Off The Beaten Path Ios

The island of Ios provided a beautiful place to relax after our time adventuring all over Santorini… or at least this is what we thought would happen… in truth, we relaxed for one day – the day we arrived.

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We met many friends during our stay in Ios; all of whom enjoyed the laid back atmosphere, the lack of tourist crowds (compared to other, larger islands) and, the lack of things to do. Many professed that they simply wanted to enjoy beautiful sandy beaches all day, sip cheap drinks, and had no desire to explore the larger, more popular islands.

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Many guests visiting Ios stay close to the port, enjoying the beautiful still waters of nearby sandy beaches like Yialos (walking distance from the port) and Mylopotas (accessible by bus). These beaches are easy to access, with unbelievably cheap sunbeds (the only requirement is the purchase of a 2 EUR glass of wine or beer!). From the port, it’s also an easy walk upstairs to the Chora (old town), where one can wander maze-like streets and visit the old windmills.

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The ‘town square’ was one of the smallest I’ve seen, with only a few restaurants to choose between. There are others spots to explore though along the windy, narrow streets. You can also find live music or, if you want to get a little crazy, there are multiple bars where you can experience the Greek party scene, which gets going around midnight. You could easily partake in much of the Ios scene without a car.

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All of the things already mentioned are lovely ways to enjoy a relaxing time in Ios… but if you’ve followed our blog thus far, you know us better than that 😉

We were lucky to make fast friends with the owners at Petros Place Hotel, a nice location near the port, where we had a lovely balcony overlooking the pool and surrounding hills.

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Upon our arrival, we explained to one of the hotel-operators, Dimitri, that we wanted to experience hidden gems around the island – activities that a local would recommend to two nontraditional travelers. Dimitri has lived on the island his whole life, and spent (much appreciated) time providing us with exciting recommendations. Thanks to Dimitri, we filled our week in Ios with multiple off-the-beaten-path activities that we are excited to share with you!


Explore the Island on an ATV. Your first step in discovering off-the-beaten-path Ios adventures is to rent a mode of transportation that can manage dirt roads! Unlike Santorini, this island has tons of dirt paths, some of which lead to the most spectacular, remote beaches!

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Be prepared to creep your way up steep hills – 50cc ATVs are all that’s available to rent – but it’s worth it when you’re able to dominate the bumpy, rocky roads. Take your time and enjoy the ride!

Visit Manganari Beach. This beach is far from the port (a 45 min drive via ATV, at the least) but well worth it! We were told that this beach is known to be one of the most beautiful beaches on Ios, and also learned that it was the set for a movie called Big Blue. The drive to Manganari was gorgeous – we found ourselves climbing over hills with incredible panoramic views, winding around barren areas of the island and over dramatic cliffs. Arriving at Manganari can only be described as experiencing paradise for the first time.

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“One of the most beautiful beaches on the island” is a severe understatement. We found this beach to be the most beautiful of ALL the beaches we experienced in Greece – hands down!

Climb Chapels in the Sky. It is said that Ios is home to 365 chapels, one for every day of the year. Considering the population of this island is a mere 1800, that’s one chapel for every 5 people! It seems that each family (or small community) has a small chapel, making religious worship a much more private matter than most are accustomed to. Some of our favorite chapels were found at the highest points!

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If you take the pedestrian road from the port to town, and make a sharp left (winding your way upward), you will eventually find yourself on a tall cliff covered in chapels. Climb to the top of the chapels for the best views, but be careful not to slip!

Explore The Ancient Ruins of Skarkos. We chose to walk to the ruins as there was a dirt trail leading the way directly from our hotel. The site sits high on a hill with panoramic views.

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The excavation has brought to light a settlement from the mid-3rd millennium BC, and one that is an exceptionally well preserved. I must preface this recommendation with the fact that we seemed to have a unique (but accidental) experience. The dirt trail we hiked provided us with access to the back of the ruins, where there was an open gate (in our minds, an open invitation to proceed). We found ourselves in the middle of the live excavation site, walking through the ruins, astonished that visitors are provided with free, up close access!

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As we neared the end of our tour, we realized that we were behind a rope intended to keep tourists out of the area we were exploring. We also became aware that the front gate was locked, and the site was (apparently) closed that day. It was an honest mistake, I swear! We returned at a later date to discover that the back gate (the one we entered on our first trip) was closed – I can only assume it was accidentally left open that day.

Treat Yourself to a Delicious Burger! This recommendation goes out to all of my kindred spirited, carnivores, with the severe need for a decent piece of meat while traveling abroad. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Greek food, and I stuffed my face with gyros on a daily bases (no exaggeration here), but every now and then I can’t escape the craving for a nice, juicy cheeseburger, and I stand by the fact that America does burgers best. I’ve scoured many countries in search of something to subside my craving, and even settled for McDonalds when all else failed. It’s hard to find a good burger in most European locations, and that’s why I am including this particular recommendation!

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Our hotel, Petros Place, has a pool bar and restaurant run by the lovely Flora. Upon our first visit to the restaurant, Flora proclaimed that she was famous for her cheeseburger, and explained that she grinds the meat herself. I was quick to explain that I, being a cheeseburger connoisseur, would be happy to provide honest feedback. Ladies and gentleman, Flora has magically created a burger that rivals some of the best I’ve had in the United States. The quality of the meat was amazingly delicious, and the fresh-cut, homemade fries were icing on the cake.

Ride to Homers Tomb. Get on your ATV and make the trip to the tomb of Homer, the famous, epic poet! There is controversy over the birthplace of Homer, but it seems that there is certainty that Ios island is home to Homer’s final resting place.

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Many have described this ancient burial site as “nothing more than a pile of rocks”, which is indeed what you will discover; however, if you understand the history and have appreciation for the famous author of some of the best known literature of Europe, you can’t help but be amazed to think that you are experiencing the site where he was put to rest thousands of years ago. If you don’t appreciate the history, you will (at the very least) appreciate the lovely view from his tombstone.

Hike to Remote Beaches. In the area of the island close to Homer’s tomb, there are multiple dirt trails leading to the shore. Pick a trail and ride the dirt road to the sea. When you get there, leave your ATV and hike along the shoreline. The views are incredible, and you will discover tiny, private beaches along the way. We spent a day hiking along the cliffs that fall dramatically into the sea, enjoying small coves along the way. We didn’t see a single person on our adventure, which made us feel like we had gone back in time, escaping modern civilization. It was an opportunity to enjoy a private experience of natural beauty.

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Whether you are Greek-Island hopping or spending a longer time in this tiny spot, I encourage you to enjoy the relaxing environment but make time for a few excursions as well. Ios has much to offer that is often overlooked!


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