Ten of the best Greek beaches you need to visit this summer. Sunshine, sandy beaches and clear blue skies are the cure for the future.

Have you been dreaming about sinking grateful toes into sun-warmed sand while being lulled into a soporific state by gently lapping waves lately? If not, we surmise that you’d be amongst the few. In particular, our reveries have taken us, again and again, to the beautiful and culturally rich white-washed islands of Greece over this past year.

There are, after all, some 6000 of them, scattered among the Ionian and Aegean Seas. Huddled into six main groups – the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Sporades, the Argo-Saronic, the Ionian and the North Aegean – they are as varied as one might imagine and offer something to suit all tastes, from buzzing nightlife and lush green landscapes to beautifully preserved ancient architecture, unspoiled nature and wonderful food in idyllic tavernas. This is a land that abounds with spectacular relics of the ancient world, as well as being bound up with ancient storytelling; to travel through some of the Greek islands is to retrace the voyages of the thousand Greek ships en route to Troy; and it is to follow in the footsteps of Odysseus’ much-hindered journey back home again to Ithaca. One thing that the islands do all all have in common, however, is wonderful beaches. And since MPs are beginning to look more hopeful about international travel this summer, thus broadening our horizons beyond the staycation, it seems an apposite moment to take a look at the ten best beaches in Greece.

Elafonissi Beach, Crete




On the south-western side of Crete lies Elafonissi Beach which was, until a few years ago, a carefully secret. That all changed in 2014 when it was named as one of the world’s top beaches on TripAdvisor. Certainly one of the best sandy beaches in Greece, it now attracts families with buckets and spades, backpackers and glamorous folk alike. And it’s not hard to fathom its appeal. Elafionissi is, in fact, an island which is separated from the mainland of Crete – indeed, you can even walk across, since the sandbar is never submerged. Those who make the journey across the lagoon will find a spectacular nature reserve, which is home to rare plants (including a sea daffodil) and loggerhead sea turtles, as well as swathes of (sometimes) pink sand. The warm, shallow waters make it absolute idyll of a place, to which we are plotting a trip without delay. Without a doubt, the best beach in Crete, Greece. Check out some places to stay here.

Myrtros Beach, Kefalonia




Positioned just 29 km north of the Kefalonian town of Argostoli, Myrtros beach is one of the most photographed on the island, if not the country. It’s easy to see why. A natural knock-out beauty, its white sands are framed by towering verdant hills, whose white rocky cliffs are covered with lush vegetation. The beach itself, meanwhile is unspoiled – quite a feat for one quite so popular. In fact, so well-preserved is it that has featured in travel magazines as one of the best beaches in Greece – and certainly as one of the best beaches in the Ionian islands – as well having scooped multiple awards for its cleanliness. Check out these nearby properties to rent if you’re planning a visit.

Stafilos Beach, Skopelos




One of the closest beaches to Skopelos town at just five kilometres away, this stunning bay can be accessed by bus or private car. For those who wish to retreat from the midday sun for a while, there is a picture-perfect fish tavern to while away the hours in as tasty a manner as possible. For everyone else, the crystal clear waters offer the perfect way too cool off from the sun’s rays. For anyone who has ever watched Mama Mia and sighed wistfully at the beautiful landscape, this is the place to go: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth et al, spent happy months filming on Skopelos, which makes up one of the Sporades group of islands. If you’re looking for places to stay, check out these apartments for rent. One of the best places in Greece for beaches.

Faragas Beach, Paros




Consisting, in fact, of three beaches that form part of a large bay, Faragas beach is 25km from the island’s capital of Paros Parikia. One of the best beaches in the Cyclades group of islands, its gorgeous sands and clear, greenish waters make this a destination to arrive at, bag a spot and then stay for the whole day. There are some wonderful beach bars, which make perfect places to break up the arduous routine of swimming and sunbathing. But for those who prefer their beaches quieter, head over to one of the other two beaches that make up the bay, separated as they are by rock formations. In the height of summer, however, do note that all of the beaches become pretty crowded, so it’s worth arriving early. Find a place to stay here.

