The Most Spectacular Greek Destinations for Beach Hopping

Here’s our list of destinations around Greece worth traveling to for the beaches alone.


Many come for the archeological sites, others for the tavernas, and some for the nightlife, yet it’s not a stretch to say the setting in which the majority of tourists envisage themselves before flying off to Greece, is the beach.

And it’s only natural; Greece is blessed with some of the best beaches in the world. Whether you prefer shallow or deep water, like to cliff jump or chill, snap photos or enjoy privacy, there’s a piece of strand with your name written in the sand.

Greece has the second highest number of Blue Flag-awarded beaches in the world, and the number is growing, reaching a whopping 545 in 2021. This is a clear indication of how much work is constantly being done to care for this natural resource, because in order to receive the award, spectacular scenery isn’t enough; water quality, accessibility, sustainability and amenities are also considered.

But where will you find the best beaches in Greece? Or rather, what destinations should you consider if top notch beaches are your number one priority?

This list is far from exhaustive. Greece has over 15,000 kilometers of coastline (among the longest in the world), laced with a beaded ribbon of incredible beaches, on the mainland as well as on the islands. Most seaside destinations proudly boast at least one remarkable place to swim – and many, too many to feature in this list – are worth visiting for the beaches alone. These are some of our favorites:

 
 
 
 
 
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Halkidiki

The regional unit with the most Blue Flag-awarded beaches in Greece (87 in 2021), is Halkidiki. Looking at a map, it’s no surprise. Located in northern Greece, it consists much from three narrow peninsulas, forming two sheltered gulfs between them. Each peninsula has its own character. Mount Athos in the east is known for its monastic community, which clings to the rocks above the sea and attracts male pilgrims from all over the world. The middle peninsula, Sithonia, is especially popular with campers, while Kassandra, the westernmost peninsula, is known for its hopping beach bars and cosmopolitan vibe.

Perhaps the most intense way in which to experience the beach here is at a beach-side campsite, or “glamp site” (think bubble tents).

Some of the most famous beaches: Sani beach, Kavourotrypes, Karydi, Tigania, and the small islet of Diaporos, known locally as Hawaii.

How to get here: Inexpensive buses and run from the Thessaloniki International Macedonia Airport to the KTEL coach terminal for Halkidiki every half hour. From there, buses run several times a day to all Halkidiki destinations (c. 1h and 30 min-2h). Many also choose taxi transfer directly from the airport.

 
 
 
 
 
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Hania

Very busy in the summer, Hania on Crete, Greece’s largest island, is a destination loved by many kinds of travelers, from groups of young friends from Athens to foreign families arriving with charter companies. The city of Hania, often referred to as the “Venice of the East” due to the Venetian architecture in its Old Town, is a melting pot of historical sites, and the surrounding area offers everything a nature-lover could want, from mountain trails to gorgeous sandy beaches. It’s worth noting that Crete is the island with the most Blue Flag-awarded beaches in the country (120 in 2021). Many of them, and arguably most of the famous ones, are located in the Hania region.

Most famous beaches: Balos, Seitan Limania, Falassarna, Stavros (the Zorba beach), Glyka Nera, and Elafonisi, with its famous pink sand.

How to get there: You can fly directly to Hania from some countries, and from Athens (c. 45 min) and Thessaloniki (c. 1h and 10 min). You can also get here by ferry from the port of Piraeus (6h and 30 min-9h).

 
 
 
 
 
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Lefkada

Located just off the mainland of western Greece, below Preveza, Lefkada is home to some of Greece’s most photographed beaches. The landscape of the island is mountainous and quite exciting, with some of its most picturesque villages located high above the sea, and the coastline on the western side of the island often featuring staggering high rock walls laced with bright white beaches that make the Ionian Sea shine in bright, light turquoise.

Most famous beaches: Porto Katsiki, Egramni (which recently reopened, with new steps leading down the steep hill, after having been shut due to an earthquake-triggered landslide), Mylos, Kathisma, and for surfers – Vassiliki.

How to get here: You can actually drive to this island (c. 5h from both Athens and Thessaloniki), as it is connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. You can also fly to Preveza, on the mainland across from the island, via Corfu or Zakynthos.

 
 
 
 
 
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Ikaria

While not particularly well-known for its beaches, Ikaria’s reputation has much to do with quality of life – and that, to the Greeks, includes swimming.

In Dan Buettner’s book The Blue Zones, research backs a description of Ikaria as an island of longevity, or “the island where people forget to die,” as the author described it in The New York Times. The large number of centenarians alive on the island is explained by a number of things, including diet, daily routine, sense of community, and how locals live close to nature. If you ask us, there might be no better place in the world to live close to nature than at Seychelles beach, in the northwest of the island.

Most famous beaches: Seychelles, Kampos, Nas.

How to get here: You can fly to Ikaria directly from Athens (ca 55min) and other domestic airports, or travel with ferry from Piraeus (ca 6h).

 
 
 
 
 
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Kythira

Located south of the Peloponnese, and separate from the major island groups (it’s officially part of the Attica region, but traditionally referred to as one of the Ionian islands), not that many foreign tourists find their way to Kythira. The best way to get around the island and visit its amazing and diverse beaches is by car, making it a suitable island destination to pair with a road trip around the Peloponnese (you can bring your car over on the ferry). Swimming every day will never get boring here, as each beach offers a completely different setting from the next.

Most famous beaches: Kaladi, Avlemonas, Kalami, Firi Ammos, Fournoi, Platia Ammos, and don’t miss a swim at the Fairy Waterfall near Mylopotamos, and a boat trip to the Hytra cave.

