Kea is the closest Cycladic island to Athens. It’s a wonderful destination, perfect for a relaxing vacation. Below, you can find useful travel tips for the best beaches, villages, local dishes and sights on the island. Discover all ferry routes to Kea and book cheap ferry tickets online on Ferryhopper.
Colorful houses in Ioulida, the capital of Kea
Vacation in Kea
Kea (or Tzia) is a marvelous destination that’s rather close to Athens. It’s perfect for a short holiday or weekend break, full of beautiful nature, picturesque villages and magical beaches. Recharge your batteries as you wander around the alleys of Chora, dive in the blue Aegean Sea, explore breathtaking caves and try delicious local dishes at one of the tavernas.
The island is famous for its paved alleys, stretching through impressive forests and leading you to amazing secluded coves. Its lush vegetation distinguishes it from the rest of the Cyclades, as the island is home to numerous oak trees and is part of the Natura 2000 conservation network.
How to get to Kea
The best way to get to Kea is to catch a ferry from the port of Lavrio in Athens. The island is just 1 hour away and it’s the perfect destination if you’re short on time.
You can also reach Kea from the port of Piraeus, but there are few direct ferry routes. Due to the island’s close distance to mainland Greece, many travelers visit by private yacht as well. Find all the information you might need about ferries to Kea.
Traditional houses dressed in grapevines
What to do in Kea
In Kea, you can have the ultimate laid-back trip! There are beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters, remote coves with tall trees, amazing Prehistoric monuments and many traditional restaurants and coffee shops. You can go hiking through old oak forests and catch various cultural events, such as film and music festivals, particularly in the summer.
Beaches in Kea
There are many beaches with crystal-clear waters in Kea. Most beaches are easily accessible and have visitor amenities, but there are also some remote ones if you’re in the mood for an adventure! Here are some of the best beaches in Kea:
- Xyla: this is one of the most popular beaches in Kea. It's covered in golden sand and small pebbles, and it has deep blue waters. There are also umbrellas and sun loungers on the beach.
- Sikamia: it is a magical beach with clear waters and large tamarisk trees for shade. It is accessible via a dirt road.
- Pisses: the beach is by the village of Pisses and it has sand, tamarisk trees and crystal-clear waters. There are numerous visitor amenities, such as umbrellas, sun loungers and restaurants, and it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset!
- Otzias: this is a secluded wind-protected cove with clear waters. The beach is easily accessible and there are sun loungers and umbrellas.
- Spathi: Spathi is a quiet sandy beach with turquoise waters. You can reach the beach via a dirt road.
- Koundouros: it’s one of the busiest beaches in Kea. It is sandy with shallow emerald waters and there are umbrellas, sun loungers, water sports facilities and a bar restaurant.
- Gialiskari: Gialiskari is a charming small beach with crystal-clear waters, a beach bar and some trees for natural shade.
- Kambi: Kambi is a peaceful cove with majestic emerald waters and some trees. It’s located right next to a cute village and there is a taverna in the area.
The impressive waters of Sikamia beach
Sightseeing and activities in Kea
The rich history of Kea is visible in its many monuments and archeological sites. There are many buildings of exquisite architecture and age-old monuments dating back to Prehistory. You can explore the island hiking through beautiful trails, hillside villages, wild valleys and virgin forests. Here are some of the top attractions and activities in Kea:
- Lion of Kea: impressive sculpture dating back to 600 BCE
- Agia Marina Tower: ruins of a 20-meter stone tower from 400 BCE
- The prehistoric settlement of Agia Irini: ruins of a Prehistoric settlement from the Early Cycladic era
- Town Hall of Kea: a municipal building designed by renowned architect Ernst Ziller
- Archaeological Museum of Kea: findings from the Prehistoric sites, excavated at Agia Irini and Kephala
- Agricultural, Folklore and Cultural Museum of Kea: exhibitions and events celebrating the history and traditions of the island
As for hikes in Kea, Ferryhopper suggests:
- Hiking from the settlement of Ioulida to the Stone Lion of Kea
- Hiking to the archaeological site of Ancient Karthea
Tip: if you’re in Kea for more than a couple of days, we recommend that you visit the neighboring island of Makronisos, an uninhabited island of great historical importance.
