With thousands of islands to choose from and some of the Med’s most curvaceous coastlines, whatever you look for in a beach you can bet your best budgie smuggling speedos that you’ll find it in Greece. From photogenic wonders to remote adventure outposts, whether you need family-friendly or party central, here are just five examples to set your coordinates for.
1. Best all-rounder: Elafonisi Beach, Crete
Close to a protected nature reserve home to endangered turtles and rare migrating birds on the south-west coast of Crete, Elafonisi regularly scoops accolades and little wonder, since it comfortably ticks most boxes. A long oblong bay of shallow water, coral reefs, rock pools, hidden coves and a large lagoon that’s perfect for young children, its show-stopping attraction is the white sand which has taken on a pinkish sheen from thousands of sea shell fragments.
2. Most dramatic scenery: Navagio or Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos
This small and isolated sandy cove – tucked between sheer limestone cliffs that snake into the turquoise waters on Zakynthos’ north-west shore – can only be reached by boat. It owes its name and fame to the wreck of the Panagiotis freightliner, a smuggling ship loaded with contraband that was thought to have washed up there in 1981. The crystal waters of Smuggler’s Cove combined with the novelty factor of getting up close to the abandoned wreck draws flocks of tourists.
3. Most other-worldly beach: Sarakiniko Beach, Milos
One of the Aegean’s most photographed shorelines, this beach on the northern coast of Milos Island looks more like a lunar landscape than a traditional beach, with its undulating banks of grey and white rock sculpted by the elements and pure ivory white sand from the volcanic rock. You won’t find any of the trappings of commercial beach development here, but once you’re done marvelling at its extraordinary visual splendour, you can go snorkelling among shipwrecks nearby.
4. Best party beach : Paradise Beach, Mykonos
Certainly not one for the faint hearted, Paradise Beach is still a pleasant enough spot for relaxation in the morning, especially off season. By late afternoon it’s fairly thronging thanks to a plethora of music bars and clubs, including the legendary Paradise Club. The island’s biggest club attracts many top flight DJs, has a VIP area, open air terraces and even has soundproofed rooms – not that the young and heady crowd here cares much about that!
5. Best Wild Beach: Porto Katsiki beach, Lefkada
Porto Katsiki literally translates as ‘port of the goats’, so named because of its remote location at the foot of a steep stairway of 80 steps. The drive through the narrow hills to reach Katsiki is spectacular and reason enough to venture out to this spot which comfortably ranks among Europe’s finest.
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