Complementing its natural, cultural and historical richness, Europe prides itself with some of the world’s most enchanting and glamorous sailing destinations.
From the exclusive South of France to the fascinating old-meets-new jewel that is Turkey, the blue Mediterranean Sea is dotted with countless scenic islands and coasts, posh marinas, spellbinding natural wonders and precious little towns which, along with its perfect climate and sailing conditions, make this part of the world a true yacht lover’s dream.
Listed below are 5 of Europe’s best sailing destinations, including valuable insights on what exactly makes them so damn great.
The Greek Islands
With its dazzling mix of clear blue waters, fabulous island-hopping and vivid remnants of the Greek Mythology it’s no wonder sailing in Greece is considered by many the adventure of a lifetime. This unique country bursting with spectacular natural beauty and alluring Mediterranean way of life is waiting to be explored and there’s clearly no better way to do so than on board of a private charter yacht. The most popular sailing routes include the Cyclades, the Ionian Islands, the Saronic Islands, the Sporades and the Dodecanese. Each of these magnificent destinations has its own distinctive character, offering not only stunning natural beauty, but also culture, history and many hidden treasures.
Cosmopolitan Mykonos will charm you with its unique mix of upscale atmosphere, boisterous nightlife and eye-catching Cycladic architecture, and Santorini with its spectacular Caldera views, fabulous dining and beautiful multicolored beaches. And yet, there is much more to be discovered by the adventurous sailor who can cruise past ancient ruins, swim in secluded coves, discover idyllic beaches otherwise inaccessible, and dock their boats in picturesque fishing villages to dine, sleep and soak up the local culture. Moreover, Greece is packed with numerous anchorages, harbors and modern, fully-equipped marinas where you can safely tie down your yacht, shop for supplies and explore the surroundings.
South of France
Cruising Europe’s fantastic waters is nowhere as stylish and luxurious as it is in the warm and sunny South of France. This millionaire jet set’s playground with its fashionable resorts, movie star lifestyle and pretty coastal towns brimming with culture, history and art offers you the opportunity to choose from a variety of sailing itineraries, one more fascinating than the other.
Running from Saint Tropez to Monaco and playing host to 50% of the planet’s super yachts it’s no wonder the legendary Cote d’Azur is one of the world’s most popular summer cruising destinations. On a sailing holiday here you can get a taste of the good life in swanky places like St Tropez, Cannes or Monaco, discover fabulous hilltop towns, indulge in heavenly Provencal cuisine and stare at works by Matisse and Picasso in the fantastic museums and art galleries that line the quaint cobbled streets. For a more adventurous experience, go to explore the pristine sandy beaches on the Isles d’Hyeres, or head to the Isles de Lerins off the old port of Cannes for a relaxing break.
In a nutshell, the South of France with its legendary mix of sun, sparkling blue sea, glamour and rustic charm has it all. And of course, no need to mention that the striking mountainous background, the gentle summer breeze and the dazzling array of anchorages, historic harbors and topnotch marinas will only add to your sailing experience.
Not far from the South of France, the chic color-splashed Italian Riviera greets visitors with its own mix of glitz, glamour and old-fashioned charm. Famous worldwide for its postcard-perfect villages that dot the rugged crescent-shaped Coast of Liguria, dropping dramatically into a sparkling turquoise sea, the Italian Riviera makes for a wonderful sailing experience, whether you’re looking for culture, history, superb Italian cuisine or sensational scenery. You can start your adventure in San Remo and sail your way up to Portofino past brilliant bays, adorable old ports, serene nature beaches and of course the UNESCO-listed fishing villages of Cinque Terre with their brightly colored houses, narrow medieval streets and astounding sightseeing opportunities.
Wherever you choose to anchor, bear in mind that the Italian Riviera offers much more than first meets the eye, from chic cafes, exclusive restaurants and luxury shopping to countless seaside attractions. Sailing conditions in the area are beautiful, with calm seas, clear blue skies and mild Southeasterly or Westerly winds mostly at night.
One of Turkey’s most popular sailing routes runs from vibrant Istanbul to the port town of Marmaris on the Turquoise Coast (Turkish Riviera). Along the way, you will discover one of the most enthralling and unique Mediterranean coastlines, a land steeped in fabulous culture and rich ancient history, peppered with priceless ruins, sublime pebble coves and traditional fishing villages. You’ll be seduced by the country’s irresistibly blue waters, sun-soaked shores, fascinating cuisine and captivating blend of nations, religions and languages. All these along with the hospitality and warmth of the locals, the reliable winds, the scenic ports, the beautiful sheltered coves and the wealth of watersports opportunities available are part of the magic of sailing in Turkey.
With its spellbinding Adriatic coast, exquisite islands and rugged mountainous interior jam-packed with culture, history and magnificent cities, Croatia is no doubt one of the most captivating European countries. And there’s clearly no better way to explore its glory, beauty and treasures than by sea, from your luxury charter yacht.
Also called “the next Riviera”, Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast attracts sailing enthusiasts from all over the world with its stunning natural beauty, crystal clear aquamarine seas, sparkling bays, remote fishing villages and glamorous party vibe. Moreover, there’s an outstanding blend of gorgeously preserved walled towns, lush national parks and rich underwater life waiting to be explored, as well as more than 1,000 islands scattered around, each with its distinct allure and character.
Highlights include the arresting town of Dubrovnik with its ancient city walls, marble streets and baroque architectural splendor; the lush islands of Mljet and Korcula; the historic port town of Trogir; the tiny islet of Bisevo with its spectacular Blue Grotto; the paradisiacal Vis Island and the national parks of Krka and Kornati, both of them abundant in ravishing natural beauty.
The sailing season in Croatia runs from April to November, with the smoothest waters during July and August. Spring is characterized by moderate winds while September and October are quite challenging, providing experienced sailors with some pretty strong winds, a rough sea and lots of excitement.