by Katherine Poseidon
A trip to Athens is not complete without visiting the Parthenon, digging into a Greek salad, or strolling through the picturesque streets of Plaka (although as we keep saying, the Greek capital offers much more you shouldn't miss!), but enjoying the deep blue Greek waters may not be at the top of your list for Athens holidays. We get it - you've seen pictures of a few of the best beaches in Greece in Crete, Mykonos or Santorini, and you're ready to swim during some Greek island hopping adventures (for which you may want to check out our guide to make the most of this unique experience).
While we can sing the praises of the best Greek islands for days, we also urge you not to leave a dip in the ocean only for your Greek island holidays - taking a break from Athens' amazing sightseeing by visiting the Athens Riviera is really one of the best things to do in Athens and a great way to round out your visit.
If you're wondering where to swim in Athens and the Attica peninsula, we've gathered a list of some of the best so you can make the most of the Greek summer (and late spring and early fall!) - the nearest beach is closer than you think!
The best things to do in Athens for first time visitors
South of the Athens city centre lies the gem of the Athens Riviera, and if you pass through the beachy suburbs of Glyfada and Voula, it’s easy to forget that you’re just a hop skip and a jump away from the Greek capital. A drive down the seaside road from Vouliagmeni is one of the best things to do in Athens in the summer - the road winds along next to the sea and it feels like you’re on an island. There are a number of fantastic beaches to check out along this road, so load up the car and enjoy! You can even do your own tour of the southern beaches - and let us know which is your favourite!
#1 Asteras Glyfada
So close to Athens you can get there on the tram, the beach at Asteras in Glyfada extends all along the little peninsula and offers not only a dip in the sea, but a variety of other amenities too. In the resort complex, you can also find the Balux Café - the House Project, a unique space designed to resemble a rambling beach house, including a pool (just to switch it up), a kid-friendly playground, and a great kitchen for when hunger strikes.
This is a great choice for a bargain day by the sea if you don’t have access to a car - entry is 4 euros, 6 euros on the weekend, and includes sun chair and umbrella, and access to changing areas and showers - and if you're looking for more, you don't have to go far!
Alternative tours of Athens
#2 Astir Beach Vouliagmeni
This beach is one of the classics of the Athenian Riviera, and Astir Beach provides literally everything you might want for a day by the seaside. Squishy sun chairs for relaxing under the umbrella, full showers for rinsing off afterwards, a snack bar for nibbling, free wifi, organised beach sports… you can relax and feel sure that all your needs will be catered for. A little button on your sun chair means you can order munchies without even getting up. The beach can get crowded, especially at the weekends, but there’s always a sign at the entrance that announces if the lounge chairs have all been rented out. If you're on a budget, the nearby beaches of Vouliagmeni and Kavouri are good alternatives.
Make the most of your time on the beach in Athens (and out of Athens!)
#3 Yabanaki Beach, Varkiza
A little further past Vouliagmeni, Yabanki Beach is another gem of the Athens Riviera, and easily accessible from Athens. Inside the beach again you’ll find all the amenities to enjoy a full day on the water, from sun chairs and umbrellas to massages to a huge variety of active things to do. This is also a great beach for kids, and they offer more than 20 seaside activities, including windsurf rentals and SUP lessons.
#4 Althea/Skalakia Agias Marinas
If an organised beach with all the amenities isn’t quite your style, continue a little farther on the road toward Sounion to reach Skalakia Agias Marinas. This is the closest of Attica’s ‘secret beaches’ - a picturesque little cove with golden sand and turquoise waters. There is not much around here in terms of refreshment or showers, so you’ll have to bring everything you need, but it also means that it’s usually not too crowded. As the sun starts to go down don’t rush back to Athens - the sunset view from here is magical!
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#5 Grand Beach Lagonissi
For a totally luxurious beach experience, the Grand Resort Lagonissi (it is indeed one of the grandest hotels in Athens!) covers the entire Lagonissi peninsula and offers the full five-star experience. This classy spot offers all the usual amenities (umbrellas, beach chairs, etc.) in a truly magical setting, especially when you come out of your reverie and realise how close you are to Athens.
