A Travel Price Comparison for Greece Ios vs. Athens for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Backpackers

Should you visit Ios or Athens?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Ios or Athens? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.


Ios is a beautiful, striking, and touristy island. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the scuba diving and snorkeling, beaches, and hiking.


Athens is a historic, ancient, and vibrant city. Travelers will also find plenty of sights and attractions here, as it's a big city that attracts lots of visitors. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Ios and Athens: Pros and Cons

  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less family-friendly
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Big city activities

Is there more to do in Ios or Athens?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Athens. Although Ios and Athens are both popular with visitors, Athens has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Athens is more popular for its museums, food, historical sights, and big city activities, while Ios is known for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty. Ios is popular for its party hard atmosphere that attracts a younger and rowdier crowd. Athens is popular for its ancient temples and landmarks as well as its influence as the birthplace of democracy. It is also home to The Acropolis.

The Acropolis
The Acropolis

How is Ios different from Athens?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Athens and Ios. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Ios or Athens?


Athens is very popular for its sights and museums. Also, Ios is not as famous, but is still a good island to visit for its museums and history.

The museums, monuments, and landmarks in Athens are among the most recognizable in the world. As a historical capital of the world, this city has countless museums and archeological sites including the famous Acropolis, the National Archaeology Museum, and the Ancient Agora.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Ios. If you can pull yourself away from the beaches or parties, there are a number of archaeological and historic sights around the island. Churches like Panayia Gremiotissa Church and Evangelisimos Cathedral are worth visiting. Other attractions include Odysseas Elytis Theatre, Homer’s Tomb, and Skarkos Hill.

Is the Food Better in Ios or Athens? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?


Athens is very popular for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Ios is not as famous, but is still a good island to visit for its restaurants.

For foodies, Athens is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. Make sure you try the souvlaki, moussaka, and dolmades at any of the many local restaurants throughout the city.

Ios has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Most of the island's restaurants are found in the port area or in the town of Chora, but you'll also find several options near Mylopotas Beach. Most restaurants offer typical Greek dishes, but they often have a local twist. You'll often find local cheeses or a slightly different take on an old favorite. Popular ingredients include cheese, yogurt, fish, olives, honey, olive oil, and grains. Common meats include lamb, beef, and even rabbit, but seafood is obviously popular as well.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Nightlife?


Evening events are amazing in both Ios and Athens.

Ios is a party destination, and you'll find plenty of activity all night long. This is one of the quintessential party islands in Greece. Many young backpackers come here just to party, particularly during the summer months. You'll find many parties start around midnight or later and carry on well into the morning. Most of the clubs and bars are around the main square and nearby streets in Chora, but there are also clubs spread throughout the town. Outside of town, Mylopotas Beach is another popular party area.

People head to Athens just to party. There are all-night dance clubs as well as local bars and chill live music venues.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Resorts?


Ios is great for its luxury resorts. However, Athens is not a resort destination.

There are plenty of resorts in Ios to choose from. There are a number of resort areas around the island with families preferring the areas around Yialos Beach and Manganari Beach. Partiers usually head to Chora and the great beaches near Mylopotas, but if you want to escape the crowds, head to Agia Theodoti.

Athens is not a resort destination.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?


Ios is a good destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Athens is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Grab a mask and fins and explore the underwater scenery in Ios. There are some nice snorkeling and diving areas around the island as well as vendors who organize snorkeling and dive trips.

Athens is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Beaches?


Ios is an unbeatable place for the beach. However, Athens is not a beach destination.

Ios offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. The island has beautiful sandy beaches that range from family-friendly to party hard. There are popular and more developed beaches near Chora like Koumbara and Mylopotas as well as more relaxing beaches a little more removed like Kalamos and Manganari. Because of their striking beauty, the beaches around the island have been featured in a few films.

Athens is not a beach destination.

Is Ios or Athens Better for its Old Town?


Athens is very popular for its old town. However, Ios does not have a historic old town.

Athens has a world-famous historical area. The city's "historic triangle" is between Syntagma, Omonia, and Monastiraki Squares. This area is also at the political and financial heart of the city.

Ios does not have a historic old town.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Hiking?


Ios is a good destination for hiking. However, Athens is not a hiking destination.

Ios offers some nice hiking trails. The island has a barren and rocky landscape that offers spectacular views. Many of the hikes are quite challenging, but there are a few options for beginners as well. Many also pass by the spectacular ruins around the island.

Athens is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Ios or Athens?


Both Ios and Athens are good shopping destinations.

