Chartering a yacht in Greece

Welcome to the Land of the Gods, an ancient world full of diversity. This is a location where the possibilities are almost limitless – every day a new island, another wonderful bay, white Cycladic villages with picturesque harbours, hospitable people, beautiful churches, wonderful nightlife and stunning sunsets.

The Saronic Gulf is a protected area for sailing and great for anyone who wants to kick back and relax, while the Ionian Sea, on the west coast of Greece, is perfect for families. The green islands of Hydra, Poros, Aegina, Angistri, Spetses and Epidavros offer pleasant sailing and lots to see, despite their proximity to Athens.

Yacht Charter Greece

Chartering a yacht around the Dodecanese Islands

The Dodecanese extend from Patmos in the north, to the island of Kasos off the north-east coast of Crete. The name of the island group is derived from the number twelve (dodeka in Greek). Dodecanese literally means ‘twelve islands’.

The archipelago was originally part of the mainland of Asia Minor but, after a series of earthquakes and floods, it became separated from the mainland. Kos and Rhodes are green islands with beautiful wooded areas, offering a contrast to the other more barren islands in the group. Each island has its own character – some are picturesque, some remote and quiet, while others buzz with tourist activity.

The distances between the islands are pretty minimal; you’re unlikely to encounter more than 20 to 25 nm between islands. Particularly beautiful are the small islands that lie off the beaten track. The ghost towns of Tilos and Halki, the volcano on Nisyros, and the small tavernas on Kalymnos and Arki are all, in our opinion, highlights.

Architecturally there’s much to write home about when it comes to the Dodecanese islands, whether it’s the wonderfully contrasting white and blue painted houses, a red domed church, the beautiful ruins of a castle or an impressive monastery like that of St. John’s on Patmos.


Wind & Weather: Sailing around the islands of the Dodecanese is less rough than the Cyclades, but you should still wary of the Meltemi. For this reason – but also because of the many well-protected bays and small Greek ports – we recommend the area for more experienced sailors.

The northwesterly/west Meltemi is the prevailing wind during the summer. It blows sporadically in June, then moderately to strongly from July to September, and becomes stronger again in October. During the summer months it can reach 4-6 Bft., sometimes rising to 7 Bft.

In early August you can expect up to 10 days of continuously strong winds. During summer these usually hit the leeward side of the islands – particularly around Patmos, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros, Tilos, Karpathos and Astypalaia. The sea between Karpathos and Astypalaia can be particularly rough, often lasting for several days.

In the summer months the Dodecanese often experience heat waves, which is why many sailors prefer to visit in spring or autumn. During this time, the wind often comes from the southeast at about 2 to 4 Bft. Occasionally storms may blow in from the north or south. If you plan a yacht charter towards the north or to Samos, Ikaria, or Chios, spring or autumn is the best time.

Best Sailing: May to June and September to late October

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Navigation: Most nautical charts for Greece are up to date. However, when navigating near land, caution is still advisable and it’s probably best to use terrestrial navigation or navigate via GPS.

Ports and anchorages: One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese is Patmos. It consists of three barren, volcanic rocks, which are connected by two narrow strips of land. Cruise ships land in the picturesque Scala. You can also anchor at Ormos Melogi, Ormos Agria Leivadia, Ormos Kampos, Ormos Grikou and Ormos Stavros on the southwest side. Be warned though, these anchorages can be subject to fairly strong winds.

Arki [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – This island north-east of Patmos offers safe anchorages on the west of the island in Porto Augusta or outside of Porto Stretto. The small islands Grilousa, Stronglo, Maratho and Splato also provide good protection.

Lipsi [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – 2 nm south of Arki is the island of Lipsi (Lipsos). This charming fishing port is located in Ormos Sokoro. Despite its pleasant looks, it’s worth noting that there are strong gusts in the bay when the Meltemi blows. To the east of the island Lera, Lipso offers three beautiful bays that provide good protection against winds.

Agathonisi [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – This island is the northernmost point of the Dodecanese, only about 8 nm from the Turkish mainland. There are two deep bays – Georgiou and Ormos Poros – on the south coast of the island. Both bays offer safe protection against the Meltemi, but they’re very open to the south.

Leros [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – Leros is much greener than most of the Dodecanese islands. In the port of Lakki you are well protected against the Meltemi.

Places of interest on the island include Ormos Alinthas with its Venetian castle and Ormos Pantheli with its pretty tavernas. Ormos Partheni on the north coast of Leros is well protected in any weather. In ancient times, Leros was a cultural centre dedicated to the goddess Artemis.

Kalymnos [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – Kalymnos is an important site for sponge divers. Somewhat steep and bare, the island is located south of Leros, separated by a 1.5 nm wide passage. An insider tip is the anchorage on the east coast – the fjord-like bay of Ormos Vathy. The orange and lemon groves of the inland valley form a nice contrast to the surrounding red cliffs.

Pserimos [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – Getting to Pserimos is best left until after six clock in the evening to ensure your arrival doesn’t coincide with the departure of the numerous tourist boats that visit each day.

Kos [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – This green island is situated opposite the ancient Halicarnassus (now Bodrum). Kos was the hometown of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. The harbour can be quite busy and noisy in the summer. In contrast, the marina is quieter and more modern. It’s located southeast of the old port which now serves as a base for charter fleets. On the northwest coast of the island you’ll find the second port, Mastichari. To the east is Kardemena, originally a fishing village, but now a big clubbing destination.

Nisyros [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – Situated between Kos and Tilos, Nisyros is one of Greece’s largest volcanic centres. As a starting point, we recommend the small port town of Paloi with its pretty tavernas on the north side of the island. For a welcome change to sailing, try hiring scooters and visiting the volcanic crater approximately three miles away. While walking the four km wide crater, expect warm feet and plenty of sulfur vapour. A shuttle runs regularly between Paloi and the crater, which stops in Mandraki, the capital of the island.

