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Map of the Greek Island Groups
Getting Acquainted with Greece
Naturism in Greece
Nudity and the Law
It's All Greek to Me . . .

Map of the Greek Island Groups

 North & East Aegean 
The white star indicates the location of Athens.

Getting Acquainted with Greece
Greece is a country that is both familiar and exotic. It is the cradle of Western Civilization, yet it is at a crossroads with cultures that seem very foreign to most of us. It is a gateway both to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It is a country that includes countless islands, but all of Greece is metaphorically an island in Europe—or, more precisely, what most of us think of when we think of Europe. France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom: those countries are all connected, both literally (with a little help from the Chunnel) and in our minds. But Greece? Greece doesn't border any of those countries. In fact, most of us would be hard pressed to name all four countries that border Greece—Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania and Macedonia (the former Yugoslav republic, not to be confused with the bordering Greek region of the same name).

Greece is likewise both well known and barely known to foreign travelers. Sure, tourists flock to Athens and the islands, but mainland Greece outside Athens—which covers a land area comparable to that of Kentucky—remains largely undiscovered by tourists.

In this guide, we barely scratch the surface of mainland Greece. For naturism, it is all about the islands, and, boy, are there ever a lot of them. How many? Well, that depends on the source and whether or not, for example, every rock sticking out of the water counts as an island. Most sources put the number of islands at over 1,500—a number that inspires incredulity. Don't worry. You won't have to sort through 1,500 island brochures to figure out which one suits you best. Only a fraction of the islands—about 150 or so—have any human inhabitants at all, and the majority of those have fewer than 100 inhabitants. If you consider only the islands that have any kind of tourist industry, the number of islands from which to choose shrinks to 50 or so. Furthermore, some of those islands are in effect satellite islands of larger neighbors, suitable for short day trips. For example, getting to Antiparos from Paros involves a ferry ride of less than two kilometers. There is an endless variety of what you can find in the Greek islands: a view of Albania (Corfu), a view of Turkey (Samos), day trippers from Athens (Agistri), throngs of gay men (Mykonos), impossibly dramatic clifftop villages (Santorini), free spirits who like to rough it (Donoussa), free spirits who really like to rough it (Gavdos, part of Crete).

The largest of the Greek islands is Crete, which is also the southernmost of the major islands. Crete is about twice the size of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. The next largest island is Evia (a.k.a. Euboea), which is a bit less than half the size of Crete. However, Evia is bridged to mainland Greece and can't even be discerned as an island on most maps, so it is often regarded as part of the mainland. After Crete and Evia, the islands seem to shrink exponentially. Lesbos and Rhodes, the third and fourth largest islands, are each roughly one-third the size of Rhode Island. Much farther down the line, Mykonos is a bit smaller in land area than San Francisco, and Santorini is a bit larger than Manhattan.

Most islands are classified into one of six island groups, which are shown on the map above. The Ionian Islands are the only islands to the west of the mainland, in the Ionian Sea, which is the part of the Mediterranean between mainland Greece and southern Italy. The Saronic Islands are located in the Saronic Gulf between Athens and the Peloponnese. The Sporades Islands are located in the Aegean Sea off the central-eastern mainland coast. The Cyclades are in the part of the Aegean Sea that is southeast of Athens and north of Crete. Both the North and East Aegean Islands, off the northwestern coast of Turkey, and the Dodecanese Islands, farther south along the Turkish coast, are much closer to Turkey than to mainland Greece.

Naturism in Greece
The most notable nude beaches of Greece are populated with vacationers, mostly from elsewhere in Europe. If it seems that the nude beaches in Greece have very few Greeks, there are some logical reasons. As hinted in the previous section, naturism is mostly an island phenomenon, but the vast majority of Greeks live on the mainland. The islands are often populated by more tourists than locals. Mainland Greeks vacation on the islands like other Europeans, and some of them do prefer to enjoy the beach sans swimwear, but there are just 11 million or so Greeks. In comparison, the Germans and Brits (among others) that vacation on the Greek islands come from countries with populations of 80+ million and 60+ million, respectively. So, if you find yourself on a nude beach in Greece wondering Where are all the Greeks?... they are there; they are just outnumbered!

That having been said, organized naturism has not emerged nearly as strongly in Greece as in other European countries. Naturist resorts and social clubs are virtually absent. There is likewise an absence of formally designated nude beaches, even though there is general informal tolerance for beaches where a custom of nudity has evolved. Among the islands that are accessible to tourists, there are some islands with well-established nude beaches, some islands with remote areas suitable for naturism and some islands that are too packed with tourists on package holidays for naturism to thrive. As for the mainland, its nudist locations are very poorly documented. Due to a lack of sufficiently detailed information, we have been able to include just a handful of mainland beaches.

