The Ionian Islands offer a rich tapestry of beaches, made up of colours that can barely be described… Just a few highlights are enough to whet the appetite.
Renowned for their blue and turquoise waters, lush vegetation and dramatic geological formations, they offer a wealth of swimming spots. Our beach celebration takes you on a tour of coastal gems to satisfy every possible desire when it comes to dream summer holidays.
Around 30km due south of Corfu’s main town, Issos is one of the island’s coastal highlights. Situated next to Korission Lagoon, a protected Natura 2000 wetlands site, it has held a Blue Flag for environmental cleanliness since 2014 and is characterised by impressive sand dunes and calm waters.
And just north of that, past a small cedar forest that runs along the southwestern shoreline of the lagoon, you will find the equally impressive Halikounas, a whole new experience of unspoiled nature and clear waters. Not only will you find a further 3km of golden beachfront here, but wind conditions just off the shore make it a favourite for wind- and kite-surfers. Do your best to stay till sunset. You won’t regret it!
Around 25km west of the main town, Pelekas is another fine option, with golden sands that merge with turquoise waters. Take a stroll to the southern end of the beach where there’s a gorgeous little fishing harbour.
Or perhaps next door to Glyfada beach, a favourite for families with all the amenities to keep the kids happy and the security of lifeguards.
The jewel in the crown when it comes to beaches on Kefalonia is the multi-awarded Myrtos. As you approach from above, the view is bound to enchant you and the crystal-clear waters will make you want to stay in this little haven for ever. Just a little tip… try to arrive early since Myrtos is the ultimate beach attraction.
Only 3km from Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia, you’ll discover the picturesque beaches of Platys (wide) and Makris (long) Gialos. The two beaches are separated by a few rocks and you can swim or even walk from one to the other. Both offer sunbeds and water sports, as well as lifeguards - making them ideal for kids.
Finally, there’s the intriguingly named Xi. On the southern coast of Kefalonia, 8km from Lixouri, this bay is said to resemble the letter Xi (ξ) in Greek. Its combination of rust-red sand and clay cliffs creates a distinctive play of colours. With sunbeds, shallow waters, water sport facilities and beach bars, this is an ideal destination for families and couples. They say the water-clay mix applied as a facemask has therapeutic properties.
Only 15km southeast of the main town, you’ll discover one of the longest beachfronts in Lefkada, Kathisma beach. Whether you want to relax under the sun or feel fully energised with your favourite water sports, Kathisma offers something for everyone.
And speaking of energy seekers, if you feel like tackling the 80 steep steps down to fascinating Porto Katsiki, you’ll be richly rewarded. The mesmerising landscape created by the artful combination of white sand and crystal blue waters will more than compensate you for the effort.
And, finally, we head north to Pefkoulia, a large sandy cove (with some shingle) near the fishing village of Agios Nikitas. Easily accessible by car, its wonderful turquoise waters attract quite a few visitors but there’s room for everyone.
There’s no doubt that Shipwreck beach gets the vote for most-photographed beach on Zakynthos, but there are so many other highlights.
Beyond its fine sand and shallow blue waters, Gerakas beach has significant ecological importance as a protected nesting site for the Caretta Caretta (loggerhead) sea turtle. There are umbrellas and sunbeds available for rent and there’s a protected area on the beach, so that you don’t disturb a possible nest. Access is forbidden after sunset.
Alternatively, there is the utterly beautiful Porto Limnionas, which is a lagoon rather than a beach. You can sit on the rocks or dive into clear, emerald waters, with fantastic visibility for snorkelling and even some shallow caves to explore.
And next to the lake of the same name, Keri beach is considered one of the most picturesque on the island, with clear, shallow waters and fine pebbles that make it ideal for families. The facilities are good, with several cafes, restaurants and bars, and a diving school to explore the caves in the lake and other underwater attractions.
Gidaki often makes it into the top ten lists of Greek beaches. Accessible by boat from the island’s main town, Vathi, this is Ithaca at its absolute best. You will be overtaken by a feeling of isolation and freedom, surrounded by colours that fill you from the inside out. Along with white shiny pebbles and calm, turquoise waters, there is a dramatic backdrop of cliffs and greenery. A canteen on the beach offers drinks and snacks.
Another familiar candidate in the Greek island beauty stakes is Voutoumi, a hidden treasure on the postage stamp-sized isle of Anti-Paxos. You’ll probably come here directly from Paxos on the morning boat from Gaios harbour, passing the isles of Mongonisi and Kalkionisi and then Vrika beach (where most passengers get off) before continuing to Voutoumi. The waters are calm and shallow and you’ll gladly spend the whole day here, but be sure to bring your own shade. There is a taverna offering clifftop views that are ample reward for the 200 steps it takes to climb there.
The Diapontian islands
Probably off your holiday radar before reading this, there is a small collection of islands northwest of Corfu that will make you feel like an adventurous castaway. Othoni, Erikoussa and Mathraki and several smaller islets (Diaplo, Gravi) together form the westernmost island group of Greece – the Diapontian islands.
The largest of the islands, Othoni offers a number of beautiful swimming spots. Fiki Beach and the aptly-named White Sand, on the northern coast, are particularly noteworthy.
On Mathraki (the smallest) there are a number of sandy beaches, with Portelo and Arvanitiko made all the more special because of their shallow waters.
And on Erikoussa (the northernmost) you step off the boat onto beautiful, shallow-watered Porto beach, where you’ll immediately forget that a world exists beyond these shores.