Ios

Ios, or Nios, is an island in the southern Aegean with an area of 108 square kilometers, 18 kilometers long and 9.5 kilometers across at the widest point. The coastline measures 86 kilometers, of which 32 kilometers are made up of sandy beaches. It is one of the Cyclades group, along with Thira (Santorini), Paros, Naxos, Sikinos, Anafi, Antiparos, Irakleia and Amorgos, lying 108 nautical miles from Piraeus. About 2000 local people live there all year round.

 

The climate of Ios is Mediterranean, with hot dry summers and mild winters. The sky is clear for most of the year, with bright sunshine from March to September in particular. Rainfall is very low, making Ios one of the driest parts of Greece. It can often be windy; the Meltemi (the northerly wind), which begins to blow in August, means the island is perfect for windsurfing.

 

Ios was already developed in the Bronze Age, with a continuous human presence throughout the Early and Later Cycladic periods. Excavations in 1986 in the Skarkos area revealed an Early Cycladic settlement dating from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. What is more, some say that the poet Homer was buried was buried in the Plakotos area, though there is no hard evidence for this.

 

The main town of the island is Chora, part of which can well be described as a traditional island town. Chora lies on the west coast of the island, on a hill 200 meters in height. At the top of the hill, we can see the small, picturesque church of Saint Nikolaos, while at its foot there stands one of the most beautiful and typical churches of the island, Panayia Gremiotisa. Hora provides a fine example of Cycladic architecture, with its small whitewashed, flat-roofed houses, with their blue doors and window-frames. The port of Ormos, the second largest settlement on the island, is notable for the brilliantly white church of Agias Irinis on the way into the village, as well as for Gialos beach.

 

Other villages on the island include Mylopotas, where we find the island's largest and most famous beach, with the most highly-developed tourist facilities, and Manganari, which has one of the most beautiful beaches, while Psathi and and Agia Theodoti are very small seaside villages with marvelous beaches.

 

Tourist development on Ios has been largely based on pleasure and leisure, promoted through its natural beauty, its many beaches and crystal-clear sea, its architecture and fine, sunny summers, as well as its “wild” nightlife. Ios, then, developed as a summer holiday destination, its slogan being the three S– Sea, Sun, Sand (to which some people add a fourth S, for Sex). Ios used to draw mostly younger holidaymakers, but recent years have seen an improvement in tourist infrastructure, attracting tourists of all ages.

 

Sights

 

The Ios Archaeological Museum: The museum is to be found in the Hora area and is housed in the same neoclassical building as the Ios Town Hall. There are exhibits from the island's prehistoric times (before 3000 BC) up to later antiquity (6th to 7th centuries AD). Opening hours: 08.30 – 15.00, closed Mondays and national holidays.

 

Skarkos Settlement: The settlement, something over one hectare in area, seems to have reached its peak in the early Bronze Age (Early Cycladic period, 2700 – 2300 BC). It is located in the Kambos area, and is one of the few Early Cycladic settlements to have been discovered and preserved. Opening hours: 08.30 – 15.00, closed Mondays and national holidays.

 

The Odysseas Elytis Theater: The open-air theater is northwest of Hora on the hill beyond the windmills. The view is magnificent. Various cultural events take place here in summer.

 

Beaches:

  • Mylopotas: the biggest beach on Ios, with the most highly-developed tourist facilities. It has been awarded the Blue Flag.

  • Gialos: this beach is situated next to the port of Ios, offering shallow water and fine sand: a Blue Flag beach.

  • Manganari, one of the island's most beautiful beaches, with find pale sand and shallow water. Awarded the Blue Flag.

  • Agia Theodoti, a beach on the east coast of the island.

  • Psathi, a beach where the sea is generally rough.

  • Koumbara, a little beyond Gialos beach: a Blue Flag beach.

  • Tris Klisies, a notably beautiful beach, situated a little before Manganari. There is no access by road.

  • Generally speaking, there are a large number of unspoilt beaches on the island which it is easy for the visitor to get to.

 

Hora

The town of Hora on Ios presents us with one of the most typical examples of Cycladic architecture. Narrow alleyways, whitewashed houses, blue window-frames, and windmills to the north-east. It is well-worth climbing to the church known as Panayia Gremiotisa, where the view is simply enchanting.

Still, apart from the architectural and cultural interest of the area, it should not be forgotten that holidays mean fun, and there is no better place for this than Hora, with its wide variety of nightlife catering for all tastes. Most of the island's cafés, and almost all its bars and clubs, are to be found in Hora. Then, there is the main shopping area with its gift shops, boutiques and jewelers', as well as a good number of restaurants and traditional tavernas.

 

Useful Information

 

Getting There

 

By Sea:

You can get to Ios by boat from Piraeus. By high-speed ferry, the journey time is 3.5 to 4.5 hours, while by conventional ferry-boat it takes 7 to 8.5 hours. Ios can also be reached by sea from other islands of the Cyclades or from Crete, in which case journey times depend on the ferry schedules.

 

By Air:

There is no airport on Ios, but it is served by the airport on Santorini, from which you can continue your journey by conventional ferry (about 1.5 hours) or by high-speed ferry (about 40 minutes).

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