Determining what are the "best" beaches of Greece is obviously a subjective affair. Some beaches are well organized with sun beds, parasols, changing rooms, restaurants or bars, while others are very secluded and isolated. Some beaches offer clear water, some perfectly soft sand, while others are framed by incredible landscape. Many beaches of Greece fly the Blue flag which symbolizes cleanliness and quality (although we have noticed that a "blue flag" does not always signify quality).
Just about anyone who can copy information from the internet creates their own list of best beaches these days, but few of the authors have been to the ones they include in their lists. In compiling our list here, we use our first-hand experience, and only write about the beaches we've been able to visit. We know there are many more fantastic beaches we have yet to discover, so we keep going back to Greece year after year.
In general to appear in this list, a beach must be extra-special. It must be a place that we would travel around the world just to swim in its waters and to lay on its sand. You will probably notice that the beaches we chose for our top-five, are all a bit "out of the way" and not easily accessible from large cities.
Balos (Chania, Crete)
It's hard to describe the raw beauty of Balos beach. It's soft white sandy landscape is kissed by turquoise, crystal waters, while the whole landscape is framed by dramatic islets and mountains. It's off the beaten path but the several cruises that leave from Kissamos ensure easy and pleasant access (they even grill souvlaki for lunch on board!). The castle in the nearby island of Gramvousa adds to the mystique and beauty of the place. A rocky road can take your car near, and a fairly long footpath can take you there if you are not keen on joining the daily cruise boats.
Sarakiniko (in Elafonisos Island, Peloponnese)
Amazing, clear water and soft golden sand makes for a great swimming experience at Sarakiniko. Simos beach is right around the corner and just as great of a beach! For such a tiny island, Elafonisos at the Southern end of Peloponnese offers three of the best beaches of Greece (Panagia beach is the third one), and just about the best looking water in the world.
Another isolated beach that is only served by boats. Coarse white sand, deep blue waters, dramatic vertical cliffs, and large caverns awaiting snorkeling exploration are enough to make this one of the best beaches of Greece, but the embedded and decaying shipwreck in the middle make this beach a special one.
Belegrina (Chrissi Island)
Chrysi is a small uninhabited island south of Crete that is blessed with an impressive array of beaches. The turquoise, crystal-clear waters and the white soft sand of Belegrina bay is the best of the lot. Despite Chrysi being an "uninhabited" island, it's population balloons in the summer when a plethora of free-campers pitch their tents under the ancient "kedros" trees (despite their protected status) and thousands of day trippers arrive daily from Ierapetra, Crete (one hour trip) to indulge in the waters of Belegrina. The beach is at the edge of Europe, but definitely worth the trip. If you do go, don't forget your snorkeling mask.
Elafonissos (Chania, Crete)
Two of the best beaches of Greece in one prefecture should not be allowed. But such is nature that it bestowed the west coast of Crete with beautiful beaches and sea. Elafonisos is way too crowded for being so far out of the way (our Garmin GPS thought we were in Libya!) in the south-western coast of Chania, but it has been developed with much sensitivity to the environment to make it worthy of a spot in our top ten. Besides, a short walk through the narrow, sandy channel will bring you almost all alone through foot trails and less than saturated beaches in the island of Elafonisos itself.
One of the best kept secrets of Greece. Beautiful scenery, crystal clear turquoise water, and soft white coarse sand make this beach one of the best to visit. Its out-of-the-way location on the West coast of Lefkada, and the thousand make-shift concrete steps down (and then up), separate the huge crowds from this beach. Excellent by all measures.
Myrtos was voted as the best beach of Greece several years ago by the ministry of tourism visitors, and for good reason. Its fantastic water and bright-white pebbles are nested comfortably among steep cliffs on the west coast of Kefalonia.
Finikas (Kato Koufonisi)
The entire stretch of coast from Finikas to the northern tip of the island (Pori beach) is an Aegean dream for sunbathers, many of which prefer to swim the naturist way. Sand and rocks alternate effortlessly in this beautiful stretch of the tiny island.
This endless patch of sand starts near the town of Naxos and runs down the entire coast of the island, almost all the way to the southern tip (or so it seems). A dirt road follows it down as it turns from crowded patches of organized parasol squares, to more and more isolated patches framed by large sand dunes.
Papa Nero (Pelion, Magnesia)
Lush green vegetation frames the brilliant white sand and the crystal clear water of Papa Nero beach. It is a very long beach, and the part closest to the town of Ai Giannis in Pelion is crowded and nothing to write home about. But walk about ten minutes to the other end of the beach and you'll be enjoying some of the best swimming and sunbathing the Greek mainland has to offer.
Our viewers have voted the best beaches in a different order in 2013:
In addition our visitors have voted for these beaches: