Selecting the finest beaches of all in the Ionian Sea is not easy; thousands kilometres of majestic coastline make it a virtual feat. Still, last minute city breakers do not have the luxury of time and we are here to make things easier for you. So, we have tried our best and gathered for you the 5 most stunning beaches of the Ionian Sea, along with all relevant practical information of how you can get there and what you can expect in terms of holiday activities and accommodation options.
Located on the island of Zakynthos, Navagio Beach is no stranger to praise. It is frequently featured in lists of the best beaches not just in Greece but in the world, and pictures of Navagio frequently appear in travel magazines across the world. However, this is not a beach you can just stroll to from your hotel. Like many beautiful things, it is a little bit harder to approach than that. This beach cannot be reached by land, only by sea, though thanks to its famed beauty there are boats travelling regularly between Navagio Beach and the various towns of the island.
“Navagio” in Greek (Ναυάγιο) means shipwreck. The beach was originally known as “St. George”, but in 1980 a ship suffered a severe damage while travelling off the nearby coast and was abandoned by its crew, thus ending up lying on the beach. At the beginning, locals feared that that the shipwreck would damage local tourism, but eventually it added to the wonderful scenery, attracting even more people than before.
How to Get There: That’s the tricky part. As you can easily see from pictures of the site, the “Navagio” beach lies between bold, trackless cliffs. While this rough scenery bestows the beach its peculiar adventurous, inaccessible character, it makes it really hard for visitors to approach by foot. There is a road that drives you up the cliffs and gives you the opportunity to take some nice photos, but that’s all.
Therefore, the only way you can enjoy the white – sand beach is by taking the boat. Fortunately enough, numerous locals offer frequent boat services from three different ports:
- from Porto Vromi, which is the nearest to the Cove;
- from the Harbor of St. Nikolas in Volimes, a little further from the North;
- from the port of Zakynthos, which is the longest route.
Fees vary, depending on the month and tourist numbers. August is by far the busiest month and, accordingly, the most pricy.
Activities: Well, because of the site’s isolated nature, you will have to bring everything you need with you: water, food, umbrella, reclining – chair etc. There are no shops, no beach bars, no facilities at all. Bear also in mind that there is no shade for the most part of the day. If you prefer seclusion then avoid visiting the beach between 10 am and 2pm, especially during August.
Accommodation: As you can easily imagine, there is no chance of finding any kind of accommodation on the beach or even around it, and camping is strictly forbidden. On the other hand, you can find excellent accommodation option in the surrounding villages. If you wish to spend all your holidays in the Navagio, then opt for rooms in the Porto Vromi and St. Nikolas village.
Corfu is one of the most popular Ionian islands and one of the most popular Greek holiday destinations of all for that matter. Paleokastritsa is definitely the island’s star beach. While the temptation to spend all your time on the sand is strong, there are also other attractions. It is located close to the famous Paleokastritsa Monastery, and boats regularly ferry tourists to nearby caves and coves. The downside to this beach is that, thanks to Corfu’s popularity, things can get crowded in peak seasons. But there are quieter coves on this stretch of coast that are no less beautiful than the main beach but tend to be a lot less packed.
How to Get There: Paleokastritsa is nothing like Navagio. You can easily get there by car and it is only 25 kilometres away from the island’s capital Corfu. That is why it is an excellent last minute break, as Corfu has an excellent airport with numerous flights from all around Europe during the summer. There are taxi stations operating 24 hours a day that will drive you there in less than 40 minutes. The taxi fee is usually around 35.00 Euros during the day and 45.00 during the night. In addition, 5 minutes away from Corfu’s port there is the bus station with constant bus services throughout the whole day. Tickets usually cost from 8.00 – 10.00 Euros per person. Of course, in Corfu there are also plenty of car rentals, with varying prices.
Activities: Unlike Navagio, Paleokastritsa has excellent tourist facilities and numerous summer activities for its fortunate visitors. The most popular though are two:
- Boat trips: from several different locations around the village you can find scheduled boat trips, especially from the beach of Agios Spyridon. Boat trips usually last 30 minutes or so and tak visitors around the famous nearby caves. Furthermore, semi sub-marines offer visitors the opportunity to explore the wonderful sea bed and its fascinating sea life. There also sea – taxi services to several nearby beaches, such as Agia Triada, Platakia and Alipa.
- Diving: another quite fascinating activity quite popular in the area is diving, especially off the stunning beach of Ampelaki. The spectacular sea bed and rich marine life offer divers a once in a lifetime experience.
Needless to say anything about the spectacular local Mediterranean cuisine and the famous Greek night life. Rest assured you won’t be disappointed by any of the two.
Accommodation: Accommodation options in the area include hotels, rooms to let, studios and apartments. If you need something even mor e economical, there is also an organized camping facility near the Agia Triada beach, just 800 metres from the sea. The facilities are open from the 15th of May to the 20th of October.