Astypalaia [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – Although 35 nm west of Nisyros, Astypalaia still belongs to the Dodecanese group. The coast provides many safe anchorages, such as Ormos Malthezana, Marmari, Porto Agrilithi, Ormos Phocas in the south and Porto Vathy and Ormos Panormu – once a popular pirate hideout – on the north side. In the capital of Astipalia, yachts moor along the ferry quays. High up is the castle, from which you have a magnificent view to Ormos Leivadia and Maltezana.

Symi (Simi) [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – Directly at the entrance to the Gulf of Symi is the island of Simi. This island was made famous by the construction of the galleys for the Order of Knights of St. John in Rhodes, and later on for the sponge divers. The port of Symi, bordered by box-shaped, pastel-coloured houses, is situated in a narrow bay. As you enter you’ll see the 450 steps of the Kali Strata, Symi’s main thoroughfare. A swathe of greenery sweeps down from here to Pedi Bay, where there is a manmade sandy beach and two more natural coves on the south side of the bay. A bus runs from the harbour via Chorio to Pedi and less frequently down the length of the island to the monastery of Panormitis.

Anchors [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – Enjoy the silence when the many tour boats and ferries have left the port.

Rhodes – Rhodes is the largest island in the Dodecanese. Thanks to its strategic position, the island has been important since ancient times when the 35m high Colossus of Rhodes – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – watched over the port entrance of Mandraki. The port is very busy which unfortunately means anchorages can be rather limited.

Moorings at Ladiko, on the east side of the island, are protected from the Meltemi. Lindos, a little further south, also has a very good natural harbour. In ancient times Lindos was the capital of the island. Positioned on the western edge of the city, on the top of the hill of Ayios Stefanos, the Acropolis of Rhodes dominates the views. When the tourists have left in their droves in the late afternoon, you’ll have plenty of choice with regards to selecting a berth. Do bear in mind that a southerly wind can create quite choppy sea conditions here.

Halki [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – West of Rhodes, this island, together with Limin Emporeio and its uninhabited neighbouring island Alimia, offer well-protected alternative anchorages. Note, however, that there are countless underwater rocks and no lights between Halki and Alimia.

Karpathos and Kasos [Dodecanese Islands | Greece] – The southernmost islands of the Dodecanese are just outside Crete. Both islands are steep and mountainous. During the Meltemi period the eastern and southern coasts are plagued by squalls. The sea between Kasos, Crete and Rhodes is often rough. The small port town of Pigadia on Karpathos is very pleasant and friendly.

Regulations and authorities: Upon entry you need valid ID. The skipper of a charter yacht must be in possession of an official licence for yachts with coastal navigation. Another crew member will need sailing experience and should carry the documentation to prove it.

Check-in: Various charter airlines fly directly to Kos and Rhodes. There are also daily domestic flights from Athens to the two islands.

Not to be missed: Patmos. In AD 95 St John the Divine received a vision in the Apocalypse Monastery and wrote the Book of Revelations here. For this reason Patmos rivals Mount Athos as the second spiritual centre of the Greek Orthodox Church. Please wear appropriate clothing for tours of the monastery (no shorts or bikinis).

The Ionian Sea

Chartering a yacht in the Ionian Sea: Many attribute the name of the Ionian Islands to Io, one of Zeus’s many love interests in Greek mythology. The Ionian Sea – on the west coast of Greece – begins in the north with the wonderfully verdant island of Corfu (Kerkyra). The Ionian group consists of seven islands altogether: Corfu, Paxos, Antipaxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos.

After the dry, almost barren look of the Cyclades, the green islands of the Ionian Sea can feel very different. Cypress elms and pines surround picturesque bays with their beautiful sandy beaches. In fact, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, you can smell the intense, aromatic scent of the maquis shrubland up to a mile off the coast. The islands of Corfu, Lefkas and Kefalonia are some of the most beautiful of the Greek islands.

Venetian influence is felt across the islands, especially in terms of architecture. There are lots of small bays with crystal clear water for swimming, snorkeling and diving. The Ionian Sea is largely protected from strong winds. Numerous bays offer safe anchorage, many of which can only be reached from the water, which makes them especially appealing. The area is ideal for families, beginners and sailors who want to take it easy. There are plenty of small daily trips to make the most of, but even experienced sailors can get their fix with longer, more challenging voyages.

Wind and Weather: In July and August the Maestro can sometimes come from the northwest and blow quite hard. Between the islands of Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos there can be strong gusts. In the evenings, winds must be observed by the high mountain ranges on the mainland, which can reach up to 5 or 6 Bft. From October to May, you may encounter northerly or southerly winds, and in winter the strong, rainy winds come mainly from the southeast. There’s a chance of violent thunderstorms in spring and autumn, together with strong gusts, but they don’t tend to last long.

Best Sailing time: May to the end of September

Difficulty: Easy to moderate.

Navigation: Although most charts for Greece have now been revised, you need to exercise caution when navigating on land. Here we recommend using GPS where necessary.

Ports and anchorages: In this area you will usually moor stern-to at simple fishing villages or town quays. Water and electricity are in limited supply for sailors. The Marina Gouvia in Corfu and the Marina Lefkas are very well equipped. The islands in the Ionian offer many picturesque, well-protected bays. What you do need to consider when creating your cruising itinerary, however, is the ferry traffic in the ports. In all community ports, ferries can cause considerable swell.


[archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] – Around Corfu, there are many well-protected bays like Kassiopi in the north, Ormos Koulara, Ormos Kalami, Ormos Garitsas and the rather sleepy Petriti in the east. The idyllic Paleokastritsa, with its beautiful monastery, on the northwest coast of Corfu, has become increasingly popular with tourists. Marina Gouvia is very modern, and as it’s just 15 minutes from the airport, is one of the key starting points for chartering a yacht in the region. The Mandraki harbour in the town of Corfu has two good yacht clubs.

Paxos [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] -The island of Paxos is 7 nm south of Corfu and well worth seeking out. Its bright turquoise water, together with Lakka’s vast expanse of sandy beach on the northern tip, makes it reminiscent of the Caribbean. If you’re lucky enough to get a mooring for the night, it’s advisable to get up early the next day to visit the caves on the island’s west coast.

