Greece is the ultimate 'lie-about-on-a-beach' destination. You need only say the country's name, and visions of pristine coastline lapped by clear turquoise waters spring to mind. But each region of this island-heavy land – mainland, Ionian, Aegean and the rest – offers up a slightly different flavour of stunning seaside locales. Read on to find out where you should lay your towel.
The one for... intergalactic sun-basking
Where: Sarakiniko Beach, Milos
Why: Milos's most-snapped beach looks totally out-there – like, light years out there. Its eroded limestone landscape may not be as comfy as sand, but lying about here is a bit like sunbathing on the moon. Plus the shallow, crystal-blue inlet that slices through the rocky shore is a much nicer place to swim than a pool of lunar water. Thrill-seekers will leap for joy at the abundance of cliff-jumping opportunities here – just be careful, some of the rocks are quite steep.
✈ Fly to Athens, then take a three-hour ferry – book flights and holidays
The one for... something spectacular
Where: Navagio Beach, Zante
Why: Punters come from far and wide to gawp at this white-sand stunner, featuring a hulking, shipwrecked rust bucket draped across it. The MV Panagiotis ran aground in 1980, giving this gorgeous cove its nickname, 'Shipwreck Beach'. Hop on a boat tour to get a good look at this beauty beach, or just drive up to the designated viewpoint, where you can snap that coveted aerial photo of the beach framed by precipitous limestone cliffs.
The one for... influencers
Where: Elafonisi Beach, Crete
Why: It's a pink beach! Crete's most Instagram-friendly shore gets its distinct hue from all the crushed coral in its sands, turning it an electric bubblegum shade that stands out on any social media feed. But don't just come for the photo op – it's also an ideal place to chill out, featuring warm, inviting waters, a smattering of cedar trees and the lovely scent of thyme lingering in the air.
The one for... classics nerds
Where: Voidokilia Beach, Messinia
Why: This much-loved mainland beach – which looks like the horseshoe shape of omega (Ω), the final letter in the Greek alphabet – is not only gorgeous, it's also where you'll find a number of ancient attractions: the mythical Nestor's Cave, the ruins of Old Navarino Castle and the tomb of Thrasymedes, dating back 5,000 years ago to the Mycenaean period. You'll also find it in the pages of Homer's Odyssey – how's that for cred?
✈ Fly to Athens, then a 2.5-hour drive – book flights and holidays
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The one for... seeing red
Where: Red Beach, Santorini
Why: Surrounded by soaring crimson cliffs and blanketed with reddish-black sand, this beach is a spectacular sight. But a good thing never stays secret for long – the shore gets packed in summer, so come early and stake out a spot to admire the incredible volcanic rock that makes this it so special. If you want to avoid the throng entirely, you can just admire this natural wonder from the parking lot, which is located at the edge of the headland.
The one for... white-sand idyll
Where: Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia
Why: You wouldn't be blamed for thinking this heavenly shore is plucked straight from a Bahamian island. With soft, milky sands along aquamarine waters – all framed by sheer cliffs – this Kefalonian beach is the very definition of idyllic. Be sure to stick around for sunset, when electric oranges and yellows blaze across the sky, beautifully reflected by the clear sea.
The one for... activities galore
Where: Prasonisi Beach, Rhodes
Why: There's no doubt Prasonisi is a looker: a long stretch of golden sand connecting mainland Rhodes with a small islet, lapped on either side by deep azure sea. But that's not all it's got going for it – it's also known as an excellent spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding, thanks to reliable winds and flat waters. There are loads of watersport schools dotted around if you want to have a go, or just chill out on a sunbed on the beach's eastern side.
✈ Fly to Rhodes – book flights and holidays