Greek Sailing Regions
If you were going to ask us to recommend anywhere in the Mediterranean for a sailing vacation… a Greek sailing adventure would be close to the top of the list! Rich in magnificent culture, legendary history, breathtaking monuments and archaeological sites and filled with natural and man-made beauty to suit anybody’s fancy!
Best of all, there are 4 primary sailing regions for you to choose from and keep coming back to explore!
The North and South Ionian Islands. The main departure islands here are Corfu in the north and Lefkas in the south. The geography here is stunning, high cliffs, tall, deep caves and rich with cultural history such as the tales of Odysseus. The winds here are regular, daily and somewhat predictable which makes it an experienced sailors favourite for the memorable, striking anchorages, adrenaline-filled afternoons of sailing and the choice of islands positioned close together. The Ionian islands do, however, lack the really lively islands, filled instead mostly with smaller, cuter towns and villages. There is a more “remote” feeling throughout your week and most nights will be spent at anchor, taking the dinghy to shore. 7 days is plenty to experience the North or South Ionian islands at a slow pace. With more hours sailing per day, you can still comfortably explore the North and South in just 7 days, too.
The Cyclades cluster of islands is vast and contains travellers favourites such as Santorini, Milos, Paros, Folegandros, Kouffinisia and Mykonos, which speak for themselves. You would depart from Athens / Piraeus to the north or depending on availability, there are options from Paros which is central to the Cyclades. In comparison to the Ionian and Saronic Gulf, the Cyclades islands are further apart and you will enjoy longer but equally more rewarding sails! The route will take a little bit more planning as you consider where you wish to visit, how far you are prepared to sail in a day and how early you feel like having breakfast! The towns on each island are very lively, filled with fine dining and local tavernas, wineries and cocktails lounges, historical landmarks and shopping on all levels. If departing from Athens, a 10 to 14 day sailing vacation is recommended to allow enough time to comfortably see everything at your own pace. However, departing from within the Cyclades such as Mykonos or Paros, a 7 day itinerary is more than enough.
The Saronic Gulf departs from Athens / Piraeus and includes the unique, highly lively and infamous islands of Hydra, Poros and Spetses. I would say this is the most well known of the sailing routes and most popular. The Saronic is less affected by the stronger winds found in the Ionian and Cyclades, and in terms of distances, the islands aren’t as close as the Ionian but closer than those in the Cyclades. Each night you can step ashore from your yacht if that’s the plan and if not, there are always water taxis around that you can wave down! The Saronic Islands for me have always been about the iconic, busy and beautiful towns such as the legendary Hydra, the pretty and more vast Poros and the high-life of Spetses! There are some truly remarkable dining opportunities all around, many chances to lose yourselves in the streets and culture… not to mention, the chance to visit smaller islands and their anchorages en-route each day, such as Agistri and Moni Aegina. You can even take an excursion to the Ancient Amphitheatre of Epidaurus.
North Ionian (Corfu, Paxos)
Set sail on your sailing adventure around cosmopolitan Corfu, Homer’s ‘beautiful and rich land’. Starting out from Gouvia, just 5 minutes from Corfu Town, this idyllic destination is widely considered a major link between the Adriatic and the Mediterranean.
Strike out for open-water sailing or Greek island hopping, stroll Corfu’s Old Town or explore Gaios’ Venetian architecture. Your North Ionian yacht charter out of Corfu lets you enjoy ancient history, stunning waters and scenic ports along Greece’s beautiful northern shores.
South Ionian (Lefkas, Zakynthos, Kefalonia)
The South Ionian and Lefkada features prominently in Greek mythology, and it’s easy to see why. The island’s spectacular coastline boasts white sand beaches, sheltered coves and towering cliffs in abundance. Today, Lefkas represents the perfect getaway for those tired of the hustle and bustle of city life. Explore the imposing ruins of the mediaeval Santa Maura Fortress, indulge in some of the watersports the island is famous for or simply relax on the quiet beaches.
Explore Greece’s Ionian Coast and many of the other Heptanese Islands from our base on Lefkas, including Kefalonia, Ithaca and the numerous tiny islets for which Greece is rightly known. You’ll take in the culture, cuisine and nightlife of the Ionian Coast and relax in the sun with beautiful Grecian scenery as your backdrop. Lefkas is the launchpad for your perfect island-hopping getaway.
Saronic Islands (Athens, Hydra, Poros, Spetses)
The most balanced of any sailing ground in Greece, the Saronics offer a fantastic mix of diverse islands, character harbours, archaeological treasures, gentle winds, short-hop sailing and quayside bars and tavernas. Perhaps counterintuitively, those on a two week charter (or those wanting to sail longer legs away from Athens) will discover the quietest sailing ground in Greece.
By strict definition, the Saronic Islands include just four islands: Salamis, Aegina, Poros and Angistri. However, we include the islands of Hydra, Dokos and Spetses in the mix – collectively the ‘Argosaronic Islands’. Whatever you do though, don’t forget the lovely mainland harbours as well, including Epidavros, Ermioni, Vathi and a host of lovely villages stretching down the long Peloponnese peninsula from Nafplion to the incredible town of Monemvasia.
Cyclades Islands (Mykonos, Ios, Milos, Santorini)
Blue domed roofs, sandy beaches and winds with a bite, the Cyclades Islands are stunning. See a postcard of Greece and it will inevitably boast the blue domed roofs of Santorini or the iconic windmills of Mykonos. Gorgeous sandy beaches, wonderful traditional architecture, stunning landscapes & fascinating ancient history litter its many gorgeous & idyllic islands.
While Mykonos and Santorini grab the tourist limelight (and their numbers), there are over 200 islands in the Cyclades. The beauty of a sailing holiday to this area is the ability to cast away from the ‘beaten track’ and visit undiscovered beauties such as Folegandros, Sifnos, Serifos and Kythnos. Picture relaxed gentle tourism that tends to stand back and observe the sights and sounds, rather than the mass sprawl that imposes itself on the busy islands.
The time difference in Greece is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +3 hours. Make sure your documentation is in order to travel. US citizens do not need a visa for visits to Greece up to 90 days. Talk to us to make sure you have the correct documents before you travel.
The currency is the Euro, while Master and Visa cards are accepted widely in larger stores and restaurants but you may need cash for independent, small businesses. You can find ATMs at the marinas and banks. Banking hours are Monday to Friday (8:00am to 2:00pm).
Scuba diving is allowed only with instructor and after seeking permission from the port authorities. Fishing requires a special license (available only for locals).
Weather in Greece
The weather is sunny and warm with very little rain in the summer, while it is wetter and cooler during spring and autumn.
Athens: The Saronic and Argolic Gulfs are generally a protected cruising area, with north to NNE winds averaging Force 3 to 4. In the Argolic Gulf during summer, the wind is mostly from the south-east and averages Force 3 to 5. During spring and autumn, the winds are normally weaker and blow from the south.
Lavrion and Paros: The prevailing wind Meltemi blows from the north during summer, peaking in July and August at Force 5 to 7, occasionally reaching Force 9. During spring and autumn, winds can also blow from the south.
Corfu and Lefkas: The wind and sailing conditions in the Ionian Sea are ideal and predictable, blowing north-west at Force 2 to 5 between May and September. In spring and autumn, the wind is less strong and blows usually from south-west.
Rhodes, Kos and Skiathos: The prevailing wind Meltemi blows from the north-east during summer, peaking in July and August at Force 4 to 6. During spring and autumn, winds are calmer and blow from the south-east.