How To Choose Your Greece Itinerary
by Dayle Reimer on Jun 27, 2023
Chartering a yacht in Greece is an amazing way to experience the beauty and culture of this stunning Mediterranean country. However, with so many islands to choose from, it can be challenging to decide where to go. In this article, we will provide you with a quick recap of the highlights and key considerations for choosing your itinerary, taking into account factors such as weather conditions, crowds, yacht availability, time of travel, and other considerations.
There are three main island groups where most charters take place. In relation to Athens and the mainland, they are:
The Cyclades to the East in the Aegean Sea.
The Ionian Islands to the West in the Ionian Sea.
The Saronic Gulf and Peloponnese to the South.
Highlights: The Cyclades are the islands most people picture when they think of Greece, since this is where you find the iconic whitewashed buildings, blue-domed churches, volcanic landscapes, and azure blue water. The very popular and well-known islands of Santorini and Mykonos make this the most requested itinerary. If you crave a lively scene with people-watching and a vibrant nightlife, then Mykonos and the Cyclades is your best Greek itinerary.
Mykonos. Photo by @ohprettygreece. Used with permission.
Easy access: Most charters depart from Athens. The marinas are a short distance by car from the international airport. Athens has excellent availability of charter yachts, more than any other port in Greece.
Summer meltemi wind: If you choose to charter in July or August, be prepared for the strong meltemi wind that blows in the Aegean Sea during the summer months. If the meltemi is particularly strong, the conditions could require flexibility with the itinerary and you may not be able to get to all the planned ports, since the wind could make some passages too rough. June and September are great months for Cyclades charters, to avoid the peak of the meltemi wind.
Longer sailing distances: For sailing yachts and slower (displacement) motor yachts embarking and disembarking in Athens, it is not feasible to include Santorini on a 7-night itinerary due to the distance and time required. As an alternative, choose a 1-way itinerary disembarking in Mykonos. From here it is just a 3-hour ferry ride to this unique port with many options for shoreside accommodations.
See our 7-night sample Cyclades itineraries:
The Ionian Islands
Highlights: The Ionian is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the Greek Isles, with lush green vegetation and amazing clear, turquoise waters. The most well-known island is Corfu in the north, famous for its charming architecture with colorful buildings that date back to the Venetian period, and the historic old town which is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the south, the beautiful island of Ithaca is the home of Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s Odyssey. Many charter captains who know all of the best places to visit in Greece, tell us the Ionian is their personal favorite.
Corfu. Photo by Tobias Reich.
Calmer waters: The Ionian Islands are sheltered from the meltemi winds, making them a more comfortable option for charters in July and August. The water is also calmer, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Less crowded: The islands are less crowded than the Cyclades, making them a good choice for those who prefer quiet bays and quaint fishing villages.
Distance from Athens: The Ionian is located across the Gulf of Corinth, about a 4-5 hour drive from Athens International Airport (ATH) by rental car or a hired driver to Lefkada. Another option is to fly into Corfu (CFU) in the north or Preveza (PVK) in the south.
Yacht selection: The number of charter yachts that are based in the Ionian is far more limited than in Athens. However, many yachts are willing to reposition to the Ionian with a delivery fee.
See our 7-night sample Ionian itinerary here.
The Saronic Gulf
Highlights: This is the closest group of islands to Athens and, with easy access by ferry, some of the most lively year round. The picturesque islands include Hydra - where land travel is by donkey only, Poros, Spetses, and Aegina, famous for the pistachios grown there. If time allows, the ancient port city of Nafplion on the Peloponnese coast is fascinating and well worth the visit.
Poros Port during the EMMYS 2023. Photo by German Liubitch.
Calmer waters: These islands are sheltered from the meltemi wind, making them a good option for charters in July and August as well as the rest of the season.
Easy access: Many of the ports are within a few hours of Athens.
Shorter distances: The ports are relatively close together so the travel distances are shorter than the other itineraries, allowing more time for exploration ashore.
See our 7-night sample Saronic Gulf itinerary here.
For a more in-depth look at Greece and the itineraries, click here.
If interested in chartering a yacht in Greece, be sure to check out our online portfolio to go through the variety of options available in this destination.