Nightlife in Kea
Nights in Kea are all about relaxing vibes and easy-going entertainment. The most lively villages by night are Ioulis, Vourkari and Gialiskari. In the capital of the island, there are tavernas, bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy a quiet evening.
For dance bars and loud music, you can go to Vourkari and Gialiskari and enjoy a cocktail by the sea. There are also a few clubs playing international hits until early in the morning, as well as kafeneia with live traditional music all over the island.
Tip: for a romantic evening under the starlit Greek sky, you can catch a film at the open-air cinema in Korissia.
Food in Kea
When in Kea, you should not miss out on the traditional cuisine of the island. There are many restaurants and tavernas, where you can taste local delicacies typical of the Cycladic tradition. Most restaurants are located in Korissia, Ioulida and Vourkari.
Here are some of our favorite local products to try in Kea:
- Ksinotiri (fresh sour cheese)
- Loza (smoked pork tenderloin)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Mavroudi (rich red wine)
- Spoon sweets
- Herbs, such as oregano, thyme and sage
Villages in Kea
Kea is an untouched island with few villages. Most permanent residents live in Ioulida, the island’s capital. Ioulida is a beautiful picturesque village with white houses and red tile roofs, which distinguishes it from the rest of the Cycladic villages. There’s also a medieval castle and many windmills, which all come together to create a beautiful mix.
We recommend that you visit the following villages in Kea:
- Kato Meria
The quaint village of Ioulida built on the hill
Here are some of our top tips:
- It’s a good idea to fuel up in Athens, as gas stations in Kea tend to be more pricey.
- You can reach Lavrio by public bus. Buses to the port of Lavrio depart from the station in Pedion tou Areos, located in the center of Athens, as well as from the airport.
- There’s a gated parking lot at the port of Lavrio, where you can leave your vehicle if you don’t want to drive while on the island.
Useful information about Kea
Kea is a relatively large island and it is perfect for exploration. Although the island is not particularly popular with international travelers, there are many visitor amenities, guaranteeing a smooth vacation.
There are some hotels and villas, as well as a camping site in Pisses. In Korissia and Ioulida, you can find supermarkets, ATMs and banks. Most gas stations are located on the road from the port to Ioulida, where there’s also a regional medical center and a pharmacy.
Important phone numbers for your stay in Kea
Find some useful numbers for your trip to Kea below:
- Kea Port Authority: +302288021344
- Tourist Information Office: +302288021500
- Police station: +302288021100
- Regional Medical Center of Kea: +302288022200
- Municipality of Kea: +302288360000
- Citizen Service Center (KEP): +302288021150
Majestic sunset at the port of Kea
Transportation in Kea
There are public buses and taxis on the island, but we suggest that you bring your vehicle or rent one there for maximum comfort and flexibility. The central bus station is in Ioulida, where there are buses to most major attractions and villages. You can normally catch a taxi and get to the most popular sights and villages on the island or call a radio taxi service.
Ports in Kea
The port of Kea is in Korissia (also known as Coressia), located in the northern part of the island. It’s a small port with various traveler amenities, such as restaurants, car rentals, hotels, cafés, gas stations and a taxi rank.
From the port of Kea, you can catch a ferry to Lavrio in mainland Greece, as well as to other islands. The distance from the port of Kea to Ioulida is under 20 minutes by car.
Island hopping from Kea
Kea is in the northwestern part of the Cyclades and it’s regularly connected to several islands of the Aegean Sea. You can combine your holidays in Kea with an island-hopping trip to neighboring islands. There are direct ferries from the port of Kea to:
On Ferryhopper’s Map of ferries, you can find all ferry routes from Kea to the Cyclades and easily plan your trip in the Aegean Sea!
The Lion of Kea, a must-see structure
Kea ferry: schedules and tickets
You can easily reach the island of Kea from the port of Lavrio in Athens all year round. The Lavrion - Kea ferry route lasts approximately 1 hour and it’s a great choice for a short getaway!
There are also ferries from the port of Piraeus to Kea mainly during the summer. Not all sailings between Piraeus and Kea are direct, and you may have to switch ferries in Kythnos or Syros.
Where to book ferry tickets to Kea online
Are you looking forward to swimming in the beautiful waters of Kea and exploring the untamed forests of the island? On Ferryhopper, you can book cheap ferry tickets to Kea easily and quickly. Compare ferry companies, find the best ferry schedules and plan the perfect trip online!