Note: The lagoon-style port of Gaios, on the east coast of Paxos, is an attractive place and a great starting point for your yacht charter. Alternatively, moor in well-protected Mongonisi and take the ferry to Gaios. This charming town, with its ancient Venetian rock fortress, is one of a few pleasant day trips to the mainland. It’s best to anchor early in the evening, after the groups of day trippers have departed. A quieter alternative is the more northerly Sivota, also on the mainland (not to be confused with Sivota in Lefkada).

Lefkas (Levkas, Lefkada, Lefkada) [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] This island is separated from the mainland by a canal. It has a well-equipped, modern marina that offers relaxed moorings and is now the basis for many charter fleets. It’s about 25 minutes from Preveza Airport. The city of Lefkas has some good restaurants and boasts excellent shopping opportunities. Further south lies the lively town of Nidri. Opposite Nidri is Tranquil Bay, a pretty, densely wooded cove that’s well protected from winds. Sivota is a picture perfect bay in the south of Lefkas that again offers plenty of protection.

Skorpios  [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] Until recently this island was owned by the Onassis family. Sailors may anchor for free in the south east of the island of Skorpios. However, venturing onto the island is not allowed.

Meganisi [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] One of the most beautiful passages of this yachting area is located between the islands of Lefkas and Meganisi. On the north east side of Meganisi, there are various bays such as Ormos Kapali, Ambelaki and Atherinos. From these quiet anchorages you can hike to the fishing village, Vathy. After enjoying the splendid beaches and tavernas, the view from the top of the rather steep Spartochori (Spartahori) is well worth the climb. In the bays the water is quite deep and yachts are well protected. The adventurous among you might like to climb to the ruined watchtower behind Vathy. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view over the entire archipelago.

Vounaki [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] North east of Meganisi, and south of the fishing town of Palairos, is the modern marina, Vounaki.

Kalamos [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] This is certainly one of the most beautiful islands of the Ionian Sea.  From the sparsely populated east side, you may be lucky to catch a glimpse of the rare monk seals that live there. Port Leone, the ghost town of Kalamos, is also worth a visit. For more sheltered anchorages in the area, check out Sarakiniko and Prasonisi on the sister island of Kastos, both are excellent for snorkelling.

Ithaka [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] This is perhaps the most famous of the Ionian Islands, thanks to Homer’s Odysseus. Even today there is a place on the island where the castle of the ancient hero is said to have confessed all. Ithaca’s capital, Vathy, is definitely worth a stop, and so is the picturesque village Kioni. Please note that strong, north westerly winds have been known here. Also worth a visit is Phrikes, which lies at the foot of a wooded ravine on an estuary.

Kefalonia (Cephalonia) [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] The largest of the Ionian islands, separated from Ithaca by a narrow waterway, Kefalonia is also considered the most diverse in terms of its landscape. Expect to find alluring beaches, rolling plains and remote villages along winding mountain roads. The beautiful port of Fiskardo, in the north of the island, is peaceful and quiet. Yachting crews can moor right in front of the tavernas. A highlight is a visit to the museum on the hill above the village. If Fiskardo is too full, the southerly location of Euphemia is a great alternative with its underground lake and Drogarati caves.

Assos [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] This village on the peninsula in the northwest of Kefalonia is a must for your yacht charter in this area. The harbour and the ruins of the Venetian fortress were settings for the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Anyone energetic enough to walk around the winding lanes to the fortress will be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view.

Zakynthos [archipelago: Ionian Sea | Greece] The Venetians called the southernmost island of the Ionian Sea, the ‘Flower of the Levant,’ because it’s reminiscent of a flowery garden. Sadly, much of the Venetian Baroque architecture was wiped out by a violent earthquake in 1953. However, the natural beauty of the island is still very much alive. To the north is Ormos Nikolau, with its offshore islands, that offers a nice little day trip with the option of kayaking to the caves on the northern tip of the island.

It’s important to note that there can be strong gusts in the bay. The bays on the south side of the island, Lagana and Geraki, are the main breeding areas for loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean. In the summer and early autumn months you may not be allowed on for this reason. On the north west coast you’ll find Shipwreck Cove or Smugglers Cove, also called Ormos Vremi, which is probably the most famous beach in Greece and can only be accessed by boat. It is well worth the trip.

The wreck of an old tanker sticks out of the bay and is a popular backdrop for tourists and amateur photographers. The crew were suspected of smuggling and had to leave in a hurry after being pursued by coast guards. Unfortunately for them, the ship ran aground but it has subsequently become a very popular tourist attraction.

Regulations and authorities: To enter you will need a valid ID card. The skipper must be in possession of an official yachting license with coastal navigation. Another crew member should have sailing experience and – if possible – the documentation to prove it.

Getting there: Various charter airlines fly directly to Corfu and Preveza.

Not to be missed: A quick tour of the island of Paxos on hired scooters. If you go to Gaios, make the crossing by dinghy to the wooded island, Agios Nikolaos, to visit the ruins of the old fort. You shouldn’t visit Kefalonia without trying the wine. In our (expert) opinion, the red and white Robola is excellent! For rosé lovers, we recommend the Manzavino. If you head for the bay of Vreni, in the northwest of Zakynthos, don’t forget your camera. The half-sunken wreck of a tanker sticking out of the sand is not something you see every day and well worth capturing.

Chartering a yacht in the Cyclades

Delos was considered a cultural centre in ancient times. The islands in the Aegean Sea were thought to be a circle (Greek Kyklos) around Delos. So the name Cyclades literally translates as a ring of islands. Today, owing to numerous natural events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tectonic shifts in the Aegean Sea, the shape of the archipelago has changed somewhat.

The Cyclades are a very popular holiday destination for sailors and tourists hoping to get off the beaten track. This yacht chartering area has held its allure for several decades. The islands boast significant cultural and historical architecture, and a well developed infrastructure.

