Sitting in the heart of the Aegean sea, between Naxos and Ios, Irakleia is one of the incredibly photogenic tiny Greek islands. Iraklia is a small island with fewer than 100 permanent residents. It belongs to the paradise island group of Small Cyclades, along Koufonisia, Donoussa, and Schinoussa. Thanks to its small size, Irakleia Greece has managed to keep its unspoiled charm! With its raw natural landscape, Irakleia island is the best destination for private holidays, away from the hustle and the bustle. The calm atmosphere and slow pace of life make Irakleia Greece a remote paradise. Dense vegetation, natural springs, smooth hills, crystalline waters with shipwrecks at the sea-bottom, scenic bays and caves are the characteristics of this unspoiled paradise in Cyclades. The island, with its proud and hospitable residents, has two settlements, Panagia in the middle of the island and Agios Georgios, where the port is located. Irakleia has been inhabited from early antiquity. On the island there are many mysterious rock paintings dated about 5,000 years before so the visitors can be witnesses of interesting stories and be given the chance to go back in time.
For the nature lovers, for those who want to rest, have peaceful holidays and do all the things they truly desire, Iraklia is the perfect destination! Time stops here and we are free to experience simple but valuable things like swimming in clear blue waters, hiking, exploration of Agios Ioannis cave which is the biggest in Cyclades, fishing boat trips, reading books, good wine and great food! The island is famous about its traditional cheeses, meat, split peas and high quality honey.
Irakleia has eight distinct hiking trails that are popular with nature lovers. Like in most of the other Cyclades islands in Greece, the landscape in Irakleia is wild and dry. The island has cliffs all around and there are several viewing points. The highest one is called Papas, and it’s a whopping 420 metres. Some of the best hikes in Irakleia are the trails leading to Profitis Ilias and to Merichas, where you can reach one of the most picturesque points of the island.
Irakleia’s particular environmental profile has received international recognition and Greece has included part of the island in the European network of protected areas Natura 2000. You can also see some prey birds, as the island is home to 26 distinct types of hawks and eagles. Sit at the edge of the cliff and look down to the sea, and you will feel like you are at the world’s end. Birds are a main part of the fauna on the island. They are quite interesting as there are more than 170 spieces, many of which are protected internationally. Merichas is surrounded by cliffs of 100 metres height where birds can nest.
If you are into nature and adventure, the numerous hiking trails are ideal for you! Ask us for more information and we can organise tours to remember!
Irakleia has another secret, the Cave of Agios Ioannis (Saint John). This massive cave, with a magnificent view to the sea, is the seventh largest cave in Greece, and can be reached after a hike of about an hour and a half from the village of Panagia. As the entrance to the cave is quite small, you will have to go in on your hands and knees – but it’s absolutely worth it and once you are inside the cave you won’t believe its size.
Agios Ioannis cave was discovered accidentally at the end of the 19th century by a shepherd who got into it to protect himself from a storm. According to tradition, Saint John’s icon was found in the cave, and this is how it got its name.
Every year, on the 28th August, the eve of the Saint’s nameday, a major religious ceremony happens in the cave, and hundreds of people arrive to celebrate the Saint with chants and candles.
A visit is highly recommended because you will be able to see a huge and impressive variety of stalactites and their vast formations including ‘Spileogala’ which is a rare stalagmite matter in liquid form.
The wreckage of a German Arado AR196 shipboard reconnaissance aircraft that sank during World War II can be seen close to the beach, at a depth of about 9m in Alimia bay, at Irakleia’s southwestern tip. Visitors can dive, get a closer look and of course take pictures.
The ruins of a castle of the Hellenistic era (323 - 316 BC) are above Livadi beach. There are also findings of the Early Cycladic era and archaeological remains that belong to a temple of Zeus and to the sanctuary of the goddess Tyche. There used to be a settlement up to 1930. Now, there is nothing but ruins where you can wander around. From the castle you can enjoy a panoramic view of the beach.
Merichas is a natural attraction located on the southeast side of the island. Merichas is surrounded by vertical rocks 150 meters high which are nailed to the sea or raised in the sky like supernatural beasts. It is surely an image that you will remember for a long time. Meanders and strange shapes, striking colors and rocks, as if nature put all its art on this hollow rock wall. Vultures make circular flights around the rock. It is an ideal place for any bird lover.
Old abandoned settlement with houses of traditional Cycladic architecture.