I is for IOS – the number one PARTY ISLAND in Greece!
Arrive – We arrived relaxed, rested and ready to P.A.R.T.Y on a ferry from Paros that took around 2 hours.
Stay – A few of my friends had recommended we stay at a hostel called ‘Francesco’s’ so we decided to take their advice and booked in for 3 nights – and were glad we did! We were met at the Ios ferry terminal by ‘Alex’, a super friendly and informative rep from Francesco’s who drove us up to the hostel and installed us in a lovely, clean, modern and new private double room with ensuite for €18 ppn/night. Francesco’s boasts a fantastic view down towards the port and is the perfect spot to watch the beautiful sunsets over the Aegean Sea. The hostel pool is pretty fabulous and a great place to go and be social, or just relax and get your tan on! One of the best things about staying at Francesco’s is their ‘Welcome Drinks‘ at 10pm down on the outdoor terrace by the reception. Here you get to meet and mingle with all the other party-goers staying there, play drinking games, and take advantage of the cheap cocktails from the hostel bar before making your way out into the maze of bars as a big group for the hostel’s pub crawl, first stop – the ‘Blue Note Bar‘.
Do – Before you get caught up in the never-ending party that is Ios, take a day, or at least an afternoon, to explore the island a little bit. There are 2 pretty churches that are worth a visit – one up on the hill above all the bars in the main village or ‘Chora‘ (look out for the big palm tree right next to it) from where you can see a gorgeous view of the island down to the ocean, and a second out on a point down by the port area which also has stunning views. Take a walk over the hill from Chora to Mylopotas Beach and while away the day (or what’s left of it if you wake up late after a big night out on the razz) basking in the golden sand or swimming in the beautiful waters of the Aegean Sea. If you are up for it, there are plenty of water sports and diving trips available at Mylopotas Beach and we heard that in high season (we visited a a bit before), ‘Far Out Beach Club’, located at the end of this beach, puts on lots of day parties and events. If you fancy taking a boat trip out in the day, these are advertised along and leave from the port area (well duh, that’s where all the boats are!).
Party – First things first, make sure you grab a couple of big bottles of water or Powerade from the little local supermarket down on the main square and put them by your bed for the morning – you can thank me later 😉
For a pretty tiny town, there is an impressive number of bars and clubs in Ios town! It feels as though almost every building along the narrow white-washed alleys of Chora is a bar or club with dance music blasting out. A crazy throng of revellers stumble around the streets and in and out of the numerous establishments from around 11pm pretty much until the sun comes up. The best places we went to (that I can recall the names of) were the Blue Note Bar, Slammer Bar, Flames, Astra, and Disco 69 but there are just so many to choose from (and I’m sure the popular places change from season to season). There are guys, mostly cocky Aussie blokes, on a majority of the entry doors who all try and entice you into their bar with various cheap drink deals or cheesy lines. These same guys can also be found lurking on the beaches during the day, promoting their clubs and insisting you come for shots later on (can you just leave me alone, can’t you see I have a splitting headache and just want to lay here in peace?!). Then, there are the ‘floor whores’ – attractive girls employed by the bars and clubs to dance and flirt with guys in the aim of getting them to buy lots of drinks (so don’t be sucked in lads)! Also, watch out for the €1 shots.. apparently these are not good stuff and will potentially land you in hospital, eeek! If you’re anything like my sister and I, you’ll have the best time partying it up in Ios and come home at the end of of each night (we could only manage 3 in a row) with a tonne of hilarious (if somewhat blurry) memories, a bunch of new friends, and be covered in stickers, face paint and glow bands!
Eat – If you’re a little over Greek food and wanting a fun and relatively cheap dinner out before a night out on the tiles, line your stomach with some tasty Thai dishes at ‘Thai Smile‘ in Chora – the staff were really sweet and gave us free shots and dessert, gotta love that!
For me, hands down the best place to eat on the Island has got to be ‘Harmony‘ – a fun Mexican restaurant located up on the hillside as you come down to Mylopotas Beach from Chora. To find it, look up on the hillside to the right if you’re sitting on Mylopotas Beach facing the ocean and you’ll see a big sign painted on the side of the building. The vibe at this joint is just so chill – such a great spot to relax from the late afternoon into the evening, sipping on frozen strawberry and mango daquiris or slugging down giant bottles of ‘Mythos’ beer! The food is probably a little pricey for what it is to be honest but the staff are friendly and the view is unreal!
For a drunken pig-out before you crash into bed, we found the gyros at fast-food/takeaway joint ‘Porkies‘ to be very satisfying, but the best find was the little bakery at the base of Chora, just back from the main square under the bar area (just follow your nose, ah the aroma of sweet baked goodness!) – the giant slices of mouth-watering pizza, the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate bread and the delicious mince pies from here were all freaking amazing (and yes, I did have one of each)!