The Most Beautiful Beach Towns in Greece

Nafpaktos, Greece, is known for its Venetian port and fortress
Nafpaktos, Greece, is known for its Venetian port and fortress | © iStock / Getty Images Plus
Photo of Ethel Dilouambaka
23 March 2022

Traditional whitewashed buildings covered in tumbling bougainvillaea and backed by the blindingly blue Mediterranean Sea make this country one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Discover these picture-perfect towns that scatter the coast of Greece – from the Peloponnese peninsula to the Cyclades islands.

Hop between these attractive Greek towns by hiring a boat for the day through SamBoat. Alternatively, make it a week-long sailing holiday with Dream Yacht Charter.

Molyvos, Lesbos

Architectural Landmark
View of port with small boats and colourful houses and outdoor tavernas in Molyvos, Lesbos
© NAPA / Alamy Stock Photo

Molyvos, also called Mithymna, is the capital of the island of Lesbos. Yes, it’s a tourist hub, but that doesn’t take away from its inherent beauty. Think stone houses built amphitheatrically on the hillside, overlooking a pretty harbour lined with colourful fishing boats. Climb up to the Byzantine castle after lunch and drink in the views over the bay. After dusk, head along the beach for a mai tai cocktail at Congas Beach Bar.

Preveza, Epirus

Architectural Landmark
The ancient ruins of Nikopolis, as seen from above, being reclaimed by nature
© Andrea Pistolesi / Getty Images

The beautiful old quarter in Preveza, Epirus, is worth a thousand pictures. It has unpretentious cafes and quaint tavernas along cobblestone streets, as well as the 22km-long (14mi) Monolithi Beach. It’s a world away from the commercialised seaside towns that occupy much of the coastline in Greece. From here, explore the ancient ruins of Nikopolis, a former city that was once the heart of Greek civilisation, or go dolphin-spotting among the wetlands in the Ambracian (Amvrakikos) Gulf.

Symi Town, Symi

Natural Feature
Waterfront dining tables on Symi Island, with colourful buildings and tree-speckled hills in the background
© freeartist / Getty Images

This far-flung island in the Dodecanese may not be a popular destination among visitors, but this is probably why the main town, Symi, has retained its authentic charm. It was once a centre of shipbuilding; the mythical King Nereus of Symi was even named in Homer’s Iliad as leading three ships to the battle of Troy. Today, it’s a network of narrow streets lined with colourful neoclassical mansions that seemingly tumble down the hillside towards the deep blue water’s edge. Climb to the top and drink in the views.

Agios Nikolaos, Crete

Natural Feature
Lake Voulismeni, with boats and restaurants lining the shore and whitewashed and pastel-coloured buildings behind
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo

Agios Nikolaos, on the northeastern shores of Crete, is certainly a beautiful town. It’s much smaller than Heraklion and Chania, which only lends to its charm. Surrounded by the sea on three sides, it’s a real waterfront town, lined with old-world bars and restaurants. At its centre, you’ll find the picturesque Lake Voulismeni – a deep body of water connected to the sea through an inlet – which is said to be bottomless. Make sure you pay a visit to the island of Spinalonga, where a leper colony was set until 1957; it’s the setting of Victoria Hislop’s best-selling novel, The Island (2005).

Mykonos Town, Mykonos

Natural Feature
A typical alley in Mykonos, Greece, with white-and-blue houses and lots of greenery and flowers
© SeppFriedhuber / Getty Images

While Mykonos town is known for partying, there’s plenty of charm beyond the all-night bars and clubs. Admire the traditional Cycladic architecture as you stroll through the traffic-free alleyways towards the iconic windmills, formerly used to grind grain. Take a detour through Little Venice, where whitewashed houses perch precipitously over the water and narrow cut-throughs meander down to the water’s edge.

Naxos Town, Naxos

Natural Feature
People checking out the Portara on the islet of Palatia, with Naxos town in the background
© Michele Falzone / Getty Images

Less touristy than its famous neighbours Mykonos and Santorini, Naxos is one of the largest islands in the Cyclades. Naxos town, along with the main harbour, is the first sight you will see on arrival, protected by an impressive Venetian castle. The streets feature those distinctive whitewashed walls and vibrant blue doors, just without the crowds. The town is connected to the islet of Palatia via a long paved road, where you’ll find the unfinished Temple of Apollo or the Portara, the trademark of the island.

Galaxidi, Central Greece

Architectural Landmark
Pastel-coloured buildings lining the streets of Galaxidi, with the Corinthian Gulf in the foreground
© GERMAINE ALEXAKIS / Alamy Stock Photo

Galaxidi was once home to a busy port. Now a famous yachting destination, it features a vast waterfront with colourful streets lined with two-storey houses, cosy cafes and tavernas. Much of its former glory has been preserved – learn about the town’s history at the Maritime Museum of Galaxidi. Every year, thousands of visitors flock here for the coloured flour fight, held at the end of the carnival season in February.

Kardamyli, Mani

Architectural Landmark
Stone houses with blue shutters and lots of greenery dotting an area in Kardamyli
© iStock / Getty Images Plus

Between the Messinian Gulf and the Taÿgetos Mountains, the bright blue Mediterranean waters contrast with the dark green forests outside Kardamyli. The upper part of town, where the old town lies, is the most picturesque, thanks to the imposing stone tower houses, Medieval castle and impressive church of Agios Spyridon. It’s also an ideal base for hikers who want to explore the Vyros Gorge. Why not skip the islands and explore this long-forgotten Peloponnese region instead?

Parikia, Paros

Architectural Landmark
Whitewashed buildings with red bougainvillaea and an orthodox church with a blue dome at sunset in Parikia
© iStock / Getty Images Plus

The largest town on the island of Paros, Parikia is often a mere stop-off on the way to Santorini – but it’s well worth spending a little more time in this harbour town. Quaint boutiques, cute coffee shops and traditional restaurants populate Parikia. You’ll no doubt stop at every corner to photograph a bougainvillaea-covered house or a cat sleeping on a blue doorstep. It’s also fairly flat, making it easy to explore on foot or by bicycle.

Nafpaktos, Central Greece

Architectural Landmark
A section of a stone wall with a tree at the Venetian port of Nafpaktos, with water on three sides and boats bobbing around
© iStock / Getty Images Plus

On the Corinthian Gulf, Nafpaktos is largely unknown to foreign visitors, but Greeks know it as one of the prettiest coastal towns in the country. Combining mountains and sea, it’s a popular weekend destination for Athenians. The town has managed to preserve its traditional character throughout the centuries, despite being at the centre of many battles, including Lepanto. Climb up to the imposing castle, where you can soak up views over the gulf, traditional neoclassical houses and the nearby beaches.

These recommendations were updated on March 23, 2022 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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