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393 Greek beaches and 9 marinas awarded the Blue Flag for 2013.

Greece once again ranked second place on the Blue Flag quality award list among 49 countries with one beach less compared to 2012, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature announced at a special event held on 26 May at Voula beach, in Attica. A total of 393 beaches and nine marinas were honored with the quality “Blue Flag” award in Greece.

The «Blue Flag» is a programme of environmental awareness and protection which is implemented every year, on a large scale, in more than 40 countries in Europe and other parts of the world by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). It aims at making marinas better and safer, while at the same time protecting their natural environment, so that we may always enjoy them. The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN) is responsible for the programme in Greece. It is the oldest conservation organisation in the country and has been active in environmental education and the protection of nature since 1951.

It is not easy for a marina to be awarded the «Blue Flag». It must meet 24 strict criteria, which have to do with the cleanliness of the marina, its organisation, the safety of its visitors, the protection of nature and environmental awareness. Even when a marina is awarded the «Blue Flag», it only keeps it that year and must prove that it deserves it for the following year. The inspectors of HSPN and FEE visit marinas throughout the bathing period and note any problems or shortcomings.

Usually a short period of grace is given to correct them, but a marina may temporarily, or even permanently, lose its flag for serious deficiencies.

Key information

Time difference
+2 Hours
Local currency
Euro
Peak season
May - August
CORFU

Sleepy villages, hideaway beaches mixed with top-class watersports, and some of the most fun-packed nightlife in Greece, Corfu holidays are ideal for both families and couples. In amongst olives groves and cypress trees are some beautiful family resorts, with well-developed hotels and safe beaches. Visit Corfu for a hot and colourful holiday: pastel-coloured architecture, cobbled roads covered with violet bougainvillea and purple-pink sunsets will take your breath away. It is also considered the greenest, most luscious island in the North Ionian Sea.

CRETE / GOUVES

Skirting the shores of Crete’s northern coastline, Gouves most definitely hits the spot location-wise. On the one hand, this no-fuss resort lets you get to grips with traditional Greek life. And on the other, it’s a great base for exploring this sun bathed isle. We’re talking places like the mystical Palace of Knossos. The island of Spinalonga with its Venetian fort and intriguing history as one of Europe’s last leper colonies. And historical Heraklion with its cosmopolitan shops and non-stop night scene. If you’ve come away to simply kick-back though, your time here will tick-by beautifully. A purpose-built resort of whitewashed buildings, which trickles out from a mountain backdrop - Gouves fans out from one main street. Laced with shops, restaurants and tavernas, the place is as friendly as they come, and pulls off its village atmosphere without any effort whatsoever. If you fancy whiling away your days on the crumbly stuff, there are three cutesy beaches to choose from. And when you tire of tanning, the combination of watersports and diamond-clear seas goes down a treat. Or for sand-free sunbathing try the local waterpark where you can flit between the lazy river, fast flumes and sun-blushed gardens. When you fancy a wander, soak up the Cretan hospitality with a jaunt around town. The lively little centre has plenty of shops to pop in and out of and when you’re done spending your euros, sip a chilled tumbler of ‘retsina’ at a laid-back taverna. As the sun sets in a blaze of glory, take a stroll along the palm-lined promenade. Peruse the restaurant menus as you go and then tuck in to a slap up meal under a starlit sky. This is most definitely the life.

CRETE / HERSONISSOS

Holidays in Hersonissos are almost all things to all people. Beach-lovers have a choice of three – and a great variety of watersports. There's fun for families and the young & lively crowd at the Star Beach waterpark – where only the brave take on the bungee tower and Kamikaze run. The resort's long waterfront is lined with eateries – serving everything from late late breakfasts to romantic alfresco dinners. And there are still typical Greek tavernas for traditional fare – mainly tucked into the narrow old streets that twist inland from the sea. So whether you're pushing the boat out or you just want something fast and cheap, holidays in Hersonissos will match your mood and budget.

Finding the right place to stay is equally easy on Hersonissos holidays. Take a look at the Hotel Albatross – always popular with couples … And the Nana Beach offers all-inclusive holidays and good facilities for couples and families alike - right by the sea on the edge of the resort.

In mid-summer, holidays in Hersonissos are pretty lively affairs. The bars and discos turn the buzz of the centre into more of a throb. But you can escape the throng and head for the hills – for peace and panoramic views from a café in Piskopiano.

ZANTE / KALAMAKI

Kalamaki is a quiet and sophisticated resort in the south east of the island, less than 5 km from the capital town. It is also near (3 km) to the most popular resort on the island, Lagana, combing the best of both worlds; a chance to enjoy the facilities and nightlife in Lagana or to spend a tranquil holiday in quieter locations. Kalamaki has maintained its Greek feel, with the relaxed and slow place of life still apparent despite its recent and increasing popularity with tourists. The beach at Kalamaki is part of Laganas bay and although not as big as Laganas beach it is still a nice sandy beach with gently shelving water. Parts of this beach are restricted for the turtles to use as a breading ground. The nightlife in this resort is fairly low key but there are several bars and classy restaurants to while away the night fine dining, drinking and a bit of dancing if the mood takes you. This is a lovely resort ideal for families.

ZANTE / LAGANAS

The largest resort on the island, Laganas is very popular with visitors from the UK. It's the only Club 18-30 resort on Zakynthos, but the resort has a lot to offer everyone, with over 100 bars and a choice of Italian, Indian and Chinese food. Make sure you check the location of your accommodation. The resort is very spread out, with some apartments well over a mile from the beach. If you like an early night then make sure you're not above a bar or in one of the hotels on the main street in the centre of town. The beach areas either side of the town centre are the best place to stay. The lack of water sports is a problem for some, but there are free buses running down to St Nickolaos beach everyday. It is definitely not traditionally Greek, but you don't have to travel far to be in traditional greek villages.

ZANTE / TSILIVI

Zante’s latecomer

Sitting pretty on Zante’s northeast coast, Tsilivi is a relative latecomer to the tourist boom on Zante – but it’s making up for lost time. Not only does it have an outstanding sandy beach, but its winding streets cram in a waterpark, a mini golf and tonnes of tavernas. And away from the bar-and-restaurant-lined strip, it’s still got the feel of an old fishing village, with old men dozing in the afternoon sun.

A jewel of a beach

Tsilivi Beach is a 2-kilometre ribbon of white sand with a Blue Flag for cleanliness. Bars, restaurants and watersports centres jostle for position on the sand. Half the beach is lined with sunloungers, the other half is strictly towel territory. And if it gets too busy, you can always head to the quieter beaches of Tragaki and Bouka, immediately west from here.

Action-packed resort

Tsilivi is popular with families, and for good reason. It recently added a brand new waterpark, the Splash Fun, just behind the Planos Bay Hotel. There’s also Fantasy Mini Golf set in gecko-filled gardens. And if you’re into 10-pin bowling, there are 4 lanes at Bowl ‘M Over.

Close to Zante Town

Zante Town, the capital, is just a 20-minute taxi ride from Tsilivi. From boutique-lined avenues to a port filled with superyachts, it’s a town that likes the high life. The most fashionable area is by the Venetian castle, where easygoing cafés and achingly cool bars sit side by side.