The biggest island of the Small Cyclades is -ironically- the most quiet, secluded, and least commercialized of all. Iraklia offers a quiet haven to travelers who yearn for good food and long days at the beach. The island has two villages (Agios Georgios and Panagia) connect by road and by the island’s lovely and extensive trail network, perfect for adventurous hikers-at-heart.
Beach life may seem limited to the charming sandy beach of Livadi (which can be reached on foot by both villages). In August, though, the seasonal mini bus takes travelers all the way to Tourkopigado, a secluded pebbled beach featuring turquoise waters. Also, a caique service takes tourists on daily cruises to Iraklia’s secluded bays and beaches, including Alimniá, the island’s most famous bay, known for its transparent waters and impressive sea floor that hosts the remains of a crashed World War II plane.
What should be on your bucket list: Joining the feast of St. John the Baptist, taking place inside a cave. Every year, on August 28, flocks of people accompany the icon of the saint from Panagia to the Cyclops Cave (said to be the home of Homeric mythical hero Polifimos), where a vesperal liturgy takes place by candlelight. The same night, local musicians “take the stage” at Panagia for a night filled with traditional music, food, and (endless) dancing.
How to get there: There’s a ferry from Piraeus to Iraklia every two days. Skopelitis Express runs a ferry trip between the Small Cyclades, Naxos and Amorgos from Monday to Saturday.