Kea or else known as Tzia, is an island of the Cyclades that is covered with history, lush vegetation and rich seabed. According to Greek mythology Kea was first inhabited by the Water Nymphs who kept the place fertile with much greenery. Holidays in Kea are ideal for those who love exploring traditional charming villages, quiet beaches and adventurous activities. If you have already visited some of the famous Cycladic islands and you are looking for something a little bit more alternative as a destination then you might as well look up for Tzia. The island is close to Athens and it allows to the visitor to combine perfectly holidays in the Greek capital with the relaxing vibe of the island life.
The main settlement of Kea is the graphic Ioulida. The village is built amphitheatrically on a hill and it seems like it overlooks the Aegean. The houses are white and have tiled roofs. The scenery is unspoiled by any modern architecture. As you walk around the cobbled narrow streets you would want to capture every colorful corner you cross by. Cars are prohibited inside the village. So be prepared for long walks. Once you are in Ioulida you should definitely visit the Monastery of Panagia Kastriani. The panoramic view of the Aegean Sea is magnificent. The Archaeological Museum of Kea is one of the most important museums of the Cyclades. It has a wide collection of findings of from the archaeological sites of Kea. Moreover you should also visit the Castle of Ioulida. The castle is the oldest part of Ioulida and has remnants of the ancient acropolis and remains of the Venetian defensive walls. Findings from the excavations here are also displayed in the museum. Can you keep a secret? The castle is the perfect spot to admire the sunset.
The main tourist resort in Kea is Korissia located in a harbor. The village is built on the remains of an ancient homonymous city. Korissia is a traditional settlement with whitewashed houses, nice churches and picturesque alleys. Another seaside village is Koundouros. It distinguishes not only by the beautiful stone houses but also by the natural beauty of the area. Otzias village is nestled in a charming bay, ideal for those who want to spend their holidays in tranquility. The beach of Otzias is the longest of Kea. Note that is also one of the best sunset spots on the island. For the foodies Otzias is popular for its delicious fish taverns. The amphitheatrically built Vourkari with the whitewashed houses and cobblestone alleys is also a must visit. The fishing village has a harbor that is completely safe mooring for yachts.
Sightseeing during your holidays in Kea
The trademark of Kea is the Lion of Kea. It is a big stone carved lion from the archaic period. There is a myth that follows the lion. As it has already been said, the Water Nymphs were the very first inhabitants of Kea. They were the ones that made the island so beautiful and the gods were jealous of the earthy beauty of Kea. So they sent a lion to chase the Nymphs off Tzia to abandon the island that was left to the bright star Sirius to scorch Kea and transform it into a very dry and barren landscape. One of the most important archaeological sites of Tzia is the one of Karthea. There are traces that reveal that there used to be an ancient town including an acropolis, the temples of Athena and Apollo and an ancient theatre. During the antiquity Karthea was famous as the only place along with the sacred island Delos that organized the Small Pythia event of the Pan-Hellenic Games in honor of Pythios Apollo.
Then there is the Lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos, one of the oldest of the country. This lighthouse was the first that was built in the area of Cyclades. It is located on the remains of the Temple of Poseidon and it is considered to be an outstanding architectural construction. Besides the dry climate of the Cyclades, the mountains of Tzia are full of oak trees. Evidence of that, is the Royal Oak Forest of Kea which is part of the European Ecological Network Natura 2000.
Beaches in Kea Island
Holidays in Kea means that you get to explore some of the most amazing beaches. Either you wish for privacy, activities or an organized bay, Kea can satisfy you. Are you looking for seclusion and some moments of tranquility? Then you should go swimming in Liparo beach and Near Kambi beach. Liparo is a golden sandy beach with emerald waters. It is a paradise on earth that you are going to share it only with a few others. The place is just perfect if you only want to spend a day relaxing and sunbathing. The other beach is not that known among the tourists. And that’s exactly the advantage of choosing such a bay for your morning swim. You will have your own private shore with crystal clear waters.
To continue with beautiful beaches, note the Koundouros beach and Korissia beach. They are the hot spots for those who love scuba diving. Both of them are sandy and beautiful. They are organized and there is a diving club in both shores. Their transparent emerald waters are perfect for underwater adventures. Let’s emerge and leave the underwater life for a bit. If you like chasing sunsets and capturing them then you should go swimming late in the afternoon in Pisses beach and Otzias beach. The two long sandy beaches have sapphire colored waters. They are organized and offer some of the best sunset views on the island. To finish our list with Kea’s beaches it is worth mentioning three more beaches: Gialiskari, Spathi and Xyla. They are long sandy beaches with tamarisk trees on the shore offering generously their shade.
