Kea in Greece

Kea. Tzia. Otzias. Ioulis. Korissia. Greece.

Island group: Cyclades | Capital: Ioulis | Population: 2400 | Area: 131 km2 | Highest mountain: 570 m | Airport: No

Kea in Swedish. | Kea in Finnish.

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. 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. 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.

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.

The local bus does not run on a hectic schedule. A taxi is a better and quite affordable alternative. There is one car- and two moped rental outlets fighting over the customers, both are in Korissia. The mopeds are in terrible shape, examine them thoroughly before deciding which vehicle to use, some are in worse shape than others.

The laughing lion on Kea.

The laughing lion.

Chora (Ioulis).

Chora (Ioulis).

The two main villages are Chora and Korissia. There are some smaller communities in the flourishing agricultural landscape in the middle of the island. More information about the other villages like Otzias and Koundouros is found in our E-guide to Kea (Swedish only).

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. 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.

Korissia (see picture on top of the page)
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: two 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.



At a comfortable walking distance (2 kilometres or 1,24 miles) from Korissia lies the little fishing camp 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.

The beaches are mediocre by Naxos standard, but are good enough by, for instance, a Swedish standard. Here are descriptions of some of the beaches of Kea.

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.

Otzias beach.

Otzias beach.

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.

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. 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 lion was chiselled out of a granite 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 smiling at?

Do not expect to be met up by pension holders in the harbour in Korissia. 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.

I have stayed at Hotel Karthea which lies at the end of the harbour promenade in Korissia. It is a good place where the rooms hold a good standard, it is clean and fresh and all rooms have a balcony. Book Hotel Karthea here »

Book other hotel, studios and apartments in Kea here »



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