Beyond the ancient sites, beautiful beaches, delicious food and the sea, Greece is also the perfect place for a sailing vacation, with an extensive coastline and countless islands, bays, and little coves to explore. Four of Greece’s five island groups are prime charter areas:
- the Saronic Islands,
- the Cyclades,
- the Dodecanese and
- the Ionian Islands.
Each group has its own unique character. In all of them, you can visit the more popular places, opt to sail off the beaten track, or do a bit of both. Everywhere, archaeological and geological attractions abound. Unless you have 10 to 14 sailing days, focus on one island group.
Relatively close to Athens, the Saronic cluster (formed by Spetses, Poros, Aegina, Hydra and Agistri) is ideal for an easy getaway destination. Winds are not too strong, so take the time to explore the small islands, all endowed with a unique and particular character. Despite their rocky landscape and lack of vegetation, Saronic islands boast amazing beauty and a cosmopolitan character and this is why luxurious yachts and boats arrive every spring and summer there to anchor.
Pine-covered Poros is a charming little island next to Peloponnese; traffic-free Hydra, with its photogenic harbour, neoclassical mansions and plethora of little cafés and restaurants is a favorite; Spetses is equally gorgeous with wood-shielded beaches and hidden coves.
The Cyclades Islands
The Cyclades are a particularly attractive sailing destination, mainly because of their relative proximity to Athens and the great variety of experiences they promise. The contrast of their shockingly white houses against the deep blue of the sea is Greece’s trademark internationally.
The islands of Cyclades offer such a varied and diverse landscape and lifestyle that your options are literally endless. Santorini, for example, are so famous for its sunset and the breathtaking view and an ideal choice for couples or friends. On the other hand, Mykonos is worldwide famous for its wild partying and vivid nightlife until the next morning. Syros is particularly interesting with its Venetian-inspired architecture; Tinos, Ios, Paros and Naxos for the many activities for all ages; and Folegandros and Amorgos for the feeling of time standing still.
The Dodecanese Islands
The Dodecanese, which means “the Twelve Islands” in Greek, lie in a crescent chain down the Asiatic Turkish coast curving west towards Crete. The name “Dodecanese” is of comparatively recent origin. They are a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited.
Like the Cyclades, these islands are fairly close to one another, apart from Kastellorizo, so you can visit a different one every day. Bear in mind that each island has more than enough to repay a longer stay. From Rhodes, the capital of this chain, to the tiny islands of Leipsi, Arki and Agathonisi, this group has a lot of wealthy to discover. Leros, Kos, and of course Rhodes, have magnificent marinas for all sizes of yachts.
The Ionian Islands
Well protected waters, sandy beaches, picturesque beauty and many fascinating places, accessible only by boat – all these and more is the Ionian Sea. The Islands here have a mild climate and rich growth of vegetation, owing to more rains than in the most parts of Greece in early spring. To Ionian Islands, also called as the Eptanisa (Seven Islands), belong Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Meganisi, Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos.