Greek Wonderland: Ikaria- a...strange island

Article published on May 19, 2011
community published
Article published on May 19, 2011
by Rania Kalapoda IKARIA!! An island  of rare beauty which offers you the opportunity to live in a completely different pace from what you have already experienced in other islands. Ikaria is located in the northeastern Aegean Sea and belongs to the Prefecture of Samos. The capital of the island is Agios Kirikos.

The island which is mountainous for the most part, is crossed by mountain Athera. Most of the villages are in a mountainous location, when people were trying to be sheltered due to the danger of pirates. Ikaria is covered by lush vegetation and pine forests because of the abundance of water. The slopes are at odds with their bare cliffs, and this is what makes it so special.

You can reach the island by the sea, especially during the summer months. A ferry boat  will take you to one of the two ports of the island, Evdilos or Agios Kirikos. Even if you find yourslelf in one of the neighboring islands and you want to visit Ikaria you will have to use hydrofoils and small vessels operating short routes. Also, it is possible to travel by air since Ikaria has an airport in the Faros region, an area quite distant from the center of the island.

It is more prudent to visit Ikaria if you intend to have your own means of transport, since the roads are pretty tough. The bus route is very rare and taxis are few and are usually not readily available. The locals and summer tourists tend to make ''autostop'' in passing cars.

The Ikarians have retained the archaic language and customs. They are known for the close ties they have with each other, but mainly for their tendency not to take things too seriously! Life for Ikarians flows slowly, something they will tell themselves if you visit the island. You must keep up with their program to make your walk to shops or to eat since their opening hours cannot be characterized as..stable!!  On the other hand you will face great hospitality since people are very social, friendly and willing. Do not be surprised if they even offer to accommodate you in their own home!

Agios Kirikos is located in the south of the island and can offer you a pleasant stay. You will see aristocratic mansions and impressive neoclassical building and you will have the opportunity to walk through the cobbled streets of the Old Town. You can also visit the Archaeological and Folklore Museum of the City. 

Therma village is famous for its spas and hosts thousands of tourists every year. There are many hotels and apartments which will offer you a pleasant stay. Gialiskari village is located on the northwest side. This is a seaside resort where you will find rooms for rent in a quiet and beautiful environment. Around the village there are sceneric locations, lush vegetation and stunning beaches. In the same area, near the beach Mesachti you will also find traditional small little rooms for the night. 

Another village which in recent years has become an excellent tourist resort is Armenistis. This village is full of hotels and rooms to rent. It has many restaurants and souvenir shops where you can make smart purchases. The village Evdilos is built in the northern part of the island and is the second port. The picturesque harbor and the mansions along the narrow streets make it an interesting architectural destination. Perhaps it is the most traditional village. Finally, for anyone who wants a free camping you simply have to visit the beach of Na, in the Raches municipality, which every summer is filled with fans of camping. The island is usually an alternative tourist attraction, and locals tend to call them ''gkrouvalous''.

Ikaria offers beautiful sandy beaches and many of the dominant element of stone and pebbles that will cause you in awe. You have the opportunity to enjoy swimming in the crystal waters of Icarus Sea, under the sun of Ikaria. And do not forget your attention to the beaches should be increased since it is open sea where the currents pass through and not protected from the sea beaches.

  The beaches where you can access by car or bike are the following: Fitema, a pebbly beach that is not regulated but its water sports facilities will raise your adrenaline!. The Armenistis beach suits to those who want to see the village and those staying in the nearby hotels. It is easily accessible, it has sand and pebbles and is organized. In the same area you will find the Livadi Beach which is also organised. A beach popular among young people is Tsoukalas. It has a bar and the attraction is the café-bar «Wha Wha», which is full of youth. 

A favorite destination for many is the beach at Gialiskari with its rich sand. In the same area is ​​the beach of  Mesachti. This is the most popular beach and its huge waves makes it a must for water sports. Consequently young people love this beach. In this beach there is always a lifeguard who will advise you on that you may need. The beach of Therma is a must-see for those who visit the island for its spas.  Faros beach  offers water sports and while it is the biggest beach of the Agios Kirikos region. A small and quiet beach is in the same area with the name Kerame.

