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Ios - Cyclades - Greece



Ios Island

Ios is one of the Greek Cyclades Islands , located in the Aegean Sea 200 kilometres south east of the mainland port of Piraeus . It's best known as a party playground for young foreign tourists who come here to get blind drunk, let their hair down.then, if possible, get even more drunk.

Despite its reputation as a den of iniquity for inebriated teens and twenty-somethings, Ios has more to offer than trance, dance and tequila cocktails. The island is steeped in history, peppered with pretty chapels and churches and blessed with beautiful unspoilt beaches. It's also the reputed resting place of one of the world's greatest ever literary masters - the Greek poet Homer, creator of the epic works the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Theories about the origin of the island's name abound but a likely one is that it derives from the violets ("ion" in Greek) which adorn the hillsides in springtime. Others say the name comes from the Ionian people who inhabited these islands around 1050 BC.

The island is at the southern end of the Cyclades , a seven-hour ferry ride from Piraeus . Take a hydrofoil from the mainland and you'll get there in four hours. There's no airport but Santorini , which has regular Olympic Airways flights to the mainland, is only half an hour away by Flying Dolphin. There are good ferry and hydrofoil links with the neighbouring islands in the archipelago including Paros , Naxos , Mykonos , Sikinos , Folegandros , Anafi and Syros .

You'll arrive at the port of Ormos on the west coast of the island which is two kilometres from the capital Hora (also known as Ios Town or the Village). The port once had a thriving ship building industry based on the timber from the oak woods which covered the island in ancient time.

Regular buses connect the port and the town or, if you're travelling light, you can climb the wide stone steps which lead up the hill to the village (about 15 minutes walk).

The town is a delightful concoction of narrow, arcaded lanes, blue-domed chapels and traditional whitewashed houses. But beware its Jekyll and Hyde personality - by day it's a delightful place to roam amid the churches, windmills and gift shops; by night it's a seething mass of youthful, drunken humanity hell-bent on maximum mayhem till dawn.

Stay in the port area or near one of the island's quieter beaches if you're not a serious party animal.

The main focus of activity by day is the beautiful but frantic Mylopotas Beach, one kilometre down the hill from Hora. This is where the bright young things surface after midday from their beachside tents, down a shot or three and start partying all over again.

But go further afield and you'll find plenty of secluded bays where the party set never ventures. There are peaceful seafood tavernas where you can savour the day's catch and if you're visiting during one of the island's many religious festivals you'll be able to join the locals for a traditional Greek knees-up. The experience of being invited to an island feast is one not to be missed - the meat is cooked over a wood fire, the wine flows freely and the dancing continues till dawn.


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