Noise blares from a beachside bar as you fight your way to the seaside through a wall of seabeds and other obstacles. Tables are parked as close as possible to the waves. Meanwhile, you note that the other side of the beach is quieter but its fenced off and marked as a private beach for the hotel down the road. You notice an attractive woman sunbathing topless when a ball from the people playing racket ball hits you on the head. You fall in the sand… What’s that squishy thing in your hand? Could it be dog’s poop?
Just how much of this scene is legal?
- Greek coasts are, according to the Greek constitution, a public good and not for one person or company to exploit.
- There are no private beaches in Greece. Even if a hotel is situated right on the beach, it is obliged to let beachgoers visit for free even if the only access to the beach is through the hotel.
- Sunbeds and umbrellas are not allowed to cover more than 50 percent of the beach. There need to be corridors of at least a meter for people to pass through.
- Sunbeds are required, by law, to be at a distance of 5 meters away from the waves.
- More than one group are allowed to have sunbeds at a single beach, however, there needs to be a distance of 100 meters between one sunbed vendor and the next. They are also only allowed to cover half the beach.
- Seaside restaurants on the sandy beach are illegal.
- Beach canteens are not allowed to exceed 15 square meters in size and need a special license to operate. They are not allowed to have loudspeakers for music and need to be 100 meters away from other beachfront businesses.
- Barriers on the sand are illegal as beaches are considered a public good. Cementing off a beach is also illegal.
- Loud sound systems with music at a public space is illegal. Music is not allowed to be louder than 50 decibels.
- Lighting needs to be low and only necessary for safety reasons.
- Exceptions to the usual rules that apply to beaches are those that belong to Natura.
- There is no law prohibiting dogs from going to beaches in Greece even though some beachgoers are annoyed by their presence and don’t feel comfortable swimming next to pets.
- Free camping at the beach is not legal.
- Topless sunbathing is officially against the law in Greece though many people do it. There are designated nudist beaches where it is okay to go topless or naked.