Greece already has plenty going for it—stays amidst the famous blue-domed hills, dinners overlooking the Ionian Sea, architectural tours through ancient civilizations. But despite over 8,000 miles of coastline and at least 1,200 islands, there’s one activity that sometimes gets overlooked: Surfing.
You might have already heard about the Meltemi: unpredictable, northerly winds best known for causing ferry disruptions during the high season. Those same summertime winds bring excellent waves to the Greek islands of Crete, Kos, and the Cyclades when the waters are at their warmest (between 77°F and 82°F). When the winds are up, but the waves aren’t quite right, wind and kitesurfing are always a great time.
Considering a winter trip instead? The best waves crash against the shores of some of Greece’s top tourist destinations: Karpathos, Crete, the Peloponnese, and Athens. Consider adding a wetsuit to your surfboard rental as water temperatures can dip below 65°F.
Greece is never going to beat out surfing destinations like Hawaii, The Maldives, and Costa Rica, but there’s a growing surf culture proving that you can definitely ride the waves in Greece. Here are the most idyllic places to surf in Greece during your next vacation.
Famous for the long life expectancies of its residents, the ‘Island of Longevity’ boasts a laid-back vibe that meshes perfectly with its newfound surf culture. It’s one of the best spots to visit during the warmer months with Messakti Beach, North Beach, and Livadi Beach exposed to the Meltemi Winds.
The Island of Ikaria was named after the mythological character Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and fell into the waves below. First-time surfers will probably find themselves following in his footsteps but don’t worry, the team at Ikaria Surf School will help you get back on your board again and again. Along with surf lessons, they can help you get to know the whole island with hikes, local wine and food tastings, and Surf & Stay camps. In Summer, the Meltemi Winds can create waves over six feet tall at both Messakti and Livadi Beach next door. These big waves are best left to more intermediate surfers while waves under three feet are perfect for beginners.
If you’re visiting in winter, Messinia, on the Peloponnese western coast, sees some of the most beautiful waves in Greece. The Costa Navarino resorts have helped transform the area into a premier luxury holiday destination with beachside golf courses, waterfront hotels, and gourmet dining. Plus, the sunsets here are spectacular.
Messinia’s Lagouvardos has one of the best beach breaks in the Peloponnese and when the weather conditions are just right it can get quite crowded in the water. The Athens-based Kyma Surf School has an outpost here with friendly instructors who can provide you with equipment and help you learn the basics. When you’re ready to relax on the sand, you can grab food and drink at one of the beach bars (there are three). The Romanos Costa Navarino makes an excellent home base just twenty minutes from Lagouvardos.
Greece’s largest island is better known for its calm waters, so if you’re looking for waves you’ll need to head to the west coast. Good swells arrive in summer at Komos Beach, Stalida Beach, and Sfinari Beach. Falasarna and Christi Akti, two of Crete’s best surf spots, get good waves throughout the year. When conditions aren’t right for surfing, head down south to Elafonissi Beach, or inland to Lake Kournas, for the chance to see some turtles.
This charming Venetian-era town is not only home to some of Crete’s best surf beaches but also some of Greece’s best surf schools. At the picturesque (and beginner-friendly) Christi Akti (or ‘Golden Coast’) you can rent equipment and take lessons from the Chania Surf Club. Consider a stay at the Domes Noruz Chania, a stunning adult-only hotel less than twenty minutes from Chrissi Akti. Alternatively, the teachers at the Kalo Surf Club are experts on the waters at Kissamos, a sheltered beach with nice clean breaks. For windsurfing, head to Kouremenos Beach where the Gone Surfing Club makes good use of the Meltemi Winds. For something different each day, Surfing Crete checks the forecast to find the best surf for your skill level nearby.
Island of Tinos
Beginner surfers should take advantage of the perfect surf conditions at this enchanting Cyclades island. The small waves and shallow waters might be a downside for the pros but they’re perfect for learning the fundamentals. Summer is by far the best time to surf here and when the conditions are too calm for surfing, they’re often perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Kolymbithra is another beach that reaps the benefits of the Meltemi summer winds. The frequency and relatively small size of the waves make it perfect for beginners looking to try and try again. Look for the chairs and shade cloth set up around a bright yellow Volkswagen ‘Hippie Van’, that’s where you’ll find the Tinos Beach Bar & Surf School. Founded by a local surfer, they offer affordable lessons and soft surfboards. For smaller crowds head to Livada, close to the eastern end of the island which gets similar conditions. Tired of surfing and looking for a beach where you can just relax? Agios Fokas is a sheltered beach with calm waters even on the windiest days. The Aeolis Tinos Suites offer spacious luxury in unique stone buildings around twenty minutes from Kolymbithra.
