Located in the Cycladic Islands, Ios has the wildest nightlife out of all the Greek islands. It is the summer party island where days are spent hungover on the beach and nights spent eating cheap food and drinking until the comes up. While there’s a lot to do on the island if you don’t want to party, it always seems like 95% of people come here to party (and the average age is 22). If you don’t want to do that but still want to see Ios, it’s best to go to the eastern part of the island where it’s quieter and more relaxed. But don’t let Ios’ party reputation deter you from visiting – it’s a beautiful island and only busy June-August!
Hostel prices – Hostels start at about 12 EUR per night for a dorm room and 30-40 EUR for a private room. Camping starts at 6 EUR a night. During July and August, prices double. For long term stays, you can usually find a private guesthouse for around 25 EUR per night. Francesco’s in the town center or Far Out Beach Resort are the two best and most popular places to stay (I prefer Francesco’s since it’s centrally located).
Budget hotel prices – You can find private rooms starting at about 30 EUR per night (expect to pay more in the high-season). Rooms at this price point include a private bathroom, air-conditioning, TV, and a mini-fridge. On Airbnb, shared rooms start at 10 EUR and entire homes (including studio apartments) can be rented for around 40 EUR.
Average cost of food – Ios is filled with cheap food thanks to all the backpackers that flood the island. You can eat cheaply with gyros (meat, cheese, sauce, onions, and tomatoes served on pita bread) or other street food for only around 4 EUR. Most meals will cost around 8-11 EUR, including a drink. For a good restaurant meal, expect to pay around 18 EUR. The nicest places on Ios cost around 27 EUR including a glass of wine. If you cook your meals, expect to pay 40 EUR per week for groceries that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foods.
Transportation Costs – The local bus system only runs in the summer. It costs 2 EUR and runs along the island’s main road. The local bus only runs until about 7pm after which you’ll need to take a taxi. More common for transportation are ATVs. You can rent ATVs for about 15-40 EUR per day to get to the beaches and parts of the island further afield.
Suggested daily budget – 50 EUR / 52 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- Rent an ATV – A fun and popular way to travel this is the cheapest way to get around the island. Don’t try renting a car; they are very expensive.
- Eat lots of gyros – A good way to save money is to eat the cheap Gyros and sandwiches from places like Porky’s and Club Sandwich.
- Buy your own alcohol – Ios is a place where people drink. You can end up spending a lot of money if you aren’t careful. Drink your own alcohol before heading out and then stick to the 1 EUR shot bars. Otherwise, you could find yourself spending close to 45 EUR per night!.
- Book overnight ferries – Greece’s inter-island ferries can get quite expensive if you are visiting a lot of them. Taking the overnight ferries can save you up to half off the normal price plus save you a night of accommodation.
- Book ferries early – If you book the ferries around two months in advance, you can save up to 25% off the cost of your ticket. (Score!)
Top Things to See and Do on Ios
- Hang out at Mylopotas Beach – As one of Ios’s most popular beaches, its white sand stretches for miles. It’s a great place to hang out and kill that hangover you got at the bars the night before. It doesn’t get busy until about 1pm so if you arrive early, you can stake your claim to some of the best spots. The beach stays busy until after sunset.
- Visit the Archeological Museum – It’s always good to get the history of a place and this museum lets you do that. The museum is pretty small but it’s informative. It’s closed often so you might have to ask around as to when it will open. Admission is 4 EUR and it’s open Tuesday and Friday-Sunday from 8am-5pm with extended hours and more days of operation in the summer.
- Take an ATV to Homer’s Tomb – Homer’s claim to fame is writing the Odyssey and the Iliad. It’s said Homer is buried here because his mother was buried here as well. The tomb is far away from the town and you’ll need to rent an ATV to get there. The trip takes about 30 minutes. The “tomb” is just a headstone but as a bonus, you get amazing views of the surrounding cliffs.
- Shop in Chora – The main town is a great place to do some shopping. You can find a good selection of clothes and gifts that are a lot cheaper than on Santorini and Mykonos.
- Do some water sports – You can scuba dive, rent a banana boat, or take a boating trip around the island. Most of the activities are booked from Mylopotas Beach.
- Eat on the harbor – If you are looking for good seafood, Ios has it. Seafood here is cheaper than most other islands in the region so it’s better to get your fix here if you can. Eating down by the harbor also affords you stunning sunset views. I try to eat here once or twice while on the island.
- Explore the nightlife at Chora Village – This tiny village has a population of a mere 1,600 people. During the day, there isn’t much going on, but at night, in the central square, many people gather for drinks, music, and fun.
- Dance the night away – Ios is famous for its nightlife. It’s the main reason most people come to the island during the summer time. The bars get busy around midnight and stay busy until seven or eight in the morning. This is a serious party island and if you are going to stay near the town, be prepared to either drink or deal with lots of drunk young travelers.
- Explore Skarkos – This is pretty much the only archaeological site on the island. It is exceptionally well-preserved and features some really amazing architecture dating back to the Cycladic period. There is a great collection of old utensils made from stone, metal and bone to see, as well as some old pottery and tools.
- Find privacy at Maganari Beach – If you want a break from the young party crowd, you can head to Maganari Beach for some seclusion. Few people know about it, but you can find it on the south side of Ios.
- Explore Paleokastro – The ruins of this Byzantine castle are accessible by walking 15-20 minutes up a hill. The castle was originally constructed in 1397 and contains a small church inside the boundary of the walls. There’s not a lot to look at, but you can experience sweeping views of the island from the top of the hill.