The Best Beaches in Greece – A Guide – Updated February, 2014

Getting Started

Finding Hotels on the Greek Islands

As you can tell from the comments below, I get more questions on hotels than any other topic. From late June to early September islands can packed and hotels full. Book early.

  • is the best website for finding hotels in Greece.
  • The popular islands get fully booked in the summer months. Try to book hotels at least 2 or 3 months in advance. In the last decade Greece has gone from a popular summer vacation destination to a very very popular summer vacation destination. Every year it gets harder to find hotels by just showing up and hoping for the best.
  • The larger your group the farther in advance you should book. A single backpacker might able to find a hotel in Corfu with little notice. A family of 5 will have a very hard time if they haven’t booked well in advance.
  • For many islands you don’t need to book in advance for travel outside of July and August. When you arrive on the ferry there will likely be a handful of hotel owners waiting for you. This works well for single or couple backpackers. Not so well for families, groups, or luxury travelers looking for the best hotels.
  • Santorini – Book hotels well in advance for June to September
  • Athens – Book hotels well in advance for April to October
  • Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, Crete – Book hotels well in advance for late June until early September
  • Naxos, Paros, Milos, Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kefalonia – Book hotels well in advance for July and August

I hope that helps. Good luck.

Greek Beaches

The 15 Best Beaches in Greece

It’s difficult to choose the best beaches in Greece. What’s the best beach for kids? What’s the best beach for swimming? What’s the best beach for partying?

Everyone is looking for a great beach, but they all have different criteria. Add to that the fact that many islands have upwards of 20 different beaches.

Here are my personal favorites.

Elafonisi on Crete.

My favorite: Elafonisi beach on the south coast of Crete. There are only a few small hotels here so most people do a day trip from Chania.

Milopotamos Beach on Ios in the Cyclades.

Milopotamos beach on Ios. Wonderful sand and quick drop-off for people who like to get out and swim.

Paradise Beach on Mykonos.

Paradise Beach on Mykonos. Beautiful through the day it turns into a party beach in the late afternoon and evening.

Red Beach on Santorini.

Red Beach on Santorini. Stunning scenery on red volcanic rock.

Myrtos beach on Kefalonia.

Myrtos beach on Kefalonia.

Paleokastritsa on Corfu.

Paleokastritsa is a series of bays on beautiful Corfu.

Sarakiniko on Mylos.

Is this a beach? Who knows, who cares. Mylos has a many great little coves for swimming and sunning. Sarakiniko is one of the best spots to swim and relax.

Stafylo Beach on Skopelos.

Stafylo is one of the many great beaches on Skopelos.

Kamares Beach on Sifnos in the Cyclades.

Kamares Beach on Sifnos.

Plaka Beach on Naxos.

Naxos is loaded with great beaches but this is probably its best: Plaka beach.

Koukounaries Beach on Skiathos island.

Koukounaries Beach on Skiathos. Absolutely beautiful.

St Paul's Bay near Lindos on Rhodes.

St Paul’s Bay on Rhodes near Lindos. A great little swimming spot.

Matala Beach on Crete.

Matala Beach on Crete. A great little town. The cliff at the end of the beach is filled with caves that you can explore.

Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos.

Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos. Accessible by boat on a day trip.

Vai Beach on the Greek Island of Crete

Vai Beach on Crete.

Q. What are the best beaches for kids in Greece?

Agios Gordios Beach on Naxos is wonderful for kids. It’s a short walk from the island’s wonderful main town and port.  A shallow shelf extends well out into the sea and the calm protected waters are perfect for children. Many places to eat and stay are in the immediate area. There are several other (quieter) beaches on Naxos that are also great for kids. As you move south away from the main town the beaches grow quieter and less developed – though almost all of them have at least 1 or 2 tavernas. The nearby islands of Paros and Antiparos have many kid-friendly beaches.

Read: The Best Islands in Greece for Families

Q. What is the best beach for partying?

Paradise Beach on Mykonos is not for everyone. The category was Party Beach and this defines Paradise. Water sports, young people, sand, sun, and drinks wherever you look. Punda Beach on Paros has an equally established reputation for partying.

