Greece has been repeatedly placed in the top countries for swimming or sailing in the world, being awarded several Blue Flag awards year by year. Selecting only ten seaside locations wasn’t easy. That is why the most unique-looking places have been selected. Here is Helinika’s list of the best Greek beaches and swimming spots!
Top Ten Greek Beaches and Swimming Spots:
- Giola, Thassos
- Elafonisi, Crete
- Elafonisos, Peloponnese
- Balos, Crete
- Sarakiniko, Milos
- Myrtos, Kefalonia
- Nauagio, Zakynthos
- Kolona, Kythnos
- Koukounaries, Skiathos
- Sithonia, Halkidiki
#10 Sithonia, Halkidiki
Halkidiki is a very popular vacation destination for Greeks residing in the northern part of the country. It is also the Greek Blue Flag champion for 2021, thanks to its countless organized beaches. But, for this list, Helinika has selected Halkidiki’s natural beauty.
Sithonia cape -known also as Lemos (neck), thanks to its shape- is considered one of the best swimming spots in Halkidiki. It differs from other nearby beaches because it is not organized nor developed. The soft pebbles cape is located at the southern most point of Sithonia and it offers pure isolation. You can get there after a small hike from Porto Koufos or with a 4×4 vehicle.
But before you get there, you may need to pack some necessities – especially water bottles. What makes Lemos unique is that it serves as two beaches at once. It is also an excellent snorkeling spot, thanks to its buzzing sea life and unique underwater landscape. Just be aware of the sea urchins that sometimes lay on the rocks located at the east side of the coastline.
#9 Koukounaries, Skiathos
Koukounaries beach, also known as “Chrysi Ammos” (Golden Sand), is a popular swimming spot in the island of Skiathos in Sporades in Northern Aegean. Its first name derives from the countless koukounaries (pine trees) that provide a natural shade. Its second name derives from the unique sparkly sand that is actually protected; taking large amounts of sand in jars and bottles is generally prohibited.
Chrysi Ammos is reachable by bus and car but also by water taxis from nearby locations – such as South Pelion. It is an organized beach with many amenities. It is a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, water skiing, and other water sports. But what makes this spot so unique?
To begin with, the beach is one of the longest in Greece – approximately 1.5 km long. Moreover, it is one of the safest swimming spots in Greece. Its waters are swallow and usually free from sea urchins and other underwater stingers. It is an overall very safe swimming spot but, if you like swimming away from the shore, keep in an eye on the jet skis and various water sport activities that take place in specific areas.
The scenery in Koukounaries is very unique for Greece, where the most popular beaches are usually dry and with scarce natural shade. The pine trees all across the coastline “paint” the waters into a greenish-blue color. This, in combination with the sparkly white sand, make Koukounaries an exotic-looking location.
But what makes Koukounaries outstanding is that it is connected to a biotope, Limni Strofilias, a lagoon protected by the Natura 2000 European initiative. Visitors sometimes see bunnies, large birds, swans, hedgehogs, and other forest animals peeking through the pine forest, while they sunbathe on Koukounaries beach.
#8 Kolona, Kythnos
Kythnos is an island with a typical Cycladic landscape – rocky and dry with a variety of shrub vegetation. This unique island is popular among the locals, but fewer foreign visitors know of its existence. And the island, situated at the heart of the Aegean Sea, has its own secret.
At the northwest part of Kythnos, there is a swimming spot named Kolona. It is similar to the one in Halkidiki; it basically serves as two beaches at once. It is semi-organized and there are also a couple of trees providing some natural shadow. Just make sure to apply SPF to your skin regularly while staying there.
The location is breathtaking, while the waters are some of the clearest in the Cyclades. The waters have also the perfect depth; not too swallow but not too deep either. Moreover, the sea is usually relatively calm, even under bad weather conditions.
You can easily get there by water taxi from the port city of Kythnos or with your private boat. Kolona is also connected to the rest of the island by a dirt road but using it is not recommended. The beach is literally a hidden beauty. If you ever visit the beautiful island of Kythnos, visiting Kolona at least once is a must!
