Just when I thought there was no respite from the crowds in Greece, you come across a little gem that you can’t believe hasn’t been discovered by the masses yet. That little gem is Ikaria. Though I do hope it won’t be overrun with tourists when I come back, because I will be back one day. Ikaria has received a lot of attention in recent years from studies investigating the lifespan of it’s inhabitants. The largely agrarian Ikarian diet is widely recognized as the leading factor into why people here live well into their late 90s. A diet based on largely plants, and organic meat. The motto here as I’ve said in my previous posts is, if they don’t grow (or rear) it, they don’t eat it. I have definitely learned a lot from my time here and will keep sharing those recipes with you all. But in the meantime, back to my guide to Ikaria.
Getting to Ikaria
There are two main points from which to ferry here. You can catch a ferry to Ikaria from either Piraeus (Athens), an 11 hour journey. Or you can come via other islands such as Mykonos, Naxos or Paros. Be sure to check the schedule in advance at the port, as the departures are not always regular. Check out the website here for some of your options.
Where to Stay
There aren’t a ton of options when visiting Ikaria, but there are some great affordable places to stay.
Erofili Beach Hotel This is probably the most popular hotel on the island. The value is great and the amenities are wonderful. Most units overlook the sea. All the rooms are clean and modern and have high speed wifi. The pool here is also large and relaxing if the sea isn’t your thing. Prices start at €55 (in shoulder season) and breakfast is included and delicious.
Things to Do
There is no shortage of things to do on Ikaria and if you’re a nature lover you’ll feel right at home
Visit Seychelles Beach
This is the main beach in Ikaria and is quite simply one of the most stunning beaches you’ll see anywhere. It’s like visiting the Seychelles in the Indian ocean, without the long flight. The water is just that blue. The beach may be covered in bright white pebbles but it’s still one of the most stunning beaches in Greece.
Check out one of the Mineral Spas and Hot Springs
Another reason why Ikarians live so long is the abundance of natural mineral spas and hot springs dotted around the island. These are one of the most “radioactive” springs in the world as temperatures range from 31C to 58C. Don’t be turned off by the term, it’s merely a unit of measure here. These springs are highly curative and people travel near and far to bathe in these waters. There are many springs to choose from but most are located on the southern and northern coasts. They are:
- Agios Kyrikos: Springs Mustafa – Litza (Asclepius), Lower Loumakia and Kleftolimano.
- Therma: Cave, spring Pamfyli, Kratsa, Apollon, Artemis, Patero, Apollo Hotel, Chalasmenwn Thermwn.
- Lefkada – Xylosyrti: Springs Chlio-Thermo, Thermo and ‘Athanato nero’(=Immortal Water).
- Springs of Agia Kyriaki – Armyridas.
Hike up to Theoktistis Monastery
The monastery of Theoktistis is located up high in the mountains near the village of Pygi. On the hike up you’ll pass by ancient stone houses and churches. Not to mention the scenery on the hike is spectacular
Where to Eat
I struggle to even make a “Where to Eat” section as this is basically an activity in itself. You can’t go wrong anywhere here, and you can’t walk more than a few minutes without smelling something delicious and want to stop. Here were some of my standouts though
Marymary Restaurant This is the best restaurant on the island without question. It is so good, it’s deserving of a Michelin star or two. The prices are more than reasonable for the quality of food you’re getting here. Order anything or grab a few people and try everything.
Anna’s Fish Taverna When you see the sea outside the restaurant you better know you’re getting the freshest fish possible (at least here you are). They cook the fish right on hot coals. This is fresh and shellfish is grilled perfection. Try it as is or splurge on the lobster pasta. The prices are moderate but you’re getting the best quality so if you’re going to splurge it’s well worth it here.
Sta Perix Another restaurant stressing fresh grown produce. Try the mezze selection here and don’t leave without trying the feta in phyllo!
When to Go
There is no wrong time to visit Ikaria. Obviously it’s nicer to go in the warmer weather of May through October, but there really isn’t a high or low season here and it’s not crowded at all
I hope this guide inspires to you visit this amazing island. If you’ve been here or are thinking about it drop me a line in the comments! Happy Travels