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Travel Tips

Travelling to Ikaria

Ikaria is an island of the North Aegean in Greece. It has a surface of almost 270 sq. km and administratively belongs to North Aegean Region. The island is mostly mountainous, has a rich vegetation, springs and has developed farming.

The mean annual temperature is about 19oC. Winter is characterized by cold and several rains. Summer has enough sunshine and heat. During summer, there are strong winds on the island, called 'meltemia', ie strong northerly winds, often exceeding 6 Beaufort, who refresh the visitors and especially those who love windsurfing and other water sports.

During these strong winds, it is very difficult to swim in the sea, while often strong currents are created in the sea, that make it dangerous.

Currency / Exchange

Since 2000, the official currency of Greece is the Euro, as a country-member of the eurozone.  All transactions are made only euro, in Ikaria. There are not exchange offices on the island, only banks undertake official exchange currency in euro or traveler's check with passport and some travel agencies on the island. Current banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 euro and coins of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1 and 2 euro.

In Ikaria you can use almost all credit cards for trade. If any problem occures with your credit card, please call the customer service of each company or contact your nearest Bank. Banks in Greece are open to the public, Monday to Thursday from 8:00 to 14:30 and Fridays from 8:00 to 13:30, except public holidays. On the island, there are vending machines (ATMs) to withdraw cash, operating 24 hours a day, all week.

Passports / Visas

Greece is a member-country of the European Union and has ratified the Treaty Schengen. According to this, in Ikaria and generally in Greece, all EU citizens can travel only by showing their ID, no longer is required visa for short stays of up to three (3) months. Citizens from the United Kingdom must show a passport stamped. However, airlines or other carriers, may request another kind of identity.

For people, who are not from member states of the Treaty Schengen, visa is required. Guests are advised to seek information on travel agencies or conulates and embassies. Ikaria does not have an embassy or consulate, but any problem arises, visitors may contact the Police.
Police Agios Kirykos:  (+30) 22750 22944
                                   (+30) 22750 22222
                                   (+30) 22750 23888
Police Evdilos: (+30) 22750 22944
Police Raches: (+30) 22750 41222

No visa is required for visitors holding valid passports from countries outside the European Union, who wish to remain in Greece until three months (90 days) within a period of 6 months. These countries are: USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, the Holy See (Vatican), Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Uruguay, Venezuela

Language

Ikaria’s official language is Greek. However, public services, hotels and shops, guests can be served both in Greek and English. Ikaria, today, attracts visitors from all over the world and there are few, who decide to settle permanently with their families and to smoothly integrate into society. A large part of these are expatriates from USA, who decided to return to Ikaria for the rest of their lives.

Religion

The majority of Ikarians are Orthodox Christians and scattered around the island found many Orthodox churches and monasteries. However, in Greece, the constitution proclaims freedom of religion and all the tenets and practices are accepted with respect.

Electrical / Telecommunications

Electricity in Ikaria, as throughout Greece, is at 220/240 Volts and 50 hertz. Plugs are European-style. To call in Ikaria from abroad or to call you from abroad while you are in Ikaria, you must enter the international prefix +30 or 0030 for Greece and then the prefix 22750 for Ikaria. On the island, in central locations, you can find public pay phones, that work with prepaid calling cards. You can buy these cards from telecommunications’ shops, postal services, mini market and kiosks.

Health and Care

According to the National Health System, in Ikaria there is a General Hospital located in Agios Kyrikos and several local health centers throughout the island. There are also private doctors, who examine patients in private clinics, by appointment and remuneration.

The visitors from member-countries of the European Union (EU), should have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or European Health Card (EHIC) or other legal document for citizens from countries not members of the EU, which will issue the competent social security institution and based on which, they can meet a substantial part of care and treatment in Greece. In order to buy certain medecines, often prescribed.
For emergencies, guests can contact the following departments:

Hospital of Ikaria (Agios Kirykos) : (+30) 22750 22236
Health Center (Evdilos) : (+30) 22750 31228
Health Center (Raches) : (+30) 22750 41242
Health Center Karkinagri : (+30) 22750 91201
Pharmacy (Agios Kirykos) : (+30) 22750 23990, (+30) 22750 22212
Pharmacy (Evdilos) : (+30) 22750 31394 , (+30) 22750 33006
Pharmacy (Kampos) : (+30) 22750 32985
Pharmacy (Raches) : (+30) 22750 41352
Pharmacy (Gialiskari) : (+30) 22750 71271
 
The European emergency number is 112. You can call this number from anywhere in Greece, from landline or mobile.

Travel / Transport

H Ikaria is about 40-50 minutes by plane, directly from Athens and about two hours by air from Thessaloniki. Also, there are connecting flights to Heraklion and Lemnos.

