As we are coming out of this Pandemic and desperately are in need of a good vacation, Greece has everything we are looking for – turquoise waters and sandy beaches paired with an incredible cuisine. The country wants to reboot the tourism industry and has incredible pricing to attract you and the family for a few days of Greek magic. The islands are fully vaccinated and are your mediterranean playground to island hop with your yacht and experience everything the islands have to offer. Among the nearly 6000 islands that the country calls its own, there surely is one that stands out to you. Stay off the beaten path or take advantage of the still relatively empty tourist areas.
Athens is the ideal vantage point for your yacht charter trip – perfectly accessible by plane, and you might want to take a day or two just to explore the capital city a little bit before venturing out on your yacht. The city is one of the oldest and continuously populated cities in Europe and the world. The city is overflowing with activities and sites to see, so do plan ahead and focus on your preferences. The Acropolis sits on top and watches over the city- a magical sight particularly when the sun sets. Or maybe stop by the Parthenon – Athena’s temple – one of the most well known antique buildings in the world. Maybe you will even catch the “attic light”, a sort of golden crown lingering atop of the city, a lighting that is unique to Athens and has been a fascination to Greeks since the early Ages.
Start your trip from one of the many different marinas such as Athens Marina, Flisvos Marina or Alimos Marina near Athens that was awarded with the 5 Gold Anchors Platinum, making it one of the most remarkable marinas in the world.The Saronic Islands are just off the coast from there, with the Cyclades just being a little further away, but still within good reach for a one week trip. The islands have something to offer whether you are into party places, culture, history or even the most remote uninhabited areas.
During its Venetian rule, the island was named Isola di Spezzie, which means island of scents. It is lined with vast pine forests and well-known for its sweets, namely the Amygdolata, made from almonds. The coast is lined with beautiful little Kafenions, inviting you to linger and spend some time as a local. Go and visit the crystal clear coasts with pebble beaches. The island is mostly uninhabited aside from the city but offers a very popular nightlife in the old harbour for those that like to dance the night away.
Nafplio is considered one of the most romantic cities in Greece and was in fact the first capital city of modern Greece. Heavily fortified, there are ancient ruins both on land and in water to visit. It boasts ancient architecture, history and cultural outposts and is one of the best locations from where to explore the Peloponnese and its cultural ancient sites. But not only that, it also is known for its hidden corners and romantic alleyways.
It is an ideal location to enjoy some quiet time as it is protected from winds and waves. Make sure to visit the Venetian fortress Boutzi, which is located on an islet in the center of the harbour to ward off pirates. Speaking of Venetian influence, Nafplio is an excellent place to enjoy Italian gelato; the mix of Italian and Greek influence can be felt – or better – tasted all around this place.
Most everyone has heard of Santorini, it is a popular vacation spot. Now might be the best time to go, as tourism still slowly recovers and you can now enjoy those normally crowded places (almost) on our own. Make sure to check on the maximum allowed amount of days you can stay there, as there are restrictions in place. Enjoy the island’s homegrown volcanic wine and kafe glyko while being on the mythical path of Atlantis’ roots.
Note: during the end of July and August, Santorini experiences the Meltemi winds, which can be quite strong. A larger yacht will definitely make your travel more comfortable. Consider flying into Santorini, our brokers can find yachts that are available there on your dates.
While Santorini is better known, Naxos is the largest of the Cycladic islands, is yacht-friendly and has a lot to offer.
Because of its fertile soil, it is a great location for foodies, as Naxos is famous for its meats, cheeses and especially the famous sun-dried Naxos mackerel.
Take a wander through Naxos’ beautiful streets where the Venetian influence from back in the 11th century can still be felt up to today. They built the hilltop castle, Kastro, and in fact, some of the most beautiful ancient buildings belong to Venetian nobility up to today. The island truly has something to offer for everyone, from mountains to ruins and most probably the most beautiful beaches of the Cyclades – namely Agios Prokopios, Aghia Anna, Plaka, Kastraki, Mikri Vigla, and Pirgaki.
Milos became famous when the Venus of Milos statue was found on the island. It can now be viewed at the Louvre in Paris. To this day, the island remains somewhat unknown compared to its other Cycladic neighbors even though it is one the biggest and most diverse. The island is, like Santorini, of volcanic origin, which provides incredible geological views – red, orange and white rock formations, hot springs in the sand, you name it. As you pass along the coast, note the incredible white little fishing houses with their bright colored beams, windows and doors and stop to explore one of the many caves. Ask your captain to take you to one of the beaches where the hot springs come out right within the cove underneath the sand. Just close your nose, the smell of sulfur is an acquired taste, but is good for the skin.
For those of you that enjoy a little bit of excitement during your charter, make sure to check out the marina by the airport. It has one of the shortest runways, embedded by water on both ends, similar to St. Maarten, and airplanes set low over the marina or the nearby beach for their landings. Skiathos has some amazing beaches that are only accessible by boat, such as Lalaria beach and Tsougria island, located just off the coast of Skiathos and uninhabited.
For the sweet tooth amongst you that want to try something different, make sure to give Kaimaki ice cream a try – an ice cream that contains Mastix – a resin that is sourced from a specific pistachio tree only on the island of Chios. You can try it at the “Panorama” restaurant. And finally, if you are a Mamma Mia lover, some of the movie was shot in the old harbour.
What Santorini is to the Cycladic islands, Hydra (Idra) is to the Saronic islands. While the island is entirely car-free, the docking can be quite adventurous, especially when lots of boats want to stay; it is not uncommon to see three lines of boats in this enclosed harbour. This unique combination creates quite the stunning atmosphere on this island. Do use your tender or water taxi to get around the island to explore the caves and get to different places.
Don’t miss out on the Hydra’s Sunset Bar, awarded by ABC News as the second restaurant in the world with the best view. Now, who is up for some adventure?!
For a concentrated taste of all that the cycladic islands can offer, Paros is worth the visit. It is the postcard version of what you imagine Greece to look like – white fisher villages contrasting with the dark blue water and the sandy beaches. It is less cosmopolitan than the neighboring villages so a perfect getaway spot. It is nicknamed the “marble island” and the marble for Delphi and Delos, as well as the Venus of Milos are sourced from here. The island has limited docking spots, so you may need to anchor in the bay during the busy months. The many beaches invited you to stay for a few hours or even over night to enjoy the pacific-like waters while staying here.
An absolute enclave, Ithaka, in the Ionian Sea, is still undiscovered by mass tourism. It is a small, quiet and very green island with a vast amount of sheltered beaches that are placed within the hilly countryside, many of which can only be reached by boat. Take your water toys to some of the shallow and sheltered bays for some family fun or go diving with options, ranging from easy beginner diving locations to cave and even wreck diving.
Note: Ithaka is currently not accessible with a yacht charter starting from Athens, as the Corinth Canal is currently closed to maritime traffic due to damage caused by landslides.