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Exploring Ios: a Memorable Santorini Day Trip

white and brown houses near body of water during daytime

Embark on an unforgettable journey from Santorini with a day trip to the idyllic island of Ios. Just 40 minutes away by ferry, Ios is a hidden gem in the Aegean Sea, boasting spectacular beaches, charming villages, and an electrifying nightlife. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, delve into the island’s rich history and culture, or dance the night away, Ios caters to every kind of traveler.

In this insightful blog post, I’ll guide you through your Santorini to Ios excursion with valuable tips and must-know details on how to maximize your visit. You’ll discover the top sights to see, the most delicious local cuisines to taste, and the best spots to embrace Ios’s vibrant atmosphere. Plus, I’ll provide you with essential information about ferry timetables, ticket prices, and travel companies—including exclusive deals and discounts to ensure you get the most out of your trip. Are you prepared for an adventure that will etch itself into your memories? Let’s set sail!

Planning Your Santorini to Ios Day Trip

Embarking on a day trip from Santorini to Ios is an adventure you’ll cherish. To ensure a seamless experience, here’s a guide to help you with travel arrangements, essentials to pack, and navigating the island.

Ferry Schedules and Booking Tips

The most popular conduit between Santorini and Ios is via ferry. A myriad of operators like Seajets, Zante Ferries, Fast Ferries, Golden Star Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, and Aegean Sea Lines offer services. The duration of the ferry ride spans from a swift 35 minutes to a brief 1 hour and 20 minutes, subject to the ferry’s speed and prevailing climatic conditions. The two islands are separated by 21 nautical miles, or roughly 40 kilometers.

Fares vary from an economical €7 to a premium €64.70, influenced by factors such as available deals, seating category, whether you’re bringing a vehicle, and the type of vessel. It’s advisable to secure your tickets online in advance to avoid the rush, this is particularly pertinent from June to September, the peak season. Platforms like Ferryhopper, Omio, NetFerry, and go-ferry are great for comparing schedules and rates.

What to Pack for a Day Trip

Traveling light is key for a single-day foray into Ios, yet some essentials can enhance your comfort and pleasure. Consider these items when packing:

  • A compact backpack or crossbody bag to keep possessions close.
  • Identification such as a passport or ID, ferry tickets, and some form of currency.
  • Hydration is crucial, so include a water bottle and snacks.
  • Capture your moments with a camera or smartphone.
  • To fend off the sun’s rays, don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm.
  • Include a swimsuit, a towel, and an extra set of clothes, especially if a beach visit is on the agenda.
  • A light jacket or sweater to combat the evening chill or the cool sea breeze on the ferry.
  • A map or guidebook of Ios, or a digital navigation app for ease of exploration.

Transportation on Ios

Upon your arrival at Ios’ port, there are a number of transportation modes to match your budget and preferences:

  • Bus: The local bus service links the port with main attractions like Chora and Mylopotas Beach. With tickets at just €1.80, you can purchase them on the bus or at nearby kiosks. Timetables adjust seasonally, typically operating from dawn until well into the evening.
  • Taxi: While taxis are available, they are a less predictable and costlier option. Rates start around €10 to Chora and €15 to Mylopotas. You may hail one at the port or phone ahead, though be ready to potentially haggle or wait.
  • Car or Scooter Rental: For ultimate freedom, consider renting a car or scooter. Rental outlets are found at the port and in Chora with rates starting at €15 per day for a scooter, and €25 for a car. Ensure you have the necessary license, a credit card, and an international driving permit if it’s needed. Keep in mind the local driving conditions such as narrow lanes and parking limitations.

Must-Visit Spots on Ios

Ios beckons far beyond its reputation as a hub for revelry; it boasts an array of attractions ranging from the allures of nature to the depths of culture and the echoes of history. No matter your interests, Ios has something to captivate you. Delve into the following highlighted spots that are absolute must-visits on the island.

Ios Town (Chora)

The heart of Ios, Chora, is not just the capital but a captivating village exemplifying the iconic Cycladic framework. Here, whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches stand alongside quaint narrow paths and classic windmills, painting a picturesque backdrop that urges you to stroll and uncover its hidden charms. Chora pulsates as the epicenter of the island’s vibrant nightlife, where a plethora of bars, clubs, and eateries await your indulgence. Be sure not to miss the breathtaking panoramas offered at the summit by the church of Panagia Gremiotissa.

Beaches to Unwind

Renowned for its illustrious beaches, Ios is home to stretches of golden sand, crystal clear waters, and awe-inspiring vistas. The island caters to diverse preferences, offering both bustling, well-appointed beaches like Mylopotas, Gialos, and Koumbara—equipped with sun loungers, umbrellas, and vibrant beach bars—as well as more tranquil retreats such as Manganari, Kalamos, and Loretzena, where serenity and natural splendor await. For those seeking openness in every sense, nudist-friendly options like Kolitsani and Papa beach present the perfect escape.

Historical and Cultural Experiences

To steep yourself in Ios’ rich history and culture, venture to some of the island’s significant archaeological sites. Among these is the esteemed tomb of Homer, the illustrious poet who crafted the ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’, poised near the shores of Plakotos beach. Visit Skarkos to witness an ancient settlement from the Early Bronze Age, where relics of houses, walls, and ceramics still stand. Don’t overlook the Archaeological Museum of Ios, where an array of artifacts, including statues, coins, and tools, narrate stories from various historical epochs. For a dose of culture, the Odysseas Elytis Theatre, a contemporary amphitheater celebrating performances and festivals, is named in honor of the esteemed Greek poet.

