Kea’s natural landscape is diverse, combining rocky mountainsides with wonderful sandy beaches. Whether you want to relax or take part in active outdoor sports, there are plenty of options available!
Start your day with a delicious tyropita (cheese pie) from the bakery in Korissia, opposite the ferry dock. You can also get the best Greek coffee at Steki.
1. Visit the Archaeological Museum
Located in the central town of Ioulida, Kea’s compact archaeological museum showcases some of the island’s oldest Cycladic treasures. It’s worth paying the entry fee to see a collection of marble glasses that date back to the 4th millennium BC, as well as 13 terracotta figurines of bare-breasted women that were discovered in temples on the island. According to legend, these figures were either goddesses or priestesses—nobody really knows.
Kea is known for its lovely hiking trails, which allow you to explore the island’s ancient sites and natural beauty. One of the most popular routes is a hike from Ioulida to Karthea, one of Kea’s four archaic cities. The path includes some steep climbs, but the reward is an unspoiled coastline that’s a sight to behold.
Fishing is a traditional occupation on Kea, and local fishermen supply much of the island’s seafood to restaurants and markets. The island also boasts a number of artisanal products and crafts, including woven baskets, pottery, and woodwork, which can be purchased at many local shops.
While it’s tempting to spend all your time relaxing on the beach, you must make a point of exploring some of Kea’s quaint towns. The capital, Ioulida, is a charming place where you can lose yourself among its whitewashed sokakia (lanes) and savor a bite of tyropita at one of the many cafes or tavernas that line the streets.
2. Trek to the ancient Leon
Kea is a nature lover’s paradise and a hiker’s delight. Whether you’re exploring the lush woodlands around Ioulida or spotting flora and fauna in secluded beaches like Otzias, Vourkari, or Koundouros, this island offers plenty of enchanting landscapes to discover.
Its pristine nature is also home to an impressive network of hiking trails, part of an ancient road system that linked the island’s cities-states in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. Put on some comfortable shoes, follow the wooden signs, and let Kea surprise you with its hidden wonders.
Another popular activity is diving and snorkeling in the warm, crystal clear waters of Kea. The underwater landscapes are awe-inspiring, and you can also explore the cerulean depths of HMHS Britannic, the Titanic’s sister ship.
Those who prefer to keep their feet dry can visit the iconic, stone-carved Lion of Kea outside Ioulida, the capital city of the island. The legend has it that the Olympian gods were jealous of the beauty of the island and sent a ferocious lion to chase away the nymphs who lived in the cool springs. In their desperation, the locals carved the lion statue out of rock to appease the gods. The nymphs returned, and the island’s beauty was restored. The legend lives on to this day.
3. Drive to Vourkari
The southeastern part of Kea is one of the most undeveloped, which is a big advantage in comparison to the more popular beaches on the other side. It is here that you can find a very beautiful beach named Schinos, where not many people go in the summertime. Here you can swim in crystal clear waters with an irresistible blue color, sheltered from the wind.
This beach is also a good choice for a picnic, as you can take a seat in the shade and enjoy a delicious meal with the sound of waves on the background. For those who want to eat something else, there is a great tavern located right on the beach named Aristos with tasty fish dishes.
After your lunch, you can explore the area and walk through a forest full of oak trees that have been preserved thanks to the local government. You can also admire the Lion, a large statue of a ferocious beast that stands guard and is the emblem of the island. According to legend, the lion was created by the gods in order to protect the island from wild animals and nymphs.
Those who prefer to stay in town can visit the Folklore Museum in Mylopotamos, an old stone building from 1845 with interesting exhibits such as agriculture tools, house decoration items and traditional costumes. It is open from Monday to Sunday.
4. Visit the Monastery of Kastriani
The Monastery of Kastriani is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Kea. The complex is surrounded by picturesque countryside and offers spectacular views of the sea. Inside the monastery, you will find beautiful frescoes and a collection of old paintings. The best part is that it’s not very touristy, so you can enjoy peace and quiet here.
The island of Kea is famous for its pristine beaches and lovely footpaths. One of the most popular beaches is Otzias, a vast bay with crystal clear waters. It’s also home to a small playground and a nice beach bar. There are many taverns in the area where you can try fresh seafood and traditional Greek dishes.
Another beach to visit is Koundouros. This is a wild beach with secluded coves and crystal clear water. It’s often a bit difficult to get to, but it’s worth the effort! You can also find some great taverns here, such as Steki.
If you want to explore more of the island, rent a car or a motorbike. There are bus routes that run from Ioulida and the port to different places on the island, but you will need a car or a taxi to reach the secluded beaches. It’s a good idea to ask your hotel about car rentals, as they often have connections with local providers. This way, you can avoid waiting around for buses or waiting for a taxi.
5. Visit the Monastery of Agia Paraskevi
The Monastery of Agia Paraskevi is one of Kea’s most famous landmarks, and a must-see on every visitor’s list. The monastery is built in a gorgeous setting overlooking the bay, and is surrounded by lush gardens. The monastery is also home to a beautiful church and several monks. You can also visit the nearby prehistoric settlement of Agia Eirini.
Unlike the flashy extravagance of other Greek islands, Kea offers a quiet and calm vacation experience for its visitors. The island is dotted with picturesque villages that still exude the charm of traditional island life. It’s a great place to go hiking, as there are plenty of trails through the mountains and olive groves. Hiking adventures often end with a secluded, wild beach where you can swim and relax.
Kea is also renowned for its crystal clear beaches, and has a variety of organized and unorganized ones to choose from. You can visit Gialiskari, located right before the small village of the same name. This lovely beach has enticing blue-green waters and a wooden decked beach bar for refreshment. Or you can drive a little further north to Otzias, which is the longest-organised beach on the island with 700 meters of irresistible sand in a gorgeous sheltered bay.
There are also several great bars and restaurants in Kea to try out. You can find a great place to have coffee or cocktails in Vourkari, and sample some of the best Greek cuisine in Ioulis.
6. Visit the Monastery of Agia Marina
In the heart of Kea is the Monastery of Agia Marina, an active monastery. It’s a short walk from the main square and has beautiful views of the sea.
The main attraction of the island, though, is its rugged beauty that draws hikers from all over Greece and Europe. The most popular hiking trails are from the main town, Ioulis (Ioulida), to the ancient ruins of Karthea, Korissia, and Poiessa (Pisses today).
Another must-see sight is the lion of Kea, a 6th-century B.C. sculpture with a bold grin. Its origins are not clear, but it’s a popular sight for photography lovers and locals alike.
Other things to do on Kea include snorkeling and diving. Its clear waters have a lot to offer underwater, including the wreck of the HMHS Britannic (sister ship to the Titanic). It’s also home to a diverse array of marine life and a beautiful reef.
Kea is a wonderful vacation destination in its own right or the perfect addition to an Athens getaway. It has clean beaches, marvelous footpaths, and handsome, stone-clad villas throughout the island. Just an hour from Athens by ferry, it’s a little piece of paradise that’s sure to charm you. The best beaches on Kea include Pisses, Otzias, Kambi, Gialiskari, and Koundouros. All are backed by the main town of Ioulis with restaurants, cafés, and cute shops. Some have sun beds and umbrellas, while others are completely secluded with limited facilities.