The island of Ikaria is part of the north-east Aegean groups that lies off the north-west coast of Turkey and just to the west of Samos. Although it takes domestic flights from Athens, most visitors arrive by ferry after flights to airports on Samos or Mykonos.
Regular ferries link Ikaria to the mainland port of Piraeus at Athens and other islands such as Syros, Mykonos and Samos while other ferry links are available from Thessaloniki and Turkey.
Ikaria is a long, thin and mountainous island with coast roads in the north and south linked by narrow, winding roads through the mountains. Bus services connect the main resorts, but most visitors rely on rented transport.
There are several well-marked walking trails on Ikaria and maps are available in local shops.
The small Ikaria Island National Airport (JIK) is located on the northern tip of Ikaria island, about 12 kilometres from the island capital of Agios Kirikos, and takes domestic flights from Athens.
As on Skiathos, the airport at Ikaria straddles the island from coast to coast. There are flights on four days a week in the summer with a flight time from Athens of about 40 minutes.
Ikaria is also a landing point on the Thessaloniki to Crete route run by Sky Express which flies four days a week and calls at Limnos. The company also operates a weekly flight from Lesvos.
Most visitors, however, fly to Samos International Airport (SMI) and catch a ferry to Ikaria. Samos Airport, officially called Aristarchos, is only three kilometres from the port at Pythagorion.
There are UK direct flights to Samos from London Gatwick and Manchester on Thursdays as well as daily domestic flights from Athens.
There are two ports on Ikaria, on the north coast at Evdilos and in the south at Agios Kirikos, both with daily ferry connections to the mainland and other Greek Islands.
Hellenic Seaways operates three sailings weekly between the mainland ports of Piraeus and Kavala. The ferryboat Nissos Mykonos calls at Syros, Mykonos, Ikaria (alternating between Evdilos and Agios Kirikos), Samos, Chios, Lesvos and Lemnos with a sailing time from Piraeus to Ikaria of about five and a half hours.
NEL Lines has three sailings weekly from both Evdilos and Agios Kirikos to Karlovassi on the north coast of Samos with the crossing from Evdilos just under three hours and only 80 minutes from Agios Kirikos. NEL Lines also has two sailings weekly from Evdilos to the port of Vathi at Samos Town.
NEL also operates one ferry a week to the island of Chios with a journey time of five hours; three sailings weekly to Fournoi with an 80-minute crossing and runs once a week to Lemnos with a journey time of more than 16 hours. It also has a once a week sailing to Lesbos that takes 8 hours 30 minutes. Also, NEL runs a ferry twice a week between the Ikaria ports of Evdilos and Agios Kirikos.
Further afield NEL has four sailings weekly from Piraeus with a journey time of more than 8 hours, sailing on to Kavala once a week.
A local ferry 'Panagia Theotokou' has sailings from Agios Kirikos to south coast resorts at Manganitis, Trapalos and Karkinagri. Times depend on the season, but local travel agents will have sailing times.
Ikarian water taxis called 'venzinas' also connect Agios Kirikos with Therma throughout the day and three times a week visit beaches at Faros, Manganitis and Karkinagri. The water taxis are available for day excursions and round island trips.
Thanks to the long central mountain range, Ikaria does not have many roads but what it has is in good repair. In the summer season, the scheduled daily bus services connect the main resorts of Agios Kirikos, Therma, Evdilos, Armenistis and Raches. Taxi stands are found in Agios Kirikos, Therma, Evdilos, Armenistis and at the airport at Faros while car rental is available in the main resorts.
Ikaria's bus timetables are geared more to locals than tourists so many leave early in the morning and return mid-afternoon. There is a bus to Evdilos that bus leaves Agios Kirikos at 8 am and returns at 2 pm calling at Karavostamo, Miliopo, Ploumari, Monokambi and Perdiki.
A daily bus also runs between Agios Kirikos and Rahes calling at Kerame, Evdilos, Kampos, Aviaki, Gialiskari and Armenistis and another service runs between Agios Kirykos and Plagia, calling in at Christos, Glaredo, Xylosyrtis and Chrysostomos.
Visitors may prefer to hire a car or motorbike to explore the island. Petrol stations are at Agios Kirikos, Ploumari, Miliopo, Evdilos, Avlaki and Christos Raches. Be warned that roads through the mountains can be nerve-racking to drive with many hairpin bends and sheer cliff drops.
Hikers usually head for the area around Rahes, inland from the island's single major beach resort of Armenistis. There are many good walking trails here, and the idiosyncratic village of Khristos Rahes and its neighbours are worth exploring on foot with the aid of a couple of local guidebooks – 'Round of Rahes on Foot' and the 'Road and Hiking Map of Western Ikaria', both available from island bookshops.
Holiday accommodation on Ikaria ranges from cheap domatia in the two main ports of Evdilos and Agia Kirikos to luxury complexes at the island's main beach resort of Armenistis.
The capital port at Agios Kirykos has several mid-range hotels and plenty of low price rooms to rent. The north coast port of Evdilos has less for the tourist, but there are a couple of decent hotels and several cheaper rooms to rent.
Quieter and cheaper accommodation is in the village of Kambos, three kilometres west of Evdilos, and in the hill village of Khristos Rahes. The coastal resort of Armenistis has lots of rooms to rent, several self-catering studios and some luxury apartments while Livadhi beach also has hotel accommodation.
There are no official campsites on Ikaria, but casual camping seems to go unremarked, especially around the beach at Nas to the west of Armenistis. Informal camping is illegal on Ikaria though, so don't assume you can get away with it.
Ikaria is part of the northern Aegean group and quite large at about 255 sq km with 160 kilometres of coastline and a population of around 8,300.
Mountainous, with forested slopes, the island is dominated by the Aetheras range which reaches 1,037 metres and separates the rugged south from the flatter north.
An abundance of slate is evident in the construction of terraced walls and the houses of the hillside villages. Hillside slopes are also covered extensively by trees and bushes to help keep Ikaria looking lush and green.
Climate of Ikaria
The climate of Ikaria is typically east-Mediterranean, with mild, wet winters and long, hot summers. Temperatures in July – August average 30°C with many days warmer than this.
In late July/August, the summer 'Meltemi' wind can blow from the north bringing rough seas and fresher sir. Although the coast is dry, mountain mist often keeps the peaks reasonably humid all summer through.
Winter winds from the south bring rain and sometimes winter snow in the hills, although this rarely lasts long.
|Size||255 sq km|
|Season||May – Oct|
|Time (GMT)||+2 hours|