Where to Stay in Greece: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

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Heading to Greece this year for some summer sun? Here’s a comprehensive overview of beach resorts in Greece – to help you choose where to stay in Greece, which island or part of the mainland to choose, and where to find the best beach resort hotels and sandy beaches.

This is a beach-lover’s guide to Greece and it covers:

  • which part of Greece to stay in
  • the best luxury resorts and beach hotels in Greece
  • the main beach resorts in Greece; the best places to stay for nightlife, cheap packages and a younger crowd
  • the best quiet resorts and seaside villages; the best places to stay for couples, families and nature
  • the best beach resorts and hotels in the Ionian, Cyclades, Dodecanese, Northern Aegean, and Sporades island groups
  • the best beach resorts and hotels in the Athenian Riviera, Halkidiki and Peloponnese regions

Beach Resorts in Greece – An Overview

Quiet beach on Corfu
Rovinia, Corfu

Greece has a huge and varied coastline. There truly is something for everyone – the catch is that you might have to take a ferry to reach it. But there are now several airports that receive international flights and a handful more with connecting flights to Athens, so there are many parts of the country open to you if you don’t want to use the ferry.

Getting There and Around

Airport: The main international airport is Athens, but there are also international airports at Thessaloniki, Preveza, Volos, Kalamata, Corfu, Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete – Chania, Crete – Heraklion, Kos, Samos, Lesvos, Lemnos, Karpathos, Skiathos, and Rhodes.

Domestic airports with connecting flights to Athens include: Chios, Astypaleia, Ikaria, Kalymnos, Kythira, Milos, Naxos, Paros, Skyros, Syros.

You can often find cheap flights on budget European airlines to some of these airports – I recommend using Skyscanner to find the lowest fares.

Bus: Public buses in Greece are run by an umbrella organisation called KTEL. Availability of online timetables in English varies by destination, but the website Rome2Rio works reasonably well for finding rough information

Ferry: Crete, the islands of the Argo-Saronic, Dodecanese and Cyclades groups connect with the ports in Athens, but not necessarily with each other. Ferries to the Northern Aegean leave from both Athens and Thessaloniki, except Thassos which connects with Kavala or Keramoti. The Ionian islands connect with several ports on the western mainland but it’s often easier to fly. For the Sporades, take the ferry from Volos or Mantoudi on Evia. You can book tickets in advance and check timetables through Ferryhopper.

For more information on ferries and island-hopping read:

The Ultimate Greek Island-Hopping Guide

The Secret Greek Ferry Pass You Need to Know

Valtos Beach, Parga
Valtos Beach, Parga

The Absolute Best Places to Stay in Greece 

Top 11 Luxury Hotels in Greece:

  1. Perivolas (Santorini)
  2. Grace (Santorini)
  3. Calilo (Ios)
  4. Amanzoe (Peloponnese)
  5. Westin Resort, Costa Navarino (Peloponnese)
  6. Katikies (Santorini)
  7. Cavo Tagoo (Mykonos)
  8. Elivi (Skiathos)
  9. Sani Asterias (Halkidiki)
  10. Four Seasons Astir Palace (Athens)
  11. Daios Cove (Crete)

Which Part of Greece to Choose?

map of Greece

Ionian Islands and Parga

Collage of beaches in the Ionian Islands

The Ionians are easy to reach thanks to the numerous international airports (Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Preveza on the mainland) served by both charter and budget airlines, and ferry connections with Italy.

The islands are famously green compared to their Aegean counterparts, and their wests coasts are strung with dramatic limestone cliff beaches. The landscape is mountainous with scenic coastlines. Pretty coves with pebble beaches are more common than sand though there are some golden sand beaches. The area is popular with package tour operators and you can find a wide range of accommodation (including some bargain packages) although some of the more touristy destinations are not so well set up for independent tourism.

The best luxury hotels in the Ionian islands are:

The party resorts are Laganas on Zakynthos and Kavos on Corfu, both aimed at the young and cheap crowd (though not as wild as they used to be).

