Discover 12 of the best beaches on the Athens Riviera
What comes to mind when you think of Athens? The Acropolis and other landmark cultural sites, for sure. And if you’ve had the chance to experience the food & drinks scene and the latest downtown vibe, you’ll have it on your radar as a city break destination. But beaches! Since when? Well, here’s where we let you in on one of the Greek capital’s best-kept secrets. Beaches in Athens start pretty close to Piraeus and continue all the way to Cape Sounio (at the tip of Attica), a stretch of coastline known as the Athens Riviera. There are urban beaches that attract locals for a cheeky midweek swim, resort beaches filled with fun and facilities and remote swimming spots that will make you feel like you’re on an island.
And once you’ve discovered the Athens Riviera, there are more great beaches within 90 minutes of Athens that you’ll adore.
Love it for the bobbing locals
There are other beaches even nearer to Athens, but our first swimming stop is in Glyfada, the largest (and liveliest) neighbourhood in the southern suburbs. In fact, you four beaches to choose from here. The first three beaches – Glyfada A, Glyfada B and Asteria – are successive coves that look pretty similar, with a mixture of sand and small pebbles and quaint wooden umbrellas, as well as locals who have popped in for a bob or a bit of beach-time. Just a little further along is Asteras, where you notch up the lifestyle-meter at a private beach complex that includes great eating and cocktail options. And if you’re at one of Glyfada’s public beaches and get hungry, fear not. Just pop over the coast road into Glyfada’s shopping district where there’s no end of choice of trendy places to eat and drink.
- Distance from city centre: 14km
- Amenities: Umbrellas (sunbeds on paid beach), restaurants, bars, shops
- Entrance: Free (Glyfada A, Glyfada B, Asteria), Paid (Asteras)
Love it for the chic vibe
Vouliagmeni is hands down the chicest neighbourhood in the southern suburbs and has some of the best beaches in Athens. Vouliagmeni beach (aka Akti Vouliagmeni) is the most popular beach on the Athens Riviera. It’s a long sandy bay with all the facilities needed to max out your beach day. It’s perfect for couples, groups of friends and families with kids. Beyond the swimming, there are tennis, basketball and beach volleyball courts, and play areas for the little ones, as well as a range of restaurants and bars.
And if you’re looking for something more manicured, there are other little coves on the Vouliagmeni peninsula, such as Zen and Krabo beach, which have luxury sunbeds & umbrellas and restaurant-bars. And a boho alternative (that’s not a beach but has rocks you can swim off) is Limanakia Vouliagmenis, a fjord-like bay around 5km down the coast. There are no facilities here other than a super-chilled beach bar that draws a younger crowd and free-divers who come for the clear, deep water.
- Distance from city centre: 23km
- Amenities: Sunbeds & umbrellas, restaurants & cafes, beach bar, sports facilities
- Entrance: Paid (Akti Vouliagmeni), paid sunbeds (Zen & Krabo), Free (Limanakia Vouliagmenis)
Love it for the glitz and glamour
If glamour is what you’re after, this is the ultimate experience amongst the beaches of Athens. The iconic Astir beach stretches along a tree-filled peninsula in Vouliagmeni. It’s pricey but you get what you pay for, with fine sand and rows of immaculately groomed luxury sunbeds & umbrellas. The food is high-end (the kind you photograph first) and the cocktails are of mixologist standard, and there are designer boutiques and a body & hair spa for that extra touch of pampering. You can water ski here and there’s even a small archaeological site within the beach complex, the 6th-century BC Temple of Apollo Zoster, for that final beach flex. Astir beach is elite and it knows it.
