OK, so Ios is a party island. Thousands of young people flock there from all over the world knowing they can drink and dance all night, sleep all morning, sunbathe and swim on a gorgeous beach in the afternoon, then start the frantic cycle all over again after dinner. Repeat x 7 days or more.
Yet Ios is a lovely island with several other faces. Visitors don’t need to travel far to find a more authentic Greece where the “faces” are serene, relaxed and very beautiful.
First, Ios is iconically Cycladic. Dazzling white houses, blue-domed churches, endless summer sunshine, unbelievably clear blue sea, wonderful beaches, steep hills and sheer cliffs.
All around the island are lovely sandy beaches and tiny little coves. There are busy beaches with sunbeds, sunshades, water sports and tavernas. There are others with no facilities at all - and some that fall comfortably between two extremes. The further away from the main town, the fewer visitors there are.
This historic island also has the remains of a Bronze Age village where 300 people lived thousands of years ago, the ruins of a medieval Venetian castle and a tomb where the Ancient Greek poet Homer may have been buried.
As the ferry enters the long bay leading to the port of Gialos visitors see the Cycladic beauty of Ios. The quaint cube-shaped houses of the main town, known as Ios Town, Chora or “the village”, sprawl over a hillside topped with picturesque windmills and a church.
There are lots of churches and a cathedral and in true Greek style the village elders sit outside the cafes and sip their Greek coffees or ouzo. But as the sun starts to set the mood begins to change.
Those cute houses become bars, clubs or cafes. The locals go home as the party-people, there for the nightlife, take over. By midnight the main square is packed-tight with singing and dancing young men and women with drinks in their hands.
Many of them stay in the nearby resort of Mylopotas which has a long beach, supported by lots of water sports and backed by tavernas and bars. One bar, with king-sized hanging sunbeds, is said to look like a Love Island set. However, the lovely golden sand and shallow, clean water makes Mylopotas popular with families.
So Ios has many different faces. But for a variety of reasons they are all smiling!