Sailing holidays Greece

Sailing weather

The Greek islands make up 20% of the total area of Greece, an ideal yachting area, creating a coastline of more than 15000 kilometres.

The climate along this coastline is Mediterranean in character: mild moist winters and dry hot summers.

The long charter season starts as early as March when air temperatures rise above the seawater temperatures, which has a stabilizing effect.

Catamaran sailing out of Athens in the Saronic Gulf.

Around mid-May the Azores High gradually becomes more dominant and the Euro-Asian High loses its influence, resulting in very stable weather.
July and August peak in high temperatures and sun hours – the high season for chartering!

Greek sailing holidays (pix)

In Oct/Nov the Azores High becomes less dominant and frontal systems – followed by cool air masses – start entering the East Mediterranean from the north. The contact with the relative warmer seawater will subsequently lead to an unstable atmosphere and showers

If you wish to charter a yacht and would like independent advice on reliable yacht charter fleets in Greece, please go to my yacht charter page .

Sailing regions of Greece

Note, that the charts and the descriptions should not be used for navigational purposes, please also see the disclaimer.

The best bases for yacht charters are Athens, Kos, Paros, Corfu, Lefkas, Rhodes, Skiathos, Mykonos and sometimes Lavrion.

 See my guide to yacht charters  in Greece, the Adriatic coasts and Turkey!

Further reading

The whales and dolphins of Greece.
Logbooks Athens, Milos, Santorini - 1, 2, 3, 4 + Greece: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 1, 2, 3.
The ancient Diolkos and the Corinth Canal.
Top 10 of Greek islands.

This page is also available in  Dutch, Spanish, German, Polish, Italian, Arabic, French and Hebrew.

Orographic rain and clouds

Are caused by an air mass being pushed up a mountain slope, where it quickly cools down adiabatically, creating clouds or even precipitation.
From “oros” + “graphia” (Greek: “όρος”, mountain + “γραφία”, to write).
Greece and its islands are exceptionally mountainous, so clouds are widely used to forecast winds and meltemi storms…

Bareboat, flotilla or crewed charters

There are several ways to charter a yacht in Greece and explore the Greek coasts and islands. First of all, there is self-sail, bare boating or bareboat chartering, which means that you will have to skipper the yacht yourself and no hired skipper, cook or hostess will be onboard.
Note that you require at least one Competent Crew plus one International Certificate of Compentence before the Port Police allows you to sail bareboat.

When in doubt of your capabilities or just a little rusty, a flotilla might be a nice compromise. This way you sail along with other boats, yet you are still the captain of your own boat but can turn to an “admiral” for advice if you want to. Though, you have to go where the rest goes. Most flotillas take place in the Saronic, Argolic and the Ionian.

Sailing holidays Kythira Greece
The fortified Chora of Kythira island overlooking Kapsali port. Hi-res image

A little niche are the assisted bareboat charters, which are a blend between the standard bareboats and flotillas.

You get more freedom of course – though with a stranger on board – with a crewed charter or the comfortable gulet charters. These fine yacht charters vary from just one skipper/instructor onboard to additional cooks, hostesses etc. On the larger yachts you can also opt for a cabin charter, effectively like a cruise, in which you rent just your own cabin.

Ancient Greece

The Venetian port of Nafpaktos – in 1571 the stage of the Battle of Lepanto – with a grand vista over the Corinth Gulf.
The lustrous port of Hydra; stepping stone between the Saronic and Argolic Gulfs.

One way charters

The most effective way to explore the Greek Islands is to choose a one way charter: by sailing from one charter base to another you will be able to see much more. Also, a one way cruise downwind gives you a longer range and is usually a lot more comfortable than a windward beat.

Yet, with a dubious charter company, you might have to accept an inferior yacht when starting from a smaller base. Two other good reasons to start your holiday in Athens are the logistics involved and – more importantly – you and the owner of the charter company will be able to meet each other.

Best to sail with the reliable companies of course, but many of these are not very keen on their yachts ending up downwind of Athens or other larger bases. Therefore, a one way charter comes with an additional one way fee which is usually well worth your money.

Sailing Santorini (pix)

During the sailing season the prevailing winds blow from the north-west or the north-east in most areas: Corfu to Lefkas, Athens to Mykonos, Athens to Paros, Kos to Rhodes, etc. are some examples of downwind one-way itineraries.

Finally, the small Lavrion port (on the mainland at the south-east tip of Attica) is often overlooked as a perfect start into the Cyclades, although limited quality catamarans and yachts from this minor base.
Again, it is always better to start at a major yacht charter base like Athens (Alimos marina) and sometimes Lavrion, since the owners of the yacht charter company would very much like to meet you and help you with the additional requests you might have.