A Travel Price Comparison for Greece Ios vs. Thessaloniki for Nightlife, Beaches, Backpackers, and Attractions

Should you visit Ios or Thessaloniki?

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

Should I visit Ios or Thessaloniki? 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

Ios is a vibrant, beautiful, and striking island. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is a vibrant, high energy, and bustling city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Ios and Thessaloniki: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • 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 family-friendly
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less attractive beach


Is there more to do in Ios or Thessaloniki?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Thessaloniki than Ios, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Thessaloniki is better known for its museums, shopping, and big city activities, while Ios is more popular for its nightlife, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty. Ios is well known for its party hard atmosphere that attracts a younger and rowdier crowd. Thessaloniki is well known for its many archeological sights, its large young population, and its great transportation connections. Also, Thessaloniki is famous for The Monument of Rotonda.

How is Ios different from Thessaloniki?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Thessaloniki 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 Thessaloniki?

Ios
Thessaloniki

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

Thessaloniki offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. There are a huge number of historic and archeological sights in the city. These include the Rotunda of Galerius, the White Tower, the Church of Agios Dimitrios, and the Arch of Galerius.

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 Thessaloniki? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Both Ios and Thessaloniki offer high quality 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.

Thessaloniki has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. There's a huge culinary scene in the city, and you'll find everything from fun street food options to traditional tavernas and even some great international restaurants.

Is Ios or Thessaloniki Better for Nightlife?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios is a world-class destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Thessaloniki is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its evening party scene.

People head to Ios just to party. 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.

The people in Thessaloniki know how to have a good time. It's the second largest city in Greece, and it has large student and tourist populations, so the nightlife scene is among the best in Greece. There are clubs, bars, and lounges that stay busy late into the night.

Is Ios or Thessaloniki Better for Resorts?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios is an excellent place to visit for its luxury resorts. However, Thessaloniki is not a resort destination.

Ios is known as a popular and fun resort destination. 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.

Thessaloniki is not a resort destination.


Is Ios or Thessaloniki Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios is a popular place for its diving and snorkeling. However, Thessaloniki is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

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.

Thessaloniki is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Ios or Thessaloniki Better for Beaches?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios is a world-class destination for the beache. However, Thessaloniki is lacking in options for the beach.

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 Thessaloniki is worth checking out. Although the city's not known for its beaches, there are some places where you can relax by the water, particularly if you're willing to get a bit out of town.

Is Ios or Thessaloniki Better for Hiking?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios is a popular place for its hiking trails. However, Thessaloniki is not a hiking destination.

Ios is a good destination for hiking. 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.

Thessaloniki is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Ios or Thessaloniki?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is notable for its shopping opportunities. Also, Ios is not as famous, but is still a good island to visit for its shopping areas.

Thessaloniki is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. There are shopping streets as well as large malls and shopping centers. You'll find everything from fashion, jewelry, and handicrafts to most European and international brands.

Ios has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. 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.

Is Ios or Thessaloniki Better for Families?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is a popular place for its family-friendly activities. However, Ios is a mediocre island for its kid-friendly activities.

Thessaloniki is a family-friendly place to visit. The port city has a number of museums and attractions for kids including Dinosaur Park, the Noesis Science and Technology Museum, and the water park known as Waterland. There's also the fascinating Kapani Market that is fun to explore.

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 Thessaloniki Better for Couples?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios is an excellent place to visit for its romantic activities. Also, Thessaloniki is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

Ios makes for a fun place to visit for 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.

Thessaloniki is a good island for couples to visit. It's a bustling city that is filled with history and excellent restaurants. Couples who enjoy history and fun cities will appreciate a visit here.


Is Ios or Thessaloniki Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios is a world-class destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Thessaloniki is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Ios is extremely popular for backpackers. 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.

Thessaloniki is a very popular island for backpackers and budget travelers. There's no shortage of hostels in this city, and you'll find plenty of backpackers to hang out with.

Is Ios or Thessaloniki Better for Students?

Ios
Thessaloniki

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

Thessaloniki is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. There's a large student population in the city and you'll find a vibrant nightlife scene, easy transportation options, and a reasonable cost of living.

Ios is not popular with students.

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

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios is an excellent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. Also, Thessaloniki is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its public transit.

The public transit in Ios can get you around easily. 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.

You'll find some public transit in Thessaloniki, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There is a comprehensive bus system that connects most of the city and its suburbs.


Is Ios or Thessaloniki a more walkable city?

Ios
Thessaloniki

Ios and Thessaloniki both are notable when exploring on foot.

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

Thessaloniki is a somewhat walkable island. You can explore much of the city center on foot.

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

Should I spend more time in Thessaloniki or Ios?

How long in Ios or Thessaloniki?

It's fun to spend time in either Ios or Thessaloniki. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Thessaloniki due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Ios, and 2-4 days is enough time in Thessaloniki.

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

Couples should spend more time in Ios than Thessaloniki. 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 Ios than Thessaloniki 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 Ios.


  • How many days in Ios or Thessaloniki? Ideal Length of Stay
    Ios 1-3 
    Thessaloniki 2-4

One day in Ios or Thessaloniki?