- Distance from city centre: 24km
- Amenities: Sunbeds & umbrellas, restaurants & cafes, water sports
- Entrance: Paid
Love it for the spa feel
There’s nothing like Lake Vouliagmeni on the Athens Riviera. It’s a Natura 2000-protected geological phenomenon, resulting from a collapsed mega-cave, with brackish water that is fed from underground thermal springs and tunnels from the sea. The result is mineral-rich water that maintains a balmy 22-29°C throughout the year, said to aid arthritis and other ailments. You can swim gently from end to end and do a range of wellness and body-strengthening activities such as aqua aerobics and pilates, or arrange a stress-busting massage. Or just let your feet dangle in the water and let the Doctor Fish give you a Fish Spa. The finishing touch is all-day waiter service to your sunbed and an evening à-la-carte restaurant. Lake Vouliagmeni is the ultimate pampering spot on the Athens Riviera. No beach bar music here. Just complete relaxation.
- Distance from city centre: 24km
- Amenities: Sunbeds & umbrellas, cafe & restaurant
- Entrance: Paid
Love it for the resort fun
There’s a change in mood now as you head a short distance down the coast to Varkiza, home to one of the most extensive resort beaches in Athens. Yabanaki is a complex of cafes, beach bars, restaurants, water sports (windsurfing, stand-up paddleboard, pedalo…), inflatables, beach volleyball courts, event spaces, play area for kids and more. The music gives the beat and the facilities do the rest. Most people come for the vibe but if you want something quieter, Varkiza beach is essentially an extension of Yabanaki Resort, minus the facilities. You’ll find a local sailing club there, as well as a traditional taverna right on the beach.
- Distance from city centre: 26km
- Amenities: Sunbeds & umbrellas, restaurant & cafes, water sports
- Entrance: Paid (Yabanaki Resort), Free (Varkiza beach)
Love it for the green-blue water
This is where our tour of the beaches of Athens starts heading down the Attica coastline towards Sounio. Your reward for going the extra mile will be to experience beaches that will make you think you’ve gone island-hopping. You’ll understand the moment you hit Agia Marina, the first main settlement outside Athens’ southern suburbs. There’s a main beach just as you enter town but the real gem is Althea, just a little bit further along, in a sandy cove. The green-blue water is straight out of the Ionian Islands colour palette and there’s an islet (Douri) you can reach by wading through the sea. Right next door is a hidden little cove with a cave, for that extra sense of isolation.
- Distance from city centre: 32km
- Amenities: None
- Entrance: Free
Love it for beaches for every mood
Lagonisi is another coastal town that offers a generously sized public beachfront (Lagonisi beach) and quiet coves, as well as a fully equipped resort beach that is part of a luxury hotel complex. If you’re in a remote beach kind of mood, head to Kolpiskos Lagonisiou, a sleepy strip of sand and pebbles, with sunbeds in front of a beachfront cafe as well as plenty of empty space to pitch your towel and unwind. And if you’re in a mood for pampering and fun, Grand Resort Lagonissi has restaurants & bars, spa facilities, shops, tennis courts and even a swimming pool for a less salty swimming option.
- Distance from city centre: 34km
- Amenities: Sunbeds & umbrellas, beach barς & cafes (Lagonisi Beach, Kolpiskos Lagonisi), resort facilities (Grand Beach Lagonisi)
- Entrance: Free (Lagonisi Beach, Kolpiskos Lagonisiou), Paid (Grand Resort Lagonisi)
Mavro Lithari beach
Love it for the beach bar vibe
Around 6km further along is another kind of beach style. Between Saronida and Anavyssos is Mavro Lithari, a beach that’s notable for the black rock (from which it gets its name) protruding from the water. It’s deeper than other beaches in the Athens Riviera and there’s a wooden beach bar here that gives it a distinct mood, especially when the music’s playing. There are umbrellas and sunbeds or you can lounge on the sand and admire the view of the Saronic Gulf islands. It’s that kind of beach.
- Distance from city centre: 39km
- Amenities: Sunbeds & umbrellas, beach bar
- Entrance: Free
Love it for the family-friendly water
There’s something about the beaches of Anavyssos. It’s not just that they make up a handsome resort but, 42km from the centre of Athens, the crowds have thinned. The greenery and shallow water make these beaches family favourites. The first one you get to is Agios Nikolaos, which some say reminds them of Crete’s Balos beach. That’s some compliment but you’ll get the idea if you’ve been to Balos, as it’s connected to the mainland by a stretch of sand with an island-like peninsula at the end of it. There’s an organised part, with umbrellas and a beach bar, as well as a gorgeous little church that sometimes hosts weddings. Next is the main Anavyssos beach, where there are also organised and empty sections. But, really, you don’t have to stick to these. Keep your eyes open. There are all sorts of hidden gems, like Palea Fokea beach and Thimari. You’ll be well rewarded.
