|Visited in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010,
2012 and 2015
Walking, hiking and trekking on KEA or TZIA
(last update on the 30th of November 2015)
*** = very beautiful
**** = exceptional
NNN = new in 2015
also called Tziá, is the most northern of the western Cyclades; you
could see it as a continuation of the nearby peninsula of Attika and it is
situated at only 12 nautical miles (19 km) from Cape Soúnion.
Kéa has a surface area of 131 km², which means that, apart from the island of Milos, it is the largest of the western Cyclades, and the sixth largest of all of the Cycladic isles, after Náxos, Andros, Páros, Tínos and Mílos: it is about 19 km long and never wider than 10 km.
There are about 1800 people living on Kéa, of which 600 live in the town of Chóra or Ioulída and 350 in the small harbour of Korissía; the rest of the people are spread over some 30 small villages and hamlets.
Kéa has a mountainous relief, with summits often higher than 500 metres: the highest point of the island is the Profítis Ilías (568m). As a result of the intense erosion the mountainous island is criss-crossed with deep valleys, such as the valleys of Spathí, Agios Fílippos and Póles (Karthéa) in the east and Písses in the west. In the coastal region there is not really a lot of overgrowth, just like on the other Cycladic isles, but the interior is fertile and green, amongst others because of fruit trees and because of a lot of oak trees (valinídhies or quercus aegilops).
The island has a couple of beautiful beaches, like the beaches of Otziás or Vourkári in the north or the beaches of Písses and Koúndouros in the west – especially at those places there is a lot of tourist infrastructure. On the other side, there are also some small bays and often deserted beaches, which you can sometimes only reach on foot, such as the bays of Spathí, Sikamiá, Agios Fílippos and Póles (Karthéa) on the east coast.
The main town of Chóra
or Ioulída is situated in a mountainous area, which means that the
picturesque little town has a lot of relief – there are also plenty of
staircase-streets. Chóra is dominated by the Kástro with remnants of the
ancient akrópolis, and on the southern side by the rests of a lot of wind
mills. The little town has also an interesting archaeological museum and
nearby you can visit the famous Lion of Ioulída, a unique archaic statue
dating from 600 BC.
Kéa has a glorious
history, with the first traces of organised life already in the 4th
millennium BC. From the archaic times onwards the antique island of Kéa
had 4 autonomous cities (it was a "tetrapolis"), with the
harbour Korissía, Ioulída (around the Kástro), Piiéssa (the present
day Písses) and Karthéa. Especially the remnants of the temples of
Apollo and Athena in Karthéa are still very interesting. The famous poets
Simonides and Bacchylides were also from Ioulída.
After the Byzantine
times, Kéa was conquered by the Venetians in 1207: the Venetian name Zia
later led to the name Tziá, which nowadays is the name of the island
mostly used by the Greeks. In 1537 the island became Turkish, but this did
not prohibit the relative bloom of the island, which in 1780 counted about
5000 inhabitants. Later on, and mainly after the Second World War, there
was a gradual depopulation, also because of the loss of traditional
agriculture; as a result, the island now only has about 1800 inhabitants.
Since the island can
mainly be reached from the smaller harbour of Lávrio (there is a bus
connection between Lávrio and the airport, going via Markópoulo), Kéa
lies away from the main boat lines – so also away from the tourist
stream. Mainly in spring and in autumn the island is very quiet, but
during the school holidays and also during the weekends Kéa is a
favourite destination for people from Athens – who are looking for peace
Kéa has a well
preserved network of old trails and the island itself has put in great
effort to signpost these trails with wooden signs and the well-known
little red-white signs. There are a couple of publications you can buy on
the island; in these publications and on a number of maps the hikes are
numbered from  to . The most beautiful of these are no.  via the
Lion to Otziás, the long hike no.  to Karthéa, hike no. 
to the beach of Sikamiá and the short hike no.  from Karthéa to
Since the year 2006
there exists a very good hiking map of Tziá or Kéa, in the series of Anávasi.
On the back of this map there are some extra explanations on the numbered
trails – as usual this is an indispensable tool for the hiker. However,
a number of gravel roads are not mentioned on this map (amongst others in
the regions of Kalogerádos and of the Péra Meriá) which makes it
difficult to follow hikes no.  and .
The following hikes
are really a must:
1. Ioulída - Lion -
Diaséli – beach of Otziás (and back) (well indicated with no. )
you are visitor n°
Panoramic view of
The piátsa in
The Lióntas or Lion (600 B.C.)
The beautiful bay of Otziás
A signpost for walkers
Ruins of the temple of Athena in Karthéa
The old monastery of Episkopí
The source of
Vénjamin on Kéa
The nice monopáti of walk 
in the neighbourhood of the Profítis Ilías
The beautiful path of walk  to Karthéa