Choosing one’s next sailing destination is never easy, even for seasoned travellers. With so many wonderful places around the world waiting to be discovered, it is difficult to narrow the choice down to only a few that truly stand out. However, sailors looking for a yacht charter destination that never disappoints in terms of great weather, striking scenery, rich history, authentic local charm and fantastic cuisine can set sail to any of the boating havens mentioned below, which never fail to leave a lasting impression.
The old continent is a haven for sailing holidays, with the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean and Ionian seas providing a rich and varied playground for beginners and experienced sailors alike. Island hopping cruises are a popular option in Croatia, Italy, Greece and Spain, while the monumental historic and metropolitan cities along these countries’ coasts provide a more glamorous alternative to the many tranquil scenic islands that populate their waters.
Croatia has an immense appeal for sailors. With over 1,200 scattered islands and numerous historic cities and sleepy villages along the extremely long coastline, the country offers an exceptionally varied choice of routes. The easy sailing conditions and calm, sheltered waters of the Adriatic make Croatia an excellent destination for bareboat charters. Island hopping itineraries that take sailors from the cities of Dubrovnik or Split to the islands of Hvar, Vis and Korčula offer plenty of opportunities for swimming on some of the country’s best beaches, strolling amid the scenic landscapes, old villages and historic landmarks, and exploring the islands’ nightlife and party scene in the summer months.
The medieval walls and fortresses of Dubrovnik, historic core of Split, wineries of Pelješac peninsula and verdant Mediterranean vegetation of the nearby islands are some of the main draws of Croatia’s southernmost corner, but the entire stretch of the Dalmatian coast offers countless sights to see, from classic architecture and protected nature parks to remote corners that have enchanted emperors, celebrities and regular travellers alike since ancient times. Croatia is a particularly popular destination for island hopping cruises, as its islands are close to the coast and the relatively short sailing distances between the islands themselves make passages quite easy.
Greece, one of the world’s best destinations for sailboat charter, is home to thousands of islands. Some of these are tourist hotspots, bursting with life throughout the yachting season, while others provide refuge in their many untouched bays and hidden coves. Each island has its own distinct character and many are dotted with ancient Greek ruins and whitewashed villages that exude an authentic, traditional feel. The most popular destinations on sailing itineraries are the Ionian Islands, mainly Corfu, Zakynthos and Lefkada, and the Cyclades, which include Mykonos and Santorini. Few countries can boast a heritage as important as Greece and this is reflected in the countless historic landmarks scattered on the mainland and the islands, which include no fewer than 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Italy’s west coast and the mesmerizing islands of Sardinia, Sicily and Capri have long been a favourite among boating aficionados. Famed for its laid back lifestyle and outstanding food, the UNESCO-protected Amalfi Coast is a magnet for megayachts and one of Europe’s most glamorous sailing destinations. These iconic tourist hotspots are far from being the only enchanting areas in the region. With more than 350 islands, Italy offers an incredibly diverse mix of landscapes, from the rugged shores of Marettimo, the caves and limestone cliffs of Capri and the volcanic beaches of Filicudi to the secluded coves of La Maddalena and sea grottos of Ponza. Combined with warm hospitality and local charm, these places will never go out of style.
The neighbouring Spain also offers an enormous variety of landscapes, cultures and traditions. The crystalline waters of the Balearic Islands provide an ideal backdrop for a sailing break that takes travellers from Majorca to Ibiza and invites them to discover Minorca’s many amazing beaches and coves, the slopes of Serra de Tramuntana on Majorca, and Ibiza’s world-famous nightclubs. The monumental cities of Barcelona and Valencia are the most favoured stops on the mainland, while nature lovers and adventurers prefer to flock to the Canary Islands to explore the archipelago’s volcanic scenery, numerous nature parks and magnificent beaches.
The British Virgin Islands offer the best of everything one looks for in a Caribbean cruise. The islands’ stunning white sand beaches, indigenous trails, saltwater pools and grottos, luxury waterfront resorts and exotic marine life have lured sailors and adventurers to their shores for centuries. With more than 40 tropical islands and hundreds of scenic anchorages to choose from, many of them within sight of each other, the archipelago leaves little to be desired to anyone looking to spend their holidays swimming, snorkelling, diving and taking in the astonishing scenery of one of the most popular sailing destinations in the Caribbean.