Ios offers some nice shopping areas. There are a number of local souvenirs that you can pick up. Many visitors prefer to take home unique items such as a tin of olives or olive oil. Jewelry, honey, and local ceramics also make good gifts.

Athens has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Most neighborhoods have a shopping street but head to Ermou Street for some of the city's best shopping.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Families?


Athens is notable for its family-friendly activities. However, Ios is a mediocre island for its kid-friendly activities.

Athens is a very kid-friendly city. With its rich history, beautiful outdoor activities, and kid-friendly food, Athens is a fun place to explore with the whole family.

Ios is not always a place people visit with their families. While the island is known as one of the top party destinations in Greece, it also has a more cultural side. There are impressive archaeological ruins and stunning beaches that kids will enjoy. The island also has snorkeling and plenty of kid-friendly food. Some of the best family-friendly beaches are in Manganari Bay and Yialos Beach is a nice family-friendly area.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Couples?


Ios is great for couples. Also, Athens is not as popular, but is still a nice city for romance.

Ios is a great island if you're traveling as a couple. Because it's so close to Santorini, many people visit as a day trip. While the island is synonymous with partying, there are still many world-class archaeological sites and romantic beaches that make for an active and fun honeymoon. It's a bit quieter outside of the peak summer months.

Athens is a nice destination for couples. The city is historical, fascinating, and romantic, making it a beautiful place to explore as a couple.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Both Ios and Athens are amazing destinations for backpackers.

Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Ios. For many backpackers, partying in Ios is a quintessential European experience. Nights are spent at all night clubs or beach raves, while days are spent nursing a hangover on the beach. There are plenty of venues that cater to the budget crowd, with cheap food available at different places.

A large number of backpackers visit Athens, as it is a very popular island for budget travelers. The city has long been established as a backpackers destination with budget friendly food and plenty of hostels around town.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Students?


Athens is notable for students. However, Ios is not popular with students.

Athens is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. International students will appreciate the rich history, archaeological ruins, and unique opportunities that are available here.

Ios is not popular with students.

Is Ios or Athens Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?


Both Ios and Athens offer superb public transit options.

Ios has some very good public transit options. There are public buses that travel to most of the tourist sights around the island including several of the more remote beaches like Manganari and Agia Theodoti.

The public transit in Athens can get you to most places easily. The city's metro system has 3 lines that connect to bus, tram and commuter rail lines.

Is Ios or Athens a more walkable city?


Athens is notable for its high level of walkability. Also, Ios is not as famous, but is still a good island to visit for its ease of walking around.

Athens is a very walkable city. You'll find the city's most walkable area's in the historical heart, where there are many pedestrian only streets and shopping areas.

Ios is a somewhat walkable island. Chora is the most walkable part of the island.

For even more information, also check out Is Ios Worth Visiting? and Is Athens Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Athens or Ios?

How long in Ios or Athens?

Both Ios and Athens have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Athens than in Ios. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Ios, and 3-7 days is enough time in Athens.

Families should spend more time in Athens than Ios. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Athens, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Ios than Athens. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Ios that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Athens than Ios if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Athens.

  • How many days in Ios or Athens? Ideal Length of Stay
    Ios 1-3 
    Athens 3-7

One day in Ios or Athens?

Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of Ios. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. One day is often enough time to do most activities.

When visiting Athens, people usually allow for lots of time. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A weekend in Ios or Athens?

Ios is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Many people visit Athens for a weekend. When visiting Athens, people usually allow for lots of time. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Five days in Ios or Athens?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Ios. Most people come for the beaches. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

When visiting Athens, people usually allow for lots of time. Many people spend five days here. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. It offers something for everyone. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here.

A week in Ios or Athens?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the backpacker-friendly destination of Ios. This island offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Athens, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Visiting the old town is also a must. Your budget might influence how long you stay. One week is usually enough time to experience most activities.

Which place is cheaper, Athens or Ios?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Ios is €91, while the average daily cost in Athens is €127. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Ios and Athens in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Ios 39
    Athens 63
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Ios 78
    Athens 126
Compare Hotels in Ios and Athens

Looking for a hotel in Ios or Athens? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Ios

Hotels in Athens

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Ios Hotel Prices and Athens Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Ios 16
    Athens 27

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Ios

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Ios:

  • 1-Way Private Helicopter Transfer to the Greek Islands: $2,450

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Athens

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Athens:

  • Airport Bus for Two
  • Metro
  • Metro
  • Metro from Airport to City Center
  • Taxi from Airport