#7 Nauagio, Zakynthos
If Kolona is a hidden secret, Nauagio is a location known all around the world. You may not know its name, but you have probably seen images of this location before. This swimming spot and landmark is located on the island of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea of western Greece. You may know it as the island of “turtles”, since it is the home of the endangered caretta-caretta turtles. The Ionian island has many important landmarks but the one you should definitely visit is Nauagio (also seen as Navagio).
Nauagio (ναυάγιο) means “shipwreck” in Greek. There is indeed the shipwreck of “Panagiotis” from 1980 on the exposed cove of Zakynthos, which makes this beautiful location even more unique. The blue-green waters surrounding the tall white cliffs will amaze you.
The beach can only be accessed by boat. If you don’t own your private yacht, don’t worry! There are plenty of boat tour services in Porto Vromi and Agios Nikolaos that can help you get there in no time. Just remember to take water and other things you may need while staying there. SPF, hats, and sunglasses are a must, since there is not a lot of natural shade there. And before you leave, make sure that you haven’t left any garbage behind.
#6 Myrtos, Kefalonia
In close proximity to Zakynthos, there is the island of Kefalonia. Just like Zakynthos, the Ionian island of Kefalonia is much greener than most Cycladic islands. It also has plenty of beautiful beaches but there is one that is standing out. That is Myrtos beach, located in the north-western part of Kefalonia.
Myrtos is known for its bright blue crystal-clear waters and smooth pebbles. The steep limestone cliffs that surround Myrtos, make the scenery even more spectacular. You can get there by bus or by car from the village of Divarata. The drive there is reportedly breathtaking; you can have a panoramic view of Myrtos’ wild beauty.
The beach is semi-organized, attracting both people who love being pampered and those who prefer bringing their own belongings before swimming. One thing to keep in mind though is that, in the presence of strong winds, the sea can get rough pretty quickly. Some visitors have reported strong currents that, along with the tall waves, can make getting out of the water a bit challenging. If the weather is bad and you are not a confident swimmer, watching the waves from the shore is advised. Myrtos is a wild beauty after all!
#5 Sarakiniko, Milos
Going back to the Aegean Sea, at the beautiful Cyclades, there is the island of Milos. You may know the island thanks to the Venus de Milo, the iconic sculpture that is now displayed at the Louvre Museum. But Milos island has a beauty that can’t be taken away from it: the Sarakiniko.
Sarakiniko is one of the most photographed beaches in Greece. Smooth bright white rock formations, contrasting the blue colors of the sea. Many people compare the landscape to the one on the moon. It is a popular spot for cliff jumping, swimming, sunbathing, but also filming. It is not an organized beach, so make sure to bring a lot of water with you before visiting. Since the white rocks reflect the sunlight, wearing SPF and sunglasses is a must.
You can reach Sarakiniko by bus, taxi, or private vehicle. But you will need to walk for some meters on a pathway located on the chalk white rocks. Therefore, it is recommended to wear stable, non-slippery shoes when visiting the area. Also, pay attention to the stinging sea anemones that are sometimes found on the surface of underwater rocks. Stepping or laying on underwater rocks is not recommended for this exact reason.
#4 Balos, Crete
Crete is the largest and most exotic island in Greece. It is also the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and it bounds the southern border of the Aegean Sea. It comes as no surprise that the island of Crete is surrounded by breathtaking coastlines, waiting to be explored.
One of the most spectacular beaches of Crete is Balos Lagoon. Located on the northwestern corner of Crete, on the peninsula of Gramvousa, Balos attracts visitors from all around the world. Famous personalities, such as Princess Diana, have visited Balos with their private yachts.
The Lagoon is known for its exotic scenery: vivid waters in different shades of blue and smooth white and pink sand. The light pink color in some parts of the coast is the result of millions of seashells being crushed over the years. What makes Balos spectacular though is perhaps its unique shape. Due to its indescribable shape, many different swimming spots are formed. It is truly a natural beauty!
