Beaches in Heraklion

Heraklion Beaches

Heraklion is the gateway of most visitors to the island. During the summer months, the port and airport can get very busy with daily flights from Greece and international destinations. There are more than two dozen beaches close to Heraklion and it is recommended you head outside the main centre to enjoy most of what the area has to offer. Starting with the northwestern side, you come across Ammoudara beach, a long sandy stretch of shoreline, that can get quite busy and is popular with windsurfers. By the time you reach Palaiokastro, you have left behind the resorts and seaside beach bars and tavernas. This is an intimate bay, that is not organized and mostly frequented by locals. Heading west, the seaside coast is one endless stretch of beaches so you can pick whatever suits your preferences most. After passing the airport and the settlement of Karteros the beaches of Amnissos, Tobrouk, and Kokkini Hani offer sandy shores and most are organized so you can rent umbrellas and sunbeds.

The southern coast is another world altogether and many options exist here as well. Try Keratokampos in the Viannos area or the seaside village of Lendas; Kommos with its Minoan settlement right on the shoreline is another excellent option. Of course, you cannot overlook Matala with the cliff-face caves made famous once upon a time by the hippies! For the more ardent nature-lovers looking for secluded options, there are plenty of beaches of outstanding beauty with no road access to keep the crowds away. These can only be reached by foot along a pathway or by boat. Some of these beaches are found at the exits of the Martsalo and Agiofarango Gorges, and again at the White and Black beaches of eastern Asteroussia.

Heraklion may be the only place on the island that feels more like a city, but that doesn’t mean there are no beaches nearby for you to discover. Reaching the south coast takes only an hour, and can be combined with visits to nearby villages, archaeological sites and short hikes in the mountains.

Check out some of the many options for beaches in Heraklion in our list below.

Chiona Beach

Chiona Beach

The village of Chiona, which has given its name to the beach, is found on the easternmost region of Crete in an area, surrounded by olive groves. Even though it is located near well-known spots, the village has remained a quiet and remote destination where visitors come to relax and unwind. The beach itself is long with a wide coastline and lacks organization. Rocks frame the beach to each side, but most of it is covered in sand with a…

Read More Read More

Armenopetra Beach

Armenopetra Beach

This is a relatively unknown beach on the southern coast of Crete in between the villages of Keratokampos and Arvi. The name of the beach is a combination of the Greek words for sail + rock (armeno and petra) because of a rock in the beach that resembles a ship with its sail raised. It is not organized so visitors should aim to bring everything they need with them. The water is shallow and clear and there is sand and…

Read More Read More

Kastri Beach

Kastri Beach

The beach of Kastri is right next door to the organized seaside settlement of Keratokampos. Here there is a small harbour, that is primarily used by local fishermen. If you have a boat, this is a great area to explore and you can enjoy the beautiful coastline of the Viannos region. The beach is to the west of the village, between the harbour and the beach of Skouros; it has sand, pebbles and very clear, shallow waters. It is not…

Read More Read More

Keratokampos Beach

Keratokampos Beach

This area of Keratokambos includes the coastal village that has undergone the most prominent development in the area of tourism in recent years. Located on the southern coast of the Heraklion prefecture, this is an area most suitable for nature lovers, away from urban centres, crowded beaches or cosmopolitan beach bars and parties. The open, vast waters of the Libyan Sea, welcome visitors that wish to unwind and relax. There are various stories about how the area got its name….

Read More Read More

Tsoutsouras Beach

Tsoutsouras Beach

The charming village of Tsoutsouras located on the southern coast of Crete island, has a small harbour, where boats come in during the summer. Two small bays are formed on either side of the harbour, with an overall length of 2 km.  Both have sand, pebbles and crystal clear waters and are great swimming options. Most of the beachfront is lined with tamarisk trees, so you don’t have to carry an umbrella – if you don’t wish to – but…