How to get here: You can fly to Kythira from Athens International Airport, take a 7-hour ferry from Piraeus, or a 1 hour 15-minute ferry from Neapoli, on the Peloponnese.

 
 
 
 
 
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Milos

Instagrammers rejoice on the volcanic, Cycladic island of Milos, as the traditional, colorful “syrmata” boat houses in the villages of Fyropotamos, Klima and Mandrakia, and the spectacular volcanic rock formations by the sea make for beautiful and exotic backdrops in photos. You’ll find all types of beaches here, from sandy strands great for families, to secluded bays to swim in the nude – but most famous and incredible are the beaches formed by the outlandishly smooth and unusual rocky shores, which always brings to mind the surface of the moon.

Most famous beaches: Sarakiniko (here you’ll spot fossils of fish and shellfish that lived 2 million years ago), Kleftiko, Sykia cave, Fyriplaka, Triades, Alogomandra.

How to get here: You can travel to Milos by plane via Athens (c. 45 min), or by ferry from Piraeus (3-7h).

 
 
 
 
 
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Pilio

Perhaps mainly known as a winter destination, with its picturesque stone-built mountain villages and ski center, the Pilio peninsula, encapsulating half of the Pagasetic Gulf, is actually just as wonderful in the summertime. The hills are covered in lush green forests, fed by babbling creeks, interspersed with apple groves and cut through by the rails carrying a tooth-achingly sweet little train bringing tourists from Ano Lechonia to Milies. The lush hills lead all the way down to the sea, where they provide an exotic backdrop to the exciting sandy and pebbly coast line, often featuring plenty of rocks suitable for climbing.

Most famous beaches: Damouchari (scenes for the film Mamma Mia were shot here), Milopotamos, Fakistra.

How to get here: Fly to Volos, located just at the base of the Pilio peninsula, or drive to Pilio from Thessaloniki (c. 3h) or from Athens (c. 5h).

 
 
 
 
 
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Zakynthos

No list of beach destinations in Greece could be complete without Zakynthos – such is the fame of its most popular destination, Navagio (shipwreck) beach. This iconic beach, situated in a secluded cove accessible by boat only, featuring the shipwreck of the Freightliner MV Panagiotis, has often been named one of the best beaches in the world, and is one of the most photographed and iconic images of Greece. Due to the risk of landslides, which have previously injured visitors, caution is recommended when you swim here; you shouldn’t sit near the rock walls, or climb on the wreck.

But Navagio isn’t the only picture-perfect beach on the island. On some of the sandy beaches, great for families with kids, loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) nest, and others are ideal for extreme watersports.

Most famous beaches: Navagio (Shipwreck) beach, Agios Sostis, Gerakas, Laganas, and St. Nicholas, Alykes and Tsilivi for watersports.

How to get here: You can fly to Zakynthos directly from some international airports or from Athens (c. 50 min), or take a ferry from the port of Killini (c. 1h). KTEL buses from Athens to Killini (c. 5h) leave every day.

 
 
 
 
 
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Corfu

If you read Gerald Durrell’s “My Family and Other Animals”, or watched the TV series “The Durrells”, you’ll know Corfu of the 1930s as a beautiful family-friendly, kind of island, with a charming Venetian old town where locals dry their laundry on clotheslines strung between the buildings Venice-style, and lush countryside. All of that’s still true. This is an island suitable for everyone, from families to couples to wheelchair-bound, and the locals have made a point of keeping it so.

For the island’s beaches, this means making them accessible to everyone; since 2015, 22 of the island’s beaches have been equipped with floating wheelchairs, which can easily be moved in and out of the water and/or ramps.

Some of the most famous accessible beaches: Ipsos, Palaiokastritsa, Mon Repos, Roda, Glifada.

How to get here: You can fly directly to Corfu from some foreign countries and from Athens (c. 1h-1h and 15 min) or by ferry from Igoumenitsa in northern Greece (c. 1h-1h and 30 min).

 
 
 
 
 
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Karpathos

Generally speaking, Karpathos is a dream destination for anyone outdoorsy, with plenty of hiking trails and rock-climbing sites, over a hundred beaches(!), and amazing underwater landscapes to discover while diving or snorkeling. It’s also especially great for surfers.

Boasting some of the strongest and most reliable winds you’ll get in Greece, surfers have been traveling here for many years (and world speed racing competitions were hosted here in the past). You’ll get the best conditions at the southern tip of the island, in Afiartis, and there are also several organized surf clubs here.

Some of the most famous beaches: Diakofti, Apella, Kipos Michaliou, and Chicken bay, Gun bay, and Devil’s bay for surfers.

How to get there: You can travel to Karpathos by plane (direct or via Athens or Rhodes) or by ferry from Piraeus (18-20h), or via Crete.

 
 
 
 
 
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Lipsi

One of the tinier islands of the Dodecanese, visitors (mainly Greeks and Italians) come here for the peace and quiet, and for the incredible waters that surround Lipsi and the nearby islets.

Boat owners and charter tourists spend whole days swimming around the white rocky shores and limestone pebble beaches of Aspronisia (“White islands”), on the eastern side, where the light color of the shores and seabed makes the cool and clear water so turquoise and sparkling, it’s hard to believe your eyes. Meanwhile at Makronisi, on the south side, interesting rock formations make for fun kayaking excursions. You can catch a boat for the islets from the port.

Most famous beaches: Aspronisia, Makronisi, Platys Gialos, Hohlakoura.

How to get here: You can catch a ferry to Lipsi from Pireaus (ca 9h).

Is your favorite beach destination missing from this list? Share your top picks with us on Instagram by tagging @greece_is.

Find more of our favorite beaches throughout Greece here and here.


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