The remains of the ancient city of Karthaia founded in the 12th century BC on the south-eastern coast of the Greek island of Kea in the Cyclades archipelago.

Shutterstock / Giovanni Rinaldi


Top choice in Cyclades

From the 8th century BC until the 7th century AD, this remote twin cove was the site of the ancient city of Karthaia, one of Kea's four historic city-states. Now the partly uncovered ruins sit in splendid isolation, only accessible by boat or on foot. Three hiking trails lead here, with the easiest being route 6: a 40-minute walk down from the parking area at the bottom of a narrow lane, signposted from the main road at Stavroudaki.

Part of the great charm of this site is that you'd be very unlucky to find more than a handful of people here – and there's a good chance you'll have it completely to yourself. The small, craggy acropolis has the remains of the Temple of Apollo Pythios on its lower level and the Temple of Athena at the top, dating from 530 to 500 BC. Down below is a theatre that once seated 880 people, and the remains of a Roman-era bathhouse.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cyclades attractions

1. Archaeological Museum of Kea

5.59 MILES

The most intriguing artefacts displayed at this well-presented museum were ancient even before Kea's four archaic city-states were formed. The 13…

2. Ancient Lion of Kea

5.71 MILES

The enigmatic 8m-long Kea Lion, chiselled from schist sometime between the 9th and 6th century BC, lies along the ridge beyond the last of Ioulida’s…

3. Kastro Orias

7.99 MILES

Located on Cape Kefalos, a 90-minute picturesque ramble northwest from Loutra, these beautifully situated ruins are all that remains of a medieval city of…

4. Kastrianis Monastery


From Otzias, a spectacular coastal road runs for 6.5km to this clifftop, 18th-century monastery, offering extraordinary views to the surrounding islands…

5. Kolona Beach

10.41 MILES

The island's most famous beach is the exquisite double bay of Kolona, a thin shadeless strip of sand anchoring a small headland to the main island. In…

6. Apokrousi Beach

10.81 MILES

Aprokrousi is a wide strip of gravelly brown sand with a couple of tavernas, a popular beach bar and ample parking.

7. Episkopi

11.71 MILES

This wide swathe of coarse grey sand is a 30-minute walk north of the harbour. There's a popular beach bar at one end and a tiny church at the other.

8. Martinakia

12.09 MILES

Although you can swim in the centre of town, you're better off walking 10 minutes north to this pretty little cove.