Kea – Elegant, Beautiful and Luxurious Getaway near Athens

Kea, also known as Tzia, belongs to the Cyclades archipelago in Greece. Kea differs some from its Cycladic counterparts, here you will not find little whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches. Instead, Kea is characterized by earthy colours and a more classic architecture with resemblance to the Saronic islands. The wonderful, verdant landscape too is different from the typical Cycladic, lush green with forests and cultivations.

  1. Ioulida – the Capital of Kea
  2. Is Kea Worth Visiting?
  3. Where is Kea Greece?
  4. Map of Kea
  5. How to get to Kea Greece?
  6. Does Kea Greece have an Airport?
  7. Where to Stay in Kea Greece?
  8. Kea Beach Guide
  9. What to See in Kea Greece?
  10. What to Do in Kea Greece?
  11. Weather and Climate in Kea

Ioulida – the capital of Kea

Ioulida is a beautiful village and the capital of Kea. It is laid-back with good vibes thanks to its beautiful architecture and car ban. Go exploring the narrow streets, the Venetian castle, and the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida.

Is Kea worth visiting?

Picturesque landscape in Kea island, Cyclades Greece
Picturesque landscape in Kea

There are many reasons for Keas popularity, especially during the warm seasons. First, it is quite easy to get to the island – within an hour from your departure from Lavrion port in Athens you set foot on the island. Second, the inland of Kea is a green paradise for nature lovers, and home to rare plant species, birds, and reptiles. Last, but certainly not least, the Kea beaches are completely unspoiled with a sea in all shades of blue.
You will discover that Kea is a paradise of relaxation!

Where is Kea Greece?

Map of Cyclades Archipelagos
Coordinates: 37°37′23″N 24°20′12″EClick to enlarge the map

Kea (Tzia) is yet another island of the Cyclades archipelago. It is part of the Kea-Kythnos region. Ioulis, the capital, is inland at a high altitude (like most old Cycladic settlements, for the fear of pirates) and is quite picturesque. Kea has two other major villages namely the port Korissia and Vourkari, a smaller fishing village. Kea has in recent years been rediscovered by Athenians as a convenient destination for weekends and yachting trips. In 2011 the population was around 2,500.

Map of Kea

Map of Tzia

Of the Cyclades island group Kea is the one closest to Attica and Athens, just about an hour’s travel by ferry from Lavrio. It is only 20 km away from Cape Sounio and 60 km southeasts of Athens. The climate is quite dry and the terrain hilly. Kea has a total length of 19 km from north to south and is 9 km wide. Its highest point is 560 m. To the northwest lies the much smaller island of Makronisos.

How to get to Kea Greece?

Korissia, the port of Tzia, Cyclades, Greece
Korissia, the port of Kea

Even though Kea has no airport, it is rather easy to reach the island. You will find a regular ferry connection between Kea and Athens. The ferries for Kea depart only from Lavrion port and the travel duration is about one hour. During the summer months Kea is interconnected with some of the other Cyclades islands as well, like Syros and Kythnos.

Does Kea Greece have an airport?

Overview of Kea island, Cyclades Greece - Photo by Y. Skoulas
Overview of Kea – Photo by Y. Skoulas

The nearest airport to Kea is Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”. It receives domestic as well as international flights all year round. From there it is easy to reach Lavrion port (by taxi or public transportation) and to embark on the ferry to Kea.

Where to stay in Kea Greece?

Vourkari village viewed through green reed in Kea island, Cyclades Greece
Vourkari village viewed through green reed in Kea

In Kea most hotels are spread on the northwestern coast of the island, around the port of Korissia, the beach of Koundouros, and the village of Vourkari. From these locations you will have easy access to great beaches all with crystal-clear waters. If you like going out at night, Ioulida, the capital of the island is a good choice with its nightlife and great selection of restaurants and bars.

Kea Beach Guide

Pisses beach in Kea island, Cyclades Greece
Pisses beach

In Kea island you will find a few organized beaches but most of them are secluded and non-organized. During summer weekends you can expect more visitors at the beaches since Kea is a getaway for the Athenians. Most beaches remain calm during the week.

