23 Top Beaches in Greece

Showcasing iconic beaches with turquoise waters and surreal settings, Greece is a bucket list destination for many. Whether you’re seeking the world’s best beaches, pink sand beaches or top beach honeymoon destinations, Greece offers beaches to suit all tastes and interests. History buffs may choose to explore the ancient city of Athens and add on a few days in the Athens Riviera, while others may plan a once-in-a-lifetime Greek island-hopping adventure. From blue-green waters to mystical volcanic landscapes, read on to discover the top Greek beaches for your bucket list.

Navagio Beach: Zakynthos

Accessible only via boat, this popular beach on the Ionian Sea is an iconic destination off the south coast of Greece. Known for its crystal-clear azure waters framed by jagged rock formations, Navagio Beach is also known as “Shipwreck Beach” and “Smuggler’s Cove” because it is the resting place of the Panagiotis, a shipping vessel that washed ashore in 1983. Despite its remote locale on the northwestern coast of the island of Zakynthos, this beach is highly popular with tourists, so it is best to visit in the morning before it gets too crowded. There are tour companies on the island offering daytrips to the beach from tourist areas such as Planos and Zante Town, though some tours are only offered during the high season from April to October. For easy access to the tours, stay at traveler-approved hotels, such as Lesante Blu and Contessina Suites & Spa.

Elafonisi Beach: Crete

Famous for its pink-hued sands (created by the pink and red shells crushed by the sea), Elafonisi Beach is located on the southwestern corner of Crete ? the largest island in Greece. Featuring a scenic landscape with the blue waters of the Mediterranean lapping against pink sand dunes, this beach is set on a narrow landmass surrounded by crystal-clear waters, ideal for snorkeling. Reachable by car, boat or bus, Elafonisi Beach and its quiet location gives visitors a sense of being away from it all, though the beach’s Instagram-ready setting makes it a popular spot for tourists, especially from May to September. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, or just seeking a bit of solitude, wander away from the parking area or wade through the lagoon’s warm and knee-deep water to reach the island. Since the beach is part of a protected nature preserve, visitors should note the following are not allowed: umbrellas (except those provided), fires, camping, littering and damaging plants.

While the beach and lagoon are shallow and generally calm, the sea surrounding the area is treacherous and has witnessed multiple shipwrecks. Because of this, the chapel and shrine close to the lighthouse are dedicated to the patron saint of sailors, Agios Nikolaos (St. Nickolas).

This picture-perfect beach makes a great daytrip from Chania (situated about 45 miles northeast of Elafonisi), where you’ll find a variety of hotel options including Casa Delfino Hotel.

[See more of Crete: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]

Koukounaries Beach: Skiathos

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Considered one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful beaches, this white sand beach on the Aegean Sea has an idyllic setting amid whitewashed island architecture. Located on the island of Skiathos within the Northern Sporades Islands, this beach offers a seaside retreat with easy access to historic sites and nightlife. Amid a protected nature reserve, travelers can rent sunbeds, tables and umbrellas for a nominal fee, and visitors say this beach is surrounded by pine trees and stunning sparkling waters. For lodging, choose from a campsite or one of the nearby hotels, including Elivi Skiathos in the island’s capital town filled with stone-paved streets. While on the island, you may want to explore the ruins of a Venetian fortress in Bourtzi; the four museums of the Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary; and the museum that was once the home of author Alexandros Papadiamantis. You’ll also want to experience the island’s well-known cosmopolitan nightlife scene, as well as the tavernas serving authentic Greek cuisine.

Myrtos Beach: Kefalonia

The white pebbled beach of Myrtos is framed by the striking blue waters of the Ionian Sea and rugged limestone cliffs scattered with pine trees. The windless bay is nestled between Agia Dynati and Kalon Oros mountains and it is a popular spot for travelers to spend the day. You can reach this beach by taking a 1.25-mile drive down a steep road filled with hairpin turns to a parking lot. Once you arrive at one of the best beaches in Greece, you can enjoy the power of nature from the beach or while swimming in the sea (beware: the water gets deep quickly). A section of the beach features sunbeds and a snack bar, and the undeveloped area is ideal for those seeking solitude on the Ionian Sea amid fragrant greenery. For an Instagram-worthy photo op, check out the small cave on one end of the beach for a one-of-a-kind setting. This top Greek beach is known for swoon-worthy sunsets, so be sure stay to catch nature’s beauty in its glory. If you want a chance at having the beach to yourself, arrive early in the morning. For tavernas and hotels, Divarata is the closest village.

