With thousands of islands to choose from, Greece can be an intimidating place to start looking for your next beach break. Don’t be put off though, as the nation has more than a lot to offer, whether you’re island-hopping or just looking for the perfect setting to unwind. From the busy, iconic bays to the hidden, scenic coves, here’s our run-down of the 20 best beaches in Greece.
1. Elafonísi, Crete
This tiny uninhabited islet lies marooned on the edge of a gloriously scenic turquoise lagoon that shares its name. The pinky-white sand, the warm, clear lagoon and the islet to which you can easily wade are magnificent. That said, you certainly won’t have them to yourself unless you visit out of season.
At peak times Elafonísi can be unbearably crowded, with lines of loungers, but little else in the way of infrastructure. There are stalls selling cold drinks and basic food, along with portable toilets and an incongruous phone box. If you’re here on a day-trip, you'll want to bring your own picnic.
To find out more about all the beaches Crete has to offer - read our guide to the best beaches in Crete.
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2. Limniónas beach, Pelion Peninsula
Southeast of Mylopótamos lies the attractive Limniónas beach. You can arrive on foot from Mylopótamos, but most people get there via Lambinoú village (no reliable facilities). From here a paved road leads 3km down past the restored eighteenth-century Lambidhónas monastery, which sports fine frescoes over the doors. Scenic Limniónas has a freshwater shower but no other reliable amenities.
Limniónas is a small but superior-for-swimming cove 2km further west; yachts and kaïkia occasionally call at the protected bay, which offers decent swimming at the east end, away from a rock shelf in the middle.
As you begin planning your holiday in Greece, take a look at our list of tips for travelling in Greece.
3. Horeftó, Pelion Peninsula
Eight twisting kilometres down the mountain from Zagorá, Horeftó makes an excellent coastal base. There is ample choice of beaches: a long, decent one in front of this former fishing village. Secluded Áyii Saránda 2km south and two coves at Análipsi, just north – a brief hike brings you to the first cove, a little paradise popular with nudists and rough campers taking advantage of a spring behind the sand.
Determined explorers can follow the coastal path for twenty minutes more to the northerly cove, road-accessible and rockier. There are also two hour-long kalderímia up to Zagorá, which can be combined to make an enjoyable loop.
4. Paleohóri, Mílos
The main road to southern Mílos splits at Kánava junction, near the large power station. The sea there contains underwater hot vents resulting in fizzy hotspots that locals use for jacuzzi-like baths. The eastern fork leads to Zefyría, which was briefly the capital until an eighteenth-century earthquake (and subsequent plague) drove out the population.
8 km south of Zefyría, down a winding, surfaced road, is Paleohóri, one of the island’s best beaches (and one of the best beaches in Greece), warmed by underground volcanism. A little rock tunnel leads west to a second beach, which is backed by extraordinarily coloured cliffs and where steam vents heat the shallow water.
Hop between the islands of Milos, Naxos, and Amorgos on this romantic tailor-made Greek Island-Hopping Honeymoon trip. Drive around stunning coastlines, explore mountain villages, visit ancient sites, and luxuriate on golden beaches as you are transfixed by the allure of the Aegean’s turquoise waters.
5. Ayía Kyriakí in Mílos - one of the best beaches in Greece for water activities
Further west of Paleohóri is Ayía Kyriaki – a pebble beach under imposing sulphurous and red oxide cliffs. This is one of the most beautiful and best beaches in Greece, with its clear waters, a few trees for shade, and surrounded by the wild rocky landscape.
This beach is boasting clear azure waters, fine sands and stunning cliffs that surround it. Holidaymakers here can enjoy a variety of water activities such as swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling. There are also several restaurants, cafes and shops in the area.
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6. Shipwreck Bay, Zákynthos
Surrounded by steep cliffs, this popular idyllic bay, with golden sands and bright blue waters, is often known as “Sumggler’s Cove” on account of the enormous, rusting shipwreck laying bare on its shores.