The whole island is family-friendly but particularly along the east coast where the waters are calmer. beach resorts include 

For small and quiet resorts check out Agios Giorgios (NW), Paleokastritsa and Agios Gordios on Corfu, Lourdas on Kefalonia, and the Vasilikos Peninsula on Zakynthos, plus anywhere on Ithaca and Paxos. The finest sand beaches are on little Antipaxos however there’s very little accommodation, it’s more of a daytrip destination.

The coves around Kalami in north-east Corfu are particularly pretty, as is the seaside town and scenery of Parga on the nearby mainland which is part of the wider Epirus region. Close by are the stunning lagoon beaches of Syvota and some lovely resort hotels.

The Ionians are renowned for their watersports, particularly Nydri and Vassiliki on Lefkada. Sailing flotillas often start from here or Gouvia on Corfu.

Read more:

Where to Stay on Corfu: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Kefalonia: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Lefkada: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Zakynthos: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the Ionian Islands

Cyclades Islands

Collage of beaches in the Cyclades

If your notion of a Greek getaway starts and ends with whitewashed sugarcube villages, sandy beaches and turquoise waters then you should head for the Cyclades island chain. There are 24 inhabited islands in the Cyclades including the popular destinations Mykonos and Santorini, and it’s also the best cluster of islands to visit if you want to try island-hopping thanks to its many ferry connections. Mykonos and Santorini both have international airports, and you can catch domestic flights to Syros and Milos.

Local life tends to be focused around the ports and harbour or old inland towns, but each island has at least a couple of beach resorts or villages.

The best luxury hotels in the Cyclades islands are:

Santorini is the number 1 tourist destination in Greece however it doesn’t have white sand beaches, visitors flock here instead for the atmosphere clifftop cave houses and sunset views. You can stay at one of the black sand beach resorts – Perissa and Kamari – which tend to be cheaper than the clifftop villages (Oia, Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli).

Mykonos is the most expensive Greek island, with an upmarket scene as well as impeccable sandy beaches and airport access. Psarrou is small and trendy, Elia long and lively, Platis Gialos lively and family-friendly.

Partygoers head to Paradise or Super Paradise, Mylopotas Beach on Ios, and the lower-key Naoussa on Paros. 

Paros and Naxos are popular with families for their wide golden sand beaches, traditional family-run accommodation and easy ferry access.

For small and quiet resorts consider Livadi on Serifos, Kamares and Platys Gialos on Sifnos, Pollonia on Milos, and the Little Cyclades mini island chain.

Read more:

Where to Stay in the Cyclades: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Mykonos: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Sporades Islands and the Pelion

Collage of beaches in the Sporades

Its location in the middle of the Aegean Sea just off the east coast of the Greek mainland means that the small Sporades group of islands is not very well known. But here you will find the island Skiathos which is popular with Europeans thanks to its sandy beaches, lovely forests, and variety of boat trips. The other islands in the group are low-key with beautiful natural scenery. So beautiful that they featured in the film Mamma Mia! 

Skiathos has an international airport which is mainly served by charter flights. Package holidays from northern Europe are common. You can also connect by ferry. The most famous beach resort is Koukounaries (pictured above) with its long sandy crescent of beach backed by pines.

The coast from here to Skiathos Town on the other side of the island is punctuated by small resorts – Troulos, Aghia Paraskevi, and Achladies both have hotels close to their long beaches. Stay in Skiathos Town if you prefer to be close to restaurants and nightlife, or nearby Megali Ammos for the best of both worlds. The prettiest area to stay is the tranquil Kanapitsa area.

The best hotels in the Sporades are:

The islands of Skopelos and Alonnissos are much quieter and more traditional, with mainly pebble beaches. They are connected to Skiathos and the mainland by daily ferries. You can find Mamma Mia! filming locations on both Skiathos and Skopelos.

Evia is the second-largest island in Greece but also one of the least visited by tourists, making it a good choice if you like camping and driving around unspoilt areas. Particularly as it’s connected by road to Athens. The main beach resort is at Pefki. From Evia you can also take a ferry to the remote island of Skyros where you will find wild scenery, wild horses, a burgeoning alternative scene, and the adjoining beach villages of Magazia and Molos.

