Greece Beaches

Banana Beach on Skiathos island, Greece beaches

Banana Beach on Skiathos, Cyclades Islands, Greece beaches.

Best Greece beaches in the Cyclades islands

The Cyclades islands are southeast of Athens, easy to reach by ferry from Pireus or Rafina ports, see Cyclades Map

Paradise, Super Paradise and Panormas beaches, Mykonos

Mykonos is one of the most attractive islands in Greece with its dry stone walls and cute organic architecture. Gorgeous Mikonos town is the epitome of whitewashed, blue wood, narrow street Greek towns and doesn’t have to be so expensive. . . Just avoid waterfront dining!

Although Mykonos is fairly hilly, it’s only ten miles long by seven miles wide, so most visitors rent cars or scooters to explore.

Places such as Agios Stefanos, Platyialos, and Psarou all have well protected beaches with medium grade sand and a good selection of tavernas – though heavily umbrella infested, but the pick for under-40s visitors is either the trees, coarse sand, funky bars and all-night beach raves of Paradise beach, or the even coarser but prettier Super Paradise, where naked gays have colonised one end. Both are a little exposed so water can get choppy.

For soft sand, dunes, stunning scenery, less people, less services and mad ducks try Panormas on the other side of the island, it’s a charmer.

Red Beach, Santorini

Santorini, also known as Thira and sometimes misspelt as Santorine is spectacularly situated on the edge of a dormant volcano. Many believe that this is where the Atlantis legend began, when the volcano blew hugely in 1650BC, not only knocking off the local, highly civilised Minoans in their ‘island within an island’, but also sending out a tidal wave that would have destroyed many other Minoan sites and ships and closed the book on Minoan power in the Mediterranean.

Along with Mykonos, Santorini is probably the most expensive of the Greek Islands, but the teetering towns of Fira and Oia are spectacularly worth it.

Due to its volcanic soil most Santorini beaches – Perissa and Karmari are the best known- are layered with unattractive and sole-frying black sand/pebbles, though the water is clean and clear and snorkelling or scuba interesting.
The best beach is narrow, characterful Red Beach, with small red grainy sand partially covered in wood shavings to keep it cool, crystal water and rocks to offer snorkellers some action.

A fast ferry Mykonos to Santorini will only take a couple of hours in comfort.

*Milopotas and *Manganari beaches, Ios

Although reknowned as a young person party island, Ios is surprisingly tranquil during the daytime and sports two superb beaches. Excellent Milopotas is only 5 minutes by scooter from the town, a huge stretch of soft yellow sand and calm, clear water. Watersports and plenty of discreet, varied tavernas lurk adjacent.
Superb Manganari is even better but a long road or boat trip, little accommodation and not good for nipping back to rave in the evenings.

*Psili Ammos beach, Serifos

Psili Ammos means soft fine sand, and that exactly how this superb white beach is, along with clear water and a tree-lined shore. Accommodation and excellent tavernas nearby.

*Maragas and *Plaka beaches, Naxos

Rugged and mountainous Naxos is favoured by German hikers¬†and has a pretty little, lively main town. Don’t even consider grotty Grotto, north of the town, though Agios Georgios at the south end is good for a town beach – fine sand, nice views, clear water and loads of accomodation and other services nearby.
A little further away and also popular is large, coarse sanded Agios Prokopios, and small, unattractive Agios Anna.
The pick of Naxos beaches is the long stretch of dunes running from Maragas to Plaka. Soft sand, a scattering of trees, discreet services on a dirt road, almost turquoise water and lots of space make this an excellent location for layabouts. Nudists hang out in Plaka.

Kolymbithres beach, Paros

Although this is the transport hub for the Cyclades, Paros is surprisingly pleasant. The town has the usual little, white-washed labyrinthine streets, some smart sunset bars and restaurants and a terrific church, the Ekatondapiliani – the oldest in use in Greece.

The countryside is a little on the dull side but beaches are quite acceptable. The two biggish ones sharing the town’s bay, Livadia and Krios, are both calm, clear, tree lined and well-taverned.

Paros’ east coast has some bigger beaches that are heavily promoted – such as Golden Beach – but Bugbog found them to be overly windy, with choppy water and hard sand – excellent for wind and kite surfers but not for sun bathing.

The prettiest beach on the island is undoubtedly Kolymbithres near the cute tourist town of Naoussa, with shallow aquamarine water enclosed by fine sand and strangely eroded rocks. Great for children, the only problem is size. . . it’s very small and will get crowded easily.

Best seasons

Greece Beaches are at their very best in June, early July and early September, when water is warm, crowds are down but full services are in operation. The beaches are fine from May to mid October, though the water is still chilly up to June and naturally there are crowds, possibly excessive heat and strong winds (the Meltemi) July 20th-August 20th, during Greek holidays.

Note that the Mediterranean is not comparable with the Caribbean or Pacific – the water is cooler and the sand generally coarser. Shady tree fringes are also rare, though hot sunshine, good food, clear water and friendly English-speaking locals are almost guaranteed.
Low prices, apart from ferries, are no longer with us thanks to the Euro and current sophistication of Greek society.

Beach surfaces range from volcanic pebbles to fine sand so beach shoes may be imperative depending on your choice of holiday destination.

Blue Flag standards

Apparently 100 % of Greece beaches offer coastal seas with high water quality standards. Since the start of the reporting in 1990, no coastal bathing water had to be closed during the season.

Nudist beaches

Going topless is acceptable on just about all Greece beaches, while areas of total nudism exist discreetly on many islands. e. g. Little Banana (Skiathos), Super Paradise and Panormas (Mykonos), Plaka (Naxos).

Island hopping

Inter-Island travel is a joy with fast, cheap ferries connecting all the dots, tho’ the fastest ones – bumpy, noisy hydrofoils and smooth, quiet catamarans – may be cancelled due to moderate winds.
Fast travel is easiest if you stay within an island group. e. g. Ionian islands (Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante +); The Cyclades (Santorini, Mykonos, Ios, Paros, Naxos +); The Sporades (Skiathos, Skopelos +).
Typically, Mykonos to Santorini would take about two hours, Paros to Mykonos 45 minutes, Skiathos Skopelos just 20 minutes. More about modern Greek ferries

Sea sickness avoidance

The Bugcrew get sea sick easily but had no problems on 8 boat journeys during the month of September while researching Greece beaches. Short bouncy trips on hydrofoils hardly merited the acupressure wrist bands we wore. 4 hours on a Blue Star ferry in a force 6 wind with 4ft waves was amazingly stable, with no more than 2cm of visible roll.
Still, we suggest acupressure wrist bands as a starting point and some fast-acting chemical as a back-up if things go wobbly.

Scooters in Greece

Unless you really like a lot of walking or waiting for buses you’ll need your own transport in Greece’s islands. The roads are often picturesque, mostly in good condition and other drivers generally sensible, though we would avoid much night driving and beware occasional grit on the roads.
Cars are a little expensive to rent and can be a hassle to park. Transport of choice is the scooter, though many renters will NOT accept a European car driving licence to pilot a 50cc jobby. You MUST have a bike licence. Helmets are supposed to be worn but most riders don’t. More Greece Driving Safety Advice.