The Area:

Wind and weather: The Cyclades can be a tricky area to navigate in spring and autumn, with sudden winds reaching up to 7-8 Bft. During the summer, the northerly Meltemi can sometimes mean postponing your departure from an island by a day. But in spring and autumn, the wind blows much more calmly from the south and southeast.

Please note that the Meltemi wind is called ‘the fair weather wind’ but isn’t restricted to sunny days, it can start on cloudier days too. In the off-season it sometimes also blows as Lodos from the south or southeast. And in northern Cyclades, the Meltemi comes from the northeast, and continues to blow in the southern part from the northwest to the southwest. In the southwest, it is somewhat weaker than in the north or east of the Cyclades.

The Aegean can be rough. Between the islands especially, the sea can be stormy and gusts are common. Sailing can be demanding even for the most experienced of skippers. In July and August, we only recommend the area to those who like a challenge and who have an experienced crew with them, as well as a suitable yacht. Mykonos Island is demanding for any crew. During the summer months, temperatures can reach up to 35° in the Cyclades. There is hardly any rain, so water often runs out on many islands come autumn.

Difficulty: Medium to high.

Navigation: Most nautical charts for Greece are now revised and up to date. When navigating near land, caution is still advisable. We recommend using GPS. Keep an eye on ferries and hydrofoils as they cause a lot of swell at harbour entrances and exits.

Ports and anchorages:

Lavrion [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – Situated near Athens, Lavrion is ideal as a starting and finishing port for the western Cyclades. It’s a convenient location that will buy you a lot of time as the first Cycladic island of Kea is only 12 nm away. The harbour at Lavrion is well protected, but look out for swell close to the quay.

Northern Cyclades – Kea, Kythnos, Syros, Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Delos and Rinia.

Kea (Keos) [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The island of Kea is located about 12 nm east of Cape Sounion. At Cape Sounion, you can glimpse the sea from the ancient temple of Poseidon. Other than a few small valleys with orchards and vineyards, the island is fairly bare. The bay of Agios Nikolaou is a hot spot in this yacht chartering area because it is one of the safest natural harbours in the Aegean. The Meltemi can cause violent squalls to come in from the high mountains around the port. In summer, the anchorage of Vourkari is popular in the northeastern part of the bay.

Kythnos [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The most beautiful anchorage, but also one of the most visited in this yacht chartering area, is Kythnos of Ormos Kolona, which is separated from Ormos Phykiada by a sandbank. As alternatives, try the more southerly bays of Merihas or Ormos Loutra in the northeast of Kythnos.

Syros [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – Ermoupolis (Ermoupoli) is the capital of the island of Syros, as well as the administrative and commercial centre of the Cyclades. Old town houses and impressive churches adorn the cityscape. The berths in the centre are quaint, but not very well protected. Alternatively, sail to Ormos Phoinika and take a taxi to Ermoupoli. Please note that during the Meltemi, strong gusts can occur. When anchored you should pay attention to the old mooring line that runs parallel to the concrete pier.

Andros [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The northernmost and second largest in the archipelago after Naxos, Andros is the most fertile and green of the Cyclades islands.

The natural harbour, Gavrion, in the northwest of the island, offers the best protection.

Tinos [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – Separated by the narrow Andros strait is the rugged island of Tinos, the Island of the Blessed Virgin. It offers complete protection, even from strong southerly winds, which is great for newcomers to the area.

Mykonos (Mikonos) [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The island has become a firm favourite for tourists. Fig tree covered rocks, sandy beaches, secluded coves, windmills, white houses with blue roofs, tiny chapels and countless tavernas give it its wonderful character. The flair of Mykonos offers a refreshing change to the simplicity of the other islands. Although Mykonos Marina is a dusty port, it provides better protection from the Meltemi than the Old City Marina which is 1 sm to the south. Ormos Korphos in the southern part of the bay of Mykonos can be good against southerly winds. In northerly winds we recommend Ormos Ornos and Kalafatis Ormos.

Delos (Dilos) [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The small island of Delos was the former cultural centre of the Cyclades. Even today it is surrounded by maritime trade routes between Crete and the Dardanelles. You can’t anchor or stay on Delos.

Central Cyclades – Serifos, Sifnos, Antiparos, Paros, Naxos, Donousa, Iraklia, Schinoussa, Koufonisia, Amorgos and Levitha.

Serifos (Seriphos) [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – A ridge dominates the island from the southwest to the northeast. The centre of the island rises to about 600 meters above sea level. In the port Leivadion (Livadi), anchorage is difficult because of a strong, offshore wind blowing down from the mountains. A good alternative is Ormos Koutala on the south coast.

Sifnos [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – Sifnos, with its olive trees and vines, is considered to be pretty green in the Cyclades. A windy strait separates the island from neighbouring Serifos. A must for a trip to the area is Ormos Pharos, in the southeast, and Ormos Phykiada, a beautiful bay with a chapel, on the southern tip. Ormos Vathy, on the southwest side, offers all-round protection.

Paros [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The flat, oval-shaped island with monasteries and vineyards as far as the eye can see, is certainly one of Cyclades’ highlights. There are two sheltered bays: the new Marina Parikia in the west and Naoussa in the north.

Please note there are a lot of rocks – some of them underwater – in the passage between Paros and Antiparos, so be extra careful. The fjord outside Antiparos offers protection from the Meltermi in the north east of the island, however, there aren’t many berths.

Naxos [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades islands and the most fertile, was important in ancient times. According to Greek mythology, its people worshipped Dionysus, who in turn blessed their island with rich vineyards. Naxos is still rewarded with pretty good wines. The landscape here is dominated by rugged mountains alternating with fertile valleys and rushing streams.

When entering port Naxos (the island’s capital), on the northwest coast, the Venetian castle is a wonderful sight. The Meltemi can be strong here, and with the frequent ferry activity, Naxos Marina is frequently choppy. Noise can’t really be avoided as the marina is situated right next to one of the main promenades. As alternatives, we recommend Ormos Kalanto in the south east or Ormos Moutsana to the east, which both offer good protection.

