Kavouri, Athens
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The 9 best beaches in Athens

Get the best of both worlds at these nearby beaches, across the Riviera and beyond

John Ovans
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Athens – the cradle of Western civilisation, home of the Sacred Rock, famed for its monuments, a cultural centre of the world. But it’s Greece, and sometimes you just want beach, baby. And who can blame you? The city is beside the Aegean sea, with turquoise waters and blissful sands to be enjoyed in under 25 minutes from the city centre – and some of this is accessible by public transport too.

Many sun-seekers head to the beaches found along the suburbs of the southeastern coast, recently renamed the Athens Riviera – running from Glyfada down to Varkiza, with Voula, Vari, and Vouliagmeni along the way amongst others. You might also decide to explore the series of beaches that punctuate the eastern side of the peninsula, or even day-trip to a nearby island from the port of Piraeus. They all offer something different, from cafés to spa treatments to bare stretches of nothing but beach (bring snacks!). Here are the best beaches near Athens.

How to get to the Riviera 

This is the location of six of the beaches on our list. A taxi directly from downtown to the Athens Riviera costs between €20 and €30 each way and takes between 20 minutes to the nearest beach when there’s no traffic to 90 minutes coming back from the farthest location if you happen to hit rush hour.

The Athens metro will get you some of the way, but not all of it – but you can always get the bus or taxi from the last stop at Ellinikón if you want to go further down the coast. You can also take the tram from Syntagma which goes all the way to Voula – perhaps not the fastest on the way there, but it’s cheap and you won’t get stuck in the traffic that tends to clog up the roads particularly in the later afternoon on the journey home. Plus you’ll enjoy some lovely views of the coast along the way. 

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John Ovans is a travel writer based between London and Athens. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines 

Best beaches in Athens

1. Kape

Best for: Island life

Distance from Athens: 59km

Admittedly this is a little on the far side, so better if you have a slightly longer stay in the city on the cards – but the route itself, the Mediterranean landscape at its best – almost makes it worth the trip alone. Majestically overlooked by the Temple of Poseidon – a stunning site which you should visit at the same time if you can – Kape is a tranquil and remote stretch of golden sand that is reached by descending a hundred steps.

Many locals regard it as the most beautiful beach near Athens – like something from the Cyclades that has been picked up and deposited in Attica – and it’s true that swimming below the shrine to an ancient sea god feels nothing short of mythological. It’s a fabulous spot for snorkelling, with tiny beaches and coves nearby and fine pebbles that won’t hurt your feet, and as it’s furthest from the city, naturally the water is the cleanest too. The only downside is how crowded it can get on weekends.

2. Kavouri

Best for: Jaw-dropping sunsets

Distance from Athens: 20km, on the Athens Riviera

Did you know that not all beaches on the coast here face the sunset? Probably not. Well, Kavouri, located in Vouliagmeni, a beautiful bay along the Riviera, is one of the lucky ones. With a small series of gulfs and peninsulas, this public beach consists of two separate stretches of sand, Mikro Kavouri and Megalo Kavouri, meaning ‘little crab’ and ‘big crab’.

The former consists of a large, shallow and reasonably rock-less cove that’s away from the busy roads and great for young children to thrash about in, the larger a scenic beach lined with pine trees and impressive mansions. This is one of the best beaches in Vouliagmeni (even if it’s a little hectic), and you’ll find some great waterfront cafés and restaurants – check out Garbi for a proper seafood lunch.  

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3. Limanakia

Best for: The LGBTQ+ community

Distance from Athens: 13km, on the Athens Riviera

With its delicious waters and wild, wind-beaten pale rocks that you can leap off, Limanakia is probably the closest you’ll get to a taste of island swimming near Athens. A series of rocky cliffs, Limanakia – literally meaning ‘small coves’ – is divided into three distinct areas, and you should probably know exactly where you intend to go, lest you stumble across something you weren’t expecting.

Limanakia B is a famous nudist beach, mainly frequented by gay men and other members of the LGBTQI+ community. Descend down a fairly rough path (bring some proper trainers with you) and reach a cove filled with a lot of nudity, from solo sunbathers to groups of friends chatting. A bit further down, Limanakia C is known to be a cove for cruising – so only head here if you're looking to get into some slightly more spicy seaside behaviour.

Limanakia A is frequented by a younger, straight crowd, with wooden platforms and a café. Less rugged but no less beautiful. Be warned, there isn’t much phone signal, but unplugging for a while is good for you.

4. Agistri

Best for: Climbers and adventurers 

Distance from Athens: 40km

How to get there: Take the metro to Piraeus port, and take an hour-long ferry from here. You can buy your tickets in advance by downloading the ‘Ferry Hopper’ app.

Should you wish to do some island hopping (or just one), Agistri is the best. About ten minutes’ walk from Skala port is Chalikiada Beach, a large white pebble beach cosseted between golden cliffs. Be warned, these are a difficult climb down, so bring a proper pair of shoes and be prepared to do a bit of scrabbling. The waters are pale green-blue – superb for snorkelling – and there’s a small cove to swim round to. The village just above feels a world away, but has a number of good tavernas for lunch once you’ve made it back up the cliff.

