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- 05 Dec 2020, 3 nights
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While the island of Ios in Greece may be best known for its buzzing bars and clubs, it also has a more laid-back side. Its scenery is a major attraction, its pastoral landscapes sprinkled with whitewashed houses, criss-crossed with hiking trails and ringed with wild beaches. Experience a slice of rural life by roaming the rugged hills, where you'll likely meet goat herders and inquisitive flocks of sheep along the way.
In Ios you can stay at a beach club, camp under the stars or bed down in traditional rooms with sweeping ocean views. Most Ios hostels will happily help you arrange trips to see more of the island, with some providing car and bike rental services, while others organise bus transfers to popular attractions. You can find hostels in Ios with luxurious extras such as swimming pools, cinemas and Jacuzzis. Free Wi-Fi is standard and lots of places have air con too.
If you're coming to Ios for the nightlife, it’s best to stay in the capital of Chora. The town's winding streets are lined with quirky shops and cafés, culminating in a steep hill topped with white churches. Its many clubs and bars come alive at night and the action doesn't stop until dawn. A short stroll downhill lies Mylopotas Beach, where you can try your hand at water sports such as windsurfing. To explore a quieter area, head to the island's scenic eastern side, which is comparatively low-key.
It's said that there's a church for every day of the year on Ios. While there might not be enough time to visit them all, the church of Agia Irini right by the port is definitely worth a look, thanks to its spectacular sea views. Ios is also home to the 14th-century Byzantine castle of Paleokastro, as well as the marble Odysseas Elytis Theatre. In the island's northeast, you can hike up to the hilltop tomb of legendary author Homer, whose epic poem 'The Odyssey' is one of the best-loved works of ancient Greece.
The nearest airports are on the neighbouring islands of Santorini and Mykonos, which are one and two hours away by ferry respectively. You could also hop on a boat from Athens. The journey takes between four and seven hours. Within Ios, it's easy to get around on a motorcycle or by local bus. To explore the island's coast, it's a good idea to go via boat from Chora, as some beaches are only accessible by sea.