Greece sailing vacation map
Islands are scattered off Greece’s coast like a shaken-up snow globe. They are bewilderingly numerous at first glance, but great fun for sailors.
At first it might seem hard to piece Greece together from its thousands of islands, but there are a few key areas that every sailor should know. First: the Ionian Islands, specifically Lefkas, where many beginner sailors find their feet on flotilla vacations. Next up: the stylish Cyclades. Most people know Santorini, but the lesser Cyclades are joyfully unspoilt, and perfect for scuba divers. Then there are the places where the sailing takes center stage. Experienced sailors will love racing across the Saronic Gulf from Athens. Brace yourself for afternoon sailing in the Dodecanese, when the meltemi wind gets up across the Aegean, and will take you from Kalymnos to Kos.
1. Cycladic Islands
Sailing between the Cyclades is as good as sailing in Greece gets. There are over 200 Cycladic Islands, but some are more well-known than others. You may be familiar with Santorini and Mykonos, with their whitewashed windmills and bright blue domes. But what about Amorgos, where Luc Besson filmed Le Grand Bleu, or Poliegos, deserted except for its caprine residents – its name means ‘many goats’.
2. Dodecanese Islands
The closest islands to Turkey, the Dodecanese can be almost punishingly warm. Crusaders used to fight over these hot rocks, and the fruits of their struggles are several medieval castles – especially on Rhodes, which also has the famous, acropolis-topped town of Lindos. In Kalymnos your photos will come ready-framed by arching rock formations – the island is brilliant for climbing and sailing adventures, with over 80 crags ripe for the scaling.
3. Ionian Islands
Lefkada is a gateway to the Ionian Islands for many sailors and its large marina is a thicket of masts. From here it’s easy to hop to Kefalonia’s north coast. Greece’s sixth largest island is generally under-visited, despite being the setting for Louis de Berniere’s ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’. Head north instead and you’ll find brilliant bareboating around Corfu and Paxos.
4. Lesser Cyclades
An island cluster within an island cluster – the Lesser Cyclades are a little constellation of islands off the coast of Naxos in the Cyclades. Pirates marauded here throughout the Middle Ages, rendering them almost empty. Today, just four of the 32 islands are inhabited and they’re very quiet. Cruising is exceptional here, and the diving is amazing.
5. Saronic Islands
The Saronic Gulf was the birthplace of modern-day bareboating and flotilla vacations in the seventies, when the Yacht Cruising Association launched its first cruise in the area. They’re the closest islands to Athens and include Aegina, pretty Poros, and arty Hydra, where Leonard Cohen lived in the sixties. It doesn’t take long to escape Athens and get into authentic Greek island living.
Our Greece sailing Vacations
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More about Greece sailing
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