One of these hidden places definitely ought to be the picturesque island of Kea, also known to the locals as Tzia (Τζια). Kea Island is part of the Cyclades, an archipelago of around 220 islands situated just south of the Greek capital Athens and the mainland region of Attica. Due to its convenient location as one of the nearest islands to Athens, Kea is rightly lauded as the Gate of the Cyclades. And what better entrance through the gate than an impeccably organized Special Interests Tour, whether you’re looking to explore Greek food and drink on a tasting holiday or step into verdant Mediterranean nature on a hiking trip?
Unlike many other tourist destinations, Kea and its 2,500 inhabitants have successfully preserved all of its native culture and customs; the island still remains a piece of true Greece, the perfect location to introduce yourself to traditional flavors and typical architecture. And relatively small and hilly Kea lies just 60 km (37 mi) southeast of Athens, meaning that it can be accessed by ferry from the port of Lavrio in just an hour.
Special Interest Tours’ tasting tour is designed to give you the most memorable experience of traditional Greek food and drink. With cooking classes, wine tasting trips and a load of cultural attractions all part of the program, you will not only enjoy a gourmet holiday, but also bring back tons of new knowledge and skills back home!
The 6-day tour begins with your arrival to cheerful Korissia, Kea’s main port, and a transfer to your comfortable hotel to unwind from the journey and immerse yourself in the breathtaking surroundings.
Getting up to start day two will be easier than ever, what with the promise of some fragrant Greek coffee right on the seaside. Begin your vacation in a leisurely style, watching the fishermen return from the sea with the freshest possible seafood while enjoying refreshing traditional coffee made in briki, a special pot for Greek coffee.
Awake and inspired, you will arrive at the amazing sandy beach of Otzia. Situated on a warm-water bay surrounded by stone cottages, Otzia is the longest beach on the island and boasts everything necessary for some amazing fun in the sun! And for lunch, the tour will take you to a traditional Greek place just nearby where you can watch your food being prepared and even participate in the cooking! There, you will enjoy a fantastic Greek meal… and why not a glass of cold ouzo to boot!
Day three starts with a wine tasting in Pera Meria, giving you the chance to try various Greek wines and enjoy traditional snacks (mezedes) in between. Then you will visit a traditional home in Orkos to learn more about Greek cuisine with some cooking class before you enjoy a majestic lunch.
Days four and five are envisaged as free days for you to explore the island at your leisure, though optional organized excursions are of course possible.
The 6-day walking tour, another tailored offering by Special Interest Tours, instead focuses on hiking the charming trails of Kea, passing through picturesque villages and visiting ancient archaeological sites.
Just like the tasting tour, the hiking adventure begins with your arrival on Kea on the afternoon of day one and a relaxing evening at the hotel.
Day two, however, is dedicated to an ambitious and unforgettable walking tour of the core of the island. Beginning in the main village of Ioulida, you will explore the greenery of the Royal Oak forest and the quintessential spirit of rustic villages on your way to the island’s highest hill, named after Prophet Elias, for some mesmerizing panoramic views of Kea and the Aegean. The trek then continues through the historic village of Ellinika, famous for its numerous beautiful fountains and chapels.
The final hike leads to the archaeological site of Karthaia with its Ancient Greek temples devoted to Athena and Apollo and remains of an ancient theater. In addition to century-old treasures, Karthaia also boasts two exciting beaches to enjoy a pleasant swim in the warm Aegean waters before heading home in traditional fashion: on top of a sturdy Greek mule!
Days three and five offer you free time to spend on Kea as you see fit. On day four, you will embark on another amazing walk. Starting from Rokomeno, you will hike to a crumbling but massive ancient tower and to the nearby 17th-century Monastery of Agia Marina with its lucent white walls. Then you will follow a scenic rocky trail to the fertile valley of Pisses, blossoming with gardens and fruit trees, and finish the trek with another enjoyable afternoon on the beach. Before heading to the hotel, though, you will visit a traditional tavern for some Greek island delicacies!
Greece is a majestic travel destination offering all kinds of adventure and leisure possibilities. If you want to wander off the beaten track to discover the true original spirit of Greece, Kea Island and its delightful Special Interest Tours will definitely be the right choice. Book your dream holiday on charming Kea Island now!
Article written by Todor Bozhinov.
Kea is a Greek island in the Cyclades archipelago. Click on this interactive map of Kea, Greece to view the surrounding area.