With thousands of islands, friendly waters and a wealth of natural attractions, Greece is an excellent destination for a bareboat charter holiday. The country offers countless locations to explore and has an exceptionally long yacht charter season. This makes it the top choice for many international travellers looking to spend their vacation on a relaxing, idyllic cruise and discover places with unparalleled beauty and charm. The most visited destinations for a bareboating holiday in Greece include the islands of Lefkas, Corfu, Zakynthos, Mykonos and Santorini and the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki on the mainland.
Bareboat yacht charter in Greece is great for beginner sailors. The mild Mediterranean climate with more than 250 days of sunshine per year, mostly friendly winds and a great number of islands and anchorages where one can find cover makes the country a wonderful destination for anyone looking to improve their sailing skills.
Monohull sailing boats are a perfect choice for Greek cruises because they only take up one hull and are easier to moor in crowded ports and marinas than multihulls. Other than being eco-friendly and efficient, these boats are great during upwind sailing. They sail fast in the windy seas of Greece and are easy to maneuver between the islands.
Catamarans are excellent for shallow waters and make it possible to approach very close to the shore. They are more stable for sailing on open water and offer a lot of space and comfort, making it easy for passengers to lounge, sunbathe, and take in the stunning panoramic views of the Greek islands and coast.
Motor yachts can save a lot of time on a Greek island hopping cruise, which makes them ideal for those looking to visit more islands and spend extra time discovering their treasures.
With more than 2,900 islands, islets and rocks, and only 170 inhabited islands, the best way to discover Greece is by boat. The unspoiled beauty, diverse landscapes and sheer number of the islands keep sailors from around the world coming back for more each year.
Greek islands are divided into several distinct groups: the Argosaronic islands, the Cyclades, the Ionian islands, the Dodecanese islands and the Sporades. Each group offers a different sailing experience. Travellers who enjoy long periods of open water sailing can set sail to the Saronic islands, located in the Saronic Gulf, while those who prefer easy island hopping can head to the Ionian islands, situated off the west coast of mainland Greece.
The Argosaronic islands (Salamina, Aegina, Angistri, Poros, Hydra and Spetses) are very popular among sailors because they are situated only a short distance from Athens. The islands offer spectacular scenery, with many picturesque villages and lovely beaches, and countless museums and archaeological sites for history buffs to explore.
Situated southeast of the mainland, the Cyclades comprise about 220 islands, the best known of which are Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kea, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Serifos and the volcanic islands of Milos and Santorini. The Cyclades are one of the most popular destinations in the Mediterranean, offering a unique blend of warm hospitality, gorgeous beaches, scenic white and blue architecture, and plenty of ways to get lost in the traditional local lifestyle, folk music and culture.
The Ionian islands, which include the world-famous destinations Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, and Paxi, are known for their picturesque mountainous terrain, lush vegetation, rich cultural heritage and great tourism infrastructure.
The Dodecanese, a group of 15 larger and about 150 smaller islands, include the historic islands of Rhodes, Kos and Patmos, and a number of other islands known for their elegant anchorages and spectacular beaches.
The Sporades, an archipelago consisting of 24 islands along the each coast of Greece, make an idyllic Greek holiday destination, with commanding rocky landscapes, clear blue seas and lots of dense vegetation. Only four of the islands are inhabited: Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.
The boating season in Greece starts in early April and lasts until November. The Ionian region has good sailing conditions in the summer, with only mild northwestern winds. However, sailors can encounter gusts when sailing along tall islands as well as katabatic winds blowing from tall mountains from the northeast. Thunderstorms are frequent in the spring and autumn, especially around the island of Corfu, which has the highest rainfall in Greece.
The best time of year to set sail to the Sporades, Cyclades and Dodecanese islands is in the late spring and early autumn, when the anchorages are less crowded and strong meltemi winds less frequent. During the peak season in August, even the most remote anchorages are crowded and it is difficult to find a place to dock. In late October, sailors can encounter southerly winds and thunderstorms in the Dodecanese region and some of these can be quite severe, so it is advisable to always plan for two anchorages: one that protects the boat from northern winds and one from the southern ones.
The island of Crete is best avoided in July and August because the meltemi winds can get pretty strong. The best time to visit the island is in the spring and autumn, when the weather conditions are more settled.
For bareboat charters in Greece, skippers must have an International Certificate of Competence, even though in practice they are not usually asked to present one. Yachts must have their original registration documents and radio station license: one crew member must have a VHF radio operator’s certificate.