You know the feeling when you see a beach and immediately want to travel to Greece? It’s that glow of golden sand and fine pebbles and the unmatched colours of the Aegean Sea – deep blue or turquoise depending on the depth of the water.
And sometimes the beach you’re looking at isn’t even in one of those much-loved Aegean island chains (the Cyclades, Dodecanese, Sporades and North Aegean). After all, some of the best beaches in Greece are found in the Ionian Sea and in southern Crete, or even on the Greek mainland (the Peloponnese and Halkidiki come to mind).
Where do you start when choosing amongst the most famous beaches in Greece? Right here is the answer because we’ve done the hard work for you. All you have to do is sit back and select the destination of your next beach holidays in Greece.
Part exotic paradise, part Natura 2000-protected landscape, Balos beach has been wowing visitors to Chania (western Crete) for decades. It’s one of those beaches that’s appeared in magazines around the world. Just the view of the lagoon as you arrive leaves you with no doubt that Balos’ reputation as one of the best beaches in Crete is fully justified. The pink tinge of the sand comes from crushed shells and the blue-green water begs you to dive right in. And to cap it all, there’s Cape Tigani – sometimes an islet and sometimes a peninsula, depending on the whims of the tide. Instagram was made for scenes like this.
Shipwreck beach (Navagio)
Zante - Zakynthos, Ionian Islands
Who would have imagined that an old boat called Panagiotis would be the star of thousands of snapshots and videos that have made the island of Zante (Zakynthos) famous the world over? The beach where it ran aground forms a magical setting with its sheer white cliffs, turquoise waters and white sand. The only way to get onto Shipwreck beach (Nagavio in Greek) is by boat, which is just as well because you won’t want to take your eyes off this beauty. Without a doubt one of the best beaches in Zante and the whole of Greece.
More exotic blues, whites and pinks await at Elafonisi beach, another of the best beaches in Chania (this time found at the southwestern point of the region). It’s another Natura 2000-protected peninsula that can be an island or connected to the mainland, with sand that’s also coloured pink from crushed shells. The water is deliciously turquoise and, whilst there are sunbeds and umbrellas on the main stretch of beach, there are plenty of coves you can explore either on foot or by snorkelling.
Explore the dreamscape of Elafonisi beach
Kefalonia, Ionian Islands
This amazing beach between Assos and Argostoli in Kefalonia will, quite literally, take your breath away. Unquestionably one of the most famous beaches in Kefalonia, Myrtos beach books its place in any list of the best beaches in Greece (or the world) because of its combination of white sand, fine pebbles and azure waters – all set against a backdrop of impossibly high cliffs. Once you set eyes on Myrtos beach, you’ll be smitten.
Antipaxos, Ionian Islands
Voutoumi beach on Antipaxos is an award-winner, no question about it. It draws day-trippers from Paxos (Antipaxos’ neighbouring big brother) and yachts like bees to honey. And who could blame them? After all, news of Voutoumi beach’s limestone-white sand and pebbles, emerald-green pine trees and swimming-pool blue water has travelled the world. The shallow water is ideal for all ages. Just don’t forget to pack your mask.
Super Paradise beach
Mykonos, Cyclades Islands
It’s all in the name. Super Paradise (and its equally flamboyant neighbour Paradise beach) is deservedly one of the best-known beaches in Mykonos. The facilities are multi-starred and the food & drinks scene exquisite and there’s a Mykonos party scene every night in the summer. But don’t let that detract from the golden sand and incredibly clear water. Ever-popular, Super Paradise rose to be one of the most famous beaches in Greece for a reason.
Porto Katsiki beach
Lefkada, Ionian Islands
You descend around 100 steps down the cliff-side to reach Porto Katsiki beach in Lefkada, which is just as well because it gives you all that time to enjoy the view. The unbroken view of the Ionian Sea is everything you’d hope it would be and the sandy beach – even longer than you had imagined – stretches out to either side.
Porto Katsiki owes its place amongst the best beaches in Greece. Without a doubt one of the best beaches in Lefkada … and that’s saying something!
Corfu, Ionian Islands
If you visit Corfu, you’re not leaving without visiting Paleokastritsa. It’s as simple as that. One of the most cosmopolitan parts of the island (after Corfu’s main town), there is a choice of beaches here. The main beach at Paleokastritsa (known as Agios Spiridon, after Corfu’s patron saint) does the job with green-blue water, sand and a relaxed mood. There are caves around the coastline you can explore if you hire a pedalo. And because Paleokastritsa beach is popular and can get busy, there’s quaint little Ampelaki beach just a short walk away if you’re after seclusion. Other favourites around Paleokastritsa are Agia Triada beach and La Grotta, from where boats leave to yet more dreamy beach options … Paradise beach, Rovinia, Stellari. You truly are spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches in Corfu.
