Beaches in Athens
There's a beach for you...
is often referred to as the 'classical capital of Europe' and whilst for many it is the perfect chance to soak up culture, for others, visiting Athens is the perfect time to soak up the sun too on one of the local beaches.
Ask visitors what type of beach they would like and you get a wide range of answers; some love quiet, secluded beaches, others enjoy beach sports whilst for many, just relaxing at a beach bar over a cool leisurely drink is perfect! There is a great variety of beaches in the Athens area stretching from Glyfada and the beaches of the Marathon area in the northeast to Cape Sounion and parts of the Attica peninsula with more beaches on the eastern coast at Rafina. With so many beaches to choose from one of them is certainly going to be perfect for you.
Since 2001 the larger beaches have become organised and many of them, privatised. Suddenly, beaches were being given a makeover and became very stylish with wooden pathways, colour coordinated umbrellas and good shower, cafe and parking facilities. Whilst many beach lovers were happy to pay the charges to use these facilities, others were not, so they continued to use the smaller 'free' beaches - an arrangement that continues today. The private beaches are usually open between 08.00 - 21.00.
As there are just too many beaches to list, here are the most popular. If you prefer quieter, secluded coves, you can have the fun of exploring to find your own or you can ask the advice of a local but don't forget your sun umbrella, water, suntan lotion and large floppy hat as the beaches get incredibly hot between May-August.
Beautiful sand and warm azure waters on the doorstep of Athens - no wonder Alimos gets overcrowded on a summer weekend! Alimos lies just 11 kilometres from the city and is colourfully chaotic with its plethora of water sports (including jet skiing) and its bustling tavernas and cafes. It is a great family beach with children's waterslide and playground and grown ups can play with their boats in the beautiful yachting marina!
Small and sandy with lovely blue water this beach's name means 'the small red harbour' and it is easy to see why as the most prominent cliff is a distinctive red-colour. Kokkino is situated just a few kilometres from Rafina, the second port of Athens that is always busy with passenger ferries and catamarans leaving for the islands.
Situated on the Athens side of Vougliameni, Astir is popular because it has fine sand and shallow clear water and it is conveniently close to the city (just 20 km) and the popular ancient site of the Temple of Apollo Zoster. Astir becomes really busy on summer weekends. It is a well kept private beach that was totally redesigned in 2001 with snazzy white sunbeds and matching umbrellas, changing rooms and children's water play park with water trampoline, sea saws and catapult! Astir is definitely one of the best beaches and is a 'Blue Flag' beach but can only be enjoyed at a cost - €15.00 per person on weekdays and a steep €25.00 per person at weekends.
Lying just 20 kilometres south of Athens are the 'free' twin beaches at Kavouni. Nicknamed Mikro and Megalo - small and large - they are lovely and sandy and Megalo nestles in a cove with exceptionally shallow water making it great for children. Whilst many visitors go for the beach fun, at the weekend the Kavouni beach tavernas are packed with Athenians enjoying really good fish dishes!
Situated 23 km south of Athens, this beach is ideal for those who want to have fun in the sun! It is a public beach (so there are no charges) run by the Greek Tourism Organisation and it can be easily reached by bus from Athens (one change is necessary and the journey takes about 30 minutes). After all the colour of the city the sandy beaches with their palm trees, vibrant flowers and mountain backdrop make a stunning contrast. You can rest assured - the beaches are sandy with large smooth pebbles and are kept 'well groomed' as they are a favourite haunt with wealthy Athenians - many have weekend apartments there and those who don't love to spend their weekend swimming, sailing and eating fresh fish!
Just a few minutes' walk from the centre is the beautiful lake that used to be in a huge cavern. Over the centuries the rocky roof has collapsed but testament of its past are the 50 metre cliffs that encircle it. The lake is filled with a mixture of spring water and sea water and is popular with health fanatics who rate its mixture of salt and minerals highly and local folklore tells of many miraculous cures to those who swam regularly in the water - it is the perfect place for a leisurely dip as the water remains a constant 23°C all year round. In one small part of the lake the waters are even warmer and there are ropes so that bathers can exercise in the therapeutic waters and really feel the benefits of the special water. For those who like action, there is tennis and volleyball and for children there is a great play area. Everyone can relax and enjoy a good lunch in the restaurant during the siesta period when the sun is at its hottest!
The beach known as Asteras Vouliagmeni has two fun floating platforms offshore which are great for diving and has facilities for wind surfing, sailing and fly fishing. Astir Vouliagmeni lies a short distance away on the other side of the promentory and has several lovely cafes and a wooden pathway leading right down to the sea which is ideal for visitors with special needs.
Two beaches - double the fun! The twin beaches at Voula are particularly popular with young people as there are plenty of beach sports. Beach A is large and sandy and offers canoeing, beach volleyball and mini football whilst in contrast Beach B is known for its lovely calm clear waters that are guaranteed by the concrete breakwaters that reach out into the sea. There is never a dull moment at Voula - particularly on Sundays when there is usually a beach party or sporting event to enjoy
The Yabanaki Beach at Varkiza is a lovely sandy beach, about 27 km northeast of Athens and there is a direct coach from the city centre. Varkiza is pretty and whilst it is perfect for those who like dozing to the sound of the sea under a sun umbrella, for those wanting action, there is tennis and beach volleyball, a children's play area and a kiosk that offers snacks. One part of the beach is known as 'The Ladies Place' and offers yoga, pilates and even cookery lessons! The rates for using this beach are currently €7.00 per person on weekdays and €8.00 per person at the weekend.
The 40 kilometre journey from the city is well worth it as Lagonissi was one of the beaches to be given a trendy update in 2002! The beach has wooden pathways leading to the two wooden piers and at the end of one of the piers is a swimming pool in the sea - which children love! This is a great family beach as there are water sports to enjoy including banana boat rides. There are sunbeds to laze on and even mini-football for family members with too much energy!
Those who simply want to relax and do nothing but enjoy a good read can do just that - menus are pinned to each sun lounger so snacks and drinks can be ordered without having to move!
Lying further afield from Athens (about 45km north-east of the city) on the fringes of Marathon Bay this lovely beach is easily reached from the city centre. Schinias is well worth a visit because it is really beautiful with lovely fine sand and crystal clear waters fringed by pine trees - many say it is the best beach on the Attica peninsula and because of this it gets really busy on weekends with Athenians. Keen windsurfers will soon tell you that the good onshore winds make it the ideal windsurfing beach too. The good news is that this beach is a public one so there is no charge, although sunbeds and umbrellas can be hired.
Situated 52 km southeast of Athens Anavissos has developed rapidly in the last ten years. It is an attractive area with tempting clear waters and the beach edged with pine trees - the perfect place to rent a sun lounger and simply relax. This beach is popular with young sporty Athenians because it is great for windsurfing as it has a strong on shore breeze most days.
Situated 60 kilometres from the hustle and bustle of Athens and near to Cape Sounion, Legrena is a beautiful sweeping bay with small rocky coves. The waters are beautifully clear but the pebbles make the water cooler and beach shoes are a definite plus for reaching the beckoning waters for a dip! The combination of pebbles and clear water make Legrena perfect for diving and its peaceful seclusion an ideal spot to relax in a beachside taverna but there is no shade for relaxing on the beach so take your sun umbrella. Be warned though, all peace and tranquillity is shattered at weekends when Athenians arrive in their droves to relax and escape city life!