Amazingly embraced by thousands of islands on every side, stunning beaches for all tastes across miles of sundrenched coasts, pristine waters, lively beach bars and genuine local spirit, it is no surprise that Greece is such a popular sailing destination, with so many yachts flocking every season. Here is what to consider while preparing your sailing holidays in Greece!
Choose the right time to visit
Renowned for its wonderful Mediterranean weather with lovely, warming springs and long, bright summers, the sea surrounding in Greece offers excellent sailing conditions from April to late October. During this period, all services and amenities (taverns, tourist shops, museums) are open for the holiday season, which reaches its peak from July to late August. No season would apply to you most, if you wish to unleash your inner party animal in Mykonos, Ios, Paros, Corfu or Zante, worldwide famous party islands! If you wish to skip the vast crowds of summer and sip the Mediterranean sun in relaxing sailing holidays, Spring or early Autumn is still excellent timing to visit Greece.
Plan your trip around the weather
The weather is mild and warm both early and late in the season. The sea temperature is not considered quite warm for the locals to swim early in the summer, but for European standards it’s still warm enough. Yet, sailing conditions are consistently favourable for 6 to 7 months’ period a year.
In the Ionian Sea, Maistro wind that blows during summer, is a steady reliable wind, making sailing in the Ionian Islands ideal for all kinds of sailors. This pleasant north-west wind rises in the afternoon and usually dies at sunset, while during early and late season the Maistro winds occur less often.
On the East side and the Aegean Sea, including the Turkish coasts, the weather is generally thought to be dry with clear skies. However, during the summer season (June to September) the Meltemi winds occur, which are strong dry north winds that come up in clear weather, reach their peak in the afternoon and often die down at night. Most of the times, the Meltemi winds are good, steady sailing winds preferred by the leisure sailors in the Aegean Sea. However, they need attention, as sometimes they create steep waves that can be dangerous for yachts smaller than 10 meters.
In December, you can’t swim unless you are a winter swimmer, but if you desire to soak up some history and culture instead, it’s a great time to visit, starting from Athens.
Cosmopolitan or traditional, vibrant or slow paced, sophisticated or completely uninhabited but undeniably some of the most beautiful in the world, the Greek islands have something for everyone! The size and variety of your packing depends on the islands you plan to visit. If your sailing holiday destinations are low-key islands and coasts meeting your relaxing expectations, culture explorations, beach strolling and endless sun-soaking, you don’t need more than swimming suits, few t-shirts, shorts, light dresses and an anorak or windproof jacket for the night breeze.
However, if you are visiting more hip destinations, such as Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes, pack your suitcase as going to the French Riviera. Visiting some classy restaurants and clubs means you need to be more formal and pack a larger suitcase. The majority of the yachting holiday makers prefer a bland of those two, and this is probably the best choice: take in both quiet islands and their crowded neighbors.
Forget about the guide book
It is not really necessary to plan your holiday based on any specific cruising guide, especially for the Aegean Sea, as the islands are so close to each other, information is available everywhere and plans can change in a minute! A good idea is to get a brief guide with a short summary of all the islands, decide on the destinations you want to visit and plan along with the things you particularly want to see and do. It is always interesting to read about new destinations, but If you want to read something to get in the mood for your trip, there is nothing better than the most famous book in the world: the story of Odysseus, the legendary king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer’s Odyssey. Alternatively, you can start from our wanderlust igniting article on National Geographic Traveller, recreating his fascinating journey and reliving the myth at key locations.