A hidden Greek gem: Schinias beach, Marathon
A complete guide to the best alternative beach near Athens city centre
We all can imagine that there is nothing better for an Athenian than spending the weekends in the summertime at a nearby beach under the Greek sun, as soon as the days get warmer in mid-spring.
You may be wondering which are the most famous beaches of Athens. Kalamaki, Kavouri, Varkiza, Glyfada and Vouliagmeni are the best options for you if you are looking to quickly dip in near the centre of Athens. The thing is, they can often be too crowded.
Of course, the whole coastline from Glyfada to Cape Sounion (and all-around Attica) is full of small shores ready to be explored. But what about a big sandy beach with a whole forest on it?
Schinias beach, Marathon may be one of Athens' most illustrious areas to bathe, combining 3.5 kilometres of forest directly along the seashore. Located right inside Schinias National Park, it gives you the chance to enjoy yourself exactly inside a Natura 2000 space, just 40 km from Athens.
With its enormous coastline, it’s the largest and calmest seaside of east Attica, thus making it ideal for anybody looking for a peace of mind in a non-commercialized, environmentally protected, forested beach.
People all over Athens come here for swimming, leisure, and water sports, and it is a well-known destination for bird watchers as well. Food, activities, entertainment, and even ports are within a very reasonable distance. So if you want some entertainment, the area has all kinds for every visitor. Sounds like a perfect combination of everything, doesn't it?
Part of the Natura 2000 Network
The national park, consisting of the Kinosura Peninsula, an Umbrella Pine forest, and the Gulf of Schinias, is the most important coastal ecosystem in the whole region of Attica. It is an area of high ecological value with various species of flora and fauna. The place acts as a significant rest stop for migrating birds, including endangered species (such as the duck Aythya nyroca), marking it as one of the few places in Attica where birds rest, feed and potentially breed.
In fact, more than 150 species of birds have been identified, 30 of which are under protection regime of the EU Birds Directive 2009/147/EC. Much of the habitat now lives around the waters of “Athens 2004” Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre, which was designed to co-exist with nature, and which you can easily reach and explore. The Olympic facilities are open to the public, and besides athletes, it’s frequently visited by bird watchers and bikers, cycling on the lane all around the Olympics 2004 stadium.
Along with its pine tree forest, one of the only three of its kind in Greece, the area has been assigned as a special protection and conservation zone, under Natura 2000 Network and Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles.
Entertainment and things to do
Simultaneously, the recreational life starts exactly where the forest ends. Marathon Beach, which starts exactly after the end of the forest, offers dozens of beach bars in a row. Karavi, the famous beach and sports club, offers the amenities for all water enthusiasts: from sunbeds on the Blue Flag awarded beach to Beach Volley courts, Windsurfing and Paddleboarding services. For diving lovers, Marathon Divers Club has exceptional ratings with services for professionals and families alike. If you are up for anything from Windsurfing, Waterskiing, Wakeboarding, Wakesurfing, SUP, or inflatables, Moraitis Beach has you covered with literally all you need.
Don’t forget to eat fresh fish at the restaurants and local taverns on the main way to the beach. The fashionable area of Nea Makri also offers many food options and a vibrant nightlife in its coastal bars and clubs, as well as a coast with modern design, covered with palms.
Marathon lake is an artificial lake and another great sightseeing to do during your trip to Schinias. At 9 km from the town of Marathon, the dam still supplies Athens with water. Covered in the same Pentelikon marble used for the construction of the Parthenon, it was designed to symbolize ancient Greece and particularly the battle of Marathon.
The battle of Marathon & the original marathon run
In fact, you may already know this place better than you think. Here is the exact historical place where the Battle of Marathon occurred, when the Persians invaded unsuccessfully Greece 2500 years ago, marking the beginning of the rise of the Classical Greek civilization. The remnants of the battle can be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Marathon and the Marathon Tomb, which buries the ashes of the Athenians who fell during the fight.
Honouring the Marathon battle, the marathon run started with the first modern Olympic games in 1896. It later became a standardized event in the Olympics of 1921, before becoming popular globally.
Do not miss out on the annual Athens Classic Marathon run each November, which starts in the town of Marathon, exactly 42 km from the centre of Athens. Put on your list as well a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Marathon and the Marathon Run Museum, as well as the start line.
Ferries to Evia and Cyclades
Believe it or not, the nearest port from Schinias beach is just 15 minutes by driving! With a ticket price of 4€ per ride, the ferry from Agia Marina to Nea Styra is just 40 minutes long, being a perfect candidate for a daily trip. Ferry boats are also travelling daily to islands in the Aegean from Rafina port, the second biggest of Athens, just 20 km from Schinias beach. Everyday connections to: north, central and south Cyclades (Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Ios, Syros, Santorini, etc.), Crete (Heraklion), northeast Aegean (Ikaria, Samos)
You can see maybe now how you can better combine your next stay in Athens with some popular islands!
Where to stay
If you are looking for a place to stay near Athens, Schinias beach is a great option. The hill exactly behind the beach, is a residential area named after the association of "Greek Judges and Prosecutors", making it an area of very high prestige (and the home of some very prominent Greek figures).
The hill offers also unique and uncontested views over the whole park of Schinias. Why not rent an entire maisonette for yourself with panoramic views over the beach and the forest? Or, if you are looking to invest in a house, and ready to make a big step in choosing a timeless tourist destination.
Overall, Schinias is a famous alternative beach to visit near Athens. It is big enough to never feel populated and simultaneously having all amenities a visitor may ask for. A unique and rich area not only in terms of nature, but also culturally and historically. Do you know many places that combine everything so harmonically?
Alestate.gr is owned by freelance architect and construction developer Alexis Ignatiadis. His expertise in the area of Schinias started before 2004, when building his first residential complex, which was immediately sold out.
Since then, Alexis has been responsible for a series of properties for private investors, including maisonettes and villas.