Welcome to Kea, the island gem of the Cyclades just an hour from Athens

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Nestled in the Aegean Sea, 37 miles outside Athens, Kea is an undiscovered island paradise blessed with all the unmistakeable charm, natural beauty and much loved characteristics for which many Greek islands are famed throughout the world.

Dotted with glistening sandy beaches, Kea’s 80km coastline remains for the most part completely undeveloped. Its collection of 26 iconic windmills is the largest in Greece, yet the island’s population is tiny (there are only 2,500 inhabitants on Kea).

Where tourism has arrived, it is largely in the form of quaint little taverns serving fresh lobster spaghetti and baked fish. There is a smattering of hotels in the towns of Otzias and Korissia, and several trendy bars in Kea’s lively port of Vourkari cater to an increasing number of well heeled Athenians who pop to the island for a weekend’s escape and wind down.

For the adventurous, there is plenty to explore and discover. A wander from the beaten track will find you a private cove for the day, or in the other direction will take you to the crumbling ruins of the island’s ancient civilisation and thousands of years of history.

Kea’s stunning interior is crisscrossed by 65km of walking paths which have been used for centuries to link neighbouring villages. With most originating at the picturesque hilltop capital Ioulida, the routes are diverse taking in pine forests to coastline and are decorated with as many as 3,000 different types of plants and flowers. Many are punctuated with historical sites and artefacts, such as the six metre Lion carved into rock on the ascent to Ioulida, which for centuries has served to protect settlers from pirates that roamed the seas in days gone by.

The crystal waters off Kea’s shores are the resting place for several giant shipwrecks, including the HMHS Britannic, the sister ship to the Titanic and the largest diveable wreck in the world. Sunk in 1916 it lay undiscovered until 1975 when it was found by Jack Cousteau.

While Kea remains a relative secret considering its wealth of natural and historical attractions, its landscapes and architecture are the inspiration behind much of the work of renowned artist Alekos Fassianos. Respected as one of the most important Greek painters of his generation, several of his colourful murals can be seen decorating the walls of buildings in the streets of Ioulida.

Getting to Kea is simple. Regular flights operate from the UK to Athens and from there, it is a short ferry ride from the port of Lavrion, close to the airport. Kea is also linked by ferry to the islands of Kythnos, Syros, Anafi, Thirassia, Ios, Naxos, Paros, Santorini and Sikinos.

This week in a bid to capture the imagination and share the beauty of Kea with holiday makers in the UK, the island launched a Facebook page which will be updated daily with special travel offers, tips, recommendations and other interesting bits and bobs. Visit the page at www.facebook.com/KeaIsland

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