Kythira is wild and beautiful. Even though the island belongs to the Ionian islands group, it lies rather far from the other Ionian islands at the southernmost side of Peloponnese. Due to its position, it is one of the most secluded Greek islands.
Why visit Kythira?
Kythira is a wild beauty standing out for its medieval architecture, mixed between Greek, Venetian, Ottoman, and British styles. It has gorgeous natural settings and beautiful secluded beaches. One of the must-sees on the island is its Venetian castle above Chora Kythira, from here you will enjoy a spectacular view of the Aegean Sea and the southern coastline of Peloponnese. Go on adventures to the cliff-top villages, the monasteries, and the abandoned old mills. Search the island to find its many hidden beaches. Kythira is full of surprises!
The history of Kythira
For many centuries, since ancient times, and until the mid-19th century, Kythira had been a crossroads of merchants, sailors, and conquerors. Therefore, it has had a long and varied history and has been influenced by many civilizations and cultures. This is reflected in its architecture (a blend of traditional, Aegean, and Venetian elements), as well as the traditions and customs, influenced by centuries of coexistence of the Greek, Venetian, Ottoman, and British civilizations as well as its numerous visitors.
The Kythirian Straits
The Kythirian Straits formed by the southeastern peninsula of the Peloponnese and the islands of Elafonissos and Kythira represent one of the most dangerous navigational hazards in the Mediterranean Sea. Most sea-traffic from Athens, Istanbul, and the Black Sea to the central and western Mediterranean passes through the straits and are often subject to strong winds and shipwreck on Cape Malea.
Kythira – rocky cliffs and deep bays
Kythira has more than 60 villages spread on its rugged land. The rugged terrain is a result of prevailing winds from the surrounding seas which have shaped its shores into steep rocky cliffs with deep bays. The island has many beaches, of various composition and size; only half of them can be reached by road through the mountainous terrain of the island.
The villages of Kythira
Chora, capital of Kythira with a Venetian castle
In the town there are three caves, a Venetian castle, and the Monastery of Orphan Mary. The gorge where the 22 mills are found starts from a magnificent waterfall named “Fonisa”, (female killer), the only one on the island. The stream above the waterfall springs from the mountain in the middle of town, by the square, during the summer coming right out from the mountain. The mills start from the base of the waterfall and go down stream to the sea. On a cliff by the gorge, is the church, Saint Catherine, which was built into the mountain. At the end of the gorge, before the water reaches the sea, is the Monastery of Orphan Mary with its cave, the second biggest cave on the island. The gorge concludes with one of the many beautiful beaches on the island called “Kalami”, meaning reed.
Mylopotamos (meaning “mill on the river”) is one of the villages on the island of Cythera. It was named Mylopotamos because of the 22 watermills built along a small stream for grinding wheat. Today 21 of the mills are in ruins and one, the Phil’s watermill, is in working condition. Phil’s watermill belongs to the grandson of the last owner, Filippas, and it has been in the family for 350 years.
Kythira – How to get there?
Flying to Kythira: Kithira Island National Airport “Alexandros Aristotelous Onassis” receives flights from Athens all year round. The flight duration is approx. 1 hour. During the summer months you can fly in between Kythira and the Ionian islands of Corfu, Kefalonia, and Zakynthos as well.
Sailing to Kythira: Ferry routes to Kythira are carried out almost daily from the port of Neapolis in southern Peloponnese. The trip duration is about one hour and a half. Three times per week ferry depart for Kythira from Gythio in Peloponnese and from Kissamos in Crete. During the summer months one weekly route is carried out directly from the port of Piraeus.
Kythira Beach Guide
The most popular beaches in Kythira are Agia Pelagia and Kapsali, but all beaches on the island have crystal-clear waters, surrounded by beautiful landscapes. Some, like Lykodimou, Chalkos, and Melidoni are totally secluded.
Partly organized beaches
• Kapsali beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 2 km southeast of Chora
• Agia Pelagia beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 26 km north of Chora
• Diakofti beach – Sandy, family friendly, harbour, located 30 km northeast of Chora
• Avlemonas beach – Pebbled, 19 km northeast of Chora
• Platia Ammos beach – Pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly, located 30 km north of Chora
• Chalkos beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 8 km southeast of Chora
• Kaladi beach – Pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly, located 15 km northeast of Chora
• Lykodimou beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 25 km northwest of Chora
• Lagkada beach – Sandy, secluded, nudism friendly, located 30 km north of Chora
• Agios Nikolaos beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 20 km north of Chora
Things to see in Kythira
- Cave of Agia Sofia – The stalagmite cave is located 20 km northwest of Chora. Inside the cave is a chapel dedicated to Agia Sofia.
- Castle of Chora – A Venetian castle constructed in 1503 dominates the village. It is built on the site of a former Byzantine fortress of the 12th century.
- Monastery of Agia Moni – built in 1840 on the top of a high mountain the monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It has a stunning view of Diakofti harbour.
- Venetian castle of Avlemonas – this castle was built by the Venetians during the 16th century to protect Kythira from enemy attacks. Its entrance is at Avlemonas harbour.
- Antikythira island – go on a boat trip to this small island south of Kythira. Potamos is the port and the largest village on the island, which has only 50 inhabitants. Read more about Antikythira
- Stone Bridges – Kythira island has two beautiful stone-built arched bridges. They are remains from the times of British domination since they were part of their defense system. The biggest bridge is the one in the village of Livadi.
- Lighthouse – At Cape Spathi, the northernmost point of Kythira you will find the lighthouse. It is the largest lighthouse built by the British in Greece, constructed in 1857.
- Castle of Paleochora – one of the most important archaeological sites in Kythira, once the Byzantine capital of the island. It was built in the 12th century by the Monemvasians.
- Waterfalls – The “Fonissa” or “Neraida” waterfall is to be found among huge plane trees. Its waters are falling from a height of 20 forming a small green pond perfect for swimming
- Cave of Kalamos – The impressive cave is situated behind the small church of Agia Sofia. Pottery of the Late Neolithic period (6000 B.C.) was found in the cave.
- Castle of Mylopotamos – The medieval castle named “Kato Hora” was inhabited until the 1950’s. Many of its buildings are well preserved till today.
- Monastery of Agia Elesa – was built near Ano Livadi at the site where Agia Elesa was tortured and died in order not to deny her faith in God. Her grave is at the yard of the monastery.
What to do in Kythira?
Scuba diving in Kythira
Kythira is perfect for scuba diving with a crystal-clear sea full of currents and several shipwrecks.
Hiking in Kythira
Kythira is perfect for hiking with many old footpaths across the island leading to old mills, tiny chapels, and secluded beaches, even to monasteries, arched stone bridges, Medieval castles, and waterfalls.
Weather and climate in Kythira
Kythira is characterized by a very humid springtime, hot summer and autumn, and a short mild winter. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Kythira when the diversity of herbs and flowers is richest, and the weather is perfect. Due to its long hours of sunshine the island is great for holiday most of the year. Throughout the year strong winds are blowing in Kythira. The waters surrounding the island are clean and the beaches unspoiled.