Q. What is the best beach for quiet and solitude (on a popular island)?

Ambelas Beach, Paros is fantastic. There are quieter beaches on less popular islands, but considering it’s on Paros, Ambelas is downright tranquil. There are enough restaurants and hotels in the area so you don’t feel totally isolated. Visit outside of July and August and you could have the beach to yourself.

Q. What is the best beach close to Athens?

Vouligmeni Beach is great for swimming and less than an hour from Athens. It can get very busy on the weekend but if you’re stuck in the heat of Athens you won’t complain once you’re here.

Q. When is the best time to visit Greece?

Late May to Early October are perfect beach weather everywhere in Greece. July and August are the hottest and busiest months. June and September are nearly perfect with one small difference between them being that the sea is warmer in the fall while the countryside is greener in spring. Early May and Late October can still see warm weather and sunny days but one should be prepared for the possibility rain and cloud – and bring a sweater for coolish nights. On the southern coast of Crete it’s not unheard of to be swimming into the first weeks of November.

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65 thoughts on “The Best Beaches in Greece – A Guide

  1. sherry said:

    hello David,
    my fiance & I went to Greece last summer & we fell in love with greece. We only got to visit Athens & Mykonos (loved the beaches in Mykonos). I thought going back to Greece would be the perfect destination for our honeymoon this summer.

    My fiance & I both love traveling, siteseeing, old towns with lots of character & I especially love great beaches. We are definitely going to visit Santorini for 4-5 days. Do you have hotel recommendations that would be great for a honeymoon that are moderately priced in Santorini?

    Also, I am looking for another Island that has a beautiful beach, we’re NOT big party people. looking for more quiet and picturesque beach with white powdered sand & clear turquoise water! I am thinking Naxos or Rhodes, do you have other recommendations that would great for honeymoon?

    thanks so much!

    • David said:

      Naxos and Rhodes would be great. Honestly, I don’t know any islands that would be bad for a honeymoon. Folegandros is an awesome island that for some reason comes to mind just now as having some appeal if you’re looking for a quieter island for a few days. Great for walking. Milos has awesome beaches and a very unique geography – sort of Santorini but with great beaches.

      For Santorini read: Santorini Hotel and Travel Guide

      Good luck.

  2. Anna said:

    Mylopotas beach is beautiful. Really love the beaches in Rhodes too. Fantastic. And over all like Rhodes more than Ios. (Also went to Santorini but wasn’t so wowed by the beaches there.) Lots of things to do in Rhodes beside the beach. The old town is great and the other city with the castle (can’t remember the name), was great too.

    The rest of my family started in Mykonos and said the beaches there were great.


  3. Don said:

    I can’t remember any of the names, besides Mylopotas because I just read it, but my favorites were on Ios, Paros and Milos. Also visited Mykonos (nice beaches), Santorini (didn’t go to the beach) and some on northern Krete that were ok.

    Oddly the ones on Krete I thought would be the best as our hotel was right on the beach, and was planning to end my 2 week trip with some major chill time, but was a little disappointed.


  4. Sean said:

    Zante has some killer beaches.

  5. Athena said:

    Corfu is my favorite island but the cyclades have the best beaches.Naxos has a whole string of beaches that are amazing. I thought anyways. Paradise beach on Mykonos was a lot fun but I’ve seen nicer beaches. A little too busy for me. Too much of a party scene.

  6. tony said:

    I’m going in July and August 2012! Totaly excited. This looks great! My parents took me when I was a kid and I don’t remember a thing. and I was 16! not like a toddler or anyting. We fly to Athens (of course) then ferry with my friends. Got 2 weeks! Mykonos here we come!

  7. Ninna said:

    I’ve been to Greece about 5 or 6 times so have seen a number of beaches. Most of the great. And the ones that aren’t postcard worthy they tend to be pretty quiet. I’ve had a couple of pebble beaches on Mykonos, Folegandros and Corfu all to myself (with my husband of course). Great for swimming.

    The best? probably Koukounaries on Skiathos, Balos and Vai on Crete, some on Naxos that I did on my first trip but haven’t been back to. I’ve really liked a few beaches on Santorini too. I’ve been to probably 20 islands so I could go on and on. The beaches on Milos have probably the most striking setting. Kefallonia island has some really nice ones – Myrtos probably the best. And the Halkidiki has whole stretches of almost deserted beachs. That’s where we went the last time with our daughter – first time to Greece with children – and it was wonderful. Salonika is much nicer to go through than Athens.

