Ios is a hilly island with cliffs down to the sea on most sides, situated halfway between Paros and Santorini. It is about 18 km (11 mi) long, 10 km (6 mi) wide, with an area of about 105 sq. km. Its population was 1,100 in 1992 (down from 3,500 in the 19th century).
The main town is Ios or Chora, at the head of the Ormos harbor in the northwest. From there the bus or 15-minute walk up the stairy donkey path takes you to the village. This is a white and very picturesque Cycladic village, full of stairs and narrow walks, that makes it inaccessible for cars of any kind. Today, the main path through this village is completely taken over by tourism in terms of restaurants, boutiques, bars and discotheques. Apart from the port and the above located village, Ios has only a few small settlements, just a group of spread out houses in the background of major beaches (Agia Theodoti, Kalamos, Manganari, Plakoto). Since the 1990s the island mayor Pusseos works on Ios development towards attracting also different and wealthier kinds of tourists. With money from the European community some roads have been built and even paved, and a very scenic amphitheater has been created by the German architect Peter Haupt (who died in 2003) on the very top of the village hill. Unfortunately, cultural events only rarely take place up there.
Ios has left little impression on history. Ancient tradition said that Homer's mother was from Ios, and that he himself was buried there--and indeed the locals will show visitors the site of the ancient town of Plakatos at the northernmost end of the island, where the rocky entrance to a tomb may be seen. There is no physical evidence connecting this with Homer however. There are signs of Mycenaean settlement.
The north end of Ios also has a ruined Venetian castle from the 15th century. The island is said to have 150 churches and chapels.
Ios attracts very large numbers of young tourists, many of whom sleep on the beaches after partying through of the night. (A typical slogan, as seen at www.magicaljourneys.com: "Ios: Where Spring Break Lasts All Summer") Milopotamos (or Milopotas) is the most popular of the beaches.