Greece has been awarded Blue Flags for 408 beaches and 10 marinas by eco-management body the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
Earning the second highest number of flags of the 51 countries partaking in the programme this year, the accolade cements Greece’s reputation as one of the premier holiday destinations in Europe for its picturesque marinas and hidden beaches. The Blue Flag award scheme is a prestigious, international programme which acts as a guarantee to tourists that a beach or marina is one of the best in the world.
Blue Flags are awarded season by season to beaches and marinas that have a high standard of water quality, safety, services, environmental education and management, with each beach judged on 32 strict criteria. Last year, Greece received Blue Flags for 379 beaches and nine marinas.
Indeed, 2014 is shaping up to be a record year for Greek tourism, with a record 18.5 million arrivals – not including cruise ship passengers – and 13 billion euros in tourism revenue expected. Newly-released figures confirm that arrivals at the country’s main airports rose by 30.1 percent in the first quarter of the year, compared to the corresponding period in 2013.
Between January and April, Athens International airport alone saw a 36.1 percent jump in arrivals, a figure boosted by the addition of 700,000 flights to the Greek capital for the whole of 2014.
To celebrate this achievement for the country’s swimming waters, Marketing Greece shares five top beaches on the islands and a locals’ favourite in Athens:
Mykonos – Super Paradise
The beaches of Mykonos have won fame as the best in the Aegean, thanks to their crystalline and golden sand, not to mention multi-starred service and flawless organisation. One of the most impressive lives up to its name, Super Paradise, a vast sandy bay with translucent turquoise water.
Skiathos – Lalaria
Skiathos’ trademark cove, Lalaria, has often won the title of most stunning beach in Greece and its fame has spread around the world. Its emerald waters and smooth white pebbles under towering sheer rocks attract boats with visitors eager to see the island’s beauty for themselves.
Milos – Sarakinko
Sarakinko is made up of milky white volcanic rocks as soft as chalk, sculpted into intriguing shapes by the wind and waves. The deep gulf of green water surrounding the rocks and caves turns every shade of blue the further one gets from shore.
Pardos – Kolymbithres (Business travel note: the correct name is Paros)
This famous beach tucked into the bay of Naoussa has gorgeous blue-green water and smooth greyish rocks chiselled into phantasmagorical shapes interspersed with delicious golden coves of varying sizes
Zakynthos – Shipwreck Bay (Navagio)
Who could have imagined that an old boat called Panayiotis would be the star of thousands of snapshots and videos that have pushed Zakynthos to fame the world over? The beach where Panayiotis ran aground forms a magical setting with its sheer white cliffs, turquoise water and white sand.
For more information or to book your next trip to Greece visit aegeanair.com and for information on accommodation, activities and exciting events visit discovergreece.com.