Best Beaches in Greece & the Greek Islands

Best Greece Beaches 2024

With well over a hundred inhabited islands and a territory that stretches from the south Aegean to the Balkan countries, Greece offers enough to fill months of travel.

Beaches are parceled out along a convoluted coastline equal to France’s in length, and islands range from backwaters where the boat calls twice a week to resorts as cosmopolitan as any in the Mediterranean.

Alonissos Beaches

Alonissos is the quiet and has the wildest scenery, so it’s really more for nature lovers than night-owls.

Alonissos has some of the cleanest water in the Aegean, but it’s lacking in sandy beaches. There’s only two really – Vythisma and Vrysitsa. The rest vary from rough to fine pebbles.

At Patitiri there’s decent swimming from the rocks around the promontory to the north; pick your way along a hewn-out path past the hotels and you’re there (ladder provided). To the north, above the headlands, Patitiri merges into two adjoining settlements, Roussoum Yialos and Votsi. For better beaches, you’ll have to get in a boat or on a bike.

Khryssi Milia, the first good beach, has pine trees behind the sand and a taverna. At Kokkinokastro, over the hill to the north, excavations have revealed the site of ancient Ikos and evidence of the oldest known prehistoric habitation in the Aegean. There’s nothing much to see, but it’s a beautiful spot with a good red-pebble beach, and, in July and August, a daytime bar.

Steni Vala, opposite the island of Perist?ra, a haven for the yachts and flotillas that comb the Sporades, has almost become a proper village, with two shops, several houses, a bar, rooms and five tavernas, one of which stays open more or less throughout the year. There’s an unofficial campsite in an olive grove by the harbour, a long pebble beach – Glyfa, where boats are repaired – and some stony beaches within reasonable walking distance in either direction. Kalamakia, to the north, also has a couple of tavernas and a few rooms.

If you want real solitude, Ayios Dhimitrios, Megali Ammos, and Yerakas (an old shepherds’ village at the northernmost point of Al?nissos) are possibilities. West of Patitiri, Marpounda features a large hotel and bungalow complex and a rather small beach. It’s better to turn left after the campsite towards Megalos Mourtias, a pebble beach with several tavernas linked by dirt track with Palea Alonissos, 200m above. Vythisma, the lovely beach just before Megalos Mourtias, can only be reached by boat, the path here having been washed out. Further north, visible from Palea Alonissos, Vrysitsa is tucked into its own finger-like inlet. There’s sand and a taverna, but little else.

Crete Beaches

Crete (Kriti) is a great deal more than just another Greek island.

In many places, especially in the cities or along the developed north coast, it doesn’t feel like an island at all, but rather a substantial land in its own right – a mountainous, wealthy and surprisingly cosmopolitan one.

Family fun Crete Greece

But when you lose yourself among the mountains, or on the lesser-known coastal reaches of the south, it has everything you could want of a Greek island and more: great beaches, remote hinterlands and hospitable people.

The northeast coast in particular is overdeveloped, and though there are parts of the south and west coasts that have not been spoiled, they are getting harder to find.

By contrast, the high mountains of the interior are still barely touched, and one of the best things to do on Crete is to rent a vehicle and explore the remoter villages.

Ios Beaches

No other island is quite like Ios , nor attracts the same vast crowds of young people, although attempts are being made to move the island’s tourism upmarket.

Buildings are now painted white with blue trim, instead of garish psychedelic hues; camping rough is discouraged; and Greece’s early closing laws (3am except Fri & Sat) are enforced, and bars no longer stay open all night.

The only real villages – Yialos, Hora and Mylopotamos – are in one small corner of the island, and until recently development elsewhere was restricted by poor roads. As a result there are still some very quiet beaches with just a few rooms to rent.

The most popular stop on the island’s bus routes is Mylopotamos (universally abbreviated to Mylopotas), the site of a magnificent beach and a mini-resort.

From Yialos, daily boats depart at around 10am (returning in the late afternoon) to Manganari on the south coast, where there’s a beach and a swanky hotel; you can also get there by scooter. Predominantly nudist, Manganari is the beach to come to for serious tans, although there’s more to see, and a better atmosphere at Ayia Theodhoti up on the east coast. In the unlikely event that the beach – a good one and mainly nudist – is too crowded, try the one at Psathi, 14km to the southeast. Another island beach is at Kalamos: get off the Manganari bus at the turning for Kalamos, which leaves you with a four-kilometre walk.

From Yialos quayside, buses turn around just to the left, while Yialos beach – surprisingly peaceful and uncrowded – is another five-minutes’ walk in the same direction.