Organized or partly organized

Drone view of tiny beach in Kea island, Cyclades Greece
Drone view of tiny beach in Kea
  • Koundouros beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, diving club, located 15 km southwest of Ioulida. At this tourist resort amazing sandy beaches succeed one another and impressive stone- built mills that are inhabited. Here you will find accommodation as well as restaurants.
  • Pisses beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 11 km southwest of Ioulida
  • Otzias beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 10 km north of Ioulida
  • Korissia beach – Sandy, family friendly, diving club, harbour, 6 km northwest of Ioulida
  • Gialiskari beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 7 km northwest of Ioulida
  • Kambi beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 18 km southwest of Ioulida
The beach of Koundouros in Kea - Photo by S.
Koundouros beach – Photo by S. Lambadaridis

Non-organized

Xyla beach, one of the most popular beaches in Kea island, Cyclades Greece
Xyla beach, one of the most popular beaches in Kea
  • Orkos beach – Sandy, secluded, located 11 km southeast of Ioulida
  • Mavrambeli beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 8 km southwest of Ioulida
  • Xyla beach – Pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly, located 15 km west of Ioulida
  • Spathi beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 13 km northeast of Ioulida
  • Liparo beach – Sandy, secluded, located 22 km southwest of Ioulida
  • Lygia beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 17 km southwest of Ioulida
  • Beach Near Kambi beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 17 km southwest of Ioulida
  • Melissaki beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 8 km west of Ioulida
  • Kalidonychi beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 10 km east of Chora
  • Kaliskia beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 22 km south of Ioulida
  • Kastelakia beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 12 km southwest of Ioulida
A sun dappled beach bar on a summer day in Kea island, Cyclades Greece
A sun dappled beach bar on a summer day in Kea

What to see in Kea Greece?

11 grinding watermills in the valley of Milopotamos

About 2 km from Korissia, the port, you will find the valley of Milopotamos, through which the waters of Flea, a rich water stream, flows, together with waters from the hillsides. If you enjoy walking you can take the paved path from Korissia to Ioulida. This path is ancient and part of the network connecting the different ancient settlements on the island.
On both sides of the stream, stand 11 grinding watermills. In the old days, they operated all year round, together with the windmills, crunching cereals and supplying the villages with flour and forages.
The watermills are characteristic samples of the Kean architecture and blend with the environment. Most of them are abandoned while some of them are still inhabited.

Ioulida – capital of Kea and one of the 4 ancient cities

Cityscape of Kea island, Cyclades Greece
View of Ioulida

Ioulida (Ioulis) is the capital of the island and a central point of reference in the history of Kea. It is located 5,5 km away from Korissia and is one of the four ancient cities of Kea (Keos). On top of an elevation Ioulida oversees the northern side of the island and the sea. The city was founded during the archaic period, at the place where later the medieval castle of Ioulida was built. Two walls, that are visible until today, on the western and eastern side of the castle, surrounded the city.
Ioulida is surrounded by plains and gardens and has the largest unit of windmills in the Cyclades complex. If we walk up above the settlement, we reach the top of the mountain with the windmills. The windmills represent the local popular architecture and are worth a visit.

Liontas – the lion of Kea

Lion of Kea, Cyclades, Greece
The Lion of Kea

Following on of the paths from Ioulida which passes by the springs, you will end up at Lionta. It is an enormous rock on which an imposing lion has been carved. The Leon is dated from the archaic ages and many legends have been told about the calm and mysterious Leon of Kea, which stands about 1,5 km from the settlement. According to one of the legends, the inhabitants wanted to abandon the settlement when the nymphs, that lived where the Liontas now stands, started killing the women. A priest of Zeus prayed to the God to save them and he sent a lion that drove the nymphs away. The inhabitants then sculpted a lion on a rock, for the nymphs to see and be scared.

Karthea – the most important ancient city of Kea

Karthea, the upper plateau, Tzia, Cyclades, Greece
Karthea, the upper plateau, Kea

Karthea was the most important of the four ancient cities of Kea. It was founded in ancient times and stayed inhabited and alive until the early Byzantine period. It is located at the southeastern part of the island, around Poles.
Going to Karthea is like going back in time. The way of access to Karthea is still today through the ancient road which connected the city with other cities of the island. The citadel is surrounded by walls with at least six entries, and there were towers controlling the area.
The route, which has been established, begins in the village of Stavroudaki and is 17 km from Ioulida. After about 400 m of dirt road, you will meet the paved path.

From there, you leave behind the modern Kea. The natural and historical landscape of the path is the most important in the Cyclades complex. Moving onto the ancient path, take in the impressions of the fauna and flora while listening to the flowing water from Vathypotamos.
At the southern edge of the hills of the Aspri Vigla are the most important monuments:

Temple of Athena at Karthea, Tzia, Cyclades, Greece
The temple of Athena at Karthea
  • Temple of Athena (late sixth/early fifth century) to the north
  • Temple of Apollo (530 BC) to the south
  • Two more buildings, a building entrance and D (early third century), are on the terrace of the temple of Athena.
  • In the valley of Vathipotamos, you will find a theatre and part of the city’s water supply system.
  • To the east of the Acropolis, lies the cemetery.
  • The Archaeological Museum (in Ioulida) houses parts of the pediments of the temple of Athena.

