Chora in Ios
Chora is one of the most picturesque villages in the Greek archipelago. You will love the village, I promise. Chora is more precisely divided into two villages, one old and one new part. They are climbing on two hillsides opposite each other, separated by a festival area, a parking lot and a basketball court.
Chora is located just above the port of Ios.
When I came to Ios the first time in the early eighties, there were only a few buildings opposite the old Chora. Today is the hillside fully developed with hotels, pensions, shops, travel agencies and some tavernas. One example is Seven Eleven Restaurant which is a popular meeting place for the younger crowds. (Dimitris, who owns the restaurant, also owns the fast-food place Porky's in "Old" Chora.)
Chora seen from the windmills above the village.
One of the few old buildings in this part of Chora is the building where the Archaeological Museum is. The museum is well worth a visit. The mayor of the island has his office in the same building. The beautiful building was multifunctional in the eighties: here was the island's police station, the school, the post office and the hospital.
View of the old part of Chora.
As you can see, it's the "Old" Chora that is one of the most beautiful villages in the archipelago. It will charm everyone with its whitewashed buildings in the narrow labyrinthine alleys that meandering all the way up to the top of the village. The alleys are in some places so narrow that you can touch the houses on both sides. When strolling around during the evening in some parts of the village, you get the feeling of being indoors, there is so little space in the alleys.
The village is built like a labyrinth and it takes a long time before one learn how to find the right way. To not get lost, is a feat. The innermost parts of the village are free of motor traffic, transports are done by donkeys or, where it is possible, with small motorized cargo trikes. You can compare Chora with Mykonos Town, the differences between the villages are that Chora on Ios climbs a hillside, while Chora on Mykonos is flat as a pancake, and there is still a Greek everyday life in Chora on Ios. Mainly in the upper parts of the village. But just like on Mykonos, large parts of Chora are occupied by restaurants, bars, discos and boutiques.
The Square in Chora.
The narrow main street meander through the village, it starts in the square right next to the great cathedral and ends at the impressive windmills. About in the middle of the main street lies Ios' great meeting place: The Square. Everyone passes The Square sometime during the day. It's more than crowded during high season, it is so crowded that sometimes it's not even possible to pass.
There are four bars in the square, if you like to people-watch, it is here you should have a drink or a cup of coffee. During the off season, the Greek old men take back their square and then you get a clue about how life was in the square before the tourists took over.
One of many cozy alleys in Chora.
There is one thing I miss in Chora, I would like more eateries with outdoor seating. The fact that many restaurants only have tables inside have a natural explanation: there is simply no room in the narrow alleys.
Some of the exceptions are Kalypso and The Mills. I think that The Mills is one of the best tavernas on Ios. Here you can browse through the Greek cuisine at its best. It is not just the food, the restaurant lies under the magnificent windmills at the other side of Chora, which makes the dinner even more enjoyable. The nice owner Kyriakos is also one of the reasons to go here. Kalypso is located on a small square in the lower part of Chora. Also here they serve Greek food, sometimes good, sometimes not as good. The location is perfect if you like to people-watch.
Restaurant The Mills at the windmills in Chora.
My absolute favourite restaurant on Ios is Ouzeri Katogi. The food is delicious and really worth its price. To get there you start from "The Square" and follow the main street until you see steps leading down to the right (the alley turns all at once to the left), here it is. Do not miss eating at Ouzeri Katogi.
Ouzeri Katogi in Chora.
Ios best bar, Homer's Cave (rest in peace) once lay in the alley to the right. Another great taverna is The Nest. Unfortunately they only have tables indoors, but the good food outweighs. The Nest is located in a narrow alley (what else!) not far from Katogi. You will find good pizzas and gyros at Pizzeria Vesuvio a step down from "The Square".
The bars then? I leave it to you to find them, it will not be difficult, they are everywhere. Once in the 1980s, I amused myself by counting bars, pubs and discos, and found out that there were 68. It is not that many today.
View of the new part of Chora as seen from "The Top".
One of Ios' main attractions is the so-called "The Top", Chora's highest spot. It's not easy to find the way, the easiest way is to start on one of the three squares in the village and then walk up, up, up. On the way up you pass the older parts of Chora, and you get a huge dose of the town's splendour.
Sooner or later you get to an arch where you see a palm tree in front of you, then you're almost there. Continue through the arch (admire the beautiful church of Panagia Gremniotissia) and continue uphill past two chapels and then climb up to the third and last chapel. Now you are at "The Top". The reward is a fabulous view of Chora, Ormos, the beautiful scenery, the neighbouring island of Sikinos, as well as over the sea. Watching the sunset from here is among the most amazing things you can imagine.
ACCOMMODATION IN CHORA
There is a countless number of hotels, pensions and rooms in Chora, between Chora and the port, and on the way to Mylopotas beach. I prefer to stay in the newer part of Chora, or a short distance outside.
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