Greek Hidden Treasures 13: Iraklia, a synonym for serenity

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Iraklia is a beautiful islet that lies near to Naxos, in the Small Cyclades complex. The number of its inhabitants is about 150 and it has only two villages: Agios Georgios and Chora or Panagia. There is a seasonal minibus service but, if you wish, you can also hire a motorbike. You can go there by ferry boat from Pireaus or Naxos. lraklia is ideal for all those who seek peacefulness and serenity. It is lovely all year round but it is truly amazing especially in the spring when it is green and full of colourful and sweet-smelling flowers.


#What to do


Enjoy its amazing nature! Iraklia is perfect for trekking, especially if, afterwards, you plan to go for a swim. Its beaches are not organised and are mostly accessible on foot. If you want to relax, just sunbathe under Iraklia’s brilliant sun. If you feel more adventurous, go diving and explore its crystal waters. Bear in mind that Iraklia is a nesting home for the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus and the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta and many other endangered species. Also, in Iraklia, there are about 175 bird species and almost 26 of them are predatives.


#What to see


Several archaeological findings indicate that Iraklia has been populated since 3.200-1.000 B.C., when the Cycladic civilization thrived. There are also indications that pirates used to attack this wonderful islet and its inhabitants had to leave. Iraklia’s most well-known tourist attraction is the “Spileo of Agios Ioannis” (literally: Saint John’s Cave). Legend has it that Saint John stayed there for a while and prayed, though others claim that it is named after an icon of Saint John that was found inside this cave. You go there on foot; the path you are going to take is spectacular. Hint: Take a torch with you!


#What to eat


What else? Fresh fish! Fresh fish is undeniably the best choice you can make and it is always available in large quantities. Also, you should really try Iraklia’s exceptional dairy products such as mizithra, ksinomizithra and “pitaridia” which is a kind of homemade pasta. Iraklia is also known for its tasteful and high-quality thyme honey. Do not leave this island before you taste it!


#Where to swim


Iraklia’s beaches are simply jaw-dropping. They will amaze you with their transparent waters and make you feel serene and stress-free. Livadi is considered to be one of the best beaches on the islet, plus, you may encounter a sea turtle. Agios Georgios has sandy beach and crystal, blue-green waters. There are also trees and some benches. Karvounolakos is perfect for couples and nature lovers. It is secluded and has a relatively small beach that is easily accessible by boat. You’ll be astoned by Iraklia’s wild nature.


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