    You really can’t go wrong – unless you ferry over to Turkey ha ha – I’m sure it has great spots and cities but the beaches that we visited were really packed with holiday package tourists.

  8. Mebelly said:

    I flew from London to Crete last summer then took the ferry north through Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos and the beaches just kept getting better and better. It was amazing. I’ve been to Spain, Portugal, France but this was a whole nother level (maybe I hit the wrong beaches there but still … Greece = Glorious). We actually went to one more island but for the life of me I can’t figure out which one it was, I had so many island names surfing around in my head I guess it just swam through. Folegandros, Sikinos, Sifnos, Andros everyone I read about I think this was it but can’t remember for sure. Hilarious! We flew from London back to Paris and then home. I recommend Greece to anyone. Like your photos too. Thanks.

  9. Thim said:

    Mykonos had the best beaches of our short tour through the Greek Islands. We rented a car and toured around the entire island (with our 2 kids). Get the cheapest hotel you can and spend the whole day at the beach.

  10. U.K. from Atlanta said:

    Almost all the islands have a few great beaches. The question is which island. I like Lesvos, Samos and Folegandros. Some of the best islands take a bit of time and effort to get to but that makes it so only the people that “really” want to get there visit it. It’s a trade off, but I think the quiet and solitude are worth it.

  11. Dunn said:

    Sitting on the ferry deck in the sun, tanning, watching the water and islands pass by, that was my favourite beach.

  12. Ja from California said:

    If I could go to only one island in Greece it would be Milos. You need to rent a car to get around to all the isolated beaches. And it seemed a bit more expensive than the other islands (cheaper than the hotels in Santorini mind you) but it’s worth it. A different world than the other cyclade islands. For culture, history, tourist sightseeing do Crete and Santorini, for a landscape and beaches do Milos.

  13. Fran said:

    Kefalonia isn’t as popular as the other islands but it has some great beaches.

  14. Nell from New York City, USA! said:

    Zante and Mykonos have the best beaches in Greece that I’ve visited. I still have a lot more to see. I went 8 years in a roe, but have missed the last 2 summers. I’m hoping September of next year (2012) will get me back there. September is great if you’re island hopping because you don’t have to worry about hotels and reservations so much or at all.

  15. Hank said:

    One year on Mykonos couldn’t find a hotel – the whole island fully booked. Had to sleep on some guys, some shop’s roof. It was great. Really great. Seeing the stars. Had a few drinks that night. Mighta helped a little. Got kids now, so not planning on that. but looking forward to getting back there. The Greek people are great and friendly, even in the tourist islands. This time will probably visit Mykonos and Santorini (for my wife) and then 1 or 2 quieter ones. Cheers!

  16. Tina said:

    My friend and I are heading to Greece in a few weeks. We plan on going to Mykonos, Paros (Naoussa),Santorini,
    Rhodes and Crete.
    Which would be the best island to rent a vehicle and tour the entire island?
    Thanks guys!

    • David said:

      Hi Tina. Crete — as the largest Greek Island — certainly has the most to offer. You can visit Knossos and some great little villages — not that far from Iraklion — do the Samaria Gorge, check out some of the great beach towns along the south coast and finish off in either Hania or Rethymno (both really cool small cities). So if you’re looking for what island has the most to do, then Crete is it.

      If you’re looking for an island that suits one day of driving then Rhodes or Santorini are probably better choices to splurge on a rental car. The tour through Crete that I recommend would take at least 3 or 4 days. The other islands you could get around in one long day of driving and sightseeing.

      Hope that helps.

  17. marianna said:

    The best beach is the fifth one on your article Apella beach in Karpathos!

  18. Rose from London said:

    The best beaches in Greece are in Skiathos, Corfu, and Mykonos. For quiet beaches I like the ones in Ikaria. For party beaches I’d say the ones in Ios are great. In July I will be in Milos for the first time and hope they are as good. Everyone has told me they are fantastic.

