Kythira -also known among the locals as ‘Tsirigo’ is a bohemian island in Greece, located between the southern Peloponnese and Crete. It is one of the mountainous Greek islands, with many valleys that end at the sea and form enchanting beaches. The vegetation is rich, mainly in the northern and western parts of the island. The climate is typical of the Mediterranean, and in several parts of the island, some springs flow all year round!
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According to Greek Mythology, Kythira is the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite. Specifically, according to the Theogony of Hesiod, Aphrodite was born in the foam of the sea of Kythira, when the genitals of the father of Uranus, cut off from Saturn, fell into her. This version of the legend narrated that the waves swept, taking Aphrodite in Paphos, Cyprus, where she was also worshiped as the patron goddess of the island. So, you know now that in Kythira you will experience love and affection to the fullest!
Reasons to visit Kythira
Kythira island - credits: discovergreece.com
1. There is eerie energy in Kythira that makes you fall in love from the moment you step foot on it. It may be because it is the alleged birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite, it might also be because of the stunning natural beauty it boasts. One thing is for sure: it is unique and you won’t come across it in any other part of the world!
2. It is easy to reach. Kythira is connected by ferry all year round with Piraeus port and Kastelli of Crete. They are also connected with Kalamata, Gythio, and Neapoli in Laconia. Kythira also has an International State Airport and is connected by air with Athens all year round.
4. The beaches of Kythira are really crystal clear, and swimming there is a real pleasure. The waters are cool and refreshing without being icy cold, while they are also medium shallow, with pebbles at the bottom. Paleopoli, Kaladi, Fyri Ammos, Melidoni, Kapsali, Agia Pelagia, Fourni, Halkos, Kombonada, and Platia Ammos are some of the most special beaches on the island. Of course, you must also visit the beach of Diakofti. You will be enchanted by its extraordinary beauty that is reminiscent of an exotic island.
5. On the island you will find picturesque chapels and monasteries that you must visit. Panagia Myrtidiotissa, the monastery that is devoted to the patron saint of the island, Agia Moni and Agia Elessa are some of the ones that are worth a visit.
6. Because it is not an expensive island. Kythira is in fact one of the most affordable places you can visit, especially in comparison to the other, more popular Greek islands. Of course, as with everywhere you go, you need to keep your eyes peeled for tourist traps and overpriced goods and services. However, in Kythira, it is easy to avoid those, especially with the help of the locals.
7. The food is heavenly and affordable. Honestly, no matter which tavern you choose, you will eat very tasty, healthy food at good prices. Be sure to try and buy the delicious thyme honey produced on the island and definitely taste the ‘fatourada’, a local liqueur made from ‘tsipouro’ and cinnamon, with a long history and great taste.
How to get there
Kythira port - credits: tritonferries.gr
There are many ways to travel to Kythira. Arguably, the easiest but not the most affordable one is by airplane from Athens International Airport. The most ordinary way to get to Kythira, however, is by ferry from Piraeus.
You can also access the island by road to Gythio and Neapoli of Laconia and from there again by boat. If you want to get to Kythira from Crete, you will find a ferry to do so in Kastelli, Kissamos in the prefecture of Chania.
The flight from Athens to Kythira takes about 20 to 25 minutes. From Piraeus to Diakofti Kythira the ferry takes approximately 8.5 hours. From Neapoli in Laconia by ferry, you will reach the island in about 1 hour and 15 minutes, while from Gythio in Laconia it will take 2 to 2.5 hours depending on the route the ship follows.
Please keep in mind that if you decide to go by boat from Gythio or Piraeus, the routes are less frequent. At the same time, if you decide to travel from Neapoli in August, you will have only two options to choose from: either the morning or the afternoon ferry.
If you’re not sure of where to stay, the best choice in terms of location is in the central or the southern part of the island, such as Livadi, Chora, or Kapsali, although in Agia Pelagia the options for accommodation are much more.
You will find more information at travel agencies, where you will book your tickets for Kythira. Just keep in mind that the sooner you book your tickets, the better. The demand is great, especially in the high-season summer months.
