in ios is centred in the main town, known as Chora. Built on a hill, there is a maze of alleyways and cobbled streets, which can be difficult to navigate at first, especially when drunk! It’s here that you’ll find all the bars and nightclubs, plus plenty of restaurants and jewellery shops.
Far Out is great if you want budget accommodation on the beach, but the downside is it is exactly that…far out. When you’re drunk at 5 in the morning holding a kebab, the 30 minute walk from the town down the hill to the beach doesn’t seem like a lot of fun. Having said that, you can always catch a taxi, or if you stay out partying long enough, you can catch the first bus in the daylight! The advantage of staying at Far Out is that this is where all the action is in the day, so if you like to party, you’re definitely going to have a good time. Far Out has a mixture of tents, bungalows and rooms, or you can bring your own tent and camp. It’s fairly cheap and fun, especially if you’re in big groups. Far Out has two swimming pools, music, a restaurant, a canteen and a supermarket.
Francesco’s, on the other hand, is in the centre of town, so you don’t have too far to stumble when you leave the clubs as the sun comes up. It’s much more like a proper hostel with dorms and private rooms, and it’s easier to meet people if you’re travelling alone. There’s a swimming pool with a beautiful view, and a terrace area where everyone gathers in the evening. Everyone is given a welcome shot in the hostel bar, and then pre-drinks before hitting the bars around 12:30am. It’s a really friendly, social hostel and you can still go down to the pool at Far Out in the daytime.
There is of course plenty of other accommodation on the island but these are the two most popular backpacker accommodations. If you’re looking to work on the island, you can find accommodation as low as 6-10 euros per night. Prices do tend to go up in high season though.
There are tons of bars in ios town, but some people are disappointed to learn that there aren’t any massive nightclubs or DJs like on Mykonos. Many of the bars are quite small, but they get packed really quickly and before long you’ll be dancing on the bar! Dress code is pretty relaxed…think shorts, flip flops and singlet for guys, or skirt, top and flip flops for girls.
Now here’s the best piece of advice I can give you- things get good LATE. Have some dinner after the beach, take a good nap, and then go out around 1am. Things really peak around 3-4am, and everyone heads to the last club- Sweet Irish- around 5.30-6.00am. Don’t make the mistake of going out too early and then missing all the fun!
There are so many bars it would take forever to list them all, but here are some of the best ones.
Start your night at:
Astra- Really funky bar with a yellow staircase. Serves delicious cocktails with fresh fruits..try the Green Destiny!
Fun Pub- Fun pub is an Irish Pub with Giant Jenga and Pool Tables to keep you entertained. Great way to kick-off the night.
Blue Note- Blue Note is run by Francesco’s and has good drinks deals to start your night. The music is rather cheesy, and it tends to play Swedish songs, but it’s usually really busy and has a great vibe at the beginning of the night.
Slammers- Slammer Bar has a great gimmick- order the slammer shot and they put a helmet on you and hit you over the head with a fire extinguisher.
Shooters- Shooters is nice and open with good air conditioning and plays lots of Aussie music.
Circus- With live music, a fire show and a cool little balcony, Circus Bar offers something a little bit different.
One Euro Shots- There are a bunch of bars around the main square that offer one euro shots. The alcohol is nasty, but it does the job!
Jaeger Bar- Jaeger Bar does a great deal on Jaegerbombs naturally- 4 for 10 euros!
Orange Bar- Orange Bar has delicious candy shots…think Twix, Apple Pie, Malteser and Aero!
Flames- Flames has a bit more of a rock-vibe when it comes to the music, and because it’s small it gets packed very quickly. Their drink is the Flaming Lamborghini.
End Your Night:
Coo- Two words- Espresso Martini- they’re divine!
Rehab- Rehab is open till 6am, so everyone heads there after the other bars close.
Ios Bakery- No ios bakery isn’t a club, it’s an actual bakery, but it might as well have a DJ and start spinning some tunes because this is where everyone hangs out to stuff their faces with pastries before going home or continuing to Sweet Irish. The best is definitely the chicken pie.
