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.

Welcome to Ios Party People!

Welcome to Ios Party People!

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‘.

The Phenomenal View from 'Francesco's'

The Phenomenal View from ‘Francesco’s’

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!).

The Ocean Waters of Mylotopas Beach are the Best Hangover Cure!

The Clear Waters of Mylopotas Beach are the Best Hangover Cure!

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!

The Ios Nightlife got the Best of Us!

The Ios Nightlife got the Best of Us!

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!

The Fajita Plate from 'Harmony' is Perfect to Share

The Fajita Plate from ‘Harmony’ is Perfect to Share

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)!

M is for MYKONOS – the first Greek Island paradise we set out to explore, found in the heart of the Cyclades. 

Arrive – a €34 Blue Star Ferry ticket, booked on the day, got us from Piraeus Port in Athens to Mykonos in 6.5 hours. 

Mykonos - A White-washed Paradise

Mykonos – A White-washed Paradise

Stay – we pre-booked at Paraga Beach Hostel via hostelbookers.com. On our arrival at the port, we were met by a representative from the hostel who provided us with a free minivan transfer across the island, via some very narrow, windy, hilly roads, to Paraga Beach.  For €13 a night we were installed in a 2-man canvas ‘cabin’ (think army barracks style) with use of a communal shower/toilet area. The hostel (which could really be better described as a camping ground) boasted a fabulous outdoor pool and bar area with tunes pumping from the early afternoon until well into the night. The location was tops – literally right on Paraga Beach (watch out for the nudies down the far end!!) which is a glorious wee stretch of sand lined with several beach bars and restaurants.  

Poolside at Paraga Beach Hostel

Poolside at Paraga Beach Hostel

Do – Get lost in the narrow white-washed maze of streets in old Mykonos town*, or ‘Chora‘, perusing both tacky tourist shops and gorgeous high-end boutiques along the way. Walk from the old windmills up on the hill, past ‘Little Venice‘ (a picturesque row of old fishing houses with their balconies overhanging the ocean) around to both the old and new ports. Sun-bake on one of the many stunning beaches around the island and swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea. 

* public buses depart regularly from Paraga Beach into Mykonos Town, and vice versa, and tickets (purchased onboard) cost next to nothing.

Picture Perfect 'Little Venice'

Picture Perfect ‘Little Venice’

Hijinks on Paraga Beach

Hijinks on Paraga Beach

Party – Drinking games started on the pool terrace at the hostel from mid-evening, with young people from all over the globe getting involved. Once the sun disappeared, the crowd made their way down to the poolside dance floor where a live DJ was posted up, spinning some excellent summer party tracks. From around midnight, groups started peeling off to make the trek (a clumsy clamber around the seriously rocky coastline, peppered with nasty prickle bushes at every turn, in the pitch-black darkness after several cocktails) over to Paradise Beach, where you can dance your heart out at any number of the several beach clubs located there. The summer club scene hadn’t really kicked off yet, given it was early June when we visited, but when it gets cranking Mykonos is known as the ‘Ibiza of Greece’.

Eat – You simply have to indulge in a natural Greek frozen yoghurt drizzled in real Greek honey and sprinkled with fruits and nuts in Mykonos Town. Try a big bowl of fried calamari drenched in freshly squeezed lemon juice and served with a tomato-onion-cucumber salad from a waterfront restaurant with a view of the old windmills. Sip a cocktail from one of the bars near ‘Little Venice’ and watch the sun go down over the water.

Greek Frozen Yoghurts are the Best!

Greek Frozen Yoghurts are the Best!

A View of the Old Windmills

A View of the Old Windmills

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