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With its crystal clear waters, Greece is a wonderful location for swimming. In 2023, I took up open-water swimming racing, and I love being able to enjoy the beautiful beaches this way.
But there’s information for you here if you enjoy swimming in a more leisurely fashion!
In this post, I’ll share the best time for sea swimming in Greece, some of the best beaches to swim from as well as details of dedicated swimming holidays/vacations.
Celebrating coming 2nd in Andros!
When Is The Best Time for Swimming in Greece?
The high season, from mid-May until early October, is when you’ll get the best weather and sea temperatures for swimming.
I personally will swim in the shoulder season from late April if the air temperature’s high enough. Although, the water temperature is still quite cold. So get in gradually if you choose to do the same.
Swimming in Naxos in April
If you’re a bit of a fair-weather swimmer, I’d wait until May for warmer waters. There are usually still some rainy days in April, as well as in the autumn after the middle of October.
In the autumn, the sea holds its temperature for quite a while. I’ve swum well into November on sunny days. And in 2023, people were swimming along the Athens Riviera on Christmas Day!
The air temperature was about 19 degrees, much warmer than usual. Winter swimmers will brave the water through the normal winter but usually don a wetsuit to do so.
Best Swimming Spots in Greece
Well, you’ll need to make up your own mind on this one. But you have a diverse range of places to try.
To be honest, I haven’t come across a bad place to swim in terms of Greek islands as a whole. Here is my advice to find the best spots.
Take a boat trip to the small island of Renia next to Delos island and archaeological site. Or swim with a view of the imposing Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, south of Athens.
Swim at the beach below the Temple of Poseidon
The island of Kefalonia and its Ionian neighbours are famed for their white sand and turquoise waters. They’re hugely inviting for swimmers. Be aware that the famous Navagio shipwreck beach is currently closed because of the shipwreck’s state.
But many, many, many Greek islands have wonderful and unique beaches that are perfect for swimming.
I generally only write about places I’ve been to, and I haven’t been to Halkidiki yet. But have you seen the pictures?! There are lots of beaches that I’ve been told are excellent for swimming, with lots of shallow and calm ones.
The Peloponnese also has lots of great beaches to discover.
Set up for a swimming race at Epidavros
As well as the famed hot springs of Santorini’s volcano, there are plenty of other thermal spring locations around the country. They’re often small, natural ponds beside the sea but you can find thermal waters in Kos, Kythnos and Evia, amongst other places.
Brace yourself for the cold mountain waters filling the Polylimnio waterfalls’ ponds in the Peloponnese.
Read about hiking and swimming in the Polylimnio waterfalls here.
On A Boat Trip
Some islands, like Milos, have a lot of rocky coastline. And Santorini has really hot volcanic black sand. In some popular spots, it can be good to go on a half or full-day boat trip to swim further out in the open water.
For info on these, check out my posts on the various islands.
⛵ Here are the types of boat trips worth considering in Santorini.
Or Take a Water Taxi
If you want to be more independent rather than join an organised day trip, then some islands have water taxis to take you around the popular beaches.
In certain places (I’m looking at you, Mykonos), you’ll find beach clubs with exclusive access to the beach they’re on.
Beaches aren’t allowed to be privatised in Greece, so they should still let you access part of the sand without any facilities. Although, good luck with that in some places.
These can be good places to swim from, though, because the beaches are usually kept a bit cleaner than some others.
If you’re travelling solo, I’d get a dry bag/buoy to keep your valuables in. Don’t leave them at the beach club.
Avoid Surfing Beaches
The main thing is to find out about the wind. It’s a good idea to find out if there are dedicated water sports beaches for things like kitesurfing.
Some beaches have sections for swimmers and parts sectioned off for the other activities. In that case, you’re fine to swim there. But if it’s mainly for some type of surfing, I’d be careful.
I’m a strong swimmer, and I nearly got into trouble in Tinos at Kolimvithra Beach. There are two beaches together, but the smaller one round the cove was really busy.
So I went to the big one, thinking I’d be ok since I’m a confident swimmer. But I swam out instead of along the shoreline, and I struggled to get back to the beach.
I wasn’t quite panicking. But as I finally got close to the sand, I swam into a dead seagull and then got tangled in a big sheet of plastic while I was flapping to get away from it!
