The best beaches near Athens

by Sreesha Ghosh

Trips to Athens rarely feature its deep blue waters—the archeological sightseeing is quick to take precedence over any sandy counterparts. That’s understandable—no trip to Athens is complete without a visit to the Acropolis, the picturesque Plaka or a couple of her museums. And when you think of Greek beaches, it’s natural to jump to Crete or Mykonos or Santorini before you do Athens. But the truth is, with a capital lapped by the Aegean Sea, it would be a grave error to leave the ocean-dipping to a Greek island holiday. In this list, you’ll discover some of the best beaches in the Athens Riviera—the perfect getaway after a long day of busy sightseeing.

ASTIR BEACH
Hours: 8:00 a.m. — 9:00 p.m.

Located at the high end of the Athens Riviera, in the chic southern suburb of Vouliagmeni, Astir Beach is the epitome of ultimate luxury. Largely considered by both families and celebrities alike to be the place to be in the summer, the beach offers a full range of high-quality services, from free WiFi across the beach, to the ability to pre-book sun-loungers, and of course, a wide selection of coffees, ice creams, food and drinks. A little button on your sun-chair allows you to order snacks without even getting up. Other amenities on the beach include lockers, beach towels, changing cabins, medical assistance and a non-smoking exterior area. One can water ski, jet ski or play sand sports—but if the athletic activity doesn’t feel like the way to go, you can also curl up and pamper yourself at Orloff Spa. Astir Beach also holds the Platinum Lounge, with a capacity of 80 persons and capable hosting anything from theme parties to business cocktails, making it a main reference point for summer socializing, be it social or corporate.

Unfortunately, all of this comes at a fairly steep price. Its entrance fee is about 25 euros during the week and 40 euros during the weekend per adult. If you're on a budget, the nearby beaches of Vouliagmeni and Kavouri are good alternatives. Also consider pre-booking, especially on weekends.

ASTERAS GLYFADA
Hours: 8:30 a.m. — 8:00 p.m.

Located along the Attican peninsula, Asteras Glyfada is an immensely popular beach resort that’s so close to Athens it’s accessible by tram. The beach offers a stunningly picturesque setting for you to kick your shoes off to and unwind on an allocated sun-bed, as well as astoundingly clear blue waters to take a summer swim in. The Asteras resort complex features the House Project, a unique space designed to resemble an unwalled beach house, equipped with a pool, a kid-friendly playground, and a fully stacked kitchen. Spend your day buried in the large sofas and the cosy atmosphere or opt for a quieter session at the library. Should you feel antsy, the playroom area is geared up with board games, a pool table and a flat screen TV. As you swim in the pool, pop by the Balux Cafe, where you can enjoy an array of fresh juices and exotic cocktails.

This is especially convenient if you don’t have access to a car. The entrance fee is 4 euros during the week and 6 euros during the weekend per adult, and includes a sun-chair, umbrella, and access to changing areas and showers. And remember if you’re looking for more, just walk own over to the House Project!

YABANAKI BEACH (also VARKIZA BEACH)
Hours: 9:00 a.m. — sunset

Located in the suburb of Varkiza, Yabanaki Beach is a what a beach would be if a beach was an amusement park. Equipped with a full stack of services, guests can consume a range of options for coffee, refreshments, fast food, ice cream, seafood mezze and ouzo. Inside the beach, you’ll be able to access all the amenities you need to enjoy a full day in the water, from sun-chairs and umbrellas to massages and water sports. With over 20 seaside activities, Yabanaki offers a wide array of water sports from waterskiing and banana boats for adults to windsurf rentals and stand-up paddle-boarding lessons for smaller children. All in all, the sun-beds, pavilions and torches create an electric, exotic atmosphere. The Moana Beach House can host beach parties and other events, fresh fish is served at the Isalos tavern and Holy Spirit is good for a cocktail or two.

The entrance fee is 5 euros per head during the week including an umbrella and sun loungers. On weekends, the entrance fee is 6 euros but you’ll need to pay an additional 5 euros for an umbrella. Entrance after 7:00 p.m. is always free. To get there via public transport take the metro to the Elliniko station and then the 171 bus or the 122 bus.

GRAND BEACH LAGONISSI 
Hours: 9:00 a.m. — 8:00 p.m.

