Kea

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The Island of the Water Nymphs

Forests of Royal Oak, Medieval Cobblestone Paths, Ancient Settlements and Cycladic Beauties at the Gate of the Cyclades
<style=”text-align: justify;”>Kea, else known as Tzia, is an island covered in myths and history known as Hydroussa owing to its plentiful water sources and thick vegetation, that was first inhabited from the Water Nymphs who kept the island fertile with abundant greenery. Kea boasts one of the largest natural harbors of the Mediterranean that hosts the shipwreck of Britannic in the surrounding area. The island has managed to retain its traditional character with its charming villages, its magnificent archaeological sites, its beautiful seashores and the Royal Oak forest, a rare phenomenon for the Cyclades. An island with diversified beauty, pristine beaches, mysterious coves, verdant valleys of olive groves and vineyards home to the largest oak forests of the Cyclades is waiting for you to discover it. The peculiar artistic atmosphere of Ioulida is also different from the other Cycladic islands. Red tiled roofed houses and labyrinthine alleys, arched passages, deserted windmills and stone squares spreads around the imposing castle of Kea. Scattered rural villages with traditional cottages, monasteries, chapels and churches embroidered on the rocks, fountains and watermills, medieval cobblestone paths, and mythical sources, gentle hills and the setting sun behind the temple of Poseidon create the unique image of the countryside. However, the most intriguing side of the natural beauty of Kea is hidden through its medieval trails that used to connect the ancient four cities of Ioulida, Korissos, Poiessa and Karthea, challenging you to cross the island on foot in order to discover the abundance of the natural environment and the timeless presence of Kea in history. The unique palette of colors and fragrances of the nature of Kea perfumes the air with aromas from wild orchids, aromatic shrubs, medicinal herbs, chestnut trees, bell flowers, wild roses, rare mushrooms and colorful lichens. The mountain landscape of Kea is interrupted from fertile valleys of oak and almond trees running right down to the sea opening out into charming bays and coves. Hidden beauties pass through the traditional settlements and the verdant forest until  remote beaches of outstanding beauty.  Will you discover the timeless beauty of Kea through its medieval cobblestone paths?

 

Discover Kea

Best of Kea

The Capital of Kea

The Town of Ioulida is the capital of Kea located on the north side of the island. The peculiar artistic atmosphere of Ioulida is different from the other Cycladic islands. Red tiled roofed houses and labyrinthine alleys, arched passages, deserted windmills and stone squares spreads around the mountain slopes of the castle of Kea. Ioulida is one of the most traditional villages of the Cyclades. Actually, one can travel occasionally by donkeys as cars are prohibited inside the village! The area of Kastro is the oldest part of Ioulida with numerous antique fortifications, traces of the defensive wall and the acropolis. One should also visit the monastery of Panagia Kastriani for its panoramic views to the Aegean. Other monuments worth visiting include the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

The Archaeological Site of Karthea

The Archaeological Site of Karthea is one of the most important archaeological sites of the island located at the area of Poles in Karthea. Archaeological findings have brought to light important traces of the ancient town including the remnants of the ancient acropolis, the temples of Athena and Apollo and the ancient theatre. Ancient Karthea was famous in Ancient Greece as the only island along with Delos which organized the Small Pythia event of the Panhellenic Games in honour of Pythios Apollo. Undoubtely, Ancient Karthea was praised from great poets and historians calling it “…dazzling star of the classic culture”. Findings from the excavations are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

The Monastery of Panagia Kastriani

The Monastery of Panagia Kastriani is the patron saint of Kea located on the northern side of the island. It is the most important religious monument of Kea standing on the edge of imposing hill overlooking the deep blue of the Aegean. According to tradition, some shepherds saw a light on top of the hill of Kastri where they climbed and found the icon of Virgin Mary in 1700 AD. On this spot, these shepherds built a church. In the premises of the monastery, there are guesthouses and monk cells. The monastery celebrates in honor of the saint on the August 15. This is one of the largest traditional celebrations of Kea.

The Royal Oak Forest of Kea

The Royal Oak Forest of Kea is a unique phenomenon for the dry climate of the Cyclades. The mountains of the island are full of oak trees that had a big financial importance for the people of Kea. The shell of the fruit of the tree, known as Hamada, contains large amounts of tannins useful in leather tanning. The people of Kea used to supply the entire production of Hamada to Greece and other countries of Europe. Nowadays the effort to gather and utilize the harvest has restarted.

The Shipwreck of HMHS Britannic

The HMHS Britannic was one of the largest ocean liners in the world (269 meters) sailing in the North Atlantic until its sister ship of Titanic was launched in 1914. Afterwards, Britannic was used as a floating hospital during the First World War. In 1975, Jacques- Yves Cousteau discovered the wreck of the Britannic outside the port of Kea at a depth of 120 meters. The ship was sunk on the November 21, 1916 while sailing towards the hospital station of Limnos island carrying injured British people.

