11 Oct IKARIA TRAVEL GUIDE 2024
Ikaria has become a little more known by the crowd since it came apparent that the island had been selected as a “Blue Zone”. These are places in the world where residents often live notably longer. We travelled to Ikaria, to find out about their secret to longer and healthier lives.
Besides unraveling their secret ingredient, we also wanted to find out where the best beaches are, places to eat, and must visit villages. Dive into one of the loveliest Greek islands we have ever visited.
How to get to Ikaria
There are a few options, but the easiest way to reach Ikaria is via the island Samos, which is only a one hour ferry trip away. There are direct flights to Samos from Amsterdam. If you come from Athens, you can take the long ferry, which takes about 7 hours and runs about 6 times a day. You have 2 main ports on the island, and depending on where you want to stay – we arrived at Evdilos.
As soon as you arrive on the island of Ikaria, you feel that there is a different vibe. It’s way more relaxed compared to other Greek islands, and it reminded us of the feeling we got when we arrived at Folegandros – Santorini’s secret sister island. Time to explore!
Armenistis – Ikaria
In our opinion, it’s the best place to stay on Ikaria. This village has more than 10 restaurants to choose from, and some beautiful accommodations we’d like to introduce to you. From the port, narrow streets will guide you to this seaside village, where time stops and the world seems to slow down. It’s the perfect place to stay if you come with kids, because everything here is at walking distance. Yet, don’t expect streets full of shops made for tourists – Armenistis is a peaceful retreat, where you can enjoy the hospitality of the locals.
There are a few bakeries, traditional Greek restaurants but our food/drink tips for Armenistis are:
- Mary Mary – good quality food, vegetables (reserve a table tough)
- Hidden – pancakes, salads, trendy, coffee
- Rebelo Ikaria – late night bar/café with live music
WHERE TO STAY
Heaven on earth! We absolutely loved this hidden gem on Ikaria. Sure, it’s one of the more luxurious stays, but more than worth it. Overlooking a lighthouse and cliffside to the open sea, Toxotis is owned by a local family that built this beautiful place from scratch. We stayed in one of the more traditional houses, with 2 bedrooms and two floors. The highlight was without question the massive infinity pool. Endless views, a poolside bar, and beds to relax, made this our favorite place to be. Rooms are available from 180 euros in low season, and villa’s are available from about 240 a night. Book here.
Another hidden gem on Ikaria and in the middle of Armenistis is Hotel Selene. Opened in 2023, Selene is run by Theano and her husband that decided to come back to the island she crew up at. They offer 6 luxury suites, overlooking the sea. All rooms accommodate 2 or 3 persons, and we managed to slide in a baby bed also. Every detail is carefully styled, with warm earthy colours. The bathroom is probably the best I’ve seen in Greece, including good water pressure! Amazing breakfast is served on the patio underneath the pretty umbrella’s, the best way to wake up is here. Book your stay here.
BEST BEACHES ON IKARIA
By far the most popular beach on the island, and not without reason. It’s a popular spot among both locals and tourists, but also hippies and backpackers. They sleep in the shade of the trees, especially in August when the traditional Greek parties are celebrated. No need to worry, they are young, wild and free and cause no harm – it’s widely accepted on the island.
When you walk down from the left side, you’ll find a small beach shack by the name of Mamakita Beach Bar. They rent sunbeds, and serve you drinks and toasties on the beach. Further along you’ll find Mesakti Beach bar/restaurant where you can get some decent wraps and salads, and they throw a few beach parties now and then. Walk a little further and you have a more traditional Greek restaurant.
This is a favourite Ikarian beach for the locals. It’s less busy than Mesakti beach, but still quite large. There is no beach bar, so bring your own water and food. If you walk up the steps on the right side, there is a traditional Greek restaurant overlooking the sea. And if you like, you can sunbath in your birthday suit as there is a nudist area.
On the Southside of Ikaria there aren’t many sandy beaches, but there is one worth traveling for. Sychelles beach, hence the name, looks like the tropical destination by the same name. White sand, clear blue sea, the whole bunch. You need to hike for about 10 minutes and climb a few rocks, but you will be rewarded. Come early to avoid big crowds, and be aware that this beach isn’t very child friendly.
PLACES TO VISIT
Visit Karimalis Winery
This natural winery, made an appearance in the Netflix series The Blue Zones. We had in insightful conversation with the owners Georgios and Eleni about their amazing premises. Besides their winery and farmhouse restaurant, they also rent out traditional Ikarian houses. But let’s talk about the wines for a minute. Amazing! Seriously the best wine we tasted on the island, and all natural. They organize cooking lessons and retreats where you can learn about the Ikarian way of life – with healthy unprocessed food is the main act. The only way to get there is by car, and don’t rely on a taxi because they are not always available. Come for lunch or stay for the sunset!
If there is one village you cannot miss out on, it’s Raches. Drive up the mountain (amazing during sunset), and arrive in a tiny traditional village with no more than 3 restaurants and a square. Some call it the village that never sleeps, but don’t take that too seriously. It basically refers to the fact that everything used to open after sunset. You can trust us, if we say you must (yes, it’s a must), reserve a table at Platanos Restaurant. It was by far the best meal we had on Ikaria. Fresh daily dishes, with beautiful ingredients such almonds and pomegranate seeds.
Experience a Panigyria on Ikaria
Now, this needs a little introduction. As you are probably well aware, the Greek celebrate many different Greek religious days, such as Easter, and several Saint days. On Ikaria they celebrate a whole bunch in August, and we happened to be there. People from all over Greece, come to Ikaria in August to experience these one of a kind parties. Many different villages on the island celebrate a Panigyri, which entitles a traditional Greek band, food and drinks, long tables and a large space for dancing.
Now, I thought I knew a bit of Greek dancing, but these dances were from another level, and nothing like I have seen before! It’s difficult to say where and when the traditional parties are held, most of the time it’s decided last minute, and you mostly find out by word of mouth. Parties often don’t start any sooner than 10 PM, and continue until the sun rises. But I managed to hitchhike with a bunch of Greeks, and I experienced my first ever Panagiria. Take a look at this video, to find out what it’s all about.
Dit bericht op Instagram bekijken
So, what’s the secret to a long and healthier life? Don’t keep track of time too much, get up with a purpose, dance, drink Ikarian wines, and live your life to the fullest. All in all, Ikaria is a very special island that we will visit again.