In Ios, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this touristy island offers. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. In one day, you should have a good grasp of this island.

With nightlife and food around the high energy destination of Thessaloniki, there's plenty to do. 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 Thessaloniki?

Ios is a fun place to experience. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Many people visit Thessaloniki for a weekend. With food and shopping around the historic city of Thessaloniki, there's plenty to do. Because of this, a weekend is usually enough time for a trip here.


Five days in Ios or Thessaloniki?

You'll find nightlife and food around the historical destination of Ios. Most people come for the beaches. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

The destination of Thessaloniki offers shopping and museums. It offers something for everyone. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.

A week in Ios or Thessaloniki?

Ios is a popular place to visit. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Thessaloniki, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. Your budget might influence how long you stay. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Greece, The Best 3-Day Tours in Greece, The Best 2-Week Tours in Greece, and The Best Bicycle Tours in Greece.


Which place is cheaper, Thessaloniki 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 Thessaloniki is €134. 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 Thessaloniki in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Ios 39
    Thessaloniki 79
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Ios 78
    Thessaloniki 158
Compare Hotels in Ios and Thessaloniki

Looking for a hotel in Ios or Thessaloniki? 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 Thessaloniki


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 Thessaloniki Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Ios 16
    Thessaloniki 13

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Ios

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Ios:

  • 1-Way Private Helicopter Transfer to the Greek Islands: $2,419

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Thessaloniki

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

  • Thessaloniki to Thessaloniki Airport (SKG) - Departure Transfer: $21
  • One Way Private Transfer SKG Airport to / from Thessaloniki City Center: $24
  • Thessaloniki Airport (SKG) to Thessaloniki - Round-Trip Transfer: $41
  • Private Transfer from Thessaloniki Airport to Thessaloniki Port: $41
  • Private Transfer from Thessaloniki Port to Thessaloniki hotels: $41
  • Private Transfer from Thessaloniki hotels to Thessaloniki Port: $41
  • Private Airport Transfer in Macedonia: $65
  • Thessaloniki Airport - Sani Transfer: $81
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Thessaloniki Airport to Halkidiki Area: $82
  • Thessaloniki Airport to Portes Lithos Luxury Resort Private Transfer: $82
  • Private transfer to IKOS OLIVIA: $87
  • Thessaloniki Airport to TUI Blue Lagoon Hotels Private Transfer: $93

Is it cheaper to fly into Ios or Thessaloniki?

Prices for flights to both Thessaloniki 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
  • Food Meals for one day
    Ios 33
    Thessaloniki 42

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Thessaloniki

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

  • Walking Open Market Food Tour and Tasting: $49
  • Traditional Greek Dinner with Panoramic Views of Athens: $55
  • Food Tour in Thessaloniki: $71
  • Traditional Greek Food Tour With A Local: $85
  • Private Walking Tour Gastronomic Food Tour in Thessaloniki: $87
  • Thessaloniki Street Food Tour with a Local Guide: $98
  • Market Tour and Greek Cooking Class in Epanomi-Thessaloniki: $134
  • 3 Hours Private Thessaloniki Food Tour: $164
  • Private Authentic Greek Cooking Classes in Thessaloniki City: $240

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Ios 26
    Thessaloniki 26

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: $131
  • Electric Bike Tour Chora to Diaseli Cheesery: $109
  • Electric Bike Tour Chora to Homer's Tomp: $109
  • From RIB Boat Trip to Sikinos Island and Winery Tour: $91
  • Ios Island Trekking Tours: Discover Ios Unexplored: $27
  • Ios Island: Speedboat Cruise from Mylopotas Beach: $59
  • 4-Hour Cruise of the Best Beaches: $70
  • Private Orienteering Experience in Mylopotas: $164

Tours and Activities in Thessaloniki

For Thessaloniki, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Thessaloniki Self-Guided Game & Tour: $12
  • Experience Ancient Greece: A Musical Journey: $16
  • City Sightseeing Thessaloniki Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: $17
  • Thessaloniki Port waterfront Sailing boat tour: $32
  • Thessaloniki Bike Tour, the best way to explore the city: $44
  • Thessaloniki City Tour and Archaeological Museum : $49
  • Thessaloniki : Private Walking Tour With A Guide ( Private Tour ): $49
  • Customized Private Walking Tour with a Local: $52
  • Scenic e-Bike Tour in Thessaloniki: $52
  • Thessaloniki Private Treasure Hunt & Tour w Food Stops: $69
  • Full Day Tour in Pella Edessa Naoussa from Thessaloniki: $73
  • Half Day Food and Walking Tour with Tastings in Thessaloniki: $75

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Ios 33
    Thessaloniki 15

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: $38

Sample the Local Flavors in Thessaloniki

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

  • Thessaloniki to Naoussa, Wine Tasting Tour – Private Day Trip: $207
  • Wine Touring a Step Away from the city: $214


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


Which is Bigger, Ios or Thessaloniki?

Thessaloniki has a larger population, and is about 200 times larger than the population of Ios. When comparing the sizes of Ios and Thessaloniki, 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.