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Kythnos – the nearest Cycladic outsider

16 June 2013 / 16:06:29  GRReporter
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Although it is not the most popular Cycladic destination, Kythnos has everything needed to become your favourite island. Located between Kea and Serifos, 2 hours from the port of Lavrio, and, together with Kea, these are the nearest islands to Athens.

Its other name is Thermia due to the hotwater springs (thermal baths), existing to this day in the bay of Loutra, and which were enjoyed by King Othon and Queen Amalia. The island is very clean and has retained its unspoilt beauty, remaining authentic and charming in its simplicity. Its traditions have been well preserved and its people are known for their hospitality.

Villages

The two biggest villages of Kythnos are Chora, the capital of the island with 806 inhabitants, and Dryopida with 797 inhabitants. In addition, there are 3 coastal settlements: the main port Merichas, Loutra with its hot water springs, and Panagia Kanala with the church of the same name, which is one of the most popular tourist spots and the greenest place on the island. Chora was built amphitheatrically on a hill and enchants visitors with its highlighted Cycladic colours and authentic island atmosphere. Small squares and picturesque streets, traditional restaurants, cafes, bakeries and stores, white houses with colourful doors and windows, churches, staircases - all this creates a great unity. Starting from Chora, you can visit Loutra and all the nearby beaches – Potamia, Agios Sostis, Schoinari, Agios Stefanos.

Dryopida is located 7 km south from Chora. It is a picturesque village with traditional houses with great architecture, old churches, beautiful small squares and arches, which fascinate visitors. There you can visit the Byzantine Museum with valuable religious artefacts and rare Byzantine icons, the Folklore Museum with traditional local costumes, household utensils, old furniture, as well as Katafiki cave, one of the largest caves in Greece. However, the cave is not yet fully accessible to the public because there is still work being done on security and lighting.

The seaside settlement of Loutra is 5 km from Chora and despite the great number of tourists who visit it the area has preserved its traditional characteristics. Loutra is famous for its hot water springs, which are the only ones in the Cyclades and the therapeutic qualities of which have been known since antiquity. These are two thermal springs the waters of which are indicated for the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, and gynaecological diseases. In Loutra, there is also a diving centre offering outings to more than 30 different diving locations.

Other sights

At Kefalokastro in the northern part of the island, one can visit the remains of Oria castle, where the medieval capital of the island was located until the 16th century. Apart from the churches in the two villages, the island has 128 churches and monasteries. They are located in the fields or behind small hills and you can visit and enjoy the simplicity of local builders.

Beaches

The island boasts 92 bays, inlets and beaches, many of which are accessible by car, but there are also beaches that can only be reached by boat.

Loutra is one of the most famous beaches of Kythnos. If you dive into the warm waters of the mineral springs that end at the beach and in the sea, you will feel their healing effect. To the west, you will find Episkopi beach, which is the only organised beach on the island. However, almost all beaches have trees offering cool shade. Kolona is probably the most beautiful beach of the Cyclades, where a strip of sand splits the sea in two, forming two beaches on the same seashore. However, access is difficult. To see other beaches, visit www.kythnos.gr/el/content/tourism/beaches/.

Flavours from Kythnos

On Kythnos, besides meat and fresh fish, you can also enjoy local products such as sausages, biscuits, white cheese, herbal honey, which is among the best, capers, traditional cakes, etc. Try the famous "sfougato", which is a type of cheese croquette or cheese-ball and made of traditional unsalted cheese. Nobody leaves Kythnos without trying the local pork, marinated fish, ribs, and wine. It should be noted that almost all restaurants and taverns offer dishes made from fresh ingredients produced by their owners: vegetables, eggs, cheese, potatoes, jams, etc.

Where to stay and eat

We suggest the Messaria Hotel (www.messaria.gr), the newest hotel on the island, which is located in Chora, and Villa Elena (www.villa-elena.gr), at Martinakia beach.

Try local delicacies at Arias Gefsis restaurant in Agia Irini, where you will find exceptional lobster with pasta, and be sure to visit Araksovoli, offering great fish soup. For a dessert, go to Tratamento pastry shop.

Tags: Cycladic islands Kythnos beaches Chora
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