So, next up on our Greek islandhopping trip was Ios, the island where the head of the famous Greek philosopher Homer found its last rest. Homer's Tomb is one of the most interesting - and beautiful - places on this island, but also the many secluded beaches and green landscapes. There is also a cave in the neighbourhood of Homer's Tomb, but since we only spent two days on this island, we didn't had the chance to see it.
First of all, I have to tell that Ios is known as a party island in the summer months, but it only has two villages that are located next to each other. You have Ios Chora, or the capital of the city, where you arrive with the ferry (which is by the way the only way to get to this island), and the near Mylopotas with the golden Mylopotas Beach and many clubs and bars. On the other side of the island, you have Magganari ( or Manganari in Greek spelling) and its beach, there are also some accomodations, but it can't really wear the name of village.
The most beautiful place is, like I mentioned before, Homer's Tomb. There are many criticisms about the fact if Homer's head really is or isn't burried here, but as far as evidences go, I think it must be the case. Anyway, it sure is a wonderful place to visit, and has a breathtaking view on the neighbouring islands. Also, it has these typical stone towers that you can find on many islands, like Fuerteventura, that visitors build from the stones they can find in the neighbourhood. I got inspired to build one too, and though it seems quite easy, you have to carefully select the stones and think of a construction. This place got me a bit melancholic, it's so quiet and peaceful, it just seems one of these places where I could come all alone just to think about life and look over the deep blue sea... The tomb itsself is quite basic, but there is this atmosphere that makes you feel like you're in another world. Also the surroundings are quite nice, with the sound of goatbells in the valley, and we even found a cute, white donkey near the road leading to the tomb. This is the place I would advise you not to miss on Ios.
So, let's move on to the beach files... Mylopotas is the beach closest to Ios Chora, the capital of Ios. It's a very nice beach with golden sand, and very clean and clear turquoise water. Also, this is the most populated beach, as its sides are decorated with all kinds of interesting beach bars and restaurants, and on the beach you can do all kinds of water sports, from wakeboarding and windsurfing to riding on an inflatable banana (those of you who already been to beach resorts in Spain, Turkey or Egypt must be very familiar with this 'sport' :) ). Also, in my opinion this is the best place to stay on the island, since you're always close to a beach - even without transport - and you have a lot of nice places to eat and go for a drink. Practically, if you have a week to spend on the island, you could definetely stay about 3 days in this place without moving, and not be bored.
A very nice, but simple hostel in Mylopotas is Purple Pig Camping and Apartments It is extremely cheap, and very fun and bubbling in high season. As the name says it all, you can even camp in a tent here. The owners are extremely nice, and made me feel like they adopted us as their own children. I ain't joking, I had tears in my eyes when we were leaving after 3 days and the old man came to me with even more cat and donkey postcards than I already bought (and belive me, those were already an entire collection :) ) and his wife gave us two ceramic turtles as a gift! *sobsob*
Two other beaches in fishing towns a bit away, that are apparently worth a visit are Agia Theodoti and Psathi, but since I didn't get there, I can't tell you a lot about it. The one that really seemed like paradise, was Magganari, on the other side of the island. With a scooter or quad - though that I recommend you to go with the second on this island, due to the many ups and downs - you can get there in about 40 minutes, or you can always use the bus that leaves from Ios Chora (about 3 euro one way). This beach is juast... AMAZING. It has an enourmous longitude, is quite large and also has one of the clearest waters I've ever seen. Also, many other, less known beaches are on the way from Ios to Magganari, and you can easily reach them by smaller roads. I think if you prefer having a quiet beach, all for yourself, this island is the place to be. I saw at least 5 of those abandoned, beautiful beaches on the big road to Magganari, and if we would have had more time on this beautiful island, I would sure have explored every one of them!
Magganari / Manganari Beach, Ios
Road to Magganari
To conclude, I suggest that you get lost in the small streets of Ios Chora. You should go up the hill of the city, and just wander around the small streets and take a look at the original shops over there. One particular restaurant that I can recommend is Elia (which means olive plant in Greek), it's a bit like a Greek tapas restaurant, with lots of nice small dishes that are really delicious. You can sit inside, or on the small terrace on the street, which is amazing in summer.
By the way, next to it is the shop of Ios' most important artist, Mirabello. He is known all around the world in the modern artist world, and he makes awesome textiles, paintings and even music. His shop is an eclectic collection of everything that you can imagine: Tshirts, sweaters, paintings, shoes and a collection of CD's with all kinds o music, from latin 'till house and electrolounge. His shop is definetely worth a visit!
If you want to see some of his paintings, you can visit his Facebook page here , and to listen to his ecletic musical mix of traditional Greek instruments like the bouzouki with house and electro beats, you can go to his MySpace webpage here.
He is not only a talented artist, but also a very interesting person that can tell you a bit about everything, especially things on the island. Not only known and appreciated by human beings, since all the cats come together around him when he's having dinner. People say he has been feeding the homeless on the island - humans and animals, without differentiation - for years.
Memorable person in Ios society also!
Hope you'll bring this wonderful island a visit very soon!