Kefollonia Beaches

Kefallonia is the largest of the Ionian islands – a place that has real towns as well as resorts.

There are definite attractions here, with some beaches as good as any in the Ionian islands, and a fine (if pricey) local wine, the dry white Rombola .

Mercifully, the anticipated Corelli factor has not so far led to the island becoming either oversubscribed or over-expensive.

Moreover, the island seems able to soak up a lot of people without feeling at all crowded, and the magnificent scenery speaks for itself, the escarpments culminating in the 1632-metre bulk of Mount Enos, declared a national park to protect the fir trees (Abies cephalonica) named after the island.

The journey between Argostoli and Fiskardho, by regular bus or rented vehicle, is the most spectacular ride in the archipelago. Leaving town, the road rises into the Evmorfia foothills and, beyond Agonas, clings to near-sheer cliffs as it heads for Dhivarata, which has a smattering of rooms and is the stop for Myrtos beach.

It’s a four-kilometre hike down on foot (you can also drive down), with just one taverna on the beach, but from above or below this is the most dramatic beach in the Ionian islands – a splendid strip of pure-white sand and pebbles. Sadly, it’s shadeless and gets mighty crowded in high season.

Half-hourly ferries (hourly in winter) ply between the capital and Lixouri throughout the day until midnight. Lixouri’s nearest beach is Lipedha, a two-kilometre walk south. Like the Xi and Megas Lakkos beaches (served by bus from Lixouri and both with restaurants and accommodation), it has rich-red sand and is backed by low cliffs.

Most boats dock at the large and functional port town of Sami, built and later rebuilt near the south end of the Ithaki straits, more or less on the site of ancient Sami. The long sandy beach that stretches round the bay is quite adequate; 2km beyond ancient Sami, lies a fine pebble beach, Andisami.

Lefkadha Beaches

Lefkadha is an oddity. Connected to the mainland by a long causeway through lagoons, it barely feels like an island, at least on the busier eastern side – and historically in fact it isn’t. It is separated from the mainland by a canal cut by Corinthian colonists in the seventh century BC, which has been re-dredged (after silting up) on various occasions since, and today is spanned by a thirty-metre boat-drawbridge built in 1986.

Lefkadha remains relatively undeveloped, with just two major resorts: Vassiliki, in its vast bay in the south, claims to be Europe’s biggest windsurf centre; Nydhri, on the east coast, overlooks the island’s picturesque archipelago, and is the launching point for the barely inhabited island of Meganissi.

Lefkadha’s east coast is the most accessible and the most developed part of the island. Most package travellers will find themselves in Nydhri, the coast’s biggest resort, with ferry connections to Meganissi and myriad boat trips around the nearby satellite islands. Nydhri is an average resort, with some good pebble beaches and a lovely setting, but the centre is an ugly strip with heavy traffic.

The coast road beyond Vlyho turns inland and climbs the foothills of Mount Stavrotas, through the hamlets of Katohori and Paliokatouna to Poros, a quiet village with few facilities. Just south of here is the increasingly busy beach resort of Mikros Yualos

Beyond the Syvota turning, the mountain road dips down towards Kond?rena, almost a suburb of Vassiliki, the island’s premier watersports resort. Winds in the huge bay draw vast numbers of windsurfers, with light morning breezes for learners and tough afternoon blasts for advanced surfers. The beach at Vassiliki is stony and poor, but improves 1km on at tiny Pondi ; most non-windsurfers, however, use the daily kaiki trips to nearby Ayiofili or around Cape Lefkatas to the superior beaches at Porto Katsiki and Egremni on the sandy west coast.

Tsoukaladhes, just 6km from Lefkadha, is developing a roadside tourism business, but better beaches lie a short distance to the south, so there’s very little reason to stay here. Four kilometres on, the road plunges down to the sand-and-pebble Pefkoulia beach, one of the longest on the island,

Jammed into a gorge between Pefkoulia and the next beach, Mylos, is Al Nikitas, the prettiest resort on Lefkadha, a jumble of lanes and small wooden buildings.

Sea taxisply between AI Nikitas and Mylos beach, or it’s a 45-minute walk (or bus ride) to the most popular beach on the coast, Kathisma, a shadeless kilometre of fine sand, which becomes nudist and a lot less crowded beyond the large jutting rocks halfway along.

At 38km from Lefkadha Town, Athani is Lefkadha’s most remote spot to stay, with a couple of good tavernas which both have great-value rooms.Three of the Ionian’s choicest beaches, each with basic refreshment facilities, are accessible from Athani: the nearest, reached by a 4km paved road is Yialas , followed by Egremni, down a steep incline unpaved for the last 2km. Further south an asphalted road leads to the dramatic and popular twin beach of Porto Katsiki , where there are several better-stocked kantinas on the cliff above.