Plaka Beach, Naxos




Undoubtedly one of the best sandy beaches in Greece, Plaka Beach was once reserved for nudists. There are still plenty of bathing suit-eschewing sun worshippers who flock here, but during the high season they tend to congregate at one end, leaving the rest to holiday-making families. At four kilometres long, it is a very long stretch of shoreline, which means that even during the high season, it remains quieter than some of the other beaches on the island (which is part of the Cyclades group). Plaka is especially popular with those who enjoy a leisurely ramble, as well as a good sunbathe. Check out these properties nearby to rent.

Ornos Beach, Mykonos




Mykonos, another island in the Cyclades, is famed as the most cosmopolitan island in Cyclades. It offers, on the one hand, amazing beaches and picturesque villages; and, on the other, a buzzing nightlife and LGBTQ+-friendly attitudes. Often described as the Ibiza of Greece, it remains one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. Known for its high winds and arid landscapes, it is a great island for water sports. The accolade of being one of the best beaches in Greece for families must go to Ornos on the south side of the island, which is roughly ten-minutes by car from the delights of Mykonos Town. Its calm waters make it excellent for swimming; the many restaurants offer an excellent choice for lunch; while the yachts that bob in and out are great for spotting with young children. Do note, this has the atmosphere of a resort and is not one for those who prefer seclusion. If, however, it is up your street, peruse these properties which are to rent within spitting distance of the waters. Undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Mykonos, Greece.

Shipwreck Beach (Navagio), Zakynthos




Navagio Beach is home to one of the most famous shipwrecks in the world. Stretched out on a picturesque exposed cove lie the remains of a boat, stranded there ever since the early 1980s. Once thought to have once been a smuggler ship, some even say that the authorities had it on the run when it ran aground. Its captain, Charalambos Kompothekras–Kotsoros, has subsequently said that bad weather en route from Albania caused the shipwreck, which was then looted by thieves. By his account, he was ordered to remove the remains, but upon sight of the rusting shell, was so taken by its beauty, that he left it there, where it has remained ever since. Whatever the truth of the matter, there’s no disputing that last. This is an Ionian island that abounds with secluded coves and beaches. None, however, holds quite the romance or fascination as this. Check out nearby rentals here.

Potami Beach, Samos




There must be something in the crystalline waters of this large pebbled beach on Samos, one of the North Aegean islands, which lends itself too to crystal clarity of thought. After all, Samos was the birthplace of both the mathematician Pythagoras and the philosopher Epicurus. Potami lies on its north-eastern coast, and is a beach of rare beauty, its deep blue waters perfectly offset by the rich and abundant vegetation that lies just behind the sands, the hills’ gentle gradient dotted with tall and beautifully scented pine trees. There is a beach café for those who wish to have a bite and a glass of retsina while taking in the – frankly, who wouldn’t? Here are a few properties to consider, if you’re thinking of making the trip.

Ixia Beach, Rhodes




One of the best beaches for windsurfing in Greece, Ixia, on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes, is outstanding. A long pebble shoreline, it has spectacular views across to the Turkish mainland, making it the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner as the sky turns orange with the setting sun. Clean and well stocked for parasols, do note that it is windy here (hence why it is so good for windsurfing), and the waters can be choppy. If you don’t mind any of that, this is one of the best places to go in Greece for beaches.

Panormos, Skopelos



The azure waters of Panormos are spectacular, set picturesquely within a bay that consists of two small islets. In fact, so inviting is it that we can practically will ourselves there if we close our eyes. Twelve kilometres from the main town, it is a stroll from the pretty village of Panormos, with its medley of tavernas and shops. But what we love most is how the vivid blue of the sea is framed by the equally arresting lush green of the hills that rise up behind it. If you’re looking for a place to stay, be sure to check this list for ideas.

By Nancy Alsop
March 2021

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Nancy Alsop

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