A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Ios vs. Malaga for Nightlife, Beaches, Backpackers, and Food

Should you visit Ios or Malaga?

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

Should I visit Ios or Malaga? 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 striking, touristy, and backpacker-friendly island. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the beaches, hiking, and shopping.


Malaga is a friendly, welcoming, and historic port city. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and shopping.

Ios and Malaga: Pros and Cons

  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Less family-friendly
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Less attractive beach

How is Ios different from Malaga?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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


Both Ios and Malaga offer good local cuisine and restaurants.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Ios. 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.

Malaga has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Head to any of the local food markets and seafood shops to try local cuisine. Also make sure you try tapas and a filling Andalusian breakfast.

Is Ios or Malaga Better for Nightlife?


Evening events are similar in both Ios and Malaga.

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 Malaga just to party. The city has some of the most active nightlife in Europe. There are plenty of opportunities to party in Malaga and you'll find the most vibrant nightlife in the Centro Historico.

Is Ios or Malaga Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?


There's scuba diving or snorkeling available in both Ios and Malaga.

Ios has a few good snorkeling spots. There are some nice snorkeling and diving areas around the island as well as vendors who organize snorkeling and dive trips.

It's worth going snorkeling or scuba diving in Malaga. Water temperatures are mild enough for diving or snorkeling near Malaga. For the best diving, head to Cala del Canuelo Beach. Closer by, Penon del Cuervo Beach offers diving and snorkeling as well.

Is Ios or Malaga Better for Beaches?


Most people pick Ios for its beaches over Malaga.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Ios. 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.

The beach in Malaga is worth checking out. There are some nice beaches around Malaga, but for the best options you'll have to travel further outside of the city.

Is the Shopping Better in Ios or Malaga?


Both Ios and Malaga 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.

Malaga has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are a number of shopping areas in the city with both local boutiques and name brands.

Is Ios or Malaga Better for Families?


Kids will enjoy a visit to either Ios or Malaga.

Ios is not the most family-friendly destination. 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.

Malaga is a family-friendly island. The city has castles that you can explore as well as a waterpark.

Is Ios or Malaga Better for Couples?


With fun activities for couples, both Ios and Malaga make for a good place to visit.

Ios is a very popular place to visit for couples. 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.

Malaga is a good island for couples to visit. It has a beautiful coastline and a rich history that makes it unique.

Is Ios or Malaga Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Both Ios and Malaga are popular 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 Malaga, as it is a very popular island for budget travelers. From an endless supply of hostels to plenty of opportunities to meet other backpackers, this is a very backpacker friendly area.

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


Both Ios and Malaga offer 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.

Malaga has some public transit options. There is an efficient bus system as well as a light metro system.

Is Ios or Malaga a more walkable city?


Ios and Malaga both are comparable when exploring on foot.

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

Malaga is a very walkable destination. It has a very compact and walkable historic center with most of the tourist attractions easily accessible on foot.

Should I spend more time in Malaga or Ios?

How long in Ios or Malaga?

Both Ios and Malaga have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Malaga than Ios.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Ios is 1-3 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Malaga is 3-7 days.

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

One day in Ios or Malaga?

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.

With shopping and nightlife around the historic destination of Malaga, there's plenty to do. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. One of the main draws to the area is the nightlife. 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 Malaga?

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 Malaga for a weekend. With nightlife and live music around the beautiful port city of Malaga, there's plenty to do. One of the main draws to the area is the nightlife. 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 Malaga?

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.

With live music and food around the destination of Malaga, there's plenty to do. Many people spend five days here. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. It offers something for everyone. One of the main draws to the area is the nightlife. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here.

A week in Ios or Malaga?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the striking 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.

