Built between the 16th and 17th century on a verdant hillside, the island’s capital stands out for its picturesque cobbled streets with flower-filled balconies, beautiful neoclassical houses, and traditional architecture. Known by the locals as plain Agios, it is one of two ports on Ikaria, its entrance dominated by a metal sculpture of the mythical Icarus. Be sure to visit the new Archaeological and Folklore Museum.
According to mythology, the spot where Icarus fell into the stormy waters of the Aegean is marked by a slab of granite in the sea near the villages of Vaoni and Chrysostomo.
Built of massive white marble bricks on a 50-metre-high rock in the area of Faros, this round three-storey tower is the most important monument remaining from the ancient city that once stood here. The construction of this impressive piece of architecture dates back to Alexandrian times. The tower has fantastic views of the neighbouring islands of Fourni and Samos.
The magnificent gorge of the river Halaris descends from the mountains to the sea, forming an outstanding natural landscape with rich plant and animal life, ponds, beautiful waterfalls and a stone bridge. The best way to explore it is by following the path that connects the mountain village of Christos Rachon with Nas beach.
One of the most exotic beaches in the Aegean is situated on the south side of the island, near the village of Magganitis. The aquamarine sea and white sand, as well as the imposing granite rocks that surround it and hidden underwater caves, create a natural attraction of picture-postcard beauty.
Also known as the Castle of Nikaria, this impressive Byzantine fortress was built in the 10th century to protect the island against pirate raids. Standing on the hill of Kefala, in the village of Kossikia, it was believed to be impregnable until it fell to the Genoese. From the ramparts, there are stunning views of northern Ikaria and the sea beyond.
Built in a dense forest on the north side of the island, this gorgeous mountain settlement famously operates on “Ikarian time”, so the shops open at night and don’t close until morning. All roads lead to the paved central square, which is the social and commercial heart of the village.
If you choose one of the itineraries to Ikaria, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Randi Forest, an ecosystem of great historical and botanical value. “Gaia”, as it is known, is located in central Ikaria and has been there for more than 200 years, making it the oldest forest in the Balkans. Its greatest treasure is a rare five-million-year-old species of oak tree called the Aria, which is native to Ikaria.
This impressive chapel near the historic Monastery of Saint Theoktisti in the village of Pigi is formed from a cave and has a rock for a roof. Inside is an intricately carved wooden icon screen dating from 1894.
The Village Festivals
Inseparable from the Ikarian identity, the island’s village festivals stand out for their combination of ritual and revelry. The “Ikariotiko”, one of the most iconic of Greece’s traditional island dances, always takes centre stage at these events.