Ikaria in the Greek Islands makes a superb choice for a holiday destination for the discerning tourist, who is looking for something a little bit different in their Greek holiday resort. There is a rugged grandeur to its landscape being very mountainous with lush green valleys where and some very good beaches.
It is not as commercialised as other islands such as Mykonos, Ios, or Kos. Even so, it does have enough resources necessary for a good modern holiday resort. There are enough water sports, nightlife and good shops to keep visitors happy and car hire is available for those who like to drive and explore.
Ikaria is named after Icarus who flew too near the sun with wings held together with wax and fell from the sky and died on the island when the wax melted. The sea around the island is called the Icarion Sea for this reason and it can be quite rough at times.
Ikaria is thought to been inhabited by Ioanians around the ninth century BC and was conquered by the Romans in the fifth century B. It was taken over by the Byzantine empire, and in the thirteenth century the Venetians took control of it. The Turks took over the island from the sixteenth century and the islanders sought sanctuary in the mountains against them and marauding pirates.
It is well worth getting out and about and exploring the island and visiting the traditional villages and discovering some really nice out of the way beaches.
Ayios Kirykos is the capital and main port of the island and has an easy going, unhurried, feel to it. It is renowned for its thermal springs which are said to be a cure-all for many ailments especially rheumatism, arthritis muscular aches and pains and female infertility.
There are a number of traditional tavernas, ouzeris, caf’s and restaurants for eating out or relaxing with a drink. As you would expect with an island the fish is always very good and reasonably priced and usually served Greek style with salad, or local vegetables. There are also restaurants that serve more international cuisine so the visitor is sure to find something to suit their taste and budget.
Another health spa is Therma which has hot wells that are also renowned for helping those with muscular and infertility problems. Many Greeks from the mainland and other islands visit purely for the spa.
There are a few places to visit on the island and the monastery Evaggelistrias offers an interesting afternoon but ensure you are dressed in a befitting way. Women and girls should have their shoulders covered and wear long skirts and men and boys should wear long trousers.
There is an archaeological museum in Kambos exhibiting artefacts found locally.
Kambos was the ancient capital and used to be known as Oine, which means wine and was an important wine producing region.
Ikaria is for those tourists who want to get away from it all. There are some marvellous mountain walks and hikers will enjoy exploring the region known as Rahes and the town or Khristos Rahes which is distinctive in character and nearby villages. Walking guides are available from bookshops and tourist offices.
The beaches of Armenistis, Kambos and Evdilos are sandy and accessible though there are more isolated ones if want to get away from it all.
Nightlife on Ikaria is more subdued and spent in a more traditional manner. Agios Kirikos and Armenistis August are the liveliest resorts at night and Armenistis boasts a disco. Tourists usually spend evenings eating out in the local tavernas and restaurants and relaxing with a drink and the local wine very good. Agios Kirikos and Armenistis have the most tavernas and there is a good choice of menu from traditional Greek fare to Italian and international dishes.
There are buses that serve the villages in the tourist season and taxis are available. There is also car hire and there are boats from Agios Kirikos to Therma, or on to some beaches.
From the mainland the island can be reached by ferry boats and hydrofoils connecting through Piraeus, and some of the other islands such as, Patmos Naxos, Kos, Kalymnos and Samos. From Athens there are several flights a week to Ikaria.
Where To Stay
Ikaria offers accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. There are good hotels, rooms, apartments, and pensions that can be rented in most towns and villages on the island. There are also well equipped camping sites.
Ikaria Will Not Disappoint!
For those tourists looking for somewhere off the beaten track that does offer an authentic taste of the traditional Greek way of life, then Ikaria will not disappoint. Despite, or perhaps because of it being less commercialised than other Greek Islands, Ikaria does have a certain charm and appeal that brings visitors back year after year.
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