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Athens

Also for Athens, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Bus Transfer to/from Argos: $14
  • Santorini Private Transfer From or To Airport: $20
  • One way Private Transfer Athens City Center to / from Piraeus Port: $20
  • Mercedes Private Transfer Athens - Piraeus: $21
  • Private Transfer from Athens City Center to Piraeus Port: $21
  • Private Transfer from Piraeus Port to Athens City Center: $21
  • Athens Hotels To Piraeus Port-Hotels Luxury Transfer Services: $22
  • Private Transfer from Piraeus Port and Hotels to Athens: $22
  • Private transfer between Athens hotels and Piraeus Port: $23
  • Piraeus Port: Private One-Way Transfer to Athens City Center: $23
  • From Athens Airport: 1-Way Private Transfer to Rafina Port: $24
  • Athens Private Transfer: Central Athens to Piraeus Cruise Port: $24

Is it cheaper to fly into Ios or Athens?

Prices for flights to both Athens and Ios change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Ios 33
    Athens 37

Typical Food Prices in Athens

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Athens:

  • Ice cream
  • Souvlaki

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Athens

For Athens, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Hard Rock Cafe Athens with Set Menu for Lunch or Dinner: $24
  • Hard Rock Cafe Athens with Set Lunch or Dinner: $26
  • Street Food Tour Market & City Centre: $42
  • Foodies’ Favorite Food tour: $47
  • Greek Street Food Tour: $49
  • Athens Street Food Tour: Explore City's Iconic Eateries: $50
  • Greek Traditional Vegan Cooking Class with Meal: $53
  • Middle-eastern Cuisine Cooking Class with Meal: $53
  • Street Food Tour with Local Guide and 7 Tastings: $58
  • Small Group, Delicious Athens Food Tour: $59
  • Traditional Greek Cooking Class and Organic Lunch on Poros: $61
  • Greek Spirits & Meze, Food Tour in Athens: $63

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Ios 26
    Athens 36

Tours and Activities in Ios

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Ios are as follows:

  • 5 -6 Hour Private Chora E-Bike Tours: $133
  • Electric Bike Tour Chora to Diaseli Cheesery: $110
  • Electric Bike Tour Chora to Homer's Tomp: $110
  • From RIB Boat Trip to Sikinos Island and Winery Tour: $86
  • Ios Island Trekking Tours: Discover Ios Unexplored: $28
  • Ios Island: Speedboat Cruise from Mylopotas Beach: $53
  • 4-Hour Cruise of the Best Beaches: $64
  • Private Orienteering Experience in Mylopotas: $166

Tours and Activities in Athens

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Athens.

  • Self-guided First Discovery Walk and Reading Tour: $3.25
  • Private Audio Guided Walking Tour in Athens: $4.40
  • Hadrian's Library Skip-the-Line Ticket: $4.41
  • Acropolis Highlights Self-Guided Audio Tour: $4.41
  • Acropolis Highlights Self-Guided Audio Tour: $4.66
  • Exclusive Self-Guided Audio Tour into Byzantine Gems: $4.66
  • Exclusive Self-Guided Audio Tour in Old Plaka: $4.66
  • Herakleidon Museum of Ancient Greek Technology: Entry Ticket: $5.42
  • A Neoclassical Capital: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.50
  • 360 Virtual tour of Ancient Athens: $6.00
  • Roman Agora of Athens Skip-the-Line Ticket: $6.06
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus Skip-the-Line Ticket: $6.06

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Ios 33
    Athens 23

Sample the Local Flavors in Ios

Also in Ios, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Bar Crawl Ios Ticket in Cyclades: $39

Sample the Local Flavors in Athens

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Athens:

  • Polykala Distillery showroom. A125 years of history along with liqueur tasting.: $15
  • Liquer tasting in Polykala's Distillery Show Room in Athens: $18
  • The Original Athens Pub Crawl - Athens Drunk Tour: $21
  • The NightCrawlers | Athens Pub Crawl: $22
  • Greek Wine Tasting: $23
  • Wine Tasting in Athens: $26
  • Bar Crawl with Free Drinks and Club Entry: $29
  • Athens Speakeasy & Alternative Bar Crawl: Discover Hidden Gems: $39
  • Noble Greeks Acropolis Wine Tasting with Private Sommelier: $43
  • Wine Tasting: $43
  • Organic and Vegan Indigenous Wine Tasting Private Experience: $44
  • 1 Hour Private Four Greek Wine Tasting and Food Pairing in Athens: $44

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Ios and Athens, we can see that Athens is more expensive. And not only is Ios much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Ios would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Ios and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Athens would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Athens than you might in Ios.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Ios Expensive? and Is Athens Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Ios or Athens?

Athens has a larger population, and is about 400 times larger than the population of Ios. When comparing the sizes of Ios and Athens, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.