Icaria is probably one of the most beautiful Greek islands. It is very
mountainous and and at some points quite inaccessible, with lovely,
green valleys, wild falcons and some amazing beaches.
Although not a very touristy island, you can get basically everything here: water sports, nightlife, shops and car rentals. The people on the island live off fishing and farming, and many work on boats or are involved in tourism. The Icarian wine has been produced and praised since antiquity.
The island is often called the red island since the majority of its people belong to the left. The island was used as a place of exile for the communists after the end of the Second World War and this explains the political position of the people of Ikaria. In the island was exiled the famous Greek writer Menelaos Lountemis . The isolation and poverty have forced many of Ikaria's inhabitants to immigrate, mainly in the US of America.
: This is where Icaros fell
and was buried, according to mythology, after flying too close to the
sun when escaping from Crete with his father Daedalus. Since then the
island was named after his name Icaria and the sea around it the Icarion
Sea that it be sometimes very stormy and often islanders when traveling
from Piraeus to the Dodecanese are aware that in the area, they will
certainly find some rough sea. All ships that go to the Dodecanese need
approximately 2-3 hours to cross the straits from Mykonos, to Ikaria and
In general, names in Greece beginning with an "I" have a "pre-Greek" past with some Pelasgian tribe as its first inhabitants.
The Ionians came here from Asia Minor in the 9th century BC, and in the 5th century it was part in fighting the Persians during the Persian Wars.|
The Romans conquered most of Greece in the 2nd century BC, and after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the island belonged to the Byzantine empire. Just like in the rest of the Greek archipelago, it was constantly attacked by pirates, and in the 13th century the Venetians took over.
The Turks ruled Icaria from the beginning of the 16th century, and by this time, all the islanders had moved to the mountains to protect themselves from the pirates and the Turks.
Icaria revolted against the turks in 1912 and was with Greece later this year.
What to see
In general, Icaria is an island worth exploring, since it has some really
nice little villages and beaches.
In Ag Kirikos there is an archaeological museum.
Therma is a health resort with radioactive hot wells, that many visit to be cured from various conditions, for example rheumatism or childlessness. It can get quite busy here, since many Greeks from all over travel to Chios solely for the baths.
The monastery Evaggelistrias is active, and open to visitors. Just make sure you are dressed appropriately: covered shoulders and long skirts for women, long trousers for men.
In Kambos there is an archaeological museum with various artifacts from the excavations in the area. Here the ancient capital used to be. It was called Oinoe ("Wine") since the wineproduction was important here.
There is also an old monastery here called Theoctistis ("God-built").
In Nas you can see the ancient ruins from a temple dedicated to Artemis.
What to do
:There are water sports on the island, and the snorkelling is also very good. Enjoy the hot bats in Therma and make excursions in the breathtaking nature. Bring a pair of binoculars if you are interested in birds.
:There are many nice, sandy beaches on the island. You can find quite a few totally isolate ones, but there are also more accessible beaches like Armenistis, Kambos and Evdilos.
: Icaria is no party island, but you can find a few nice places in Agios Kirikos and Armenisti. August can get very busy, and the nightlife really livens up: there is even a disco in Armenisti!
Food:Most taverns are in Agios Kirikos and Armenisti, and if you get tired of traditional Greek food there are also a few Italian places. Try the local wine - it has been produced since ancient years and is very good.
:You'll find many shops on the island where they sell everything from clothes and shoes to souvenirs and traditional handicrafts. The wine of Icaria a very good souvenir or present.
: There is a local bus that connects many villages, but during low season you'll have to get a taxi from the capital to Armenistis. There are also a few car rentals, and there are boats that can take you from Agios Kirikos to Therma and some beaches.
There are several flights a week between Athens and Icaria, but the island is also connected through ferryboats or hydrofoils to Samos, Patmos, Kos, Kalymnos and Naxos, as well as Pireus on the mainland.
Facts about Icaria
IkariaSize: 260 sq km
International code: 0030
Population: c.10 000
Local code: 22750
Internet cafe: Yes
Port Police: 22207
Tourist Information: 22346, 23322
Highest Mountain: Melissa, 1033m.