Overview of Ikaria
Lately Ikaria became worldwide famous as the Greek island “where people forget to die”, according to the New York Times. It is true: in Ikaria people live for a long time – and most importantly, they live well. The reasons are many and they involve a unique life mentality, as well as just about everything you will encounter on the island named after the mythical Icarus.
Mountainous and wild, yet fertile, Ikaria challenges you to hike its network of well-marked paths that reveals many natural beauties: Forests (such as the forest of Radi, the oldest in the Balkans), running waters, thermal springs, canyons (Halaris is the most famous one) and beautiful beaches. Meanwhile, Ikaria’s famed “panigiria” (Dionysian-type summer feasts) in combination with the inhabitants’ outgoing character and slow, stress-free lifestyle guarantee an unforgettable Greek island experience. The capital and port of Agios Kirikos, with its captain houses, neoclassical buildings and flowered balconies, is a good base to explore the southeast beaches, nearby inland villages and hot springs (Therma and Therma Lefkadas).
At the north, the traditional settlement of Evdilos is the island’s second port, offering many facilities. The neighboring village of Armenistis is a popular, moderately developed tourist resort, close to the mountainous region of Rahes, which is comprised by a number of hamlets. Among them, Hristos is the most well-known because of its lush greenery, interesting architecture, the lively central square-meeting point and the traditional habit of opening the village’s shops from late afternoon until early in the morning. Time is indeed relevant in Ikaria, the most laid-back and free-spirited of all the Greek islands. Mediterranean nutrition, walking, socializing, a siesta, the local red wine and optimism are the secrets of longevity. As the locals would simply tell you: “Enjoy life” – that’s why, after all, Ikaria is alive and kicking.
: An exotic pebbly beach with amazing aquamarine waters, surrounded by vertical cliffs. In order to reach it, you have to walk for 15 minutes down a steep path. It’s better to arrive here as early as possible, because it gets crowded. Moreover, bring your own supplies. : Among the most well-known beaches of all the Greek islands, it is located in beautiful scenery, at the mouth of river Halaris that crosses the sandy seashore and empties into the sea. It is nudists’ favorite and not organized. In the area there are taverns where you can enjoy your meal with a view (especially in sunset) or check out the remains of the nearby temple of Artemis Tavropolion. : Together with the successive beach of Mesakti, they are among the most popular ones in Ikaria, situated at the settlement of Armenistis. Livadi beach is sandy, partly organized, with lovely waters (ideal for swimming and windsurfing) and also a small lake at the background. : Pebbles, limited facilities and a peaceful atmosphere are the main features of this beach, found at the homonymous village. : A long, sandy beach with crystalline waters located at the settlement of the same name, close to Agios Kirikos. It offers many amenities.
: Nas, Greek cuisine, Sea food. : Armenistis, Greek cuisine. : Gialiskari, Greek cuisine.
: Armenistis, Greek cuisine.
: Ikaria’s panigiria are the most famous among all the Greek islands. They are feasts of saints that take place from early afternoon till the next morning in the island’s villages. They are accompanied by plenty of traditional food and wine, and of course non-stop dancing (the famed ikariotikos dance). All you have to do is join the crowd and become part of the island’s culture. : A daily excursion to Fourni, Ikaria’s neighboring island complex, is highly recommended, as it is by far one of the most unspoiled Greek islands. A former pirates’ refuge, with pristine beaches, a few amenities and tranquil atmosphere, Fourni is actually comprised by three main islets (Fourni, Thymena, Agios Minas) and ten smaller. : In Drakano, located at the area of Fanari (the ancient homeland of god Dionysos), you can see the ruins of a castle and the Hellenistic tower of Drakano. In the village of Glaredo lay the remains of a Neolithic era settlement, while at the hill of Agia Irini there are relics of a roman odeion, with important findings. The remains of the island’s ancient capital Oinoe can be found at the area of Kambos village. : From Agios Kirikos you can explore the villages of Fytema, Mavrato, Monokambi, Panagia, Vaoniand Manganitis. From Evdilos, the coastal settlements of Karavostamo, Gialiskari and the isolated picturesque fishing port of Karkinagri, as well as the inland Agios Dimitrios, Agios Polykarpos, Kastanies, Karydies, Maratho, Frandato and Langada. : “Ikaria Eleftheria” is a local festival that takes place on July 17th to celebrate the Ikarian revolution against the Turks. For a few months in 1912 the island was declared “Free State of Ikaria” and had its own currency, national anthem and flag. Afterwards, it was reunited with the rest of liberated Greece. Ikaria is also known as the “red island”, as it used to be a place of exile for communists during the Greek civil war (1946-49) and later on during dictatorship (1967-74) - the communist party is still popular on the island. : Two of the most worth visiting on Ikaria are the Monastery of Theoktisti (it’s near Kambos village and features the chapel of Theoskepasti with beautiful frescoes) and also the 13th c Monastery of Evangelistria / Mounte – it’s near the village of Hristos and offers superb views. : Try the island’s high quality honey, as well as soufiko (a specialty made with tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and potatoes cooked with herbs), raska (wild goat meat), kathoura cheese, “pramnios oinos” (the famous local wine) and biskotopita (desert made with biscuits and cream).
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