If we are being realistic, there aren't any spectacular beaches near Athens. It of course depends on what we mean by "close". Yes, it is possible that the Attic beaches and those in the "neighboring prefectures" (Corinth, Argolis, and the surrounding area) are not spectacular enough for us to be impressed by their beauty. However, if you are willing to drive a couple of hours more down to the Peloponnese you will find some of the best beaches in Greece. We have ten very good examples to support our words.
In the Prefecture of Arcadia, a little below Leonidio as you look at the map. Set out determined to drive quite a bit, as the nearest village, Poulithra, is about an hour away by winding road.
The beach: A perfect semi-circular cove with clear, turquoise waters, large white pebbles, and some green hillsides to "close" its edges. It's one of the Peloponnese's little-kept secrets (which means you have a good chance of getting it all to yourself) and well worth the aforementioned hassle of driving.
Bonus: The taverna at the back serves the catch of the day, along with fragrant country fish and homemade fries, under the tamarisk trees, soundtracked by cicadas and the sound of the waves.
You will find it: In Messenia, 10 kilometers away from Pylos.
The beach: It is one of the most photographed in Greece, and rightfully so: The wonderful semicircle it forms, its crystal clear, turquoise waters, and its white dunes with powder-fine sand make up a fantastic landscape. Such that you are hardly bothered by the August crowd.
Bonus: History lovers climb the two hills that close its edges: On one is built Paleokastro, the first castle of Pylos dating from 1278, on the other the Mycenaean vaulted tomb of Thrasymides.
You will find it: In (laconic) Mani.
The beach: Fine, golden sand, crystal clear waters, tufted oleanders for the necessary shade, few people, and a strange little church at the end of it, which according to legend hides the treasure of some pirates.
Bonus: In the small tavern on the edge of it you will taste fresh fish and seafood, on blue painted tables, with the wave right at your feet.
You will find it: In Messenia, about 10 kilometers from Kyparissia, on the road to Pyrgos.
The beach: Golden sand, ionic waters, and plenty of shade from the pine forest behind it.
Bonus: The magnificent pine forest of Agiannakis, next to the beach of Elea, reaches almost the breaking point of the wave, and is suitable for hikers and cyclists under the shade of fragrant pines. If you get hungry, grab a table at Mythos tis Elia, order fresh fish and seafood, and accompany them with exquisite fried zucchini and local cheeses.
You will find it: In the prefecture of Messenia, between Finikounda and Methoni.
The beach: One of the most beautiful beaches in Messenia. Velvety golden sand, clear light blue waters, and a length perfect for finding your peace.
Bonus: The two magnificent castles of Methoni and Koroni are just a stone's throw away and are suitable for exploring with the sunset as a backdrop.
You will find it: In Messenia, too, about 30 kilometers away from Kalamata.
The beach: Large white pebbles, blue-green waters reflecting the tufted trees that generously offer their shade, and imposing rocks at its back.
Bonus: A few kilometers from here, the traditional settlement of Kardamyli is ideal for afternoon walks in its cobbled streets. If you get hungry, grab a table under the olive trees of the restaurant of the same name for delicious stews and delicious local cuisine.
You will find it: 15 kilometers north of Pylos, very close to Voidokoilia.
The beach: With its impressive dunes, all-white sand lilies, light blue waters, and serenity it easily wins the title of one of our favorite almost-secret- Peloponnese beaches.
Bonus: The Ammothines restaurant stretches its wooden decks at the back and gazes out at its shimmering waters. It serves excellent cuisine, inspired by local tradition with a few good creative touches.
You will find it: On the northeastern side of Laconia, 60 kilometers north of Monemvasia.
The beach: There are two beaches, Agia Kyriaki and Megali Ammos: Colorful pebbles and imposing rocks on the first, black and white pebbles, and tamarisk trees for shade on the second. Crystal clear waters meet the horizon line and idyllic quiet and panoramic views of the coastal settlement on both.
Bonus: The village that spreads out around them, nestled between the steep slopes of Parnon and the blue vastness of Myrtou, is ideal for holidays or weekends away from everyone and everything.
You will find it: In the Messinian gulf, four kilometers north of Koroni.
The beach: It is one of the few "secret" beaches in the area. The green frame provided by the tufted trees around it contrasts perfectly with the blue of its waters, where its soft golden sand ends. You will find it by following the olive path.
Bonus: At a short distance, just over 500 meters away, is another one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, Peroulia. Here the tavern of the same name serves delicious stews and dishes of the day.
You will find it: On the west coast of Peloponnese, in the prefecture of Ilia, about 40 kilometers from Pyrgos.
The beach: It is, in fact, the beginning of the endless fantastic sandy beach that stretches for fifty kilometers. Soft, golden sand, dunes with white lilies, turquoise ionic waters, and a magnificent pine forest.
Bonus: Archaeologists find their paradise in the area: Ancient Olympia is only 25 kilometers from here, while another 12 separate you from one of the most interesting, and lesser-known, ancient temples, that of Epicurious Apollo in Bassae.