Combine exploring ancient Greek history with a beach break on a trip to Athens. Whether it’s a sandy strip close to Glyfada’s ritzy shops and cafés or a secret cove near Cape Sounion, these beaches on the outskirts of Athens should be on your radar.
Greece is known for its beaches, but who would have guessed that there are plenty of great bathing places less than a one-hour ride from the Acropolis? Stretching from Palaio Faliro to Cape Sounion, you’ll find sandy swathes fringed by the azure Aegean Sea, hidden coves where fine pebbles shimmer beneath perfectly clear water and hip beach hangouts where you can dance all night to the rhythm of the waves.
It’s worth staying in the luxurious Grand Resort Lagonissi if you want to fully enjoy this beach-lined peninsula 24 kilometres (15 miles) from Athens’s city centre. Long stretches of sandy shore and shallow waters alternate with hidden coves and pebble beaches. If you don’t stay in the hotel, you’ll need to pay to enter the resort’s Grand Beach, where facilities include a stylish café at the end of a wooden pier.
Getting here: It’s an hour-and-a-half ride on the number 122 bus; alternatively, take the metro to Elliniko and hop on the number 122 bus from here.
Undoubtedly a highlight of the chic Athenian Riviera, Astir Beach is surrounded by some of the city’s most luxurious hotels – including the Astir Palace, where Barack Obama once stayed. Surrounded by lush vegetation, this beach has plentiful parasols and sunbeds along with stylish bars and restaurants to chill at when the sun is blazing.
Getting here: You can get most of the way to Astir Beach using public transport. Take the tram and get off at Voula, or board the metro and stop at Elliniko.
Set on of the city’s most scenic coastal walkways, the very swanky Divani Palace hotel overlooks this pretty peninsula and covers several kilometres. The beaches with free entry are crowded in summer, especially in areas near cafés, but the farther you walk along the coastal path, the more chance you have of finding a quiet spot.
Getting here: Kavouri is around 20km (12mi) from Athens – it’s quickest to drive or take a taxi, but you can also get the metro to Elliniko then jump on the number 122 bus.
With plenty of water sports activities on offer and a plethora of facilities (showers, sunbeds and seafood tavernas), Vouliagmeni’s endless sand and pebble beach is a magnet for families in summer, and entry (but not sunbed rental) is free. If you’re seeking more peaceful surroundings, it’s worth heading farther along the coast, where you’ll find a string of peaceful coves, known as limanakia.
Getting here:Vouliagmeni Beach is about 20km (12mi) from Athens. You can get a taxi from Syntagma Square or, for a cheaper but longer alternative, take the metro to Elliniko then hop on the number 122 bus.
This family-friendly (free-to-access) beach’s shallow, warm waters fringed with soft sand makes it ideal for toddlers. If you want to escape boisterous kids, walk farther down the beach – but make sure you bring your own parasol as there aren’t many facilities. There are also a few low-key tavernas where you can sup on fresh seafood with your toes in the sand.
Getting here: Varkiza is 22km (14mi) from Athens’s centre and there’s easy access from the main Poseidonos coast road or via Attiki Odos highway, either via car or bus number 122.
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This cluster of beaches 16km (10mi) south of Athens centre is popular with Athenians, who come here to enjoy the clear waters, trendy cafés, chic restaurants and lively bars. The prettiest parts are near the resort’s small fishing port – and don’t worry if you forget to bring a swimsuit, because Glyfada is famed for its shopping malls.
Getting here: From Syntagma Square it will take about 40 minutes to get to Glyfada Beach on the tram. The best stop to get off at is Kentro Istioploias.
This strip of sand near the buzzing Nālu café is the city’s nightlife hub in summer. There are plenty of comfy sunbeds where you can lounge as you sip cocktails served from a line of bars that serenade beachgoers with chill music during the day. At night the entire beach becomes a party hotspot, especially on weekends when there are frequent live music events.
Getting here: Akanthus is set along Poseidonos Avenue, 11km (7mi) from the city centre. Take the tram and get off at Zephyros.
Farther along the coastline towards Cape Sounio, Legrena’s pretty silk sand and white pebble beaches separated by rocky coves are well worth travelling for. Once a well-kept secret, KAPE Beach, which was previously home to a centre for renewable energy research, is definitely the most stunning – just bear in mind that the areas to the right of the car park are nudist-friendly. Make sure to bring water and snacks as there are few facilities here.
Getting here: Legrena is 56km (35mi) from the centre of Athens and only a few kilometres west of Cape Sounion, so it’s worth hiring a car – especially if you plan to visit the Temple of Poseidon.
Flisvos, gateway to the Athenian Riviera, might not be the most peaceful city beach, but it’s the closest to centre, which makes it ideal for a quick trip. Ignore beaches lining Poseidonos Avenue and head for the ones near the upmarket marina, with its jogging paths, cool cafés and great nightlife. Here, you’ll find a pretty (if crowded) sandy strip that is perfect for a quick dip.
Getting here: The Faliro neighbourhood is only eight kilometres (five miles) from the city centre. OASA buses run every half hour from Syngrou-Fix metro stop and take approximately 20 minutes.