Makryialos Beaches

From Sitia, the route south is a cross-country roller-coaster ride until it hits the south coast at Makryialos.

This little fishing village has one of the best beaches at this end of Crete, with fine sand which shelves so gently you feel you could walk the 320km to Africa.

Unfortunately, since the early 1990s it has been heavily developed, so while still a very pleasant place to stop for a swim or a bite (the outstanding Porfira taverna on the sea is recommended), it’s not somewhere you’re likely to find cheap rooms.

From here to Ierapetra there’s little reason to stop; the few beaches are rocky and the coastal plain submerged under ranks of polythene-covered greenhouses.

Beside the road leading into Ierapetra are long but exposed stretches of sand, including the appropriately named “Long Beach”, where you’ll find a campsite Camping Koutsounari, which offers plenty of shade and has a taverna and minimarket.

Myconos Beaches

The closest beaches to town are those to the north, at Tourlos (only 2km away but horrid) and Ayios Stefanos (4km, much better), both developed resorts and connected by a very regular bus service to Mykonos Town. There are tavernas and rooms to let (as well as package hotels) at Ayios Stefanos, away from the beach.

Other nearby destinations include southwest peninsula resorts, with undistinguished beaches tucked into pretty bays. The nearest to town, 1km away, is Megali Ammos , a good beach backed by flat rocks and pricey rooms, but nearby Korfos bay is disgusting, thanks to the town dump and machine noise.

Buses serve Ornos, an average beach, and Ayios Ioannis, a dramatic bay with a tiny, stony beach, which achieved its moment of fame as a location for the film Shirley Valentine.

The south coast is the busiest part of the island. Kaikia ply from town to all of its beaches, which are among the straightest on the island, and still regarded to some extent as family strands by the Greeks.

Naxos Beaches

Naxos is the largest and most fertile of the Cyclades, and, with its green and mountainous highland scenery, seems immediately distinct from many of its neighbours.

Today Naxos could easily support itself without tourists by relying on its production of potatoes, olives, grapes and lemons, but it has thrown in its lot with mass tourism, so that parts of the island are now almost as busy and commercialized as Paros in season. But the island certainly has plenty to see if you know where to look: the highest mountains in the Cyclades, intriguing central valleys, a spectacular north coast and marvellously sandy beaches in the southwest.

The beaches around Naxos Town are worth sampling. For some unusual swimming just to the north of the port, beyond the causeway, Grotta is easiest to reach.

Besides the caves after which the place is named, the remains of submerged Cycladic buildings are visible, including some stones said to be the entrance to a tunnel leading to the unfinished temple of Apollo.

The finest spots, though, are all south of town, the entire southwestern coastline boasting a series of excellent beaches accessible by regular bus. Ayios Yeoryios, a long sandy bay fringed by the southern extension of the hotel “colony”, is within walking distance. There’s a line of cafes and tavernas at the northern end of the beach, and a windsurfing school, plus the first of four campsites , whose touts you will no doubt have become acquainted with at the ferry jetty.

Buses take you to Ayios Prokopios beach, with plenty of reasonably priced hotels, rooms and basic tavernas, plus the relaxed Apollon campsite nearby. Moving along the coast, away from the built-up area, the beach here is nudist.

Beyond the headland stretch the five kilometres of Plaka beach, a vegetation-fringed expanse of white sand. Things are not so built up here, and parts of the beach are nudist (past Plaka campsite).

For real isolation, go to the other side of Mikra Vigla headland, along a narrow footpath across the cliff-edge, to Kastraki beach; towards the middle of the beach Areti has apartments and a restaurant. A few people camp around the taverna on the small headland a little further down. In summer this stretch, all the way from Mikra Vigla down to Pyrgaki, attracts camper vans and windsurfers from all over Europe. On the Aliko promontory to the south of Kastraki there is a small nudist beach.

From Kastraki, it’s a couple of hours’ walk up to the Byzantine castle of Apalirou which held out for two months against the besieging Marco Sanudo. The fortifications are relatively intact and the views magnificent. Pyrgaki beach has a couple of tavernas and a few rooms; four kilometres further on is Ayiassos beach.

The rest of the southern coast – indeed, virtually the whole of the southeast of the island – is remote and mountain-studded; you’d have to be a dedicated and well-equipped camper/hiker to get much out of the region.