Chalikiada follows an informal custom often found in Greece of bathers wearing decreasing amounts of swimwear the further along the beach you venture. While the near end is for groups in one-pieces, the mid section tends towards topless sunbathers (or what we might call naked-adjacent swimmers), then at the far end there’s usually a few committed naturists nestling by the rocks. It is such a paradise that you a) can scarcely believe you hopped off the metro less than 75 minutes before and b) it suddenly feels entirely natural to go completely starkers, even if that’s not usually your jam. 

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5. Lake Vouliagmeni

Best for: Being boujie on a budget

Distance from Athens: 25km, on the Athens Riviera

Right next door to Astir is Lake Vouliagmeni, not a beach per se, but literally beach adjacent, with the public one right next door. This idyllic enclosed cove has a large, calm body of mineral-rich water that’s a mixture between fresh and salt – well-regarded for its healing properties – with a cliff face atmospherically rising over a large cave. 

Built into all this is a large swathe of wooden decking set with sunbeds and umbrellas. It’s very White Lotus, and there’s a full spa and beach bar food, smoothies and cocktails from the restaurant. If you can’t hack getting sand everywhere, Lake Vouliagmeni is a supremely comfortable alternative. Entry is 16 for a full day of dipping in and out, and golden hour here is quite something; the light catches the bronze rocks as visitors sit perched on the edge of the decking, sipping cocktails and enjoying a fish pedicure you don’t have to pay for. 

6. Astir

Best for: High rollers 

Distance from Athens: 27km, on the Athens Riviera

The legendary peninsula of Astir probably takes the biscuit for the most luxe beach near the city, and is home to a private upscale beach club that has long been the place to see and be seen. After a post-war tourism push by the Greek government in the 1950s, Vouliagemeni – already popular with the Athenian upper classes – was also discovered by the international jet-set, including the likes of Jackie O and The Beatles. Many stayed in Astir Palace, imbuing Vouliagmeni with a near-mythical reputation for old-school glamour that endures to this day.

Today it is home to a yacht marina, posh villas and what is now Greece’s only Four Seasons hotel. Along this private, secluded stretch of golden sand you’ll find elegant white umbrellas, sunbeds and cabanas – and while there are just 1000 spots available, don’t expect frantic Tenerife inclusive lounger scrambling as you can reserve these online ahead of time – along with a spa with wellness treatments, pop-up shops selling designer resort wear. Naturally all of this comes with a chunky entrance fee; around 60 for two sunbeds and an umbrella on a weekday and 100 at the weekend for the same (and even higher if you book in advance). 

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7. Schinias

Best for: Kids and families

Distance from Athens: 47km

How to get there: Coming by car is the best option but you can also get a KTEL bus from Pedion Areas station (a few minutes’ walk from Victoria station on metro Line 1) as well.

Sitting along the city’s northern coastline, the edge of Marathon Bay, Schinias is an enormous swathe of sandy beach that stretches right down the coastline for about five kilometres – and as a result, it rarely feels overcrowded. The majority of this is free and  underdeveloped, with the scenic fragrant pine forest and rising mountains right behind. 

Some Athenians camp here during the warmer months – although note that this is an environmentally protected national park and great care should be taken should you wish to do this yourself – and occasional stiff winds mean that it’s also popular with windsurfers, and there’s a school here too if you want to hire a board. There’s a handful of good tavernas where you can take your lunch, but much of it is also refreshingly underdeveloped – although the beach is still cleaned every day. 

8. Voula

Best for: Amenities (and ease)

Distance from Athens: 22km, on the Athens Riviera

The midpoint between Glyfada and Vouliagmeni, Voula is home to two long sandy beaches along the Athens Riviera. Just down the road is the site of the Ellinikón regeneration project, Athens’ old airport which is currently transforming into a multi-billion euro smart city. The city’s coastline is changing too, with much of Voula under development for the past few years: every summer a luxurious new beach club, bar or restaurant pops up, and even nail salons, tennis courts, and glamping spots are all now right by the waterside. These days you’re sadly not likely to find authentic Greek tavernas or kafenio a stone’s throw from the sea, although there is a charming food market on a Saturday morning for some old-style authenticity.

Much of the beach is enclosed in metal railings, although it’s worth bearing in mind that all beaches in Greece are owned by the state and you should technically be able to visit any of them free of charge. If you enter via a club they will likely try to charge you an entry fee, so many just squeeze through gaps in the fences. To the right of the main beach, through a break in the fence behind a tree, you’ll find a couple of pleasant, sheltered coves, and a gay beach a little further along, and you’re not far from the bars in case you want to retreat from the sun for lunch or an iced coffee.  

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9. Edem

Best for: Time-short travellers 

Distance from Athens: 7km, on the Athens Riviera

If you’re tight on time during your trip but fancy a tan, then look (and travel) no further than Edem – just 25 minutes on the tram from Syntagma. The public beach is the start of the Athenian Riviera in the southern suburb of Palaio Faliro. Due to its proximity to the city centre, it is generally always busy even out of season, and you get a proper cross-section of city dwellers – from families and groups of teenagers larking about to solo sunbathers and tourists getting a quick dip in.

The broad stretch of sand has rentable straw umbrellas and sunbeds but also plenty of space for those who just want to lay out on their towels. Lunch can be taken at the seafood restaurant which serves up decent fare with ocean views, and there’s a cafe for coffee and snacks. Edem is a true urban beach with pigeons instead of seagulls and honking traffic right behind you, but lovely nonetheless – and a novelty for those who don’t have the seaside at their fingertips. You can practically flop out of the tram, the platform swirling with sand from just metres away, straight onto the beach.

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