This beach covers the entire Lagonissi peninsula, and is as spectacular in its aesthetics as it is close to Athens, almost unbelievably so. Ideal for a day-long visit, the beach offers a wide range of amenities from the classic umbrella and beach-chair to a series of different water sports for adults to participate in. Other facilities include a cinema, volley court, beach bar, changing rooms, medical assistance and free Wi-Fi. Visitors can unwind by the Grand Pier jetty-bar while admiring the waterfront view and enjoying the sea breeze, accompanied by soft music, fresh juice and a stunning sunset. Alternatively, you can dip your toes into either the sea or the swimming pool should you feel like cooling down under the sun. After you’re done, you may access a number of dining options like Poseidon Tavern for a casual dining experience.

The entrance fee is 12 euros per person on weekdays and 30 euros per person on weekends. Note that if you bring a car, you will have to pay a parking price.

THALASSEA
Hours: 9:00 a.m. — 8:00 p.m.

Located in the southern suburb of Voula, Thalassea is one of the most popular swimming spots across the Athens Riviera—the sandy beach is familiar amongst local Athenians for its wide range of services and high quality sun-beds, as well as for the lively beach parties that occur during the summer that often feature performances by renowned Greek artists. If you’re looking for a place where you can cool down and unwind, Thalassea is as good as it gets.

The entrance fee is around 5 euros per person during thwack and 6 euros per head over the weekend. The beach is easily accessible via public transport: either take the metro to Elliniko station and then the 122 bus or take the tram to the terminal stop of Asklipio Voulas.

EDEM
Hours: Open 24/7

The closest beach to the Athenian city centre, Edem is located near the boundary of the districts of Palio Faliro and Alimos, with crystal clear waters and sandy beaches. One of the easiest free beaches to get to via public transportation, Edem is also incredibly charming. Aside from swimmers, you’re likely to see people walking along the romantic seafront promenade or playing against each other on a large chessboard built into the pavement, all enjoying the warm weather and sea breeze. Named after the taverna that’s set right by the water, Edem is the perfect beach for tourists with little time—in fact, just enough time for a brief and pleasant swim in the sea.

There is no entrance fee; accessing the beach is completely free for all people. It’;s also extremely easy to reach. From Syntagma, it takes about thirty minutes by tram to the Edem stop, which is just steps away from its namesake.

K.A.P.E. BEACH
Hours: Open 24/7

Named after the acronym for the nearby centre for renewable energy sources, KAPE Beach is the closest beach on this list to resemble one of a Greek island. Hidden from bird’s eye view, it might even miss you altogether as you drive down the road towards Sounio. This secret spot is absolutely stunning—with a jaw-dropping view of the Aegean and a seafloor covered with crisp, clear waters that get abruptly deep, you might just forget you’re just less than an hour’s drive away from Athens. Take a magical swim in the sea, or pick a cold drink up at the small canteen nearby.

KAPE Beach has no entrance fee; it is open and accessible to all. Roughly about an hour’s drive away from the city centre, you’ll need to walk down a short stairway to the rocks. If you’re not sure where you are, keep your eyes peeled for a small canteen or a few parked cars—they’re good indications that you’re in the right place.

SOUNION
Hours: Open 24/7

The last beach on our list, Sounion is publicly accessible and completely free. It borders the Cape of Sounio, at the tip of the Attican peninsula and jutting out into the Aegean Sea. A few hundred meters from the Temple of Poseidon (a stunning archaeological site) and 70 km from Athens, this is about the farthest you can get from Athens without a boat. What sets Sounion apart from the other beaches on this list is the Temple of Poseidon—to have it in your view even on a beach allows you to feel like you’re soaking up as much ancient Greek culture as you are sunlight. And when you dip your toes into the clear waters, or watch as the radiant sunset ripples across the sky, it’s not hard to imagine why the Greek chose this spot to honour Poseidon, god of the ocean.

Most of the beach’s amenities are free, but some can be paid for. For example, you can rent an umbrella and lounge chair for 5 euros but laying on the sand makes an equally good alternative. If you end up visiting Sounion, remember to visit the tavernas for dinner—they make some really great seafood mezze dishes.

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©Thanassis Karatzas

©Thanassis Karatzas