Image source: http://www.mykonos-hotels.com/
How to book the best Greek beach holiday, with advice on islands including Corfu, Rhodes and Crete, Kos and the Cyclades, recommended accommodation near the beaches, family-friendly destinations, as well as the best tour operators. By Telegraph Travel Greece experts.
With over 1,000 islands and a staggering 8,560 miles (13,780 km) of coastline, Greece has way beyond its fair share of beaches. The clichéd “something for everyone” really does apply here – golden sand, volcanic black sand, white pebbles or smooth rocks.
On the bigger islands where tourism is highly developed, such as Corfu, Rhodes and the northern coast of Crete, you’ll find big, modern beachfront resorts offering all-inclusive holidays, with facilities such as outdoor pools and wellness centers. You also have direct flights from the UK, making for hassle-free travel.
Other smaller islands served by direct flights, where people head specifically for the beaches, include Mykonos, with its sandy south-coast party beaches; Skiathos, where pine-scented sandy Koukounaries stands out; and Kos, where the white sands of Tigaki beach give onto shallow sea, making it ideal for kids.
On all these islands you’ll find organized beaches, with sun beds and umbrellas for hire, showers, water sports facilities, bars and tavernas. There are lifeguards on duty during daylight hours and the beaches are cleaned daily. The best maintained have been awarded a Blue Flag (blueflag.org) for high levels of water cleanliness, environmental management and safety, with 430 such beaches throughout Greece in 2016.
But for some people, the beach means escapism – getting away from the crowds and reconnecting with nature. The sort of beaches where you can do this tend to be isolated and difficult to reach, and generally have limited facilities – so you should bring your own bottled water and a roll-up beach mat. Some of the best are on Crete’s south coast (Preveli, Plakias and Matala), the west coasts of the Ionian islands (Porto Katsiki and Egremnoi on Lefkada; Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos; Myrtos beach on Kefalonia), and some of the lesser visited Cycladic islands, such as Andros, Milos and tiny Koufonissi.
If the back-to-nature approach appeals, you might also consider camping – Amorgos, Antiparos, Astypalea and Lefkada all have low-key waterside campsites, popular with young and alternative-minded Greeks. Some remote beaches are even “clothing-optional” – Captain Barefoot’s Naturist Guide to the Greek Islands (barefoot.info) is an excellent source of information, which is continually updated by people who have visited the relevant beaches.
The sea is warm enough to swim from June through to September, and hardy types will also manage in May and October. Most beaches do get very busy in peak season, especially in August, which is when most Greeks take their holidays.