From ancient times until the mid19th century, Kythira was a crossroads of merchants, sailors, and conquerors. As such, 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, and Ottoman cultures.
There are archaeological remains from the Helladic period, contemporary with the Minoans. Kythira had a Phoenician colony in the early archaic age. The archaic Greek city of Kythira was at Scandea on Avlemonas; its ruins have been excavated. Its acropolis, now Palicastro (Palaeocastron, "Old Fort"), has the temple of Aphrodite Ourania, the Goddess of love.
In classical times, Kythira was part of the territory of several larger city-states: Argos, Sparta and Athens followed by the Roman and Byzantine Empires, the Republic of Venice, Napoleon, the Turks, Russia, France and the British, finally to be ceded to Greece. Under the British, Kythira was known as Carigo or Cerigo, as was its chief town, the name it had under the Venetian Republic.
The chief town of the island, Kythira (or Chora, "village") has the Historical Archives of Kythira, the second largest in the Ionian islands, after Corfu. The largest villages of the island are Potamós, Agía Pelagía, Áno Livádi, Kálamos and Livádi. Five of the island's villages are on the coast (Platia Amos, Agia Pelagia, Diakofti, Avlemonas, & Kapsali). Nice taverns with good food based on local products and bars can be found in the most tourists places such as Agia Pelagia, Avlemonas, Diakofti but also in Chora.
Kythira’s permanent population is about 3000. During the tourist period, primarily during August, the island's population will often triple.
The port of Diakofti currently serves scheduled routes to/from Gythion, Kalamata, Antikythera, Piraeus, Crete and Neapolis - Vatika. The island's primary airport is the Kithira Island National Airport, located in the region between the village of Friligiannika and Diakofti, about 8 km from the capital.
Since the late 20th century, the Kythirean economy has largely focused on tourism which provides the majority of the island's income. Minor sources of revenue are thyme honey, famous within Greece for its rich flavor, as well as some small-scale cultivation of vegetables and fruit and animal husbandry.
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. Several of them organized, prized for their water quality and cleanness, others secluded and difficult to reach: Kaladi, Melidoni, Chalkos, Fyri Ammos, Palaiopolis, Avlemonas to mention but a few. Visit the caves Milopotamos, Chousti and Kalamos and the castles of Avlemonas, Paleochora, Chora, Milopotamos Do not forget to visit the Archaeological and Byzantine museums as well as the Monasteries with 13th century icons.
During July and August, several traditional dances will be held in various villages. These dances usually attract the majority of the island's population, the biggest of which are the festival of 'Panagia' in Potamos on 15 August, and the wine festival in Mitata on the first Friday and Saturday of August.
There are a lot of ways to come to Kythira. The quickest way is by plane. Domestic and international flights arrive daily at Kythira 's national airport. This is a modern airport and complies with all the international safety regulations.
The most popular way to arrive to Kythira is by boat. There are daily ferry routes from Piraeus to Kythira, as well as from the ports of Githio and Neapolis in Lakonia and Kissamos in Crete. During the summer months the boat routes are more frequent from and to Kythira. The rest of the year has a more limited service.
The months July and August are the most popular, and therefore if you are traveling by boat to Kythira during this period, is best to pre-book your ferry tickets in advance
The capital of Kythira is Chora, which lies south of the island on top of a rock and which fascinates visitors with its unique colours – a combination of Cycladic charm and the natural beauty that thrives all around the island.
Visitors can take a walk along the narrow streets of the city, admiring the Byzantine churches that are found here as well as the famous Venetian castle. The view from the town is breathtaking as you can admire the picturesque bay where Kapsali, the most fashionable tourist resort, is located. Do not miss the chance to visit the traditional fishing village of Avlemona, where the colorful backdrop of nature dominates and inspires. Following a road through the village you will reach the most beautiful beaches of the island, where you can relax and enjoy a refreshing swim during the summer months.
There are many sightseeing in Kythira, including the Cave of Agia Sofia, the stunning Waterfalls of Fonissa and the Medieval Castle of Chora.
Another enjoyable activity in Kythira island is hiking. Many old footpaths cross the island and lead to tiny chapels, small settlements, secluded beaches and hilltops with breathtaking view to the sea. Hiking is best in autumn and spring, when the weather is not so hot. In summer, long hiking can be quiet uncomfortable.
The island is ideal for total relaxation at the beach or in the countryside. Swimming in the wonderfully secluded beaches of Kythira is a delight. Enjoy a day under the hot sun and in the afternoon have lunch in the seaside taverns. All beaches in Kythira have crystal water and they are surrounded by beautiful landscape. Most popular and organized Kythira beaches are Kapsali and Agia Pelagia, while there are also many secluded places to enjoy total privacy, such as Chalkos, Lykodimou and Melidoni. You will find below a list with the best beaches in Kythira island:
On the East side of the island:
Diakofti Beach ( Sandy)
On the north side of the island:
Furi Ammos Beach
Agios Nikolaos Beach
On the West side of the island:
Kalami Beach (difficult access)
Melidoni Beach ( Sandy Beach)
On the South side of the island:
Fyri Ammos Beach
Feloti Beach (difficult access)
In Kythira there are a number of lovely restaurants and tavernas offering delicious local cuisine and flavours, as well as Greek and other international cuisine. Below you can see a selection of restaurants and taverns in Kythira, where you can enjoy a tasty and freshly prepared meal during your holidays and vacations.