Activities during your holidays in Kea
Have you chosen to spend your holidays in Kea because you love scuba diving? Nice call! Tzia has a rich seabed not only due to vivid marine life but also because of the shipwrecks. The reef of Koundouros is considered to be one of the best diving spots in Greece, as well as the wall dive of Cape Xyla and the rocky formations of Platis Gialos. Near the area of Koundouros the Otto Steamship was sunk in 1868. It was sailing from the port of Piraeus to Syros Island. The shipwreck was unknown to the inhabitants of Kea and was discovered 138 years later. The objects found on the shipwreck are on display at the Industrial Museum of Syros. In the sea of Kea in 1916 has sunk the HMHS Britannic, the sister ship of Titanic. It was used as a floating hospital carrying injured British people during World War I. Jacques-Yves Cousteau discovered the ship in 1975. The French Ocean Liner S/S Burdigala constructed in 1897 was sunk just a week before the Britannic near the same area. In addition the Junkers 52, an aircraft of the German Army is also at depth of 65 meters in close distance as the Burdigala. The aircraft was allegedly used by the Germans in the battle of Crete in 1941 and in the battle of Leros in 1943 while it ended up down in the sea in September 1943.
You like the sea but you prefer being on the surface rather than being underwater? Then try sailing! Kea is a paradise for enthusiast sailors and yacht owners. The fact that is so close to Athens allows you to start your holidays from Athens and then set sails from Piraeus or Lavrio to Kea. Having a private yacht also helps you explore Tzia’s coasts better. Some safe anchorages are Agios Nikolaos harbor, Vourkari bay and the bay of Koundouros. In any case take under serious consideration that the area between Cape Sounio, Kea and Makronissos that is called Cavo Doro is said to be one of the most difficult passages in the Mediterranean due to strong streams and winds that blow from several directions. Before your trip from or to Kea make sure that you get information about the weather forecast and the wind directions from the coast guard.
Tzia has numerous paths ideal for hiking lovers. If you are planning you holidays in Kea then make sure to pack your comfortable walking shoes and let’s discover the island through its medieval paths. The existing network was used to connect the ancient towns of Kea. How great would that feel when you know that you are walking the same paths that were used for thousands of years? A beautiful route is the medieval rail of Vathipotamos that starts from Ioulida and ends to Ancient Karthea and the secluded beach of Poles. If you want to go to Otzias beach on foot then you should try following the path from the Lion of Kea walking through the oak and almond trees of Diasseli. The route is picturesque and combines the view of the sea and the vibe of a forest. Finally another route worth exploring is the one starting from Ioulida and passing through Messaria and leads to Ancient Karthea. The highlights are the view from the Prophet Elias which is the highest point of the island, the Forest of Royal Oaks and the archaeological site of Karthea.
Food in Kea
Tzia as part of the Aegean Sea and generally of the Mediterranean is blessed with mild climate, sunlight and fertile solid. Needless to say that these three combine provide the best ingredients to the locals to make delicious and incomparable dishes. The original pie of Kea is tsigaropita made of pork. Another delicious dish that has as main ingredient pork meat is paspalas. The meat is cooked together with tomatoes and eggs. Moreover you should definitely taste loza, the typical meze of Cyclades with corned pork or how they also call it as “prosciutto of Kea”. If you don’t like pork that much then try the famous lobster spaghetti or sea urchin salad. Last but not least a favorite dish of the inhabitants in Kea is melitzanorizo which is made of rice and eggplant.
Villa in Kea
Clearly there are so many things to do and see in Kea. In order to get the most out of your holidays in Kea you should better look for accommodation on the island. Villa Margaret is the diamond of Kea. In its 500 square meters the guest can find everything he/she wishes for. Literally anything! The villa has 5 bedrooms and is ideal for families or a big group of friends. The luxury residence is a brand new building with ultra modern Cycladic aesthetics. The main building materials used are rock and wood. The residence is built at a secluded location on top of a hill offering a magnificent sea view. Outside there is garden and a private infinity pool that gives the illusion that is an extension of the bright blue waters of the Aegean.
Villa Margaret has also a basket court, a tennis court, table tennis and a gym! Now you can exercise privately during your holidays. But vacations are all about relaxation and recharging your batteries. Villa Margaret is the epitome revitalization. It has a private spa and a massage room. Moreover, the villa has a disabled friendly construction both for indoor and outdoor access for people with special needs. For your own convenience villa Margaret has also a helicopter pad. The true highlight of the villa however is the wine cellar. Kea is known for the variety called Mavroudi. In the cellar you can find a wide variety of famous Greek wines. It can be easily argued that Greece is the Mecca of wine lovers. Now you have your own cellar to taste any Greek variety you want and have a wine pairing.