Iraklia Greece holiday guide

irakliaIraklia is the largest and westernmost island of the Small Cyclades and has fanatical fans from all over Greece. It is said that her exclusive fans do not want to see tributes to the island, since they do not want this secret gem to become widely known.

If you are also in a state of searching for a new place that will offer you quiet and relaxing holidays that will help you eliminate the tension of the difficult winter that passed, all roads lead to Iraklia.

Here the concept of relaxation takes on a real meaning, as you will find just what you need for your vacation (beaches, accommodation, food) in both and all settlements of the island, while if you are in the mood for hiking, you can go around the whole island on foot within three hours!

You may be impressed by the name – even if you have never heard of it – but this is the next big thing of the Cyclades, which will soon become widely known and flooded with people. For now, this magical island is enjoyed by the few who know it and vote for it every year.

An island, two settlements, some picturesque accommodations, many enchanting beaches, natural scenery completely away from the urban environment and a few locals who enslave you with the authenticity of their soul and their wonderful hospitality.

In Chora and Panagia, the two settlements of the island, you will find picturesque taverns, bars, small cafes, a grocery store, an ATM and the regional doctor’s office. Nothing will distract you more than this picturesque island where blue and white are constantly alternating and Cycladic architecture dominates.

As soon as you arrive at the port of Ai-Gyorgis, you will immediately feel the need to leave behind the tension of the city and indulge in the simplicity of the island life.

Your daily life in Iraklia will include swimming on beaches with turquoise waters, views of the Aegean and the other islands of the small Cyclades, hiking in its wild, unadulterated nature and quiet summer evenings.

About Iraklia

The inhabitants of the island have as their main occupations animal husbandry and fishing, while the development of beekeeping is also favored due to the low, bushy vegetation.

In recent years, tourism has been added to these activities, as well as the improvement of docking and infrastructure.

In the summer, in fact, those ferry routes is more frequent and is carried out by conventional and high-speed boats of local or national lines.

Iraklia differs from the neighboring islands, as car traffic is almost non-existent, as a result of which the visitor can enjoy with even greater tranquility the traditional, architectural landscape with its spacious, white-painted houses, narrow cobbled streets and churches, which they are the focus of social life.

One can move on foot and approach the beaches or the Caves, climb to the top of Papa and admire the view of the neighboring islands and the Aegean, and enjoy nature without the intervention and encroachment of modern tourist development that in many cases it turns out to be harmful.

Iraklia has all the appropriate infrastructure, which can cover the basic needs of a traveler who chooses the island as an alternative vacation spot during the summer.

Noteworthy is the bay of Mericha, on the southern shores, which has an impressive relief with vertical, steep cliffs (150 m.) and a remarkable view, and is suitable for fishing. Finally, the festivals of Panagia (15/8) and Agios Georgios are important events for the locals and a point of attraction for visitors.


What to see

iraklia cave The most impressive sight of the island is the Cave of Agios Ioannis. Opposite the cave entrance is a large cave said to have been the home of the giant Polyphemus.

According to legend, he was blinded by the resourceful Odysseus to escape with his men. Iraklia is also famous for its paths. The path to Prophet Ilias, as well as the one from Ormos tou Mericha, leads to one of the highest points of the island, with a view that will remain unforgettable.

On the path that leads to the Castle above Livadi you can observe the ruins of a Hellenistic period castle as well as the ruins of the temples of Zeus and the Goddess of Fortune.

What are the best beaches in Iraklia?

iraklia-beachAll of them is the answer to that question, as every lacy shore calls for exploration. In Agios Georgios, the sandy beach you will find trees that will offer you shade and blue waters that will excite you.

Livadi is about 2 km from the port and is the largest beach of the island which overlooks Schinoussa. On the days when the meltemi winds make an appearance, you must go to the sheltered Turkopigado cove, with pebbles and clear turquoise waters.

The most famous beach of the island, Alimia, is only accessible by boat from the port. It is known for the seaplane that sunk there during World War II which is visible even from the surface of the sea.


In Iraklia you will find beaches with crystal clear, blue waters, some with sand and others with pebbles.

The port of Agios Georgios with its sandy beach is the closest solution, as is Livadi, with a long sandy beach and shallow waters, which makes it ideal for families with children.
From Livadi you have a view of Schinousa, but also of the opposite island, Venetiko.

Another well-known – and accessible by road – beach is Turkopigado, a long, narrow beach with pebbles, which you can also reach by foot. It will reward you with its pure beauty.

Vorini Spilia is a very quiet and beautiful beach located in the northern part of the island, quite close to Agios Georgios. It has a soft sandy beach while its waters are crystal clear and transparent, due to the northerly wind that blows non-stop.

Accessible by boat or boat are two of the most beautiful beaches of the island, Alimia and Karvounolakkos.

