Greek Guide

Kythira Day Trips Greece Kythira

Kythira Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

If you fancy a break from Kythira's beautiful beaches this small island offers a wealth of other attractions including unspoilt inland villages, hilltop monasteries, wonderful walking trails, archaeological sites and stalagmite caves.

Take the time to visit the pretty capital, Hora, perched on a ridge two kilometres above the main seaside resort of Kapsali at the southern end of the island. Cycladic style whitewashed houses with blue shutters cling to the hillside crowned by a magnificent 13th century Venetian castle. The original tunnel entrance into the castle is still usable but most of the buildings inside the fortified walls are in ruins except for two churches. The views down to Kapsali and out to sea are breathtaking. Look out for the islet known as Avgo (meaning egg) which is where the goddess Aphrodite reputedly rose from the sea in the same spot where Zeus cast the dismembered body of his father Kronos. The goddess made the island her home and archaeologists have subsequently spent many years trying to unearth evidence of an ancient temple dedicated to her. You can see the fruits of their labours at the excavated site of Paleokastro. A small archaeological museum on the outskirts of the town contains finds from Mycenaean and Minoan sites, gravestones of soldiers who died on the island during the 19th century British occupation and a marble lion dating from 550 BC.

At the village of Spilies, to the east of Hora, there's a small gorge with a stalagmite cave and an open roofed church dedicated to Agia Sofia. The largest and most impressive of several caverns on the island is on the west coast below the village of Kato Hora. You can take a guided tour of the cave which has a frescoed entrance painted by a 13th century hermit. A series of chambers with startling rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites stretch 250 metres into the mountain.

The abandoned village of Kato Hora is half enclosed within the walls of a Venetian castle built in the 16th century to protect the islanders from pirate raids. Pirates were responsible for the destruction of Paleohora, in the north east of the island, which was the medieval capital of Kythira from 1248 to 1537. The ruins constitute one of the most impressive Byzantine sites in Greece and their location on a hilltop at the head of a gorge is spectacular. The ruined town is surrounded by a sheer 100 metre drop on three sides and is concealed from the sea by the surrounding hills. But despite the best efforts of the islanders to guard themselves against seaborne invaders, the pirate Barbarossa detected the hidden stronghold and razed it to the ground. The ancient capital is believed to have had no less than 72 churches in its heyday but today only six remain, including 14th century Agia Varvara which is the best preserved building in Paleohora.