The best towns and villages
Kythira's Chora with the famous Venetian castle - credits: chasingthedonkey.com
The beautiful Chora of Kythira, the island's capital, is located in the southern part of the island and is scattered with mansions and white houses lined up in the alleys, which in turn climb all the way to the Venetian castle of the 16th century. The white churches, the main square, and the Archaeological Museum are necessary stops you cannot omit during your visit there.
Avlemonas - credits: bookyogaretreats.com
Avlemonas is a small port, with green waters and a small beach. Usually, here, people dive from the rocks, which have been shaped throughout the years in a way that allows you to lie comfortably when sunbathing. You can also enter or exit the waters with ease through special stairs that have been placed there to accommodate the swimmers. In the homonymous village, do not forget to buy the famous salt of the island, as well as fruits and vegetables from the locals, which have been collected from their orchards.
Kapsali - credits: @ikleau.kythira
One of the most beautiful settlements of the island, Kapsali is full of romantic corners, coves, taverns with stunning views of the island, trendy and traditional cafes, and beaches ideal for people-watching and endless hours of swimming. What’s more, the stunning village of Kapsali is one of the most vibrant ones on the island. It has several shops and bars for a fun yet relaxed nightlife that will make you return to the region almost every night of your vacation.
Livadi, Kythira island - credits: kythera.gr
Livadi is located on the south side of Kythira. It is the commercial center of the island, attracting those who want to indulge in a shopping spree during their trip to the island. The bazaar every Wednesday afternoon gathers several small producers and visitors. Do not forget to visit the bridge of Katouni with its twelve arches, which is one of the innumerable works of the English rule. The bridge was built 2 centuries ago and is considered the largest stone bridge in the Balkans. Don’t forget to include in your itinerary a visit to the Byzantine museum with its impressive exhibits that testify to the fascinating history of Kythira.
Mitata, Kythira island- credits: anemoniapartments.gr
Beautiful and with a breathtaking view of the Tsakonas gorge are the lusciously vegetated Mitata, which are dominated by the smell of the rare apple trees that are grown there. Mitata is located almost in the heart of the island and in a distinguished position, as it lies in the highest part of the gorge. The view from the main square of the village cannot be put into words. In the square, you will find a traditional village cafe, which also serves as a restaurant and it’s the meeting point of the locals. If you reach Mitata, it is worth also visiting the springs of the village, as well as the opposite village of Viaradikon with the well-known spring of Ai Giannis.
Potamos, Kythira island - credits: kainourgiamera.gr
Potamos is the mountain village of the island. Although it is so far from the sea that will can neither smell nor see the gorgeous body of water the Greek islands generously offer, it is no less appealing compared to the other villages of Kythira. On the contrary, it is one of the most alluring villages on the island, and the reason for that lies in its main square, with the beautiful traditional cafe, that has it all. Every Sunday morning in Potamos there is a bazaar, that attracts large crowds and provides local delicacies to the locals and the visitors of the village, such as grilled octopus. It is not possible to return to your accommodation without buying several, local products, and especially the oil rusks from the oven of ‘Karavas’.
Karavas, Kythira island - credits: @gatori_hanzo
Even further north of Potamos, the wonderfully green Karavas, with the running waters, the springs of Amir Ali, and the eye-catching architecture of its houses that are engulfed by flowers. Karavas is a beautifully green, tranquil village built bounded by hills. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop for a cup of traditional Greek coffee at the traditional cafe of the village, near the village church. Because of its favored position, the cafe of Amir Ali is also candidly recommended. Of course, it is worth walking along the stream, as well as visiting the abandoned settlements of the village. Within walking distance from Karavas is Ammos Square, and the famous lighthouse of Moudari.
Mylopotamos - credits: kithera.gr
This mystical village of Mylopotamos is full of legends and unique traditions. It is worth catching up with the locals in the cafe of the square, under the plane tree, in order to hear stories about Kato Chora and the ruined Venetian village. Before leaving, ask the locals to give you directions to reach one of the most impressive secrets of the island: the waterfall of Fonissa, which will talk about more in-depth below.