What to do in Kea Greece?

Hiking in Kea

Spring flowers in Kea island, Cyclades Greece
Spring flowers in Kea

For walkers and hikers Kea is a true paradise with footpaths of a total length of 36 km, of which 65% are paved. The paths are part of the road network which connected the ancient cities-states in between. There are wooden signs along the paths indicating the different destinations. Most footpaths lead to remote beaches and bays. A map of the walking paths is also required, if not a guide.

Wildflowers, streams, and lakes
Kea, on the other hand, is literally covered with wildflowers that are to be found everywhere! They cover the slopes of the hills, the banks of streams and the small lakes, the shaded gorges, the sides of the streets, even the slots of rocks.

Endemic plants and pharmaceutical herbs
Endemic plants of Cyclades and Greece, wild orchids, abundant pharmaceutical herbs, aromatic bushes, rare mushrooms, multicoloured lichens, centenarian chestnut trees, maples and “fides” (Juniperus phoenicea), “kokoretsies” (Pistacia terebinthus) and “koutsoupies” (Cercis siliquastrum), crocuses, water flags, bellflowers, wild roses, wild cornflags, daffodils, compose a painting of splendid beauty, that will capture you from the first step along the paths.

Scuba diving

Diving in Greece

The strait between Kea and Makronissos offers great opportunities for scuba diving. With strong sea currents the strait is best suitable for experienced divers. For beginners, the island of Kea has some reefs and underwater caves. The most famous diving site near Kea is the HMS Brittanic, a sister ship to the Titanic. At a depth of 120 meters this wreck is accessible only to experienced divers. Close to Korissia port is the wreck of the French cargo ship Burdigala, it is 100 years old. Some remarkably interesting diving spots in Kea are the Koundouros Reef and the underwater parts of ancient Karthea.
Kea Divers

Water sports

watersport - surfboards on the beach

You will find a watersports club at the small beach of Koundouraki, in Koundouros. Organized with a variety of water activities like waterskiing, wakeboard, towed games, sea bikes and snorkeling it is a great way to spend a day with kids. It also has sun beds and umbrellas. From here Kea Divers are offering scuba diving sessions.

Yoga in Kea island

This summer Ashtanga Yoga Athens will spend the weekends in Kea (Tzia). Every morning they will practice Ashtanga Yoga and evening classes will rotate between Yin Yoga, Vinyasa, Hatha and Zazen.
July schedule:
Days: Saturday, Sunday & Monday
Time: 9:00 – 10:30 and 19:00 – 20:30 (except Monday)
August schedule:
Days: Saturday, Sunday. Monday & Wednesday
Time: 9:00 – 10:30 and 19:00 – 20:30
Location: Otzias beach in Kea Island
Drop-in price: 12€
More info: tel.: +306906929861 – email: sandra@ashtangayogaathens.com

Cinema in Kea

In Kea you will have the opportunity to try the great Greek experience of enjoying a movie in an open-air cinema. Located in Korissia, the main port, you find Cine Korissia, which is operating every evening during the summer months.

Cooking classes

agrotourism in Greece - lunchtime

In Korissia you can participate in cooking classes as well. The program includes hands-on cooking classes, tastings of wine, cheese, honey, and olive oil, combined with explorations of the Kea villages, beaches, and archaeological sites.

Weather and climate in Kea

Like all of Greece Kea enjoys a pleasant climate, mostly mild and dry, making it the perfect holiday destination. In Kea, you will find that despite the arid environment Kea can be rather humid as well. Being close to the mainland coast, Kea is protected from the strong wind characteristic for the Cyclades islands, making it perfect for sailing. The mountainside in Kea can be rather cool, so bring some warm clothes if you are heading for the mountains. During summer, the temperatures in Kea are ranging from 25ºC to 30ºC. Winter is temperate with temperatures between 15ºC and 25ºC, seldomly falling below 8ºC.

AprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober
Air17202325252321
Sea16192224252322
Average air and sea temperatures in Kea in ºC
Sunset in Kea island, Cyclades Greece - Photo by Stuart Brown
Sunset in Kea – Photo by Stuart Brown