  19. Sam said:

    Livadia Beach in Armenistis on Ikaria. Completely deserted and the most amazing aquamarine blues ive ever seen. Limnos has some really nice beaches to, especially Platy and the little bays around towards Thanos. Love Greece! Wish i never left….

  20. Sarah said:

    Hello! Two questions. We arrive in Santorini at 7:30pm on a Wednesday and leave Mykonos at 12:30pm on Monday. With 5 nights is it best to do two nights in Santorini and 3 in Mykonos or the reverse? I am concerned that one full day and a half in Santorini is not enough time to see everything in a relaxed manner. But if we do three nights in Santorini, will we feel frustrated having only Saturday afternoon til Monday midday in Mykonos?

    Also, not island related but if you happen to know i am grateful for your input….if our flight lands at 12:50pm in Athens and leaves for Santorini at 6:30pm, is there time to race to the Parthenon and back?

    Thanks so much in advance for your thoughts.

    • David said:

      Not sure what time of year you’ll be there. If it’s in the summer months when you can swim I’d probably err on the side of Mykonos. Otherwise Santorini has a pretty cool vibe in the off or shoulder seasons. As for Athens, I think you’ll probably be able to swing it though undoubtedly it will be tight. Taxis between the airport and downtown Athens can take between 30 and 80 minutes. It will be in the middle of rush hour on your way back to the airport so you’ll probably need to leave Athens by 4:00 or 4:20 at the latest. So with a bit of luck you should have 2 hours to make a quick run up the Acropolis to the Parthenon. I think it’s worth a try. If you miss your flight just head straight to Piraeus and grab a night ferry to Santorini :)

      Good luck.

  21. Jeb said:

    Great Blog! I’m planning a trip with my wife and 2 boys (ages 7 and 4) to Greece for 12 days. I could use a little input on my itinerary. We’ll arrive in Athens on May 4th. My plan was to fly directly to Crete (Hania) for 5 days (where we’ll rent a car), then depart Iraklio via ferry to Santorini for 2 nights then Naxos for 2 nights. Then 2 1/2 days in Athens before flying back to the States. We’re not huge beach people and the weather will probably be a bit cold. I was thinking about hitting Rhodes as well – but that seemed to be too much. How does that sound?
    ps: drop in for a homebrew if you’re ever in Wenatchee!

    • David said:

      Hi Jeb. Thanks. That sounds like a great itinerary. I wouldn’t add Rhodes myself. You’ll already be a little stretched to do justice to the islands you’re visiting and Rhodes is a long way off this route. Stick with these plans. And yes the weather could be a bit chilly (and maybe some rain) but it could also be fantastic – so you’ll have to pack for a wide range of weather. Have fun!

  22. Alice said:

    Can you recommend a website to search for hotels for Oia and Fira, Santorini? We’d like to stay a few nights in both towns if it works out. Thank you.

  23. Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort said:

    Mykonos Island has indeed some the best beaches of Greece. Ayios Yiannis, where our hotel is located, is also known as the Shirley Valentine beach and definitely offers the best sunset – as seen in the movie – behind the sacred island of Delos. To ensure a peaceful and relaxing environment, no water sports are organized at the beach. Hotel beach attendants cater to guests’ needs with towels and cooling amenities.

  24. Phytos said:

    Porto Katsiki (Lefkada)
    Myrtos Beach (Kefalonia)
    Platys Gialos – Makris Gialos (Kefalonia)
    Antisamos (Kefalonia)
    Bella Vraka (Syvota)

  25. Love2Dance said:

    I am planning a five to six night trip to Greece sometime in the next week (short turn around time!). I am alone, looking for beautiful sandy beaches where I can take long walks, but be close enough to some activities that I don’t feel isolated. Based on everything I read, I am thinking Chania in Crete.

    My flight would get into Heraklion about 8:00 p.m., so am thinking it might be a good idea to spend the evening there, rent a car and set out to Chania in the morning. Maybe day trips to Sougia and Elafonissi (although based on what I read, the drive to Elafonissi sounds a little harrowing!). Is five full days in Chania too much? I am basically looking for a little get away, want to keep it simple, and be someplace where there might be some other things to do, if I am in the mood.

    • David said:

      I think 5 days in Chania with a few side trips would be perfect. I’d suggest using Crete’s excellent bus lines that will get you from Heraklion to Chania in just a few hours. Driving in Greece is stressful. It would also make getting to Elafonissi easier if you weren’t worried about driving yourself. And the bus is cheap too.

  26. Sithonia said:

    I very much prefer the sandy beaches of the Sithonia peninsula in Halkidiki, Northern Greece. The waters are amazing (as they are all over in Greece), the sand beaches are gorgeous, and best of all – not overcrowded. My favourite beach would be Agios Ioannis by Nikiti, or Kriaritsi beach by Sykia.

  27. sebastian said:

    Your blogs is the most helpful I’ve found!!
    Planning a romantic vacation with my GF, were both in late 20′s, but NOT looking to party. The vacation is getting out of NYC for 12 days.

    Neither of us have been to Greece. Of course we’d like to see as much as possible, but the main purpose of this trip is vacation…

    What are the islands we MUST see as a first time trip to greece islands with the intentions to getaway from NYC’s non stop environment..

    Dates going are septemeber 14-27th.


    • David said:

      Hi Sebastian. I think most people would say Santorini is the one must-see island. Unfortunately it’s very busy and a little hectic (though those terms are relative) so if you’re looking to get-away-from-it-all then maybe not the best choice. Then again it’s easy to get from Santorini to some other islands that should be pretty quiet by late September.

      After all my rambling, I’d suggest flying one way Athens to Santorini and then island hop back to Athens for your flight home. So you could spend 2 or 3 nights on 3 or 4 different islands. There are good ferry connections along the western Cyclade islands of Folegandros, Milos, Sifnos, and Serifos making it an easy route all the way back to Athens. And all 4 of those islands are great in very different ways. Serifos and Folegandros known for their hikes and rugged beauty. Sifnos for its traditional Greek culture. And Milos for the moonscape landscape, incredible beaches, and a few hot springs.

      Hope that helps. Good luck.

  28. eduardo said:

    hi david,
    my g´friend and i will be going to the dodecanese islands on sept 22nd for 9 days, and would highly appreciate your suggestions about these islands of the mediterranean since it seems they have not been mentioned on your website as must see islands.
    i m from barcelona but live in istanbul and we just want to relax in white powdered sandy beaches and swimming in turquoise waters. is this possible in this part of the mediterranean (kos, kalymnos, karpathos… or would be better off to change our plans and head for milos, paros, naxos…?
    we´d also like to spend some of our time in hotsprings and have read that kos, chios and lesvos have really nice ones.
    thanks for your website, it is the best i ve found. i believe you are the most competent authority regarding greek islands!!
    take care

    • David said:

      Kos, Kalymnos, and Karpathos all have great beaches so you could have a great vacation there. From Kalymnos or Kos to Karpathos will take more than 8 hours to get to by ferry (via Rhodes) as there are no direct ferries from Kos. (Milos, Naxos, and Paros are all quite close to each other.)

  29. Rebecca said:

    Hi, great photos and reviews. My husband I are planning to go to the Greek Isles with our two boys (5 and 3) in mid June for about 6 nights. We really want to have a nice family friendly beach vacation so I am looking at Mykonos, Naxos and Paros since they are close together (and we don’t want to be spending our afternoons on a ferry). We do want to see Santorini since it is such a “must see” place in Greece, however it looks quite far from the other islands on a ferry. How would you plan a 6 night stay with two very active energetic boys who love the beach? Should we just forgo Santorini? Or in the case we do not make it back to Greece again, is it really a MUST SEE as everyone seems to think? Thanks!

    • David said:

      Hi Rebecca. Santorini is pretty unique. Naxos, Paros, and Antiparos would be my top pics for islands in the Cyclades – so definitely base yourself at one of those. Most years there are day trips to Santorini from Naxos and Paros (one boat stops at both islands). Don’t try to book in advance (too difficult) as you can easily get tickets once you’re there. It’s a full day however and might be too much for a 5 and 3 year old. You could also fly into to or out of Santorini (at the beginning or end of your trip) so in that regard you could visit Santorini and only spend one night there. Santorini has the most flights of almost any island to and from Athens and other big cities in Europe.

      Hope that helps. Good luck.