Kalokairina - credits: newsbeast.gr
If a settlement in Kythira reminds people of summer all year round, even if it is not located by the sea, this is none other than the Kalokairina -which in English translates to ‘summery’-in the western part of the island. With a name that has been given due to the fact that the climate of the village during the summer months is ideal, the legend has it that this village was created by a Byzantine family of Crete.
The ‘Vlantides’, as the alleged family was called, when they first arrived on the island, lived in the area of Lachnos, in the bay of Myrtidia. Due to the western location of the area, however, and the frequent raids of pirates during the 17th century, the family moved higher, creating the settlement of Kalokairina.
Due to the fear of pirates, the Vlantides family built their houses to look like fortresses. Thus, until today, one can find in the village two-story houses with high exterior walls and inner courtyards.
The best beaches in Kythira:
Kapsali - credits: travel-zone-greece.com
A picturesque harbor, with many shops, a vibrant atmosphere lasts until late at night. It boasts exotic green waters, however, keep in mind that it tends to be one of the busiest beaches on the island, as it is preferred by families due to the easy access. Combine it with a trip to Hytra, the small island opposite Kythira, with the famous caves and the shimmering waters.
Agia Pelagia beach - credits: @1sttime_in_kythera
Amazing crystal clear blue waters, small pebbles, and an endless beach compose the image of Agia Pelagia beach. Due to its vast size, it has room for a lot of people, but because it is in the north, it is often overlooked over the tiny, crowded beaches of the south, people seem to prefer due to the weather that doesn’t get as windy there.
In Agia Pelagia beach you will experience the ultimate level of comfort. There, you will find a beach bar., while the beach is divided into an organized and an unorganized part, with the second one occupying most of it. It is truly an ideal place for swimming; one you’ll never get tired of.
Located within a 5-minute distance on foot, it is worth visiting the entrance of the Gorge of Kakia Lagada from where Barbarossa occupied the island. There, you will come upon wonderful nature and a magnificent lake by the sea. To top it all of, Agia Pelagia beach is easily accessible, inviting all the visitors of the island to a joyous time.
Kaladi beach - credits: @kythiraguide
Kaladi is the most famous beach on the island. When traveling to Kythira, it is impossible not to be recommended Kaladi beach. It is a pebbled beach with turquoise, crystal clear waters. It is located in the eastern part of the island, right next to Paleopolis.
The beach is divided into three parts. The third and most impressive one is a small cave that after you pass through, you end up on a very small beach. To reach Kaladi beach, you have to drive a few meters of dirt road and then go down about 120 stone steps. Remember that you will need to climb up those steps upon your return but it is more than worth it.
Kalami beach - credits: @demy_pas
Kalami beach is located near the village of Mylopotamos and is an ideal choice for those who do not want to mingle with the large crowds. You will have to follow the road to Panagia Orfani, and a few meters before you reach the beach, you will have to leave your car and continue by hiking for about 15 minutes and climbing very steep cliffs.
Kalami is enchanting but access from land is particularly difficult so you need to be prepared. The waters are mesmerizing, rich blue and deep. When visiting the beach, don’t forget to bring a mask with you, in order to be able to observe the cannon located at the bottom of the sea.
Halkos beach - credits: @cowboydrone
The beach of Halkos is located about 5 minutes after the village of Kalamos. It has a small piece of dirt road at the end route. It is organized with umbrellas and a canteen from where you can buy drinks and snacks in order to last the whole day on the beach. Halkos beach is one that stays unaffected by the weather whether it gets windy or not. It has a pebbled, and it is sure to become one of your favorites.
After all, it is no coincidence that Halkos is one of the busiest beaches in Kythira and is located a few kilometers from the settlement of Kalamos. The waters of Halkos have a bottom of exceptional beauty, so put a mask and a respirator in your beach bag and don’t miss the chance to explore it.
