Ask anyone what Greece is best known for, and this eastern Mediterranean country conjures up images of the gods of Olympus, heroic exploits and a myriad of islands from myth and legend, whether you can see at your leisure on a luxury yacht charter above the bustling city. the summer.
Times have certainly changed since the earliest eras of travel, and the latest technology and engineering have created efficient hulls for comfort and stability while cruising and at anchor. Motor yachts and sailboats are available throughout the region, ranging from fuel-powered islanders for short distances to sailboats capable of navigating far in an environmentally friendly way.
Onboard amenities vary from sun loungers and a selection of water toys to wellness centres, open-air cinemas and swimming pools. End each day with sunset cocktails and a soak in the Jacuzzi while the professional crew takes care of the meals, then retire to a private cabin worthy of the deities of old, recharging for the next game. of your odyssey.
Corfu is the best known of the Ionian Islands; its enduring appeal comes from having a myriad of attractions and entertainment in town, all surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape of the Eastern Mediterranean. Fill the hours with magnificent fortresses, traditional windmills and stately estates followed by a delicious lunch in town or aboard your luxury yacht. Cruise to the beautiful beaches for an afternoon of water sports and siestas in the sun.
South of Corfu, Paxi and Antipaxos are havens for yachts, offering beautiful scenery, sparkling blue-green seawater and numerous caves along a winding coastline that explorers can reach by kayak, paddleboard or even snorkeling and scuba gear. An active outdoor lifestyle is complemented by locally grown fresh produce and a variety of wines unique to these shores.
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands and has wonderful beaches next to picturesque villages, lively nightlife and gastronomic delights. Snorkel and dive around stunning reefs, wrecks and caverns with the chance to encounter turtles and monk seals in this underwater paradise.
Kythera was named as the birthplace of Aphrodite by the ancient Greek poet Hesiod, and such beauty is certainly worthy of a goddess. Artists and other creative types have come to the southernmost Ionian island to draw inspiration from its verdant and varied landscape, carving deep valleys into the mountains by bubbling springs. Settle into one of the beaches for lazy summer days followed by sunset dinner along the shore, then a night of revelry to rival the island’s summer festivities. In the heart of the island, the village of Mitata holds a wine festival in the summer, when Kythira presents many of its traditional and contemporary celebrations to visitors.
Santorini, Naxos and Paros are the best known islands of the Cyclades and their location in the heart of the archipelago makes it easy to island hop to other nearby attractions. Santorini’s volcanic activity has created a red-sand and black-sand beach, as well as a sunken caldera ideal for water sports, scuba diving in particular. Watch the sunset from a local cafe or sample some ouzo at one of the bustling tavernas.
When it comes to culture, few places can match Delos: the entire island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and as the birthplace of the gods, no mortal is allowed to be born or die on this sacred site. Nearby Mykonos Town has a totally different vibe, with colorful harborside buildings beckoning you for the best of life’s indulgences in this cosmopolitan vacation setting.
Crete – made famous by the myth of the labyrinth and its minotaur – is far from the main charter routes through the Cyclades, which suits its visitors perfectly. The beaches and bays are almost deserted and there are fantastic scuba diving spots around the northern settlements of Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion, which also offer the best shopping and nightlife on the island. Snorkel and scuba dive over reefs, a sunken city, and WWII wrecks before a well-earned rest on the lounge chairs while your crew serves lunch.
The Dodecanese Islands are so close to the Turkish Riviera that many islands are only a few kilometers from the mainland. For this reason, the archipelago features a heady mix of Roman, Greek and Ottoman influences from the past and more modern influences in culture and cuisine. Patmos, Leros, Symi and Tilos are favored cruising destinations for their unique charms and easy cruising distance from one to another.
Patmos is particularly important for its religious sites, including Saint Ioannis Monastery and the cave where John the Theologian, one of Christ’s twelve disciples, wrote ‘The Book of Revelations’. If you visit during the spring shoulder season, the Easter celebrations show the vibrant culture of this Orthodox community. Tilos is home to nearly 400 species of flora, eight orchids rare in number, and the island and islands are a protected stopover for migratory birds. As you lounge aboard your yacht in a sunny anchorage, keep binoculars handy to spot some of these impressive specimens.
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Of all the sights in the Dodecanese, the medieval city of Rhodes tops the list of culture seekers, where its picturesque stone walls hold UNESCO World Heritage status for the Palace of the Grand Master, the Hospital of the knights (now housing the archaeological museum) and the Panagia tis Nikis church, seat of the Byzantine museum. However, it’s not all dusty walls and artifacts – the countryside produces tasty food and wine that can be enjoyed in town or at the vineyards.
Kastellorizo is so close to the Turkish Riviera that it wouldn’t take much to disembark and explore Kaş. The island itself has a mixture of Greek and Turkish culture, including Lycian tombs and the castle of the Knights Hospitaller of Kastellorizo. More than one blue cave can be found along the south coast, and the striking illumination is a sight to behold when kayaking through these blue-white walls.
Far to the south, Karpathos is a place to reconnect with nature and your loved ones. There are myriad beaches lined with crystal clear waters and pine forests, all overlooked by looming mountains. Discover the local culture and the festivities of Karpathos town or the small villages around the island without breaking the charm that nature has woven during your stay.
Close to Athens, the Saronic Gulf is a mecca for sailboats who take advantage of the lesser-known islands to enjoy this cruising ground at their leisure. Strong, reliable winds allow catamarans, sloops and ketches to sail from one topaz-blue bay to the next, enjoying seaside villages and secluded beaches on a leisurely route. Cruise or hike along the south coast of Methana to see Peristeri Cave and Favierou Castle, then head to Poros to discover galleries, museums and memorabilia before a night of taverna entertainment .
Aegean Islands and Sporades
Another tranquil cruising ground for soaking up the sun, the Aegean Sea and the Sporades boast glorious golden-sand beaches and coastal sites worthy of a place in history – real or fantastic. Skiathos is a popular destination for these same reasons, while nearby Skopelos has hiking and biking roads and trails across the entire island. Skopelos Town offers fortresses, mansions, galleries and museums to explore, all interspersed with a healthy variety of boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants.
Alonissos National Marine Park is one of the largest marine parks in Europe and one of the best kept secrets for snorkeling and scuba diving. Monk seals and dolphins can be found in the shallows, several reefs are home to a wide variety of marine species, the PERISTERA wreck is a popular site, and Blue Cave is a rewarding experience for both new and experienced divers, even at a depth of only 15m/49ft. . Watersports enthusiasts who want rewarding discoveries without the crowds of better-known destinations should consider the serene beauty of the Aegean islands and the Sporades.
A luxury yacht is the best way to get away from the crowds and explore the charter spots of Greece as they were meant to be experienced – chartering your own journey to paradise and adventure.
Trina Howes is director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates exceptional vacations with excellent yachts at incredible prices – worldwide.
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