  30. Radha said:

    Hi David,

    My fiance and I are looking for a Greek island to honeymoon at after spending a few days in Italy. We are looking for a place with soft white sand beaches and beautiful blue waters, where we can sunbathe and swim. We’re planning to go in mid-September. What would you consider to be an undiscovered gem in the Greek isles, relatively easy to get to?

    Thank you so much! Your blog is awesome.

    • David said:

      Ikaria would be at the top of the list. Great beaches and fairly quiet (especially in September).

  31. Jackie said:

    Hi David,
    My husband and 3 kids have come across a great offer at Aphrodite Beach Resort, at Kalafatis Beach.. Do you know anything about this beach or hotel?

    • David said:

      I don’t know the hotel but it’s a nice beach. Not the typical suntanning beach – more of an active/watersport beach with jetskis and windsurfing geear to rent. It’s a fair distance from the Mykonos Town so if you wanted to be eating and shopping there very often you might get tired of the drive.

  32. Lucas said:

    Hello David, thank you very much for giving us this kind of information! It’s really helpful!
    I’m going to Greece this summer, june to july, and I’m looking for a really quite beach, with white sand and really crystal water. I’ve been looking a lot of islands, because I don’t have too much money to change places, so I want to find an island and stay there, doing some camping. I saw Karpathos, Naxos, Ikaria, Lefkada, Antipaxos, but what would you recomend me? The beach has to be very quiet, with the less number of people… I really hope you can help me, thank you very much.

    • David said:

      All of those are great choices. Naxos is the busiest of those but even it has some quiet beaches as you move south from the main town. June will be much more quieter than July (and very quiet on Ikaria and Antiparos). Good luck.

  33. Keaton said:

    Hi David,

    I’m planning a 14 – 17 day honeymoon in mid-June and we are looking for an island (or islands) with a mixture of good semi-secluded beaches, historical sites, fun activities (sailing, snorkeling, maybe a bit of diving), and great food. I have some Hilton points socked away and their hotel on Kos appears to be quite nice. What are your thoughts on Kos, Rhodes, and Kalimnos? I was thinking we might spend 2 – 3 days in and around Athens, 5 nights on Kos, and the remainder between other islands and possibly Bodrum, Turkey.



    • David said:

      That sounds great. I’d suggest doing a loop through Turkey so you wouldn’t have to retrace your steps (and waste time). So take the Kos–Bodrum ferry spend 1 to 3 days in Turkey and return to Greece on the Marmaris – Rhodes ferry. One note: the ferry from Kos or Rhodes to Athens is a long one, plan accordingly as you can fly one or both ways. Good luck.

  34. Ram Rohatgi said:

    We are coming to Greece for our honeymoon and have 9 days 9 nights. I know to truly get the full feeling of what Crete is like, we would need months, but such is life. We would like to see 3 places on our trip and it would be spread like this.

    Crete for 4 days (over May 3rd night to May 7th/8th) spending one day at Elafonisi beach and surrounding area, 1 day hiking in Samaria Gorge, 1 day at palace of Knossos. And 1 day will probably just be consumed in moving around these places. I know this plan seems like we are leaving out so much, but these are the things we would like to see. My proposed itenerary consists of this. We wouldn’t mind renting a car (but due to the road closures feel worried about driving on the coastal roads). But I need someone to say this is impossible, since my heart was set on seeing these things after much research.

    Day 1 (Friday) Evening: Hania airport arrival, make it to hotel, enjoy dinner and walk around the city

    Day 2 (Sat) Morning – rent car/taxi to leave to elafonisi beach, spend the day there, and stay at a hotel near there

    Day 3 (Easter Sunday) Morning – use rental car or bus to make it to Samaria gorge, hike all day, stay there or make it back to Hania

    Day 4 (Monday)Take Bus or drive to Heraklion to see palace of Knossos, maybe some of wine country

    Day 5 (Tuesday) afternoon Ferry off to Santorini

    I know this is a hectic schedule, but my main issue is understanding how to get around Crete. When looking at the Buses, many of them say “not on the weekends” and this is during Greek Easter. Secondly, if not the bus, renting a car seems to be trickier due to the road closures. With all these things in mind, though my heart is set on seeing at least a glimpse of Crete, I am starting to feel that this is impossible and I should instead go to another island in the Cyclades though after seeing all the sights, nothing seems to compare to Crete.

