Photo by Kurt Winner Photography
Opt For Ios A Less Crowded Greek ParadiseMore and more cruise ships are arriving to the well-known Greek islands for day exploration. And while that is a boon to the local economies; crowded restaurants and beaches are not what you have come to experience. Some of these popular islands actually have very few year-round residents as the cruise visits are seasonal. So that “real Greek” town that you came to see, really isn’t. The solution? Try one of the lesser-know but equally beautiful Greek Islands like Ios in the Cyclades Islands. Here you’ll find five-star hotels, mom and pop inns, historical monuments, miles of sparkling beaches, dynamite restaurants, vibrant mountain towns, incredibly reasonable shopping, breathtaking vistas, and local wines, but most of all Ios can be your own paradise.
The island of Ios is still a place where real people live and work, but there is plenty of support for tourism (sometimes it’s party central at Mylopotas Beach) and you will find true hospitality, safe streets to wander and new activities like the recently opened hiking path system. Imagine walking at your own pace to archeological sites, beaches, churches and mountain villages just like the early inhabitants did for centuries? The Greek Cultural Mountaineering Club of Fyli has long wanted to repair and connect the ancient paths and a few months ago the project was completed with the help of volunteers and the Municipality of Ios. Over thirteen kilometers of paths are open and well-marked by signs connecting other paths and old roads of Ios for you to enjoy.
Not a hiker? The shopping is sublime. Not for the collectors of designer handbags but those desiring handmade leather sandals, precious gem jewelry and smart local-style clothing designs. Lounging by the pool is always a favorite. Stay at the elegant Liostasi Suites and you will be pampered like a jet-setter. Wish for a low-key stay? The Pavezzo Hotel and Suites is painted in beautiful colors and embellished by flowers offering family-style rooms, rooms for one or two and vantage points with sea views set on the side of a mountain with cooling breezes and the friendliest owners.
If you are a fan of Greek cuisine there are many terrific restaurants, some right on the ocean like Drakos Taverna at the end of Mylopotas Beach. A favorite in Chora, the town above the Ormos harbor which is completely accessible on foot, is Elia. Visit the cathedral and one of old windmills the island is famous for while wandering the maze of winding stone streets that spill down from top of the hill. Or down in Yialos by the harbor pop into one of the very casual tavernas. Be sure to visit the food shop called Mosenta at the port to watch them create, and for a taste of sesame seed and honey cakes. They also package local wild herbs and make a great body cream that is made from their own honey and olive oils.
Go in Fall for peace and quiet and best rates on rooms. There is no airport so take the ferry from Pireaus, Athens or Santorini.
Images Kurt Winner Photography