The 35 unmissable, most incredible beaches in Greece.
If you are longing for an idyllic beach getaway, then look no further as we take a sneak peek into some of the best beaches in Greece, scattered around the mainland but also in some of the best Greek islands of the Aegean and Ionian seas. The crystal-clear waters of Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Crete (to name but a few) will lure you in with their relaxing, sun-kissed coolness, providing an unforgettable travel experience.
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If you like rocky beaches, Sarakiniko will stay deeply ingrained in your memory. Resembling a rocky lunar field set against a backdrop of turquoise blue water, it is located in the northern, most windswept part of the Greek island of Milos and is said to have taken its name from the Saracens pirates that took shelter here. There is a small sandy stretch of beach, but rocks dominate. And don’t expect any beach bars or organized water sports nearby.
This shallow sandy beach connects the mainland with a small peninsula, and locals often describe this swimming area as a lagoon. Balos is hard to get to, but that’s just part of its charm. It is either a day cruise from Kissamos or a rocky drive (and short hike) from the town of Chania (rented cars need not apply), but try to get here early, as nothing, not even the bumpy access, is enough to deter its popularity.
Accessible only by boat from nearby Syvvota in the Epirus region, this little cove is renown for its azure waters as well as the natural shade that the verdant hills provide throughout the day (though you will still need an umbrella if you plan to spend the whole day here). There is no snack bar, so make sure you bring your own picnic. The pool effect has inspired locals to name it pisina (the Greek word for pool).
The perfect circular shape of Voidokilia in the Peloponnese so impressed Homer that he mentions it in The Odyssey. Nearby, there are archaeological findings of Mycenaean burial grounds as well as medieval castle ruins. Lingering around the golden sandy beach and shallow waters and exploring the area (including Nestor’s cave and the Gialova Lagoon) will easily take most of your day.
The dramatic backdrop of Porto Katsiki (which means “sheep’s port” in Greek) was affected by the 2015 earthquake that rocked the island of Lefkas, and there are still occasional rock slides. Descend from the car park via a spiraling array of steps, and at the bottom of the cliff, you can rent an umbrella and lounger along the relatively narrow strip of sand. The turquoise blue waters and hours of relaxation on one of Greece’s most iconic beaches are your reward for your labor.
On the southern-most tip of the Peloponnese on the Greek mainland and facing the honey-making island of Kythira, Elafonisos (not to be confused with its Cretan namesake) has fine sandy dune, shady cedar trees, and shallow crystalline waters. There are actually two beaches, a small and large one, and on one side there are sunbeds, umbrellas, and beach bars. If you prefer more pristine, solitary conditions, walk a little bit further out. A Greek beach immersion course is not considered complete until you have come here.
Crete is a large island, offering a variety of sightseeing and beach-going options. Preveli (also known as Foinikas, after the palm forest surrounding the beach) is near the town of Rethymnon. An exotic and fairly secluded beach, it attracts crowds during the summer months despite the walk from the car park to the actual site. But when you get here, the views of the river Preveliotis, its delta, and the beach itself make the effort well worth it. Swim in the river or the sea–or a bit of both in the river delta. You can also arrive by boat from the town of Plakias.
The palm forest of Vai near the town of Sitia in northeastern Crete brushes up to the beach of the same name. The palm forest is impressive as the largest in Europe (around 5,000 trees) but the beach is also well worth the drive. It has amenities like beach bars and water sports but without losing its tropical character, which is a good reminder of Crete’s proximity to Africa. There are more secluded coves just a short walk south of the main beach.
You may know Skopelos as one of the locations for the film Mamma Mia (many scenes were filmed around Kastani beach), but Panormos is arguably the best beach on the island. Locals prefer it for its azure waters and the protection it offers from the sometimes strong summer winds called meltemia. The beach is child-friendly with shallow waters; you will also find that due to high demand, most beach bars charge a fee for sunbeds even if you purchase snacks and refreshments. Stick around to watch the sun set into the water.
