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The Best Greek Islands for Beaches

Whatever you’re looking for in a beach, there’s a Greek island for you

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A bird's eye view of people swimming in the sea next to golden sand at a beach in Lefkada, Greece

With over 8,000 miles of coastline, Greece is a big hitter when it comes to beaches. The Greek islands alone are flush with options when it comes to swimming and sunbathing, which brings its own challenges - which island to go to? Well, this is where we here at Plum Guide come in. We’re here to give you the inside track on the very sandy strips across the Greek islands, whether the silky pink sands of Crete’s Elafonisi Beach take your fancy, or you’re in the market for high-octane water sports action at Kalafati in Mykonos. Before you know it, you’ll be paddling in some of Europe’s most pristine waters in the sunshine, looking forward to your next Greek salad. So without further ado, here are the very best Greek islands for beaches.

  • Kefalonia
  • Mykonos
  • Corfu
  • Crete
  • Paros
  • Lefkada

Kefalonia

An aerial view of people paragliding high above Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia, Greece

An aerial view of people paragliding high above Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia, Greece

The jewel of the Ionian archipelago, Kefalonia is undoubtedly among the best Greek islands for beaches. In fact, the island is home to one of the most photographed in Greece: Myrtos Beach, a cove sheltered by dramatic white cliffs and lapped by brilliant turquoise waters. Film buffs won’t want to miss Antisamos Beach, where part of the hit movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was shot, while anyone looking for a secluded swim might head for the rock and sand of off-the-beaten track Emplipsi Beach. Like your sunbathing with a side of wildlife? Loggerhead turtles nest in the golden sands of Kaminia Beach during summertime.

Aphrodite's Kiss, Plum Guide home in Kefalonia, Greece

Aphrodite's Kiss, Plum Guide home in Kefalonia, Greece

Mykonos

Sun loungers and red parasols looking out to sea from the soft sand on a beach in Mykonos, Greece

Sun loungers and red parasols looking out to sea from the soft sand on a beach in Mykonos, Greece

If beaches are one major draw to the chic island of Mykonos, the other is its renowned party scene. To enjoy both at once, hotfoot it to Paradise Beach - Mykonos’s seaside party central. As well as offering pristine waters and silky sands, Paradise is home to renowned bars Tropicana and Paradise Club, which regularly host world-class DJs. For more of a family affair, make your way to Platis Gialos. Its shallow waters and soft golden sands make it perfect for paddling, while families will also appreciate the abundance of cafes and tavernas that back the beach. If your idea of a holiday includes some thrills, head straight to Kalafati Beach. Thanks to the meltemi - the strong, dry, northerly Aegean wind - Kalafati is Mykonos’s prime windsurfing spot.

Maritime Manor, Plum Guide home in Mykonos, Greece

Maritime Manor, Plum Guide home in Mykonos, Greece

Corfu

A bird's eye view of colourful towels and umbrellas on the sand by the sea at a beach in Corfu, Greece

A bird's eye view of colourful towels and umbrellas on the sand by the sea at a beach in Corfu, Greece

From water sports to quiet seaside oases, there’s a beach for every kind of traveller in Corfu. If you’re hoping to hear wedding bells, make a beeline for the coves, rock formations, and romantic atmosphere of Canal D’Amour - legend has it that any couple that swims together through the narrow canal formed by the rocks will soon get married. Glyfada Beach serves up livelier vibes, without compromising on beauty, while families will enjoy the wealth of activities on offer at Dassia Beach - all with unforgettable views across the water to Albania. Rolling sand dunes and impressive winds, on the other hand, make Issos Beach one of Corfu’s main draws for adventure seekers.

Homeric Galley, Plum Guide home in Corfu, Greece

Homeric Galley, Plum Guide home in Corfu, Greece

Crete

A close up of a small wave rolling onto dark sand in front of a tall cliff at a beach in Crete, Greece

A close up of a small wave rolling onto dark sand in front of a tall cliff at a beach in Crete, Greece

With 650 miles of coastline, Crete has a distinct advantage when it comes to its beaches. Among the most famous is Elafonisi, which feels like a slice of Caribbean paradise - thanks, not least, to its famous pastel-pink sands and wonderfully warm lagoon. Equally tropical in feel is Vai, famed for its starring role in the 1970s Bounty advert "A taste of paradise”. Nonetheless, this premier pair still face stiff competition in the beauty stakes, from Preveli on the island’s southern coast. Set at the mouth of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, where the river Megalos Potamos meets the sea, Preveli is backed by a lush palm forest and rugged cliffs.

The Refuge of Zeus, Plum Guide home in Crete, Greece

The Refuge of Zeus, Plum Guide home in Crete, Greece

Paros

Umbrellas on the sand by clear blue water at a beach in Paros, Greece

Umbrellas on the sand by clear blue water at a beach in Paros, Greece

Why just go to Greece when you can visit a whole other world? Seemingly plucked straight from a sci-fi movie, the captivating rock formations of Kolymbithres have made it the most famous of Paros’s beaches. To stay on Earth but enjoy an atmosphere that is decidedly cosmopolitan, the bars and restaurants that line the sands of Santa Maria provide a stylish alternative. Beachgoers hoping to pack in some extra culture will also appreciate the screenings and concerts that take place during the Summer Festival at Monastiri Beach. For a bonus dose of adrenaline, head to Chrisi Akti, home to the Windsurfing World Championship for many years.

Lefkada

Bright blue sea water next to a strip of white sand underneath a tall white cliff at a beach in Lefkada, Greece

Bright blue sea water next to a strip of white sand underneath a tall white cliff at a beach in Lefkada, Greece

Accessible from mainland Greece via a causeway, Lefkada is surrounded by the clear, aquamarine waters of the Ionian, and dotted with an array of postcard-perfect beaches. Dramatic cliffs induce awe in visitors to Porto Katsiki and Egremni beaches - both home to dazzling white sands - while near-deserted Gialos promises bliss to swimmers and sunbathers wanting to get away from it all. Another key reason Lefkada is a non-negotiable contender when it comes to the best Greek islands for beaches is Kathisma, which might rightly be described as a kilometre-long slice of heaven. Here you’ll find fine sand, beachfront bars and tavernas, and plenty of activities for the non-sunbathers among you (parasailing and volleyball, to name just two). What’s more, it’s a stellar sunset spot - where better for a waterfront sundowner?

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