There are over 3,500 islands in Greece which means you can never tire of exploring. History, culture, quaint villages, great food and wonderful weather from April to October create the perfect ingredients for a fabulous sailing holiday.
If you go on a crewed yacht charter or a skippered yacht charter, you can plan your route along with your captain and anchor at wonderfully isolated bays. If you plan to navigate yourself and opt for a bareboat charter then take time to acquaint yourself with the islands. Wind conditions can vary vastly along the different islands and some areas are only recommended for very experienced sailors.
The Greek islands are grouped into five island areas. Each set of islands offers something unique in terms of its geography and historic sites.
The Saronic Islands – The coast of the Pelopennese – The Argolic Gulf
This is an extremely popular area for cruise liners and charter boats as it has ideal sailing conditions and islands with wonderful beaches. This area is also perfect for those who are looking for shorter sailing trips.
The Saronic islands include Aegina, Hydra, Poros and Spetses and you will see innumerable yachts around their marinas. If you want a slightly quieter holiday you may want to head to the more unspoiled islands of the eastern Pelopennese.
The historical cities of Nafplion and Tolo and the marinas of Porto Heli, Astros and Leonidio in the Argolic Gulf along the Pelopennese coast offer superb sailing.
Best time to sail: April, May, June, September and October. It can get uncomfortably hot in July and August.
The Ionian Islands
Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Lefkada, Kithira, Ithaki and Paxi comprise the 7 Ionian islands. These islands are very different from those you will see in the rest of Greece. For one, they are truly verdant with lush fields and olive groves. Secondly, their architecture reflects Italian, English and French influences and yet the islands are quintessentially Greek. The beaches are gorgeous and the hillsides covered with pine and maquis.
A lot of fishing is done in this area so navigators should watch out for fishing nets. The winds are generally mild but there can be strong gusts on the eastern side of Ithaki and Zakynthos islands.
Best time to sail: June to September
The Northern Sporades Islands
Evia, Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros make up the Northern Sporades islands. They are located off the eastern coast of mainland Greece. This is a popular sailing region and has been since ancient times when trade ships passed through on their way to Turkey and the Middle East. The sailing conditions are very good and the region has abundant marine life, ancient ruins and some truly magnificent beaches.
Best time to sail: June to September
The Cyclades Islands
The Meltemi wind is strongest in the peak summer months of July and August and hence this route is only recommended for experienced sailors. If you opt for a skippered yacht charter then your local skipper will be well aware of the sailing conditions.
The Cyclades islands are grouped into three clusters:
The Southern Cyclades Islands: Milos, Kimolos, Folegadros, Sikinos, Ios, Santorini and Anafi
The Middle Cyclades Islands: Serifos, Sifnos, Antiparos, Paros, Naxos, Schinoussa, Iraklia, Koufonissia, Donousa and Amorgos
The Northern Cyclades Islands: Kea, Kithnos, Andros, Syros, Tinos, Mykonos, Delos and Rinia
On these islands you will find the whitewashed houses, sandy beaches and rocky cliffs that you see in tourist brochures. Of late the Cyclades have also become quite famous for their vibrant nightlife.
Best time to sail: May to October.
The Dodecanese Islands
They are located between the coasts of Greece and Turkey and are breathtakingly beautiful. Some of the islands have natural springs and are therefore greener. The weather is mild and the beaches are pristine. You will also find some interesting historical and religious sites on the Dodecanese islands. Rodos, Kos, Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Astypalea, Kasos, Karpathos, Nissyros, Symi, Tilos, Kastelorizo and many other smaller islands comprise the Dodecanese.
The Meltemi wind blows here in summer and can be quite strong in the north. The wind is also a bit unpredictable so a little caution is advised.
Best time to sail: April to November
If you would like to find our more about the different types of yacht charters read Yacht Charter Holidays.