This beach is located on the island of Kefalonia (the largest of the Ionian Islands). Surrounded by crystal-clear and blue-green waters, this island is known for its beautiful beaches, ranging in style from remote to luxurious, along with the Melissani Cave and the charming seaside villages of Fiskardo and Assos. While on the island, travelers may want to explore a few other beaches, as they offer a range of experiences.

Providing iconic sunsets, this top Greek beach is close to Asos. For snorkeling and water sports, Antisamos beach is a top destination and also a great spot to begin the challenging, yet scenic hike to Koutsoupia beach.

Paradise Beach: Mykonos

Set on the island of Mykonos, known for its energetic nightlife and far from conservative attitude, Paradise Beach — the island’s original nude beach ? and its neighbor Super Paradise Beach — popular with the LGBTQ crowd ? offer the full Mykonos experience with gold sand beaches, 24/7 accessibility, upscale facilities and a thriving food and cocktail scene. During the summer (May to September), mornings are relaxed and as the day progresses, the DJs begin to spin tunes and the area transforms into the quintessential Mykonos party scene. There’s also a diving center on the beach, as well as water sports equipment rentals for those craving time for adventure. Reachable by foot, boat or bus, this trendy beach and the Paradise Beach Club are located about 2 miles south of Mykonos Town (referred to as Chora or Hora by the locals).

Most of the island’s hotels, restaurants and attractions are located in Mykonos Town. Filled with Cycladic-style whitewashed buildings and meandering streets, the town is accessible only by foot or bike. On the southern end of the town overlooking the sea, you’ll find the famous church Panagia Paraportia, while the northern side of the city is home to the iconic windmills of Kato Myli. Consider a stay at top-ranked hotels like Bill and Coo Suites and Lounge, Cavotagoo Mykonos or Santa Marina, a Luxury Collection Resort.

[See more of Mykonos: Things to Do | Hotels | Dining | When to Visit | Photos ]

Red Beach: Santorini

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Topping many lists of the best honeymoon destinations, Santorini is a popular island for romantic getaways. Known for its volcanic-sand beaches and one-of-a-kind sunsets, the island actually sits on the tip of a flooded volcanic crater. Its unique geologic formation leads to many of the island’s iconic attractions including cliffside white villages and the red-hued cliffs of Kokkini Beach, also known as Red Beach. Located on the southwestern coast of Santorini, this picture-perfect beach features a backdrop of volcanic-created red rock formations. The all-red landscape is reachable by about a 1-mile walk from the harbor of Akrotiri or via boat from Kamari, Perissa or Akrotiri.

For an added sea experience, consider taking a boat from the old port of Fira or Athinios to the two small islands in the center of the caldera, Palea and Nea Kameni.

Santorini has a variety of hotels, including the highly rated Canaves Oia Boutique Hotel and the Andronis Luxury Suites.

[See more of Santorini: Things to Do | Hotels | Dining | When to Visit | Photos ]

Plaka: Naxos

Originally a nudist beach, Plaka is a long and sandy beach, ideal for swimmers and sunbathers. Occupying an entire bay, the north end is undeveloped, while the middle and southern ends have tavernas along with chairs and umbrellas for rent. While it is still popular with nudists, you’re more likely to see families here during the summer months. Just off the beach, you’ll find hotel options such as the Villa Paradise Boutique Hotel Naxos, along with a smattering of dining options. Plaka is located on the island of Naxos (the largest of the Cyclades) and visitors to this island will find a mountainous landscape centered around Mount Zeus (the highest peak in the Cyclades), with fertile lands producing olives, grapes and figs, along with charming mountain villages such as Apiranthos and Halki.

Mylopotas: Ios

This half-mile-long sandy beach with turquoise waters is located about 1.8 miles from the charming town of Chora. Popular for swimming, as well as windsurfing and scuba diving, the Mylopotas beach has two parts: one with sunbeds and umbrellas, and an undeveloped area so visitors can lay in the sand. The beach is reachable via a downhill walk of about a mile from Chora, or via bus. If you feel like exploring, check out the reservoir, Panagia (church of the Virgin Mary) and follow the route from Mylopotas to Maganari to see where “The Big Blue” movie was filmed. While on the island, you’ll want to spend time exploring Chora. Built on a hillside, the traditional village has Cycladic architecture with covered alleyways (called stiyadia), blue-domed churches, white houses, 12 windmills and remnants of a medieval castle. Art lovers will want to check out the Museum of Modern Art, housed in a neoclassical building; the museum showcases an extensive Jean-Marie Dro art collection. For a hotel, consider the top-rated Ios Resort Hotel.