Read more:

Where to Stay on Skiathos: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Beach Hopping Around Koukounaries, Skiathos

12 Beautiful Beaches on Skiathos

The beautiful Pelion peninsula is on the mainland, with the main Sporades islands just a stone’s throw across the water. It’s a short drive from the city of Volos where there’s also an international airport. It’s a lush and serene area, with stunning mountain villages and scenic coastline. There are no major resorts here, it’s the kind of place you come to get away from it all. 

The best hotel in the Pelion region is Six Keys (Afissos). Most of the accommodation is self catered though, and there are many villas tucked away – check out VRBO for vacation rentals.


Collage of beaches in Crete

Crete is the largest Greek island and one of its most popular tourist destinations thanks to its long sandy northern shore and international airports. The north coast is developed but the rest of the island is wild and mountainous, so it’s easy to escape the crowds. There’s something for everyone on Crete.

There are two international airports – Chania and Heraklion – plus ferry connections to Athens and Santorini.

The best luxury hotels in Crete are:

The cities of Chania and Rethymnon have become very popular thanks to their combination of handsome Venetian old quarters and extensive sandy coastline. There are many beach hotels in the suburbs and out along the coast, but also a handful of boutique hotels and hotels in the town centres. Another cluster of luxury hotels is found in the pretty beach resort of Elounda.

The biggest and busiest beach resorts are Malia and Hersonnissos near Heraklion, these are a good choice for nightlife and cheap packages too.

Couples and families looking for small quiet resorts should check out Panormo, Plaka, Plakias, Paleochora, and Sissi. Somewhere in the middle is the compact but lively Bali.

Read more:

Where to Stay on Crete: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Dodecanese Islands

Collage of beaches in the Dodecanese

The chain of islands running up the south west corner of the Aegean Sea is known as the Dodecanese and there are 12 major islands plus over a hundred little ones.

The best hotels in the Dodecanese islands:

The most famous island here is Rhodes, a standout destination for for history lovers and package tourists. It has an airport with both international and domestic flights which cuts down on the travel time from Athens.

By far the prettiest beach resort is the popular village of Lindos on Rhodes which has several small sandy beaches, a whitewashed village and an acropolis topped with a castle and ancient ruins. It’s also the most expensive resort on the island. Stay in Rhodes Town itself for nightlife and to explore its incredible medieval old quarter, or Pekfos for a lively but family-friendly vibe. Faliraki is still a good bet for nightlife and budget packages. Kolymbia and Kallithea are home to many all-inclusive hotels close to the beach. For small and traditional, consider Lardos or Stegna.

There’s also an international airport on the island of Kos which is also a popular package holiday destinations and is one of the best Greek islands for beaches. The main resorts are Tigaki, Mastichari and Marmari which all have long sandy beaches and plenty of amenities and activities, plus frequent buses to Kos Town for dinner and drinks. For nightlife head to the tourist town of Kardamena. The most beautiful beaches are on the south of the island around the quieter village of Kefalos.

The rest of the Dodecanese are quiet and varied but you’ll have to hop on a ferry. Accommodation is mostly traditional family-run hotels and guesthouses. They’re all worth exploring, particularly if you like getting off the beaten track, but for beach trips it’s worth considering Karpathos as a quieter alternative to Rhodes. Scuba divers will be happy on Leros, and rock climbers on Kalymnos., whereas Symi and Chalki have pretty neoclassical harbours.

Read more:

Where to Stay on Rhodes: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Kos: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

10 Beautiful Beaches to Visit on Rhodes

Northern Aegean Islands

Collage of beaches and resorts in the Northern Aegean islands

Some of the least-visited Greek islands are the in the Northern Aegean group, perhaps because of the long ferry journeys and relative lack of fine sand beaches. If you like a bit of variety in your beaches and landscapes though, along with excellent food and culture, you’ll find it in this corner. It’s a top destination for getting off the beaten track. Lesvos, Lemnos, and Samos have international airports and a low-key package tourism scene. The beach resorts have suffered hugely since the double whammy of the economic crisis and the refugee situation, but in fact you’re unlikely to notice the camps outside the main towns of Mytilene and Vathy. That hasn’t stopped the tour operators from pulling out of the region, unfortunately. It does mean that prices are low and by visiting you’ll be helping to support a struggling economy by visiting – it’s a win-win!