  For those seeking more adventure and more secluded beaches: the beach of Na in the  Raches region, which can only be accessed by stairs. On the beach nudity is allowed people who do free camping tend to swim at this beach. The beach attracts mainly alternative tourism, one could say not the most particularly suitable for families. One hardly accessible beach but favorite destination for many is the Prioni beach. Finally, the Seychelles in the region Maganitis can be accessed through a path. The beach attracts mostly young people who tend to organize beach parties!

   Good Luck we can say endowed Ikaria due invaluable wealth of spas. In various parts of the island springs 8 sources that you can see and feel the beneficial properties. At Therma, near of Agios Kirikos you will find spas that both will help you.

Ikaria has a wealth of production in livestock and agricultural products will have the opportunity to taste and should not forget to drink your wine Pramneio. This is their traditional red wine, which always accompany their meal. The most popular and tasty meat on the island is that of Raskos, wild goats living on the island while kathoura is the traditional cheese of Ikaria is made exclusively from local goat's milk. There is a big production of vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, beans, peas, peppers, etc., with which they make the best-known eating vegetable stew, called Sufiko. Moreover, there is a wide variety of fish is always fresh and the fishermen haul earn every day. Indeed there are two fish that residents call the Pantelis and Michael. Do not hesitate to order them, is a speciality of the island. Honey Ikaria has a dominant position in the local cuisine as well as nuts, residents and tourists love them very much. In restaurants you visit will have to try local delicacies such as smoked herring and anchovy fillet grilled with onions, peppers and tomatoes. We close the meal with sweet rose.

The Kastanias tavern in the Armenistis area will offer you fresh fish, but you must go several hours earlier to check the fresh fish and choose those you want to be cooked for you! In Gialiskari you will find traditional tavernas and pastry with lovely donuts. Also in Evdilos you will find small taverns with Greek food and the patisserie- restaurant, Kimata. In the Fytema village you must visit the Popi's tavern so to taste homemade food in a beautiful scenic courtyard decorated with the few tables. Finally, in Faros there is a variety of taverns and will need to think early to go pick your fish.

  Ikaria has many beautiful worth seeing sights. Initially, you can make a journey to the welcoming traditional villages, and you can continue your walk in the Halaris hill, following paths that lead to breathtaking natural beauty. To the west of the island is the forest of Randi one of the rarest typical Mediterranean prehistoric forests. A notable tourist attraction is a large mountainous rock in a steep slope, which residents call "George Papandreou'' and its shape looks alike the profile of the" old man of the Republic." You can even visit Oinoi, the ancient capital of the island where there are traces of the city walls. Finally, don't miss to visit the Theoktisti monastery. There you will find a café to rest and enjoy a traditional Greek coffee. Enjoy the sunset from the ancient ruins of Na or from the ancient castle in Drakano. The colors will amaze you!

  An integral part of life in Ikaria is the festivities, which run almost daily. We must not forget to find yourself in one of the famous festivals where Pramneio wine (described by Homer!)  and dance the famous “ikariotikos” dance. The organizers which are all volunteers of the village, cook traditional dishes such as boiled meat, roast goat, potatoes and salads. The food is served and the orchestra is ready. The festivals of  Ikaria is famous for their uniqueness. The best known is Agia Marina, the day of liberation of the island, and of course the 15th of August. Cast of the festival are people of all ages.

  The main fun of the island are its local festivals, where young and old people together have fun until the morning. There is not a variety of bars or clubs. The village of Xristos in the Raches region has a lot of youth and there are some nightclubs and shops open to go shopping. But it really has more value to attend the festivities will be a different type of entertainment you will not surely forget.

  As you may understand Ikaria is an island quite different from the rest. The residents want to preserve the natural beauty and the value of their island and this is why we observe that there is not a major concern to develop the tourist attractions But these are differences that make it so special and make it an island which anyone have to visit.