Island Culinary Delights: Where to Eat on Ios

Embark on a gastronomic journey during your Ios island day trip by savoring the delightful local cuisine and drinks. Ios boasts a plethora of dining options to satisfy all preferences and budgets, from traditional tavernas and bakeries to contemporary cafes and bars. Discover the top spots and must-try dishes on your Ios getaway.

Local Eateries and Specialties

Dive into the authentic taste of Ios at hometown eateries, where home-cooked meals are prepared with the freshest ingredients. Be sure to tantalize your taste buds with some of these local specialties:

  • Merides: A medley of appetizing small plates featuring cheese, olives, ripe tomatoes, and fine cured meats.
  • Tiropita: A savory cheese and herb pie, encased in flaky phyllo pastry, baked to golden perfection.
  • Psarosoupa: A nourishing fish soup brimming with assorted fish, potatoes, carrots, and a zesty squeeze of lemon.
  • Keftedes: Sizzling fried meatballs made from minced beef or pork, seasoned with onion, garlic, fresh parsley, and assorted spices.
  • Loukoumades: Sweet, golden balls of dough deep-fried and lovingly drizzled with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Top places to indulge in these Ios delicacies include:

  • Lord Byron: An inviting taverna offering up classic Greek fare and exquisite local wines.
  • Yialos Bakery: A beloved family-operated bakery producing artisan bread, pastries, savory pies, and decadent cakes.
  • Octopus Tree: A charming seafront restaurant specializing in seafood and sumptuous Mediterranean dishes.
  • Grandma’s: Homey and quaint, this eatery is renowned for its organic, home-cooked meals.
  • Steki: A go-to for those craving delectable loukoumades and an array of other sweet treats.

Best Spots for a Refreshing Drink

Quench your thirst with a refreshing beverage after a sun-soaked day of adventure and sea bathing. Ios caters to all with a wide spectrum of drinks, from light, fruity cocktails to bold, spirited shots. Here are Ios’ drink highlights:

  • Frappé: An icy treat, this frothy coffee staple is whipped up with instant coffee, sugar, and milk.
  • Ouzo: The renowned anise-flavored spirit, crystal clear, served over ice and often diluted with a touch of water.
  • Raki: A powerful, clear, grape-distilled spirit, sometimes accentuated with herbaceous or fruity notes.
  • Mojito: Sweet and minty, this cocktail is a blend of white rum, zesty lime, fresh mint, sugar, and soda water – absolutely rejuvenating.
  • Sangria: A fun, communal punch crafted from red wine, tangy orange juice, and a medley of chopped fruit.

The perfect spots to enjoy these libations are:

  • Harmony: A serene bar with a bohemian vibe, boasting an incredible sunset vista and live tunes.
  • Slammer Bar: A vibrant hotspot known for its ceremonious slammer shots accompanied by a hammer and helmet.
  • Free Beach Bar: A breezy coastal bar serving up invigorating cocktails, smoothies, and a hub for parties and events.
  • Lost Boys: Unique and whimsical, this Peter Pan-themed bar offers one-of-a-kind drinks and nibbles.
  • Click: A sleek, modern bar that prides itself on an extensive selection of drinks within a voguish setting.

Options for a Memorable Lunch or Dinner

For an unforgettable dining experience in Ios, the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re after a laid-back, wallet-friendly bite or a sumptuous, gourmet meal, you’re guaranteed to find something that delights your senses. Some of the top choices for lunch or dinner that will linger in your memory are:

  • Alonistra: A gems-like eatery where Greek cuisine gets an innovative twist with dishes like honey and rosemary lamb or feta and mint stuffed peppers.
  • Thai Me Up: A culinary crossroads where Thai and Greek flavors merge, offering creations like pad thai with chicken souvlaki, or green curry paired with fava beans.
  • La Buca: A high-end restaurant presenting Italian and Mediterranean delights, such as succulent lobster ravioli or a beef fillet cloaked in rich truffle sauce.
  • Katogi: Enjoy panoramic views at this rooftop retreat, serving innovative, seasonal cuisine like salmon with exotic mango salsa or pork tenderloin accompanied by figs and cheese.
  • Salt: A pristine seaside locale focusing on seafood and sushi, with tempting options like charcoal-grilled octopus or delicately prepared tuna tartare.


A day trip from Santorini to Ios is an excellent choice for those seeking to immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes and rich culture of the Greek islands. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore pristine beaches, wander through the quaint town, delve into the island’s rich history, and savor the delicious local cuisine. Not to forget, Ios boasts an energetic nightlife that promises loads of fun.

Efficient planning is key—book your ferry tickets, pack your day bag with essentials, and brace yourself for an adventure that’s sure to be etched in your memory. Why wait any longer? Ios beckons you! Secure your spot on a Santorini to Ios day trip today and uncover the allure of this Cycladic jewel. You’re in for a treat!


Can you do a day trip from Ios to Santorini?

Yes, taking a day trip from Ios to Santorini is indeed possible and is a popular option for travelers looking to explore more of the Cyclades Islands.

How long is the ferry ride from Ios to Santorini?

The ferry ride from Ios to Santorini typically takes about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the ferry service you choose.

Is it worth doing a day trip to Santorini?

Many would say that a day trip to Santorini is definitely worth it, particularly for those who want to experience its famous caldera views, unique architecture, and vibrant culture, even if it’s just for a day.

Can you get to Ios from Santorini?

Yes, you can easily travel to Ios from Santorini via ferry, with regular services connecting the two islands, making it convenient for visitors to plan their Greek Island itinerary.

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