Athens is not really known for its beaches, or as a “swimming” destination, but if you spend several days in the city and find yourself craving the waters of the Aegean, here is a concise guide of places to swim near Athens.
- Orientation and Practicalities
- See the Athens beaches on the Map
- Palaio Faliro
- Alimos (Akth tou Hliou)
- Vouliagmeni & Astir Vouliagmenis
- Varkiza and Vari
- Agia Marina (after tunnels “Mojito Bay”, beach named Loupanta), Kropia, and Lagonisi, Saronida, Palea Fokea, Mavro Livadi
- Anavyssos, Thymari Beach, Legrena, Sounio beaches
Orientation and Practicalities
As a rule of thumb, the further away you drive from Athens toward Sounio, the better the chances of finding a good beach.
The bus or the tram will take you as far as Voula. To reach some of the better beaches you would need a car. The road all the way to Sounio (Leoforos Poseidonos) is a good and scenic one, with ample space for cars. You could get far with a moped, but the trip would be long and not very comfortable (besides, for safety, we don’t advise visitors riding mopeds around Athens).
The organized beaches cost about 8 to 10 Euro or more per person, and in exchange you will get all the amenities to make your stay comfortable (although in some you might still have to pay extra for the umbrella and sun bed).
If you don’t want to pay, don’t despair, there are many more free places to swim than paid beaches. Many are lined with umbrellas and sun beds which will cost you anywhere from 4 to 8 euro. If you still don’t want to pay for that, you can buy your own parasol (about 15 euro) from the myriad of shops that line the beaches, and you can pick your own spot in the sand.
The following beaches are in “order of appearance” as you drive on Leoforos Poseidonos south from Pireas toward Sounio.
As always, our beach reports reflect our own subjective impression of each beach after we visit in person.
For your convenience, we have marked each beach on the our map so you can easily get directions on your cellular device. Click on the map image on the sidebar to open our Google Map and zoom to Athens.
See the Athens beaches on the Map
Click here to see the beaches of Athens marked on the map and to get directions in a new window.
Palaio Faliro (Paleo Faliro, Παλαιο Φαληρο) is not a beach worth swimming at. What passes as a beach are several narrow strips of brown sand crowded next to the busy coastal “Poseidonos” highway.
There are always several desperate people bobbing around in the water, but most stay on the sand. Every time we visited, there has been visible garbage floating on the surface of the water. To compound the negatives, it’s hard to find parking near the beach and the road noise and pollution does not contribute to a positive beach experience.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): ~8 km, or 10-15 min by car.
Alimos (Akth tou Hliou)
Ακτη του Ηλιου, in Alimos is a large pebble beach right before Glyfada. It is organized with parasols, sun beds, bars, showers, toilets, and changing booths.
Alimos beach is completely surrounded with a visible net that creates a border in the water around the beach. Being right in the metropolitan area, the water quality is nowhere near the quality of beaches farther away from the city, but it is always packed with bathers, and the municipality makes a good effort in keeping it free of trash.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): ~10 km, or 15-20 minutes by car.
Glyfada has a few brown sand beaches within walking distance from town, none of which seemed very inviting when we visited. The water is very similar to the nearby Alimos beach, and you have to put up with the boats that sail in and out of the nearby harbors.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): ~15 km, or 20-25 minutes by car.
Voula is a large area, but as you leave Glyfada, there are three or four little sandy coves where you can have a pleasant swim. It is still too close to the city and too close to the main road, but there is a narrow tree buffer that makes them more pleasant than nearby Glyfada. This is as far as the tram would take you.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): ~16 km, or 25-30 min by car.
As you drive south, and after you pass Glyfada and Voula, turn to your right on Athens road, and drive for about five minutes before the city turns into pine hills.
You will not find any signs guiding you, but you will see on your right hand side the crowds packed in the first pleasant sandy beach near Athens.
It’s proximity to the city makes it very crowded, but it would be a decent beach to swim at when in Athens.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): ~25 km, or 30-35 minutes by car.
Vouliagmeni & Astir Vouliagmenis
After turning west from Poseidonos Highway toward Kavouri, you will see on your left hand another road leading to some of the most affluent areas of Athens.
The road splits at the coast. To your right you will find the luxurious (paid) Astir Vouliagmenis packed with all the celebrities of Greek media. We have not swam there, but all reports indicate that it is one the most organized beaches in Greece, and you might even need a reservation to get in.
Right across from Asteras Vouliagmenis is another small beach, with clear water and a pleasant atmosphere. To the north you will find another very larger and well organized beach. Both of these beaches are worth swimming at.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): ~28 km, or 30-35 minutes by car.
Varkiza and Vari
Continuing down Poseidonos Highway toward Sounio, after the turn toward Kavouri and Vouliagmeni, you will find several beaches in Varkiza: two large organized ones (Do It, and Yavanaki) and a couple of free others. They are all nice albeit as crowded as Kavouri, and Vouliagmeni.
If you continue on the same road toward Sounio, you will quickly find yourself outside of town, in a pleasant coastal highway (still Poseidonos Highway) with many tiny coves down the rocky shore.
There are no beaches there, but the waters are clean and bathers find a flat spot on the rocks for sunbathing. You have to park high up on the highway (there are parking areas) and walk down precarious footpaths and cement stairs.
The road from Varkiza all the way to the end of Vari is filled with these little coves (four or five of them) and in the weekends, they are packed with bathers. The further you drive, the less crowded they get.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): ~25 km, or 30-35 minutes by car. About 30 km to Vari.
Agia Marina (after tunnels “Mojito Bay”, beach named Loupanta), Kropia, and Lagonisi, Saronida, Palea Fokea, Mavro Livadi
As previously mentioned, the drive on the rocky shore is scenic, and at one point you will pass through a small square tunnel. Right after the tunnel, there are several nice beaches (some visible from the highway) in the Agia Marina area.
The first one is a sign posted as “Mojito Bay” after the beach bar there, but it’s real name is Loupanta beach, and it’s a good place to swim.
Soon after Loupanta beach and after Agia Marina, there is another nice beach named Kropia. A little further down the road the Lagonisi area is sprinkled with sandy beaches worth visiting all the way through Saronida. Some of them are organized with sun beds and parasols.
Palea Fokea is a nice beach. It is wide and not too crowded, right at the edge of a small town, and the nearby Mavro Lithari beach is a very pleasant one with the feel of a small island.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): about 40 to 45 min by car. Palea Fokea 45 km
A little to the south of Palea Fokea, Thymari beach is one of the least crowded swim spots, in contrast to wide sandy beach of Anavyssos that draws windsurfing crowds.
Further to the south, the beach at Legrena and the three sandy beaches of Sounio are well worth the trip to swim.
Distance from Syntagma (center of Athens): Anavyssos 35 km, Thymari 48 KM or about 60 min; Legrena 110 min; Sounio 60 KM or 75 minutes by car.