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Greece : What is your kind of boat?

Greece - our advices for your cruise


 


By Anaïs BEDE 

Managing Editor of Filovent magazine. "As a travel enthusiast, my holidays always equate to boat trips!"

 

15 November 2021

 

Reading time: 10 minutes

 

 

IN A NUTSHELL

 

The main sailing areas: the North Ionian Islands, the South Ionian Islands, the Saronic Gulf, the Sporades, the Cyclades, and the Dodecanese

Special features : the white limestone cliffs, the translucent waters, the winding streets with their white houses, and the Meltem 

The best anchorages: the port of Gaios in the Ionian Islands, and the bay of Serifos in the Cyclades 

 

 

Map of sailing areas in Greece
Map of sailing areas in Greece (clickable map)

 

 

Contents

 

  1. Practical information for your boat rental in Greece
  2. Why go to Greece?
  3. What are the main sailing areas?
  4. The best anchorages in Greece
  5. Which itineraries to follow for your rental?
  6. What are the weather conditions?

 

 

 

 

"Greece is a sailing paradise: it's easy to get there from France, and there's a complete change of scenery. No matter where you sail, the islands are all equally breathtaking.". These are the words of David who has sailed in various Greek archipelagos with Filovent.

In Greece, everything comes together to make a dream cruise: small villages clinging to the rock walls in Santorini, white houses with blue shutters in Mykonos, ancient legends in Ithaca… Your Odyssey in Greece promises to be unforgettable and exceptional!

 

Billon Family
Grégoire and his family on-board their rental catamaran in the Sporades (Photo by Gregoire Billon)

 

 

1. Practical information for your boat rental in Greece

 

Average rates depending on the season and the size of the boat

 

The table below gives you an order of magnitude of the average prices of your boat rental. These prices can change according to the season, the availability, the model, the age of the boat...

 

Type of boat High Season
July and August
Mid-Season
May, June and September
Low Season
April and October
Mono-hull (35 feet /≈2 cabins) €3,000 €2,700 €2,300
Mono-hull (40 feet /≈3 cabins) €3,500 €3,000 €2,700
Mono-hull (45 feet /≈4 cabins) €4,000 €3,500 €3,200
Catamaran (40 feet) €7,000 €6,500 €6,000
Catamaran (50 feet) €13,000 €11,500 €10,000

 

The different starting bases

 

Depending on the sailing area, you can start your cruise from several bases. Nevertheless, some are more strategic starting points in terms of location, catalogue of boats offered, price and proximity to airports.

Therefore, choose to depart from:

  • Corfu for sailing in the Northern Ionian Islands as it is the only departure base present in this sailing area;
  • Lefkas for a cruise in the Southern Ionian Islands. You will have to land in Athens and then go to Lefkas, 5 hours by car between these two cities. You can also land at the small airport of Preveza, but there are no direct flights from France (stopovers in Germany or Central Europe);
  • Athens for sailing in the Saronic Gulf and the Cyclades as it is the biggest departure base in Greece. Many boats are available for rent and the presence of an airport nearby makes it the ideal place to start your holiday. You can also consider starting from Lavrion which is a more economical alternative to Athens;
  • Volos or Skiathos for sailing in the Sporades;
  • Kos for sailing in the Dodecanese. Its central position in this sailing area will enable you to either head towards the North of the Dodecanese or towards the South.

 

Thibault and his crew on a Bavaria 38 Cruiser in Igoumenista
Thibault and his crew at anchor in Igoumenítsa in the Northern Ionian Islands on a Bavaria 38 Cruiser (photo by Thibault)

 

 

Which licence is required?

 

For sailing in Greece, you must have a boating licence whether you want to skipper a mono-hull sailing boat, a catamaran, or a motorboat. The European boating licence is accepted if it is translated into English or Greek.

Of course, if you have opted for boat rental with skipper, there's no need to have a licence.

 

2. Why go to Greece?

 

From history to philosophy, art, politics, sports and commerce, it is fair to say that Greece is the cradle of Western civilization. A real open-air museum, you won't spend a day without crossing the path of a god, the ruins of an ancient temple or a theatre. Greece's architectural wealth means it has around 18 Unesco World Heritage Sites. This country has a heritage that few other destinations in the world can match.