The first is sandy with blue-green waters and is considered ideal for diving, since a German seaplane that was shot down during the Second World War “hides” in its waters, while the second is a small beautiful beach with crystal clear waters.

Excursions by boat and speedboat take place daily to the beaches that are not accessible, but also to the beaches of neighboring islands, such as Schinoussa.

The villages of Iraklia

In Iraklia you don’t need to worry about where you will stay, since all the accommodations are concentrated around the port of Agios Georgios – the beach of which is the most easily accessible on the island -, but also near the beach of Livadi, on the way to Chora, which is the second closest to the port and easily accessible.

Chora, also called “Panagia”, is only 4 km from Agios Georgios and in it you will be transported to a setting taken from another era: very old houses, in the shape of small cubes, and an atmosphere where time – and life- flow at different rates. The view from Chora to the sea and the surrounding islands is unique.

The names of the settlements come from the churches of the same name that have been erected in them, especially that of Panagia, which is dedicated to Virgin Mary. Construction work began in 1919 until 1930 and was finally completed in the 1980s. In contrast, the church of Agios Georgios, in the settlement of the same name, is older, reportedly built in 1834 and renovated in 1987.

What to do

The Cave of Agios Ioannis, with rich and impressive stalactite decoration. It is one of the most important attractions of the island and the Aegean – and the largest of the Cyclades. There was also found the icon of Saint John the Forerunner, who gave the cave its name. Opposite the entrance of the cave is a smaller cave, named Cyclops Cave.

The Livadi Castle where there are the ruins of a Hellenistic period castle, as well as ruins of the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of the Goddess of Fortune, but also the settlement of Agios Athanasios which today is almost abandoned but presents an interesting landscape with Cycladic architecture .

The bay of Mericha, on the south-eastern side of the island, is surrounded by vertical rocks with a height of more than 100 m, in the opening of which birds find natural nests.

The view is breathtaking and you can enjoy it with a boat ride or take the path from Panagia that leads to the place Ftero Mericha and admire the vertical, steep rocks of the famous Ormos from above.

Where to stay

Although the island is small, it has accommodation options. Of course it’s a good idea not to book at the last minute, so you don’t face a problem with availability and prices.

One of the most famous accommodations is the Villa Zografos, 700 meters from Livadi beach. It has six nice and simple rooms with their own veranda overlooking the islet of Venetiko, the Castle, the beach and the rest of the Small Cyclades.

The Speires hotel, built amphitheatrically and offering a unique view of the Aegean from the settlement of Agios Georgios, has 8 spacious and fully equipped double and triple rooms as well as two suites with large terraces.

At a distance of 100 meters from the port, you will also find the Maistrali Seamen’s Club, with its simple, traditional and comfortable studios and rooms, which all have a view of the sea.

The Agnandema studio complex consists of 9 double and triple rooms, equipped with air conditioning, TV and refrigerator, all of which have large private terraces with panoramic views of the sunset, the sea and the village.

Local food and cuisine

Iraklia is a small place but very interesting in terms of food as well. On the island you will find excellent fish, fresh and affordable, but also amazing goat in nice recipes and variations.

In Iraklia there some good choises for tasteing the Greek food in the local taverns. In Maistrali for cooked food, in Aiolos for pizzas, pasta and the best goat on the island, gazing at the infinity of the Aegean as the sun sets, in the tavern Thalassa in Livadi for whatever your appetite desires and in the tavern Sto Syrma overlooking the small port of Heraklia for good meat and homemade creations.

Also, in Akathi and Perasma for crepes and waffles, in En Lefko for pancakes, while a stop in Melissa is mandatory. This is a Cycladic grocery store where you go in, get what you want and, of course, mingle with the rest of the island – if you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself in front of some island feast. For the evening hours, for a drink or a cocktail, at the Surfin Bird on the beach.

When to go

The best time to visit the island of Iraklia is the summer and especially July and August, the months when the island gets more visitors and is full of life. If, again, you prefer calmer situations, June and September are good choices. Its position, south of the mountainous mass of Naxos, protects it from the meltemias of the Aegean.

How to get around

It is very important to know in advance that there are no buses or taxis in Iraklia. There is only one bus that serves to transport visitors and locals from Agios Georgios to Panagia and to the beach of Turkopigados. In case you wish to rent a means of transport, the island operates the Rent a scooter-Iraklia, which rents mopeds.

How to get there

From Piraeus there is a ferry route to Iraklia three times a week and the journey takes about 6 hours. The island has two ports from which ships arrive and depart from Piraeus, Naxos and the surrounding islands, which are covered with daily routes (except Sunday) by the “Skopelitis”. The distance from Naxos by ferry is about one hour.

There are ferry routes to and from Piraeus (2-3 times a week), Naxos (daily), the rest of the Lesser Eastern Cyclades , Astypalaia and the Dodecanese increased the possibility of visiting the island.