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Kea in Greece
Kea is located in the north of the Cyclades and is located just southeast of Lavrio on the Greek mainland, not far from Athens. Kea has about 2,455 inhabitants and the island's surface is 131 km2. The two main villages are Korissia with 710 inhabitants, and Chora has 630 inhabitants. The highest mountain is called Profitis Elias and measures 568 meters above sea level. Nearest neighbouring island is Kithnos.
Kea (or Tzia) is close to being unknown, although it should be much more coveted. Because Kea is an amazing island if you are the target group that is.
Chora in Kea is one of the most beautiful villages in the Cyclades.
If you are dreaming of nice sand beaches with sun chairs and parasols, bars that serve umbrella drinks and discos playing the latest from the dance charts, there is nothing for you on Kea. But if you appreciate genuine islands, hikes along ancient donkey roads in beautiful valleys and if you prefer fascinating sights and laughing lions, Kea is the perfect place.
Kea is an unknown island filled with surprises. The picture is from Karthea.
If you also like to enjoy a good Greek meal on late taverna nights, just pack your bags. You will not be disappointed. Kea is a fascinating island just waiting to be discovered.
TRAVEL TO KEA
Easy as pie: fly to Athens, get on the bus to Lavrio, take the first boat you can find and an hour and a half later you will find yourself on Kea.
Lavrio is a small port on the mainland, the buses go from Athens airport. During high season there are up to five departures per day to Kea. The journey takes between an hour and 90 minutes depending on the boat.
GETTING AROUND IN KEA
The local bus does not run on a hectic schedule. A taxi is a better and quite affordable alternative. The supply of car and motorbike rental is very limited, and available only in Korissia. We use to take a taxi.
VILLAGES IN KEA
The two main villages are Chora and Korissia. There are some smaller communities in the flourishing agricultural landscape in the middle of the island.
The small harbour town Korissia partly resemble Katapola on Amorgos. Korissia is, just as Katapola, dominated by tavernas (my favourite is called Lagodera), cafés and ouzeria, travel agencies and shops. There are other similarities as well: car and moped rental outlets, one cash machine, a few alleys, a beach by the harbour, a local ferry that arrives everyday, a local bus that runs on an irregular schedule and sail boats looking for a place to dock for the night. In other words: it is very pleasant little harbour village.
View of Korissia on Kea. You see the beach to the right, and Vourkari in the center of the picture.
Chora (also called Ioulis) is a charming village with nice squares, several tavernas, small shops, beautiful houses and endless alleys and rock vaults. Just like in Korissia, the architectural style is not like like the typical Cycladic. Chora is one of the Cyclades most beautiful villages.
View of Chora. Also see the photo at the top of the page.
The heart of Chora is the square with the grand city hall and some of the best tavernas in the village. The taverna right in front of the city hall have tables set around the entire square. The view over the valley is soothing, the food is excellent and the waiters are nice, curious and concerned for the wellbeing of their guests. Rolandos ouzeri just across the street is warmly recommended.
At a comfortable walking distance (2 kilometres or 1,24 miles) from Korissia lies the little fishing hamlet Vourkari. The harbour walk is narrow and short, but none the less it as has much to offer: a number of tavernas, a couple o shops, some pensions and along the quay-edge the fishing-boats and sailboats bob up and down.
BEACHES IN KEA
Gialiskari beach between Korissia and Vourkari.
Pisses beach 15 kilometers (9,3 miles) south of Chora is by many considered to be the best beach on Kea, and I am inclined to agree with them. It is situated in a fertile valley with cultivations plots, fruit trees and farmers houses. There is a supermarket, many pensions and the only camping ground on the island is here.
Otzias is a small holiday resort about 5 kilometres (3+ miles) northwest of Korissia. The beach (one of the better on the island) lies along a small bay bordered with tamarisk trees that offer some shadow. The sand is light brown in colour and nicely packed the water is clear and inviting. Behind the beach there are a couple of tavernas and several pensions.
SIGHTS IN KEA
Kea certainly a different kind of island, even the sights are rare. Many islands offer about the same kind of sights: monasteries, temples, forts and churches. All this is found on Kea, but there are also some sights unique for the island. Besides, the nature is beautiful (oak and almond are the most common trees) and there are several hiking paths.
One of several water mills in Kea.
Some of the most interesting sights are the antique city of Karthea, the excavations by Agia Irini, the water-mills and the laughing lion. Outside Kea lies the ship-wreck of HMHS Britannica, a sister ship to Titanic and Olympia.
The laughing lion (Lion of Kea) outside of Chora is the biggest tourist sight on the island. I had seen a picture of the lion before I saw it in real life and I did not think it seemed like anything special, but once before it I was amazed. It was much larger than I had imagined and the smile was really a SMILE.
The smiling lion.
The lion was chiselled out of a rock at around 600 BC and it is actually one of the most spectacular sights I have seen in Greece. He is lying there all alone with his Mona Lisa-grin but what is he, or she, smiling at?
The beach in Korissia. Hotel Karthea to the right.
ACCOMMODATION IN KEA
Nobody cares about the backpackers, you have to find a place to stay on your own. There are some pensions to the right of the harbour walk, there are more choices still behind and by the harbour beach.
Almost all foreign tourists stay in Korissia, where there are most places to choose from. There are a few pensions in Vourkari, and hardly any in Chora.