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I’ll be honest, the Athenian beaches are not my favorite. After living in Greece for nine years I’ve been to some truly spectacular places with crystal clear, turquoise sea and fine, white sand (my beloved combination) so the “Athens Riviera” just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. It is too busy, not particularly clean and full of peculiar characters to say the least. But don’t worry, there still are some awesome beaches near Athens, totally worth the slightly longer journey.
All three of the bellow beaches can be reached by some form of public transfer and it shouldn’t take much more than an hour to get there from the center of Athens. All of them have some kind of refreshment available nearby and some even offer umbrellas and sunbeds. But there is always enough of undeveloped space as well, otherwise, they wouldn’t make it on my list. There are no entrance fees on any of them, quite frankly I find the idea of paying to go to a beach completely ridiculous.
During the main summer season, it is a good idea to check the quality of water online before deciding on the final destination. Also, don’t expect to be alone, the beaches around Athens get pretty busy on summer weekends and the buses are packed during the day. But visit in May or September and you’ll be treated to an almost empty beach, beautiful weather and generally peaceful atmosphere.
There are many nice beaches and coves on the southern coast of Attica and the further from Athens you go the better. But the beaches of Legrena are hard to beat. Where else can you enjoy swimming in crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea while admiring an impressive ancient temple on the horizon?
The star of Legrena is Kape Beach. Thanks to its white sand, turquoise sea and tall, rugged cliffs it feels more like one of the Ionian islands the humble Athenian coast. The beaches itself are unorganized but there is a canteen at the top of the cliffs for some simple refreshments.
Walking past the main beach and over the large boulders fallen into the sea, you’ll reach another smaller cove. This one is popular among the nudist visitors so be prepared to see some naked butts. There are a couple of other tiny beaches along the coast connected with the main track by narrow footpaths twisting through the oregano-clad slopes.
On a summer weekend, Kape Beach can get pretty busy so if you get a chance to visit during the week do so. Bringing an umbrella is a good idea, too, as there is no shade anywhere on the beach around noon.
For more solitude with superb views of the Temple of Poseidon leave Legrena behind and head towards Sounio. After about a kilometer you’ll see small carparks along the road and faded paths descending down to the sea. There is no real beach on this side of Legrena but the rocky shore is perfect for snorkeling and cliff jumps. The rocks are comfortable enough for sunbathing, too, but be aware of the sea urchin, abundant along the whole shore.
How to get there: The easiest way to get to Legrena is to take the KTEL bus to Sounio from Pedion Areos in the center of Athens. The ride will take around one and a half-hour in normal traffic and costs about 6 euros. Check the timetable beforehand, the last bus from Sounio usually leaves at 20:00.
To get to Kape Beach, walk from Legrena back towards Athens looking for a dirt road with a sign branching to the left (or ask the bus driver to stop you here). Follow the road for about 500 meters until reaching the canteen above the main beach (about 2km from Legrena).
What else to do near Legrena: The Temple of Poseidon at Sounio is one of the must-see sights of Attica. Lying only about 6 km away from Legrena on the same bus line it can be easily visited during the same day making for a perfect day trip from Athens.
For dinner at Legrena, head inland to the center of the village searching for a tavern called Theodoros & Eleni. This is the best place in the area for fresh fish and seafood plus many delicious side dishes. Make sure to order their marinated anchovies (gavros marinatos) among others, it is to die for!
The sandy beach at Loutsa is a new and unexpected favorite of mine thanks to its fine golden sand, shallow sea and beautiful views towards Evia. It is a city beach very close to the Athenian airport but it feels surprisingly peaceful and island-like (except for the occasional landing airplane).
There are few cafes with sunbeds and umbrellas on the beach but enough space for those preferring self-catered stay. If lying on the beach gets boring after a while, you can rent an SUP or even sign up for windsurfing lessons at Tony Frey Windsurfing Club. You’ll find it at the Albatros café bar at the southern end of the beach.
Loutsa is perfect for kids and non-swimmers alike thanks to its shallow sea (really, really shallow). This also means the water gets warm pretty fast, a thing not so desirable in the middle of summer but very nice for the first swim of the season in April.
How to get there: To get to Loutsa take bus number 304 or 305 from Nomismatokopio metro station (blue line). Get off the bus right when it reaches the coast (the bus stop is called Strofi) and walk to the north along the coast and a pretty port until you reach the southern tip of the beach.
What to do nearby: Fancy a bit of sightseeing? Then stay on the bus all the way to its last stop (Terma) to visit the Archaeologic site and museum of Vravrona (Or Brauron). Click HERE for more info about the site.
Another option is to get off the bus at Agios Nikolaos stop to visit the Athens ZOO. It’s not big and quite pricey for that matter but in combination with the beach, it would make for a great day out especially if coming with kids!
Schinias Bay is a paradise for any nature lover and definitely one of the best beaches near Athens. The 3 km long sandy beach can easily fit even the largest weekend crowds and still feel quite empty. There are few cafes and taverns on the beach but they are far apart and unobtrusive.
The northern half of the beach is lined by a beautiful coastal pine forest, unique for the Attica region, providing much-needed shade. It is an awesome place for a stroll, too, just follow one of the marked sandy footpaths.
How to get there: Coming by car is the best option for easy access to the northern (better) part of the beach but if you don’t mind a bit of walking you can visit the Schinias Bay by bus as well. Take the KTEL bus from Pedion Areos near Viktoria Station towards Marathon and get off at the Marathon Beach. From here, follow the coast towards the north. The asphalt road will turn inland after a couple of hundred meters but there is a path continuing along the seaside.
However, it ends abruptly in front of some old decaying taverns after a while where you’ll have to be creative and find a way through or around the ruins. But it doesn’t take long to reach the main beach of Schinias where you can take your shoes off and wade through the fine sand until you find a spot you like.
What else to see near Schinias: The Schinias Bay, protected under the Natura 2000, is one of the most important ecosystems in Attica. It consists of the coastal pine forest, the Cynosura Peninsula, the wetlands and the springs at Makaria.
It is a home, both permanent and temporary, to many species of mammals and birds making it a popular spot for naturalists and ornithology enthusiasts alike. Thanks to its flat nature it as a great place for an easy cycling trip as well.