The last stop on the Greece leg of our overseas wedding adventure was the quaint island of Ios. Known as the party island of the Cyclades during Spring Break, Ios is the complete opposite when visiting in the Fall. And that is exactly what I was looking for when researching which one of the many islands we should visit. I knew I didn’t want to go to Mykonos and Santorini since that is what every tourist does. I think the different bars is what drew me into choosing Ios, however, we’d come to find out the island was pretty much secluded when we arrived, and many of the bars and restaurants were closed. And somehow, that made it all better.
Getting to Ios
The easiest way to get to Ios is by Ferry. We actually missed the stop from Santorini and had to spend three hours on the island of Naxos waiting for the next ferry that was heading to Ios. It turned out to be a fun little pit stop, and that island was stunning, I almost wish she had had more time to explore it.
Where To Stay
Levantes Ios Boutique
While there is no shortage of gorgeous boutique style hotels to stay in on the island, we chose this one. The price is reasonable, the views impressive and the breakfast delicious. The staff was also incredibly accommodating and had no problem picking us up from the port even when we were delayed a few hours. I couldn’t recommend this hotel enough.
What To Do In October
Rent an ATV
One of the highlights of our whole time in Greece was renting an ATV for the day and exploring the island on our own. We rented our ATV from Costa’s Moto Club on Mylopotas Beach.
If I haven’t mentioned it, the island was secluded, so getting around without many cars on the road made it a lot easier. And it was nice that the beaches we stopped at had only a handful of people on them. If you’re driving across the island, I recommend Agia Theodoti Beach, although there is no shortage of great beaches to chose from.
Just be careful of the steep cliffs you will pass through to get to the north part of the island. Anthony had to ride the brakes coming down one causing them to overheat and give out. Thankfully, we were off of the steepest part of the cliff when it happened and were able to safely pull off the side of the road and let the ATV roll to a stop on it’s own. Costa’s was also super helpful and drove across the island to where we were to check and make sure it wasn’t a more serious problem. So yeah, be cautious!
Visit the Tomb of Homer
On the north side of the island sits Homer’s Tomb. If you aren’t familiar with Homer, he’s the poet who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. It is said that Homer decided to spend the last part of his life on Ios because it’s the island where his mother was from. Whether or not you care about the history or mythology, the location where the tomb sits is gorgeous (and free to enter!). Surrounded by cairns, the tomb itself overlooks the Aegean Sea and is so peaceful.
You’ll definitely need your own transport of sorts (hence the ATV rental) because there is no public transport that goes out to the tomb, especially not in October.
Wander Around Chora
Chora is essentially the island center, with it’s narrow alleys and classic Greek buildings.There is a trail that will take you to the top of the Chora Hill where three churches sit. I’m actually not sure why we didn’t do this hike. I think we were hungry from all the time we spent cruising around… once you’re out in the countryside there isn’t many places to stop, at least not that we paid attention to. But the place we did walk up to (next suggestion actually) gave us a beautiful view that included the white washed buildings, and three churches that make up Chora.
If you come during peak season (and maybe even at the end of the season if there isn’t bad weather to contend with) Chora is the place to be for drinking and dancing the night away, as there are plenty of bars and clubs to chose from. While I’d love to see the place in all it’s glory just for the experience, there was something magical about walking the deserted alleys when we did and having the space completely to ourselves. It left a lot to the imagination. And of course I was able to get some of the classically Greek photographs of the white building alleyways, with no tourists around.
Visit Odysseas Elytis Theatre
A 4 minute drive from the Chora area, or a 15 minute uphill walk, on the side of a cliff sits the Odysseas Elytis Theatre. Built in 1997 as a representation of Ancient Greek Theaters, this is still a working outdoor arena for plays and other performances. However, if you come during off season you’ll likely have the area to yourself, like much of the island (have I mentioned that yet) and it won’t disappoint with stunning views of Mylopotas Beach. The walk up to the Theatre will take you past the historic windmills and also give you that great shot of Chora that I talked about above.
Explore the Skakros Ruins
This vast Bronze Age settlement is one of the best preserved prehistoric sites throughout the Aegean. While we just briefly drove through the area, you can pay 4 euro to enter the preservation and explore the ruins. If you decide to hike up Chora, from the north point you can also get a birds eye view of just how vast the settlement runs.
If you’re on the fence about which Islands to visit during your Greek adventure, I hope this quick post helps to decide. We were able to see and do a lot in the short time we were there and I feel like we didn’t even scratch the surface of what this island has to offer. There is still plenty more to explore depending on how much time you’d like to spend and what time of year you go.
Looking for more Greece suggestions? Check out other posts below surrounding our trip to Greece.
If you take any of my suggestions please let me know how they work out for you. Or if you have your own I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments! Bonus points if you note how many times I mention how barren this island was when we went.
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