Sailing course vacations
map & highlights

Royal Yachting Association (RYA) courses can be completed in 44 different countries around the world. You’ll find many courses running in the Mediterranean and Adriatic. Greece and Croatia, each with 1,000+ islands, are fun to sail around, and the land masses act as buffers to the sea swell, so the waters are calm. If you’re looking for higher qualifications, pick more challenging waters. Swap coastal sailing for blue water (ocean) sailing, and find somewhere with strong tides, rough seas, heavy traffic, bad weather... is it starting to sound a little less than idyllic? That’s the idea! Rise to the challenge of the Bay of Biscay (notoriously boisterous), or the Channel (mind out for that 200m tanker!).
Bay of Biscay

1. Bay of Biscay

The Bay of Biscay has a reputation for being rough, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a great place for some exciting blue water navigation. For less seasoned crew, try the north coast of Spain, which borders the Bay of Biscay on its southern edge. Sail from delicious Galicia all the way to arty Bilbao, the port capital of Basque Country.
The British Isles

2. The British Isles

Yes, good old Blighty still rules the waves. A course in the Solent – the busy strait between mainland Britain and the Isle of Wight – will rapidly improve your sailing, and nearby Portsmouth and Southampton have wonderful naval history. From here sail the Channel, the Irish Sea, and even make your way to Scotland. If you’re UK based, taking a course here avoids a flight.

3. Croatia

It’s all about the colour of the water around Croatia. Or is it all about the hundreds of islands? Look out over the long, leggy headlands of Croatia, lined up like the limbs of sunbathers on a beach. They’re closer together than Greece’s, so it’s really easy to hop between each one – from Vis Island off Split, northwards towards Zadar. Sailing is pretty idyllic here, as the sea is calm and the wind is gentle – perfect for a beginner course.

4. Greece

Greece has long been associated with sailing sojourns – blame Homer’s Odyssey. This seafaring nation offers wonderful cruising around its multiple island chains. Make like Odysseus himself and sail in the Ionian Islands around Lefkas, Ithaca and Corfu – it’s beautiful, and the sailing is easy-breezy. Elsewhere, the Cyclades are hotter than hot – temperatures jumping to the mid-30°Cs by June– but can get very windy later in the summer.

Our top Sailing course Vacation

Tall ship sailing holiday in Spanish

Tall ship sailing vacation in Spanish

Sail the Bay of Biscay speaking Spanish

From 470 to590 5 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2023: 1 Apr, 6 Apr
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Sailing course or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Sailing course travel advice

Lucy Wade, from our specialist sailing vacation company Sunsail, says:

Sailing qualifications

“We have options for both absolute beginners who have never stepped on a yacht before to people that have the basic knowledge and want to complete their training to qualify as a skipper. If you would like to take one of our yachts out without a skipper on board, you would need a sailing license. The minimum license required would be either the RYA day skipper or the ICC.”

Flotillas vs sailing school

“The ‘learn to sail’ trip (also known as sailing school) is a chance for solos or couples to book a cabin on a sailing school yacht with others on board doing the same courses. The course runs over a five day duration with no set route. The ‘learn to sail on a flotilla’ (also known as the flotilla starter/hero) is booked by the whole yacht rather than just the cabin, so more suitable for families. They are part of a flotilla on a set route with up to 11 other yachts doing the same itinerary however they will have an instructor on their yacht teaching them how to sail.”
Written by Eloise Barker
Photo credits: [Page banner: Michael Henry] [Bay of Biscay: Rab] [The British Isles: Barry Skeates] [Croatia: Yacht Rent] [Greece: _dChris] [Sailing qualifications: Jonathan Smith]