One of Greece’s emblematic beaches, the protected cove of Anafotiria is mostly known due to a shipwreck stranded here in the 1980s. The beach might be hard to reach, but that does not deter the hordes of tourists arriving here by boat during the summer months. They are lured by the stark contrast between the fine white sand and intense shade of blue sea. There are two options for getting here. If you only want to enjoy the view of the shipwreck from above, you can come by car, but there is no path down the steep cliff. If you want to swim and approach the shore, a boat trip is your only option.
Although Santorini is mostly known for its spectacular sunsets rather than its beaches, the volcanic rock of the island has created a couple of unique beaches, the Black Beach and the Red Beach. The latter is located just a few steps away from the remarkable archaeological site of Akrotiri and the chapel of St Nicholas, both worth a visit before immersing yourself in the refreshing waters of the Aegean sea. The red volcanic rock creates a dramatic landscape with little development along the beach. It is insanely busy during the summer months.
About 75 km west of Chania town lies the small pristine peninsula of Elafonisi, known for its pink-hued sand (an interesting effect attributed to the specific minerals found in the ground), shallow waters, and thriving cedar forest. Better visited as a day trip by car or by boat, Elafonisi is one of the cleanest and best-maintained beaches on the island. Some beach bars offer sunbeds on the mainland (swimming across the lagoon to the peninsula takes you to a more secluded part of the beach), and windsurfing equipment is also available for rent.
Prasonisi is one of the best-kept secrets among windsurfers visiting Greece, but the layout of the beach (a long strip of land connecting the island of Rhodes to the tiny Prasonisi islet) means that it attracts every type of beach-goer (though some tolerance to windy conditions may be required). The beauty of the location is not to be underestimated. The windswept side of the beach is reserved for wind and kite surfers while the other side is perfect for swimming and lounging. A two-hour drive away from the town of Rhodes means that the location of the beach is secluded, but still busy with people in the know.
The southwest part of Naxos is blessed with a string of beautiful beaches that make it really hard for a visitor to choose. Long stretches of fine gold sand, budget-friendly tourist accommodations, and attractive tavernas with good-quality cuisine line the main road heading south. Plaka is less touristy than its neighbors Agia Anna or Agios Prokopios, but still has crystal clear waters with fine golden sand. There is a camping site and even a nudist beach.
Chrissi Akti (Golden Beach)
Welcome to beach lover’s paradise. The long sandy shore extends for almost a mile, with views of the small island of Drionissi. Chrissi Akti is a favorite with both locals and visitors in Paros. It offers something for everyone, though the windsurfing facilities are famous. Unless there is a strong south wind, the sea is fairly calm and ideal for families, and the sand is of the fine, sandcastle-building quality, and, true to its name, golden. The beach is so long that the tourist facilities do not overshadow it and there is plenty of room for everyone.
Super Paradise Beach represents the essence of summer on the festive island of Mykonos. Party animals gather to have fun, see and be seen, and of course, enjoy the sea and sun! The water here is refreshingly chill, the sand golden, and the vibe cool. This beach is dominated by the famous dance club of the same name. Music plays loudly all day long, and beach parties and events take place pretty much daily during the summer season. At night, the dancing just goes on and on. It’s one of the most affordable beaches in Mykonos in terms of the cost of facilities available.
Famous internationally for its kite and windsurfing scene, Mikri Vigla has the cool vibe and relaxed stride of its action-loving patrons. You will find many campers hidden among the sand dunes, arriving here every year from as far as Scandinavia to take advantage of the water sports. The northern part of the Naxiot sandy beach is where those activities take place, so behind the hill, the southern part of Mikri Vigla, is recommended for families with children. The combination of sporty fun and scenic views give Mikri Vigla a timeless attraction.
Novel/film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin made this scenic pebbled beach known all over the world. Facing the island of Ithaca directly across the channel, Antisamos combines all the possible hues of green and blue as the mountain Avgo rises above it. It is accessible by car by following the beach road from the village of Sami. With watersports, tavernas and beach bars, and a loud and a quiet section, there is truly something here for everyone.