A paved road leads on from Volímes to the cliffs overlooking the bay (real name Tó Naváyio), with hair-raising views down to the shipwreck – a cargo ship, which was mistaken for a drug-running vessel and run aground by the coastguard in the 1960s.
7. Vríka, Andípaxi
Less than 2km south, Paxí’s tiny sibling Andípaxi has scarcely any accommodation and no facilities beyond several seasonal daytime beach tavernas. Andípaxi’s sandy, blue-water coves have been compared with the Caribbean, but you’ll have to share them with kaïkia and sea taxis from all three villages on Paxí, plus larger craft from Corfu and the mainland resorts.
Some of the Ionian Island’s best swimming and snorkelling is on offer on this islet, the smaller sister island of Paxí. Vríka, reached by boat from Corfu, is a sandy beach offering two tavernas – one at each end – of which Spiros serves great grilled and oven food. Quieter bays are accessible if you head south of Vríka.
8. Longás Beach, Corfu
The northernmost of the west coast’s resorts, Áyios Stefanos is low-key, popular with families and a quiet base from which to explore the northwest and the Dhiapóndia islands visible on the horizon. Officially named Áyios Stéfanos Avlióton to distinguish it from its namesake in the northeast, its small harbour lies a good kilometre south of the long sandy beach.
Shaded till early afternoon and backed by sheer vertical red cliffs, the stunning Longás Beach is an excellent hangout and one of the best beaches in Greece. The beach is accessible from Avliótes, a handsome hill town with the odd kafenio and tavernas but few concessions to tourism.
9. Avlémonas, Kythira
The prettiest destination on the east coast is Avlémonas, on a rocky bay at the top of this coast. It’s a small fishing port with an end-of-the-world feel as you approach from a distance. It becomes much more attractive once reached, and has a remarkable coordination of colour schemes throughout the village. There is a small Venetian fortress and little coves with some of the clearest water around, fine for swimming.
10. Áyii Anáryiri, Spétses
Áyii Anáryiri is the largest and most popular beach on Spétses: a long, sheltered, partly sandy bay, with a good taverna, offshore swimming pontoon and a watersports centre offering kayaks, pedalos, windsurfers and catamarans to rent, as well as a waterski boat.
At the end of the beach, concrete steps lead round to the Bekiris Cave, a low-ceilinged, shallow cavern. You can clamber in through a narrow entrance at the back and then swim out, though best to have something on your feet for the sharp rocks.
11. Kékes beach, Thássos
Alykí hamlet, 35km from Liménas and just below the main road, faces a perfect double bay which almost pinches off a headland. Uniquely, it retains its original whitewashed, slate-roofed architecture, since the presence of extensive antiquities here has led to a ban on any modern construction.
Of all the beaches in Alykí the sand-and-pebble west bay gets oversubscribed in peak season. To avoid this head 1km further southwest and hit the secluded Kékes beach set in a lovely pine grove.
12. Ayía Eléni, Skiáthos
About 600m from the bus stop in Koukounairés, Ayía Eléni is a stunning, broad, sandy beach looking west towards the mountainous mainland. It’s bigger and more family-oriented than the neighbouring Banana beaches, with a couple of beach bars and, pedaloes and kayaks to rent.
On Ayía Eléni, you can enjoy the many water activities, as well as enjoying the sunset on the island, which is surrounded by the picturesque mountains of the Pélion.
13. Vromólimnos, Skiáthos
The prettiest of the beaches on the Kalamáki peninsula, fine-sand Vromólimnos is a bit of a walk from the nearest bus stop, and hence a little quieter than many south-coast sands. It still has several cafés from which to enjoy sunset views, though, and a busy water-ski operation. Vromólimnos is one of the most secluded beaches on Skiáthos, so if you want to avoid the crowds this is the beach for you.
There are a group of elegant modern studios, apartments and villas in a great location, in a garden behind the beach. All options have cooking facilities, generous outdoor space and good modern bathrooms, plus there’s a garden bar.