You won’t find luxury hotels or international chains here, accommodation tends to be family-run, excellent value, and reflects local character.

Some of the  best hotels in the Northern Aegean islands are:

Of all the islands, Samos has the most typical ‘international beach vacation feel’ to its resorts. The scenery is lush and green with some incredibly pretty beaches (which tend to be small pebbles) – you’ll need a car to explore them. You can find still packages through tour operators – mainly to the pretty harbour town of Pythagorion and the picturesque village of Kokkari.

Over on Lesvos, the main resorts are castle-topped Molyvos with its historic stone houses and harbour, alternative Skala Eressos, and the quiet sandy beach resorts Plomari, Anaxos, and Petra.

Chios is better known for its medieval villages but there are plenty of beaches if you’re happy to rent a car and explore. Try Nagos if you want to stay close to the beach.

Lemnos is popular with windsurfers, kitesurfers, and those who generally enjoy quiet beaches and a tranquil pace. Myrina and Plati are the main resorts.

And visitors come to Ikaria for its simple traditional life and hot springs rather than the beaches, but Armenistis is a relaxed seaside village in the best area for beaches.

Halkidiki Region and Thassos

Collage of beaches in Halkidiki

The region of Halkidiki in the north, not far from Thessaloniki, is home to some of the best sandy beaches in the country. It’s a 1-2 hour drive from Thessaloniki depending on location. The peninsula has three prongs and the westernmost prong is Kassandra which is where you’ll find the most developed resorts, the biggest hotels, and the best nightlife. The busiest resorts are Hanioti and Kalithea. You can also find high-end nightlife at Sani which is home to a large luxury resort complex and marina.

The middle prong is known as Sithonia and the landscape is wilder and more picturesque. It’s less developed and the beaches are sandier, but you’ll need a car to get the best of it. The eastern prong is Athos which is one of the holiest sites in Greece. It’s off-limits to all but male pilgrims, however there are a few small resorts at the top of the prong. 

The best hotels in Halkidiki are:

The island of Thassos is technically part of the Northern Aegean group but it’s just a short ferry hop from the mainland. It’s unsurprisingly popular with locals, Balkan holidaymakers, and tour operators for its dramatic green scenery and golden sandy beaches. The main resorts are Limeria and Golden Beach, though some also opt to stay in Thassos Town.

The best hotels on Thassos are:

Read more: Where to Stay in Halkidiki: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

The Athenian Riviera

Collage of the Athenian Riviera

Most visitors will fly in to Athens International Airport, but did you know the peninsula south of the city is jam-packed with great beaches? Making it a great choice for a city-beach combo. The main beach suburbs are the swanky Glyfada and Vouliagmeni and the family-friendly Voula and Varkiza. But there are endless smaller beaches, beach clubs, and conurbations all the way down to Sounio at the tip of the cape, which is famed for its sunsets and ancient temple.

There’s a tram line runs from the centre of Athens to the coast and south until it ends at Voula. Beyond here it’s better to have a car. 

The eastern side of the peninsula is quieter with small organised beaches but less accommodation.

The best luxury hotels in the Athenian Riviera are:

If you’d rather stay in Athens itself but have a pool for those hot summer days, have a look at:

Argo-Saronic Islands

Collage of beaches in the Argo-Saronic Islands

The Argo-Saronic islands are a short ferry ride from Athens and their proximity to the busy capital means that they all become lively on weekends, particularly in the Greek summer holidays. They are also popular with the yachting fraternity. Hydra, Spetses, and the nearby mainland resorts Porto Heli and Ermioni in particular have a high end nightlife scene (and prices to match). The Saronic islands of Aegina, Agistri and Poros are more laid-back, cheaper, and family-friendly, though still buzz in the summer months.

The best hotels in the Argo-Saronic islands are:

Hydra is the most famous island in this group, and its known for its picture-perfect harbour town, summer nightlife, and artistic associations rather than its beaches. It’s very hilly and there are just a few small pebble beaches though. Spetses is flatter and has prettier and sandier beaches to explore but most of the accommodation is in town. Both are car-free islands.

Aegina is popular with Athenians who come for the weekend or have summer homes on the island. The main beach resort is at Agia Marina. Don’t miss a boat trip to nearby Moni Island for swimming in beautiful turquoise waters.

