Greece boasts a coastline that stretches for miles along its mainland and across its archipelago of 6,000 islands — of which only 227 are inhabited. Lapping at the shores are the turquoise waters of the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Seas. The combination of coastline and crystalline waters makes Greece a veritable nirvana for beachgoers. While it’s no secret that the beaches here are some of the best in the world, you can still discover secluded hideaways and pockets of paradise all to yourself.
Aspri Limni, Crete
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is also one of the country's busiest destinations. Escape the crowds by traveling to Aspri Limni on the island’s west coast. This stunning beach is almost entirely enclosed by rocks, which create a natural lake within the sea and dozens of rock pools. Look for the endangered Cretan palm tree in the rocks that frame the beach.
Egremni Beach, Lefkada
For an endless sweep of white sand and a dramatic backdrop, look no further than Egremni Beach. The rock formations that rise above the beach are breathtaking, while the Ionian Sea invites you to plunge into its warm waters. Egremni is accessible by boat only, although restoration work is being carried out on a 350-step pathway destroyed by an earthquake in 2015.
Gria Spilia Beach, Syros
Head to the northwestern tip of Syros and enjoy a cove encompassed by lush landscapes. Gria Spilia also goes by Americanou Beach, which is a reference to an American economist who planted trees here in the 1960s to add greenery to an otherwise barren setting. Arrive at the beach by hiking footpaths or go with the easy option of taking a boat.
With stamina and the right equipment you can find paradise tucked away in a cove on the west of Kythira. Reaching the beach at Kalami requires canyoning down steep cliffs or, after a short hike, descending a 30-meter-high cliff using a rope. The reward is a deserted beach enclosed by a horseshoe-shaped gorge and warm Mediterranean waters. Remember your sneakers for the journey in and out.
Kedros Beach, Donoussa
An unblemished white sandy beach with turquoise water awaits lucky travelers at this remote location. Rocky headlands strewn with vegetation rise up on either side and enhance the environment. Part of the fun of Kedros Beach is the walk down a cobbled pathway that winds down the western cliffs.
Kolona Beach, Kythnos
The appeal of Kolona lies in the fact that it is technically two beaches in one. A 300-feet-long golden strand links the island with the islet of Agios Louskas and has glistening Aegean waters on both sides. Sunbathing and swimming are naturally big draws, but to truly appreciate the beauty, walk to the whitewashed chapel at the top of the islet for a panoramic bird’s eye view. Sunsets are rather special from here.
Mesovrika Beach, Antipaxos
Despite being one of the smallest Ionian Islands, Antipaxos is big on beaches. Most island boat tours stop at the undeniably attractive Voutoumi and Vrika beaches. However, in between the two is the delightfully serene pebble and shingle Mesovrika Beach. Verdant headlands shelter the cove and create a feeling of true isolation. Simply sit and marvel at the changing shades of the sea.
Navagio Beach, Zakynthos
Navagio Beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach) is named for a smuggler’s boat that sits half submerged in golden sand. That isn’t the only impressive aspect of the bay though. Sheer cliffs rise up on either side and the sea displays a beguiling shade of milky blue. The only way in is by boat and the beach is extremely popular during the summer months. Get an envy-inducing view by hiking a trail that travels over the northern cliffs.
Voidokilia Beach, Messenia
Located within a nature reserve, Voidokilia Beach curves around a bay in the shape of the Greek letter omega (Ω). Low-rise sand dunes separate the beach from Gialova Lagoon, which is a natural habitat for over 250 bird species. Like Kolona, the best image of the beach is attained from above, so be sure to hike to the summit of the southern headland. The ruins of a 13th-century fortress built by the Franks occupy the headland.