    Is it possible to land on Crete and there is a tour group that goes to these locations? Thanks for all your help and your time. Hope all is well!


    • David said:

      Your itinerary sounds fine but I have a few suggestions:

      Skip going to Elafonisi. One, because the main road from Chania to Elafonisi is closed (spring and summer of 2013) requiring a long detour. Two, you could easily get a cool or cloudy day in early May that would not allow for swimming – it’s a long trip if you don’t even get to swim.

      Don’t take a rental car to Samaria Gorge. This only adds the hassle of returning to the start of the trail to retrieve your rental car instead of going directly on to Chania. I’d take a boat from Ayia Roumeli (at the end of the Gorge) to Paleochora (a great little town on the south coast of Crete) and spend the night there. There are lots of buses from Paleochora to Chania. Use a KTEL bus to get to the Gorge (25 miles from Chania). In summer it can be better to buy a tour from Chania to the Gorge to ensure a return seat on the bus but in May it shouldn’t be an issue – and if you go to Paleochora won’t be a concern anyways.

      The bus from Chania to Heraklion is easy and takes about 2.5 hours. Start early so you have time to visit Knossos on the same afternoon. Knossos is about 3 miles south of Heraklion so easy to get to. A taxi from Heraklion to Knossos will cost €12 and Knossos is open 8am to 8pm (from April to mid-October) so you should be able to swing it.

      Good luck.

  35. JJ said:

    I really enjoyed your website and advise.
    My husband & I will be traveling to Barcelona mid july for 4 nights.(could use beach tips if you have any in Barcelona) and make our way to Greece. We’ve been to greece many times and usually go to a different islands. However this time I cant seem to decided where to go and could use some advise. I was thinking: Naxos, Amorgos, Andros, Ikaria, Hydra and Speteses. We love beautiful landscape, crystal clean water but would prefer a beaches that aren’t too crowed but organized. Naxos is at the top of my list. Could also use some advise on where to stay, though we usually rent a car to get around, I would like to know what part of the island has better beaches north or south. side note: our stay in greece will be a total of 13 days, Would like to do 5/6 nights in one island and the remainder somewhere else. So maybe if you could suggest other island if the above choices arent “too great.”
    places visited thus far:
    crete: chania & rethemno


    • David said:

      Naxos is a great choice and one of my favorite islands. Base yourself in Naxos Town (the Hora) – or just to the south of it around St George’s beach, then you can walk into town at night and be close to the beach. The rest of the Naxos’s best beaches stretch from St George to the south, but are not walking distance to the main town. Good luck.

  36. jj said:

    Hello again David
    Thanks for the advice
    We are looking to book Naxos and decided that for our 2 island we would go back to Crete-Chania. However, we are having trouble trying to find flights to and from. After a lil research I know that olympic seems to be the only airline from athens to Naxos, but I cant find a flight from Naxos to Crete. Could use transportation suggestions (would prefer flights.) Should I rethink the destinations?

    Thanks again

    • David said:

      There are no direct flights from Naxos to Crete. Some years there are flights from Santorini to Crete with SkyExpress and MinoanAir – but they are seasonal schedules so you won’t see anything yet. If such a flight runs you could ferry from Naxos to Santorini and then fly to Crete – though then the benefit of flying is far less. Also some flights from Ikaria to Crete, so that might be an option too.

  37. Kathryn said:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! For the amazing site, I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on it…awesome. Thanks for sharing.
    If you have a moment to respond, I would love your input:
    We are going to Crete for 10 days in June (me, husband, two kids and an infant). We need family friendly beaches, but I’m a history lover so I would like to see Knossos and maybe Phaestos. The beaches I’m considering are: Georgiopouli, Paleochora(w/Elafonissi), and Matala. We want some major relax-beach time, but want to see a little of the city (Rethymno?) so we can walk the markets, etc. Any input on how I can make all, or most, of this work? I’m frustrated with trying to figure out a route where we’re not backtracking too much, and REALLY want to minimize road time (infant traveler and all.) Thanks in advance for any input you are able to give!!

    forgot to add, we fly into Chania.