Keros Beach is one of Lemnos’ best beaches for windsurfing and if you’re interested in combining a surf trip with some beachside ‘glamping’, head to Surf Club Keros. Sleep in a luxury safari tent, just five minutes from the Aegean Sea. The team here also knows a great place for surfing lessons with small to medium waves and few people.
Too often overshadowed by its next-door neighbor, Crete, winter swells from the Mediterranean Sea make their way through a gap in the Dodecanese Islands to Karpathos’ western shores. The Karpathos Adventure surf school Surfvival hosts four day-intensive surf camps as well as daily lessons. They usually conduct lessons at the beautiful Agios Nikolaos Beach in Arkasa. The Royal Beach Hotel in Arkasa offers suites and apartments minutes from Agios Nikolaos.
The ‘Athenian Riviera’ stretches south from Athens to Attica and is home to a growing surf culture, especially during its excellent winter surf season. One of the most popular surf day-trip destinations is Vouliagmeni, just over an hour from the capital by public transport. Kyma Surf Shop & School runs lessons here and at Varkiza on the other side of the bay. They also sell a range of surfing gear from surf travel bags to wetsuits.
If you’re interested in other water sports, the Athens Water Sports Surf Club sets up shop in Artemida, just outside of Athens. Just arrived and aren’t sure where to find the best surf? The Athens-based Greek Surfing Academy runs lessons at a variety of locations around Greece. Central Athens has no shortage of luxury hotels, like the iconic Hotel Grande Bretagne, if you want to strike a balance between sightseeing and surfing. If you’d prefer to be closer to the beach, the Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens in Vouliagmeni is for you.
Known as the ‘island of winds’ Mykonos is one of the most popular destinations in Greece amongst experienced surfers. Strong wind at exposed beaches like Fiela and Korfos makes it particularly popular among wind and kitesurfers. Popular destinations like Megali Ammos and Mikri Ammos are usually too sheltered for surfing, but they have ideal conditions for a relaxing sunbathing break. You can take kitesurfing lessons if you stay at the Mykonos Waves Beach House & Suites, located seconds from Korfos Beach.
The summertime winds turn Kos into a windsurfer’s paradise. Horizon Surfing Kos offers windsurfing lessons at the Horizon Beach Resort. Windzone Kos offers kite and windsurfing lessons at Psalidi Beach close to Kos Town. Kefalos is well-known for its old-school nightlife, but it’s also the windiest spot on the island. Agios Theologos has some of the best conditions for both windsurfing and normal surfing and the Riptide Surf School offers lessons and rentals. Stay at the five-star Caravia Beach Hotel, close to Windsurfing Kos which offers rentals, lessons, and the opportunity to get an international windsurfing license. The four-star Royal Bay Hotel is a great option just outside of Kefalos.
More Places To Catch Waves in Greece
These may not be the very best surfing spots in Greece, but if you’re in the area anyway, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the surf forecast. You might just find yourself in the right place at the right time.
Surfing is possible but uncommon in Santorini. However, wind and kitesurfing are popular activities in the summer months. The Nemely Windsurf and SUP Centre near Kamari Beach offers windsurfing lessons and surf camps between April and October.
Santa Maria and Golden Beach are two of the most popular beaches for windsurfing locations in Greece. The Golden Beach Surf Club runs lessons with lightweight rigs that are easier for beginners to control. The White Dunes near Santa Maria is one of Paros’ best luxury hotels.
Mikri Viglia is a prime kitesurfing destination in summer, and you can learn the ropes at Thalasea Sports Kite Surfing Centre. If you stay at the relaxing 18 Grapes Hotel, you’ll be in between Mikri Viglia and the calmer Agiassos beach, an unspoiled golden sandy beach with idyllic turquoise waters.