With some 8,500 miles of coastline and more than 6,000 islands and islets, Greece is not a country that is short on beaches.
From small, rocky coves and sheltered bays with golden sands, to chic strands with sun loungers, umbrellas, and DJs, there’s a beach in Greece to please everyone. And where there’s a beach, there will usually be a taverna where you can sit with your toes in the sand, feasting on the catch of the day.
Here are some of the best beaches in Greece.
Vouliagmeni Beach, Athens
The beaches of Athens get better the further down the Athenian Riviera you get from the port of Piraeus, particularly if you head south-east on the coast road in the direction of the legendary temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.
The long and winding road eventually leaves the urban sprawl behind as it enters the high-end coastal suburbs such as Glyfada and Voula. A few miles further on and you arrive at the opulent resort of Vouliagmeni, where the public beach is a summer hangout of choice for well-heeled Athenians.
One of Athens’ best beaches, Vouliagmeni is set on an almost perfectly shaped arc, from where the shore shelves gently, making this an ideal spot for new or timid swimmers. You’ll find sports facilities, including beach volleyball and racquetball, as well as a choice of fine fish tavernas for lunch.
Myrtos Beach, Myrtos, Kefalonia
Set in a cove at the foothills of two Greek mountains, Agia Dynati and Kalon Oros, Myrtos Beach is a long stretch of white sand, backed by dramatic white cliffs that combine to make it one of the most photographed locations in Greece.
This is what the Greeks call an “organized” beach in that it’s dotted with straw umbrellas and has a beach bar, while a touch of the wild is added by a sea cave at one end that can be explored if you’re feeling adventurous.
If you swim out directly north from here you’d have to reach the heel of Italy to find dry land, and that vast openness of the sparkling Ionian Sea makes for great views that Greece is known for.
Balos Beach Lagoon, Chania, Crete
Sitting at the top of a rocky peninsula that juts into the Mediterranean, Balos Beach in Chania has a real sense of remoteness.
The approach, either by tortuous mountain road or boat, makes getting here feel like a trek, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Set around a lagoon, the sands are almost ice-white, kissed by warm, shallow, and calm seas.
A smaller spit of land, topped by a barren hill, juts into the water and offers myriad tiny coves meaning that even in peak season it can feel as though you have your own perfect stretch of sand to yourself.
Vidos Island, Corfu
The Mediterranean island of Corfu has a number of fine beaches, but to see what Greece was like 50 years ago, pay a visit to Vidos Island.
Set off the coast of Corfu Town, this tiny islet was known in the past as Greece’s Alcatraz as it once housed a prison. Since 1993, though, it has been designated a nature reserve.
Densely wooded, with no cars and just one small taverna, the island is easy to explore thanks to fine hiking trails that lead to a remote beach to the north shore, perfect for getting away from it all in the height of summer.
Kourouta Beach, Katakolon
Kourouta sits in the middle of a long stretch of pale ochre sand that hugs the west coast of the Peloponnese north of the port town of Katakolon.
Backed by a small village shaded by pine trees, it’s the one part of this long arc that is the most organized, with sun loungers and umbrellas, as well as beach bars right on the sand where you can sip ouzo and dine on fresh fish.
While most people use Katakolon as a jumping-off point for historic Olympia, if you’ve already been, or have kids in tow, a day at the beach is a great alternative.
Psarou Beach, Mykonos
Psarou is the most upscale of a series of beaches on the southern edge of Mykonos, most of which are connected by water taxi from Ornos, just outside the main town of Chora.
Craggy hills frame a strip of pale golden sand at either end. Chic, whitewashed villas and hotels are scattered along the coast.
Given Mykonos’s reputation as a party island, there’s a vibrant feel to the beach, largely thanks to it being home to Nammos, a chic beach bar offering high-end dining, upscale shopping and table service at the sun loungers and umbrellas.
If people-watching is your thing, Nammos is the place to go on Mykonos, but there’s an equally fine stretch of public beach here too if you’re after a more low-key feel.
Navagio/Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos
Until the alleged smuggler ship MV Panagiotis was beached here in a storm in 1980, few people had heard of what was then known as Agios Georgios beach on the north coast of Zakynthos.
That chance happening, along with some clever marketing from the local tourism authorities, catapulted this remote cove to international fame as one of the most well-known Greece beaches, and one of the most photographed in the world.
While it’s true, the wreck does add a certain charm, it’s also true the beach here is one of the few that can truly be described as jaw-dropping thanks to its almost perfect arc of white sand backed by towering white cliffs, the sea a deep shade of aquamarine.
The best view of this Greek landmark is actually from above and you can hike to the top of the cliffs for the money shot.
Kallithea Beach, Rhodes
Rhodes is another island famed for its beaches, with Kallithea being a great choice as it offers two options for visitors.
On the one hand, there is a wide stretch of public beach here, great for snorkeling, thanks to it being flanked by rocky outcrops. On the other, there is Kallithea Springs.