    • David said:

      The trouble with getting around Crete – as you may have figured out – is there are few roads along the south coast of the island. So, to visit multiple places on the south coast you need to jackknife back to the north, move east or west a little ways, and then return to the south. If you’re renting a car and driving yourself the roads that run north to south are tricky to drive and precarious in spots. Getting along the north coast is very simple and quick, so a drive from Rethymno to Heraklion, for example, is on good road and takes just over an hour. A good way to skirt some of this inconvenience is to take a ferry between some of the south coast towns like Hora Sfakion, Loutro, Paleochora, and Elafonisi – which will save you from long drives. Matala is a good deal out of the way from the other places you want to visit so I would strike it and focus on Chania, Rethymno, Knossos, Paleochora, and Elafonisi – which would make for a great 10 day itinerary. Buses are modern and reliable and you should be able to show up at the bus station, buy a ticket, and be on your way within an hour (depending on the schedule, of course). Paleochora, Rethymno, and Chania are my favorite towns in Crete. Elafonisi is my favorite beach (though there are many good ones).

      Hope that helps.

      • Kathryn said:

        Yes, the north-south roads are few and far between! Thank you for your reply, now I am deep in the planning stages! I want to take your advice and ferry-hop from perhaps Chora Sfakion to Paleochora..but the schedules are hard to read and I fear we may be ferrying all day long. Would you recommend taking a bus back to Chania (from Reythmnon) and then down to Paleochora? Thanks again!!

  38. Kyle said:


    My wife and I are thinking of going to Greece in early October for 12 days, what islands would you recommend this time of year ? Warm enough for the beaches ?
    Thanks !

    • David said:

      The best islands for October tend to be the ones farther south: Rhodes, Karpathos, Crete (especially the south coast of Crete). Every year is different but in general early October will be great for the beaches, mid-October the weather will be getting cooler and you could have some rainy/cloudy days. By the end of the month beach weather is a 50/50 proposition on most islands. Hope that helps.

  39. Daniela said:

    Hi David, your advises are great for us who don’t know the Greek islands from inside ! I thank you in advance for your precious suggestions !! I’d like to spend 5/7 days in Greece at the end of June. I am not looking for crowded places and nightlife I am looking for nice views, beaches and enjoying a typical Greek island atmosphere. My search focused on two islands, Milos and Mykonos. Am I doing a good job ? What would you suggest ? I am also planning to visit by boat an other island for a day trip. Should I share my time between two different island instead ? Daniela

    • David said:

      Milos has incredible beaches – maybe the best in Greece. Mykonos has very nice beaches but they’re busier and the island has a definite party vibe. With 5 to 7 days you could easily do 2 islands – and that’s what I’d recommend. Nearby islands from Milos good for day trips (or a longer visit) would be Sifnos and Folegandros – both wonderful islands. Be sure to do a boat tour around the island of Milos that visits some of the island’s remote and very unique beaches. Good luck.

  40. Angela M said:


    We are organising a girls holiday to a Greek island in September. We want a beautiful beach, not sure if we want a hotel, villa or an apartment but it must be in walking distance of a small town with bars and restaurants. We’re not looking for party central just somewhere with a bit of life. Already been to Mykonos ands Rhodes so would like to try somewhere different….. Any suggestions welcome!!

    • David said:

      Paros, Naxos, and Chania and Rethymno on Crete would all be great.

  41. Renee R said:

    Hi David,

    My partner and I are travelling from Australia and looking to go to Greece in May 2015 and are wanting to spend 8 days on a Greek Island. I am hoping you can help point me in the right direction as we were thinking of going to Rhodes or Crete but I have now read so much on the Cyclades that I am not sure the best option for us. We both love beaches and great food. We aren’t into partying but do enjoy quirkiness and unique spots and also a couple of good wines. I also love Greek mythology so would like to visit a few sites during my visit. Thanks in advance

    • David said:

      Yes, the Cyclades are great. Lots of great islands that are a short ferry ride from each other. My favorites are Santorini, Mylos, Naxos, Paros, and Folegandros – but they all have their charms and you can’t really go wrong with your island choices. Delos (a day trip from Mykonos) is the best historical site in the Cyclades. No inhabitants so you can’t stay the night. Mylos, Naxos and Mykonos have the best beaches.

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