Irakleia is a small island located at the western tip of the Small Cyclades and has become one of the most popular "alternative" destinations in Greece. It is so small that you can explore it entirely on foot in less than three hours.
History of Iraklia
Irakleia, one of the islands of the Cyclades, has a rich history that reflects the evolution of the place over the centuries. According to myth, the god Poseidon created the Cycladic islands, transforming the nymphs of the Cyclades into islands. During the early period of the Proto-Cycladic era, there were two small settlements in Irakleia engaged in agriculture, livestock farming, and fishing. During the Hellenistic period, the Castle near Livadi was a fortified position with impressive towers and temples, bearing witness to different periods of habitation.
During the Ottoman period, Irakleia served as a refuge for pirates who raided the Aegean. In the mid-19th century, most of the island was converted into lands owned by the monastery of Chozoviotissa on Amorgos. In 1826, residents of Aegiali, Amorgos began to reclaim the island. In 1831, the monastery allowed other Aegiali residents to come to Irakleia and signed contracts for the occupation and exploitation of the land. After gaining freedom from Ottoman rule, the island became part of the newly established Greek state. During World War II, it underwent Italian and German occupation before being liberated in 1944.
Beaches in Iraklia
- Port of Agios Georgios: Known for its large tamarisk trees that provide shade and the opportunity for improvised hammocks. Access is easy from the settlement of Agios Georgios, where most tourist accommodations are located.
- Alimia Bay: Two beautiful beaches with sandy bottoms, crystal-clear waters, and one of them offers natural shade from a rock formation behind it. Here, you will also find the wreck of a German hydroplane sunk during World War II.
- Ammoudi Beach: A small, stunning coastline surrounded by tall cliffs and featuring pebble shores. Access is possible only by sea.
- Northern Cave Beach: Located in the northern part of the island near Agios Georgios, it takes its name from two small caves nearby.
- Karvounolakos Beach: A small and secluded beach on the southern shores of the island with impressive cliffs and characteristically emerald-green waters. Access to this beach is only possible from the sea.
Overall, Irakleia offers a variety of beautiful beaches for you to enjoy during your summer destination.
Sights in Iraklia
Among the attractions one can discover in Irakleia are:
- Mount Papa: With an elevation of 420 meters, it is located in the southern part of the island near the village of Panagia.
- Livadi Castle: Around which many archaeological findings from the Neolithic period have been discovered.
- The settlement of Agios Athanasios: Which has been mostly abandoned today but features intriguing Cycladic architecture.
- The Cave of Agios Ioannis: Adorned with rich stalactites and stalagmites. It is the largest cave in the Cyclades, covering an area of 2,000 square meters, and near it is a smaller cave called the Cave of Cyclops. Both caves are located in the northern part of the island.
- Merichas Bay: Located on the southeastern side of the island, it is known for its steep and rocky shores, rising to a height of 100 meters. It serves as a safe harbor for various wind directions.
Additionally, in Irakleia, you can visit several chapels, such as Taxiarhis, Prophet Elias, Agia Paraskevi, Agios Mamas, Agios Athanasios, and Agios Ioannis.
Activities in Iraklia
- Hiking: Irakleia is highlighted as an island with numerous mountains and peaks, offering visitors the opportunity to explore nature and enjoy stunning views of both Irakleia itself and the surrounding islands. Moreover, hiking enthusiasts will find organized trails that provide a true adventure, incorporating the experience of wandering in nature. Hiking here takes on a unique dimension as Irakleia is part of the Natura 2000 network, offering views of stunning landscapes from its mountain trails.
- Cave of Saint John: A visit to the Cave of Saint John is a unique experience. It is one of the largest caves in the Cyclades, with impressive stalactite decorations. The cave is located in an exceptional location overlooking the sea and is accessible by hiking for about half an hour from the Panagia village. According to tradition, the image of Saint John was discovered when a shepherd protected himself from a storm in the area, and when he returned to the village, the image was imprinted on the back of his shirt. Since then, the memory of Saint John is honored with evening ceremonies in the large hall of the cave every August 28th, the eve of his feast day.
- Old Seaplane: In the Alimia Bay, at the southwestern tip of Irakleia, lies the "hull" of a German seaplane, submerged at a depth of 9 meters and visible from the sea's surface. Many visitors dive to explore it up close and take photographs.
- Castle in Livadi: In the village of Livadi, there are ruins of a castle dating back to the Hellenistic period (323 BC - 316 BC). Additionally, ruins of the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of the Goddess of Fortune have been discovered there. You can wander among the ruins on a wonderful journey through time and enjoy the magnificent view.
- Merichas Cove: Merichas Cove is surrounded by tall cliffs that exceed 100 meters in height and serves as a natural habitat for wild pigeons and eagles. It is an ideal location for birdwatchers to observe their behavior.
- Agios Athanasios Settlement: This is an old abandoned settlement with interesting architecture and houses following the traditional Cycladic style.
How to travel to / from Iraklia?
Ferry routes Piraeus - Irakleia:
The ferry routes from Piraeus to Irakleia are operated by a ferry company that offers approximately three departures per week. These routes connect Athens with the island of the Cyclades, Irakleia. The total travel time is 6 hours and 30 minutes. Currently, these routes are exclusively provided by Blue Star Ferries. Ticket prices for Irakleia start at €42. The ferry route includes stops at other islands and follows this itinerary: Piraeus - Syros - Paros - Naxos - Irakleia. The ferries to Irakleia and the Small Cyclades usually depart from berths E6, E7, E8, or E9 at the Port of Piraeus. However, changes in these departure points may occur depending on traffic and conditions at the Port of Piraeus.
Ferry Routes and Tickets to / from Irakleia with other Islands:
- Ferry Routes from Irakleia to Piraeus
- Ferry Routes from Irakleia to Naxos
- Ferry Routes from Koufonisia to Irakleia
- Ferry Routes from Irakleia to Paros
- Ferry Routes from Irakleia to Schinoussa
- Ferry Routes from Amorgos (Katapola) to Irakleia
- Ferry Routes from Paros to Irakleia
- Ferry Routes from Rafina to Irakleia
- Ferry Routes from Amorgos (Aegiali) to Irakleia
- Ferry Routes from Irakleia to Amorgos (Katapola)
- Ferry Routes from Irakleia to Koufonisia
How to Book Ferry Tickets to Irakleia:
On the booktickets platform, you will find all ferry schedules to Irakleia, departure times, and ferry companies. Compare prices and easily book affordable ferry tickets to Irakleia with all discounts for passengers and vehicles.