Gialova: Messinia

Along the west coast of Peloponnese, amid the olive tree-dotted hills, lies the village of Gialova. Located on Navarino Bay, about 4 miles north of Pylos, Gialova has a long, yet narrow sandy beach on the Gialova lagoon or Divari lagoon. Ideal for nature lovers, the lagoon is part of the Natura 2000 and is home to the African chameleon and 270 different kinds of birds. Close by, you’ll find the old castle of Navarino, Navarino Bay and Voidokilia beach.

Voidokilia: Messinia

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The omega-shaped beach of Voidokilia is a picture-perfect setting along the Mediterranean Sea. Located in the Messinia district of the historic town of Pylos, this cove and beach lie within a declared archeological site. Its symmetrical shape is reminiscent of ancient theaters and is believed to be the place where King Nestor greets Telemachus in Homer’s Odyssey. This Greek beach is popular with both locals and travelers for swimming, sunbathing, bird-watching and hiking. In addition to spending time on the soft sands, visitors can take a hike above the beach area to explore the ruins of Old Navarino Castle, Nestor’s Cave and the tomb of Thrasymedes.

Sarakiniko Beach: Milos

This must-visit beach is sometimes compared to a lunar landscape, as it has a dramatic moon-like appearance with chalk-white horizontal rocks against deep blue waters. Its mysterious topography is due to volcanic activity that formed the island of Milos, which has more than 70 beaches and fascinating landscapes. There’s a shipwreck to explore (the beach is named after pirates that used the area as a hideout), a sheltered sand beach for swimming and a network of caves and mines. Relax on the rocks while enjoying the view, or be adventurous and partake in cliff jumping. Be sure to stay for the sunset, as the beach is especially majestic with a full moon.

While here, you may want to check out the two Palaichori beaches with reddish pebbles, Provatas with golden-red sands and the white sands of Tsigkrado where the sea has an emerald hue. While Agios Ioannis is made up of three consecutive beaches connected by pathways, and Lagkada has shade trees and shallow waters.

Balos: Crete

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Known for its turquoise waters and exotic scenery, Balos Beach is frequented by tourists, locals and royals. To reach the lagoon of Balos, you’ll likely arrive via ferry from Kissamos port. Once here, you’ll find warm and shallow water ideal for young children, as well as white sand and areas of pink sand, which gets its color from crushed shells. For snorkeling, the area beyond the boundaries of the lagoon offers deeper and cooler waters. The area is part of the Natura 2000 program and is home to protected monk seals and loggerhead sea turtles. Nearby caves are nesting habitats for Eleonora falcons, shags and cormorants. This beach is busiest in July and August, so if you’re looking to visit you may want to plan to visit in the offseason. If you don’t want to take the ferry, you can also go on a roughly 6-mile hike (about three hours one-way) from Kaliviani through the range of Playtskinos, or take a car or motorbike along a rugged dirt road from Kaliviani.

Psaraliki Beach: Antiparos

Located on the small island of Antiparos, Psaraliki beach (or Psaralyki beach) is one of the top beaches in the Cyclades Islands. Set on the clear waters of the Aegean Sea, it consists of two beaches: Psaraliki I and Psaraliki II. Reachable by a half-mile walk from Antiparos town, Psaraliki I is popular with tourists for a variety of activities including swimming, snorkeling, pedal boats, beach tennis, windsurfing and towable inflatables, while Psaraliki II is frequented by nudists. Facing east, these beaches are both protected from strong winds, with smaller waves and shallow waters. Consider a stay at Kouros Village or the Artemis Hotel.

Megalos Mourtias Beach: Alonnisos

Situated in the Northern Sporades on the island of Alonnisos, Megalos Mourtias Beach has views of the island of Evia in the distance and a curved pebbled beach. Located east of Old Alonnisos, the enclosed beach can be reached by a steep 1.25-mile road. The water here is calm and clear, ideal for swimming. But you may want to bring comfortable footwear, as walking on the pebbles can be quite uncomfortable. There are two tavernas serving seafood and fresh salads, as well as sun loungers and umbrellas available for rent. While on the southern end of Alonnisos, you may also want to visit the Greek beach of Marpounta. If you’re planning to spend the night on the island, consider Konstantina Studios in Alonnis Town or Marpunta Resort on the southwest coast.