Fyri Ammos beach - credits: @adamantia.k
Fyri Ammos is a rather wild beach, with plenty of pebbles to sink your feet, that when caught in the breeze, makes wonderful waves, ideal for playing in the water, always with the necessary attention. There are also small caves here, that if you visit the beach early and find them unoccupied, you can use as your own small, private beach, with natural shade. A part of this large beach is organized with sunbeds and umbrellas.
Be aware that in Kythira there are two beaches called Fyri Ammos. The first and most famous is located southeast of the island, very close to the village of Kalamos. It is a large beach with red color in the sand and pebbles while in the past it has been awarded the "Golden Starfish" award for its natural beauty and purity of its waters. Once you are done with your dives and stretches you will go for food at the tavern of Filio.
Melidoni beach - credits: @nick.haji
A personal favorite, Melidoni is a wonderful bay with crystal clear waters and fine pebbles. It is located in the southwestern part of Kythera and overlooks the islet of Hytra. The landscape you will come across is more than idyllic. You will need to pass by a dirt road in order to get to the beach, but you won’t regret it. The alternative way to access the beach is by boat from the port of Kapsali. The left part of the beach is organized and will provide you with all of the essentials for a comfortable stay. However, the right part of the beach is free for you to lay your towel on if you prefer.
Diakofti beach - credits: @ikleau.kythira
This is the most exotic, organized beach on the island, located right next to the main port, with wonderful fine golden sand and bright turquoise waters. Although Diakofti beach is located directly opposite the port of Kythera, its peculiar location doesn’t take anything from its staggering beauty. The easy access and the shallow waters make it ideal for families with small children. It has sunbeds and a canteen but also free space with tamarisk trees that generously provide Diakofti’s visitors with their shade.
Fourni beach - credits: @kythoikies_holiday_houses
Fournoi beach is characterized by wonderful fine pebbles, and intriguing caves to explore. An added bonus is the wonderful swing-hammock in the sea, hanging under the shade of a rock. Fourni is another one of Kythira’s beaches that is organized, while it is located in the northeastern part of Kythera. You can reach Fourni through a paved dirt road you will take from the main road that leads from Karavas to Ammos Square you reach the beach. Don’t hesitate to visit it; it is one for the books!
Platia Ammos beach - credits: @mariossouris
Platia Ammos is the most remote beach from Kapsali. It is sandy and has a nearby tavern where you can eat expedition Greek food and dishes of the local cuisine. The north winds blow strong there, so beware of the weather before you decide to visit it, and avoid it if you’re traveling with children.
Lagada beach - credits: @gatori_hanzo
With a crystal clear organized beach and wonderful views of the island, Lagada beach is expectedly an excellent choice for families and for those who wish not to sacrifice their comfort. Lagada beach is extremely organized, while its excellence is in the details, such as the baby wipes you will find in the bathroom, that wins the appreciation of swimmers and families alike. As an added bonus, when visiting Lagada beach, you can keep your children entertained in the bar area, where they are allowed to paint on pebbles.
Sparagario beach - credits: @ktrnmv
Sparagario is a small pebbled beach that does not gather a lot of people due to the difficult access. You can go there on foot or by renting a pedal boat from Kapsali, which is directly opposite. For fans of extreme sports, there is a zipline only on Sundays. It is a very beautiful, quiet, and clean beach. It is completely unorganized with no sunbeds and no shops, so if you decide to visit it, make sure to bring the essentials with you. Quite a few people go camping there, while Sparagario is also popular among nudists.
Paleopoli - credits: kithera.gr
Paleopoli beach, in the homonymous settlement, is the largest beach of Kythira. The coast is covered with sand and fine pebbles and it is partly organized. There, according to the aforementioned legend, Aphrodite emerged shaping the heart-shaped pebbles. It is separated by a rock from the small beach of Limni.
Kobonada beach - credits: kithera.gr
To the east of the island, Kombonada is one of the wildest beaches you will find in Kythira. It is located between Fyri Ammos of Kalamos and Kaladi. There you will come upon large pebbles and very deep waters. As a result, if you’re not a fan of sand touching your feet, Kombonada is the beach for you! In order to reach it, you have to go to the villages of Travasariana or Goudianika and then follow the signs. Access is very easy. The natural landscape of Kombonada will make you fall in love with it.