With more than 13,000 kilometres of coastline, Greece hasone of the longest coastlines in Europe, which makes boaters happy! You will be able to sail in 5 areas: the Sporades, the Saronic Gulf, the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, archipelagos of the Aegean Sea, as well as the Ionian Islands. Whether your sailing is in the archipelagos of the Aegean Sea or the Ionian Sea, you will be surrounded by lush biodiversity, translucent waters, and heavenly beaches… Athens and Delos are the historical places, whereas Mykonos and Santorini are party places, and Ithaca is a legendary place; everyone will find something suitable there!

 

3. What are the main sailing areas?

 

The Sporades

"On our cruise in Greece, we discovered the Sporades islands, filled with hidden treasures like Planitis Bay. We set sail for Piperi, east of Alonissos, to see the last monk seals in the Mediterranean" Grégoire, a Filovent client, told me, excited about his two-week cruise on-board an Athena 38. This archipelago takes its name from the adjective "sporas" which means "scattered" in ancient Greek, in the image of the Dodecanese and in contrast to the Cyclades arranged around Delos.

In the middle of the Aegean Sea, Skiathos appears as a haven of peace abounding in sublime beaches that build the reputation of this island. You will love the beach of Koukounaries lined with pine trees in the south of the island, and the beach of Agia Paraskevi for its calm. For history buffs, you will enjoy visiting the fortress of Kastro, the monastery of Panagia Kounistra, and the post-Byzantine monastery Evangelistria.

 

City of Skiathos
View of the charming town of Skiathos (Adobe Stock photo)

 

Your navigation will continue to Skopelos. Set for the musical Mamma Mia, the lush green landscapes and translucent waters of this island will leave you speechless!

Finally, the last point of interest when sailing in the Sporades will be Alonissos. This island is home to the first Marine National Park of Greece which includes several wild islets. The must visit of the island is the small village Chora, perched on top of a hill and offering a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea. Relax on Stafilos beach bordered by a forest, or on the smaller and wilder Holovo beach. You will be able to visit many monasteries on the island: that of Metamorfosi, Timios Podromos, and of Saint Riginou.

 

Sunset
Sunset on the route between Skiros and Alonissos (Photo by Grégoire Billon)

 

The North of the Ionian Islands

Your navigation in the Northern Ionian Islands will start in the city of Corfu, classified as a Unesco World Heritage site. The city's architecture has several faces and alternates between houses with shimmering colours and sober facades as a testimony to the Venetian occupation, from the fifteenth century to the eighteenth century, then the British one, in the nineteenth century. the island of Corfu is home to some charming little areas outside of its capital. The fishing villages Benitses and Petriti will immerse you in a typical Greek setting: white houses leaning against rocky walls, and small harbours with restaurants serving freshly-caught fish.

 

View of the old town of Corfu
View of the old town of Corfu and its various architectural inspirations (photo Istion Yachting)

The islands around Corfu will never cease to amaze you as well! Between ancient legends and green landscapes, Paxos will be an unmissable stop on your sailing itinerary. According to Greek mythology, Paxos was separated from Corfu by the Trident of Poseidon who wanted a more intimate place to live out his love with the goddess Amphitrite. The island contains some beautiful beaches like Kanoni and Paralia in the village of Lakka, and Emiritis beach in the west, which appeared after the collapse of a limestone cliff in 2007. Your stopover in Paxos will naturally lead you to Antipaxos, located just a few nautical miles away. Wild and uninhabited, Antipaxos will invite you to relax and enjoy the beaches like the one in Voutoumi, which means paradise in Greek.

 

Paxos
It's all in this photo: beach, turquoise water and cliff with a sailing boat in the distance. Welcome to Paxos! (Adobe Stock photo)


Finally, your navigation in the Northern Ionian Islands will end in the archipelago of the Diapontia Islands. This archipelago has 3 islands: Erikoussa, Othoni, and Mathraki. Here too, traces of Greece's ancient past can be felt. Indeed, although there is debate around the exact location, Othoni could be the island on which Ulysses was the prisoner of Calypso for 7 years.

 

The South Ionian Islands

"We loved sailing in the Ionian Islands, we were pleasantly surprised. The seabed is unbelievably beautiful and the colour of the translucent water is sublime." Matthieu, a Filovent client who sailed aboard an Oceanis 46.1, tells me. From Lefkas, you will set out to discover the southern Ionian islands by sailing amidst white limestone cliffs overlooked by lush greenery.