Falasarna: Crete

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A popular daytrip destination from Hania and Kissamos, Falasarna beach on the island of Crete has pink-ivory sands accented by teal waters. This beach is known for large waves coming in from the Mediterranean, as well as one-of-a-kind sunsets. The busy season is from mid-July to mid-August, so you may want to plan your trip outside of that window to have plenty of space to enjoy the waves and sunsets. To stay nearby, the Panorama Hotel Falasarna has modest accommodations close to the beach.

Porto Katsiki: Lefkada

One of the most famous Greek beaches, Porto Katsiki is located on the southwest side of Lefkada Island. Showcasing clear blue waters, the strip of pebbled beach is set at the base of towering cliffs. Situated on the Mediterranean Sea, this beach has a rugged coastline and incredible landscape; you can get here via a tree-lined road and a staircase with about 100 steps. For the adventurous, take the other stairway to a peninsula flanking the beach, or climb to the clifftop for a bird’s eye view of the setting. You’ll want to be sure to stay for the sunset, as recent visitors say it casts a spectacular shade of orange on to the cliffs.

Canal d’Amour: Corfu

Honeymooners and couples may want to visit this romantic beach on the island of Corfu. Located in Sidari, legend has it that couples who swim in these waters will stay in love for the rest of their lives. This Greek beach has argyle geological formations with coves, hidden caves and water channels created over time by the sea salt and winds. For romantic accommodations, consider Domes Miramare Corfu or Rodostamo Hotel & Spa.

[See more of Corfu: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]

Kolympithres: Paros

Here you’ll find multiple wind-sheltered coves and rock cavities that fill with seawater to create natural spas. Close to Naousa Bay or Plastira Bay on the northwest coast of Paros Island in the Cyclades Islands, Kolympithres beach has a fine golden sand beach and distinctive natural granite rock formations. Reachable by car or boat, this beach in the Greek islands is close to a few beach bars and taverns. For hotels, Saint Andrea Seaside Resort and the Senia Hotel offer highly rated accommodations nearby.

Astir Beach: Athens Riviera

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Popular with celebrities since 1959, Astir Beach is located on the Athens Riviera, about 15 miles south of Athens. This see-and-be-seen beach in the high-end Vouliagmeni area is recognized for its upscale and environmentally friendly beach facilities, including changing cabins, lockers, beach towels, Wi-Fi, lifeguards and medical assistance. The glamorous destination also offers water sports rentals, spas such as the Orloff Spa and Holmes Place, and the chic Platinum Lounge offering exclusive upscale beachfront services. To stay in the heart of this area, book a room at the Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens.

Seychelles Beach: Ikaria

Featuring emerald waters reminiscent of the Indian Ocean, Seychelles Beach is a small beach with a marbled pebbled beach accented by giant polished rocks. Located on the island of Ikaria, this ethereal setting is about 2 miles east of Manganitis. To get here, watch for the parking lot close to the tunnel on the road to Manganitis. From there, follow the path on the left side of the ravine to the beach. Given the terrain, you’ll want to wear comfortable walking shoes rather than flip-flops or sandals. Recent visitors say it’s worth the hike to swim or snorkel in this cove.

Pachia Ammos: Crete

This world-renowned beach on the island of Crete features nearly a mile of gold and pink sand. With an impressive mountain backdrop, this Greek beach is known for its majestic sunsets. It’s also well-equipped with beach bars, water sports rentals and a beach volleyball court, along with chairs and umbrellas, making it an ideal spot for relaxing while taking in the view. There are plenty of Crete hotel options nearby, as well as restaurants serving Cretan food. Plus, history buffs can explore what remains of the ancient town, quarry, throne and temple of Artemis. You can also explore the church of St. Fotis and St. Invincible, which was built into a cave overlooking the bay of Falassarna.

Psatha Beach: Attica

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Located about 40 miles west of Athens, Psatha Beach is a scenic beach set between the Corinthian Gulf and Mount Pateras. This Greek beach offers lush trails and a pebbled shoreline located between charming villages with hotels and restaurants. What’s more, unlike many of the Greek islands, Attica’s beaches (including Porto Germeno) are year-round destinations. This region is ideal for travelers that want to pair a quick beach getaway with an Athens vacation.

Foki Beach: Kefalonia

Animal lovers will want to visit the U-shaped bay of Foki Beach. Set among olive groves and cypress trees, this pebbled beach is also a monk seal sanctuary and has an ideal location close to Fiskardo. Reachable by car, this Greek beach is ideal for families with its calm and crystal-clear waters, natural shade and relaxing atmosphere. To stay nearby, consider popular properties like the Fiscardo Bay Hotel or the Almyra Hotel.

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23 Top Beaches in Greece originally appeared on usnews.com

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