If you choose to come or depart by ship, there is a connection with Piraeus - Syros - Mykonos and Samos and Fournoi, from the two main ports of the island, Evdilos and Agios Kirykos. You can even get your own boat and strand to those two main ports or in other smaller ports. The Port Authority of the island is always ready to serve you.

For traveling around the island, you can use your own vehicle safely or rent a car or motorcycle. Also, you can be served by taxis available throughout the island and the bus that  operates only during the summer months or sea transportation.

Time / Hours

Greece is 2 hours ahead (GMT +2) during the winter months of October - March and 3 hours ahead (GMT +3) during the summer months of March - October from Greenwich Mean Time.

The hours of public services in Ikaria is the same followed throughout Greece, ie 7:00 to 15:00. The stores operate in winter, usually in accordance with the schedule applicable across Greece, on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday 9:00 to 15:30 and Tuesday-Thursday - Friday 09:00-14:00 and 17:30 to 21:00. However, during the summer the stores have extended hours and may work until late at night, to serve all the needs of visitors . Each local trade association often apply its own differentiated time for members of the shops, so customers can contact the stores.

Disabled / Elderly

In Ikaria, there is access for people with disabilities and old people in all public services, banks and post offices and they are served as a top priority. Many hotels have adapted to these requirements, with appropriate infrastructures, however, it is advisable to have prior contact with them. Nevertheless, tours by public transport is impossible for people with disabilities, while several infrastructures are missing. For more information, you can still contact the Municipality of Ikaria.

Public holidays

The holidays officially proclaimed by the Greek state are the following:
- New Year's Day : 1 and 2 January
- Epiphany : January  6th.
Becomes consecration of water in the harbor and at various other points
- Shrove Tuesday
41 days before Easter
- National Revolution of 1821 and the Feast of the Annunciation : March 25
- Orthodox Easter
- Labour Day : May 1st .
- Pentecost (celebrated 50 days after Easter) .
- Assumption: August 15th.
- October 28th
- Christmas: 25th-26th December
 The school holidays in Ikaria end in late June and begin on September 10, while during winter, schools are closed for 15 days during the celebrations of Christmas and Easter.

Alcohol / Smoking

In Ikaria, all the restaurants, cafes and bars, serve daily wine and various spirits. In order to buy or consume alcohol, you must be over 18 years and demonstrate your identity. Strict penalties are imposed on drivers, who have consumed alcohol above the permitted limit.

Smoking is now banned in all public buildings and public transportation across the country. Also, it is not allowed to sell tobacco and related products to youngst.

Environment

On each trip to the Ikaria, feel like home and try to keep it nice and clean without harming the environment. To this end, here are some tips and information :
- Recycle bottles or papers you use, during your trip. Throughout the island there are special blue bins, only for recyclables and green for trash .
- The consumption of water and electricity must be handled with care and cautious, because they are valuable to the island. Very simple movements can contribute significantly to environmental relief of the island, like when you leave your property, make sure that you turn off lights, TV and air conditioning and have closed the faucets.
- Prefer to travel by bike or on foot, where possible, so as to explore the island.
- Adapt yourself to the natural environment of the island and show the necessary respect. For example, throwing garbage and cigarette butts on the beach or in the forest or a river or even on the road or sidewalk or archaeological sites is prohibitive. It spoils the natural environment and it doesn’t show a nice picture for the culture of Ikaria.
Clean and protected Ikaria is the concern of every traveler!

Ancient / Culture

Guests must respect the cultural inheritance of the island, such as museums and archaeological sites and adhere to specific instructions (keep the area clean, do not touch , etc.). It is prohibited by law, to export antiquities and works of art, from Greece, without special permission from the Ministry of Culture.

Accommodation / Rights - Obligations

Before you start your trip to Ikaria, make sure you buy tickets early, even on your return, especially if you have your own vehicle or wish for a cabin. Early booking room or apartment on the island is necessary. Most accommodation in Ikaria have modern standards and feature adequate equipment, capable to offer a pleasant stay to all visitors. Visitikaria gives you a detailed list of all the accommodations, that meet all needs and tastes of every visitor. The official tourist accommodation on the island, follow the national and international tourism laws for the accommodation, in accordance with their guidelines on how booking or its cancellation and the rights and obligations of travelers.

Tipping/ Taxes

Throughout the island, there are restaurants, taverns, cafes and bars for all tastes and requirements. The Value Added Tax (VAT) is usually included in the value of a product or service, as indicated on the receipt given when payment, unless otherwise stated by the firm. The tip is included in the price of the product or service and is not required separately. However, customers are free to leave extra tip, as a sign of satisfaction.

Before you start your trip to Ikaria, please refer to the instructions of the Greek National Tourism Organization, concerning the protection of the tourist-consumer.

ENJOY YOUR STAY IN IKARIA!