Is there nightlife in Ios? You betcha! In fact, this island has long been considered one of the candidates for Greece’s most hedonistic destination. Up there with the likes of Rhodes and Corfu, it’s a pumping mecca for dancers and DJs and booze-guzzling holidaymakers, offering clubs and pubs and venues of all shapes and sizes.
The best time to hit the nightlife in Ios is unquestionably during the summer months. The island is very much a resort, which means loads of stuff – hotels, bars, clubs, tavernas – can totally shut up shop for the time between November and March. The season really gets going in May, but hits its height in July and August, when you can hardly move for boogying Brits and Germans (the main patrons).
This guide to the nightlife in Ios will run through seven of the very best bars on the island. It’s got the famous names that first put the place on the map of party-hungry boat trippers in the 60s. But it’s also got some more relaxed options that offer sunset viewing, sleek lounges by the sea, local wines, and accomplished dining. Let’s get stuck in…
Disco 69 has been leading the charge when it comes to nightlife on Ios since the 1970s. Yep, this one was going strong when The Three Degrees were still in the Christmas charts. If that makes you feel old, don’t worry about it, because the thumping chart and EDM tunes that now dominate in the vast dance arena should be enough to counteract any nostalgia. Expect DJ decks spun by in-house regulars iAMSTRONG and the Grandbois, with pro MCing and more mashup tunes than you can shake your ouzo at.
The dance area itself is a sensory overload of strobes and zigzagging laser beams, smoke machines and twisting disco balls. There’s also a raised platform opposite the bar for those really wanting to show off their moves when the night gets into full flow. Talking of the bar…that runs the length of the joint in a haze of purple-hued neon and stacks vodka bottles. Pretty cool, eh?
Disco 69 is listed as opening at midnight but it’s common for the queues (and there are often queues) to coalesce around the entrance long before that. Don’t worry though, the vibes are good and the wait isn’t too long. What’s more, thanks to the venue’s central locale in the beating heart of Ios’s Chora, you should find loads of other places for a tipple before heading inside. One word of warning: Don’t expect parties to end until well past sunup here.
If Disco 69 was one of the original names on the lineup of the nightlife in Ios then Scorpion is certainly one of the most cutting-edge right now. It’s gained a rep as the after-party bar on the island. It’s certainly hard to argue with that, too, as the dance floor really gets swinging in the very early hours of the morning and things rarely wind up until the Aegean sun is firmly over the nearby beaches.
Not that you’d know that daylight had arrived – the inside is a tight-knit room that’s void of any windows. Light sources are flashing spotlights and neon haze lights from a circular spinner on the ceiling, all of which point the way to a compact bar that’s hidden in an alcove behind the DJ booth.
If we had to pin it down, we’d say Scorpion was a bar tailor-made for other bar workers. Many of the local staff and reps will make a beeline for this one when their respective venues close. It’s open late enough for them to make a night of it. But there’s also a line up of gigs to match – like the summertime resident DJ party that hosts the biggest names in the Cyclades.
Sweet Irish Dream
Part Irish pub, part classic 18-30s electro disco, Sweet Irish Dream keeps things very lively from its location on the edge of the Chora center in Ios. It’s long been a staple of the nightlife scene here. The history goes back to the late 1980s, when Ios was riding high as one of Greece’s most famous party hubs. So, it’s fair to say that it’s seen plenty of shindigs, and it looks like there’s plenty more to come, too…
Sweet Irish Dream is wild from the season start to the season end. Official launch parties happen in June or July and usher in a series of weekly events that include chart DJ sessions and themed nights, not to mention all sorts of drinks deals. Don’t be surprised to see the reps or bar staff joining in with the frivolities, with bar dances and regular rounds of specialty tipples (just wait until you see that flaming shot!).
Sweet Irish Dream opens in the early afternoon, when passers-by will drop into the al fresco patio area for a chilled drink and a chat on the side of the island’s pretty capital. It’s open until at least 7am each night (or, we should say, morning), though, so the main crowds of revelers rarely turn up before midnight.
Pathos Club is the perfect place to slow down those Ios vibes, soak up the rays, and get your hit of chilled partying in the Cyclades style. In that sense, it’s more the sort of thing you’d expect of nearby Mykonos – chic, boho, better in the day than the early hours. Look for the venue on the breezy clifftops of Koumpara, about an hour’s slow walk around the coast from the heart of Chora, or less than 10 minutes in a taxi.
