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Blue Flag Beaches in Greece

Here are some of the best beaches in Greece

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Great water quality and beautiful surroundings make almost all Greek beaches winners - but some of them also receive the coveted "Blue Flag", an international recognition of water quality. But with so many winners this year, it's hard to decide which ones to visit. Here is my list of some of the best Blue Flag beaches in Greece, based on accessibility, beauty and other visitor-friendly factors.

1. Blue Flag Beaches in Greece - The Big List

Look for the Blue Flag
Picture of a Blue Flag copyright deTraci Regula; licensed to About.com
Here is the full list of Greek beaches and marinas which qualified for the Blue Flag in 2013. The beaches are listed by the municipal authority, which may be quite a distance away from the actual site, something to be aware of when making your travel plans. For example, Matala is over an hour's drive away from Heraklion, but it is part of the Heraklion region.

At the official international Blue Flag site, at the right of the Greece page they have a list of Greece's Blue Flag beach regions which, if you are diligent on clicking through, leads to a close-up map showing exactly where each blue-flag winner exists.

2. Matala Beach, Matala,Crete

The municipal beach at Matala, Crete
Picture of Matala copyright deTraci Regula, licensed to About.com
A multiple-time winner, the municipal beach at Matala is easy to get to, beautiful, and clean. Snorkelers can even take a peek at some underwater Roman-era remains, and the famed ancient caves are also right there to explore. The beach is also the site of the now-annual Matala Hippie Fest in early June.

3. Kamares 1 and Kamares 2, Santorini (Thira)

The volcanic island of Santorini has a rainbow of beaches with different-colored sands on each, the product of the tremendous eruption which shattered the island about 3500 years ago. Kamares, on the east side of the island, is famed for its black sands - and for its lovely water quality. The beach area is developed with many tavernas and small hotels, and its also near the mountain-top site of ancient Roman Thira. With the dazzling location, the local tavernas are a bit pricy but overall, Kamares is well worth a special visit.

4. The Beaches of Mount Olympus

Huh? How can mountains have beaches? Discovering that is one more reason to make the trek to the Mount Olympus region, where the foothills are close to the seashore and the clean beaches are worthy of Zeus himself - who, if ancient stories are to be believed, probably makes regular visits to check out this year's crop of nymphs. The shores picked out by Blue Flag include Leptokarya 1, Skotina, Panteleimonas 1, Platamonas 1, and Pori. In this region, you'll find yourself in easy distance from Dion, the extensive ancient city founded by Alexander the Great and Litochorou, the jumping-off point for many ascents to Mount Olympus and the home of one of the best restaurants in Greece, En Olympo.

5. The Unknown Island of Evvia

Okay, so some people do know about Evvia - also known as Evia or Euboea - but I try never to miss an opportunity to point out this large, easy-to-get-to island which is missed by most foreign tourists to Greece. Second only in size to Crete, and shaped roughly the same, it's one of the islands you can drive to over a bridge but once there, you'll feel a million miles away from the rest of Greece.

In 2012, two of Evvia's beaches have been noted by Blue Flag - Alyki Drossias and Eretria 3. Eretria also offers an extensive archaelogical site in the area.

Like large Greek islands? Here are the 20 Largest Greek Islands, in order of size.

6. Marathon Beaches, Attica

I love when beaches combine with history, and these two in the Marathon area allow you to design a day at the beach with a visit to the archaeological site and the very good small museum devoted to the sites. The two spots are Schinias/Karavi and Brexiza - Schinias was the site of some of the kayaking competitions during the Athens 2004 Olympics. Brexiza is the site of an ancient temple of Isis and other archaeological remains.

7. Fodele, Crete

The Blue Flag beach of Fodele is well known for something else - the small village is the birthplace of Crete's most famous artist, Domenicos Theotokopoulos,the man known to the world as El Greco. And while the birth claim is disputed by big-city Heraklion, even that municipality cannot dispute that the artist was said to work near the beach in Fodele. In the village, there is a small museum dedicated to the artist, though you'll only find reproductions here. A couple of the high-ticket originals are in Heraklion.

Fodele Beach is also known for another kind of visitor - in July, small dolphins are often seen in the waters around Fodele. The link above leads to a narrated slideshow from Yannis Samatas about Fodele.

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