The Village of Vourkari

The Village of Vourkari is a fishing village located on the northeast side of the island. The beautiful settlement has picturesque atmosphere with whitewashed houses and cobblestone alleys spreading amphitheatrically around the hillside. The harbor of Vourkari offers a completely safe mooring for yachts. It is worth visiting the chapel of Agia Irini to admire the views of the sunset. Vourkari is one of the nightlife spots of the island and is famous for its delicious fish taverns.

Archaeological Sites

The Archaeological Site of Karthea is one of the most important archaeological sites of the island located at the area of Poles in Karthea. Archaeological findings have brought to light important traces of the ancient town including the remnants of the ancient acropolis, the temples of Athena and Apollo and the ancient theatre. Ancient Karthea was famous in Ancient Greece as the only island along with Delos which organized the Small Pythia event of the Panhellenic Games in honour of Pythios Apollo. Undoubtely, Ancient Karthea was praised from great poets and historians calling it “…dazzling star of the classic culture”. Findings from the excavations are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

The Castle of Ioulida was one of the ancient city states of the island located on the highest point of the capital of Kea. Kastro is the oldest part of Ioulida with the remains of the ancient acropolis and the remnants of the Venetian defensive walls. The church of Agia Paraskevi and the church of Panagia Kastriani are located in the same area. Findings from the archaeological excavations are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

The Settlement of Agia Irini is one of the most important ancient cultural centers of the Aegean located close to the Chapel of Agia Irini on the northwest side of the island. The settlement hosts an ancient settlement of the Neolithic period, which is believed that it served as a communication channel between the Mycenaean and Minoan culture. The most impressive archaeological finding of the settlement is the female clay statuettes of Kores.  The site is not open for visitors as archaeological excavations are still in progress. Findings from the archaeological excavations are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

The Settlement of Kefala is an outdoor settlement of the Neolithic period located on the northwest coast of the island at Cape Kefala. The settlement consists from the cemetery with rectangular and circular shaped graves that is considered to be the first organized cemetery in the area of the Aegean.

Churches and Monasteries

The Church of Agios Symeon is one of the most beautiful churches of Kea located on top of a hill of the western side of the island. The church was built on the ruins of the sanctuary of Aphrodite in the 2oth century. For the construction of the church, several marble parts of the ancient temple were used.  Here, one will have the opportunity to rest at the picturesque churchyard and admire panoramic views over the Aegean Sea. The church celebrates in honor of the saint in February 3 and September 1.

The Monastery of Agia Anna is an abandoned byzantine monastery located on top of a hill above to the village of Ioulida. The monastery was one of the most important monasteries of Kea during the 17th century. Today, one will have the opportunity to admire the church of Agia Anna and traces from the old walls and monk cells.

The Monastery of Episkopi is one of the oldest monasteries of the island located on the northeast side from the village of Ioulida. The byzantine monastery was built on an ancient sanctuary of goddess Artemis. Today, one will have the opportunity to admire the church of Episkopi and traces of the fortified walls.

The Monastery of Panagia Kastriani is the patron saint of Kea located on the northern side of the island. It is the most important religious monument of Kea standing on the edge of imposing hill overlooking the deep blue of the Aegean. According to tradition, some shepherds saw a light on top of the hill of Kastri where they climbed and found the icon of Virgin Mary in 1700 AD. On this spot, these shepherds built a church. In the premises of the monastery, there are guesthouses and monk cells. The monastery celebrates in honor of the saint on the August 15. This is one of the largest traditional celebrations of Kea.

Monuments

The Enamel and Metallurgy Factory is the oldest and largest Metalwork Factory of the Mediterranean located at the entrance of the village of Korissia. It was the sole factory that was producing enameled products, including water bottles and helmets for the Greek Army to kitchen appliances in 1927. Since 1991, the Enamel Factory has been described as a preserved monument. The Association of Friends of the Enamel Factory have preserved the old machines of the factory. Although the building is abandoned, it is occasionally used as a venue for exhibitions and performances during the summer.

The Katsonis Crossing is a narrow crossing that played an important role before the revolution of 1821.  The namesake sea warrior served the Russian Navy during the Russian and Turkish war and turned the harbor of the island into a base of operations against Turkey. Following a bloody naval battle of the Turkish fleet in 1789, Katsonis was blocked from the Ottomans into the harbor of Agios Nikolaos. However, he managed to escape by transporting the ship from the bay to the sea from the narrow isthmus of Kokka with the help of the inhabitants of the island.

The Lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos is one of the oldest lighthouses of the country and the first lighthouse that was built in the area of the Cyclades. The lighthouse was built on the remains of the temple of Poseidon and it has been described as an outstanding architectural construction from the Ministry of Culture. The lighthouse is accessible from the Katsonis Crossing.

The Lion of Kea, else known as Liondas, is the trademark of Kea located further up the road towards the spring of Kounderis. It is a big stone carved lion of the archaic period. According to mythology, Kea was first inhabited from the Water Nymphs who kept the island fertile with abundant greenery. The gods were jealous of the earthy beauty and sent a lion to chase the Nymphs off the island, abandoning Kea and prompting it to Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, in order to scorch Kea, along with the other islands of the Cyclades, transforming them into a very dry and barren landscape. Liondas is accessible from a hiking path starting from the area of Agios Spiridonas.

The Town Hall of Ioulida is an exceptional neoclassical building designed from the architect Ernst Ziller. The façade of the town hall is elaborated from clay statues of Apollo and Hermes. Inside the town hall, one will have the opportunity to admire carved marble sculptures

The Old Primary School is an outstanding neoclassical building designed from the architect Ernst Ziller. The building is considered to be one of the most elegant buildings of the country, as it resembles an ancient temple.

The Wall Paintings of Alekos Fasianos are found at the walls the central alley of Ioulida and the entrance of his house. Alekos Fasianos is one of the most renowned painters of Greece.

The Watermills of Kea is one of the most important monuments of Kea located in the area of Mylopotamos. The watermills have an exquisite architecture painted in different colours. They used to be fueled from the spring of Flea, the richest spring of Kea. The watermills used to operate until the Second World War, until they ceased in the late 1980s.

The Windmills of Kea constitute the biggest windmill complex in the area of Cyclades. In the old days, the windmills operated by wind as Andros is renowned for its gusty northern winds. Although the windmills are no longer operational, they continue to be a symbol of the long history of the island. The windmills are located above the town of Ioulida.

The Tower of Agia Marina is one of the best preserved Hellenistic towers in the Cyclades. It is a five storeyed tower that stands out from far away due to its reddish color. The tower used to have a well and an underground tunnel connected to a water springs. According to local tradition, there are 74 similar towers on the island. The tower is located close to the settlement of Sklavonikolas.

Museums

The Archaeological Museum of Kea is one of the most important museums of the Cyclades. The museum exhibits a wide collection of findings including samples of coins, inscriptions, pottery and sculpture objects from the archaeological sites of the island including Ioulis, Karthea, Korissia and Poiessa. The museum is located close to the Castle of Ioulida.

Natural Beauties

The Royal Oak Forest of Kea is a unique phenomenon for the dry climate of the Cyclades. The mountains of the island are full of oak trees that had a big financial importance for the people of Kea. The shell of the fruit of the tree, known as Hamada, contains large amounts of tannins useful in leather tanning. The people of Kea used to supply the entire production of Hamada to Greece and other countries of Europe. Nowadays the effort to gather and utilize the harvest has restarted.

Promenades & Villages

Hellinika is a mountainous village located on the central part of the island. The traditional settlement has an authentic atmosphere with traditional houses and farming courtyards lying on the foothills of the mountain of Kea. The central spring of the village is a typical sample of the local architecture. Close to Hellinika, there is the church of Agioi Anargiroi that celebrates in honor of the saint on the July 1. Lovers of hiking can follow the beautiful pathway that leads to charming chapel of Agios Fillipos.

Ioulida is the capital of Kea located on the north side of the island. The peculiar artistic atmosphere of Ioulida is different from the other Cycladic islands. Red tiled roofed houses and labyrinthine alleys, arched passages, deserted windmills and stone squares spreads around the mountain slopes of the castle of Kea. Ioulida is one of the most traditional villages of the Cyclades. Actually, one can travel occasionally by donkeys as cars are prohibited inside the village! The area of Kastro is the oldest part of Ioulida with numerous antique fortifications, traces of the defensive wall and the acropolis. One should also visit the monastery of Panagia Kastriani for its panoramic views to the Aegean. Other monuments worth visiting include the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

Kato Meria is a mountainous village located on the central part of the island. The traditional settlement has an authentic atmosphere with traditional houses and cobblestone alleys. The inhabitants of Kato Meria are engaged in agriculture. To this extend, the village is renowned for its local products. Lovers of hiking should definitely follow the medieval cobblestone path towards the archaeological site of Karthea. In close distance, one can also visit the charming settlements of Stavroudaki and Havouna, which are ideal for walking and nature lovers.

