In Ikaria, because of the increased biodiversity shown on the island, are located some of the most significant natural habitats in the entire Aegean Sea. Mount Atheras, the region of Fanari, Chalari canyon, the area of Plagia and all the southwestern part of the island are declared as Zones of Special Protection and are a part of the Sites of Community Interest of the European project Natura 2000.
Mount Atheras and the southwestern part of Ikaria show an interesting variety in fauna and are the home of many species of rare plants, such as pinus brutia. There, you will also meet a large variety of avifauna. There are specially designed plots in which the visitors can admire the rear bird species that nest in the area. Important wetlands of Ikaria, are th estuary of Kerame, the river Chalaris, the stream Myrsona (Mesachti), the estuary Voutside (Campos), the river Kyparisi, the river Aris, the river Chilopotami, as well as the artificial lakes of Vathes and Pezi.
For the lovers of hiking, the island of Ikaria has some incredible natural routes to follow by foot. Obtain a good map and browse through countless trails among dense pine forests, streams, wild waterfalls, lush valleys, old stone bridges, important monuments, traditional watermills, beautiful lakes and picturesque villages.
One of the most beautiful paths you can take, is across Chalaris canyon. This overgrown area along with the raging river, are located on the southwest coast, not far from the famous beach of Nas. It is a wonderful route that will take you about three and a half hours to complete, among green pine forests. While you are hiking, you will have the opportunity to gaze at the old stone built bridge of Loupastras, the waterfalls of Chalari, a green lake and the remnants of traditional watermills. Those who wish may continue up to Ratso waterfall, which is located in Upper Chalari and reaches a height of 45 meters.
Of great ecological and historical interest is the ancient forest of Ranti, which is located on the south coast of the island. It is one of the oldest and most important forests across Europe. If you choose this area to indulge into hiking, you will have the opportunity to observe oaks that stand there for more than half a century, rare herbs and protected species of flora and fauna. The towering old trees are irregularly shaped forming this way a beautiful landscape of infinite natural beauty worth visiting.
Among the most popular routes on the island, which is followed by thousands of visitors every year, is the round of Raches. This is a 25 kilometers long path that will lead you to major attractions. A specially designed map, which shows the route and is marked with red footprints will help you follow the right paths. Picturesque villages, steep slopes, old stone bridges, clear lakes and small rivers are only a part of the enchanting landscape you will encounter along the way. The path starts from the center of Pliades, not far from the settlement of Armenistis.
Two beautiful tracks of historical and ecological interest, start from the village of Mavrato. The first one leads to the ruined castle of Kapsalino and the second one will lead you to the picturesque settlement of Xylosyrti, but on your way you will have the opportunity to observe rare species of birds. Furthermore, we would suggest that you follow the ancient path that used to connect the western part of Ikaria with Agios Kirikos.
It is a route that will take you about three and a half hours and starts from the temple os Saint Demetrius, near the settlement of Kosikia and ends up in Chrysostomos. While hiking, you will have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful gardens, old bridges, streams and wonderful view on the Aegean Sea. It should be noted that the slope of Punta is ideal for lovers of climbing.
Those of you who will visit the island during winter or spring, we would suggest that you follow the scenic route that leads to Ryakas, the highest waterfall on the island .You will find it near the village of Maganitis, at an altitude of about one kilometer to the southern part of the mountain Atheras. Next to the waterfall, is formed the small lake of Selini, which complements the beautiful natural landscape.
Moreover, we would suggest that you explore the many natural caves that are scattered throughout the island. The most significant of these, are the caves of Katafygio (in the homonymous settlement), the one in Gladero, Chalari ‘s and Parathyri (in Chrysostomos village), Choutra’s Raos (near the settlement of Petropouli), Loukaraos (in the village of Droutsoulas), Alama (in Akamatra), Matia (in Plagia), Kyparisi and in the area of Velanidies the nest of the seals. It should be noted that most caves are inaccessible and you will have to be equipped with suitable equipment in order to get to those.
Many of the visitors choose to visit the beautiful island of Ikaria for its thermal springs, which are well-known since antiquity. The spring are among the most radioactive around the world and particularly effective in treating ailments, skin diseases etc. They belong to the category of radioactive and show differences in both temperature and radioactivity they contain. In the municipality of Agios Kirikos, are located plenty of thermal springs. Most radioactive are the ones of Artemis, Apollo, Kratsa, Asclepius (Mustafa Litzi) and the hottest are the springs of Lefkada. Remarkable are the thermal springs of Agia Kyriaki and Immortal water in Xylosyrti.
Moreover, on the island of Ikaria, you will be able to find the nessecary ewuipment in case you wish to indulge in water sports, such as windsurfing, scuba iving and spearfishing. Finally, for those of you who have a boat, you can browse to the pristine beaches of Ikaria and swim in the emerald sea.