In Ikaria, you can live forever. Not literally- but if you were born on Ikaria, you are likely to outlive the majority of other people on the planet. Ikaria is known as one of the so-called “blue zones” – areas of the world with the highest number of people over 100 years old.
Where is Ikaria?
Ikaria is a beautiful island in the eastern Aegean sea that is famous for its traditional food, Orthodox Churches, and August festivals. It is like many other picturesque islands in Greece, but uniquely the people there live longer than in other areas of Greece.
Long Lifespans in Ikaria
Compared to the rest of Europe and the United States, people on Ikaria live 10 years longer. One in three people in Ikaria live into their nineties. The other so-called “blue zones” where people live long lives are in Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.
Food in Ikaria
In Ikaria, many experts say that the long life expectancy comes from the local diet. The Mediterranean diet features a lot of vegetables and legumes, as well as healthy fish. These food groups include important vitamins and minerals that are good for the immune system.
The diet also includes garlic, which is good for heart and brain health. In addition, blue zones like Ikaria feature daily exercise, which mostly comes from walking around. Ikaria is mountainous, which means Ikarians stay in good physical condition just by walking to visit their neighbors.
Sleep in Ikaria
Moreover, Ikarians are known to take a short nap in the afternoon. This is proven to be healthy for the heart. The family and religious ties between the locals of Ikaria also increase lifespan. Ikarians are known to avoid anxiety. Residents note in conversations with the BBC that “no one sets appointments here.”
Time in Ikaria
According to the Ikarian tourism board, Ikaria’s slow pace has a history which goes back many years, before there were roads in the region. Ikarians traveled over the hills for several hours, so it was not possible to meet at a specific time.
The same is true for the tradition of businesses opening late in the afternoon. This tradition comes from the days of the pirates in the Aegean Sea, when Ikarians would only open their businesses at night so that the island looked uninhabited from the perspective of the sea. To learn more about what Ikaria was like in the pirate days, read our article on Ikaria’s traditional stone houses.
Recently, a pharmacy opened on the island with the opening hours of 9 am to 6 pm in the village of Raches. Locals pressured the opening hours to shift 2 hours later. Some people joke that Ikarians take their time to do everything – even to die!
How to Get to Ikaria
You can fly to Ikaria from Thessaloniki or Athens in about 1 hour. Ikaria also connects by ferry with some nearby islands like Samos, Syros, Mykonos, and Chios. In the summer, you can also reach Ikaria from Kavala in the north. There is also a ferry from Athens, which leaves 3 times per week and lasts 11 hours. Now that you know the benefits of the slow pace of life in Ikaria, we don’t blame you if you want to take the long route!