Korissia, else known as Livadi, is the harbour of Kea located on the northwest side of the island. The village is built on the remains of the ancient homonymous city. The beautiful settlement has a traditional character with whitewashed houses, well preserved churches and picturesque alleys that spread around the natural harbor of Agios Nikolaos. The harbour of Agios Nikolaos is considered to be one of the safest harbors in the Mediterranean. Korissia is renowned for the statue of Kouros, an ancient statue of the 6th century BC, which is now on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. It is also worth visiting the abandoned factory of Enamel and Metallurgy Factory, once the biggest factory in the Mediterranean. One will have the opportunity to admire the machines that have been preserved and displayed from the Society of Friends of the Factory.

Koundouros is a seaside village located on the west side of the island. The charming settlement is blessed stone houses of impressive architecture, beautiful coves and beaches and sceneries of pure natural beauty.  Koundouros is one of the most charming villages of Kea.  The main beach of Koundouros is one of the most popular beaches of Kea, ideal for mooring for sailboats and small yachts.

Otzias is a seaside village located on the north side of the island. The charming bay is ideal for those looking for relaxation and tranquility. Blessed with verdant vegetation of eucalyptus and tamarisk trees, the surrounding area of the village is ideal for walking and hiking. The beach of Otzias is the longest of Kea while it is an ideal spot for watching the sunset. Otzias is renowned for its delicious fish taverns. Here, one will have the opportunity to admire panoramic views of the Aegean.

Pisses is a seaside village located on the southwest side of the island. Characterized as one of the most traditional villages of Kea, the charming settlement has a traditional atmosphere with whitewashed houses and cobblestone alleys spreading around a verdant valley of almond and cypress trees. The beautiful natural sceneries create perfect conditions for enjoyable walks while watching the sunset from the beach of Pisses is fully recommended. One can also visit the traces of the ancient settlement of Pisses.

Vourkari is a fishing village located on the northeast side of the island. The beautiful settlement has picturesque atmosphere with whitewashed houses and cobblestone alleys spreading amphitheatrically around the hillside. The harbor of Vourkari offers a completely safe mooring for yachts. It is worth visiting the chapel of Agia Irini to admire the views of the sunset. Vourkari is one of the nightlife spots of the island and is famous for its delicious fish taverns.

Sunset Spots

Spot: Beach of Gialiskari, Northwest Kea

Spot: Beach of Otzias, North Kea

Spot: Beach of Pisses, Southwest Kea

Spot: Castle of Ioulida, North Kea

Spot: Village of Vourkari, Northeast Kea

Excursions

Boat Trip: The Island of Andros is blessed with the most mysterious characteristic in the climate and the natural environment of the Cyclades. Blessed with verdant vegetation and flowing streams, Andros is the most fertile island of the Cyclades! The capital of Andros is Hora, one of the most impressive maritime villages of the Aegean with centuries of naval tradition. Built on a granite peninsula, the beautiful village has an irresistible combination of disparate elements of Cycladic minimalism, medieval charm and neoclassical nobility. Beautiful neoclassical mansions and elaborately decorated buildings show the wealth of the rich maritime tradition of the island. Andros has a distinct identity with sceneries of unparalleled natural beauty. The natural terrain of the island boasts a rocky coastline with mountain ranges and ravines alternating with verdant valleys, fragrant lemon groves, large plane trees and flowing waters in combination with a rare flora and fauna hidden in the hinterland. The beautiful mountains of Andros host the inland villages of the island that  are connected with beautiful paths. An extensive network of trails spreads through the island and makes it the best way to explore it. Discover the hidden morphology of Andros with beautiful rivers and streams passing through archaeological monuments, old mills, stone walls, fountain squares and charming chapels alternating with dense forests and verdant valleys.

Boat Trip: The Island of Kythnos has a mysterious wild beauty, where the sun rays are reflecting in an impressive way at the white colour of the houses and the deep blue colour of the sea. The charming capital of Kythnos is Hora, else known as Messaria, embellished with whitewashed houses, picturesque squares and charming chapels and windmills amongst the cobblestone narrow streets spreading amphitheatrically on a hillside overlooking the Kythnian countryside. The  climate of Kythnos is clearly Mediterranean while the beautiful landscapes of the island seem like it has been untouched from the passage of time as demonstrated from the traditional whitewashed houses of Hora and the charming two storey houses with red tiled roofs of Driopida. The paths of Kythnos are wonderful giving you the opportunity to observe the mountainous landscapes among the stone walls and the deep blue of the Aegean from the beautiful cells and stockyards, the most luxury observatories of the Aegean. Marble fountains with flowing waters, the open air museum on the beach of Apokrousi with scattered column capitals in the sand, the Byzantine fragments at the pathway leading to the Castle of Oria, the beautiful river with oleanders of Episkopi and the purple colour of the mountains from thyme, sage, fireflies and lizards will make you remember sound of steps within the hidden abundance of the inland of this island forever.

