Kythira is technically one of the Ionian Islands but not geographically close to the others in the group as it sits on its own at the foot of the Peloponnese. It is much closer to Crete than to its nearest main Ionian neighbour, Zakynthos. It’s a large island but with a relatively small population, and fewer visitors than most other islands.
Kythira is known for its steep cliffs, its rugged bays, and the strong winds which created both these features. The seas around here can still be rough, with ferries sometimes cancelled, so take that into account when planning your travels. The sea here is so notorious that it was one of the factors that led to the building of the Corinth Canal, to save boats from risking the waters off the Peloponnese.
Much of Kythira is wooded, and while it isn’t picture-postcard beautiful, it does have a rugged charm. The fact that it attracts fewer visitors can be a bonus, as it gives you more of a sense of a personal discovery of a Greek island that is a little off the tourist trail.
In Greek mythology Kythira was the home of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty. Several temples to Aphrodite used to exist on the island but there are no longer any remains of these.
Getting to Kythira
Flights to Kythira
Kythira does have an airport from where there are flights to Athens. At the time of writing there is one flight a day, six days a week. In addition there are flights to Crete, Zakynthos and Thessaloniki.
Ferries to Kythira
One reason Kythira is quieter is the lack of easy ferry connections. You can get there by ferry from Athens (Piraeus), and also from Kastelli in north west Crete. There are also connections from several places in the Peloponnese, including Neapoli, Gythio, and Kalamata. There are also ferries to and from Kythira’s small neighbour, AntiKythira.
Note that although Kythira doesn’t get as many visitors as some islands, it can still get busy in the summer and if you are planning to take a car you should definitely book your ferry ticket in advance to be sure of a place.
Ferries in Greece
Ferries in Greece has an excellent and very thorough website where, in addition to checking ferry schedules and times, you can also book tickets and get lots of useful information about travelling by ferry in Greece.
Best Things to Do on Kythira
The island’s capital is Chora, which is also spelled Hora and also referred to as Kythira Town. It’s an attractive town of whitewashed houses which overlooks a harbour on the south coast. Its visitor attractions include a 16th-century Venetian fortress and an Archaeological Museum.
Kythira has plenty of good beaches all around the island, including some within easy reach of Chora, and others on the north west coast. Those on the west coast are a little harder to get to and therefore attract fewer sunbathers.
Cave of Ayia Sofia
This show cave on the west coast of the island has guided tours, and is named after Saint Sofia whose body is said to have been found inside the cave. A really unusual feature is the chapel inside the cave that was built by local villagers in honour of the saint.
Monastery of Ayia Moni
By Greek standards this is a fairly modern monastery, having been built in 1840 although it is now abandoned. It’s slightly to the west of Diakofti on the east coast and if you can make the climb up you get wonderful views down over the town.
Kythira does have other attractions, including several more monasteries, lots of pretty little fishing villages dotted around the coast, the Moudari lighthouse in the north of the island from where it is possible to see the Mani coast of the Peloponnese, and the Byzantine ruins of Paleohora, also in the north of the island.
Where to Stay on Kythira
Kythira has its own very thorough website:
Other Ionians pages
Antonis Maroudas is a Zakynthos winemaker who lives on the 'wine road' and is one of the people who make Zakynthos.
Travel information about Lefkas in the Ionian Islands in Greece, including ferries and flights and the best things to do beaches, sailing, windsurfing.
The Greek Ionian Islands are Corfu, Paxos, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Lefkas, Ithaca and Kythira, and some smaller islands too.
Travel advice and information on Zakynthos (Zante) in the Greek Ionian islands, with information on ferries and flights and the best things to do..
Walking on Paxos is the best way to discover this tiny island south of Corfu in the Ionian Islands, with its wooded hills and terraces of olive trees.
Greece Travel Secrets publishes a page of photos of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands of Greece to perhaps inspire you to visit.
Travel advice and information on Paxos near Corfu in the Ionian islands, information on ferries and flights, what to do in Gaios, Lakka and Longos or Loggos.
Travel information about Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands in Greece, including ferries and flights to Kefalonia and the best things to do, like visiting Fiskardo
Travel advice on Ithaca (Ithaka or Ithaki) in the Greek Ionian islands, with information on ferries and flights and the best things to do.
Life as a waiter on Zakynthos tells what it was like for travel writer Mike Gerrard to work in a Greek restaurant, the Mantalena in Alykanas.
The Best Things to do on Kefalonia include visit Fiskardo and Assos, see Myrtos Beach, enjoy the capital, Argostoli, and visit the Drogorati and Melissani Cave.
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