Icaria or Ikaria is an island in Greece that lies in the North East of Aegean Sea between Samos, which is 10 nautical miles to the North West and Mykonos, which is 26 miles to the East. Being listed as one of the ‘Blue Zone’ among the 5 in the whole wide world, Ikaria is known for long-livers! Blue Zones are the places where people are speculated to live longer than average. Ikarians credit the reasons to their own culture, food, outlook and strong family oriented living.
Their Mediterranean diet is a major acumen. Dubbed as ‘the place where people forget to die’, Ikaria is 56 miles south of Chios and 143 miles from Piraeus harbor. This remote island in Greece is 683 km from Santorini. It is one of the bigger islands of the North Eastern Aegean; its coastline spans 102 miles (160 km) and the whole island covers 255 square miles (660 square km). It has an elongated shape with a perimeter of 50 miles.
This hidden gem stretches from North to South East and is almost entirely covered by the mountain range of Atheras (ancient Pramnos), with its highest peak being Melissa (1040 meters). The whole length of the mountain ridge takes form as an overturned ship to the eyes of the onlooker.
Named in honor of the mythological Hero, Icarus, the son of Daedalus, a skilled inventor who created wings made of wax to escape King Minos of Crete. Icarus flew too close to the sun and his wings melted. Legend has it that Icarus fell into the sea near this island. This remote island displays strong affiliations with history, literature and culture. Ikaria is an exact destination for wild tourists who love to trek while enjoying the magic of nature.
Saving itself from the modern tourism whip, Ikaria is the best holiday vacation to relieve your stress and surround yourself with the enchanting aura it has to offer. The population is almost entirely free of Dementia and has very low rates of chronic disease. Many of Ikaria’s herb, plants and its honey are thought to have healing powers.
Ikaria also embraces Dionysus – the god of wine, ecstasy, dancing and sensual pleasures. The red wine of Ikaria is world famous among the several herbal beverages and a special mountain tea. No wonder turning 100 is common for these folks!
Aigios Kirios with a population of 3,511 as the capital of Ikaria, stands charmingly tall with the statue of Skepsi (thinking woman), the altar of the flame for the Aerathletic international IKARIADA Games and the Lefkada Annunciation medieval monastery. Ikaria is also known for its traditional village festivals. Especially the ‘Panagiria’, a celebration of the saint name days. Ikarian Panagiria (Saints’ Day Feasts)
“Icarus Festival for the Dialogue between Cultures” at various locations around the island during the summer. Music Festival of Youth of Agios Kirikos in August at various locations around the island.
Annual Ikaros International Chess Tournament; Annual Summer Beach Volley Tournament in August at Messakti Beach; Enduro Off-Road and Trail Motorcycle Competitions in Pezi ; Annual Summer 5k and 10k Running Races “Panikarioi” Youth Athletic Games at Evdilos.
Greece and Ikaria are best to visit (GMT+2) during the winter months of October – March and (GMT +3) during the summer months of March – October.
As it lies between Mykonos and Samos, Ikaria has common attributes with the Cyclades, as well with the islands of the East Aegean. It also has some unique characteristics. Ikaria along with Fournoi islands have been incorporated in the EU’s Natura 2000 network for the preservation of natural environments, due to its great bio-habitats diversity.
Ikaria’s unique geological and tectonic structure has bestowed it with geothermal springs. The natural heat from the Earth’s interior gives the island a precious treasure: Hot springs. These thermal hot springs are known for healing any ailments.
That has made Ikaria a major therapeutic and thermoplastic tourist destination in recent years. It attracts many people from Greece, elsewhere in Europe and other countries to its famous hot springs for healing and rejuvenation vacations.
How to reach
By plane, with daily flights from Athens. You can also get there by ferry from the port of Piraeus, in Athens and also from other islands of the Aegean.
Public services and banks in Ikaria are generally open from 07:30 or 08:00 to 14:00 or 14:30. Businesses generally operate Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 9:00 or 10:00 to 15:30 and Tuesday-Thursday – Friday from 09:00 or 10:00 to 14:00 and again in the evening from 17:30 to 21:00.
It’s Been Around For A While!
Ikaria has been inhibited for over 3000 years now. Tourists are received very heartily by Ikarians, as they believe in strong human connections. In fact, the Center for Greek Language Course works in Ikaria to get foreigners in contact with the Greek spirit. Ikaria offers an immense range of knowledge and spirituality for the seeking tourists.
Speaking about the Temple of Artemis in Nas on the Northwest coast of the island. Ikaria is also well known for its unique style of houses. Sloping to a point at the top and extending around the perimeter while spread across the mountains, giving an incredible look at its coastline and the legendary sunset.
Loosely, as only they know, since time in the island never stops, as it never started counting. All of the above are exceptional reasons to fall in love with Ikaria. We will not reveal to you the secret to longevity but Ikarians themselves will show it to you.