Getting around Kythira
The streets of Kythira - credits: sochoraboutique.com
The size of Kythira island makes it necessary for you to have a car or motorbike for your travels. The road network is good, a major main road crosses the entire island from north to south, while access to most beaches is via asphalt roads.
However, the public transport system of Kythira is not the greatest. There is a local bus available during the tourist season, with routes along the main road of the island, however, you cannot explore the whole of the island with it, and its itineraries are not as frequent as one would like.
For that reason, unless you’re bringing your own vehicle with you, renting one, or relying on the island’s taxis, which will set you back a considerable amount of money, are your only two options.
Things to do in Kythira
Things to do in Kythira - credits: @s_samara84
1. Take in the sights. People who enjoy museum visits cannot skip visiting the two museums on the island. In Chora, you will find the Archaeological Museum, where exhibits of prehistoric and classical times from the island are on display. From those, in our opinion, such as the marble lion of the 6th century BC that stands out, while it also boasts findings from the era of Venetian rule. The admission fee of the museum costs € 4.
What’s more, In the square of Kato Livadi, you will come across the Byzantine Museum, with the collection of early Christian, Byzantine, and post-Byzantine works of art - from murals and paintings to ritual objects.
2. Visit Hytra. From the port in Kapsali, you will find boats that will allow you to explore the rocky islet called Hytra (or ‘Avgo’). It is worth the visit to see the sea cave with the enchanting colors inside and outside the seabed and the seal shelter at its edge.
3. Explore the Fonissa Waterfall. It is hidden in a place that looks like it has jumped out of a fairy tale, with old watermills and lush vegetation. Legend has it that at the base of the waterfall, two women once quarreled and one pushed the other and was killed, hence the name that translates to ‘female murderer’ in English. Its alternative name, which is ‘Fairy Waterfall’, is much less creepy and most people -us included- prefer it.
4. Detect the traces of British rule. One of the most imposing monuments of the island, the stone bridge in Katouni was built during the British occupation and is the largest stone bridge built in Greece. One of the most beautiful and well-preserved examples of the English period is the school of Milapidea, a building with a vaulted roof on the hill near Livadi that was constructed during the 19th century. Its gothic windows and marble slabs are impressive.
The Moudario Lighthouse, also built during the English period, is located at the northernmost point of Kythera, at Cape Spathi, built in the middle of the 19th century with a height of 25 meters. The view from the top is magnificent.
5. Make a stop at the Castle. Dividing the city into two, the Venetian castle of Kythira’s Chora was built during the Venetian occupation of the island in the 12th century. The impressive structure offered the Venetians an exceptional advantage for observing the Ionian, Aegean, and Cretan seas, giving the castle the name ‘Eye of Crete’. It has four churches, the Castle of the Pantocrator built in 1545, as well as the Historical Archive of Kythera, where the visitor can learn about the history of this small island. The gorgeous Castle also offers stunning views of the neighboring island of Antikythera.
6. Do not forget the Monastery of Myrtidiotissa. The largest monastery in Kythira, the Monastery of Panagia Myrtidiotissa, is located on the west side of the island, near the village of Kalokairina. Dedicated to the patron saint of the island, Panagia Myrtidiotissa, the monastery is considered the spiritual heart of the island.
Legend has it that the icon of Panagia Myrtidiotissa appeared to a shepherd leading his flock into the water. He took the picture with him, but the next day the picture suddenly reappeared under the Blueberry bush where he found it. The shepherd decided to build a small church for the Virgin Mary, which still exists today, next to the current church. While there, do not forget to visit the Cross, a self-explanatory monument offered by a sailor. It is located on one of the western hills of Kythera, which is an ideal place to catch the sunset.
8. Visit Antikythera. For a nice day trip, choose Antikythera, a small island between Kythira and Crete. After a journey of about two hours, you will reach Potamos, the main village of the island. With only 45 permanent residents, the island's population increases during the summer and reaches about 500 people.