Poros has some lovely green bay with beach bars and a few traditional hotels, particularly around Megalo Neorio and Askeli as well as plenty of accommodation in Poros Town. It’s a similar situation on little Agistri with vacation accommodation focused around Skala and Megalochori.

Also nearby is the mainland town of Nafplio, one of the most beautiful towns in Greece and a popular summer destination for both locals and foreigners. If you’re looking for destination rich in history and atmosphere and plenty to do – but with beaches nearby to boot – then it might be for you. The town beach is pebble but there are sandy beaches within a few km.


Collage of beaches in the Peloponnese

Many overlook the mainland and head straight to the islands, but there’s an abundance of history and beaches on the Peloponnese which is the big chunk of mainland to the south west of Athens. It’s ideal for those wanting to escape the crowds and explore the region’s top-notch ancient sites, medieval villages, empty beaches, and vineyards. The beaches here cater mainly to the locals and it’s refreshingly uncommercial compared to some of the busier islands. 

For gentle beach resorts with good amenities head to Stoupa and Kardamyli, not far from Kalamata which has an international airport. Other highlights include several of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Greece at Voidokilia and on Elafonisi.

The best hotels in the Peloponnese are:

Just want to get to the beach? These articles might interest you:

10 Best Sandy Beach Resorts in Greece

10 Best Small & Quiet Beach Resorts in Greece

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Greece

12 Most Beautiful Sandy Beaches in Greeces

15 Best Greek Islands for Beach Lovers

10 Best Secret Beaches in Greece

10 Strange & Unusual Beaches in Greece

50 Best Small Beach Towns in Greece

Greece beyond the beaches:

How to Take a Virtual Vacation to Greece

10 Best Quiet Greek Islands

10 Best Greek Islands for Foodies

10 Best Greek Islands for Water Babies

10 Best Greek Islands for Hiking & Nature

10 Best Greek Islands for History

10 Beautiful Hidden Gems in Greece

10 Most Beautiful Villages in Greece

10 Most Beautiful Towns in Greece

10 Most Beautiful Cities in Greece

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Image credits:

Elafonisi, Crete: © arkanto / Adobe Stock

Rovinia, Corfu: © sangriana / Shutterstock

Sarakiniko, Parga: © Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock

Map of Greece: © Peter Hermes Furian / Adobe Stock

Ionians (L-R) – Lefkada:© Ljupco Smokovski / Adobe Stock , Paleokastritsa © lukaszimilena / Adobe Stock , Myrtos © The Mediterranean Traveller

Cyclades (L-R) – Koufonisia © Aetherial Images / Shutterstock, Pollonia © gatsi / Adobe Stock, Agios Prokopios © costas1962 / Adobe Stock

Sporades (L-R) – Banana Beach © The Mediterranean Traveller, Alonnissos © sangriana / Adobe Stock, Koukounaries © The Mediterranean Traveller

Crete (L-R) – Matala © Georgios Tsichlis / Shutterstock, Balos © smallredgirl / Adobe Stock, Falassarna © gevision / Shutterstock

Dodecanese (L-R): Pserimos © virginievanos / Adobe Stock, Lindos © The Mediterranean Traveller, Tsambika © Lubos K / Shutterstock

Northern Aegean (L-R) – Kokkari © r_andrei / Adobe Stock, Samos beach © pkazmierczak / Adobe Stock, Myrina © Tanja Wilbertz / Adobe Stock

Halkidiki (L-R) – Ouranoupoli © Sergii Figurnyi, Sani © Aleksandar Todorovic / Adobe Stock, Vourvourou © bortnikau / Adobe Stock

Athenian Riviera (L-R) – Vouliagmeni © Sven Hansche, Acropolis © The Mediterranean Traveller, Sea © The Mediterranean Traveller

Argo-Saronic (L-R) – Agistri © Aerial-motion / Shutterstock, Hydra © kokixx / Adobe Stock, Poros © delDrago / Shutterstock

Peloponnese (L-R) – Simos © Martin / Adobe Stock, Stoupa © Aurel Bajrami / Shutterstock, Voidokilia © Maresol / Adobe Stock