Iraklia in Greece
Iraklia is a part of the Cyclades and is located between Naxos and Amorgos. Iraklia belongs to - together with Koufonissi, Schinoussa and Donoussa - an unofficial group of islands called the Small Cyclades. The area is about 18 km2. The island's highest mountain, Papas, measuring 419 metres above sea level. Here live about 150 permanent inhabitants, the main livelihoods are tourism and fisheries.
Iraklia is a very photogenic island.
Iraklia is the ultimate island for those who want to experience Greece as it proved itself in earlier years. If you additionally like peaceful hikes along lonely donkey paths, long evenings at small tavernas without knick-knacks and lazy days on a deserted beach, then you have found the right place to spend your holiday.
Since it is so little to see, and so little to do, you are given time, and permission, to live for the moment. The breakfasts tend to be very long, sometimes you can be seated with a good book on the balcony until lunchtime. After lunch, a ferry might put in, which is today's event and something you do not want to miss, then you might sit down in a cafe and continue with the book. In the early evening you might take a drink on the balcony, listening to the cicadas and chickens and just enjoy to the full, the evenings usually ends with a slow meal at one of the few tavernas.
Iraklia is also a very beautiful and trankil island.
Already after the first day you will forget what day of the week it is and the outside world is liberating far away. Iraklia is what the doctor should prescribe against stress.
The port village of Agios Georgios and Panagia is the only villages on Iraklia. The little that happens on Iraklia happens in Agios Georgios. It is a beautiful and picturesque village full of Greek everyday life. Although it is such a small village there are all the facilities you need, at least if you are used to small islands. There even is an ATM. In Panagia (or Chora) it is even quieter. The residents live a simple farmer life and there is not much for a tourist to see or do. A small shop with bakery and taverna is the only thing the village has to offer.
The port beach is my favorite beach in Iraklia.
Many tourists travel to Greece for the nice beaches. Many of the beaches is hard to reach on Iraklia, but do not despair, there are two very nice beaches you can reach on foot, the port beach of Agios Georgios and Livadi beach a few kilometres from the port. If you want to go to other beaches you can go by beach boat to Alimia and Karvounolakos.
If you like to hike, you will love Iraklia. The scenery is beautiful and offers everything from simple to difficult hikes. My favourite hike goes to the church of Agios Ioannis. Whether you like to hike or not you will walk a lot on Iraklia. There is no bus or taxi. Scooters are available for hire during high season, but there is only one road to drive on. :-)
Main street in Agios Georgios.
You can read more about Iraklia via the links at the end of this page. A short summary of the information comes here:
The easiest way to get to Iraklia is to go by air to Santorini and continue by ferry to Naxos, which is the major hub for almost all ferry traffic to and from the islands of the Small Cyclades. The small ferry of Express Skopelitis serves Naxos, Iraklia, Schinoussa, Koufonissi and Amorgos six days a week during the summer months. Another option is to fly to Athens and go by ferry from Athens' port at Piraeus.
As said, there is just two villages on Iraklia. Agios Georgios (see photo on top) is like New York compared with small Panagia. A visit to Panagia is like a journey back in time. In Agios Georgios are several good pensions, a few tavernas, a travel agency, a café, a supermarket, a mini market and a souvenir shop.
When it comes to beaches, there are not as many as on Koufonissi. But those who are keep high class. Most tourists content oneself with the short walk to Livadi beach, which is not only easiest to reach, it is also the island's best beach. The beach is long, it is rarely crowded, the sand is fine grained and it is shallow. Here is a taverna which is open during high season. The port beach is also a very nice beach.
Apart from everyday events, like when Express Skopelitis or a ferry docks, there are not so many attractions. Iraklia's only real sight is the "Cave Church" of Agios Ioannis, located just below Iraklia's highest mountain. To get to Agios Ioannis is not easy, but the hike is worth every drop of sweat. What makes this cave so special, apart from several stalactites, is that it also works as a church. Actually, it is two caves opposite each other.
As on all small islands, Iraklia also has a limited range of accommodations. If you travel here during the off-season, it is easy to find a place to stay, but during the summer you should definitely book in advance. The standard is surprisingly high for such a small island. There are no pensions in Chora, all pensions are in the port and above Livadi beach.
Livadi beach is the best beach in Iraklia.
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