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Iraklia:
A Tiny Island With an Unspoiled Natural Beauty

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Discover Iraklia

Miniscule Iraklia is the westernmost of the Small Eastern Cyclades, and is so tiny that it is possible to walk around it in just three hours.  

 

For lovers of unspoiled natural beauty and the secret treasures of an unexplored destination, it is an inexhaustible source of inspiration and excitement that seems to come from another era. With an idyllic crenelated coastline, exotic seas, and gorgeous hiking trails with views of the Aegean, the island radiates a special charm, while retaining an authentic way of life that cherishes the simplicity of the past and is most apparent in the hospitality of the local people.

Iraklia is an ideal alternative holiday destination for nature lovers, groups of friends, and romantic couples looking for a place of rest and revitalisation.

3 memorable experiences on Iraklia
  1. Enjoying the panoramic view from the small church of the Prophet Elijah at the top of the 420-metre-high Mount Papas, which takes in Iraklia’s crenelated coastline and the surrounding islands.
  2. If you choose one of the itineraries to Iraklia, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the ruined settlement of Saint Athanasius and appreciate its stone architecture.
  3. A day trip to the rocky Avelonisia islets and the tiny island of Venetiko, to swim in their exotic waters. According to legend, they were originally rocks hurled at Odysseus by the Cyclops from his cave (opposite the Cave of John the Baptist).
Beaches of Iraklia

Most of the island’s beaches are unofficial, offering peace and relaxation, and can easily be reached on foot. It is worth discovering:

  • Livadi, Iraklia’s largest beach, a paradise of golden sand with tamarisk trees and shallow turquoise waters, which also has views of the islet of Venetiko and the island of Schinoussa. It is a good choice for families with small children, thanks to the short distance from the port (it is just a 20-minute walk) and the shallowness of the sea.
  • The beautiful cove of Turkopigado with its white pebbles and blue-green waters. The windless coast is reminiscent of a fjord and is ideal for anyone seeking quiet and seclusion. It is easily accessible by road or on foot via a 2.3-km trail from Panagia.
  • Saint George, next to the port of the same name, a long sandy beach with crystal-clear turquoise waters, tamarisk trees for natural shade, and several options for food. It is a stone’s throw from the town.
  • The pebbled Vourkaria, with transparent green waters, which is 90 minutes on foot from the town (via the path that leads to the Cave of John the Baptist). A dip in the cool sea is a uniquely revitalising experience that produces a sense of well-being.
  • Karvounolakos, a small beach between Merichas Bay and Alimia Bay, which makes an immediate impression thanks to the incredible clarity of the water. It is accessible only by boat or the daily sea taxi service.
  • Alimia, with its clear waters, famous for the wreck of the German World War II seaplane that lies at a depth of just seven metres. Visible from the surface, it is a popular subject for undersea photography. The bay is accessible by private boat or excursion vessel, or by following the trail to the Cave of John the Baptist.
Postcards from Iraklia: 5 things not to miss

Panagia
Iraklia’s picturesque town has a typical Cycladic atmosphere, with cobbled labyrinthine streets and white cube-like houses with blue shutters and flower-filled courtyards. One unusual architectural feature is the clay pots at the top of the chimneys. Time passes differently here, where the traditional way of life is still very much alive, as you will see for yourself if you choose one of the ferry tickets to Iraklia.

Merichas Bay
Perhaps the island’s most stunning natural attraction, which stands out for its spectacular 100-metre-high cliffs and twin pebble beaches.  Rare species of birds such as wild pigeons and vultures nest in caves in the cliffs, making this an ideal bird-watching destination.

Livadi Castle
With its tall square towers, this imposing defensive fortress from the Hellenistic period makes an impression even today. Come and admire the splendid ruins of ancient dwellings and the two temples dedicated to Zeus and Tyche, the goddess of fortune. Before you leave, stop to enjoy the enchanting view of Mourtos Bay.

The Cave of John the Baptist
This is the largest cave in the Cyclades and among the most magnificent geological sites in the Aegean.  Visitors are treated to the fantastic spectacle of stalagmites, stalactites and naturally-formed columns, as well as a small lake, while there are wonderful sea views from outside. On 28th August, which is John the Baptist’s feast day, a candlelight service is held in the cave in the presence of hundreds of pilgrims, a highly atmospheric experience that is well-worth the 45-minute hike from Panagia.

The petroglyphs
Scattered between the port of Saint George and the village of Saint Athanasius are several rocks bearing carved spiral designs, which have long intrigued experts and non-experts alike.  Are they compasses or signposts made by the inhabitants of the island in antiquity, records of astronomical knowledge left by ancient Cycladic civilisations, or marks made by pirates? The mystery remains unsolved, but even as curious works of art, they hold a fascination both for visitors and locals.

Tastes of Iraklia

The island’s cuisine is best-known for its velvety fava (split pea mash) and goat (stuffed and roasted with rice, or braised). It is also worth trying pitaridia (homemade noodles), aranista (lentils cooked with dried fermented wheat), cheeses such as spicy kopanisti and hard sklirotiri, and, of course, fresh fish and seafood, including delicious lobster linguine.

For something sweet, try melitinia (pies with soft mizithra cheese and cinnamon) and xerotigana (fried dough smothered in fine local thyme honey).

MAP OF IRAKLIA
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