In the first light of day, after a night of wild fun, Chora (or Chorio) seems plunged into sleep… The capital of Ios is amphitheatrically built on a rocky slope above Ormos, overlooking the round port, the neighboring island of Sikinos and the vastness of the Aegean Sea. Immersed into quietness, you wander through the maze of streets, stumbling upon alleys draped with vibrant purple bougainvillea, closed little shops and picturesque chapels. When you find the Megali Piatsa area, you already know that your steps will get you to the highest peak of the settlement, the standing point of the Panagia Gremiotissa Church. The narrow street now opens, with the cuboid houses seemingly climbing on the barren hill and, at the sight of the much-photographed palm tree and blue dome, you recognize the most famous among the 365 churches of the island. Reaching the Winmills (Anemomiloi) plateau, you find yourself gazing at 12 landmarks of Chora, forgotten by time. They are lined in two rows, like veins tracing the anatomy of the hillside, reminiscent of their past heyday. If you are curious to take a look at their interior, you’ll be glad to know that you can visit two of them, which have been traditionally restored. You keep waking up, finally reaching the Odysseas Elytis Theater.
With the refreshing touch of the sea breeze on your face, and the caress of sweet anticipation on your soul, you reach Ormos. This one-time haven for pirates of the Mediterranean is now packed with luxury yachts, sailboats and fishing vessels. At last, the ship is moored to the dock and you set foot on Gialos in the blink of an eye. Boasting an excellent tourist infrastructure, with a wide variety of hotels, restaurants, travel and car rental agencies, the second largest settlement of the island welcomes you. The titular beach with amenities stretches at the left side of the port is easily accessed for those who cannot wait to dive into the crystal-clear sea. The street above the beach is lined with hotels, bars and tavernas, promising high-quality services and a laid-back atmosphere. At the sight of the Agios Georgios Basmenos Church, you remember that this is the starting point of the traditional cobbled path that, among geraniums and eucalyptus trees, will lead you step by step, to Chora.
Seeing Ios for the first time is a mesmerizing experience. At the right side of the port entrance stands the Byzantine Church of Agia Irini, humble, yet radiating with pristine white beauty, at the edge of a rock since the 17th century. Perched on the base of a barren hill, above the natural harbor, Chora, the island’s capital, awaits your encounter
ODYSSEAS ELYTIS THEATER
This open-air theater is one of the most beautiful locations in Ios with beautiful views of the Aegean, full of colors and perfumes. The German architecture professor Peter Haupt demonstrated his love for Ios by designing a copy of an ancient Greek open theater, similar to the ones in south Italy, and making Tsoukalaria a popular destination. Built with marble and local stone, it includes a circular orchestra with a diameter of 40ft and 1100 south-facing seats and hosts a number of cultural events, like theatrical performances and concerts for the summer Omireia.
THE TOMB OF HOMER
From the windmills, follow the asphalt road leading to the northern side of the island, Plakoto. Above the homonymous beach, in the middle of the Aegean, there is supposed to be the resting place of Homer. According to legend, the ancient epic poet died and was buried in Ios, home of his mother Klymeni, as reported in texts by Herodotus and Pausanias. Another legend states that the ancient epic poet died from his distress when he could not solve a puzzled given by the local fishermen. Although many scholars dispute over the origin of the ancient epic poet, most agree that he died and was buried in Ios. In fact, coins of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC were also found at this point with the form of the poet on one side. Another archaeological theory suggests that it is not a burial monument but a Hellenistic tower.
A location coming out from a movie, great portions of exotic ambience, sea in the colors of aquamarine and the amazing sensation that you are left alone on earth. A courtesy of nature, in the south of Ios. Due to its distance from Chora (23km, so it takes a 60’ min drive to get there), Manganari isn’t crowded thus keeping its low profile. Still, a part of the coast is organized with sunshades, sunbeds and restaurants as well as sea hiding places for isolation and relaxation. As for the landscape? The large double beach, with the three smaller idyllic inlets is covered by fine golden sand, which is united with the shallow, warm waters. Besides, it’s this insuperable natural beauty that persuaded Luc Besson to film here some of the scenes of the “Big Blue” spreading the reputation of Ios all over the world. You will get to Manganari by boat.
The nearest beach to Chora, ideal for those who move around on foot. Despite of being set next to the harbor, the sea is crystal clear and shallow, perfect for families with children. At the white beach, you will find sunshades, sunbeds, beach bars, restaurants and water sports.
The asphalt road that passes in front of Gialos beach leads to the Blue Flag awarded beach, Koumbara. Sandy, organized, with accommodation options, stores and beach bars, Koumbara has its own fan club. The lucky ones will stay till late in the afternoon so as to gaze at the spectacular sun diving into the infinity of the Aegean Sea, just behind Diakofto islet.
A wind-free inlet, in the southeastern edge of Ios. If the endless blue in Manganari is not enough for you, you should drive to the Treis Klisies beach, up to the end of the dirt road, then have a 10’-15’ min walk to the not so accessible path and reach the wind-free inlet which seems embraced by rocky hills. In fact, they are two sugary sands, in front of an indulging blue-green sea. The beach is ideal for nudists and loners
Six miles away from Chora, in the northeast, there is an extended golden beach which looks to Irakleia and is adored by the etesian winds. A part is equipped with sunshades and sunbeds. It’s worth visiting the homonymous chapel of the 16th century
A sea state, approximately 2 miles in the south of Chora, has been in the spotlight since the 70’s. Back then, it was known in the entire Greek archipelago, as a hippies’ haven with the 0.6 mile-long blond sands welcoming the flower children from all over the world. Today the endless Mylopotas beach is still the leading star, determining the daylong fun next to the turquoise waters, with daily beach parties, happenings and events for all guests of any part of the world. It is fully equipped with flawless facilities, luxurious hotels, rooms to let, restaurants and beach bars while it provides a wide range of water sports, extreme tube rides, diving and scuba diving.
A hidden paradise, 3 miles north of Ios’ Chora, next to Diamoudia beach. Lorentzaina Beach maintains its exotic beauty due to the fact that it is accessible through a harsh, winding dirt road. However, the evocative scenery, with the emerald waters and the white pebbles, rewards visitors for the inconvenience. You will choose it for its unique sense of isolation and for its rocky seabed, if you love snorkeling. Don’t forget to bring with you water and food supplies, as it is not organized.