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Ios is an island that comes to life after dark. I mean, the beachfront daylight hours are fairly epic themselves. But people don’t really come to Ios for the paddleboarding. It’s a nice distraction from the hangovers, sure. But for the most part, backpackers flock to Ios for one undeniable reason — to get their debauchery on.

As some of you may know, I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of world party scenes. So obviously, in my role as an online alcohol anthropologist, I had no choice to but to take a pulse on Ios’s nightlife scene. For research, guys. The things I do for science!

Ios Sunset

Due to the irresistible lure of Mylopotas Beach, I never once saw Ios’s town center, Chora, before dusk — and I’m not even going to apologize. However, I found myself there each of our three nights on the island to have dinner, go for a cobblestone wander, party my face off, or some combination of all three. One restaurant I’d be remiss not to mention is , a chic and relatively affordable Thai restaurant — the first I’d seen in my weeks in Greece.

Ios Restaurants

Ios Chora

Ios Restaurants

After dinner it would be time to drop all pretense of civility and hit the town, hard. Now, this is the Ios photo one might send their mother:

Ios Nightlife

Yet this is the Ios photo that gives a much more realistic representation of what goes on in European summer party towns like this:

Fun Pub Ios

And in true Contiki fashion, even the guides got in on the fun. Have I mentioned how much I adored and admired our guides Ed and Paola? I heard a few people on the trip remarking that they had the world’s greatest “dream jobs,” and while I agree it’s a great gig, there is no denying these two worked their bums off to make sure all their charges had the vacation of a lifetime.

Ios with Contiki

Ios with Contiki

I don’t think there’s much I could say to explain a night out in Ios as well as these random snaps that I found on my memory card after a few hours of handing over my camera and unleashing it onto my fellow Contikiers.

Ios Nightlife

Ios Nightlife

Partying in Ios

Partying in Ios

Ios Nightlife

Ios Nightlife

One genius marketing aspect of the Ios nightlife scene was Singlet Syndrome — it seemed almost every single establishment we entered had a deal where you bought seven shots and after downing them all consecutively, you were given a bar branded singlet (or hat, in some cases) to commemorate your achievement. At 25 a round and the boys in our group heading home with an average of eleven singlets each, I think it’s safe to say our Contiki tour fed the families of several Ios bar owners that weekend.

Plus, it made for some seriously entertaining photos.

Soho Bar Ios

Partying in Ios

Traffic Bar Ios

While we mainly bar-hopped aimlessly into wherever caught our eye, I did develop a few fast favorites. We tended to start the night at , where there was life-size Jenga, occasional karaoke, and a general upbeat atmosphere to kick things off. was a tucked away gem that seemed to have a portal hole leading to Brooklyn hidden away somewhere, based on the amount of bearded hipsters milling about. Plus, they had beerpong.

I never really got a taste for , where the signature shot involves putting on a helmet, taking a shot, and being hit over the head with various objects. Yeah, that just wasn’t my thing. But don’t get me wrong, I definitely think casual concussions are as rockin’ good fun as the next guy does.

Partying in Ios

Lost Boys Ios

Fun Pub Ios

Fun Bar Karaoke Ios

And finally, was hands down my pick of the mix. It was crowded sweaty fun, the DJs were fantastic, and I was even inspired to complete the one and only seven shot challenge of my own there, earning myself a now-cherished black and gold trucker Traffic hat.

The moment where the DJ coaxed every single person in the wildly over-capacity bar onto the floor, held us there till we were practically pulsing, and then had the crowd spring back to roaring life as the beat dropped was one of my favorites of the trip, bringing back happy memories of Tomorrowland and reminding me why it’s sometimes worth it to stay out till the sun comes up.

Traffic Bar Ios

Ios Nightlife

Ios Nightlife

Ios promised to be a rocking good time — and it delivered! What’s your favorite spot for guilt-free getting loose?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Many thanks to Contiki for hosting me on the . As always, you receive my honest opinion regardless of who is footing the bill.

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42 Comments...
  • Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide
    November 20 2014

    Holy crap! I’m doing the math here, and at 7 shots per singlet and the guys taking home 11 of them, isn’t that physically impossible? I’d be on the floor, haha!
    Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 20 2014

      Ha, okay perhaps I should have clarified that the singlet gathering was over a course of several nights, not just one! But still… still 😉

  • Emily from Let's Roam Wild
    November 20 2014

    Can you really ‘know’ a city without checking out its nightlife? Glad you let your hair loose to live a little in Ios. Looks like a blast – and loving that poolside sunset photo!
    Emily from Let’s Roam Wild recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 20 2014

      🙂 Thanks Emily! I did indeed have a blast. It was worth the rough mornings, at least for temporarily!

  • Soo fun! Drunken shenanigans — we all need them in our life sometimes. Reminds me of my many consecutive never ending nights out during spring breaks in South Beach. I see they do NOT play in Ios. I need to work on getting my weight up before I go, I might not be able to hang with the likes of your crew! 77 SHOTS!? O_O

    p.s. the sunset photo – Adore.
    Kristen Noelle // Peaches, Beaches, & Urbanistas recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 20 2014

      Ha, whoops, see my response to the first comment — those singlets were collected over the entire three night stay in Ios, and may have even included Santorini and Mykonos conquers, if I recall correctly 🙂 I’ll have to ask the boys to clarify!

