I didn’t even know Mini Mokes existed until Yannis, our volunteer tour guide, pulled up to show us the “best of” the island. In fact, he had two of these vintage beauties parked at his local Keadivers office. He explained they were useful in official Keadivers business like getting equipment to the port and, of course, travel blogger tours! Besides the Mini Moke collection we were impressed with the Keadivers office view.
1) Stop at the Panagia Kastriani Monastery
Our first stop was at the periwinkle painted Panagia Kastriani Monastery.
According to the local tradition, at around 1700 A.D., a light on top of Kastri hill caught the attention of some sheep herders. After some digging they found a Virgin Mary icon and built a small church that remains there. The location, as you might imagine, offered amazing views out to the sea.
2) Explore Ioulida, Kea’s Main Town
Next, we headed to the main town of the island called Ioulida.
Like many historic old “main towns” of the Cycladics, cars cannot get into the small pedestrian-only and donkey-only streets. Yannis parked his blue Mini Moke and instead of walking off to with him we were distracted. Both of us were enchanted by the sunset over the rolling hills that encapsulated and protected the main town. Greek island towns were built in the inner part of the islands as a survival method — pirates couldn’t get to them.
The main town had a distinct charm. It wasn’t a well-kept whitewashed wonder as other Cycladic island towns. Yes, there were whitewashed buildings but the architecture overall was a little bruised at its edges. The mix with the ocher paint over square shuttered homes offered a different environment than I was used to traveling through the island chain famous for its gleaming white homes and buildings.
Along the way through the stone path alleys, we passed the archaeological museum that hosts various archaeological items discovered in excavations around the island including from the ancient city of Karthea located on the island’s south coast.
We were also told that a walking path known as the Old Lion Trail was a 10-minute walk northeast of town. On the trail you can see the island’s famous Lion of Tzia, a large granite sculpture from the 6th century B.C.
3) Watch the Kea Sunset at Panorama Cafe
Then we sat at a bar cafe called Panorama. I had a moment, cappuccino in hand, to observe the kind of amphitheater effect that the neighborhoods of Ioulida had around my viewing spot. Ioulida is a large main town built down sloping cliffs of the natural landscape giving this surreal movie-set effect. The homes, streets and shops encircled the space around me.
So, sitting at Panorama cafe turned out to give us an amazing panorama. The surrounding buildings were one experience to take in — then the sun set in a blazing red orange swirl. It was a colorful close to a day of discovering Kea with the sea off in the distance and good company close by.
4) Get Active in Kea
Kea has many hiking trails. I learned about the trail to the ancient city of Karthea. Reward yourself with a dip in the sea after exploring the historic site. For a more complete view of the trails check out this post on A Greek Adventure.
Call on Keadivers for anything water sports, diving lessons and boat tours.
5) Go to Kea’s Best Beaches
One of the top things to do on Kea island has to do with a Greek beach, of course! Check out the best beaches according to the locals:
Sykamia – Access by car.
Koundouraki – Access by car. Blue Flag beach meaning its very clean. See the windmill homes built there.
Mavrabeli – Access only by boat.
7) Take a Boat Tour Around Kea
I previously wrote about our fantastic boat tour. Yannis whizzed us around the circumference of the island to secluded beaches and past the ancient city of Karthea.
8)Vourkari for Nightlife in Kea
Head to Vourkari for a little Kea nightlife action. The dock is lined with restaurants and hip bars/cafes and a club or two. The port is lined with yachts and little boats. Picturesque place to get a drink and eat well.
How to get to Kea
Take a ferry from the port of Lavrio (1 hour). Tickets start at 11 Euro one way. Check www.openseas.gr for ferry schedules.
Where to Stay in Kea
Check out my review of the Red Tractor Farm here.
Where to Eat in Kea
Kea has some great tavernas with excellent traditional Greek dishes. Head to Aristos, you won’t be disappointed. Check out my review here. Another great option is Lagoudera, check out my review here.
Have you ever toured Kea? If you have, what would you add as the top things to do on Kea island?