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#6 K.A.P.E. Legraina
Also along the road towards Sounio, there is a little beach hidden among the rocks that will make you think you’re on a Greek island. A small canteen and parked cars are the main indications that you’re in the right place. Walk down the little stairway to the rocks and be amazed - this inlet conceals clear water and smooth sand that you’ll have to pinch yourself to remember you’re less than an hour from Athens.
Day trips from Athens you don't want to miss
The Cape of Sounio is at the tip of the Attica peninsula, jutting out into the Aegean Sea. A swim here is not only about as far from Athens as you can get without a boat, but you’ll also get to take in the incredible Temple of Poseidon crowning the cape. Channel your inner sea god(ess), and it’s easy to see why the Ancient Greeks chose this spot to honour the ocean deity. The beach at the Hotel Aegeon is lovely and sandy, and you can rent an umbrella and lounge chair for 5 euros, or just stretch out on the sand - and this is about the best way to enjoy that incredible sunset view, which is one of the best things to do in Athens!
discover the best Things to do in Athens this summer
For a totally different vibe, the northern coast of Attica also has its own enticing coastline. It is super accessible by car directly from Athens using the Attiki Odos (general direction towards the airport), but the road is not quite as picturesque as the beach-side drive on the southern coast. In addition to the beaches themselves, a major plus with this area is that you avoid post-beach-day traffic that can often clog up the road back to Athens from the southern suburbs.
#8 Pevkodasos Schinia
60km away from Athens will land you at pure sand and clear water, right on the edge of a shady pine forest. This natural environment is totally different from the southern coast, and you can enjoy it either directly from the sand or in the organised part of the beach where you can stretch out over two sun chairs and an umbrella for 5 euros, plus a coffee and water thrown in for fun. This is a great family-friendly beach, as it’s spacious and pretty calm, with lots of shade and great sand for building castles!
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#9 Kokkino Limanaki Rafina
This beach is just a few minutes away from the port of Rafina, and you’d be forgiven if you thought it’d be a weird place to swim, so close to where the ferry boats heading to and from the Greek islands dock. However, the water is actually incredibly clean and clear, and the location is ideal if you’re coming or going from Rafina and want to take a quick dip to refresh. (Stopping for a swim after getting off a ferry is one of the best things to do in the summer!) There’s plenty of space to stretch out a towel and sunbathe a little too, but don’t relax too much so that you miss your boat!
The Eastern edge of the Attica peninsula is also great for a quick dip - with easy access from the Attiki Odos (towards Koropi) and the added plus of avoiding the traffic that you could encounter on the southern coast. These beaches are often fairly quiet and are known as being nice and family-friendly, making them a good summer excursion from Athens with kids!
#10 Erotospilia Porto Rafti
In the area of Porto Rafti, this is one of the more happening beaches on the eastern coast. The beach is surrounded by picturesque rocks (great for snorkeling and/or stretching out for sunbathing!). It can get busy and there’s usually beachy music in the background , but it’s a great spot to chill out and enjoy the beach bar, and even make new friends!
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#11 Kakia Thalassa Keratea
About one hour from the Athens city-centre, you can find one of the cleanest beaches so close to the city. A huge rocky outcropping protects this beach from the sea, and there are actually two areas to swim divided by a little church perched on the rocks. The beach is sheltered from the wind and waves, and offers both a beach bar for the grown-ups and swings for the kids.
#12 Pasalimani Beach Lavrio
At the tip of the Attica peninsula on the eastern side (just around the corner from the Temple of Poseidon), lies one of the best-kept secrets of Athens beaches, Pasalimani beach (also known as Limani Pasa) in Lavrion. This magical beach isn’t as well known as some of the others, and its distance from Athens keeps heavy traffic away. Stretching out on a quiet beach alone is one of the best things to do in Athens, and this is a great spot for it. The beach is sandy and golden, with deep blue water, and clean shorelines - it’s hard to resist diving right in!
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#13 Bonus Beach - Psatha
If you have time to get away, 66 kilometers east of Athens you can reach the Gulf of Corinth, where even more dreamy beaches await. Check out Psatha, near the town of Alepohori, where the water is crystal clear and the beach is pebbled with soft round stones. It’s not an organised beach so no umbrellas for rent, but it offers a 2.5 kilometre stretch of pure relaxation and bliss. Who needs the islands anyway?