Anyone who’s ever felt the sailing bug has probably pictured sailing in Greece. Those iconic deep blue waters and white-washed buildings are featured in almost every travel guide, but as those in the know actually know, Greece also has Caribbean-like turquoise waters, white sands, ancient ruins to explore and plenty of great cuisine.
The key to understanding sailing in Greece is to get a feel for its different regions and various groupings of islands. Read on to learn where to sail in Greece according not only to your preferences but your sailing experience.
Athens and the Saronic Gulf
From the capital city you can set off to your choice of two cruising grounds, but first it gives you the chance to explore the ancient city. Many charterers choose to spend at least a few days visiting its archeological sites, museums and good restaurants before meeting their boat.
Sail to the Saronic islands of Poros, Aegina, Hydra and Spetse, with their charming fishing villages, unspoilt nature and good sandy beaches. This is a good option for smoother sailing, as it is sheltered from the Meltemi winds that blow during the summer.
More adventurous sailors can head for the larger Cyclade Islands, where the winds are stronger and the passages between islands are longer.
Located off the coast of northern Greece, the Sporades are have protected, pristine anchorages, forests and beautiful bays. Sailing here is normally uncomplicated, with little exposure to the Meltemi Winds. The waters are turquoise and visitors delight in sandy beaches for swimming and strolling- great for stretching your legs after a few hours of cruising!
The Ionian Sea
Here you’ll find Greece’s most relaxed sailing grounds, not only in terms of the gentle winds but friendly waterside restaurants and tranquil local people.
Frequented by families and flotilla holiday seekers, the islands in the Ionian are relatively close together making for short, enjoyable passages between them.
They also feature scenery that can only be described as stunning, as well as sparkling beaches and charming villages.
On the eastern edge of Greece, closest to Turkey, you’ll find this long chain of islands and islets. Some of the bigger islands offer lively nightlife while the smallest are virtually untouched.
Here sailors can choose whether they’d like a day of adventurous sailing or a shorter passage and more relaxation on shore, but in general this area offers a good challenge for more experienced sailors.
Also mentioned above, the Cyclades are famous for their good winds and exciting conditions. These are your archetypical Greek Islands, with white structures, churches with blue roofs and ancient villages.
They also offer great opportunities to sample traditional food and wine. With the full force of the Meltemi Winds, the Cyclades can be reached from ports on Lavrion, Paros, Syros or Mykonos.
As a natural sailing destination with years of experience welcoming yachties from around the world, it’s quite easy to find a good deal on a charter.
The Greek yacht charter season begins in early April and ends in November, with the busiest time being from the last week of July to the first week of September. This is also the warmest time of year. If you’re okay with cooler temperatures you can bag a cheaper charter in April, May and June; even cheaper if you go in the winter (but be prepared with warmer clothes!).