 

One House Bay
One House Bay, on Atoko Island during Matthieu's cruise (photo by Matthieu Deperraz)

Make a stopover in the largest island of the Ionian archipelago: Kefalonia. There is no shortage of places to visit between St. George's Monastery, the Melissani Caves and the Mount Ainos National Park. End your tour of the island at the quaint little fishing village Fiskardo to the north.

Very famous in Greek mythology, Ithaca is, according to the myth, thenative island of Ulysses. Breathtaking scenery, endless beaches, and small hidden bays encircled by pine trees… Ithaca has everything to please! In particular, we advise you to go to Gidaki beachin the southeast of the island.

 

Gidaki Beach
Gidaki Beach (Adobe Stock photo)

Also known as Zakynthos or Zacynthe, Zakynthos is an island off the Peloponnese. It is famous for its fine sandy beaches where you will come across the "Caouannes", protected turtles. You will be able to carry out many activities on this island: visit of the Venetian citadel recalling the Italian domination in Greece, with hikes in the mountains for the most sporty, and relaxation on the beaches which abound in the northern coast. The must-see of the island is Shipwreck Covelocated in the southwest. Popular with tourists, this bay is surrounded by high white limestone cliffs and has a small beach at the very base where the wreck of a smuggler's ship, the Panagiotis, lies.

 

The Argo-Saronic Gulf

"Sailing in the Saronic Gulf is ideal for people who don't want to do too much sailing and discover the Greek islands" admitted Jean-Pascal, who skippered a Bavaria Cruiser 56. Straddling theAttica and the Peloponnese, the Saronic Gulf is home to a few islands with timeless charm. The main islands of this archipelago are: Salamis, Aegina, Angistri, Poros, Hydra, Dokos and Spetses.

Your sail in the Saronic Gulf will start in Athens, from where you will certainly take charge of your boat. Take the time to visit this city that houses the remains of temples built in honour of the most fascinating Greek deities. Among these remains, you will find the Temple of Zeus, the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, the theatre of Dionysus, theOdeon of Herod Atticus, and theAcropolis.

Then set sail for Hydra, the island brimming with religious buildings. The capital of the island Hydra, is built in amphitheatre in front of its port, one of the most beautiful in Greece.

 

Hydra
Yacht docking near the Hydra coast (Adobe Stock photo)

 

Your discovery of the Argo-Saronic Gulf will continue in Poros. Hiking, bike riding, sea trips…, there's no shortage of activities on this island. Fans of ruins dating from the ancient period will enjoy visiting the temple of Poseidon, built in the 6th century BC. or the clock tower dating from 1927 and overlooking the town of Poros.

Finally, the last unmissable stopover will be Spetses. The island developed thanks to the sea before becoming famous during the war of independence of the 19th century opposing the Greeks and the Ottoman Empire. Laskarina Bouboulina is the local heroine because her fleet repelled that of the Ottomans during the war of independence.

 

The Cyclades

The Cyclades are one of the most popular destinations in Greece. Rich in both history and biodiversity, this archipelago will leave you with unforgettable memories.

For history buffs, the island of Delos is a must. "The best part of our navigation is placed under the sign of ancient history when we went to the archaeological excavations on the island. It was very interesting" Christian, a Filovent client, told me, who sailed on an Oceanis 40. According to Greek mythology, Apollo was born on this island. Hera, jealous of Leto who was expecting a child by Zeus, cast a spell on Leto to prevent her from giving birth to her child on earth. Leto found refuge on a small floating island and promised that when the child was born, this island would become prosperous and bright. Once the child was born, the island became visible, Delos in Greek.

 

View of the mills of Mykonos
View from the sea on the mills of Mykonos (photo Adobe Stock)

Your historic stopover in Delos will then take you to a more festive stopover on the island of Mykonos, located a few nautical miles away. Beyond its wild nights, Mykonos is also known for its mills which greatly contributed to the economic development of the island in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Finally, Santorini, in the extreme south of the Cyclades, will be the third point of interest not to be missed during your cruise. The charm of this island is its villages clinging to the rocky walls offering breathtaking panoramas, and its small streets winding between the white houses and the blue-domed churches. Caldeira, a volcanic crater submerged by water and surrounded by cliffs, is a spectacular place. "We went around the crater from the inside with our boat. It was magical, you realise while being in the heart of the crater to what extent it collapses into the sea" Christian told me.

 

View from the sea on Santorini
View from the sea on Santorini (Photo de Philippe Marty)

Of course, there are other equally beautiful islands in this archipelago. To name a few: Syros, Amorgos, Myros, Serifos, Sifnos, Kea...

 

The Dodecanese

Less popular than the Cyclades, the Dodecanese also promises beautiful discoveries. "This is a great destination for a family cruise. You can swim everywhere, the waters are clear, warm and full of fish, and the sailing conditions are favourable" as Julien, a Filovent client, who sailed with his family on board an Oceanis 51.1, told me. The Dodecanese forms an archipelago of 160 islands and islets that extend to the Turkish coast. Its 12 main islands gave it its name: dodeka, which means twelve, and nesos, which is islands in Greek. This archipelago is a piece of this eternal Greece where the Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian dominations followed one another.

 

View of Kalymnos
View over Kalymnos (Adobe Stock Photo)

Stop first at Leros. Deserted in the heights and green near the coastline, the must-see visit of the island is certainly the castle of the Virgin Mary from where you will have a panoramic view of Patmos, Kalymnos and the coasts of Asia Minor.

Kalymnos has several facets: mountainous landscapes - a paradise for fans of climbing, religious heritage, and picturesque villages like Emporios and Pothia… So there's something for everyone!

Rhodes, Kos and Patmos will offer you historical tangents?. A focal point of pilgrimage, Patmos is known because it is on this island that the apostle St. John is said to have had a divine revelation leading him to write The Apocalypse. Rhodes was home to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Colossus of Rhodes. It was a gigantic statue in the image of the sun god, Helios, which was destroyed in an earthquake. Finally, you will cross the path ofHippocrates in Kos. Indeed, this important figure in medicine founded on this island the very famous school of medicine in Antiquity. Kos is home to a wide range of ancient remains: the ruins of the Agora with a statue of Hippocrates, the Roman baths, and the sanctuary of the Asclepieion, dedicated to the god of healing.

 

View of Rhodes
View of Rhodes (Adobe stock photo)

Regarding beaches, here are the most beautiful ones that this archipelago shelters: the beach of Mirties in Kalymnos, for its view on the island of Telendos, the beach of Agriolivado, for its translucent waters surrounded by green nature and the bay of St. Paul in Rhodes , for diving lovers.

 

4. The best anchorages in Greece

 

Anchorages in the Ionian Islands

 

Anchorage at the Love Canal near the village of Sidari

An emblematic anchorage and very popular with tourists in the northwest of the island of Corfu, legend has it that if two lovers swim through the Canal of Love, their love will last forever. The Love Canal is surrounded by two cliffs and contains a small beach at the bottom.

 

Love Canal
View of the Love Canal (Adobe Stock photo)

Anchorage in the port of Gaïos

The port of Gaios, east of Paxos, has two rather narrow entrances to the north and south. "This harbour is really pretty and authentic with restaurants and cafes overlooking the pontoons. The particul feature of this port is that there is no harbour master's office, so to find a place, first come is first served! To do the manoeuvers, we had to rely on the help of the boaters around us" Thibault, who sailed a Bavaria Cruiser 36, told me.

 

Anchorages in the Saronic Gulf

 

Anchorage at Ormos Skindos in the North of Dokos

Dokos is a small desert island between Hydra and Spetses. Ormos Skindos is a cove well-protected from the wind. The sandy bottom allows the anchorage to hold well.

 

Dokos
View of Ormos Skindos (Adobe Stock photo)

Anchorage in the bay of Zogiormia in the North of Spetses

This anchorage is protected from the wind and is very pretty, especially at sunset. It's easy to get anchored.

 

Anchorages in the Cyclades

 

Anchorage in the bay of Serifos

This anchorage is one of Daniel's favourites: "the bay of Serifos in the southeast of the island is quiet and the sandy beach at the bottom is nice". Your stopover in Serifos will take you to the village of Chora in the heights: "this typical village can be reached in two hours of walking. Once you arrive, you find the characteristics that create all the charm of Greek villages: white houses and small shady streets" Christian told me.

 

view of the bay of Serifos
View of the bay of Serifos (Adobe Stock photo)

 

Anchorage in the bay of Vourkari in Kea

This anchorage was recommended to me by Konstantinos who works for our local partner, Istion Yachting. Quiet and located in a beautiful bay, the landlords of the restaurants along the docks will help you moor.

