Family Abroad

Our Trip to Ios: Discovering Greece’s Beautiful, Budget-Friendly, and Underrated Gem

As part of our two-month trip island-hopping around Greece, we decided to explore the beautiful island of Ios. Despite being an underrated destination, Ios offers stunning white houses, blue domes, and breathtaking sunset views, all at a more affordable price. In this blog post, I’ll share our amazing experience of exploring this hidden gem of Greece.


Ios is a beautiful island located in the Cyclades archipelago, in the Aegean Sea. The island is small but packed with beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and ancient landmarks. The island’s vibe is relaxed, making it an ideal destination for travelers looking for a peaceful getaway.

The town of Ios, Greece from a high viewpoint during our hike

Despite its small size, Ios has a lot to offer visitors. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply relaxing on the beach, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island. With its stunning natural beauty, friendly locals, and laid-back atmosphere, Ios is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Greece.


The island was originally inhabited by the Carians, who were later displaced by the Ionians in the 11th century BC. The island was subsequently ruled by a number of different powers, including the Persians, the Macedonians, and the Romans. During the Middle Ages, Ios was occupied by the Venetians, who built a castle on the island, which still stands today.

Today, Ios is a popular tourist destination, particularly among young travelers. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and stunning sunset views. Despite its popularity, however, Ios has managed to retain its traditional Greek charm, with white-washed houses, narrow streets, and blue-domed churches. Unlike some of the more well-known Greek islands, Ios is not overrun with tourists, and visitors can still enjoy a relatively quiet and peaceful holiday.


There are a few ways to get to Ios, Greece. The most common way is to take a ferry from Athens or other Greek islands. There are several ferry companies that operate routes to Ios, including Blue Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways, and Sea Jets. The journey time can vary depending on your starting point, but it typically takes around 4-6 hours from Athens, 2-3 hours from Santorini, and 1-2 hours from Naxos.

Another way to get to Ios is by plane. The nearest airport is in Santorini, and there are several airlines that operate flights to Santorini from Athens and other major cities in Europe. From Santorini, you can take a ferry to Ios, which takes around 2-3 hours.

If you prefer to travel by private boat, you can also charter a yacht or catamaran to sail to Ios. This can be a more expensive option, but it allows you to enjoy the stunning views of the Aegean Sea and explore other islands along the way.


Our trip to Ios, Greece, was an exciting adventure that started with a speed ferry from Santorini. When we got on the ferry, we headed upstairs to our seats, sat down for 10 minutes, and before we knew it, we already arrived in Ios. The ferry ride was a smooth one and the 10-minute trip was definitely worth it.

A ferry making its way to Ios

While the ferry did make multiple stops from Santorini to Athens, our journey to Ios was a direct one, lasting only 10 minutes. The ferry ride was a bit chaotic due to the number of people on board. However, we enjoyed the breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea from the top floor nonetheless.

As we disembarked the ferry, we felt the warm Greek sun on our faces and the fresh sea breeze on our skin. We had a driver pick us up to take us to our Airbnb. Our driver was friendly and welcoming, making us feel at ease after the hectic ferry ride.

When we got to the property, we realized that we needed to buy some groceries. Our driver kindly took us back to the mini-mart in town, waited for us while we shopped, and then brought us back to our Airbnb. The hospitality of the locals was impressive, and we felt welcome on the island from the moment we arrived.


After experiencing the expensive prices of the restaurants in Santorini, we quickly realized that cooking meals at home would be a much more budget-friendly option. We made a point to visit the local grocery stores in Ios, which allowed us to get a taste of the local ingredients and flavors. The experience of cooking and sharing meals together as a family in our Airbnb felt much more authentic.

I like to say that the the sunset views in Ios cost half the price of Santorini, and they’re just as beautiful. During our stay in Santorini, we had the opportunity to stay in one of the iconic windmills and enjoy the stunning sunset views from our balcony. It was amazing to see the crowds of people gathering to watch the sunset, and we felt lucky to have such a fantastic view.

Beautiful Ios sunset

The only downside to our Airbnb in Ios was its location, which was situated high up on a hill. While the view was spectacular, the steep incline and decline made it challenging to get around on foot. Despite the location challenge, our Airbnb in Ios was well worth it, given the price and the incredible panoramic views we got of the town.

View of Ios from our Airbnb


One of the highlights of our trip was a 6.7-mile morning hike I took with my son, Nathan. We walked downhill, along the coastline, where we saw crystal clear waters and stunning beaches that were not crowded like those on the more popular islands. As we walked along the path, we couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of our surroundings. We also had the chance to explore the town and discovered some charming restaurants, bars, and shops along the way.

Don and Nathan during their hike

Despite following Google maps, we found ourselves lost in a sea of people. So we decided to carve our own path, which led us uphill through the winding streets of Ios. The incline was steep, and we couldn’t help but admire the physical stamina of the Greeks. But our efforts were worth it because we discovered hidden gems along the way. We stumbled upon a beautiful church that was perched atop a hill, and we hiked up to visit some of the highest peaks and mountains to witness the breathtaking views of Ios.

Beautiful Greek church on top of a hill, with a panoramic view of Ios

Greek Orthodox churches always seem to be situated in the most challenging places to reach, but their beauty is undeniable. We were mesmerized by the panoramic views that greeted us from the top.

Panoramic view of Ios and its surrounding islands

We could see Skarkos, an early Bronze Age settlement, where we planned to head at the end of the day. It was a remarkable journey, and we felt incredibly grateful to have experienced the natural beauty of Ios.

An aerial view of Skarkos taken from our hike


Our journey ended with a visit to Skarkos, an early Bronze Age settlement. The entrance cost 4 Euros for each person. We spent some time exploring the area of Skarkos learning about its rich history.

Skarkos is an ancient settlement on the island of Ios, which dates back to the Early Bronze Age, around 2500 BC. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Aegean Sea, and it has provided valuable insights into the life and culture of the people who lived there thousands of years ago.

A photo of an aerial view of Skarkos

The site was discovered in 1984 by the archaeologist Yannis Sakellarakis, who was exploring the island for ancient ruins. He found the remains of an impressive settlement, which had been preserved under layers of ash and soil for millennia. Excavations began soon after, and over the years, archaeologists have uncovered a wealth of artifacts and structures that shed light on the life of the ancient inhabitants of Ios.

The settlement of Skarkos was a thriving community that played an important role in the development of the Cycladic civilization. Its inhabitants were skilled craftsmen, who produced exquisite pottery, metalwork, and jewelry. They also engaged in trade with other communities in the Aegean, exchanging goods and ideas.

The site of Skarkos is now open to the public, and visitors can explore the ruins of the settlement and see the artifacts that have been recovered from the site. The excavation is ongoing, and there is still much to be learned about this ancient community. A visit to Skarkos is a must for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Aegean region.

As we left Skarkos and made our way back to our Airbnb, we couldn’t help but feel grateful for the experience we shared together. The hike had allowed us to enjoy some quality time in each other’s company. The scenery had been breathtaking, and the visit to the early Bronze Age settlement had been a fascinating insight into the island’s history.


Don and Nathan, with the view from the top!

Overall, our trip to Ios was a wonderful experience that we will never forget. It was refreshing to explore a city that was not overrun by tourists, and we felt like we were able to experience the true essence of Greece. We highly recommend Ios as a hidden gem in Greece that’s worth exploring.


Like this post? Pin it on Pinterest!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *