|How to get to Ikaria||Ikaria Island|
The island of Ikaria belongs to a group of islands in the Eastern Aegean Sea, which includes Samos on the east, Mykonos on the West, Chios to the North and the sacred island of Patmos on the South. It's distance from Piraeus, the port of Athens, is 140 nautical miles.
Ikaria is an oblong about 21 miles long by three to five miles wide. The Atheras (ancient Pramnos) mountains range from 600 to 1041 metres in height.
Ikaria is a fairly large island, long (45Km) and narrow (8Km) about in the center of Aegean Sea, with a wonderful dry climate and unique scenery with many different types of landscape including high mountains (1100m), forests, rivers lakes, waterfalls, fantastic gorges, etc.
Ikaria remains an “unexplored Aegean Paradise”.
Famous in antiquity for the temple of Artemis at Nas and as birthplace of the first aviator of Greece. Ikarus took a flight from Crete Island but flew too close the sun causing the wax holding the feathers on his wings to melt and he plunged to his death into the sea that now bears his name. Over the centuries the island became a place of exile for aspiring Byzantine Emperors. Before being occupied by the Turks the Ikarians soon god rid of their Pasha by dumping him, palanquin and all, into a gorge whereupon the 3.000 inhabitants all admitted to crime, leaving the Turkish garrison powerless to act.
With such a reputation little wonder that the island has remained undisturbed.
Ikaria is an island of outstanding natural beauty – an Aegean Paradise – bountiful with enough wild life, flora, scenery, archaeology, mildness, walks and a multitude of other attractions to keep any visitor occupied for the whole of their holiday. The scenery is dramatic, with steep and barren cliffs in parts of the south, huge mountain some over 1000 metres, in the centre, descending more gently on the northern side through lush forests of pine and cypress, dramatic gorges vineyards, olive groves, fields of flowers all theway down to the coast with its lovely sandy beaches and fantastic views out to the distant island of Chios to the north and Andros, Tinos, Mykonos to the west.
In the early summer months, Ikaria is swathed in wild flowers of all colours, there are whole fields of lavender!! The lanes are lined with med lupines, hedgerows full of cistus, briar roses and yellow gorse. Rivers streams and waterfalls cascade down from the mountains – a cross between Switzerland and North Greece.
It is really spectacular and unlike any other island you know.
It is suitable for wildlife excursions and hiking over the old time paths that are still in existence all over the island. From the port of Evdilos, where you will arrive to the island, from Piraeus or Samos, last wards to Nas, there lies a string of five, golden sandy beaches for swimming.At Campos the lovely sandy beach is littered with bits of marble colours washed up from the now submerged, ancient city of Oinoi. There is a small museum with remarkable archaeological items, which will open for you if you ask the curator from his nearby shop. Ruins of the ancient city still stand.Always to the west, you are surprised to meet villages of unusual beauty Gialiskari (Yialiskari).
It is literally buried in pine trees and has a small port, with many fishing boats and some nice fish tavernas with abundant fish. Its endless golden beach ,with the so clean blue green sea, is surely a sight with its tiny little church, on the east starting point of the beach.
Next to this is Armenistis quite tiny despite being the main resort of the island. The name comes from “Armenizi” a type of quite Sailing boats, because of the unique and best position on the sea, setting on a steep and low level hillside coming in the sea.
Here you can find everything you can ask in your vacation, as mini-markets, sandy small shops, tourist and rend a bike/car offices, bread and cake factories, tavernas with outstanding Greek food and fish, little café and three sandy beaches (one very long and tow small). Three kilometres west is the hamlet of Nas with a picturesque bay, a deep river coming to the beach from a fantastic beauty gorge named “Hallaris”.
In one of the bank of the river you can see the ruins of the ancient temple of worship to goddess “Artemis” and in some minutes walk, a waterfall with a little lake where you ca go swimming.
Some little pensions and tavernas with grilled wild good meat and fish are around the village. From Armenistis as the starting point for several excursions by car, bike or on foot you can admire the beauty of Raches area, a landscape full of vineyards, olive groves, forests of pine and cypress, dramatic gorges, rivers, lakes, etc.
The excursion to the Raches area will reveal to you villages full of greenery, as Agios Polykarpos, Agios Dimitrios, Mandria and lead to the village Christos Raches. Here the village square looks like a giant stone balcony, overlooking the north side of the island and the deep sea.
A strange village so sleepy during the day, that the shops cannot be bothered to take in their merchandise, when they are closed almost all day long.
During the afternoon and the evening it changes into party mode, withal the shops and tavernas suddenly open and singing, dancing and music going on well into the night, until very early in the morning, almost everything is open even the super-markets,Pharmacies, etc.
A few kilometres inland, there are three surprising mountain top lakes, not shown on the local map. All are very beautiful and one has been made into a stunning nature reserve full of waterfowl, terrapins and fish. Walkers will love the Path from Peri Lake following the course of the Hallaris River through steep mountain gorge, down to the sea. All around the island there are wonderful places to visit and things to see. The troglodyte houses and tiny monastery of theospepasti constructed under a natural slab of rock which acts as the roof. There are many examples of other antipirates’ houses, which have been constructed, in the same way, in the quaint little mountain villages.
Discover the Byzantine churches and monasteries almost lost in the greenery, a 10th century castle, a 4th century tower in the middle of nowhere.
Don’t miss the classical remains at Nas and the Kampos. You can go hiking for days between wooded and rocky interior areas, or take guided walks through the wonderful gorges all around. Photographers, artists, botanists, hedonists, walkers, beach and sun worshippers will love it. Ikaria definitely has something for anyone seeking an island, which has kept its soul.
From the other (South) side of the island you can find the capital and the main port Agios Kirikos, with two-storied mariners houses and balconies full of flowers. Of interest is the small archaeological museum with artefacts from the Neolithic, Geometric and Roman periods. Taking the road to the left of the capital, amidst the sea and lots of greenery, we see Therma Lefkadas: warm mineral waters springs form its coast. Then we meet Xylosirtis, where roofs of houses are made with stone and gardens are full of apricot trees. Suddenly we see another tiny village Chrysostomos. Not far to the east of Agios Kirikos lies Therma (1km). Its radioactive springs have been renowned since antiquity for their marvellous medical qualities and results.
The locals (Ikarians) are delightful but take their time to get know to you. They love a good party and Ikaria if famous for it’s Panegyries (festival days).
They hold these saints days festivals at churches all over the island, throughout the summer and everyone flocks there for an all singing, dancing, eating and drinking 24-hour party.>