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Kea: A green oasis in the Cyclades

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Kea: A green oasis in the Cyclades 

An ideal Cycladic destination, very close to Attica, with beaches of unique beauty, evergreen hinterland, and picturesque alleys.

The medieval Zia of the Franks (now called Tzia) is a place with a long history and the birthplace of important lyric poets. According to mythology the Nymphs lived here. Its effortless charm emerges from its unique architectural heritage, the archaeological finds, and the monuments of folk culture that visitors stumble upon on their way.

Hiking enthusiasts will discover lush paths, dense oak forests, and valleys with vineyards on the westernmost island of the Cyclades, while those who like diving will enjoy the thematic marine recreation park.

Kea is suitable both for those looking for moments of relaxation, and those who come for the fun, good food and cosmopolitan air.

Routes & Attractions

Well-liked Ioulida, the colorful Chora of Kea is amphitheatrically built and visible as soon as the boat reaches the port. The town is characterized by traditional architecture, picturesque alleys with several steps, cool springs, beautiful tavernas and cafes.

Here you will admire the neoclassical building of the old Town Hall, built in 1902 by Ernst Ziller, with the clay statues of Apollo and Hermes on the facade, as well as the frescoes by Alekos Fassianos that adorn the central gallery ("stegadi") in the square of Piazza.

Walk up to the Venetian Castle of Ioulida, built in 1210 by boulders from the walls of the ancient acropolis, and marvel at the sunset.

In Ioulida you will also see the famous Stone Lion of Kea, a sculpture of the 7th century BC, carved on a rock, depicting the mythological lion sent by Zeus to chase the Nymphs off the island.

At the Archaeological Museum of Kea, in Ioulida, admire the significant findings from the historical and prehistoric Kea (7th BC – 2nd AD), such as the sculptural decoration from the pediment of the temple of Athena in Karthaia and the marble Early Cycladic figurines from the prehistoric settlement of Agia Irini.

In Korissia, the port of Kea, was the site of the Enamel Factory that operated between 1927 and 1957, with the imposing chimney that stands to this day. The abandoned factory, for quite some time the largest factory producing enameled household utensils in the Mediterranean, is open to the public.

On the way from Korissia to Ioulida, you will find the verdant Mylopotamos with its eleven grain watermills, unique works of folk architecture, operating since the Turkish occupation.

Ancient Karthaia was the most important city-state of the island. In its archaeological site, the walls of the ancient Acropolis, parts of the Doric temples of Pythian Apollo (530 BC) and Athena, as well as the ancient theater are still preserved.

On the island you will find a well-preserved grid of trails, many of which are stone-built and are part of the ancient road network of Kea. Explore the evergreen routes, of which the one of "Aristaios" stands out, the ancient road that connected the cities - states of Ioulida and Karthaia, through the highest peak of the island, Prophet Elias.

In Kea you’ll find the Royal Oak Forest, the largest in the Cyclades and one of the few in the Aegean, which has been declared as a listed monument of nature.

The picturesque and bustling Vourkari is a fishing village near the harbor. Its popular promenade attracts many visitors especially at night when they come to marvel at the small harbor with the illuminated yachts, cafes, bars and tavernas.

Beaches & Activities

One of the most popular beaches of Kea is Spathi, with its fine golden sand, tamarisks, and blue waters, organized, with a beach bar and accessible through a dirt road.

The northernmost and largest beach of Kea is Otzias, in a sheltered bay of 700 meters with golden sand, lush tamarisks, eucalyptus and shallow waters, fully organized, with cafes and tavernas, ideal for families with children.

In the southwest of the island is the large beach of Pisses, with easy access, golden sand and crystal-clear waters, olive groves and tamarisk trees, at the edge of Pisses valley. There you will find umbrellas, sunbeds, taverns and mini markets, as well as a beach volley court.

Xyla is a beautiful beach, ideal for those who seek tranquility and isolation. It’s accessible through a narrow dirt road. Organized with just a few umbrellas, this sandy beach will impress you with its fine pebbles and deep waters.

In Sykamia you will find an exotic beach, with difficult access through a dirt road and free of sunbeds, umbrellas, or other amenities. Before you visit the beach, make sure you have all necessary supplies so that you can enjoy the unique landscape with the turquoise waters and the pebbled sand.

Tastes of the island

Try the local cheeses, kopanisti, xyno, xyrotyri and ladotyri, as well as local recipes such as paspalas (pieces of pork meat, eggs and tomato), tsigaropita, pie with tsigara (pork fat), eggs, milk, anise and sesame, the Cycladic loza (smoked pork) or Kea’s "prosciutto" and smoked sausages, eggplant root and rooster braised in wine, accompanied by "mavroudi", the strong, red wine from the local vineyards.

In Vourkari you will find many fish tavernas serving fresh fish and a variety of seafood dishes such as lobster pasta and sea urchin salad.

The island's fine sweets include tsagalo (almond-based sweets) and spoon sweets.

Traditions & Events

In July, join the Fairy Tale Festival where narrators read their tales and guide you to the secrets of folk legends.

Don't miss...

Walk up to Kastri hill to admire the view of the Aegean Sea from the courtyard of the Monastery of Panagia Kastriani, the patron saint of the island, and visit the historic monastery dating back to 1700.

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