Greece’s best beach cafes and tavernas and travel tips. An ouzo or a cold beer after a day on the beach, freshly caught sardines on a Greek island …
Lela’s Taverna, Kardamyli, Peloponnese
Overlooking the old port in this pretty village, Lela’s has a terraced dining area shaded by a vine-covered pergola, with planters tumbling bright red geraniums. You can dine while watching the sun set over the sea and the moon rise behind the mountains. Be prepared to spend your evenings here for the setting as well as the food, which is simple, traditional and delicious. There are no menus, the day’s specials are on the board. You’ll get addicted to the aubergine dip, and maybe to the sweet prawns in fresh tomato sauce with feta, too.
T +30 272 107 3541
Captain Pipinos, Agios Georgios, Antiparos
This taverna is right on the water’s edge at Agios Georgios. We arrived there after a 12km cycle along the island’s coast, and had one of the best meals of our two-week island-hopping holiday. Delicious shrimp saganaki was washed down with a glass of wine while we looked at the drying octopuses and got sprayed by the waves.
T+30 228 402 1823
Gregori’s bar, Logaras beach, Paros
A cafe with no food and where you help yourself to drink? And one that’s never called by its real name? “Sea Swell” at the start of Logaras beach will be forever known as Gregori’s, after its 80-year-old proprietor – who would be the most relaxed man on the island if it wasn’t for his son, Manolis, spending the day staring out to sea while his dad occasionally collects empty bottles of Mythos beer or local retsina.
Andreas and Tilly, the charming owners of Kohili on southern Samos, are wonderful hosts and great cooks. A walk along a rough, dusty track with the azure sea falling away on your left brings you to this stunning place with 360-degree views. We sunbathed and snorkelled on the beach below, got frightened by a tuna zipping past as we hung in the secluded cove below the terraces, and when the sun set we climbed up for a cold beer, delicious scorpion fish with lovely vegetables and to-die-for spicy meatballs.
T +30 697 766 4437
Kanali Taverna, Elounda, Crete
Its setting is right by the sea on Elounda Bay. It’s on a conservation “island”, past the old salt pans and across a causeway – 15 minutes’ walk from the main resort. The setting is unique: on the shoreline by an ancient sunken city of Olous, with ruined windmills, a picturesque church and a mosaic from an early Christian basilica close to your table. The atmosphere is laid-back and you can enjoy delicious Cretan cuisine while you relax.
T+30 284 104 2075
The Cellar Tavern, Kissamos, Crete
Stelio’s Cellar Tavern is on the beach at Kissamos – on the stunning but untouristy western tip of Crete. He’s cheerful and welcoming – and always remembers us. His cook makes the best moussaka I’ve tasted, and last year we asked if she’d teach us how to make it. We were invited into the kitchen the following morning; that evening we sat by the sea and ate the second-best plate of moussaka ever.
T+30 282 202 3883
Avli Taverna, Corfu Town, Corfu
The Avli Taverna, in a secluded bay, is so beautiful you could sit there all day as the sun sets. Many people do, sipping ouzo under trees next to a sea so blue and calm you almost expect Pierce Brosnan to turn up on a boat while Meryl Streep emerges from the cafe singing Mamma Mia. Lovely food, friendly service and affordable prices add to its dreamy quality.
T+30 266 103 1291
Lepeda beach cafe, Kefalonia
Lepeda beach is a few miles south of Lixouri, Kefalonia’s second town. An unusual rock formation girdles the sandy beach and the cafe with its tables and parasols. Fresh cooked food is available but I can only vouch for the beer and frappés. The sea is irresistible, and after a swim I stood thigh-deep talking to a Canadian woman; small fish nibbled at our legs and a kingfisher flew out of the sun and around the rocks. Seconds later it flew back; the shimmer of colour was just magical.
Peroulia, Messina, Peloponnese
We’ve never stayed in the rooms available to rent but the food and sea views from the dining area are to die for. Gaze across 20 miles of blue sea to the Taygetus mountains beyond. There are only four or five meals on the menu because they are all cooked fresh every day. So, while the choice initially looks small, the taste and quality are fantastic. Sea view, carafe of wine, dinner for two, about €30.
T+30 272 504 1777