what to see, what to do on the island of Kea?

Kea (also called Tzia) is an island of the North Cyclades very close to the mainland which has many assets. But what to see and do in Kea ? Between beach and visit of archaeological sites, stroll in the traditional villages, we give you our favorites to help you plan your stay on the island.

Things to do in Kea (Tzia)

The North of Kéa: wild and green

We arrive at Kea by Korissia, the port of entry to the island, small and charming. There is nothing special to do there but many taverns, cafes or ice cream parlors allow you to stop before taking the ferry.

Three kilometers to the north is the old fishing village of Vourkari where many sailboats and luxury yachts are now moored. From there, in the evening, you can admire a superb sunset over the sea. The seafront is lined with taverns and cafes. We advise you to have lunch or dinner at Aristo. This is a seafood restaurant renowned for its lobster pasta (34€/person). The Strofi Tou Mimi Restaurant, at the end of the bay, is also renowned for its fresh fish and seafood. It is also located by the sea and you can dine with your feet in the sand, a real treat. We also recommend Aigis Sunset Bar Resto which offers an exceptional view. Ideal for a drink in the evening at sunset.

Continuing a little further north, the path leads to the lighthouse Agios Nikolaos from where you can enjoy a very nice panorama. The road then leads to Otziasstarting point for many hikes.

Sunset at Vourkari – Port of Korissia – Beach of Otzias
© Laura M.

Ioulida, the capital of the island

The capital of Kea, Ioulida (also called Chora or Ioulis) is the jewel of Kea. Magnificent example of Cycladic architecture, the village of Ioulida, built in an amphitheater on the mountainside, nestles in a setting of hills and greenery. It features whitewashed houses and neoclassical style buildings. Take the time to stroll, take the winding stairs at random, and get lost in the narrow streets. The town hall, with its neoclassical architecture, is surrounded by cafes and taverns. A very pleasant place to stop in the shade.

From there, we admire view on the high green valleys planted with almond trees and oaks as well as vineyards and vegetable gardens.

If you wish, you can visit the archaeological museum (open Tuesday to Sunday from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., free) where pieces from the ancient sites of the island are exhibited.

Ioulida – Lion of Kea
Ioulida – Lion of Kea
© Laure M.

The famous lion of Kea, a must see

From Ioulida, a path leads to the lion of Kea, an imposing lion lying, carved in the rock, who watches over the capital. The path to get there is easy, follow the signs indicating ” Aρχαίοs Λέων » and count about fifteen minutes of walking. We meet a few donkeys on the way. The main difficulty is the heat, the path not being shaded. This astonishing feline, cut in 7th century BC, wears an enigmatic smile. It probably symbolizes the legendary lion that scared the nymphs from the island which was then called Hydroussa and was cool and wooded, thereby triggering a catastrophic drought. Subsequently, the island regained prosperity and the lion became a symbol of fertility.

The south of Kea: villages, beaches, coves and archaeological site

The contrast between the green north of the island and the south where the landscapes are more arid is striking.

On the southeast coast, Piss Valley opens onto a pretty beach. Possibility of having lunch by the sea. If you want tasty grilled meats, stop at the tavern “To exehotiko tis Margaritas”.

Continuing along the coastal road, we arrive at Koundouros, a bay with pretty houses built in the local style with dry stone, tastefully restored old mills and a number of small coves. At the end of the road is the charming beach of Kambi.

On the southeast coast of Kea, from the village of Kato Meria, a hiking trail starts that will take you to the ancient site of Karthea (it takes 1h30 of descent then 2h to go up). The remains of the temples are still visible, on a wild beach.

The beaches by Kea

You will find all around the island of many beaches and dozens of small coves. Some are easily accessible by bus or by road. Others require some walking effort. Finally, some are only accessible by boat.

Check the direction of the wind before making your program for the day in order to find the most sheltered places. The beaches of Otzias and Korissia are not ideal when the meltem gets up.

Gialiskari Beach – Pisses Beach – Koudouros Beach
Gialiskari Beach – Pisses Beach – Koundouros Beach
© Laure M.

Our favorite beaches in Kea

  • Koundouros, a very pretty beach (also with a free part) where you can practice water sports and relax. You can easily stay there for the day (allow €18 for a parasol + 2 deckchairs – 2021 price). This beach is nice for swimming. Family friendly, it is practical with children (showers, playground, shaded terrace for dining). Ideal on windy days because it is protected.
  • Piss is one of the prettiest beaches in Kea, lined with trees, with crystal clear waters.
  • Otzias : a long sandy beach, partly landscaped and partly wild, lined with olive and almond trees. The clear and transparent water is suitable for swimming. This beach is very crowded on weekends.
  • The beach that housed the ancient city of Karthea is completely isolated (it takes a long walk to reach it) and contains the ruins of an ancient temple.
  • There Gialiskari beach (between Korissia and Vourkari) is lined with pines and eucalyptus. Family-friendly and lively, it is pleasant both for lying on the fine sand and for swimming. You can eat at the very trendy EORA beach-bar located by the sea.
  • Spathi, a large beach in the northeast of the island, at the foot of an arid and rocky landscape, with a clear sea. Path a little difficult.
  • The wild beaches of Kalidonihi, Psili Amos And Sikamnia

Accommodation in Kea

Several possibilities are possible, depending on your desires.

You will find many accommodations for rent in Kea on Bookingwhether hotels, apartments or even villas.

If you want to stay in a place easily accessible from the port, by the sea and lively in the evening (possibility of going to dinner on foot), we recommend Otzias or Vourkari.

On the other hand, if you prefer a quieter place (but in return more isolated), choose Koundouros. We particularly recommend these 4 luxurious villas managed by Marietta, a moment of relaxation guaranteed. Near the beaches, you will find two specialty-meat taverns about 15 minutes by car in the village of Kato Meria.

You will also find several accommodation options on the Airbnb website..

By ferry

Kea does not have an airport, so the only way to get there is by boat. You can buy your tickets on the internet via the Ferry Hopper website.

This online booking platform has the double advantage of being in French and easy to use. But above all, unlike many other sites, there is no commission or additional costs.

By sailboat or catamaran

If you want to visit Kea and its surroundings by sailboat, we recommend Athenian Yachts which offers cruises in the Northern Cyclades from Lavrio, near Athens.

Another agency that we highly recommend: VoiliVoilou, an agency created by Stéphane, a Franco-Greek. Ideal for your holidays in Greece with family or friends, rent its magnificent iO-Bavaria Cruiser 46 sailboat, 14 meters long, it is brand new from 2022. Departing from Lavrio, with or without Skype, leave for a week to discover the North Cyclades in complete safety. And big advantage, the exchanges with the agency are done in French ! More info on their website.

sailboat Io Bavaria Cruiser 4- in a bay in Greece
© VoiliVoilou

Find all the addresses in the map below. And don’t hesitate to click on the blue dots for information and photos.

Laura M.

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