A noteworthy geological phenomenon, this Paros beach has been carved out by time, wind, and sun. The smooth rocks and warm, shallow waters make Kolimbithres stand out in the entire Cyclades islands. There are countless hidden coves to discover by swimming or on foot, and there are all kinds of facilities available nearby including trendy beach bars, sumptuous Greek tavernas, and relaxing sunbeds. As an added bonus, the beach is only a very short walk from the car park.
Ayios Sostis is only 20 minutes away from the town of Mykonos by car but it remains one of the last untouched beaches on the party island, probably because it lies to the north (and less fashionable) part of Mykonos town (Chora), whereas all the tourists seem to head south. No beach bars or sunbeds to be found here, just a good quality taverna which stays open until the early evening. You will need to procure your daily supplies on the way here (water!) and arrive early for a first-hand experience of unspoiled Mykonos, with its crystal-clear blue sea and fine sand. Don’t forget your umbrellas, and if you are a fan of water sports, remember to bring your own equipment!
Canal d’ Amour is one of the most sought-after beaches in Corfu or indeed the entire Ionian islands, and is especially popular with young couples who come here to admire the sunset (with romantic proposals frequently on the agenda). Between Sidari and Peroulades, the lunar rock formations create three narrow strips of water that resemble canals. Many more caves and rocky islets are waiting to be discovered. It’s not particularly child-friendly, but it’s perfect for diving, swimming, and snorkeling.
Myrtos is lauded as one of the best beaches in Greece and with good reason, as the deep blue hues of the sea and the green verdant cliffs create a very photogenic contrast. The view of Myrtos as the road winds down toward the small car park is truly breathtaking. From there on, you can head to the sunbeds on the left-hand side, or to the more pristine right side of the beach. Myrtos beach is long and wide and there is plenty of space for everyone. There is a beach canteen in the high season, but bring your own supplies if visiting during the shoulder months.
Elia, or Lia, is accessible via daily boat trips from the town (Chora) of Mykonos and is compact but pleasant. You can also come here by car, which can be left in a car park (unfortunately on the small side for such a popular destination). Elia combines the wonderful contrast of the barren rocky landscape of the Cyclades with the intense deep blue water of the Aegean. The sea deepens suddenly and the water is cold year round, making for a very cool swim. The beach bar restaurant by the same name is luxuriously beautiful (with corresponding Mykonos prices), as befits such a cosmopolitan destination.
Fully-organized and tourist-focused without losing its charm, Agios Pavlos beach (taking its name from the adjacent chapel of St. Paul) is the go-to destination after a visit to the ancient Acropolis of Lindos in Rhodes. You will feel refreshed after a dive in the crystal clear waters of the small protected cove. During high season, get here early to pick your preferred spot, or even better, come in the offseason. It is also recommended to book in advance for the beach restaurant on site.
This picture-perfect beach feels out-of-this-world. The grey-white volcanic formations (lava solidified with the passage of time) create a stark contrast with the turquoise waters of the Aegean. The multiple caves of Kleftiko used to be pirate hideouts in the Middle Ages; today they are perfect for exploring, relaxing, and snorkeling. There isn’t a very clearly signposted path leading to Kleftiko from the mainland, but most visitors choose to come here on a day cruise from Adamas anyway. They stay for a couple of hours to swim and take everything in before continuing on to other Milos sites.
Achla is easily accessed by sea with daily boat rides that leave from the main town of Andros. Otherwise, it is a very bumpy car ride with a 4×4 vehicle. However, when you arrive at the top of the cliff and glance across the pristine bay, paradise on earth will unveil in front of your eyes. Options for entertainment include a pristine beach, nature reserve with families of swans and other migratory birds, a small stream running through the middle of the beach, crystalline ocean waters, and a shady creek perfect for post-swim walks. Don’t forget to bring everything you need, as there’s not much here (only a small chapel at the top of the cliff, a lighthouse, and a small, eco-friendly tourist development a five-minute-walk down the creek).
