Agios Kirikos, or just “Agios” for the locals, is situated on the southeast coast of Ikaria and together with its surrounding hamlets (Agios Panteleimonas, Christos, Glaredes, Kountoumas, Panagia) has around 2.500 inhabitants. It is the capital and main port of the island, serving daily ferries from Athens as well as other parts of Greece. Being the island’s capital, most of the public services can be found here. One can also find the hospital, banks with ATMs, travel agencies, car rental services, bakeries, etc.
Agios Kirikos – The History
The town was founded over three hundred years ago by local sailors traveling to Attalia (Micrasia) who dedicated the city to Agios (Greek for “Saint”) Kirikos, making him the town’s patron. The homonym church is located just above the harbor, prevailing with its blue dome. Agios Kirikos is full of two and three-story neoclassical houses with balconies (most of them used as captains’ mansions), picturesque narrow cobbled paths, stone steps, and a lovely central square. The houses are close to each other, following the traditional architecture of the island and have tall windows with blue or red color, giving a quite picturesque ensemble to the city.
Agios Kirikos – The Square!
The lifeline of Agios Kirikos is the central square (“platia” in Greek). It is located on the coastal road next to the port. The square is lined by shops, local cafes, and taverns. Most of the locals gather in the town’s central square to relax and play cards or table games. It is the center of the town’s life, having around it most of the restaurants & rooms for rent of the town. Here stands also the marble war memorial to fallen Ikarian heroes, with a fountain at its base.
Next to the main square, on the port, you can admire the unique metal statue Ikaria. It depicts Icarus (from Greek mythology) with his wings. The Folklore Museum is another place to see when in Agios Kirikos. This museum, showing the life of the Ikaria people (both in their every day as well as during various events and festivals since ancient times), became reality when the locals donated most of its exhibits to create it. For architecture and history fans, a place not to be missed is the neoclassical old Gymnasium.
Near the central square, visitors can also visit the hot springs of Asclepius (or Moustafa). Therapy seeking visitors from all over the world frequent the hot springs of Asclepius. Along with the rest hot springs on the island, they are known for their healing abilities. The Asclepius hot spring emerges from the sea, so whoever is swimming around the area can take advantage of its radium content without having a traditional bath.
Where to stay
Many visitors prefer to stay in Agios Kirikos for the proximity with the Asclepius hot springs. Others prefer the capital for convenience in everyday amenities and shopping. No matter why you choose Agios Kirikos for your accommodation, you can find several lodgings there. Most of the rooms for rent are around the main square (where all the local life awakes in the evening).
If you prefer a more “relaxed” stay, there are also a few bigger hotels on the main road towards Therma after you exit the harbor. What you need to know is that Agios Kirikos (and Ikaria in general) do not cater to the “exclusive” vacationers. Most of the hotels are 3-star hotels (but clean and with a splendid sea view), or rooms to let. Try to book as early as possible. The island is very famous among Greek visitors – especially in July and August.
Where to eat
Whether you want to eat under the shadow of a vine tree, next to the sea, or on the paved square of the town, Agios Kirikos has several options. Most of the restaurants and taverns located on the harbor and around the central square offer amazing sea views. The food is traditional Greek food and you can find both meat and fish dishes. Most of the taverns offer products from their own produce – meat is usually grown locally on the island and fishes are daily catch from the island’s fishermen. Do try the European anchovies, usually grilled and topped up with fresh onions, tomato, and peppers. In case you are a vegetarian, Agios Kirikos will not disappoint you: stuffed vegetables are considered to be a specialty there. Tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, are stuffed with rice and herbs and roasted in the oven. The result is mouthwatering!
No matter where or what you choose to eat, you should definitely try Pramnios wine: the wine that “relaxes the anger”, as the name in Greek suggests. This is a local variety with dark red color, known and locally grown since Homer’s times! Probably one of the tastiest Greek wines. But do drink carefully – the percentage of alcohol is quite high!
Ikaria is by no means a “party island” like Mykonos. Nevertheless, Agios Kirikos offers quite a few nice bars that stay open until late. During summer months, the nightlife ramps up significantly to accommodate visitors. There are also a number of clubs along the cliff road leading west out of town, especially for youngsters who like to party till the small hours. If you prefer a more chilled ambiance, then the best options are located around the central square.
If you happen to be in town on the 15th of July, do not miss the Panigyri of Agios Kirikos – a great Greek festival and an opportunity to feast like a local! Don’t be put off by the religious aspect of panigiria. The festivities involve night-long partying with traditional Greek music, dancing, and feasting. Other panigiria that take place on Agios Kirikos are on the 17th of July each year (the commemorative day when Ikaria got its Freedom from the Ottomans) and the panigiri of Prophet Elias on the 20th of July.