Boat Trip: The Island of Serifos has managed to maintain the original charm of it and the relaxing rhytms of life exuding the atmoshpere of another, bygone era. The whitewashed houses of Serifos reflect on the merciless sunrays of the Aegean. Characterized as one of the most beautiful medieval villages in the Cyclades, Hora will charm you from your first steps on the cobblestone alleys and the vaulted arches filled with fuschia bouggainvillea and whitewashed walls reaching the top of the hill with the remnants of the castle.  Abandoned mountain villages with astonishing views are connected with the majestic beaches through lovely trails creating mesmerizing sceneries of the hinterland of Serifos. Apart from the captivating energy of hers, Serifos is blessed with beaches of wild beauty, charming villages of great beauty and plentiful mining remnants of one of the most impressive monuments of industrial archaeology in Greece. Sleepless nights on the golden sandy beaches under the natural shade of the trees will make you appeciate the simple moments in life. Serifos will not try to conquest your soul. Just like this, she will leave you discover all of her secrets on your time.

Activities

Bird Watching: Andros has the perfect environment for thousands native and migratory birds. The Royal Oak Forest of Kea is a unique phenomenon for the dry climate of the Cyclades that serves as an important area of bird species.

Diving: The varied coastline of Kea offers numerous exciting explorations for diving enthusiasts. The reef of Koundouros is one of the best diving spots in Greece! Other recommended areas for diving include the wall dive of Cape Xyla, the rocky formations of Platis Gialos and the rock of Spanopoula. One will find a diving center at the bays of Koundouros and Vourkari.

Driving: The countryside of Kea is an ideal place for driving explorations. One of the most beautiful driving routes include the one starting from the village of Korissia that passes through the verdant vegetation of olive groves, almond and pistachio trees and leads to the idyllic bay of Otzias. The route passes through the verdant valley of the area and ends to the pristine beach  of Otzias.

Hiking: Kea hosts numerous paths ideal for lovers of hiking. It is worth discovering the island through its medieval cobblestone paths. The extensive network used to connect the ancient towns of Kea. (1) One of the most beautiful routes includes the medieval trail of Vathipotamos that starts from the village of Ioulida and leads to Ancient Karthea and the secluded beach of Poles. (2) Another interesting route includes the one that passes through the imposing sculpture of the Lion of Kea and continues through oak and almond trees of Diasseli leading to the beach of Otzias. (3) It is also worth following the route that starts from the spring of Rokomenos in Ioulida, passes through the fountain of Agios Konstantinos and the area of Mylopotamos. There, a paved path starts that passes through the cypress river area of Flea and leads to the harbor of Korissia. (4) However, one of the most intriguing routes is the one that starts from the village of Ioulida, passes through Messaria, Prophet Elias, Astra, Hellinika and Agios Symeon and leads to Ancient Karthea, a wonderful route with highlights the view from the top of Prophet Elias, the highest point of the island, the Forest of Royal Oaks and the archaeological site of Ancient Karthea. Discover the hiking trails of the island from the Official Website of Kea.

Off Road: Lovers of off road driving can follow the dirt roads leading to the mountains of Kea in order to explore the mysterious beauties of the island. (1) One of most intriguing routes includes the ones that starts from the settlement of Havounas and runs along the southernmost end of the island towards Cape Tamelos. (2) Another interesting route is the one starting from the settlement of Sklavonikolas. Follow the signs that lead to the area of Vroskopos. From there, turn left at the first intersection and turn immediately right at the next junction and again left; the view from the top of Kalogeros will take your breath away. (3) It is worth also following the road that starts from the village of Vourkari, following the signs that lead towards the bay of Otzias. The route passes through Spathi, Kalidonihi and the beach of Sikamia. Make sure you always check the maps of Kea before you get into your car!

Sailing: Kea is a paradise for sailing and yachting enthusiasts. Sailing around the island is fully recommended. The harbour of Agios Nikolaos is one of the safest harbors in the Mediterranean, an ideal mooring for yachts and sailing boats. The bay of Vourkari on the northeast side of the bay is the main mooring for private boats. Other anchorage spots include the bay of Koundouros, which is well protected from northern winds. Also, the bay of Pisses on the north side of Koundouros is protected from the northern winds. The bay of Poles is open to the southeast winds. Lastly, the bay of Otzias on the north is only ideal when strong winds are not blowing.

Beaches

Agios Aimilianos is a long golden sandy beach with azure waters and tamarisk trees located on the southwest side of the island. The azure waters of the beach are ideal for refreshing snorkeling adventures. The beach has amenities on the surrounding area.

Gialiskari is a sandy beach with emerald waters and tamarisk trees located on the northwest side of the island. The beach is ideal for nature lovers and it has a convenient location close to the harbor of Vourkari.

