1 Aug 2017

With over 6,000 islands and more than 16,000 kilometers of coastline, Greece is the perfect destination for summer holidays, giving you the opportunity to combine extraordinary cultural experiences with some of the best beaches in the world.

From the private full-service beaches of exclusive cosmopolitan resorts up and down the country to pristine sandy bays on uninhabited islets, and from dramatic sea caves to palm-lined stretches of fine golden sand, there are thousands of gorgeous beaches to suit every taste.

From the mainland to the islands, here are some of our favorite slightly out-of-the-way spots.

Legrena, near Cape Sounio — The back-to-basics Athenian getaway

Located at the southern tip of the Attican peninsula, just a stone’s throw from Cape Sounio, Legrena is one of Attica’s hidden gems. At 60km (90’ by car) from the center of Athens, Legrena is spared the brunt of the weekend exodus from the capital and remains much as it was in previous decades, before the capital started expanding southwards. There are four separate, fine-shingle beaches—two of which are suitable for nudists—with a separate path leading to each.

To make the most of the day, combine your visit with a tour of Cape Sounio to visit the famed temple of Poseidon and stop for a meal of fresh fish at a local seaside taverna.

Sunset at Legrena beach near Cape Sounio, Attica
Legrena beach near Cape Sounio is the stuff of memories of Athenian childhoods

Heraion, near Loutraki — Quintessentially Greek

Tucked away on the south coast of Cape Ireon, a 30’ drive from the well known spa town on Loutraki and just past the Limni Vouliagmeni lagoon, is the ancient Sanctuary of Hera at Perachora. The archaeological site surrounds the tiny bay and you’ll literally have to walk through ancient ruins to get to the beach!

There’s plenty of options for food and entertainment in nearby Loutraki—and even by the lake—but Heraion is also a great option for those looking to turn their excursion into more of an adventure. Thanks to its location so close to the Corinth Canal, Heraion can be easily combined with tours that will let you explore the archaeological treasures, wineries, and nature of the Peloponnese—a perfect day of sun, sea, and culture!

View of the beach at the Sanctuary of Heraion at Perachora
The archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Heraion surrounds the small bay, and you’ll have to walk through the ruins to get to the beach.

Sarakiniko a.k.a Simos Beach, Elafonisos — The Greek take on a tropical bay

If this beach were easier to get to, it would likely be the most popular beach in the country.  The twin sandy bays on the south coast of Elafonisos, a tiny island off the southeastern tip of the Peloponnese, boast magnificently clear turquoise waters and fine golden sand.

About a five-hour drive from Athens (if you time the ferry right), a visit to Elafonisos should be a must on any longer trip to the Peloponnese. In addition to the fabulous beaches, you’ll also get a chance to enjoy freshly caught fish at the island’s handful of seafront tavernas.

View of the twin bays at Elafonisos, the Peloponnese
The twin bays on the southern side of the island of Elafonisos boast extraordinarily clear crystal waters and fine golden sand.

Vlychada, Santorini — Part beach, part magic

Santorini is known for its otherworldly landscapes, with its villages perched atop the steep cliffs of the caldera formed by the Minoan eruption of its volcano some 3,500 years ago. The island is dotted with stunning beaches that flaunt its unique geological makeup: The Black Beach is a long stretch of volcanic black sand from Perissa and Perivolos, and the Red Beach is a small narrow beach under an imposingly tall and strikingly crimson cliff face. A short distance away on Santorini’s southmost tip, and not quite as popular as its better known counterparts, Vlychada is every bit as magnificent, with a long stretch of black volcanic sand and stunningly carved pumice rock cliffs that have earned it the moniker ‘moonscape beach’.

Close to the world-class archaeological site of Akrotiri and other top attractions like Ancient Thera and the Church of Panagia Episkopi, a swim at Vlychada is easily combined with one of the excellent cultural tours available on Santorini.

Vlychada beach on Santorini’s south coast
With bright blue waters, black volcanic sand, and striking white cliffs, Vlychada beach is everything you’d expect from a beach on Santorini.

Greece is dotted with spectacular beaches, and you can even find fantastic ‘secret’ spots near Athens. It can be great to ditch the crowds and find your own little slice of heaven, but keep in mind that as a rule, quieter, more out-of-the-way spots don’t come with amenities. To be on the safe side, remember to pack some fresh water and snacks, and bring along a beach umbrella for some shade.

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