Donousa (Donoussa), Schinoussa [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – More sheltered bays like Ormos Ormos and Dendron Roussa are located on the neighbouring island of Donousa, 9 nautical miles east of Naxos. The bay of Ormos Myrsini, located on the picturesque island of Schinoussa, south of Naxos, also offers adequate protection.

Amorgos [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The easternmost island of the Cyclades lies on the border of the Dodecanese archipelago. Amorgos’s coast is littered with steep cliffs and rugged rock formations, which have provided the backdrop for numerous film productions. Look to the north west side to find bays with sandy beaches. The enchanting capital of Katapola is in the west, on the banks of a rock fjord. On the east side of the island you’ll find the Byzantine monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa set in the cliffs. The southern coast of Amorgos is to be treated with caution, as the Meltemi’s fierce gusts can soon make the sea extremely choppy.

Southern Cyclades – Milos, Kimolos, Folegandros, Sikinos, Ios, Anafi and Santorini.

Milos [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The volcanic Milos is the southwestern most island of the Southern Cyclades. Milos is known, not least, because of the ancient statue of the Greek goddess of love (Venus de Milo, Aphrodite of Milos), which was discovered by a farmer here in the 19th century. The port of Milos Adamas is a volcanic crater and now one of the safest natural harbours in the Aegean. The small but attractive sailing area between Milos, Kimolos and Polyaigos offers a number of well sheltered anchorages, such as Ormos Pollonia, Voudia, Psathi and Manolonisi, which are so pleasant you may find yourself adding an extra day to your itinerary.

Folegandros [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – One of the numerous small rocky islands in the Cyclades. Located between Sikinos and Milos, Folegandros’s Karavostasi port, to the east of the island, offers good protection from northwesterly winds.

Sikinos [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – Sikinos is located close to Santorini and one of the best places to visit if you want to relax away from crowds and get closer to nature. Sikinos has a number of marvellous beaches, sightseeing spots, picturesque settlements, scenic pathways and monuments. Ormos bay, to the east of the island, offers good protection from even the fiercest Meltemi gusts.

Ios [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – Enchanting coves, long sandy beaches, shady olive groves and picturesque chapels make Ios extremely popular. The port of Ormos Manganari, and the bays in the eastern part of Ormos Mylopotamou, offer good protection from the strong summer winds.

Santorini (Santorini, Thira) [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The volcanic island of Thira is more commonly known as Santorini. The island is distinguished from other Cycladic islands because of its unique shape and multi-coloured cliffs that soar over 300 metres high. The harbour will take your breath away with white washed, sugar cube Cycladic houses lining the cliff tops which, in places, spill down the side of the terraced rock. When the sun sets the reflection on the buildings, and the glow of the orange and red in the cliffs, can be truly spectacular.

Thira is the largest known active volcano in the world. Although you’ll be well protected from the Meltemi on the east side of the island in Thirasia, there are still disturbing swells open to the south and east of the bay. The main island has several anchorages for sailors: Phoinikos, Skala Thira, Ormos Athinios and Monolithos. But limited capacity is a problem at all these locations. In Santorini, only Marina Vlychada, offers good all-round protection. The marina was dredged in spring 2013 so it can now accommodate larger yachts too. From here you can go on foot or by bus to Chora for a leisurely stroll.

Anafi [Archipelago: Cyclades | Greece] – The most southeasterly of the Cycladic islands rises like a smooth, oversized boulder from the water. During the Meltemi, there’s no protection here for sailors.

Regulations and authorities: To enter you will need a valid ID card. The skipper must be in possession of an official yachting license with coastal navigation. Another crew member should have sailing experience and – if possible – the documentation to prove it.

Getting there: It’s best to fly to Athens, which offers scheduled flights to the Cyclades daily. You might even be able to get a direct flight to your chosen destination. Lavrion is accessible by bus, taxi or an organized transfer in about 40 minutes. From Piraeus there are several ferries to the Cyclades islands. You can get direct charter flights to Mykonos and Santorini during the summer season.

Not to be missed: An excursion to visit the ‘Lion of Kea’ – a sculpture carved out of rock in the 6th century BC. The Lion of Kea is just outside Chora (the main town) on Kea. Also, you must try the delicious red wine from Paros, which has been highly sought after since ancient times.

Chartering a yacht in the Saronic Gulf

Saronic Gulf: This azure blue sailing area, just outside Athens, couldn’t be more contrasting. From mid-July to late August, there’s no shortage of yachting crews.

Outside this time, you’ll find secluded anchorages and lovely, peaceful settings.

The Saronic Gulf covers an area whose boundaries are marked by three distinct points: the Corinth Canal in the northwest, Cape Sounion in the east and the island of Hydra in the south. The Saronic Gulf islands are Salamina, Aegina, Angistri and Poros and the Methana peninsula. Near Cape Skilleon, west of the Gulf of Hydra, lie the two islands of Hydra and Dokos. Seven miles to the west of that, the island of Spetses marks the beginning of the Argolic Gulf.

The southern coast of the Saronic Gulf is mostly surrounded by 900 metre high mountain ranges. The islands of Aegina, Angistri and Poros lie in front of the coast.

Behind the southernmost islands of Spetses and Hydra, the Argolic Gulf extends northwards. The west coast of the Argolic Gulf is rough and wild, with mountain slopes plunging dramatically into the sea. The peaks remain covered in snow until late spring. This rugged mountain range runs along the eastern side of the Peloponnese up to Monemvasia.

For a cruise in the Saronic Gulf, you’ll need around a week. But if you want to explore the Argolic Gulf and the coast of Peloponnese, you should allow about 10 to 14 days.

Wind & Weather: The summer wind varies greatly, depending on the area. In the Saronic Gulf, between the Corinth Canal and the Cape Sounion on the north coast, and between the mainland coast and the south coast of Methana, the prevailing wind is the Meltemi which blows from July to October. It blows from north-northeast or north-east up to 4-6 Bft. Around the Cape Sounion, the Meltemi can be much stronger and you might experience strong gusts.