Kambi is a sandy beach with blue waters lying in beautiful deep bay surrounded from mountains and hills on the southwest side of the island. It is a peaceful beach ideal for those looking for tranquility.

Kaliskia is an isolated sandy and pebbled beach with emerald waters located on the southeast side of the island. It is a peaceful beach ideal for those looking for isolation.

Kalydonyhi, a sandy and pebbled beach with emerald waters located on the east side of the island. It is a secluded beach ideal for those looking for peacefulness.

Koundouros is a sandy beach with emerald waters and tamarisk trees locate on the southwest side of the island. The beach is well organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, taverns and a beach bar.

Liparo is an isolated golden sandy beach with emerald waters located on the southwest side of the island. It is an isolated beach ideal for those looking for tranquility.

Otzias is a long sandy beach with sapphire waters and verdant valleys located on the north side of the island. It is one of the most popular beaches of Kea with numerous amenities including with sunbeds and umbrellas, taverns and cafeterias.

Orkos is a secluded sandy beach with turquoise waters located on the northeast side of the island. It is an isolated beach and an ideal place for nature lovers.

Pisses is a long sandy beach with crystal clear waters and tamarisk trees located on the southwest side of the island. The beach is partially organized and it is an ideal spot for snorkeling and swimming.

Poles are two remote consecutive sandy beaches with emerald waters dominated from the ancient city of Karthea on the southeast side of the island. The beaches are accessible either by foot or by boat.

Psili Ammos is a sandy beach with crystal clear waters located on the northeast side of the island. It is an isolated beach ideal for those looking for tranquility.

Spathi is a long sandy beach with emerald waters and tamarisk trees located on the northeast side of the island. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of Kea and it has a beach bar. The beach is accessible either by a hiking trail or by boat.

Sikamia is an isolated sandy and pebbled beach with sapphire waters located on the east side of the island. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of Kea with scenic landscapes of relaxing escapes.

Xyla is a secluded sandy and pebbled beach with blue waters located on the west side of the island. The beach is partially organized with umbrellas and sunbeds and it is an ideal spot for naturists.

Coffee Corners, Gastronomic Delights and Cocktails Inspirations

Coffee Corners

Botzi Café: Coffee and Breakfast, Vourkari

En Lefko: Coffee, Ioulida

Kavo Pounda: Cofee, Koundouros beach

Kokka Café: Coffee and Breakfast, Vourkari

Gastronomic Delights

Anna: Greek Cuisine, Otzias

Aristos: Seafood, Vourkari

I Strofi tou Mimi: Seafood, Vourkari

Kalofagadon: Greek Cuisine, Ioulida

Lagoudera: Greek Cuisine, Korissia

Magazes: Greek Cuisine, Korissia

Milo tis Eridos: Pizza, Ioulida

Piazza: Greek Cuisine, Ioulida

Rolando’s Ouzerie: Ouzo and Meze, Ioulida

Simos: Greek Cuisine, Kato Meria

Spathi: Greek Cuisine, Spathi beach

Steki tou Strogili: Greek Cuisine, Korissia

Steki: Greek Cuisine, Agios Spiridonas

Cocktails Inspirations

Afro: Cocktails and Drinks, Vourkari

All Around Vinylio: Cocktails and Drinks, Vourkari

Astra: Cocktails and Drinks, Gialiskari beach

Echo Bar: Cocktails and Drinks, Korissia

Illusion: Cocktails and Drinks, Vourkari

Local Products & Specialties

The local products of the island include thyme honey, Mavroudi wine, tsagalo, a dessert made with almonds, and spoon sweets.

The local specialties of the island include melitzanorizo, a dish of rice with eggplant, paspalas, a dish of chunks of pork with egg and tomato, tsigaropita, a pork pie, sea urchin salad, loza, a traditional snack of salted pork meat, and lobster pasta.

Events & Festivals

Every June, the Antique Cars Rally takes place in Kea.

Every July, the Fairytale Festival takes place in Kea. The festival hosts cultural traditions and foklore fairytales events in locations of natural and historical importance.

Every August, the Simonideia Festival takes place in Kea. The festival hosts a series of cultural special events including  exhibitions, dance and theatrical performances.

Every 15th of August, the religious celebration in honor of Panagia Kastriani takes place at the Monastery of Kastriani.

Every 1st of September, the religious celebration in honor of Agios Symeon takes place at the Church of Agios Symeon.

The Wrecks of Kea

The HMHS Britannic was one of the largest ocean liners in the world (269 metres) sailing in the North Atlantic until its sister ship of Titanic was launched in 1914. Afterwards, it was used as a floating hospital during the First World War. In 1975, Jacques- Yves Cousteau discovered the wreck of the Britannic outside the port of Kea at a depth of 120 metres, which sank on the 21st of November in 1916 while sailing towards the hospital station of the Island of Limnos carrying injured British people.

