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Ikaria in Greece
Ikaria belongs to - together with Chios, Fourni, Lesvos, Oinousses, Psara, Samos and Thymena - the Eastern Aegean islands. Lesvos is the largest island (1,636 km2, 90,000 inhabitants) and Thymena the smallest (10 km2, 120 inhabitants) in the group of island. Ikaria has about 8,400 permanent inhabitants spread over 255 km2.
The snorkeling paradise Seychelles in Ikaria.
The highest mountain measuring 1,037 metres above sea level. The capital is Agios Kirikos with its about 2,200 inhabitants. The nearest neighbouring island is Fourni just west of Samos. The majority of the islanders works in agriculture, animal husbandry (sheep and goats) and fishing. The tourist industry is of course also important, but not like it is on for an example Samos, and certainly not as on Mykonos west of Ikaria.
Ikaria's most popular tourist destination is Armenistis.
Ikaria is not like other islands. It could certainly be said of all the Greek islands, no island is ever the same, but Ikaria differ more than the other islands. It is an unruly and a little peculiar island that do not appeal to everyone. Many most likely think that it is a harsh and an inhospitable island at a first glance. But it is not, it just takes a little longer to get to know Ikaria, and once you've done it, you are stuck. If you belong to the right target group, of course.
If you like to hike in a beautiful unspoilt countryside, then you definitely belongs to the right target group. Few islands offers such nice hiking trails like Ikaria. Amorgos and Crete is perhaps the only islands that can be compared to Ikaria regarding hiking. Speaking of Crete, it is not entirely wrong to compare Ikaria to Crete, I am referring to the non touristy Crete that can be found outside the major tourist resorts in the north. If you have been in Crete and enjoyed the non touristy parts you will like Ikaria just as much. I myself usually address Ikaria as Crete light.
Ikaria is famous for its beautiful scenery. Like here in Nas.
But if I do not like to hike? Well, do you like to sunbathe and to swim at lovely sandy beaches, to eat good Greek food and to drink local wine in cosy tavernas, to go on day trips by car or scooter in an extremely exciting and scenic landscape, or maybe just to sit on the balcony reading a good book and perhaps glance at the sea that almost have no horizon, then Ikaria is something for you too. The only thing "missing" on Ikaria is shopping, and maybe it makes no matter to you.
Livadia beach is one of several beaches in Armenistis.
That there is no shopping is also a little typical for Ikaria. On many islands there are big supermarkets, there are even Lidl on some islands, for example on Samos. The islanders on Ikaria are not very keen on development, it is particularly noticeable when you come as a tourist. There are very few things that occur for our sake, and maybe that's why not many "common" tourists are travelling to Ikaria. One must so to say help oneself, if you know what I mean. However, Ikaria has many returning tourists, it is not unusual to meet people who just travel to Ikaria. Maybe also you become an enthusiast of Ikaria after you have visit the island.
I think that the reason why the development is slow on Ikaria is, partly because of the inhabitants - they do not want development, they think it's good as it is - partly on the island's history that is different from most other islands, as an example, the island was an independent state for five months in the early 1910s. A strong-willed population that wanted to be their own master. During the short period of self-government they managed to introduce their own currency, they produced their own flag and their own national anthem, they even had their own stamps.
Ikaria has unique sights, such as the monastery Theoktistis.
How are the inhabitants? One would think that they are reserved after reading the text above. But it is just the opposite, they are hospitable, sincere, warm, curious, and not at least friendly. Though it might take a while before you realize it. As said, Ikaria is not like other islands.
You can read more about Ikaria via the links at the end of this page. A very short summary of that information comes here:
Getting here is easy, even if it is not possible to go here on a package holiday. The easiest way is to go by air to Samos and travel on by ferry. The second best option is to fly to Athens and fly on by domestic flights to Ikaria. There is bus service. But a rental car is the best option since the distances are long and the small roads in the mountains are in bad condition. Car and scooter rental companies are available in the tourist resorts.
Ikaria has been honoured with many beautiful villages, most of them completely untouched by tourism. The two largest villages are Agios Kirikos and Evdilos, and the most popular tourist resort is Armenistis. Other villages are Christos Raches, Therma, Manganitis, Gialiskari and Karkinagri.
Ikaria has some very nice sandy beaches, mainly on the northwest side of the island, near Armenistis. My favourites are Livadia and Messakti close to Armenistis. If you want to swim at a really exotic beach you should go to the Seychelles (see picture on top). There are many more beaches, like Nas beach, Faros beach and Kambos beach.
The main attractions are the beautiful scenery and the dramatic and hiking friendly landscape. There are also several so-called anti-pirate houses, and a large number of nice churches and monasteries. And also it was here that Icarus plunged into the sea when he flew too close to the sun. Just such a thing.
There are hotels and pensions in the larger villages and in the tourist resorts. The difficulty is to decide where on the island to stay, because there is two ports and it is a large island. Personally, I prefer to stay in Armenistis.
READ MORE ABOUT IKARIA
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© 2007-2022 | Janni Eklund | Kalispera and Kalimera.