With over 15,000 kilometers of coastline and a great variety of sandy, pebbly, and rocky beaches to suit all preferences, it’s only natural that Greece is a top choice for sun-and-sea tourism. While some swimming spots get very busy during high season in June, July, and August, the efforts made to keep all beaches clean and in shape for both human and other swimmers have also led the country to boast the second-highest number of Blue Flag-awarded beaches in the world, year after year. The latest acknowledgment of the country’s quality beaches is the results of Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards for 2023, featuring four Greek beaches among Europe’s best, and two among the best in the world.
Both located on the island of Crete, the two beaches voted among the best in the world are the stunning Elafonisi Beach, at the southwestern tip of the island, and the beautiful Balos Lagoon, on the northwestern coast. Elafonisi Beach which ranks the highest of all the Greek beaches, is renowned for the pinkish hue of its sand, comprised of finely crushed coral and shell particles, and its turquoise sea. Here, the shallow waters meet the sandy banks of a small island boasting a tiny stone-built chapel. The Balos Lagoon, meanwhile, rewards those who make the trip (either by boat from Kissamos or Falasarna, or by dirt road with a hike at the end) with clear waters in an idyllic setting described by Tripadvisor as feeling like “another planet.”
While the worldwide category winners exclusively feature sandy beaches, the list of the best beaches in Europe boasts one sole exception: the famously insta-friendly Sarakiniko Beach on Milos. This is arguably one of the most photogenic swimming spots in the world, with a lunar-like landscape featuring stark white rock formations above aquamarine waters that plunges to considerable depths. While there’s a small sandy stretch here, most swimmers prefer to sunbathe on the rocks, and jump off the highest ones for a dose of adrenaline.
Among the European winners is also a beach on Zakynthos – and not the one you might think. While this island is home to Greece’s iconic Shipwreck Beach (which unfortunately has had to be closed to visitors several times over the last years due to major landslides), the swimming spot singled out this year is Kalamaki Beach, a long sandy beach in the Bay of Laganas and the National Marine Park of Zakynthos known as a nesting spot for Caretta Caretta sea turtles.