The Otto Steamship was constructed on River Thames by request of King Otto. When the king was expelled from Greece, the steamship was renamed into The Patris. On the 23rd of February in 1868, Patris was sunk near the area of Koundouros of Kea, when sailing from the port of Piraeus to the Island of Syros. The shipwreck was unknown to the inhabitants of Kea and it was discovered after 138 years and 30 diving attempts during a span of three years. The objects found on the shipwreck are on display at the Industrial Museum of Syros.

The French Ocean Liner S/S Burdigala, which was constructed in Poland in 1897, was identified by accident on a depth of 70 meters near the shipwreck of Britannic from the research diving team of Kea Dive in September of 2008. The ship was sunk on 14th of November in 1916, just a week before the Britannic.

The Junkers 52, an aircraft of the German Army, was identified at a close distance from S/S Burdigala at a depth of 65 meters from the research diving team of Kea Dive in the spring of 2009. It is alleged that the aircraft was used from the Germans in the battle of Crete (1941) and in the battle of Leros (1943) while it touched down the sea in September of 1943.
Kea is an island for scuba diving enthusiasts owing to its interesting marine life and world known shipwrecks.

History & Mythology

Mythology

Kea is an island covered in myths and history known as Hydroussa owing to its plentiful water sources and thick vegetation, first inhabited from the Water Nymphs who kept the island fertile with abundant greenery. The gods were jealous of the earthy beauty and sent a lion to chase the Nymphs off the island, abandoning Kea and prompting it to Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, in order to scorch Kea, along with the other islands of the Cyclades, transforming them into a very dry and barren landscape. Since then, northerly winds, the meltemia, blow over the Cyclades for forty days when the constellation of Sirius is visible. The creation of the Cyclades is attributed to God Poseidon. It is said that the god of the sea transformed the Cyclades nymphs into islands, when they angered him.

History

Archaeological findings in the region of Agia Irini show that Kea has been inhabited since the Bronze Age through the end of the Mycenaean period. Kea served as a hub between the Mycenaean and the Minoan civilizations, an important center for culture and trade. During the Archaic period, the Ionians founded the cities of Ioulis, Karthea, Korissia and Poiessa, which flourished culturally and economically. The island was also famous for its political system described as Keion Politeia from Aristotle whilst Aristides, the lawmaker who was known for his strict and model legislation, wrote the Keion to Nomimon according to which any citizen who was no longer beneficial to the society from his intellectual faculties and physical abilities, he should die by drinking conium, a practice that ended when the population converted to Christianity. During the Byzantine years, the island of Kea was included in the Eparchy of Greece followed by the administration of the Roman State, where the four cities of Kea lost their independence. The Acropolis of Ancient Ioulis was fortified during the Venetian rule while it was conquered from Latin rulers whereas the island became known as Tzia. In 1537, Kea fell under the domination of the Ottomans and suffered great destruction on the Russian – Turkish War. The island took part in the Greek War of Independence and afterwards it was reunited with Greece in 1830. 

Travel & Transport

By Boat (14 Nautical Miles): Kea is accessible by boat from the harbor of Lavrio. The journey usually lasts two hours. Kea is also connected with the islands of Andros, Kythnos, Sifnos, Serifos and Syros amongst others. Book your tickets with FerriesinGreece.com !

Mysterious Greece Tips

A Favorite Weekend Escape

As Kea is the closest island to Athens, it is one of the favorite weekend escapes! It is also an extremely popular destination for sailing enthusiasts!

Antique and Old Fashioned: The Antique Cars Race of Kea

The Hellenic Association of Friends of Antique Cars and Motorcycles organize the Antique Cars Rally in Kea every July!

Dedicate a Day to the …Dazzling Star of the Classic Culture…

The most important attraction of Kea is the Archaeological Site of Karthea. It is one of the most important archaeological sites of the island located at the area of Poles in Karthea. Archaeological findings have brought to light important traces of the ancient town including the remnants of the ancient acropolis, the temples of Athena and Apollo and the ancient theatre. Ancient Karthea was famous in Ancient Greece as the only island along with Delos which organized the Small Pythia event of the Panhellenic Games in honour of Pythios Apollo. Undoubtely, Ancient Karthea was praised from great poets and historians calling it “…dazzling star of the classic culture”. Findings from the excavations are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

Delicious Fish in the Seaside Taverns of Vourkari

The seaside taverns of Vourkari are known for their delicious fresh fish!

Endless Seashores: The Eastern Coast of Kea

The eastern coast of Kea has some of the finest beaches of the island. Drive on this side of Kea to discover the beautiful countryside!