A truly wonderful beach, and one that is also a little bit different. Rugged cliff faces stand between much of Myrtos Beach and the rest of the island of Kefalonia. Along the shore, you will find distinctive and pretty white pebbles. This is an exceptionally scenic beach, and is frequently photographed for magazines and guidebooks for travellers in Greece. It is also a large beach, which is no bad thing given how popular it is for both family holidays and romantic breaks.
How to Get There: Well, for a last minute breaker the best way to get there is, of course by plane. There are several charter flights to the island during the summer, from several airports in Britain, like Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Gatwick, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle and Stansted. Of course there are also the regular flights that will take you to the island’s airport (8 kilometres away from the capital Argostoli). Myrtos is a 45 minute drive from Argostoli (around 30 kilometres) and you can easily find a taxi or bus that will take you there 24 hours a day during the summer months. Car rentals are also a good option for those of you that wish for a little more privacy and independence.
Activities: Myrtos preserves its virgin character but the surrounding villages have sports facilities and offer visitors numerous summer activities, such as
- Scuba Diving: turquoise waters, excellent visibility and a stunning underwater life.
- Sailing: even if you are not an experienced skipper, you can rent a boat and explore the wonderful coastline.
- Island Cruises.
- Horseback riding: trips can be arranged for both experienced and inexperienced riders.
- Hiking: as soon as the sun starts its descent, explore the surrounding trails and take photos of the magnificent cliffs and coastline.
Accommodation: Finding decent accommodation in the nearby hospitable villages won’t prove difficult. You have plenty of options: from expensive hotels to apartments, private villas and studios, all within a reasonable distance of the wonderful sandy beaches.
Lefkada is an island with a number of beaches, but Kathisma is among the most stunning and also among the longest. It boasts fine, soft white sand and warm, clean waters. What really distinguishes it, though, is the fact that it has more variety in the things it can offer than most beaches. Most of it is simply a wonderful seaside relaxation spot, complete with plenty of parasols and sun loungers provided. There is also a clothing-optional area, and the facilities for a wide variety of activities such as watersports and paragliding.
How to Get There: Kathisma is just 16 kilometres away from the capital of the island, which is connected with the mainland with a bridge – so you won’t have to use a ferry if you decide to reach Greece by the nearest mainland airport of Aktion, less than 20 kilometres from the capital of the island. From the capital, you will have to drive southwest for about half an hour and you will soon marvel the turquoise, crystal clear waters of the beach. In the port you will easily find taxis and buses that can take you there any time of the day, or even night during the summer. Taxis are a bit more expensive – around 30.00 Euros – but Buses are far more crowded. Cara rentals are also available.
Activities: The well organized services in the surrounding villages make sure that almost all usual summer activities, including, sailing, diving, water-skiing etc, are available.
Accommodation: Kathisma boasts a rather well organized touristic infrastructure, including all types of hotels, restaurants, beach bars and, of course, the traditional taverns. Free campers are not allowed in the area, and the closest organized camping is, in Kariotes beach, is about 20 kilometres away up to the north. Still, several economical options are available in apartments, studios or even private villas. Remember that arriving early in the summer will get you far better accommodation prices.
One of Kefalonia’s finest beaches, Antisamos Beach is perhaps one of the most scenic spots in all of Greece. On one side of the soft sand are the bright blue ocean waters, and on the other are vibrant green hillsides. The beauty of Antisamos led it to be chosen as a filming location for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It is a partly-organised, partly-unorganised beach complete with a bar and provision for water sports and other activities.
How to Get There: Antisamos beach lies at the east coastline of the island, just 38 kilometres from the island’s airport. The best way to go directly there is by taxi, which is about a 60 minute drive, but it will cost you around 50 Euros. Busses are also available, and you can find even more options in the island’s capital, Argostoli which is around 15 kilometres away from the Airport.
Activities: As already mentioned adrenaline addicts and water sports enthusiasts will surely find a lot of exciting activities waiting for them in Antisamos, such as
- Water skiing;
- Wind – surfing;
- Jet – skiing etc.
Accommodation: most accommodation options are just a few hundred metres away from the beach, proper for all kinds of budgets. Hotels, rooms to let and studios take the lion’s share, and prices are generally reasonable, except during August when they reach a more pricy peak. Another excellent choice would be the Karavomylos Beach camping, with exceptional facilities and just a few kilometres away.
Packing it up
The Ionian Sea can easily be described as a treasure chest full of emerald beaches and golden sands. Finding the most stunning ones it is not an easy task, and surely it will easily be reproved as grossly subjective. Still, we made an effort to help you out and if one thing is for sure is that all 5 of the aforementioned beaches are truly one of a kind. So… what are you waiting for? Pack your stuff and try a beach break ASAP!