Read More Read More

Kapsali Beach Peristerionas

Kapsali Beach Peristerionas

The beach of Kapsali (or Peristerionas, meaning the Pigeon or Dove) is located on Cape Peristerionas, between Keratokampos and Arvi. A secluded and isolated spot, without any infrastructure, it is sandy, with a few rocks and blue waters that open out towards the Libyan Sea. Its location on the southern coast of Crete island has allowed this beach to remain undiscovered by the crowds and as such, it is almost always quiet. You will find no rooms to rent or…

Read More Read More

Larinaki & Listis Beach

Larinaki & Listis Beach

On the southern coast of Crete, in the prefecture of Heraklion visitors will find beautiful and remote beaches. Two options that are unknown to most visitors east of the settlement of Keratokampos are Larinaki and Listis. Larinaki This is a most attractive beach with pebbles and very clear deep water. It is not organized, and you will encounter neither umbrellas nor sunbeds. A few tamarisks growing at the front of the beach offer shade to the visitor and the wandering…

Read More Read More

Voidomatis Beach

Voidomatis Beach

The southern side of the prefecture of Heraklion is home to a range of stunning and remote beaches that visitors can explore at their own leisure. Reaching the southern coast takes only about an hour from the north, but the scene and vibe cannot be any different. Rugged mountain peaks forming narrow gorges and vast plateaus and plains open up in front of you, as you navigate twisting roads and discover coves of unparallel beauty. Whether you are a nature…

Read More Read More

Pachia Ammos Beach

Pachia Ammos Beach

Οn the southern coast of Crete island, in the prefecture of Heraklion, we find the wonderful beach of Pachia Ammos (in Ornio) which translates to “Deep Sand“. This is a stunning, wide beach of more than 300 m long, with soft sandy, as the name suggests, and clear, deep waters. It is set in along tall cliffs and relatively exposed to the winds. Due to its remote location, it is most popular with locals in the area, or visitors looking…

Read More Read More

Treis Ekklisies Beach

Treis Ekklisies Beach

Treis Ekklisies is a small coastal settlement on the southern coast of Crete island. The beach lies at the centre of the village, which is named after the three churches found there: the Transfiguration, Agios Antonios and the Annunciation. It is a sheltered beach, surrounded by steep cliffs, that lies at the exit point of Agia Paraskevi gorge. It has sand and very clear, translucent waters – ideal for underwater exploration. Though it is not a very popular tourist spot,…

Read More Read More

Meakis Beach

Meakis Beach

Meakis beach is located in between the coastal settlement of Arvi and Keratokambos on the southern coast of Crete island, in the prefecture of Heraklion. It is beautiful and quiet, with sand, a few pebbles and blue waters. It is not organized, and no umbrellas or other amenities are to be found so it is best to bring everything you need with you. Rent-rooms exist at Arvi, and you can also find a taverna at the nearby village of Trochaloi….

Read More Read More

Tertsa Beach

Tertsa Beach

On the southern coast of Crete island, in the prefecture of Heraklion, we find two small but charming beaches that are unknown to most visitors. To the north, the magnificent forest of Selakano welcomes those that chose to drive through the picturesque setting. Here you will find small villages, away from the crowds where you can relax and enjoy quiet holidays. To reach the area from Heraklion, you will travel south for about 78 km which takes approximately 1 hour…

Read More Read More

Psari Forada Beach

Psari Forada Beach

Psari Forada beach takes its name from the settlement of Psari Forada, which is located nearby. The beach is also known as Sidonia because it is believed it is located on the site of the ancient town. How the name of Psari Forada came into being is the subject of several opinions. The most widespread states that the name started to be used during the time of the Arab Occupation of Crete. The Byzantine state sent a fleet under general…

Read More Read More

Vatalos & Koutelos Beaches

Vatalos & Koutelos Beaches

West of Frangokastello, on the southern coast of Crete towards Chora Sfakion, we find two charming beaches named Vatalos and Koutelos. Vatalos Beach Vatalos beach is only 2 km and less than a 20-minute walk from the centre of Frangokastello, near the settlement of Agios Nektarios. It is a large and rather unorganized stretch of land, with a balance between rocks and sand. As is the case with most beaches on the southern coast of Crete, nudism is permitted. While…