- Distance from city centre: 42km
- Amenities: Sunbeds & umbrellas, restaurants, beach bar & cafe
- Entrance: Free
Love it for the island feel
There’s no way you’ll think you’re anywhere near Athens when you reach KAPE beach. You arrive in what feels like the middle of nowhere and head down some steps to the beach. But before you do, grab what you need from the canteen at the top (if it’s open) as once you’re on the beach there’s nothing but sand and fine pebbles and the feeling that you’re on a Greek island. The name is an acronym for Centre for Renewal Energy Sources (as the name translates) from a nearby environmental institution. But you won’t be caring for such trivia. The sea is crystal-clear, you’re surrounded by tall rocks which give some shade (but bring your own if you can) and opposite is an islet called Patroklos. KAPE is without doubt one of the most beautiful beaches near Athens.
- Distance from city centre: 56km
- Amenities: Canteen
- Entrance: Free
Love it for its total relaxation
Legrena is the last beach before you arrive at Cape Sounio. Except it’s not just one beach. There’s a main stretch of sand surrounded by a chain of coves and inlets that provide total isolation and excellent swimming conditions. Don’t expect facilities here. This is where Athenians come to feel like they’re on a secluded beach on their favourite island. So bring shade if you can. Especially when KAPE gets busy (which it can), the beaches of Legrena are ideal. And if you haven’t brought food, don’t worry. There are tavernas and cafeterias with sea views nearby.
- Distance from city centre: 57km
- Amenities: None
- Entrance: Free
Love it for the temple views
You’ve reached the furthest tip of Attica and here’s your reward. Cape Sounio is famous for the Temple of Poseidon but make sure to pack your swimming gear because the beaches here make this one of the best culture-and-beach combo days in Greece. Cape Sounio beach is the standout swimming spot. It’s privately owned by a hotel but you can pay to use the luxury sunbeds & umbrellas on the sandy half of the beach, with all the perks of snacks, drinks and food on order. In the distance, you can see the Temple of Poseidon winking its admiration. Sounio beach has an even better view of the temple (it’s more or less above the beach) and is a less pricey option, with sunbeds and nice, clean water. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can continue around the bay for yet more swimming spots. Just make sure to end the day in style, with a meal at a seaside fish taverna. A tip is to visit the Temple of Poseidon at sunset.
- Distance from city centre: 59km
- Amenities: Sunbeds & umbrellas, restaurants & cafes
- Entrance: Paid (Cape Sounio Beach) & Free (Sounio beach)
The best beaches on the Athens Riviera
So what got you interested? A bit of beach-time to add to your full day sightseeing in Athens, a resort beach with everything to keep you and the kids happy or a day at an island beach, without having to get on a ferry?
Yes, Athens has many more beaches than visitors realise. There are beaches all the way down the Athens coastline, from near Piraeus port all the way to Cape Sounio, at the tip of Attica. The most popular are in the southern suburbs (Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza) and there are many quieter options as you leave Athens, with Althea and Anavyssos standing out before arriving at Cape Sounio.
There are beaches as close as 10km from the city centre and the most popular ones are around 35-40 minutes away by car (Vouliagmeni and Varkiza). Around 45-60km out of Athens, there are beaches that will make you think you’re on an island. The coast road can get busy in the summer months so leave extra time at peak hours, especially on weekends.
If you’ve hired a car, you can easily drive to the all the beaches around Athens. Alternatively, you can take a taxi. Glyfada is connected to the centre of Athens by tram and bus and there are regular buses to Vouliagmeni and Varkiza. There are public buses (KTEL) that reach Anavyssos and Sounio.
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