I squealed at that point, and someone did look over, but by then, I was shallow enough to put my feet on the ground.
Take Advice From Locals On a Windy Day
My swimming adventures in the Aegean Sea are usually a bit calmer than that! But keep in mind that some beaches are fine to swim at on some days and not on others. It depends which way the wind’s blowing.
It’s usually best to check locally when you’re having a beach day. That way, someone from your accommodation can advise which location is most sheltered or not affected by the wind at that particular time.
Sometimes, on an island, the southern coast will be the place to go. And others, it’ll be the north or one of the others that’s better.
Similarly, you can get advice or check reviews on Google Maps for family-friendly swimming. If you’re going with little ones, see which local beaches have shallow and calm waters.
On that note, it’s worth knowing that some beaches are affected by waves created by the ships. Like if you go to Kalogeros Beach in Paros, you need to put your belongings high up at the back of the beach when the Blue Star Ferries come in.
The big conventional ferries cause such big waves you can lose your stuff if you’re not careful. Again, if you’re unfamiliar with a beach, it’s good to have a scan of the Google reviews just before you go.
What to Watch Out For
As well as the wind, be mindful of jellyfish. They’ve become a bit of an issue in recent years. But again, when you visit, someone local can advise you if there are any in the area.
I know some people have got long-sleeved rash vests to protect their skin. (And to be fair, they’re not a bad idea anyway if you’re going to be swimming for a while in sunny weather.)
Otherwise, look out for various marine life to enjoy. From personal experience, if you take your goggles or a snorkel kit, you’ll see a lot of different fish, sea urchins, starfish and the odd octopus hiding away.
If you’re in the Ionian Islands, you might see some turtles, and if you swim around the Corinthian Gulf, you might even see some dolphins.
Swimming Holidays in Greece
I didn’t know these were a thing until I was looking up swimming races to enter. I came across the vacations that were dedicated to swimming, and I think it’s an amazing way to immerse yourself in the country’s natural beauty.
These are companies I’ve had bookmarked.
Swim Trek has a variety of options, from short swims for the leisurely swimmer up to tough ultra swims.
My top picks:
- Milos 7-day short swims (3km per day over two swims) with coastal and crossing swims plus you’ll discover the island’s caves, arches and tunnels.
- Sporades Islands 7-day moderate swims (5km per day) through Alonissos National Marine Park. Perfect for nature-lovers, maybe you’ll see the monk seals.
- Ionian Liveaboard 8-day moderate swims (5km per day) from Corfu you’ll enjoy coastal swims along some of the most beautiful Ionian Islands.
You can see all their Greece swim packages here.
Strel Swimming Adventures
This company offers a swimming odyssey including island hopping and coastal swims around Symi island, close to Rhodes.
Big Blue Swim
Big Blue offers a number of 6-day swimming trips in places like Lefkada, Crete, Ithaca and Paros.
If you want to see Santorini an alternative way, stay with them at El Greco Hotel and go for daily swims around the island.
Open Water Swimming Races in Greece
Do you fancy joining a race while you visit Greece? Most coincide with a triathlon event on one day (usually a Sunday) and the separate swimming, running and/or bike races on the Saturday.
There’s plenty of time to enjoy whichever of the Greek beaches you visit for the race.
Distances start at either 1 or 1.5km and usually have a 3km option, too. Some races have 5 and even 10km races too. You can choose to wear a wetsuit or not but the prize categories are different if you do.
You generally need to book and pay for your place in advance but it can all be done online.
Events start in May. And since we can get some great beach weather right through until nearly the end of the year you’ll find races up into November. (Although I did chicken out of the 2023 Sounion Race when the weather turned!)
Some of the main events you’ll find are:
- Greek island of Spetses Spetsathlon takes over the area around the ferry port in May and there’s also
- Spetses Mini-Marathon in September
- XTERRA Open Water Swimming Challenge at the beautiful beach of Voula on Athens’ Riviera in October.
Unfortunately, you need to check the individual organisations above as there doesn’t seem to be anywhere that lists these all in once place.
It’s not really swimming, but there are plenty of options for scuba divers to enjoy Greece’s deep blue sea. Lots of the islands have scuba shops in the main towns so check out Google Maps to find one near you.
Cover image of moi courtesy of Foto-Trexoume at the Epidavros Action swim.