Exclusively for Technical Divers

Kea is an island for technical divers owing to its interesting marine life and world known shipwrecks. Perhaps one of the most important underwater monuments of Greece is the shipwreck of HMHS Britannic. In 1975, Jacques- Yves Cousteau discovered the wreck of the Britannic outside the port of Kea at a depth of 120 meters. Another interesting wreck is the one of the French Ocean Liner S/S Burdigala which was constructed in Poland in 1897, was identified by accident on a depth of 70 meters near the shipwreck of Britannic from the research diving team of Kea Dive in September of 2008. In addition, an aircraft of the German Army, the Junkers 52, was identified at a close distance from S/S Burdigala at a depth of 65 meters from the research diving team of Kea Dive in the spring of 2009. Finally, the Otto Steamship was discovered near the area of Koundouros of Kea. The steamship was constructed on River Thames by request of King Otto.

Fairies and Tales: The Fairytale Festival of Kea

One of the most intriguing festivals of the Cyclades is the Fairytale Festival held in Kea on July. The festival hosts a series of cultural traditions and foklore fairytales events in locations of natural and historical importance.

Hiking at Its Best: Medieval Trails and Cobblestone Paths

The numerous hiking trails of Kea are ideal for lovers of adventure. It is worth discovering the island through its medieval cobblestone paths. The extensive network used to connect the ancient towns of Kea. One of the most beautiful routes includes the medieval trail of Vathipotamos that starts from the village of Ioulida and leads to Ancient Karthea and the secluded beach of Poles. However, one of the most intriguing routes is the one that starts from the village of Ioulida, passes through Messaria, Prophet Elias, Astra, Hellinika and Agios Symeon and leads to Ancient Karthea, a wonderful route with highlights the view from the top of Prophet Elias, the highest point of the island, the Forest of Royal Oaks and the archaeological site of Ancient Karthea. Discover the hiking trails of the island from the Official Website of Kea.

It’s Sunset Time

Yes, we do have a section for sunset spots! However, one should also visit the village of Fotimari to enjoy the breathtaking sunset views!

Natural Explorations

Two kilometers from the harbour of Korissia, one will have the opportunity to discover the verdant valley of Mylopotamos. The area is characterized from dense vegetation and numerous springs. Another place worth visiting is the settlement of Pera Meria. The village is built on the highlands with numerous royal oak trees!

Observing like An Olympian God

Lying on one of the highest spot of Kea, the church of Agios Symeon offer fantastic views of the surrounding areas!

Royal Oaks: A Unique Phenomenon in Cyclades

Lovers of nature will fall in love with the Royal Oak Forest of Kea. The Royal Oak Forest of Kea is a unique phenomenon for the dry climate of the Cyclades. The mountains of the island are full of oak trees that had a big financial importance for the people of Kea. The shell of the fruit of the tree, known as Hamada, contains large amounts of tannins useful in leather tanning. The people of Kea used to supply the entire production of Hamada to Greece and other countries of Europe. Nowadays the effort to gather and utilize the harvest has restarted.

Wandering in the labyrinthine alleys of Ioulida

Among the best promenades in Kea include the scenic capital of Ioulida! The peculiar artistic atmosphere of Ioulida is different from the other Cycladic islands. Red tiled roofed houses and labyrinthine alleys, arched passages, deserted windmills and stone squares spreads around the mountain slopes of the castle of Kea. Ioulida is one of the most traditional villages of the Cyclades. Actually, one can travel occasionally by donkeys as cars are prohibited inside the village! The area of Kastro is the oldest part of Ioulida with numerous antique fortifications, traces of the defensive wall and the acropolis. One should also visit the monastery of Panagia Kastriani for its panoramic views to the Aegean. Other monuments worth visiting include the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

Photo Credits

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Note: All the images are copyrighted from their owners. Please see Terms & Conditions. You can find the original images at the following links:

Ancient Karthea: Augusto Gasbarri by Flickr

Britannic Shipwreck: ExploreNautilus.com

Chapel of Agios Simeon: Julifemi by Panoramio

Church of Chrisospilia: Marie Therese Magnan by Flickr

Ioulida Village: Michael Paraskevas by Panoramio

Lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos: Shutterstock

Korissia Village: Eleni Taxeri by Flickr

Koundouros Rocks: Aris Mavrellis by Panoramio

Ligia beach: Vagelis Papacharalabous by Panoramio

Monastery of Panagia Kastriani: Yianni Kyriazis by Panoramio 

Orkos Beach: Mikegrgrds by Panoramio

Pisses Beach: Christos Moesides by Panoramio

Spathi Beach: Pantzo by Panoramio

Sykamia Beach: Kanianitis by Panoramio

Tower of Agia Marina: Hermann by Panoramio

Vourkari Village: Agelos Zias by Panoramio