Explore sun-drenched islands, pristine bays and clear turquoise seas on your own luxury yacht
Hiring a luxury yacht in Greece means freedom, fun and exploration. Ideal for both wind-swept adventure and laid-back drifting, Greece offers over 200 sun-bleached islands with miles of rugged coastline. Hop aboard your sailboat in a choice of marinas and explore beautiful sandy beaches, pristine bays, historic ruins and bustling harbours the adventurer’s way… by sea.
Spend your days on board as active or as lazy as you wish. You can glide smoothly through calm turquoise waters in the morning and ramp up the pace for an afternoon of heeling with a full mainsail if you choose the right area. Or, opt for a crewed yacht and let the experts do the hard work sailing, navigating and even cooking if that’s what you’re after. However you travel, you’ll end each day with salty satisfaction and that fresh-air glow that only time at sea can bring.
Enjoy a week or more barefoot on deck with friends and family visiting a new island each evening and stopping to swim, snorkel, play with water toys or simply soak up the gifts of sun god Helios by day. When evening comes, tuck into fresh sardines or local octopus with your toes in the sand or book ahead for world-class cuisine with a view. The Greek Islands offer a wide range of excellent fare from classic Greek-style meze to quality gastronomic delights which could rival the high end restaurants of any major city.
Moor up for a party in Mykonos, tuck into fresh fish by candlelight on Kefalonia or spot huge loggerhead turtles swimming beneath you off Zakynthos. Each island has its own unique character meaning no two yacht sailing holidays will be the same. The magic of a Greek yachting adventure is choosing where you go and what you do each day, at your own pace, powered by the wind, in glorious sunshine.
For a laid-back yacht charter holiday the Ionian islands are known for their calm waters and gentle winds. Flying into Preveza on the island of Lefkada, you’re just a short sailing distance from many iconic Greek islands including Corfu, Zakynthos and Kefalonia. The winds here tend to pick up in the afternoon, so spend the morning relaxing on deck and swimming in azure water or exploring the rich history of Corfu, pretty harbours of Paxos and the soft sandy beaches of Lefkada. Drop anchor in a pristine bay for a long lazy lunch, swim to a deserted beach or snorkel through impossibly clear waters in this wonderfully welcoming corner of Greece. After lunch it’s time to head for this evening’s berth, so let out the sail as the breeze builds and gain speed as you aim for your next island. The busy traditional fishing port of Sami-Kefalonia is a must-see, as well as the cobblestone streets of Corfu Old Town and the dramatic rock arches in glass-clear waters around Zakynthos.
The Ionian tends to offer gentle winds in April and May, around force 2 – 4, starting slower in the morning and gathering speed in the afternoon. Day time temperatures rise to low to mid-twenties and evenings are cool. A small amount of rain is usual, but not enough to affect your itinerary. These early summer months are ideal for a calm week of peaceful sailing. The wind speed is similar in June but the sea temperature is rising and you can expect highs of 28 degrees in the day. With long evenings beginning, it remains light until 9pm: the perfect month for avoiding the busy school holidays.
July and August are when things really heat up in the Ionian. The sea feels like a bath and the air temperature is usually in the early 30s. The wind is very slight in the morning but can ramp up to force 5 from the North West in the afternoon, only to die off completely at sunset for a balmy summer’s evening.
You may want to bring light waterproofs and a jumper for the evenings to the Ionian when sailing in September and October as the air cooling over the warm sea can create the odd thunderstorm. Do not let that put you off, however, as the weather often gives way back to bright sunshine in no time. The wind is the most consistent during these months, averaging force 3-4 throughout the day, and with temperatures still in the mid twenties this is still a glorious place to be.
If unfurling the sails for a wild ride is more your thing, head for the Cyclades or Southern Aegean. Board your boat in Lavrion Marina, just south of Athens, for easy access to Paros, Naxos and Mykonos, or head up the eastern coast to Volos, which provides a fantastic starting point for the barefoot luxury of Skiathos and beyond. Advanced sailors are sure to experience exhilarating wind power here with the famous meltemi winds averaging 6 on the Beaufort scale. Explore the bougainvillea-lined streets of Mykonos, watch an iconic sunset on Santorini and soak in the dramatic granite coastlines of Paros on an idyllic holiday of speed and sunshine. Head across the Aegean to Kos for a dose of history exploring ruined temples, and use it as a stepping stone into Turkish waters. All the islands here offer safe harbours with fabulous restaurants serving everything from a simple meze to a Michelin star feast overlooking traditional whitewashed houses, 15th century castles or pelicans roaming the square.
Experienced sailors will love the challenge of the strong winds during July and August in the Cyclades and southern Aegean, where the water temperature is comfortable 24 degrees. The famous meltemi, which blows from the north, can average at force 5 but gust up to force 8, usually peaking around midday. This means it’s common to sail in the morning and find a marina for lunch to avoid the strongest winds and occasional large waves. Longer distances between the islands of the Cyclades means planning ahead is crucial so you know you’ll find shelter when you need it, however, the wind in all areas slows significantly at night, leaving you to enjoy a relaxed al fresco dinner.
In May and June the wind is calmer, waves are not an issue and temperatures are usually in the low twenties. September and October offer lower temperatures still, however the air is more humid. A small amount of rain can also be expected. Yacht Sailing is most popular in the Cyclades and Aegean between June – August, when no rain is forecast and sailing can be fast and fun.