Ikaria, or Icaria is a small Dodecanese island close to the island of Samos and just off the Turkish coast in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea. It gets its name from the son of Daedalus, Icarus, as it is said that when he flew too close to the sun and his wax wings melted, he fell into the Aegean close to this island.
Until now Ikaria has been off the tourist trail, although some have managed to visit the island and received a warm welcome. The islanders don’t need tourism as the soil is fertile, and they have their vineyards for making wine and their olive groves and farms. What more could they need?
Ikaria’s sandy beaches are located on the northern side of the island, but there are pebble beaches on the south side too. They are relatively unspoilt and uncrowded. However, go there soon, as that will probably change soon. The island was mentioned in the “Islands” magazine (June2012 edition) and has also had a write up by BBC News, as it seems that the islanders can live to a really ripe old age; even longer than other Europeans who stick to the healthy Mediterranean diet. They put their longevity down to their wine, olives and the granite rocks on the island. There are also thermal springs there as there are in Aedipsos on Evia.
Between May and October there are a number of festivals held around the island, one of which is the Raches festival where usually staid 90-somethings party the night away along with the younger islanders. It is a Dionysian (Bacchanal) festival and highly enjoyable, with food cooked in huge cauldrons in the church square.
The big festival (panygyria) in Greece is the feast of the Virgin Mary on 15th August. It is a national holiday and everyone celebrates – none more so than the fun-loving Ikarians.
There is now an airport on the island which has domestic flights from Athens airport all year round and there are also planes in summer from Crete. You can also fly from Turkey to Samos and get to Ikaria by ferry, a trip which takes around two and a half hours. You can also get to the island by ferry from Piraeus and the Cycladic islands of Mykonos, Naxos and Paros. The journey from the port of Piraeus (Athens) takes between seven and a half and nine hours, depending on the route and weather conditions. The ferry trip takes hours and is not direct. However you can island-hop on your way to Ikaria and have a relaxing journey, is time is not of the essence, as you tend to get beguiled by the different islands and their unique characters.
If you want to spend some time on a virtually unspoilt Greek island which is not difficult to get to, then Ikaria is the ideal one or you.
Kalo taxidi! (Have a good trip!)
- The island of long life (guardian.co.uk) 31st May 2013
- Knossos, Crete, Greece (lynnee8.wordpress.com)