Part 2: Kythira island
After a great lunch at the Taverna Neraida in the village of Agios Nikolaos we drove down to Neapoli to catch the ferry to Kythira island. The ferry to Kythira takes a bit more than an hour and sails several times per week. There is also a ferry from Piraeus, but it takes more than 6 hours.
We had chosen Kythira as it is still undiscovered by mass tourism and has an interesting past as the birth site of Aphrodite, although some argue she rose from the sea in Cyprus. In the last century, a large part of the former inhabitants of Kythira emigrated to Australia which in Greece is therefore also known as “big Kythira”.
Where to stay in Kythira
Kythira lies near the south-eastern finger of the Peloponnese and belongs to the Ionian Islands, most of which actually lie northwest of the Peloponnese.
Miraculously, Kythira has been spared from mass tourism until today. The villages, most of which are inland, are still unspoilt and characterised more by emigration than by tourism. On our discovery tour we found a number of beautiful and tastefully decorated holiday homes, villas, lovely small guesthouses, and bed & breakfasts on Kythira.
The bay where legend says Aphrodite rose from the sea
It is not easy to decide where to stay on the island. However, since everything is usually only about a 30-minute drive, it's not all that important.
Particularly beautiful parts of the island of Kythira are the fishing village of Avlemonas, where most of the fishermen's houses have been converted into nice holiday flats, the historic town of Chora in the south, and the area around Aroniadika in the centre of the island.
Avlemonas on Kythira
The landscape in Kythira is characterised by rocky mountain domes and karstic valleys, with spruce and cypress trees, olive groves and the scattered white-blue villages giving the landscape an idyllic tone.
Kapsali, the little fishing village below Chora
To understand the island of Kythira you must explore it bit by bit, whether its by discovering the many beaches with their crystal clear waters or trying out the excellent tavernas scattered all over the island.
Narrow alleys in Chora, Kythira, Greece
Bea searching for the Nostos Guesthouse in Chora, Kythira
The town of Chora is the capital of Kythira, with its medieval castle full of narrow alleys overflowing with bougainvillea and vines.
There are a wide range of activities on the island, from simple snorkelling to canyoning. If you're lucky, you'll come across the sea turtles, some of which are quite large.
Where to eat in Kythira
We found a number of good and moderately priced tavernas in Kythira. As they are scattered all over the island, you have the choice to eat at the same one or two tavernas or, as we did, drive all over the island to try them all.
Taverna Skandeia in Palaiopoli,
The Taverna Skandeia in Palaiopoli, just south of Avlemonas has excellently prepared Greek and Laconian dishes and seafood.
If you want to enjoy a lunch or dinner overlooking the ocean we recommend the Alatarea in Kapsali or the Psomoladea in Avlemonas, right next to the beach. Both can get a bit busy in summer, but the commotion is part of the fun.
In the centre of the island, try out the traditional Famiglia in Fratsia and the nearby Kokino Spaleto, both largely frequented by locals.
In the western part of the island there is a great place to watch the sunset and one of the best tavernas we tried on Kythira, the Platanos in the village of Mylopotamos.
Platones in Mylopotamos
Go out in Kythira
Astikon in Patamos – trendy little coffee house and bar
Best beaches in Kythira
Like most beaches in Greece, the water is unbelievably clear with a magical blue colour, but the beaches themselves are composed of pebbles, making the use of waterproof shoes a useful recommendation.
The beach which you can almost call sandy is in the village of Kapsali. It is not as remote as all the others but perfectly acceptable with lots of tavernas along the beach in case you do get a bit hungry. We went snorkelling in the little fisherman’s harbour right next to Kapsali Beach and saw a huge turtle at the entrance of the bay.
One of the nicest beaches is Kaladi, just a bit south from Avlemonas.
When it is windy, as it can sometimes be, the best beach would be Chalkos beach, a bit south east of Chora.
Turquoise waters on Chalkos Beach
If you are staying in Avlemonas, the little bay does not have a proper beach, but lots of stone terraces with access to the water.
Bea having a mid-October swim in Avlemonas
Other beaches are Firi Ammos, which is a bit busier, Sparagano and Feloti. The drive to Melidoni Beach is spectacular, although the beach itself is similar to the others.
Where to stay in Kythira
Charmingly decorated bed and breakfast with 8 cosy rooms and a traditional coffeeshop on the ground floor. Smack in the centre of Chora.
Nestled on the rocks above the bay the Sea Houses of Avlemonas transmit the utter feeling of a Greek holiday without the masses.
Beautifully decorated holiday apartments in the village of Pitsinades not too far from the important market town of Potamos in the centre of the island with great views over the Peloponnese.
How to get to Kythira
The best way to get to Kythira is by ferry from Neapoli on the Peloponnese or by plane. A rental car or your own car are highly recommended.