Read More Read More

Kokkini Ammos Beach

Kokkini Ammos Beach

Kokkini Ammos beach (meaning Red Sand) is a secluded beach which can be reached only on foot. It has reddish sand that has given it its name, and turquoise waters. The beach is located south of Matala on the southern coast of Crete island, in the prefecture of Heraklion. The rocky cliffs that rise to the north have in some parts, fabulous designs cut into them – like the sphinx and various other esoteric symbols. The sculptures are the work…

Read More Read More

Kommos Beach

Kommos Beach

On the western side of Matala, one of the most popular resorts in southern Crete, in the prefecture of Heraklion, we find Kommos beach. It spans the area at the south end of the Gulf of Messara and this was in times past the port of Festos. Near the beach you will today happen on the ruins of the old city of Kommos. Findings suggest that this was a central Minoan harbour and a prosperous town with active trade routes…

Read More Read More

Agiofarago Beach

Agiofarago Beach

Agiofarago beach is located at the exit of a small but stunning gorge that runs about a kilometre south of Martsalo. It takes its name from the 300 hermits that lived in the area. The gorge is approximately 1.5 km long and leads to a beach surrounded by high cliffs; the isolated strand has small pebbles and deep, crystal-clear water. Getting there by foot is only possible through the gorge (an easy trek of less than an hour), or by…

Read More Read More

Potamos Beach Malia

Potamos Beach Malia

Malia lies 37 km east of Heraklion and is a popular destination, with excellent infrastructure and vibrant nightlife that attracts thousands of visitors each summer. There are several beaches in the area to accommodate all visitor needs and preferences. For those who prefer to avoid or escape the crowds at the main beach of Malia, Potamos beach further to the east is an excellent option. It is named after a small river that flows there forming a wetland of great…

Read More Read More

Stalis Beach

Stalis Beach

On the north coast of Crete island, a few kilometres from Hersonissos and 33 km from Heraklion lies the seaside town of Stalida. Stalida means taking a break for a rest and is a tourist resort whose boundaries merge with those of the nearby Hersonissos and Malia, even though it is not as well known as the latter. The magnificent 2 km strand offers golden sand, clear waters and rocky formations at the edges. It is, however, open to the…

Read More Read More

Limanakia Beach Chersonissos

Limanakia Beach Chersonissos

Limanakia of Hersonissos is one of the most popular swimming spots for tourists in Crete. Located 26 km east of Heraklion, it is composed of a string of bays with white sand and blue-green waters that make up separate beaches, some popular and crowded and others offering a bit more privacy. The atmosphere is busy, but not as crowded or hectic as in nearby Hersonissos. The centre of the village has all the amenities and activities a visitor would need,…

Read More Read More

Aposelemi Beach

Aposelemi Beach

Aposelemi beach is located between the seaside resorts of Kato Gouves and Analipsi, at a distance of 19 km from Heraklion. This is where the Aposelemi river flows down to meet the Mediterranean Sea. It is some 750 m in length, with sand and shallow waters, and is semi-organized in some parts. Visitors will find a few sunbeds, umbrellas, and also some tamarisk trees to provide natural shade to the visitor. The area around the river’s mouth has formed an…

Read More Read More

Gouves Beach

Gouves Beach

Gouves is a seaside tourist destination, located about 18 km from Heraklion on the northern coast of Crete island. It is an ideal spot for quiet family holidays and has all the necessary infrastructure you will need. The beaches of Gouves are small, sandy, with shallow and warm waters, perfect for families with young children. Most of the beach is well organized and protected from the winds by small artificial breakwaters. The area has many restaurants, hotels, shops and cafes…

Read More Read More

Gournes Beach

Gournes Beach

Gournes is a tourist village located between Kokkini Hani and Gouves, some 16 km from Heraklion. It consists of a series of small sandy coves that are open to the winds; breakwaters prevent the waves from causing too much erosion. The largest beach in the area is located in front of the now-abandoned US military base of Gournes. The base is what prompted the development of the area, which had until then been a quiet sleepy village. There are no…