The proximity of Pathos to other all-nighter venues like Sweet Irish and Disco 69 mean that it’s a great place to be for the early session. In fact, sunsets are one of the main draws here, especially as the multi-stepped seating areas are built almost like an ancient Greek amphitheater overlooking the sparkling waters of the Aegean Sea. They face directly west, which means 6pm to 8pm is positively ablaze with oranges, reds, ochres, and yellows. Oh, and there’s an on-site pool for those evening swims. All guests get access to that.
Pathos has a great range of cocktails, international beers, Greek beer, and even food. The latter hits a zenith at the uber-chic Japanese sushi lounge. It might not be very local, but boy does it go with the vibes – think perfectly-rolled hosomaki to a perfectly romantic sunset show!
Ios Club Sunset Dining Bar
From one epic sunset-viewing spot to another, we hop from Pathos to Ios Club Sunset Dining Bar. This one’s the better choice if you don’t want to stray too far from Chora’s center (AKA, if you’re looking to return to Sweet Irish Dream and the other late-night boogying spots once the sunset’s over). You can find it perched high on a ridge right by the central square, with a panoramic terrace shouldering its way a few hundred yards atop the port below.
And there’s more going for Ios Club than just its proximity to the town center and other bars. It’s also a bit of a legend among all the nightlife in Ios. Celebs and A-listers have been frequenting its stylo exterior patio for decades (the owners say since at least the 1970s!). It’s certainly that sort of place, what with artisan tables carved from olive wood, Cycladic architectural flurries, and rattan chairs that are very much in the vogue.
Expect to pay a touch more for the edginess and exclusiveness of the golden hour at Ios Club Sunset Dining Bar. Food, for example, isn’t your usual taverna fare, but a Mediterranean medley of hand-rolled pitas and sizzled calamari, all backed up by a curated wine list of Greek labels. Music wise, you’re talking Balearic jazz and light bossa nova to see away the day. It’s hardly a surprise that this is one of the island’s top wedding venues!
Coo Bar specializes in all things R&B and hip hop. It claims to be the only all-out hip hop bar on the island, in fact. That’s great if you love anything from West Coast G-funk circa 1983 to the Snap rap hits of the 2000s a la Soulja Boy et al – the policy allows any hit from any era, so long as it fits the hip hop bill. Nice.
Don’t hit this one expecting a vast Euro mega club. Coo Bar is actually pretty tight-knit and small. The dancefloor and drinking areas are crammed into the very same space, which is cramped up even more by a wide, curved bar that goes all the way from one end to the other. There’s also room for the DJ station in there, making for a place that positively heaves with bodies when those bassy beats get flowing in the early hours.
Because it’s pretty small compared to Ios’s other hefty club venues, and because there’s a niche music policy, Coo often manages to keep rumbling much later into the year. It’s not unusual to spot crowds dropping it like its hot on the floor here in mid-October, so it’s worth considering for a party if you’ve planned your Greek odyssey for when the main crowds have all gone home.
Last but most certainly not least there’s Slammer Bar. Let’s put it this way – no guide to the nightlife in Ios could possibly be complete without a mention of this truly mythic spot. It seems to us that every 18-30s crew, every bachelor’s do, every island-hopping boat trip of sub-35 youngsters, and just about anyone else who’s after a party on this island will come this way sooner or later.
Most simply can’t ignore the pull of the iconic Slammer Shot. It’s an in-house staple that involves pulling on a weathered bike helmet, downing a hit of the local liquor, and then braving a thwack from a beer crate, camping mallet, fire extinguisher – whatever’s at hand. (What’s that they say about health and safety in Greece?)
Novelty slammers aside, the bar itself is also pretty darn fun. The music policy doesn’t take itself too seriously. It drops the heady EDM of other places in favor of nineties and noughties cheese by the likes of Boyzone, Ricky Martin, and Britney. The bar staff are also indelibly friendly, always ready for a chat (or to hit your over the head with a hammer, whichever you’d prefer!).
Does Ios have good nightlife?
Ios has some of the best nightlife in the whole of Greece. The island has been famed for its party resorts since anyone can remember. Today, the main season between May and September is like one big blowout, with reps, 18-30s clubs, beach parties, and more.
Where in Ios is the nightlife?
The nightlife in Ios is anchored on the old town of Chora. It’s around there, on the rugged hills above the port, that you’ll find most of the wildest clubs and all-night venues. That said, there are also some great beach bars, most notably close to the resorts of Mylopotas and Magganari to the south.
Is there a strip in Ios?
Nope – Ios doesn’t have a designated strip like some of Greece’s other party islands. The best bars and clubs are dotted around the winding, wiggling lanes of the Chora town that’s the capital. There are others on the nearby beachfronts, too.