Milos, Cyclades Islands
Sarakiniko is another of those beautiful beaches in Greece whose fame has travelled the world. Except it’s not the beach that's the star of this show. As you arrive at this unique sight in northern Milos, you’re transported to a lunar landscape of white volcanic rocks as soft as chalk, sculpted into intriguing shapes by the wind and waves. With incredibly blue sea and alabaster-white rocks, it’s been the scene of many a magazine photoshoot. You can jump off the rocks (with care) or swim from the small sandy beach below. And there are old mining caves you can explore by the beach. Sarakiniko is without a doubt one of the best beaches in Milos.
Western Messinia, Peloponnese
Photos of this stunning beach in Western Messinia have gone viral. From an Instagram poll at least, Voidokilia would challenge amongst the best beaches in the world. The scrunchy white sand, sloping gently into the delicious blue-green water, forms such a perfect semicircle that one suspects a draughtsman’s hand. And that’s before you’ve learned that behind it is a Natura 2000-protected lagoon and, on a hilltop above it, a 13th-century Frankish castle. So leave plenty of time to explore and bring shade and food. Witnessing the beauty of Voidokilia beach is a must if you are in the southwestern Peloponnese. It’s definitely the highlight of the beaches near Kalamata.
Skiathos, Sporades Islands
What words could capture the magic of Lalaria beach? Skiathos’ trademark beach is a deserved award-winner. Its emerald water and smooth white pebbles under the towering rockface attract dozens of boats daily, loaded with eager visitors. And they don’t go away disappointed. It’s an undoubted challenger for top choice amongst the beaches of Skiathos – and that’s saying something because there are other contenders out there (Koukounaries, we’re talking to you!). Your journey to Lalaria beach will likely include a stop at a sea cave for a swim, the final cherry on the cake.
Elafonisos, Southern Peloponnese
You get not one but two doses of paradise at Simos beach, drawing visitors from all over the Peloponnese to the tiny island of Elafonisos, at the southwestern tip of mainland Greece. Whether you choose to sit on the 1km long main stretch of beachfront (known as Megalos Simos beach or Sarakiniko) or in the smaller lagoon-facing Mikros Simos beach on the other side of an island-like peninsula, you’ll immediately see that there’s a wild majesty to Simos beach. The fine golden sand and shallow turquoise water make this one of the most exotic beaches in Greece. Simos beach is popular, so come early and enjoy the day. There are regular ferries (8mins) from Pounta to Elafonisos.
Lefkada, Ionian Islands
Egremni beach in Lefkada is a wonder of nature. On an island renowned for its fantastic beaches, it is hands down the most dramatic. You descend more than 300 steps to the beach (not for everyone because the parking area is some distance away at the top and the return journey is challenging, especially in the heat of the day).
But your reward is to admire the cliff setting and turquoise waters all the way down. A more comfortable way to enjoy Egremni beach is to take a boat trip from Nydri, passing Meganisi island and other landmarks off Lefkada’s southern coast. Some excursions even include a stop at Kefalonia’s Fiskardo.
Karpathos, Dodecanese Islands
Apella beach is a gem amongst the best beaches in Greece because it has that rare value of offering all the facilities that allow you to stay all day combined with a setting of rich pine green, deep Aegean blue and pure white sand. Unsurprisingly, Apella – on Karpathos in the Dodecanese island chain – is often referred to as one of the most exotic beaches in Greece. The pine trees even provide natural shade in some parts, if you’re in that kind of mood. Don’t forget your mask and flippers. It tops our best beaches in Karpathos list every time.
All that said, when it comes to exotic beaches in Greece, Halkidiki makes a case for having cornered the market. There are fantastic beaches along the three-pronged peninsula, particularly on the first two ‘fingers’, Kassandra and Sithonia. Possidi beach is one such gem in Kassandra. If you like the idea of fluffy golden sand and aquamarine water, you’ll want to stay here forever. So it’s just as well that Possidi beach has a choice of beach bars and tavernas and everything you need to swear that you’re never going home.
Find your dream beach in Greece
They’re some of the best beaches in the world, guaranteed to get you longing for summer holidays in Greece. All that’s left is for you to decide whether you’re looking for one of the legendary Greek islands or maybe a lesser-known mainland destination. Or has the beach already made up your mind for you?
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