 

Anchorages in the Dodecanese

 

Anchorage in Livadi Bay to the North-East of Patmos

This anchorage was recommended to me by Alexandre who sailed with his family on a Lagoon 40: "it's a beautiful bay sheltered from the meltem with clear turquoise water. At the very bottom of the bay, there's a pebble beach."

 

Anchorage in the bay of Palionisos in Kalymnos

This is Alexandre's second favourite: "this bay is well sheltered and there are buoys. The setting is beautiful, and the water is translucent. This anchorage is free and the owners of the Palionissos Paradise Tavern restaurant will help you moor. It's a real gem!".

 

View of the bay of Palionisos
View of Palionisos Bay (Photo by Alexandre Lupo)

 

Anchorages in the Sporades

 

Anchorage in Limani Panormos Bay, located west of Skopelos

This anchorage is located in a beautiful wooded setting. The combination of the translucent blue colour of the water and the green of the forests harmonises perfectly.

 

Anchorage in the bay of Zogiormia in the North of Spetses

This anchorage is quite wild and protected from the North wind. At the end of the bay, you will find a small beach with fine sand.

 

5. Which routes to follow for your rental?

 

Itinerary 1 for one week - Discovery of the Northern Ionian Islands - Total distance covered: 90 nautical miles

This itinerary was recommended to me by Konstantinos who works for our local partner, Istion Yachting.

  • Day 1: Corfu → Kassiopi in the North of Corfu (13 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Kassiopi → Diapontic Islands, in order: Erikoussa, Othoni and Mathraki (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: The Diapontic Islands → Palaiokastritsa (13 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Palaiokastritsa → Sidari in the North-East of Corfu and the Love Channel (16 nautical miles - 2.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Sidari → Kalámi on the North-East coast of Corfu (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Kalámi → Corfu (9 nautical miles - 1.5 hours' sailing)

 

To discover the Southern Ionian islands, here is an itinerary starting from Lefkas.

 

Itinerary 2, for one week - Discovery of the Northern Ionian Islands - Total distance covered: 167 nautical miles

This itinerary was used by Julien during his family sail on an Oceanis 50.1.

  • Day 1: Kos → Perezimos (12 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Psyremos → Kalymnos (12 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Kalymnos → Agathonisi (50 nautical miles - 8 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Agathonisi → Arkoi (18 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Arkoi → Patmos (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Patmos → Leros (25 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)
  • Day 7: Leros → Kos (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)

 

View of the island of Rinia on the coast of Mykonos
View on the island of Rinia off the coast of Mykonos in the Cyclades archipelago (Photo by Istion Yachting)

Itinerary 3, for one week - Discovery of the Northern Ionian Islands - Total distance covered: 140 nautical miles

This itinerary was recommended to me by our local partner, Dream Yacht Charter.

  • Day 1: Kalamaki Marina → Port of Epidaurus (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Port of Epidaurus → Hydra (33 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Hydra → Spetses (15 nautical miles - 2.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Spetses → Poros (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Poros → Aegina (15 nautical miles - 2.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Aegina → Alimos Marina (17 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)

 

Itinerary 4, for one week - Discovery of the Sporades - Total distance covered: 106 nautical miles 

 

  • Day 1: Skiathos → Skopelos (16 nautical miles - 2.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Skopelos → Alonissos (10 nautical miles - 1.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Alonissos → Gioura (20 nautical miles - 3.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Gioura → Skantzoura (20 nautical miles - 3.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Skantzoura → Tsougkrias (30 nautical miles - 5.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Tsougkrias → Skiathos (3 nautical miles - 30 minutes' sailing)

 

 

6. What are the weather conditions?

 

Greece enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Temperatures can exceed 30°C during the summer season.

As for the wind conditions, the Meltem, Mediterranean wind coming from the North and reaching up to 35 knots, will make your sailing sporty. It affects sailing areas unevenly. Indeed, it blows in particular in the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. It is less powerful in the Sporades and the Saronic Gulf because these two archipelagos are protected by the coast. Finally, the Ionian islands escape the Meltem but can be subject to thermal wind.

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank all the Filovent customers who participated in making this article unique and original with their testimonials and photos. A big thank you also to our partners, Dream Yacht Charter and Istion Yachting, especially Konstantinos, for their time and valuable advice.

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