Welcome to my guide on Kea Island, a hidden gem nestled in the Aegean Sea, part of the Cyclades Islands in Greece. If you’re planning a trip and wondering where to stay on Kea Island or what to do, you’ve come to the right place!
Kea is known for its stunningly beautiful villages, brimming with traditional architecture that captivates every visitor. In this guide, I’ll share insider tips to help you experience the island’s highlights, from exploring the charming streets to unwinding by the serene beaches.
Whether you’re here for relaxation or adventure, Kea Island promises a memorable Greek getaway. So, let’s dive into the must-see spots and hidden corners of this Aegean treasure!
Are you planning a trip to Kea, Greece? Here is everything you need to know.
Kea is a small island in the Aegean, only one hour from the Greek capital. Being the closest island to Athens in the Cyclades, Kea is popular with locals but relatively unknown to foreign tourists and is also known as Tzia Island. This means Kea remains a hidden gem of Greece. With all the classic Cycladic charm, Kea is the perfect getaway for anyone looking for an authentic Greek trip.
Here is your guide to the island of Kea, the little-known gem in the Aegean, including how to get to Kea Island, where to stay, and what to do while there.
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How To Get To Kea Island, Greece
As Kea is a small island with no airport, the only way to arrive there is by ferry. However, its proximity to the capital makes it easy to get to. The best way to get to Kea is by flying to Athens International Airport, which has many international flights throughout the year.
From Athens, a ferry leaves the Port of Lavrio to Korissia (the main port of Kea island) daily. There are also ferries to the island from the city’s largest port, Piraeus. However, the most direct route is from Lavrio.
During the Greek high season (July and August), ferries in the Cyclades can be extremely busy. Therefore, we recommend booking your ferry ticket and arriving at the port at least an hour before departure.
Where To Stay In Kea, Greece
Although Kea is a relatively small, unknown island, the island boasts accommodation options for all budgets. There are many different villages, each offering its own unique stay on Kea.
As the island’s capital, Ioulida is a cluster of beautiful traditional houses and winding alleys perched upon a hill. The town is filled with charming tavernas, boutiques, and cafes, and since there are no cars in Ioulida, it is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. With a collection of accommodation options available to suit any traveler, Ioulida is a great place to stay for views across the island.
As the island’s main port, Korissia is a bustling village with many restaurants, shops, and the usual tourist amenities. There is a lovely beach at Korissia with great swimming opportunities; however, you can easily walk to the popular Galiskari and Vourkari beaches for the day. Frequent bus services from Korissia make it a perfect base for discovering the rest of the island.
With a couple of fabulous tavernas, a long beautiful beach, and a shop for essentials. Otzias is a great place to stay for a relaxing Greek island escape. The public bus comes through the town, but it’s an easy hike from Otzias to beaches and areas of interest if you feel like walking.
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What To Do And See In Kea, Greece
Regardless of its proximity to Athens and its popularity as a weekend getaway, Kea is a very relaxed island. Perfect for those who love spending time in nature hiking, out on the water, and enjoying local delicacies. Kea is a place to relax and rejuvenate. Here are the best things to do in Kea, Greece.
Explore The Narrow Alleys And Meet The Locals
And, by locals, we mean the 4-legged kind.
Hiking On Kea
The island of Kea is a natural paradise home to rare plants and wild animals and is an excellent destination for nature lovers and hikers. The island connects via 40km of walking routes, part of an ancient road network from the 7th – 6th century B.C. Various trails take you through lush woodlands and down winding valleys. By following these trails, you will stumble upon Kea’s four ancient cities of Ioulida, Karthea, Korissia, and Poiessa.
Visit The Kea Lion
One of the most interesting archaeological site choices on the island of Kea is the Kea Lion. The ruin can be found easily by the road above or by trekking down from Ioulida into the valley. The Kea Lion is a 6th-century B.C. sculpture with a bold grin. To this day, the origins of the lion are unknown; however, many studies link the lion to an old legend that stated that Kea was once inhabited by nymphs who fled to Karystos (on Evia island), fearing a great lion. The sculpture is a must-see on the island.
Visit The City Of Ancient Karthea
Located on the island’s southern side, Karthea was the most important of the four ancient cities of Kea. While little of the city remains, there is plenty to see with the Doric Temple of Goddess Athena, the Temple of Demetria, and the Temple of Pythion Apollo. The ancient city is quite hard to access. However, given its position above the Bay of Poles, it’s a terrific stop for a boat trip or any adventurous visitor.
Spend The Day At The Beach
Kea is a small island that boasts many beautiful beaches. While the island may get many visitors from the capital each weekend, it remains relatively relaxed during the week. This means you can often find yourself on a whole beach alone to spend a great day.
The best beaches in Kea are Pisses, Otzias, Kambi, Koundouros, Gialiskari, Frea, Korissia, and Kampi. Each of these beaches has tourist facilities with beach beds, umbrellas, and restaurants.
The more isolated and remote beaches on the island of Kea offer complete seclusion and limited or no facilities. The best of these include Oreos, Xyla, and Liparo.
Discover A Lighthouse
Kea is home to a couple of charming 19th-century lighthouses with their own unique stories.
First up, let’s talk about the Lighthouse of Cape Tamelos, down at the southern tip of Kea, close to Kythnos. Built in 1893, this one features a 7.5-meter stone tower. You can drive most of the way there on a paved road, but the last stretch is a dirt path. It’s a bit of a journey from the port of Kea, around 31km, but definitely worth the trip for the views.
Agios Nikolaos Lighthouse
Then there’s the Agios Nikolaos Lighthouse. This historical gem holds the title of being the first functioning lighthouse in the Cyclades Islands. You’ll find it perched at the tip of a tiny peninsula right by Vourkari harbor.
The cool part? It’s built on the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Poseidon. Plus, it’s got a little chapel of Agios Nikolaos snuggled up next to it. The lighthouse, with its eye-catching viridian dome, stands out against its whitewashed walls. Standing at 8 meters tall with a focal plane of 32 meters, it’s steeped in Greek naval tradition. And guess what? It’s not just any old lighthouse – it’s officially a protected monument.
To get there, just take a short 10-minute dirt-track stroll from the port of Kea.
Both of these lighthouses offer a peek into Kea’s maritime heritage, so they’re a must-visit for anyone exploring the island.
Go On A Boat Trip
With many tranquil, turquoise bays perfect for a leisurely snorkel or swim, Kea is the ideal place for a boat excursion. Diving is another popular Kea activity that boasts beautiful clear waters and many interesting underwater sites. The reef off Koundouraki is one of Greece’s top diving spots. Additionally, Kea divers can enjoy the fascinating shipwreck of the HMHS Britannic, which Jacques Cousteau discovered after it sunk in 1916.
Now that you have your Kea Island guide, tell us, what is the first thing you will do on the island of Kea?