Greeks Fight for Their Constitutional Right to Free Access and Use of Their Country’s Beaches

Beach in Loutro, Crete © 2023 Deepika Shrestha Ross

The beaches in Greece are considered a “public good” per their Constitution. To the average Greek citizen, this is interpreted to mean that if a hotel is built in a way that it blocks access to the beach, they have the right to walk through the hotel to reach the beach.
Increasingly, however, businesses that have been issued permits to operate in the coastal areas have taken over the coast with their concessions, and sunbeds and umbrellas are packed on almost every accessible area of the beach and charge high fees for their use.

‘No Space for Us’: Greeks Fight Beach Takeover by Pricey Sun Chairs – the New York Times

Restaurants take over the coast in Santorini, Greece © 2023 Deepika Shrestha Ross

It is peak tourist season in Greece, and on the pristine Monastiri beach on the northern tip of Paros island, a phalanx of lounge chairs with red umbrellas covers the sand. At 70 euros for a pair of front-row seats near the crystalline waters, less than half were taken on a recent day, as Greeks and tourists alike who did not want to pay instead sheltered from the sun under nearby trees….

Shore wars: Greeks battle to save beaches from invasion of commercial sunbeds – the Guardian

Densely packed sun beds on the Santorini coast, Greece © 2023 Deepika Shrestha Ross

In the depth of August, when the cicadas sing and the sun burns bright, Archilochos cultural centre on Paros is not usually a hive of activity. If anything, that is reserved for the bars and beaches of a Cycladic isle increasingly drawing le beau monde.

But last week, as Greece’s great summer exodus peaked, the Archilochos was alive to the sound of debate. And, as in weeks gone past, it was a debate ignited by the state of play on the beaches that have become synonymous with pricey sunbeds and greedy entrepreneurs…

Paros Island Council Backs Take Back Beaches Movement – Next Year – the National Herald

Beach in Santorini © 2023 Deepika Shrestha Ross

Limited in its authority, the municipal council on the island of Paros that’s overrun with unlawful businesses occupying public beaches and charging users for umbrellas and lounge beds said there should be inspections.

But officials on the island said the overall jurisdiction belongs to the Finance Ministry, with the government leasing space on prime spots to private operators although there are many that have unlawfully taken over beaches…

Angry Greeks Take Back Public Beach Movement Grows, State Reacts – the National Herald

Asteras Beach Glyfada Athens, Greece (by Falco Ermert CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

The spread of take back public beaches movement in rebellion against private interests blocking access and charging for renting sunbeds and umbrellas has spurred Greece’s government into promising violators would be punished.

The ruling New Democracy has, like previous governments, done little to prevent the takeover of public beaches that has proliferated, especially on islands, in a bid to lure more foreign tourists, enriching the companies using public lands…