What associations are conjured up by the magical, mythical name of Athens? The hulking presence of the Acropolis, rising over the city skyline like a phantom ship emerging from the mists of time? Inevitably; the jagged edges of Mount Lycabettus, standing erect in the center of the city like a magnificent green iconostasis? Certainly; the Temple of Olympian Zeus, its ancient pillars melting into a backdrop of rocky outcrops, palm and cypress trees? Probably. But of all the associations one could make with Athens, the beach would not be high on the list. And yet, surely, when wandering around the Ancient Agora in 38 degree-heat the temptation must be to dive into the deliciously refreshing waters of the Aegean.
Table of Contents
Although few visitors would think of taking a beach holiday in Athens, the city is surrounded by some wonderful places to swim and sunbathe. Most are easily accessible by public transport or car. Within an hour or so from the heart of Athens, you can be dipping your aching feet into the waves of the Saronic Gulf, the Gulf of Corinth, or the Aegean.
For the romantics amongst you, the journey to Cape Sounio is a must, as it offers one of the most dreamy Greek views you can imagine – the Temple of Poseidon on the headland overlooking the beach dates from the 7th century BC, restored by Pericles after it was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. Lord Byron was so taken by the spot he included it in his paean to Greek independence. The beach itself consists of smooth golden sand, set in a charming bay looking out over the Saronic Gulf. You can take the KTEL public bus service from Pedion tou Areos, and reach your destination in approximately an hour and a half. A much better and more relaxing option, however, is to take our Sounio and Temple of Poseidon Tour; the ideal way to take in all the sites and travel in comfort and luxury.
In the opposite direction of Cape Sounio and lying on the Gulf of Corinth in western Attica, you can find the beautiful beach of Porto Germeno, with a stunning backdrop of mountains, including the 1,409 meter Mount Kithairon. Here, you will feel a long way from Athens, and as close to the sensation of being on an island as you will get in Attica. To get there, you can once again take the KTEL from Pedion tou Areos. A much quicker option, however, would be to drive there, which should only take around one hour.
For something a bit closer to the city, the popular beach and resort of Vouliagmeni are certainly ones to recommend. Vouliagmeni is very popular with Athenians and visiting it will really give you n insight into a truly local beach experience. The sandy beaches around the resort are known for their cleanliness, consistently awarded EU blue flags for excellence. The main beach is complemented by a series of pretty coves between Vouliagmeni and Varkiza, which is also well worth a visit. In the opposite direction, heading west is the sandy expanse of Kavouri. Minutes away from the beach of Vouliagmeni lies Lake Vouliagmeni, fed by underwater springs and known for its healing properties, with the 1,000-meter-high Mount Hymettus providing a suitably photogenic framing to the coastline. The excellent fish restaurants opposite the lake will ensure that your tummy will also be satisfied. To get to Vouliagmeni, take bus 114 or 115 from Glyfada Square, which is a stop on the tram line from central Athens.
A reinvigorating dip into the waters of Lake Vouliagmeni, located on the end of a peninsula jutting out into the Gulf of Corinth, is included in our day trip to the charming seaside town of Loutraki, west of Athens and adjacent to the Corinth Canal. Loutraki, with its thermal springs and views of a blue sea stretching out far into the distance, is a sight to behold and the walk through the pine infused hills of Geraneia to the monastery of Osios Patapios overlooking the town will do the job is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you’re looking for a long stretch of wild beach, head to Schinias, located much further up the eastern Attica coastline. This is one of the most beautiful beaches near Athens, with its seemingly unending strip of sand backed by a pine forest that stretches as far as the eye can see. Schinias is a good spot for windsurfing and has the advantage of being close to the ancient site of Marathon, perfect for those who want to see the site of the great Greek victory over the Persians of Darius I in 490 BC. You can easily get to Schinias in just over an hour.
On the opposite side of Schinias, lies the delightful sandy beach of Legrena. Its view of the island of Patroklos along with the lush vegetation of the location, make it similar to a beach one can find on a small Ionian island. You could combine a trip to Legrena with a visit to Sounio beach and the Temple of Poseidon. The waters are clear and inviting, and after the long days of exploration of the sites of Athens, those beaches are exactly what you need.
Undoubtedly, the best way to explore the beaches of the southern Attica coastline is to take our Athens Riviera Sailing Cruise. This tailor-made tour will see you gliding through the deep blue waters of the Saronic Gulf, marveling at the highlights of the Athens Riviera and stopping for three deliciously invigorating swimming breaks. Don't hesitate to discover the beauty of the Athenian coast in this most elegant of ways!