Due to the rather informal nature of nude bathing at Greek beaches, it is a challenge to sort out the beaches where naturism has deep roots from those that are sometimes naturist or potentially naturist. Many of the islands have one beach which draws a critical mass of nudists and other beaches where nudity is possible but not necessarily consistently practiced. For example, on the island of Antiparos, Theologos Beach is unequivocally the nude beach of the island. However, the island has a number of remote and lightly attended beaches that can be explored. At such off-the-beaten path beaches, nudity is typically acceptable with due discretion and respect for the sensibilities of textiles who were there first. There are also cases where nudity spontaneously occurs at the extreme ends of textile beaches, away from the concentration of beach goers and at time when the beach is not overcrowded.

In this guide, we have culled the possibilities and detailed about 50 or so beaches. Most of these have firmly cemented naturist traditions. A handful of them can only tenuously be described as nude beaches but are still worthwhile or otherwise notable. Greece offers many more naturist possibilities than what is described herein. With a sense of adventure and the assistance of a detailed map of a particular area and possibly a four-wheel drive, you can find your way to other fantastic places to take off your clothes and enjoy the resplendent beauty of Greece.

Cap'n Barefoot's Naturist Guide to the Greek Islands is an English-language website that has been around since 1996 and is the Go-To source for the most complete detailing of nudist possibilities in Greece. The site is essentially a collection of paraphrased trip reports sent in by web users.

While the site has an astounding amount of information, it can be overwhelming and time consuming to sort through it all if you are unfamiliar with Greece and are shopping for ideas for your first trip. Many of the locations included are beaches where nudity patterns are inconsistent or where nudity may be viable only outside peak season. We suggest using Naked Places to get a gist of the best places for nudity in Greece and then visiting Cap'n Barefoot for supplemental information. In our Google Earth file for Greece, we have linked each nude beach that we detail to its corresponding page on Cap'n Barefoot to facilitate access to trip reports.

Another very worthwhile site is Matt Barrett's Guides to Greece and the Greek Islands. It is NOT about naturism, but it is an excellent general travel guide to Greece that potential first-time visitors will find especially useful.

Nudity and the Law
Very few if any nude beaches in Greece are officially sanctioned for nude use. If you come across a sign that says "nudist beach" or "no nudity," chances are it has been put up by someone with no real authority to reflect the prevailing attitude at a particular site. We cannot write definitively how nude beaches technically stand in the eyes of Greek law. However, ample empirical evidence suggests that nudity is well tolerated by authorities both at places where there is a critical mass of nudists and at sparsely attended beaches where nudists are careful to leave buffer zones with textiles. If your travels take you to beaches off the tourist beat where you are more likely to mingle with locals (especially on the mainland), you should use far more discretion about disrobing.

It's All Greek to Me . . .
Don't know what Ελλάδα means? Don't worry. Neither do the other tourists. To state the obvious, Greek is the official language of Greece. However, Greek is not widely spoken outside the country. By and large, English is the language of Greek tourism and the language that connects Greece to the rest of the world. As succinctly put by travel guru Rick Steves, "When a Greek meets a Norwegian, they speak English." In most parts of Greece, and especially in tourist areas, signage is likely to be in Greek and English. (By the way, Ελλάδα is Greek for Greece.)

While dealing with a different alphabet is not an issue due to the prevalence of English, a potential source of confusion is the lack of standardized spellings for English transliterations of Greek place names. In particular, "y" and "i" are often interchangeable as vowels, as are "y" and "g" as consonants. Also widely interchangeable are "b" and "v," and "s" is used very erratically at the end of words. For example, if you visit Mykonos, at some point you are sure to end up at Plati Yialos, which is the starting point for reaching several nude beaches. "Plati" can also be Platis, Platy, or Platys, and "Yialos" may be Yalos, Yalou, Giolo, Giolos, etc. (Oh, and "Mykonos" is also Mikonos, Myconos and Miconos.) Don't be thrown off by variant spellings. You will encounter many. Incidentally, a term frequently used in describing Greek beaches is taverna, which is a beach bar. Many Greek beaches have tavernas which sell beer, other beverages and food.

To download the complete KMZ file for Greece (viewable in Google Earth), CLICK HERE.
See the DOWNLOADS page for a list of all available KMZ files.