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Last updated : Nov 2009
Naxos, Santorini, Kea and Kithnos
Naxos, Santorini, Kea and Kithnos  - TravelPuppy.com
Naxos

(Piraeus, 103 nautical miles.) The biggest and most fertile island in the Cyclades islands, Naxos lies almost in the centre of the Aegean. Naxos Town (also known as Hora), the capital and main port, is crowned by the ruins of a Venetian castle. A little way out of town, the Pirgos Bellonia (Bellonian Tower) was built under Venetian rule (note the Lion of St Mark emblem) as a safe haven from pirates. The island is particularly noted for its numerous sand beaches, and just south of Naxos Town lies the bathing areas of Agios Georgios, Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios. The island’s second town and port, Apolonas, also has a very nice beach. The inland village of Halki has a medieval fortress and numerous Byzantine churches.

Through summer, there are daily flights from Naxos to Athens.

Santorini

(Piraeus, 127 nautical miles.) Considered by many as the most beautiful of all the Greek islands, Santorini (also known as Thira) was formed by the eruption of a now dormant volcano around 1600 BC. Arrival by ferry brings one to the west side of the island, with the whitewashed cliff top villages of Fira (the capital) and Ia (the Aegean’s most photographed town) overlooking the circular caldera (an enormous depression created by a volcanic explosion). A steep winding path leads up from the harbour of Skala to Fira, where one finds many outstanding hotels, chic restaurants and bars, and a vibrant nightlife. The Archaeology Museum, displaying finds from the excavations at Akrotiri, is worth visiting. From Fira, a mountain path leads along the cliff edge to Ia, noted for its attractive white buildings with blue domes. On the east side of the island lie the archaeological remains of Ancient Thira, a Dorian city dating back to the 9th century BC. Akrotiri is also of great interest for the relics of the Minoan civilisation which were buried under lava following the eruption of 1600 BC; about 40 buildings have been discovered to date. The 18th-century Monastery of Profitas Ilias on the island’s summit and the swimming beaches of Kamari and Perissa are other attractions. Through summer, there are regular flights from Santorini to Athens.

Kea

(Piraeus, 42 nautical miles.) Kea is dotted with small cultivated valleys, fruit orchards, sandy beaches, clusters of whitewashed houses, several windmills and a large number of churches. Not far from the port of Korissia lies the chief settlement Hora (also known as Kea Town). The Convent of Panagia Kastriani, overlooking Otzia Bay, is worth visiting. At Koundouro and Pisses, there are outstanding swimming beaches.

Kithnos

(Piraeus, 54 nautical miles.) A small island, the harsh landscape of Kithnos is softened by fig trees and vineyards. Most hotels can be found in the small port towns of Loutra (noted for its warm medical springs) and Merihas. The main town, Hora (also known as Messaria), is built into an infertile hillside. White Cycladic cottages, churches with frescoes and icons and the islanders’ hospitality combine to make Kithnos ever more popular with visitors in search of beauty and peacefulness.