Read More Read More

Kokkini Hani Beach

Kokkini Hani Beach

Kokkini Hani is a coastal tourist development, 15 km from Heraklion, found to the east of Vatheianos Kampos. It has many beaches – large and small, with sand and shallow waters, which are affected by the strong north winds that frequently blow. The area is easily accessible from the Old National Road from Heraklion to Malia and Agios Nikolaos. As you pass through this area, you can take various exits that lead to various different spots on the coast. The…

Read More Read More

Vatheianos Kampos Beach

Vatheianos Kampos Beach

The area of Vathianos Kampos is located 15 km east of Heraklion. This expanse of land takes its name from the Vatheiano River, which flows through the plain in the winter towards the beach. There are two settlements here, Epano/Upper and Kato/Lower Vatheia that lie close to each other. The beach of Vathianos Kampos is one of the most well known and popular on the north coast of the Heraklion prefecture. The westernmost part has taken its name from a…

Read More Read More

Karteros Beach

Karteros Beach

Karteros beach is located right next to Heraklion airport, in a small bay that forms on its west side. This is about 7 km from the town itself and the beach is in total about 1 km long. It has soft sand, and shallow clean waters and is popular primarily with locals. It is organized in some places, where there are hotels and beach bars with a young clientele. Karteros, just like most other beaches on the northern coast of…

Read More Read More

Ammoudara Beach

Ammoudara Beach

One of the most popular beaches near Heraklion, that is easily accessible to most visitors and a great option if you don’t want to travel far. Ammoudara is a vast sandy beach that stretches from the western boundaries of the city of Heraklion and extends east to the mouth of the River Almyros. It has shallow waters, and most parts are organized. You can also find quiet stretches of sand if you so prefer. The beach is located right in…

Read More Read More

Mades Beach

Mades Beach

Mades is a small bay 20 km west of Heraklion located in the coastal settlement of the same name. The beach is pebbly, the water clear and a beautiful seabed is there for underwater exploration, so don’t forget to bring your mask. This is a popular area, but much less crowded than nearby Agia Pelagia, with all the amenities and infrastructure visitors will need. In the village you will find lovely tavernas, shops, and various accommodation options. Alternatively, you can…

Read More Read More

Lygaria Beach

Lygaria Beach

The bay of Lygaria is home to the second largest organized beach in the Agia Pelagia district, and it takes about 25-30 minutes to get there from Heraklion. This long coarse sandy beach, located at the east end of the region (east of Agia Pelagia beach, the area’s main beach), is always quieter than its neighboring bays, particularly during the week.Except on weekends, as the locals from nearby Heraklion come, it is always a lot of fun, so it is…

Read More Read More

Agia Pelagia Beach

Agia Pelagia Beach

Agia Pelagia is one of the most popular summer destinations in the Heraklion prefecture. It is located 21 km from Heraklion and has a long beach, more than 450 m in length, with fine sand. The beautiful setting, crystalline waters and calmness of the sea, attracts a lot of visitors, so it is often busy. The area is also relatively protected from the northerly winds and fully organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, showers, a lifeguard, and a plethora of water-sports. For…

Read More Read More

Psaromoura Beach

Psaromoura Beach

About 22 km west from Heraklion, and only walking distance from the coastal settlement of Agia Pelagia, is a small, enclosed cove called Psaromoura. While it is a small and quiet place, it attracts a wide range of visitors and is slowly picking up in popularity. The beach has soft sand, pebbles and crystal clear waters. It is also fully organized with umbrellas, sunbeds and showers, as well as a canteen for a snack and a drink. For those wishing…

Read More Read More

Mononaftis Beach

Mononaftis Beach

Mononaftis beach is 23 km from the city of Heraklion and just 1 km from the popular coastal settlement of Agia Pelagia. It is a beautiful beach, about 80 m long, with crystal clear waters that gradually deepen, soft sand, a few pebbles and a rocky bottom in some places, ideal for those that want to combine their swim with a bit of fishing and diving. As the beach is located in an open bay surrounded by rocks, it is…

Read More Read More