Greece beach holidaysTour the archipelago and hit some of Europe’s best beaches
Soft, shifting sands; intensely blue water; memorable views of sun-baked cliffs, islands or ancient relics: there are indeed many factors that contribute to a good beach. Greece has plenty of them. In fact, it’s home to some of Europe’s very best – which is no surprise given it has the most coastline of any country on the continent. Secluded coves, picture-postcard stretches of golden sand, areas busy with bars and bathers; you’re sure to find a beach that suits you here. It’s during the summer months of June, July and August when the temperature on the Greek islands reaches its zenith, though a refreshing sea breeze whipping in from the north and north-west should keep you from burning to a crisp.
Beach locales in Greece are a dime a dozen, from the blinding white sands fringing the Ionian Islands to the contrasting black sands and pebble beaches of Santorini. Watersport devotees are catered for too. And though in the Med you won’t find the mammoth waves you seek if you’re all about surfing, it is possible to catch some good breaks. Got your beachwear at the ready? Read on for a breakdown of Greece’s top five seaside hotspots.
Top five destinations for beach holidays in Greece
Beach holidays in Greece: Crete
First things first, Crete is home to perhaps the greatest beach in all of Greece. Elafonissi Beach, residing on its own eponymous island off the southwestern corner of Crete, is a haven of clear, shallow waters and sparkling pink sand. Strap on a snorkel and you can observe fish weaving between the tiny rocky islands closeby; the beach itself includes facilities such as showers and food kiosks, while for 7 Euros you can rent a pair of lounge chairs and a parasol for the entire day. Elsewhere in Crete, Mpalos Beach, to the northwest of Chania, lies in a shallow bay formed in the peninsula of Gramvousa and is famous for its multiple shades of lapping blue water. Bali beach, and the glorious Falassarna, are also well worthy of your attention.
View villas in Crete
Beach holidays in Greece: Rhodes
The beaches of Rhodes, which sit way out in the Aegean Sea south of Marmaris, are numerous. That’s because the small coastal towns and villages of Rhodes are numerous, from Faliraki to Kremasti, Lindos and Pefkos to Afantou and Paradisi. Take the car and tour along the coastline, hitting the beaches as you go. Such is the beauty of St Paul’s Bay in Lindos, it’s become a favourite for couples wishing to say ‘I do’ on recent years; the enclosing limestone cliffs certainly lend the place something of an aura. For somewhere a little quieter, nip along to Afandou, 19km south of Rhodes Town; comprised of sand and pebbles, it’s one of Crete’s finest Blue Flag beaches. The twin sandy coves of Prassonissi, meanwhile, are popular with windsurfers.
Beach holidays in Greece: Ionian Islands
In the best beach stakes, the Ionian Islands certainly hold their own against the rest of the archipelago. The islands are made up of Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Zante, Kefalonia and Cythera, so the beaches belonging to it are spread far and wide, from the stunning Porto Katsiki in Lefkas, whose wedge of golden sand lies in the shade of towering white cliffs, to the sublime Shipwreck Beach on the north-west shore of party hub Zante. You can only access this sand-and-pebble beach by boat, but boy is it worth it! In Kefalonia, meanwhile, Myrtos beach towers above the rest; sheltered by a pair of mountains either side, it’s also home to a low cave at the end of the beach that’s a joy to explore. Just watch out for the shelving sand if you go out for a swim; it gets deep pretty quickly.
Beach holidays in Greece: Saronic Islands
The closest Greek islands to Athens, the Saronic chain are ideal for those making a flying visit to Greece. Spetses, Hydra, Agistra Poros and Aegina are their names, and their beaches are uniformly excellent. You won’t find an abundance of endless golden beaches here, but rather a preponderance of small, intimate coves. Love Bay beach in Poros is shaded by pine trees and truly Caribbean in feel; it can be reached via an hourly bus departing from Poros Town. Neorio Beach, also in Poros, is perhaps the most commercial you’ll find; golden sands, transparent waters, it’s home to a centre for water sports. Agia Marina, meanwhile, is the pick of the bunch in Spetses; it’s surrounded by pines and cypresses and overlooked by a small pink and white chapel.
Beach holidays in Greece: Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands describes a vast number of Greek islands, the most northern of which lie along the country’s east coast, and whose largest and most populous member, in the south, is Crete. There’s a diverse mix of things to do depending on which island you alight on, of course, but as far as beaches go, the options are limitless. Paradise beach in Kos is a popular choice, particularly with the young crowd, while there is no shortage of world-class beaches in Ikaria, Lesvos, Samos and Psara, all of which lie just off the coast of Turkey. There’s also a lovely clean pebble beach in Santorini named Perissa, and a further ‘Red Beach’, near Akrotiri, which is backed by dramatic volcanic red rocks.