Travel guide to Ikaria
- Ikaria belongs to the North Eastern Aegean cluster
- Ikaria covers around 592,022 square km
- Inhabitants approximately 108,046
- Capital is Ikaria City
- Coastline of 217 km
- Connection with the ports of Igoumenitsa and Patra
- Connection by ferry with the other North Eastern Aegean s
- Ikaria has its own International Airport with daily flights from Athens and thessaloniki
Ikaria (Icaria) island lies between the ones of Samos and Mykonos, covering an area of some 260 square km and having a population of 8.400 residents approximately.
Its impressive relief is composed by rough mountain ranges, verdant hills, plains and vineyards, meadows of wildflowers and herbs, hot mineral springs famed for their healing effect and running waters, splendid beaches and magnificent secluded coves. Presenting such a biophysical diverse, the whole island has been incorporated in Natura 2000 Net.
Its landscape is dotted by picturesque coastal settlements and mountains villages, some archaeological sites and old churches waiting to be discovered.
Though not a “hot destination” Ikaria is quite popular for its intact colour and its bohemian style of life, thus its is quiet popular among nature-lovers, artists, and those who seek for an authentic island.
The Island was named after Icarus, son of Daedalus, the skilful craftsman who built the Labyrinth of the king Minos in Crete. According to mythology, Daedalus made two pairs of enormous feather- winds held by wax, as the only mean to escape from Minos’ prison. He warned his son not to fly too high for the wax would be melt. Icarus however, with the arrogance of youth, ignored his father’s warnings and tried to reach the sun. The wax melt and Icarus was drawn into the sea that today is named Icarian (Ikarian) Sea.
Ikaria in antiquity was also known as Nikaria, Makris or Doliche, and finds prove to be inhabited since the Neolithic Age probably by the Pelasgians.
The island, which was known since antiquity for its fine wine and its hot mineral springs, was dominated by the Persians followed by the Spartans.
In later centuries Ikaria became part of the Roman and the Byzantine Empire, eras for which little is known. In 1204 and after the fall of Constantinople, it came under Latin rule, while in 1484 it was passed to the hands of Genoese. In 1521 the Ottomans took over the island and though its locals participated in the Greek War of Independent in 1821, Ikaria was finally integrated in the Greek State in 1912. As most of the North-eastern Aegean islands, Ikaria was served as a place of political exile during the Civil War.
Agios Kirykos (Kirikos), is the capital and also one of the island’s ports having some 2,000 residents. Built amphitheatrically on a peaceful cove, the town is composed by houses of traditional architecture, charming neighbourhoods, narrow alleys and plane trees. The Archaeological Museum houses interesting finds, which have been uncovered on the island.
The capital offers several accommodation facilities and entertaining options.
Furthermore, Agios Kirykos is a good starting point for exploring the surrounding area. The Rock of Ikaris (Nikaris) near the Plagia, which according to myth was emerged by the sea, at the point where Icarus was drawn, the Monastery of Evagelistria at the site of Xilosirti and the Church of Agios Dimitrios are few of the capital’s sights.
At a distance of some 3 km northeast to the capital lies the costal settlement of Therma,
known since antiquity for its healing hot springs-the most radioactive in Europe.
The small town of some 130 residents is built around a picturesque harbour surrounded by verdant lovely scenery.
Evdilos is a coastal village and also the second port of Ikaria. It is situated at the northern part of the island and at a distance of some 38 km northwest to the capital.
Built amphitheatrically offering a wonderful view to the sea, this small town of some 450 residents approximately has preserved its traditional colour. The 10th century Byzantine Castle of Koskina that crowns a smooth hill with breath-taking view, the Church of Agios Charalambos and the surrounding quaint villages create a serene enchanting atmosphere.
Kampos is a traditional village which lies some 40 km northwest to the capital. It is mostly known for the archaeological site of Oinoe found in its area. Remnants of the ancient Odeion, of the post- Roman aqueduct and of a Byzantine edifice known as “Palaces” are still can be seen.
The Kambos Archaeological Museum houses important finds such as statues, figurines, vases and sarcophagi from the sites of Oinoe and of Nas (the temple of Artemis Tauropolos) among others.
The mountainous village of Christos Rahon (Christos Rahes/Raches) is situated some 55 km west to the capital. Built amphitheatrically and surrounded by pine and oak trees, it is considered as one of the prettiest and well-preserved villages of Ikaria. Offering a magnificent view to the sea and providing several accommodation facilities, the village is distinguished for its quaint houses, its old churches with most impressive the church of the Transfiguration of the Christ, the cosy shops and the marble-paved alleys.
Besides its natural beauty, the village is renowned for the peculiar custom of its locals to open their shops and run their daily business at night.
The villages of Armenistis and of Gialiskari are both popular coastal resorts with quaint harbours and fabulous beaches. The village of Karavostamo, a costal picturesque one, located in a magnificent verdant landscape and the village of Karkinagri with its impressive granite formations are also coastal settlements yet more peaceful an thus ideal for those who wish to relax in a tranquil environment.
Ikaria is a veritable paradise for sea enthusiasts. Fabulous beaches of crystalline waters found in delightful resorts, pristine beaches in remote coves, ideal for relaxing and sea sports, will satisfy even the most demanding tastes.
The fully organized and long-stretched beach of Messakti (near the Gialiskari resort), with golden sand and lagoons formed by two small rivers that smoothly flow into the sea, is the most popular in Ikaria. It is family –friendly due to its shallow crystalline waters and also ideal for beach sports.
Livadi beach (close to Armenistis site), an organized one with soft sand and crystalline waters surrounded by lush vegetation, the long sandy Kambos Beach (found in the homonymous village and in verdant landscape) with crystalline waters, the popular, among youth, beach of Tsoukala a mixture of thick pebbles, sand and fine waters are some of the island’s splendid beaches.
For those who enjoying privacy and relaxing in pure natural environment the remote beach of Iereo (near the Faros village) found in quiet small cove, with crystal clear waters and surrounded by rock formations, the sandy peaceful Evdilos beach (in the homonymous settlement) with sparkling waters and the beach of beach of Seychelles surrounded by an intriguing scenery of rock formations, with white pebbles and fabulous aquamarine waters are strongly recommended.
The sandy beach of Nas (near the Armenistis village) located in the arms of a secluded cove is quite impressive for its wonderful cliffs and its green scenery. The ruins of the temple of Artemis Tauropolos lies on the beach add a special colour. The beach is nudist-friendly.
Ikaria is reachable by sea via scheduled trips with hydrofoil and high speed ferries with the port of Piraeus.
More specific, Agios Kirykos Port is linked to Kavala Port and also with the islands of Samos (Karlovasi and Vathy ports) , Fourni, Chios, Tinos (Tenos), Mykonos, Limnos (Lemnos), Syros Paros and Naxos.
Ikaria has its own airport which has direct connection with the Athens International Airport. During summer season it receives also certain charter flights from abroad.
Olympic Airlines (Athens): 210/9292111, 9666666
Olympic Airlines (Ikaria): 26610/386994/6
Patras Port Authority: 2610/341002
Ikaria Port Authority: 26610/32655
Igoumenitsa Port Authority: 26650/22235
Bus Terminal (Athens): 210 5124910-1, 5132601
Bus Terminal (Ikaria, urban transport): 26610/32158
Bus Terminal (Ikaria, inter-island transport): 26610/39862/31595
Bus Terminal Salonica: 2310/536260