We all have a mate who is “doing a summer in Ios”... whether it be a massive case of FOMO, or a desire to chase the sun, Ios is now a rite of passage for young backpackers, and has truly established itself as Greece’s party island capital.
Located in the popular Cyclades island chain, Ios is nestled near iconic Santorini, and by day reflects a traditional Greek Island scene, with white hillside villages, bursts of bright blue rooftops, golden beaches, and turquoise water. By mid-afternoon however, it transforms into an oasis of pool parties, DJs, and a maze of unique bars and clubs catering to every taste well into the night.
Here is absolutely everything you need to know about the party playground that is Ios!
Join the Ios Party People
How does Ios work?
Partying in Ios is basically split into two areas. The main town Chora, is a traditional Greek village that transforms into a labyrinth of white and blue lanes, with a multitude of themed bars (each usually no bigger than a studio apartment) tucked around corners, down dead-end alleys, and up stone staircases. Most bars start opening around 10-11pm, and close around 3am, with a few choice exceptions. Depending on the time of year, entry is usually €5-10 per bar or sometimes free.
The other party area in Ios is Far Out Beach Club located on Mylopotas Beach. Far Out is a huge open-air venue that hosts a schedule crammed full of world-class DJs, pool parties, and is a must-visit while in Ios. Far Out’s day parties usually start around 4pm, and finish around 9pm, giving everyone time to get ready for the night to come in Chora.
What’s the deal with those singlets?
Lots of bars offer a ‘7 shot singlet challenge’,which usually costs €25. If you can handle all 7 shots, you get a free singlet.
The Most Epic Ios Pub Crawl Ever
Navigating the nightlife and maze of Ios is no mean feat, but is made easy by the charming staff holding the doors open to whichever bar you may be passing as you make your way through Chora’s narrow cobbled streets.
With way too many to name them all, here is a guide to 10 epic bars that you’re guaranteed to have a good time at.
A social and welcoming sports bar, kitted out with beer pong and pool tables that serves up pub grub before you step deep into the chaos of Ios.
An institution in Ios, Peter Pan’s “never grow up” themed Lost Boys is the perfect start to the night. You can pick up one of the iconic singlets, drink cocktails served in skull-shaped fish bowls, or even challenge the staff to a game of beer pong.
Don your safety gear, as you will literally get slammed over the head at Slammer, with all manner of objects (with your permission, of course!). Fire extinguishers, skateboards, mallets, the staff’s only limit is their imagination.
Alice in Wonderland themed, Shush is a silent-disco illuminated by neon lights and music to suit every taste. With 3 channels to choose from, pop, hip hop and EDM, you’ll be dancing and grinning like the Cheshire Cat in no time.
With an emphasis on bright decor and hip-hop flavour, Traffic is a one-room 90’s street party. Picture yourself bouncing along in a window ledge, as whistles blow in time to DMX’s Party Up in Here. Their basketball jersey is also a favourite for the 7 shots singlet challenge.
This is your hip-hop pitstop, and perfect spot to take a half-time breather. Have a bit of a wiggle and recharge your batteries with possibly the best espresso martini you’ll ever have.
Alt bar specialises in shooters, with over 100 on the menu, including the ‘Harry Potter shot’, and the ‘Campfire’ where you’ll have to toast your own marshmallow, literally on the bar.
Tucked away up a staircase and down an alley is Circus bar. Daring bartenders heat up the dancefloor with a fire show, whilst the live band plays sing-along hits all night! Another bonus is that entrance is free all summer long.
House music mixes and delicious cocktails, all in a vibrant nightclub with chic decor; Pash adds an element of class to your big night out in Ios. There are also options to splurge on VIP seating and bottle service.
Sweet Irish Dream
This is where everyone heads when the other bars start closing around 3am. Two floors of friendly Irish hospitality, blasting mainstream tunes, and dancing on tables. The perfect way to end the night, before the trek back home for sunrise.
Stay Up Until Sunrise
Chasing sunsets is a way of life on the Mediterranean, but your mission, should you choose to accept, is to stay up until sunrise. Stumble out of the bar, climb to Panayia Gremiotissa church (one of 365 on the island) on the hill above Chora, wrap your arm around your bestie (or that special someone), and watch as golden orange beams burst through the dawn haze to reveal yet another perfect day in paradise.
Relax or Recover at Mylopotas Beach
The perfect cure for whatever ails you is the golden sands of Mylopotas Beach, only a 10 minute drive or bus ride from Chora. This is basically heaven, with volleyball nets, umbrellas, sunbeds, and beach shacks offering refreshments, watersports, and boat tours.
A Speedboat Safari tour is the best way to discover the tamer side of Ios. You will explore caves, snorkel down to shipwrecks, relax on hidden beaches, and dive from your boat into crystal clear water to cleanse yourself of the night before, simply so that you can repeat it all over again.
Where to Stay
Chora is the place to stay to be amongst all of the action at night. Many affordable hotels with swimming pools overlook the village and are spectacular at sunset.
If you’re flying in, the closest airport is Santorini, where you can then catch a 2 hour ferry to Ios. Ferries run daily in summer, and also depart from Athens; a journey which takes between 4-8 hours depending on how fast your ferry is.
Best Time to Visit
Like Spring Break in North America, the peak season in Ios is short and sweet. June until September is the best time to go in order to maximise your Ios party experience!
The best way to get around the Greek Islands, and to Ios, is to jump onto the one of our Greek Island Hopping Tours, made for 18-35 year olds who want to party their way around the Greek Islands!