14. Lalária beach, Skiáthos
This famous beach, nestling near the northernmost point of Skiáthos, is only accessible by taxi- or excursion-boat from town. With steep cliffs rising behind a white-pebble shore and an artistic natural arch, it’s undeniably beautiful; three sea grottoes just east rate a stop on most round-the-island trips.
Glistening white pebbles and turquoise waters, backed by steep cliffs and a natural rock arch, form a photogenic contrast to the island’s other, mostly sandy, bays, highlighting this Lalária as one of the best beaches in Greece.
15. Atháni, Lefkádha
South of Kalamítsi, past the hamlets of Hortáta and Komíli, the landscape becomes almost primaeval. At 38km from Lefkádha Town, Atháni is the island’s most remote spot to stay. This area of Lefkádha gives way to three of the Ionian’s choicest beaches, where azure and milky turquoise waves buffer strands enclosed by dramatic cliffs.
Three of the Ionian’s choicest beaches are accessible from Atháni: the nearest, reached by a 4km paved road, is Yialós, followed by Egremní, down a steep incline unpaved for the last 2km. Further south, an asphalted road leads to the dramatic and popular twin beach of Pórto Katsíki.
16. Káthisma beach, Lefkádha
Lefkádha’s west coast can compete with anywhere in Greece in its display of dramatic coastal scenery. On both sides of Áï Nikítas, the only real resort, mountainous roads rise and descend from the sea, offering tantalizing glimpses of the stunning sandy beaches, sandwiched between imposing cliffs and turquoise lapping waves.
The most popular beach on the coast and one of the best beaches in Greece, Káthisma, is a shadeless kilometre of fine sand, which becomes nudist and a lot less crowded beyond the large jutting rocks halfway along. Free camping still goes on at this end too.
To find more beach destinations in Greece we highly recommend that you explore our guide to the best beaches in Santorini.
17. Anthony Quinn bay, Rhodes
Faliráki’s sandy sweep is closed off on the south by the cape of Ladhikó. For the best swimming, head for the main cove, south of the promontory. The scenic bay of “Anthony Quinn”, on its northern flank, is named after the late Mexican American actor, whom Greeks took to their hearts following his roles in Zorba the Greek and The Guns of Navarone.
Quinn bought much of this area and constructed the first road to the beach, but during the 1980s the Greek government swindled him out of his claim; legal battles continue to this day.
18. Áyios Nikólas beach, Karpathos
The finest beach in the area, this broad 100-metre stretch of good quality sand still feels pleasantly rural, even though a newly built hotel has just joined its long-standing taverna.
The beach of Áyios Nikólas is located in the village of Arkasa and is one of the most picturesque beaches in Karpathos. The golden sandy coastline and the blowing breeze make it one of the best beaches in Greece for a relaxing holiday.
19. Símos, Elafónissos
Part of the mainland until 375 AD, when an earthquake separated it, Elafónissos is just 19 square kilometres and gets very busy in the short summer season, when its 700-odd resident population is vastly outnumbered by visitors. The island’s eponymous town is largely modern, but has plenty of hotels, plus some good fish tavernas.
One of the island’s two surfaced roads leads 5km southeast to Símos, one of the best beaches in Greece, a large double bay with fine pale sand heaped into dunes and views to Kýthira. A kaïki leaves from the town for Símos every morning in summer.
20. Tholos cove, Tílos
To combine walking and beach-bumming, this little cove, quieter than beaches nearer to Livádhia, is situated along a pleasant trail that begins by the cemetery and chapel of Áyios Pandelímon, then curls under the seemingly impregnable castle of Agriosykía.
From the saddle on the paved road overlooking the descent to Thólos, a cairned route leads northwest to the citadel in twenty minutes. Head east a couple of curves along the paved road to the trailhead for Áyios Séryis Bay, Tílos’s most pristine beach but also the hardest to reach.
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