The area is protected by the Natura 2000 program, since it is the home of Caretta-Caretta, the monk seal, cormorants, and other endangered species. The Lagoon is semi organized, meaning that there are usually canteens that sell water and snacks. But, since the location is rather remote, arriving there with all your necessities is recommended. You can get to Balos either with a 4×4 vehicle through a breathtaking but dangerous coastal track road from the village of Kaliviani, or with an excursion boat from Kissamos. The waters are usually very warm and swallow; but keep in mind that, in some parts, the sand can get a bit muddy. It is a very safe place to swim, since the waters are swallow and rarely get rough. Just make sure that you wear your SPF, hat, and sunglasses.
#3 Elafonisos, Peloponnese
At the southern part of the Peloponnese, just below the peninsula of Laconia, there is a tiny island that, according to ancient Greek mythology, it was inhabited by deer. This is Elafonisos – its name can be translated as “island of the deer”. It is an area protected by the Natura 2000 program, since it is the home of wild fauna and flora.
Elafonisos (also seen as Elafonissos) gained enormous popularity last year, after it was featured in the official promotional video of the Greek National Tourism Organization. Just like a couple of other seaside locations on this list, Elafonisos is known for its breathtaking double beach – Simos.
Simos has five out of five stars on Tripadvisor, although it has over a thousand reviews; a rare occurrence. Similar swimming spots can be found all around the tiny island. Elafonisos is basically a giant beach. Simos beach is now semi-organized but there are plenty of other swimming spots on the island that have stayed untouched.
The waters of Elafonisos are some of the clearest in Greece. Perhaps because there are no direct ferries or flights from Athens and other big cities. You first need to get to Pounta, a port close to Neapolis in Laconia in the south of the Peloponnese. You can get there by bus or car from any major Greek city. There are also direct flights from Athens to Laconia. Then, you can hop onto one of the ferries that travel to Elafonisos every hour or every 30 minutes (depending on the season).
#2 Giola, Thassos
Thassos is one of the most underrated Greek islands. Located in Northern Aegean, Thassos is known for its picturesque villages and marble beaches. But there is one swimming spot that differs from the rest. That is Giola – a natural pool in the region of Astris. The pool is surrounded by rock formations which are used for cliff jumping. But, before you jump into the waters, make sure to check that the waters are deep enough on that day. If the waters are swallow, injuries can occur.
Giola is a very unique swimming spot… it is a natural salt-water pool formed in a round shape. According to a legend, Zeus created the pool for goddess Aphrodite. That is why it is known as the “Tear of Venus”. Thassos is also an island where, according to mythology, Sirens resided. And Giola seems to be the be the place where the resided – playing with the waters and singing.
You can get there first by car and then on foot. Just make sure that you wear stable shoes, since the pathway is reportedly quite slippery. Keep in mind that Giola is not organized, so make sure to bring enough water bottles when visiting the area. SPF, sunglasses, and stable shoes are a must! Last but not least, it is not a place to sunbathe for prolonged hours, since laying on the rocks is not very comfortable.
#1 Elafonisi, Crete
But the Peloponesse is not the only place that has a breathtaking “deer island”. The island of Crete has a hidden gem named Elafonisi, which is also protected by the Natura 2000 program. The beach is in the South-West of Crete and it is often described as “paradise on Earth”.
Elafonisi is known for its light pink and white sand, crystal clear swallow and calm waters, and unique shape. Just like many of the previously mentioned swimming destinations, the Cretan Elafonisi has an indescribable shape that transforms it into multiple beaches at once. The area is now semi-organized, with umbrellas and sunbeds, which has taken some of its wild, natural beauty.
Elafonisi has gained a lot of popularity over the years. Its breathtaking natural beauty and safe and swallow waters attract many tourists every year. This is something to keep in mind when planning on visiting Elafonisi in August. You can get there by road through Topolia or Elos. Driving from the town of Chania can take over an hour but the beauty of this place makes it worth it. Elafonisi is definitely paradise on Earth!