This thermal baths complex has been restored to its opulent 1930s glory and features mosaics, hydrotherapy pools, a restaurant, gardens and a private beach. It’s a great place to spend the day, bathing and dining.
Perissa Beach, Santorini
On an island with so many classic photo opportunities, Perissa Beach sometimes misses out, which is a shame as it’s one of Santorini’s most iconic sights thanks to its black volcanic sand.
Stretching along most of the south coast of Santorini, the beach takes its distinctive color from the erosion of charred lava and the waters that lap it make for excellent swimming and snorkeling.
A number of water sports centers operate from the beach, and there’s also a dive school for those who wish to take in a protected reef just off shore. Make sure to pack beach shoes for a visit—the black sand beach in summer can be scorching hot.
Vlychos Beach, Hydra
Hydra is rightly lauded as one of the most unique places to visit in Greece, largely thanks to its incredible port, a natural amphitheater lined with neoclassical mansions that historically belonged to the many sea captains who resided here.
Hydra is car-free and the only way to access its beaches is by water taxi or donkey. Vlychos is one of the most easily accessible from the town and also the island’s best.
A small stretch of sand with a gently shelving shore, it’s great for families, plus there’s waiter service at the sun loungers, and outdoor showers.
You can even walk from the town; it’s less than a mile, but arid Hydra has little shade, so take drinking water.
Arvanitia Beach, Nafplio
A former capital of Greece, Nafplio is an elegant port city overlooked by the imposing Palamidi, a hilltop fortress built toward the end of Venetian rule in the 17th century.
A coastal walk from the main town leads to a series of beaches of which Arvanitia is the best.
Nestled in a sheltered bay, this sand and shingle beach is backed by pines and has rocky outcrops at either side of the bay that are perfect for those looking to take in some snorkeling.
A couple of tavernas at either end are both great for a lunchtime mezze and an ice-cold beer, too.
Glyfada Beach, Corfu
Not to be confused with the similarly named coastal suburb of Athens, Glyfada Beach is regarded as the best beach in Corfu and one of the finest Greece beaches.
Set across the island from Corfu Town and with never-ending views of the Ionian Sea, the wide, golden sand beach is backed by rolling hills topped with pine trees.
A handful of tavernas back onto the sands meaning there are enough umbrellas and sun loungers for all, and there are a number of walking trails through the woods too for those looking to explore further.
Mirtiotissa Beach, a five-minute walk away, is more secluded and is also clothing-optional.
Kokkini Beach, Santorini
If Perissa Beach is famed for its black sand, Kokkini (or Red) beach stands out for the bright rust-colored rocks that surround it, some of which have eroded onto the beach to produce a vivid mixture of pink shades in the sand.
The beach here is ruggedly beautiful. Red rocks on either side of the main crescent have tumbled down to the shore, creating both natural windbreaks and snorkeling opportunities that make it one of the best beaches in Santorini.
There was a time when there was zero shade here, meaning visitors had to pack their own canopies, but the two cafés now have sunbeds and umbrellas providing welcome respite from the heat.
Agios Sostis Beach, Mykonos
If the lively lifestyle on the beaches of southern Mykonos is not your style, head north to this remote beach named after the small church that stands guard over it.
Even in high summer, this Mykonos beach is a back-to-basics beach. There are no sun loungers or umbrellas, just a wide arc of pale straw sand, wild and uncommercialized, gently lapped by the Aegean Sea.
Pack a picnic purchased at the shops in Mykonos Town, or pay a visit to the solitary taverna, Kiki’s, in the adjoining village which has elevated views over the beach—a great location to while away the afternoon.
Anthony Quinn Bay, Rhodes
Faliraki Beach, some four miles of golden sand, is one of Rhodes’ best beaches but the town is undeniably busy, especially in the height of summer.
It’s worth following the coast road for another mile or two to find this lovely, secluded cove named after the famed Mexican-American actor who used to vacation here.
Surrounded by rugged rocks and dense vegetation, the beach is quite rocky, making it less amenable for children and those with mobility challenges. Still, the location and the snorkeling are second to none.
Epanomi Beach, Thessaloniki
Greece’s second city Thessaloniki is a fabulous melting pot of Byzantine history and contemporary culture that can keep you occupied for days.
Overlooking the Thermaic Gulf, the port frontage of downtown soon gives way to sleepier, more traditional summer resorts, particularly as you head southeast to the Halkidiki peninsula.
Less than an hour’s drive from the city lies this white sand beach on either side of a pointed spit that juts out into the gulf.
There are a couple of cafés along the beach, but few other facilities, so packing snacks and drinks is a good idea, as is carrying something under which to take shelter from the sun’s rays.
The wreck of a cargo ship lies just offshore here. Sunk in 1970, it has since rusted and provides a focal point for swimmers who can reach it quite easily from the beach.
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