IKARIA (ICARIA). The island of Ikaria is called Nikaria by locals. It is an elongated mountainous island in the western Aegean sea. The length of the coastline is just over a hundred kilometres.
Ikaria has recently been in the news because a study by scientists has shown that people live longer here than average. Ikaria is one of the "Blue Zones" which include five areas in the world where people live longer than anywhere else!The inhabitants on average live 10 years longer than other Europeans. This has to do with their living and eating habits.
The highest point of Ikaria is Atheras (1037 meters), the second highest peak is Ammoudia with 913 meters. The mountains run across the length of the island, separating it between north and south. The northern part is flatter and has a gentle slope to the sea. This is also the most fertile part of the island. The southern part is much steeper.
The eastern part of the island is from ancient times known for its hot springs. The nature of the island is varied, it consists of green valleys and barren cliffs. On Ikaria are many pine forests, in the west is the forest "Randi," one of the most rare prehistoric Mediterranean forests.
Most of the villages of Ikaria lie on the mountain slopes. It has to do with the pirate attacks that took place in the Middle Ages. The inhabitants for their own security built their villages in higher areas.
The island's capital is Agios Kirykos, which has about 2,000 inhabitants. Here is also the main port of Ikaria. It is a traditional town in a bay with lots of greenery and lovely old neoclassical buildings. Here are some beautiful churches and there is a very interesting Ethnological museum.
In Evdilos is the second largest port of Ikaria. This is centrally located in the north of the island, about forty kilometres northwest of Agios Kirykos. To cover this distance, you need more than an hour, because it is a road full of curves. Evdilos is a picturesque fishing village with a harbour, beautiful houses and narrow alleyways. There are lots of good tavernas and cafes.
West of Evdilos are the small resorts Nas, Armenistis, Gialiskari, Mesakti and Avlaki. The most busy one is Armenistis, it is a lovely picturesque village. The others are quiet villages with nice sand and pebble beaches. At Nas are the ruins of the ancient temple of Artemis. Gialiskari is a small fishing port surrounded by pine forests. In Gialiskari and Mesakti are the better beaches of Ikaria. Also Avlaki is a small fishing village and it has a harbour where fishing boats moor.
Therma is located three kilometres from Agios Kirykos and is best known for its hot springs. At Faros, on the flat countryside in the northeast of the island, are the ruins of an ancient temple that was dedicated to demigod Dionysus.
Karkinagri is a notable fishing village that is very isolated in the southwest of the island. You can reach this village by boat from Agios Kirykos or Manganitis. Karkinagri is a traditional village with a number of seafood restaurants and cafes. There are also some rooms for rent.