Ios Tourist Attractions & Day Trips Greece - Greek Travel Guide

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For the vast majority of visitors, daytime activity on the island of Ios is centred around the frantic resort beach of Mylopotas. But if you fancy getting away from the madding crowd for a few hours and want to uncover more of the island than it's well-known party persona you'll find Ios has more to offer than bikini-clad beach babes and lethal bombes (the potent local moonshine).

Start by exploring the delightful capital, Hora, which is a wonderful place to roam by day while the night time revellers are nursing their hangovers down at the beach. This is one of the prettiest towns in the whole of the Cyclades - a lovely concoction of narrow, arcaded alleyways, stone-flagged streets, traditional whitewashed Cycladic homes and intriguing shops.

If you take the stone steps up towards the village from the port you'll see the ruins of the ancient walls which once surrounded the town. The remnants of the walls on the west and north entrances to the town suggest it was inhabited as far back as the Archaic Period, several centuries BC. The walk is well worth doing at least once if only to enjoy the spectacular view of the bay below.

You can delve into the island's rich history by visiting the town's archaeological museum (open 8am - 2pm every day except Mondays). Hora's 12 windmills, in the square which is a focus of local religious festivals, are among its most distinctive features (Symilar to the picture postcard image of Mykonos).

Visit the Church of Agia Aekaterini where the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo were unearthed in 1903. At the top of the town there's the chapel of Agios Nikolaos (one of around 400 chapels to be found on the island) and under the ancient castle you'll find the Church of Panagia Gremiotissa (Our Lady of the Cliffs), built during the Turkish occupation. Legend has it that the islanders built the church on a spot dictated by a miraculous icon of the Virgin which was discovered on the shores of Ios after the Cretans hurled it into the sea to save it from the Turkish invaders.

The island's natural beauty has always been a magnet for artists and many live here either permanently or part-time, including surrealist painter Helmut Kand whose work has been exhibited all over the world. Some of the Austrian artist's paintings and sculptures, inspired by the landscapes, sun and sea of the Cyclades, can be seen in the Modern Art Gallery in Hora.

Travel to the north east corner of the island to see the Paleokastro Venetian fortress, built in 1400 by Duke Marco Crispi (of the noble Venetian family which then ruled Ios and many of the neighbouring islands). The remains of the old Venetian town can still be seen inside. At the nearby monastery of Agias Theodotis you can see the door which medieval pirates once broke through, only to be scalded to death by boiling oil poured on their heads by the victorious islanders. A celebration is held here on September 8th each year to celebrate the event.

In the north of the island, 4.5 kilometres from Hora, you can visit the site reputed to be the burial place of one of the world's greatest ever literary masters, the Greek poet Homer. This is a matter of some conjecture but it's widely believed that Homer's mother was born on the island and that he spent the last years of his life here. It's difficult to prove as no-one is even sure when the creator of the Iliad and the Odyssey actually lived (probably around the 8th century BC) much less where he died. The ancient town has long since collapsed into the sea but the entrance to a tomb still remains.

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