If the Meltemi isn’t influencing weather conditions in the Saronic Gulf, the wind usually comes from the south. In the Argolic Gulf, on the other hand, you can mostly leave the Meltemi behind. Down the east coast, the Meltemi comes from the northeast or southerly from the southeast or southwest, and is much weaker. In spring and autumn, the winds blow from the south and are usually mild to moderate.

In spring and autumn it can be stormy, although storms are usually relatively short-lived (one or two hours). Otherwise, both the Saronic and the Argolic Gulf, have a generally sunny climate.

Best Sailing: May to June and September to October.

Difficulty: medium to difficult.

Navigation: Most nautical charts for Greece are now revised and up to date. When navigating near land, caution is still advisable. We recommend using GPS. The entire cruising area is well marked.

Ports and anchorages:

In general, you moor stern-to with the bow anchor and stern line to the port quay. You rarely pay any mooring charges. However, especially for charter yachts, there isn’t always water or electricity. In community ports, look out for swell caused by ferries.

Athens [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – The Greek capital has a number of good marinas. In the heart of Piraeus lies the Marina Zeas. However, it’s loud, dirty and pretty much always crowded. The circular harbour Mikrolimano is managed by the Royal Hellenic Yacht Club and many sailing schools have yachts there. The Marina Flisvos, situated between Mikrolimano and Marina Kalamaki in Alimos is mainly for power boats and super yachts. This busy marina has showers and toilet facilities. At weekends you can expect a lot of traffic. Most of our partners have their offices near the Marina Kalamaki. Check-in procedures and formalities are mainly dealt with from little container offices throughout Marina Kalamaki–Alimos. If you’re visiting the Acropolis, make sure you don’t miss the new Acropolis Museum. Below the Acropolis is the Plaka, the old district, where you’ll find a plethora of lovely restaurants and tavernas. East of the Kalamaki-Alimos Marina are Glyfada Marina and Vouliagmeni Marina. Both are pleasant and quiet, however, it can be difficult to find a place here.

Cape Sounion (Sounio) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – This bay is located directly under the ancient Temple of Poseidon. The anchorage is largely sand and seagrass, which doesn’t hold very well. To the north of the bay there is a chapel. Make sure you check whether the anchor really holds, especially in the event of powerful gusts. If you want to visit the temple, its best to do so in the morning or afternoon as many tour groups descend from Athens during the day.

Epidavros [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – The Palia Epidauros (the ancient Epidaurus) is a small, charming village on the south side of the Saronic Gulf. In ancient times it was a well known place to worship to the healing god, Asklepios. From here, the remote Epidavros theatre is considered to be the best preserved of all the ancient theatres in Greece. The bay is open to the east, but well protected.

Aegina (Egina) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – This island in the Saronic Gulf, just outside Athens, has always been an important trade centre for the region. It has a distinctive, triangular shape. Between 1826 and 1928, Aegina was the capital of the new, free Greece. In the port there is a protected inner harbour, but a north westerly wind often causes quite a swell.

Angistri [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – Only 4 nm west of Aegina is the mountainous and densely pine-covered island of Angistri. We recommend staying either in the pretty port town of Angistri or moving over to the southwest side of the island. The Dorousa coves, on the opposite side of the island, are really beautiful and offer good protection from the northeast and southeasterly summer winds.

Poros [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – A shallow passage separates this charming island off the coast of the great Peloponnese peninsula. Be sure to check the water depth as yachts have been known to run aground on the sandy soil. On the beautiful east side of the island, you’ll find the ruins of the Poseidon Temple (the patron saint of the island), which are free to visit. Dana Bay, the Russian Bay, Ormos Neorion, Aliki, Porou or the Monastery Bay provide quiet anchorages.

Hydra (Ydra) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – At the entrance to the port, you’ll see an impressive white monastery on the hill. The narrow, elongated island of Hydra extends parallel to Peloponnese coast. Large, stately houses and narrow, winding streets wrap around the harbour.

Hydra is car-free and all deliveries are carried out by donkeys. Strong north to northeasterly winds often create a dangerous swell in the harbour. A good alternative can be found at the Mandraki harbour, or the southwestern anchorages of Vlychos, Ormos Molos, Petassi, Bisti and Nikolaos. Another, well protected bay during the summer months, can be found near Ormos Skinthos on the island of Dokos, northwest of Hydra.

Spetses [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – Located on the southeast tip of the Argolic Gulf, Spetses’ name comes from the Venetian period when the island was called Isola de Spezzie, which means the island of herbs. The town of the same name, on this oval and pretty much flat island, has a very ‘Italian Riviera’ feel to it.

In the Greek War of Independence in the years 1821-1822, the ships of the island played a decisive role in the fight against the Turkish fleet. The captain, Laskarina Bouboulina, was a heroic figure from the war whose name is often seen around the island.

The inner harbour is well protected from northwesterly winds, however, berths are rather limited. Between the island of Spetses and Spetsopoula, there are a number of reefs which need to be navigated with caution.

Chaidari [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – This impressive anchorage thrilled many sailors in the past due to its location in the fjord-like bay of Drepanou on the east side of the Argolic Gulf. The bay offers good protection from all directions and the entrance is adorned with a wonderful Venetian castle.

Nafplio (Nauplion) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – Nafplio was temporarily capital of modern Greece and is a must-see if you’re visiting the area. The small fort on the island of Bourzi guards the harbour entrance. The road to the Venetian fortress has nearly 1,000 steps. It’s a strenuous climb that takes about half an hour but from the top you get a stunning view of the Argolic Gulf.

The old town of Nafplio is located on a peninsula under the Akronafplia hill. In the centre of the Old Town is Syntagma Square (Constitution Square), with two historically significant buildings: The Venetian Barracks, built in 1713, which today house the Archaeological Museum, and the former Vouleftiko Mosque. The anchorage in the port is not perfect as northwesterly winds can cause quite a swell.

