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Iraklia is part of the Small Cyclades islands that include Donoussa, Schinoussa and Koufonissi. Iraklia is the biggest of these islands despite not being the most populous. It measures about 18 square kilometers and about 100 people live there all year round, most of these are located in the area near the port in Agios Georgios Bay and around the area of the Chora, located 3 km north and connected to the rest of the island by a local free bus line.
These are also the two main inhabited centers and the places where you will find the vast majority of the accommodations.
Iraklia like most other islands in the Small Cyclades is connected to Naxos, Amorgos and all the other smaller islands of this tiny archipelago. Taking part in a boat tour of the island you will have the chance to visit most of the islands surrounding Iraklia.
Why choose Iraklia?
Iraklia is one of those islands that is best visiting during a daily trip than for a proper holiday. Like all the other islands in the small Cyclades most of the activities and accommodations are located near the port. On the island’s main road you will find taverns, a post office, a minimarket, a few bars and a shop that sells ferry tickets.
On the island there aren’t any banks, except from a cash point where you will be able to get some money. Unfortunately sometimes during the summer (especially in July and August) the cash machine might not have money in it, for this reason we suggest you always keep some extra cash on you.
The island is covered in olive trees that combined with tourism and stock raising are the most important aspects of the local economy giving jobs to almost all of the island’s inhabitants. The two most famous inhabited centers of the island are located on the eastern coast and offer a wonderful view of the nearby island of Schinoussa. All the accommodations in Iraklia are located in the area of the port (located in Agios Georgios Bay) and in the Chora.
Wild beauties, panoramic bays and crystal clear waters are just some of the things you will find on Iraklia’s beach. Although there aren’t many beaches the few ones that you’ll find are very nice and aren’t usually very crowded except from the warmer months of the summer when many people that are looking for peace and quietness go there.
Here is a selection of the nicest beaches you will find on the island:
Agios Georgios beach
If you don’t want to travel much there is Agios Georgios located near the port of Iraklia, located in the north-eastern part of the island. The beach is covered in sand and offers any comfort or service you may need.
A nice beach covered in sand and pebbles located in the south-western part of the island. Most tourists visit Alimia to go snorkeling or to visit the old german ship just outside the shore that was sunk during the Second World War and now lays at 7 meters depth. It is one of Iraklia’s nicest beaches but it isn’t equipped with anything.
At about 15 minutes north-east from the port you will find Livadi, a long sandy beach that isn’t very crowded with a shallow seabed that is ideal for children and families besides some shade provided by the tall pine trees nearby.
Tourkopigado is located in the southern part of the island at the end of a bay that has the shape of a horseshoe. There is a small port and some crystal clear waters. An ideal beach for someone looking for peace and quietness. Tourkopigado can be easily reached from the road coming from the village of Panagia.
The island of Iraklia hasn’t got much to see if not the different natural beauties on it. The good thing is that there are different activities to choose from even if remember that this is an island for people that are looking for a relaxing and peaceful trip.
Agios Ioannis cave
Agios Ioannis is located at the base of Iraklia’s highest mountain. This cave has many stalagmites and stalactites besides an altar that according to the religious traditions was used by St. John (the saint from where the cave gets its name). One thing to consider before visiting it is the steep road that you will have to walk before reaching it. This cave is also incredibly long and some scientists even think that there is an underground passage that leads to Ios island.
A brief walk on the road that takes you from Livadi to Panaghia will lead you to the island’s kastro, an old castle that unfortunately isn’t preserved as well as it could be. For the rest once you arrive here you will have the chance to enjoy a very unique and beautiful landscape.
Tour of Iraklia
There is also a chance to take part in an excursion around Iraklia and the nearby islands that are part of the small Cyclades. The details for these tours can be found near the port in an information center.
Moving around Iraklia? The island is very small and there is only a small mini bus during high season and this is the only way to reach Agios Georgios in Panagia and Tourkopigado beach. You will also have the chance to rent a motorbike or a car. You can also move around the island on foot given its tiny dimensions.
For reaching Iraklia, like for the other islands part of the Small Cyclades you will have to organize the trip in advance. The most practical airport to reach is the one in Naxos that receives flights from Athens. Otherwise, there is also a ferry that leaves from Athens 3 day a week.
Reaching Iraklia from Naxos
Once you arrive in Naxos airport you will have to reach the island’s port (the port is only 4 km from the airport and there are both taxis and private drivers). The journey from naxos to Iraklia lasts about 1 hour and the price is usually around 6,00 € per person. Like many other islands of the small Cyclades the problem is how to get there as there aren’t many ferries that travel to it.
Reaching Iraklia from Athens
If you land in Athens and can’t find a flight for Naxos (expensive and often unavailable) don’t worry. After having reached the Athens’ airport you will have to reach the port of Piraeus and get a ferry for Iraklia. The journey lasts quite a bit of time but you’ll just have to relax and admire the wonderful landscape surrounding you. The ferries only run 3 times a week (for this reason we suggest you check the timetables before leaving). The journey lasts 9 hours and costs around 36,00 €.
In Iraklia don’t expect to find any hotels or many comforts. The island doesn’t live of tourism and it usually isn’t very crowded. The locals don’t speak very good english and finding an apartment can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. In the last few years the offer of apartments and studios have increased and new constructions are being built every year.
Where to stay in Iraklia
There aren’t any hotels or similar structures on the island. For the moment the only places where to spend the night in Iraklia are the local’s apartments. There are also many studios that can be rented throughout the island. If you are planning to take a vacation in Iraklia remember to book everything in advance as there aren’t many apartments and places to choose from and they are often full.
Camping site in Iraklia
On the island the camping sites are all free and no one will say anything if you decide to spend your holiday surrounded by nature.