The official trails network of Kythera, ‘Kythera Trails‘, has been widely celebrated by the local community and visitors alike. A growing number of tourists has been visiting the island for its rich cultural and natural landscapes and for the manifold hiking options it provides.
The organized network of trails offers now 11 thematic routes, with a total length of 100 km. It is considered a significant tourist product, which valorizes lesser-known sights and the traditional landscapes of the island, offering a unique combination of physical activity and cultural immersion. Based on the restoration of the old traditional trails of Kythera, the network is actively pursuing innovations, whether becoming the first in Europe to pursue the ‘Green Flag Trails’ certification or incorporating a via ferrata. Moreover, it is the first network of trails that has developed a scientific database regarding the trails, the points of interest of natural and cultural heritage as well as the interconnections between nature and culture.
The development of Kythera Trails is the result of methodical work and genuine partnership between the organizations which support the programme as well as the local community. Kythera Trails is led by the Kytherian Foundation for Culture & Development (KIPA) in collaboration with its strategic partners: the Municipality of Kythera, the Domestic Estate Management Committee of Kythera and Antikythera and the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA). The management of the programme is carried out locally, in combination with concurrent management of actions and work packages taken on by the partners. Pivotal is the long-standing cooperation with Paths of Greece, while synergies with local businesses such as Pyrgos House and Outdoors Activities Greece as well as international bodies such as the World Trails Network, are at the core of the programme.
MedINA, focusing on enhancing Kythera Trails and the scientific database, completed recently the study and funded the licensing for the expansion of the network, which includes 7 new trails of 68 km in total. Among others, the study suggests a circular trail around the communities of Mitata and Viaradika, the first ‘epic’ long linear trails on the island and the first three trails on Antikythera. With these, Kythera Trails will be the first single network of trails spanning two islands. This study confirmed once more the exceptional potential of traditional trails as a lever for sustainable tourism development, while aiming at tailor-made promotion of the two islands as hiking destinations based on the best national and international practices.
The partner organizations are currently fundraising for the implementation of the next phase of Kythera Trails, according to the present study. They aim at attracting more hikers, while ensuring the protection of the natural and cultural heritage as well as highlighting the unique identity of Kythera and Antikythera islands.