Paralion Astrous (Paralion Astros) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – This port is one of the most beautiful on the steep, west coast of the Argolic Gulf. Further south, Chapel Cove is located near the picturesque village of Kyparissi. This bay is one of the most stunning anchorages in the district and also provides fairly good protection, especially quayside in front of the chapel. Do look out for pier stones, which can be bad news for rudder blades.

Monemvasia (Monembasia, Malvasy) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – Monemvasia is one of the most interesting and impressive places in all of Greece. Even now it seems as though time has stood still since the Middle Ages. Castles, stone walls, narrow streets, quaint houses and around forty churches can still be found in their almost original state. It really is something to behold. Most churches in Monemvasia are worth seeing, but the most impressive is undoubtedly Agia Sofia from the 12th century, not just because of the church itself, but because of its spectacular location high up on the edge of a cliff on the north side of the island. The narrow path is somewhat arduous, but the wonderful view over the old city and the lake fully makes up for it. The marina offers good protection.

Regulations and authorities: To enter you will need a valid ID card. The skipper must be in possession of an official yachting license with coastal navigation. Another crew member should have sailing experience and – if possible – the documentation to prove it.

Getting there: There are many daily flights to Athens from most major European airport.

Not to be missed: From Nafplion, take the early morning bus to the ruins of the ancient city of Mycenae. Be sure to also visit the ancient Byzantine settlement in Monemvasia and take a tour of the beautiful Church of Agia Sophia.

Chartering a yacht in Sporades and Chalkidiki

The Sporades don’t  just include the islands of the Northern Sporades, but stretch from the Gulf of Volos in the west,

and from Chalkidiki in the north over the coast of Evia in the south. The Eastern Sporades include the islands of Limnos, Lesvos, Chios, Psara, Samos and Ikaria. The Eastern Sporades lie northeast of the Cyclades and the North Sporades.

The islands are situated around Delos, the cultural centre of the ancient world. Therefore, they’re known as the ‘scattered islands’, which in Greek translates to Sporades.

Since ancient times there have been changes in the classification of the various groups of islands in the Aegean. Northeastern Sporades has its own particular style of architecture. The white, blue and pink houses, with their slate roofs, can be seen for miles and are very characteristic of the region. In summer, water is scarce in this archipelago.

Northern Sporades is a protected area that’s perfect for sailing beginners and families. The region is great for gaining experience and allows yachting newcomers to acquaint themselves with sailing.

Only 40 nm north west of Alonissos is the Chalkidiki peninsula. The peninsula with its characteristic ‘three fingers’ has long been a holiday paradise, and is made up of Cassandra, Sithonia and Agion Oros, together with Mount Athos in the northern Aegean.

On the east side, the peninsula is flat, whereas elsewhere it’s rather mountainous. The whole peninsula is full of olive groves, hazelnut trees and pine forests. At the southernmost point of Agios Oros is the holy mountain of Athos, which rises 2000 metres above sea level.

Wind & Weather: Although much weaker here, the Sporades are still affected by the Meltemi in summer. In June, it blows from the northeast, reaching its full strength in July and August (up to 4-6 Bft), and then subsiding in late September. Due to the funnel effect of the wind in the Trikeri Channel, it can be very rough in the afternoon. In the Bay of Volos, more winds come from the northwest with forces between  2-5 Bft in summer.

In spring and autumn the prevailing weaker winds tend to come from the north or south.  During the Meltemi season, gusts of wind can come from the surrounding mountains. In the summer the temperature rises up to 27 °c in Volos. In the spring, rain showers and thunderstorms may occur, accompanied by squalls, which usually last around two hours.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Navigation: Although most charts for Greece have now been revised, you need to exercise caution when navigating on land. We recommend using GPS where necessary. The entire cruising area is well marked. When sailing through the protected area around Alonissos, Kyra Panagia and Skantzoura, Yioura and Psathoura, there are a number of nature conservation requirements that need to be adhered to.

Sailing and motor yachts are banned from Piperi and Psathoura. Hydrofoils enter and exit quickly from small ports, sometimes causing a lot of swell, so it’s wise to keep your distance.

Ports and anchorages:

North of the Diavlos Trikeri Passage lies the Gulf of Volos. To the east it is surrounded by the mountainous, wooded peninsula Trikeri, and to the west, flat marshland. At the northwestern end of the Gulf lies the port town of Volos. Throughout the Gulf you find a lot of very pleasant, well-protected anchorages.

Milina [archipelago: Sporades and Chalkidiki | Greece] – Milina provides a large number of berths in the well protected bay of Ormos Vathoudi, to the southeast of the Gulf of Volos. Well protected anchorages on the west coast of the Gulf of Volos include Amaliapolis, Loutraki, Ormos Agios Ioannis and Agios Georgios.

Skiathos [archipelago: Sporades and Chalkidiki | Greece] – The green island of the Sporades offers more than 70 small and larger bays and three secure harbours. Surrounded by a further 9 small islands, the island of Skiathos is remarkable for its sheer beauty alone. One of the most beautiful beaches in the Aegean is Ormos Koukounaries in the southwest of the island, which also offers perhaps the best known anchorage in Greece. Due to its location the bay offers excellent protection from the Meltemi.

Skopelos [archipelago: Sporades and Chalkidiki | Greece] – The wonderfully verdant island of Skopelos is a little quieter than Skiathos. Its bays, churches and monasteries – and tiny villages surrounded by olive groves and almond trees – lend Skopelos a special charm. Loutraki, in the northwest of Skopelos, is well protected from the Meltemi but, as it’s open to the south, it’s best avoided in southerly winds.

Further south lies the picturesque bay of Ormos Panormou, which can get rather crowded during the summer months. The bay is deep, so you should ensure you have sufficient chain when anchoring. The wide Ormos Staphylos, on the south side of the island, is open to the south but offers very good protection from the Meltemi. In the beautiful city port of Skopelos it’s best to head for the berths in the northeast corner of the breakwater.