Sweet Irish- The end stop on your tour of the ios nightlife- Sweet Irish stays open till around 8am. This is where everyone goes to find someone to take home if they haven’t already done so.
Things to do
Ios is great for quad biking and adventuring, so I’d recommend you pack a daypack, like one of these from DotBeasts and get exploring.
Hit the beach– Ios is about partying, relaxing, and more partying. Spend the day on Mylopotas beach drinking frozen Daiquiris, talking to other backpackers and, if you’re not too hungover, maybe even try out some of the water-sports. There are lots of restaurants, cafes and water-sports centres lining the beach here. From Chora you can take the 20-minute walk to the beach, or hop on the bus which stops on the main road just down from Fun Pub and the supermarket. It costs €1.60 each way. Mylopotas Beach is of course where you’ll find the famous Far Out, which has two swimming pools and lots of day parties.
Hire a quad bike for the day- The best way to explore the island is by quad bike. If you’re riding on a bike I’d highly recommend getting a You can rent them fairly cheaply, but make sure you check it over to make sure everything works OK as sometimes they are in fairly poor condition. Away from Chora and Mylopotas, the island itself is quite barren and dramatic. Even during the height of summer, you’ll be driving on almost empty roads with the wind in your hair. Ride your quad bike to the amphitheatre, Homer’s Tomb and Manganari Beach in one day.
Take a diving course- There is a Dive Centre on Mylopotas beach if you wish to learn to dive.
Visit Homer’s Tomb- Homer’s Tomb is the tomb of the famous poet Homer, and is located in Plakato. The scenery around there is beautiful, with incredible views of the ocean. You can pick up rocks from the dirt and place them in piles on top of the tomb.
Laze on Agia Theodoti and Manganari Beach- Manganari Beach is the most beautiful and relaxing beach on the island but it takes around an hour to get there. If you don’t have time to make it that far, then you can go to Agia Theodoti, which is usually very quiet and secluded.
Walk to the top of Chora- The main town, Chora, is built on a hill. Climb to the church at the top of the hill at sunrise or sunset for great views of the island.
If you’re tired of Greek cuisine on your tour of the Greek Islands, then ios has some surprisingly good international cuisine. You can get pretty much anything including Thai, Italian and Mexican as well as your traditional Greek food. There are lots of great places, but these are some of my top picks:
Harmony: Harmony is located on the cliff at the end of Mylopotas Beach and its location is perfect for a view of the sunset. It has a chilled-out vibe with hammocks, wooden decking, live music and delicious Mexican food. This restaurant is really popular with the staff and locals on the island.
Katogi: Katogi is without a doubt the best restaurant on the island. It serves Greek tapas, but not traditional Greek cuisine, more of a fusion Greek. My top picks from the menu are the pasta parcels, the cous cous salad, the baked feta and the pork in Jack Daniels sauce. The restaurant has an intimate atmosphere, set in a little courtyard with all sorts of cute decorations hanging from the trees, and the waitress here is a lot of fun.
Ali Babas: Ali Babas serves Thai food and is famous for its fishbowls! The staff here are always friendly and up for a laugh, and it’s a great place to go for some pre-drinking at the start of the night.
Pomodoros: Pomodoros is an Italian restaurant serving great pasta, pizza and salads, with an outdoor roof terrace upstairs- perfect for summer evenings.
Cantina Del Mar: Cantina Del Mar is situated on Mylopotas Beach and does great breakfast, including omelettes, paninis, fruit and yoghurt, salads, smoothies and coffees.
The Nest: A traditional Greek restaurant with Wi-Fi and plug sockets. Serves typical Greek dishes such as Greek Salad, Moussaka and Souvlaki.
Agosto– Agosto is a trendy, chic restaurant with a glamorous feel opposite Rehab Bar. The menu offers Italian food as well as Mediterranean dishes.