Antony Quinn Bay
After filming the epic Canons of Navarone, actor Anthony Quinn was so enchanted with Rhodes that he decided to buy some land on this bay and build an artists’ retreat. The attractive verdant cove is close enough to the town of Rhodes (about a 20-minute drive) to get really busy in the high season. To make the most of your visit, come during the shoulder months or early in the day. Then, the serenity of the bay, the clear waters, and the sandy spots are all yours to enjoy. If you are a snorkeling fan, bring your gear.
Since the 2015 earthquake that destroyed part of the road network in the southern part of Lefkada, Egremnoi beach (which means “steep cliffs” in Greek) is accessible by boat only. The turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea, the fine white sand, and the steep rock (beware of some minor landfall and landslide in places) are revered by visitors. If you are adventurous, you can get here on foot (leave the car where the accessible part of the road ends). It is a 30-minute hike and a steep descent to the beach down some tricky sets of stairs (which should be fully repaired by the end of 2018).
Skiathos is another one of those Mamma Mia-favored filming locations–and the beauty is real. Next to a dense pine tree forest, Koukounaries takes its name from the pine cones that are abundant here. The beach offers a cute marina on the south side with black and white swans swimming in the water, sunbeds, water sports, and beach bars with reasonable prices. An added bonus: if you don’t have your own means of transport, Koukounaries can be reached by bus from the main island town and it is only a short 20-minute ride. Don’t forget to take a walk around the freshwater lake and the nature reserve after your refreshing swim.
The island of Karpathos has its own cult following among the rock climbing community and luckily it has maintained its unspoiled wilderness, as evidenced by Apella beach, where the dense forest extends all the way down to the crystal clear sea. Apella combines a fine pebbled beach with crystal turquoise waters, pine trees, and tamarisks, some natural shade and a bonus taverna further up the hill. The drive is somewhat challenging, about half an hour away from Pigadia, and there is also a bit of a walk after you leave the car, but there are also daily boats that visit this beach and others around the island. Apella’s die-hard fans don’t hesitate to call it the best beach in the Mediterranean.
Tis Grias to Pidima
Andros is a gorgeous Cycladic island with great nautical tradition a little bit off of the tourist trail. Locals will show you the way to this breathtaking beach. There are no amenities, but you will enjoy the impressive rock in the middle of the clear blue sea, which looks like it is suspended on air as it rises from the water. The beach’s name means “an old lady’s jump” in Greek, so someone must have thought that rock looks like a funny old lady!
This pebbled beach overlooks quite possibly the greenest waters in the Aegean. The huge stone arch on the side of the beach creates an iconic setting for a refreshing swim. Lalaria is accessible by boat and only when the wind allows. Its pebbles are perfectly formed, white and round, and their unique beauty is celebrated by their name: Lalarites. When the boats dock, you’ll enjoy a three-hour swim in a virgin, unspoiled beach of the Sporades Islands overseen only by the wild goats grazing on the hill above.
Kythnos is a favorite summer getaway for Athenians in the know, as it is a beautiful Cycladic Island only two hours away by boat from the port of Lavrion. Kolona is certainly the most photogenic beach on the island. It consists of two sides of a small peninsula connecting Kythnos with the tiny islet of Agios Loukas. The crystalline waters and the golden sand on both sides are well-protected from the strong summer winds. There is a small taverna open during the summer months.
There are many different coves to explore in Paleokastritsa, the cosmopolitan tourist resort on the island of Corfu. Surrounded by olive groves as well as pine and cypress trees, some coves offer fine sand, pebbles, beautiful rocky views, or full amenities like beach bars and tavernas. Some of the more secluded coves are easily accessible from the main beach with pedaloes, and there is a diving center on the main beach. The snorkeling here is pretty interesting too, as the waters are very clear (and stay at refreshing temperatures year-round).
With Myrtos beach stealing the show, Petanoi remains Kefalonia’s best-kept secret. A 20-minute drive from Lixouri in the Paliki peninsula, Petanoi actually looks a bit like Myrtos’ mini-me. As the rocky scenery clears, admire the part-pebbled, part-sandy stretch (about 1 km) from the top of the cliffs, then allow your eyes to be drawn to myriad hues of blue and green reflected on the sea. If you can, stay and watch the impressive sunset.