The island, forgotten for many years, is quite rural and can boast of unspoiled nature. You can explore the ruins of ancient Aigeila in the bay of Xeropotamos, where you can take a refreshing dip or explore the southern coast. Before returning to Kythira, stop at one of the cafes on the river and enjoy a drink of traditional raki with a wonderful appetizer platter to complete your day.
9. Stop at the cave of Agia Sofia in Mylopotamos. The cave is located near the village of Kapsali and has impressive formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Still, the main point of attraction of the cave is the church of Hagia Sophia. The church hosts sacred icons and beautiful frescoes. The findings date back to the early Christian period, proving that there were Christian cults there.
10. Walk the oldest path of the island. This is what connected the coastal village of Avlemonas with the Minoan summit sanctuary, the most important ever found outside Crete. Today there stands imposing, although windswept, the church of Ai-Giorgis overlooking the entire eastern side of Kythera, the cape of Maleas -also known as Cape Malia-, Neapoli, and Elafonisos.
The best time for this route is early in the morning, as, in this way, you will avoid the unbearable heat of the blazing summer sun and will you kick off your day on the right foot!
What to eat and drink
A traditional tavern in Kythira - credits: @ilovekythera
The island has kept unchanged many elements of its tradition. In the village of Mitata, the Wine Festival is organized every year. Tables are set up in the village square and free wine is offered by local producers among circular dances and traditional songs.
At the same time, the large agricultural exhibition takes place in the village of Francia, where the local products of the island are exhibited. Enjoy the festive atmosphere of the island. Taste the local delicacies accompanied by local wine, and let the delectable tastes swipe you off your feet!
The wine produced in Kythira is intended mainly for the needs of the house, as the production is not large. Two varieties are cultivated, the ‘Arikaras’ which comes from red grapes, and the ‘Petrelanos’ which come from white grapes. Other varieties are ‘Koumaki’ and ‘Roditis’. From the grapes is also produced the local ‘tripoura’, which is a traditional drink of Kythira.
There are numerous traditional dishes in Kythera. Below you will find the most popular of Kythira’s products, you cannot leave the island without tasting and buying in order to take them back home with you.
Faturada: It is a traditional drink that consists of tsipouro, cloves, and cinnamon, and it is usually consumed after the main meal.
The rusks of Kythira: One can buy Kythira’s rusks from several traditional groceries in the market of the island, Livadi, or in its Chora. They are made with high-quality olive oil and they are the perfect ‘meze’ for any kind of alcohol.
Xynochontros: No list of Kythira’s products is complete without Xynochontros. It is a kind of wheat with a sour taste, as its name suggests - ‘xyno’ means ‘sour’ in English. It is an accompaniment to recipes, such as braised veal, or as an ingredient in pies, such as pumpkin pie.
Nobody can visit Kythira and return without having eaten in the tavern of ‘Filio’ in Kalamos. It is a must-go destination that should follow your swimming endeavors on the beaches in the south of the island. The same goes for ‘Skandia’, the tavern in Paleopolis. In Agia Pelagia the options are many, but we particularly love ‘Sxolio’. In Potamos you should eat in ‘Panaretos’, while in the tavern of ‘Sotiris’ in Avlemonas, you will enjoy fresh and delicious lobster spaghetti.
Our trips to Kythira
Kythira - credits: @alkispapadim
There is no doubt that the best way to experience Kythira is through the eyes of a local. And that exactly what you can do if you want to combine your visit to this offbeat island with a trip to the Greek capital and two more of the most beautiful regions of its mainland.
Join our 14-day Family Trip To Athens, Nafplio, Mani, And Kythira and you will never look back!
Intellectual, sophisticated, with a special architectural color, Kythira attracts many foreign and Greek visitors, famous and not, who seek there an environment of relaxation, carefree summer elegance, contact with nature and history.
Although small in size, Kythira has a very interesting hinterland: beautiful villages with architecture with strong local color as well as Venetian features and wonderful routes for leisurely strolls. Book your tickets to the island as soon as you can, and experience the most original side of our beautiful country.