  • becky hutner
    November 20 2014

    Wow, that non-parents appropriate shot of you just sent shivers down my spine. And 7 shots??? You must have a stomach of steel, Meihoukai. And/or a looooot of practice.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      If I recall correctly, they were kind of those watered down shooters rather than straight vodka or something… though I could be wrong, that’s the only way I can conceive that I didn’t throw up!

  • Ashley
    November 20 2014

    “Online alcohol anthropologist”- I love that haha. Ios sounds like a riot and the first photo is gorgeous!
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      Ha, I’m adding that to my resume!

  • Leah
    November 20 2014

    Teehee you know I love a good drunk Meihoukai! That tequila and vodka combo would make me vom FOR SURE. Good on ya for holdin’ it down. Medellin used to by my favorite spot for getting looooose but now that I’m more responsible (*cough cough*) I don’t get out as much as I used to as a backpacker! And that gives me sad face.
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      I could be wrong on this but I am QUITE SURE that that was some weird spirit other than tequila. Why? Because I can be sick just from smelling tequila. We broke up long ago.

  • Dana
    November 20 2014

    Amazing times – but tell me please… WHAT IS THAT AMAZING LIPSTICK you’re rocking??

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      Just some cheap old Covergirl lipstick that I’ve had for so long the color number has rubbed off the bottom 🙂 I need to rock it more often!

  • Alana - Paper Planes
    November 20 2014

    Oh my word, I could not keep up….
    Alana – Paper Planes recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      I was definitely considered a “responsible one” among this group for many reasons, including but not limited to refusing to take shots out of a converse sneaker. So, yeah, I barely kept up myself 🙂

  • I can’t even remember the names of the bars that we went to when I was in Ios in 2006, I remember there was one that instead of a bar serving single drinks, you would buy a bottle of something, a mixer and were given a plastic cup – things got pretty crazy in there!
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      Ha! Sounds like Ios. I’m sure that bar is still around somewhere, and I just didn’t make it!

  • Miquel
    November 20 2014

    The things we do in the name of science. Someone has to make these sacrifices! I’m glad to hear you stayed away from the casual concussions. Too Funny!
    Miquel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      Yeah, I’m too squeamish to violence to have enjoyed that one. I do think it’s somewhat hilarious that it actually exists, though!

  • Anna
    November 20 2014

    Your posts about Contiki make me miss the massive group trips I went on for spring break in high school and college. Sure, we spent many a tour hungover but they were some of my best memories!
    Anna recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      See, I never went on any trips like that (I went to art school, so we didn’t do the traditional Cancun spring breaks, ha) so maybe that’s why this one appealed to me so much 🙂

  • Justine
    November 20 2014

    I’m loving the concept of an online alcohol anthropologist. Sounds like my kinda profession!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 21 2014

      Ha. Add it to your Linkedin and see what happens!

  • Miriam of Adventurous Miriam
    November 21 2014

    Looks like you had fun 🙂 I’d say Thailand is the best place to get loose – happy people, warm weather and cheap alcohol; what else can a girl ask for? 🙂
    Miriam of Adventurous Miriam recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      It’s certainly my favorite place to go and have a good time 🙂

  • Sky
    November 22 2014

    Daaaamn! I am just going to live vicariously through your drunken adventures…alcohol is not my thing but I can’t deny this sounds like a whole lot of fun!
    Sky recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      I’m more than happy to share… as you can see, some of the people on this trip drank enough for everyone, ha.

  • Camels & Chocolate
    November 23 2014

    Pretty sure my liver couldn’t handle a vacation with you 😉
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      Don’t worry… they aren’t all like this! Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to handle a vacation with me, either. 😉

  • Chris
    December 6 2014

    Crazy!

    Although the napkin funnel was a nice touch 😉
    Chris recently posted..

  • CJ
    April 23 2015

    Hi!
    So I noticed you stayed down by the beach. Did you end up doing the 30 min walk at night back to your hotel or did you take a taxi at night?? We’re just trying to figure out where to stay 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      April 24 2015

      I did both, CJ! Grabbed a taxi when we could but one night ended up walking back. In a group, it was actually fun! I can’t recommend where we stayed more highly!

  • Gaurav
    September 28 2015

    Nice blog. Got some inspiration for RTW trip..

    • Meihoukai
      September 28 2015

      Awesome! Enjoy your trip and thanks for reading, Gaurav.

  • Vanessa
    May 5 2016

    What time of the year did you go? My boyfriend and I are deciding between Paros and Ios for September 6-10. I heard the party season is over in Ios by the end of August, but they still have contiki trips going there into September so it cant be thatttt dead!

    • Meihoukai
      May 7 2016

      I was there in August, Vanessa! If you’re with a Contiki group you’ll probably have fun no matter where you are when 🙂

  • Ash
    June 1 2016

    I’m going on this exact contiki in August and this post has just made me super excited! Did you feel like it was really expensive? I’m trying to figure out how much money I need to save up!

    • Meihoukai
      June 10 2016

      Oh Ash, I’m so jealous — you’re going to have a blast! It was a pricey trip but so worth it, with very high value hotels, tours, etc. You can read more of my thoughts here!

  • Tiago
    September 14 2016

    It`s a party place…
    Very nice blog, enjoy travelling.