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Iraklia - ruins with a sea breeze

26 June 2013 / 17:06:01  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Iraklia is the fifth and the largest of the small Cycladic islands. It is located in the western part of the island group and 18 nautical miles south of Naxos. When there are strong winds, its harbour is a safe haven for the small and large ships crossing the stormy Aegean Sea.

Iraklia is very different from its neighbouring islands. It is surrounded by six beaches. Four of them are sandy, namely Livadi, Agios Georgios, Vourini spilia and Alimia, whereas the Karvounolakos and Amoudi beaches are dotted with pebbles. The seawater is clean, clear and shallow, and it is perfect for safe swimming.

The beaches which are not accessible by trails can be reached by boat. The beaches of Iraklia are among the quietest. The larger islands of Naxos and Paros, which are very close, stop the strong winds and prevent them from reaching the coast of Iraklia.

Before going on vacation there, you should know that on the island, there is:
- no bank, but there is an ATM
- no campsite
- no petrol station
- no buses or taxis
- a doctor's room and a doctor.

Although it is the middle of the Aegean Sea, Iraklia does not offer only seascapes to its visitors. There is a mountainous area on the island too and its highest point, 419 m, is Mount Papas. From here visitors can see all the islands that surround Irkalia and observe rare birds.

The cave

The most impressive site to visit is the cave of Agios Ioannis. It is the largest on the Cycladic islands and is filled with plenty of stalactites. Inside visitors can see "cave milk" (a rare semi-liquid material, which forms the stalagmites). The cave is located in a place which offers a magnificent view to the sea. It is located about half an hour's walk from the beach.

The castle in Livadi

Another interesting site for those tourists who do not confine themselves to going only to the beach is the castle in Livadi. There are the ruins of a castle from the Hellenistic period (323-316 BC). Remains of a temple of Zeus were found at the same place as well as of a temple of the goddess of fortune who, according to mythology, was the daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite and whom the ancient Greeks worshipped as the patroness of cities.

The spirals

On the opposite hill, the locals have found stones on which carved spirals are clearly seen. To date, no scientific research has been carried out to establish the age of the impressive findings.


Nature lovers can explore different plant species, birds and insects some of which are quite rare. A unique species of wild orchid grows in Iraklia and it is named after the island - Orchid heracleotica.

Like on all other islands, there is no drinking water here either. The exception is a well but the amount of water in it is not enough to meet the needs of the island. The experimental seawater desalination plant installed at the port by the University of the Aegean has not been working for two years already. So, Iraklia is also supplied with water by the ships that carry tanks from Lavrio.


The cuisine is no different from that of the other small Cycladic islands. In Panagia or the Upper village, you should try goat meat cooked with tomato sauce garnished with pasta and various kinds of savoury cheese.

In the taverns of the village of Agios Georgios near the port, you can try fresh fish and freshly caught seafood.

Regardless of what you choose to do, Iraklia will fascinate and enchant you, according to Peter, who is from England and who already has his own house on the island where he spends almost the entire summer season. "My wife and I used to go on holiday to Paros and Naxos for years. Once I was on the balcony of our hotel room and saw an island in the distance. I asked about it and then subsequently we organized a trip to Iraklia. Since then, it has become our second home," he told GRReporter.

At the end of the journey, it feels like leaving a small paradise where time is asleep and no one wants to awaken it. The small Cycladic islands with their wild scenery, blue horizon, unpredictable wind that often spoils the sailing plans of small boats and yachts, and the traditional blue and white Cycladic architecture are a miniature of the face of island Greece. They are the perfect place to relax after a wild holiday on the large cosmopolitan islands or an excellent opportunity for a quiet vacation.

Tags: TravelogueSmall Cycladic islandsIrakliaAncient remainsNatureSeaVacation
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