Tourists usually ignore Kythnos, considering it a barren island that is not the easiest to reach. But because it’s not “fashionable”, it is the ideal place to relax and enjoy the mineral-rich thermal springs in the north of the island. There are over 30 small beaches that are mostly deserted and five villages. The villages are truly Cycladic in their architecture with cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses and central squares.
Both the capital Kythnos and the former capital Dryopida are charming to visit. In the southeast, Kanal has an ancient monastery and lots of trees, uncharacteristic of the island. Kythnos is best discovered by car which can be hired at the port of Merichas. The north-western part of the island (the area between the islet of Agios Loukas and cape Kefalos) is part of the Natura 2000 network.
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Loutra has a diving centre that helps visitors explore the underwater caves, shipwrecks, corals, rock formations and other oddities of the 30 or so diving sites on the island. The club is owned by Manthos Marras, who is now in a wheelchair due to a motorcycle accident. Nonetheless, Marras is still an excellent diver and provides lessons to children and adults. Snorkelling is also an excellent activity on this island.
Kythnos is known for its good capers, as well almond cookies or amigdalota. Tratamento brand are highly recommended, from the Tratamento shop which sells traditional and organic food such as liqueurs, olive oil, cakes and cheese pies.
Don’t be fooled by the stark, arid landscapes of Kythnos. These really form a great backdrop for some really good hiking, while the routes between the villages and secret green spots will add diversity and a magical Cycladic aura. Any hiking tour on the island will certainly reveal the very interesting geological, natural and cultural intricacies of this island. This is not an island overrun by tourists, and you’re going to get the most authentic preview into Greek island life. Ancient sites, country farms, little white churches, good Mediterranean food and lazy villages will pepper your walk with pleasurable moments. If you like Mediterranean biodiversity, you’ll enjoy spotting different birds and plants. It can get windy at times, but it’s all part of the charm. Definitely worth booking a hiking tour if you visit this island that’s literally off the beaten track!
Famous for its hot baths and named after them, Loutra is a must for natural spa lovers. Head to where the hot water pours into the sea, and where a rock-built tub brings together sea water and hot water for the ideal temperature. The actual baths are above the square and parking area, and the bathhouse is quite impressive. They have been popular since the Roman era, as well as by Greece’s royalty until 1862 when it was exiled. The sulphurous water contains many minerals and is reputed to alleviate rheumatism, arthritis, neuralgia, lumbago and gout, in addition to gynaecological ailments among others.
Photo: Dimitrios Asithianakis
South of Loutra lies the small bay of Ag Irini with a protected sandy beach and the intriguing Arias taverna with its unique artwork. To the north of Loutra there are more secluded beaches of Maroulas (a very old settlement), Schinari, Potamia and Kavourocheri. You can walk to Potamia and further to Mamakou Bay from Ag. Sostis.
The church of Agia Triada is known to be the oldest on Kythnos. There’s also the church of Saint Savas, built in 1613. Messaria Square boasts the church of the Virgin Mary or Panagia, which gets very busy on its eponymous feast on August 15 the center of activities on the 15th of August, the feast day of the Virgin Mary.