Malaga, a popular port 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, Malaga 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 Malaga is €140. 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 Malaga in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Ios 39
    Malaga 75
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Ios 78
    Malaga 150
Compare Hotels in Ios and Malaga

Looking for a hotel in Ios or Malaga? 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 Malaga

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 Malaga Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Ios 16
    Malaga 31

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Malaga

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Malaga:

  • Private Airport Transfer: from Malaga to Malaga Airport (AGP): $17
  • Transfer from Malaga Airport to Costa del Sol Hotels (Any Hotel): $17
  • Transfer from your Hotel to Malaga Airport (Departure Transfer): $17
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Malaga Airport (AGP) to Malaga City Center: $20
  • Private Departure Transfer from Malaga City Center to Malaga Airport (AGP): $20
  • Malaga Airport (AGP) to Malaga - Arrival Private Van Transfer: $20
  • Malaga to Malaga Airport (AGP) - Departure Private Van Transfer: $20
  • Private Airport Transfer: Malaga Airport (AGP) to Malaga: $21
  • Malaga Airport (Costa del Sol) Private Arrival Transfer: $24
  • Malaga Airport (Costa del Sol) Private Departure Transfer: $24
  • Arrival Private Transfer Business Car Malaga airport AGP to Malaga: $26
  • Departure Private Transfer Business Car Malaga City to Malaga airport AGP: $26

Is it cheaper to fly into Ios or Malaga?

Prices for flights to both Malaga 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
    Malaga 35

Typical Food prices in Malaga

Some typical examples of dining costs in Malaga are as follows:

  • Dinner for 2
  • Dinner for 2
  • Breakfast for 2

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Malaga

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Malaga.

  • Sardines Espetos Cooking Workshop: $73
  • Malaga Food Tour - Do Eat Better Experience: $86
  • Sardines On Skewers Cooking Class in Malaga: $111
  • Malaga Sunset Cruise and Restaurant Dinner: $112
  • Málaga Swim Cruise with Tapas Dinner and Flamenco Show: $128
  • Malaga Catamaran Cruise with BBQ Lunch and Port Restaurant Dinner: $146
  • Malaga Market Visit and Cooking Class in Malaga Countryside House: $149

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Ios 26
    Malaga 31

Tours and Activities in Ios

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

  • Ios Speed Boat Adventure: $54
  • From Ios to Sikinos Island & Winery Tour: $96
  • Half Day Sunset Sailboat tour (afternoon): $210

Typical Entertainment prices in Malaga

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Malaga are as follows:

  • Entrance to Castillos
  • Concert

Tours and Activities in Malaga

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

  • Alcazaba de Málaga and Teatro Romano Walking Tour in Spanish: $4.98
  • Skip the Line: Picasso's Birthplace Museum Entrance Ticket: $4.98
  • Walking Tour of Malaga's Historic Center: $7.46
  • Skip the Line: Centre Pompidou in Malaga Ticket: $11
  • Skip the Line: Museo Picasso Malaga Entrance Ticket: $11
  • Museo Carmen Thyssen de Malaga Entrance Ticket: $12
  • Skip the Line: Malaga Automobile and Fashion Museum Entrance Ticket: $14
  • 1.5-Hour Roman Theater and Alcazaba Castle Walking Tour: $16
  • Skip-the-Line Malaga Cathedral Tickets with Tour: $18
  • Malaga Segway Castle Tour: $22
  • Adventure City Game with Augmented Reality: $23
  • Fast and Curious segway tour (30min): $26

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Ios 33
    Malaga 22

Sample the Local Flavors in Malaga

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

  • Malaga Nightlife - Pub Crawl Tour with Skip-the-line Club Access: $26
  • Frigiliana Small-Group Hike and Wine Tasting Tour from Malaga: $49
  • Muscatel Winery Tour and Wine Tastings from Malaga: $75
  • Malaga Tapas and Wine Tour: $81
  • Flamenco, Tapas and Wine Tour: BEST OF Málaga in one evening!: $108
  • Private Ronda Wine Tour with Tapas Including a Visit to Ronda: $404
  • Ronda Private Full Day Wine Tour with Tapas: $406
  • Malaga Shore Excursion: Panoramic Buggy Tour with Wine Tasting in a Historical Cellar: $481

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Ios and Malaga, we can see that Malaga 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 Malaga would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Malaga than you might in Ios.

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Ios vs. Malaga Travel Comparison

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