Why go? Named after over-ambitious Icarus, who fell nearby after flying too close to the sun, the island of Ikaria seems a similarly unreachable target. Only 50km off the Turkish coast, it was long ignored by the rest of Greece; even now, few ferries make it here. But it’s worth the bother, because isolation has left the island little scarred by the 21st century. The tavernas, traditions, food and feel remain typically Ikarian. The landscape is an undulation of richly forested mountains (peaking at 1,037m) that plunge to a 160km-long coastline, free of large-scale development.
There are fishing villages and olive groves, Roman baths and ruined temples. And there are also truly fascinating people: the island is one of the world’s few ’blue zones’ – places where the residents live astonishingly long lives. On average, Ikarians live ten years longer than people in the rest of Europe. They also have far lower rates of cancer, depression and dementia, and stay physically active into their 90s. Visit for a week, live like a local and hope the longevity rubs off.
When to go: June-September has milder temperatures and fewer tourists. Ikaria celebrates many saints’ Feast Days from April to.
How to go: Ferries run to Ikaria from Samos (4-5hrs), the maritime hub of the eastern Aegean. Flights link both Ikaria and Samos with Athens (both around 40mins).