Alonissos [archipelago: Sporades and Chalkidiki | Greece] – Alonissos is an elongated, densely forested island with many secluded coves. Together with its small offshore islands it forms a National Marine Park, which provides protection to rare seals. For information about the nature reserve, contact the Information Centre directly from Patitiri harbour. Patitiri – apart from a slight swell – offers good protection from the Meltemi. Steni Vela in the northeast is another beautiful fishing port, lined by pine and bamboo trees. Note that larger yachts should anchor at a safe distance to the quay.

Peristera [archipelago: Sporades and Chalkidiki | Greece] – Southerly winds can cause a swell in the bay of Steni Vela, in which case it’s worth heading to the bays of the eastern island of Alonissos. Ormos Peristeri and Ormos Xero are two well protected bays to the south. In Ormos Vasiliko you’ll be well protected in almost any weather. Be careful when anchoring, there is a large, old chain on the seabed.

Kyra Panagia (Pelagonisi) [archipelago: Sporades and Chalkidiki | Greece] – Pelagonisi is an ideal starting point to head north, for example, to Chalkidiki. For all-round protection, check out the spacious and almost completely enclosed bay of Ormos Planitis, north of the island.

Monastery Bay in Monastiri offers good fair-weather anchorage on the eastern part of the island. In the southwest is Ormos Kyra Panagia where the only inhabitants on the island are monks.

About 15 nm southeast of Skopelos is Skantzoura, surrounded by many smaller islands. The anchorages at Paurassa and Skantzoura offer limited protection from the Meltemi. The island of Skantzoura and its surrounding islands are fairly unknown. Anyone who appreciates peace and quiet will relish time spent here.

Skyros [archipelago: Sporades and Chalkidiki | Greece] – The island lies in the east of this yacht charter area and is the largest island in the Northern Sporades, as well as the furthest east. In the Middle Ages, Skyros was known as Pirates’ Prey, which explains why the main town on the islands is built facing the core part of the rock so you couldn’t see the sea from the village. The island is quite hilly. The Chora is one of the most beautiful villages of the Aegean Sea. The site with its narrow, steep streets and winding flights of steps is reminiscent of a Cycladic village.

Skyros consists of two halves, the southern part is very rugged and has forested slopes. The Castro, with its castle-like fortress originally built in the Byzantine period, has impressively thick, almost vertically sloping walls which offered good protection against pirates.

Skyros is famous for its craftsmanship. Particularly noteworthy are the intricate embroidery and wood carvings. The protected anchorages of the island, Ormos Pevko and Ormiskos Linarias, are both located on the southwest coast. If you want to visit the Chora, you should start in Linaria. The bay is open to the northwest and provides good protection from the Meltemi.

Regulations and authorities: To enter you will need a valid ID card. The skipper must be in possession of an official yachting license with coastal navigation. Another crew member should have sailing experience and – if possible – the documentation to prove it.

Getting there: There are some direct charter flights to either Skiathos or Volos throughout the summer season. Or go via Athens.

Not to be missed: The short hike up to Loutraki Glossa on Skopelos offers a wonderful view to Skiathos and Evia. A trip with scooters on Skopelos is also very nice when you are sailing in the area. Another highlight – in the Northern Sporades – is a visit to the National Park Centre in Patitiri on Alonissos. The information centre is located right on the harbour. A stroll along the shore of the island of Skyros is also highly recommended.

The beautiful Dodecanese, despite being rather undiscovered, are still accessible thanks to their numerous sheltered bays, small ports and safe anchorages.

The Aegean Sea in spring and autumn, when the Meltemi (the northerly wind of the Aegean Sea) is no longer in the action, offers a great sailing area for any sailor.

This sailing area is considered tricky thanks to the rather changeable wind conditions, which in the lee of the islands can quickly grow to gale force.

During the summer, the Meltemi blows from the North. But in spring and autumn, the wind blows from the south and southeast. Be aware, that even though the Meltemi is referred to as a fair weather wind, it can still make its presence felt on cloudy days.

It’s important to be careful sailing around the Greek islands. We advise listening to Radio Athens (everyday at 6:30am in English and Greek) or tuning in to the latest weather reports around the clock on the radio channel.

The Aegean is more suited to experienced sailors as it can be quite rough. Between the islands you might experience some stormy gusts.

Anyone with an experienced crew who wants to tackle a sporty cruising area, can sail to Mykonos in the high season of the Meltemi, during the months of July and August.

Quiet, but no less attractive, is the Saronic Gulf and the Ionian Sea.  Aegina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses are very close to Athens, while Corfu and Lefkas are further out in the centre of the Ionian Sea.  As long as you can put up with the Meltemi wind, there are beautiful family and leisure areas to explore.

Not quite as rough as the Cyclades, but not quite as calm as the Ionian Sea and the Saronic Gulf, are the Dodecanese islands which extend from Leros, Patmos and Kalymnos in the north to Kos, Nisiros, Tilos and Simi or Rhodes in the south. Although this area is close to the Turkish coast, you need to be aware that the Meltemi can cause quite a stir. The beauty of the Dodecanese is that it’s still a fairly undiscovered yacht chartering area, which is why we highly recommend it.

The Ionian Sea is a great alternative for sailors who want to explore a number of places in one trip. Not only the green islands of Corfu, Lefkas and Kefalonia, but also the many smaller islands in this popular sailing area, which each have their own charm. Across them all you can clearly see a strong Italian influence in the architecture. A trip to Ithaca is also highly recommended.

The advantages of chartering a yacht with Cosmos Yachting:

  • Discover fantastically beautiful areas in the Mediterranean, explore small coves that are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and diving. The crystal clear water and white, sandy beaches are often compared to those of the Caribbean.
  • Start from our base in Athens on board a state of the art sailing yacht, catamaran or motorboat, such as our Bavaria Cruiser 56 which sleeps up to 10 people in comfort.

– Experience personalised service using our toll free customer hotline

– We guarantee first-class customer service before, during and after the booking of your holiday.