Paros Beaches

Gently and undramatically furled around the single peak of Profitis Ilias, Paros has a little of everything one expects from a Greek island: old villages, monasteries, fishing harbours, a labyrinthine capital, and some of the best nightlife and beaches in the Aegean.

However, the island is almost as touristy and expensive as Mykonos – in peak season, it’s touch-and-go when it comes to finding rooms and beach space.

Ambelas hamlet marks the start of a longer trek down the east coast. Ambelas itself has a good beach, a small taverna and some rooms and hotels. From here a rough track leads south, passing several undeveloped stretches on the way; after about an hour you reach Molos beach, impressive and not particularly crowded.

The second port of Paros, Naoussa is a major resort town grown up around a charming little port. Despite encroaching development, the town is noted for its nearby beaches and is a good place to head for as soon as you reach Paros. Piperi beach is a couple of minutes’ walk west of Naoussa’s harbour; there are other good-to-excellent beaches within walking distance, and a summer ka?ki service to connect them. To the west, an hour’s tramp brings you to Kolymbithres (“Basins”), where there are three tavernas and the wind- and sea-sculpted rock formations from which the place draws its name. A few minutes beyond, Monastiri beach, below the abandoned Prodhromos monastery, is similarly attractive, and partly nudist. Go northeast and the sands are better still, the barren headland spangled with good surfing beaches. Langeri is backed by dunes; the best surfing is at Santa Maria, a trendy beach connected with Naoussa by road, which also has a couple of tavernas, including the pleasant Aristofanes; and Platia Ammos perches on the northeastern tip of the island.

Parikia sets the tone architecturally for the rest of Paros, with its ranks of typically Cycladic white houses punctuated by the occasional Venetian-style building and church domes. There are beaches immediately north and south of the harbour, though none are particularly attractive when compared with Paros’s best. In fact, you might prefer to avoid the northern stretch altogether and head south along the asphalt road instead. The first unsurfaced side-track you come to leads to a small, sheltered beach; fifteen minutes further on is PArasporos, with an attractively landscaped and relatively quiet campsite and beach near the remains of an ancient temple to Asklepios, the god of medicine and son of Apollo. Continuing for 45 minutes (or a short hop by bus) brings you to arguably the best of the bunch, Ayia Irini, with good sand and a taverna next to a farm and shady olive grove.

Sitia Beaches

Sitia is the port and main town of the relatively unexploited eastern edge of Crete.

It’s a pleasantly scenic if unremarkable place, offering a plethora of waterside restaurants, a long sandy beach and a lazy lifestyle little affected even by the thousands of visitors in peak season.

There’s an almost Latin feel to the town, reflected in (or perhaps caused by) the number of French and Italian tourists, and it’s one of those places that tends to grow on you, perhaps inviting a longer stay than intended.

For entertainment there’s the beach, providing good swimming and windsurfing.

Skiathos Beaches

The commercialization of Skiathos is legendary among foreigners and Greeks: it’s a close fourth to that of Corfu, Mykonos and Rhodes.

But if you’ve some time to spare, or a gregarious nature, you might still break your journey here to sample the best, if most overcrowded, beaches in the Sporades.

Along the south and southeast coasts, the road serves an almost unbroken line of villas, hotels and restaurants, and although this doesn’t take away the island’s natural beauty, it makes it difficult to find anything unspoiled or particularly Greek about it all.

As almost the entire population lives in Skiathos Town, a little walking soon pays off. However, camping outside official sites is strongly discouraged, since summer turns the dry pine-needles to tinder.

Other than using the buses or the various rental outlets in town, you could also get your bearings on a boat trip around the island. These cost about ?15 per person and leave at around 10am. Or try a boat trip to the islet of Tsougria (opposite Skiathos Town), where there’s a good beach and a taverna.

Skopelos Beaches

Bigger, more rugged and better cultivated than Skiathos, Skopelos is almost as busy, but its concessions to tourism are lower key and in better taste than in Skiathos. Most of the larger beaches have sunbeds, umbrellas and some watersports, though smaller, secluded coves do exist.

Inland, the island is a well-watered place, growing olives, plums, pears and almonds.

Glossa and Skopelos , its two main towns, are also among the prettiest in the Sporades, clambering uphill along paved steps, their houses distinguished by attractive wooden balconies and grey slate roofs.

A number of nationalities have occupied the island at various stages of its history, among them the Romans, Persians, Venetians, French and, of course, the Ottomans. The Ottoman pirate-admiral Barbarossa (Redbeard) – actually a Greek renegade from Lesvos – had the entire population of the island slaughtered in the sixteenth century.

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