As an expert in sailing Greek Islands, we’re delighted to bring you this guest post from Emily of Two Get Lost. Having sailed professionally and exploring most of this incredible country, you know this is a one week Greece itinerary that’s worth paying attention to!
The Greek islands are some of the best cruising grounds in Europe, perhaps even the world. With countless secluded anchorages, picture perfect towns and delicious fresh seafood and cheap wine to boot, Greece really does have it all.
If you are after a sailing holiday that is competitively priced but doesn’t compromise on beauty then Greece is your cruising ground!
Town quays are often free to moor up to, tavernas are plentiful and cheap and the Greek islands are often so close together that you can sail to a different one for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Everything You Need to Know about Sailing Greek Islands
Where in Greece Should I Take My Sailing Holiday?
The sailing grounds of Greece are split into areas.
You’ve got the popular Ionian islands to the East, moving down the mainland coast to the Peloponnese; then you have the less well-sailed Dodecanese, Cyclades and Aegean Islands.
And of course Crete to the south that provides enough sailing ground for the whole season alone!
Consider the Weather Whilst Sailing Greek Islands
If you have a limited time in Greece then you will want to take weather into account when planning your sailing itinerary.
Part of the reason that the Ionian Islands are a firm favourite with charter boat holidays is because of the relatively calm and predictable weather patterns (in the spring, summer and autumn months, at least). Overnight and during the morning, the weather is often very calm, with little to no wind or sea-swell. Come the afternoon, a north-westerly wind (usually no more than 20 knots) will blow until sun down.
This very predictable pattern makes sailing far more pleasant.
From June to September the Westerly Greek islands are commonly hit by a weather pattern known as the Meltemi, where strong winds (often 40 knots and above), come funneling down from north to south, often for days at a time.
The last thing you want when you’ve come on a sailing holiday in Greece is to be caught out by the strong Meltemi winds!
On the bright side, there is a small area around Athens that commonly escapes these winds, and because of this you will be able to pick up a charter sailboat here for a reasonable price. It is worth considering though that hops between islands can be more like giant leaps, often taking a whole day or longer.
If you want to explore a smaller cruising area and are happy to brave some higher winds then this is also a beautiful area of Greece to visit, and you will find a little more history here than in other popular areas (though don’t expect it to be less busy in the summer months!)
Sailing the Ionian – Your One Week Greece Itinerary
Having spent the last six months sailing Greece’s stunning Ionian islands (and beyond) and exploring every nook and cranny of stunning this coastline, I’ve put together the ultimate week long itinerary for your sailing holiday in Greece.
We all want slightly different things from a sailing holiday, so I’ve included options for the slightly more adventurous, as well as some great ideas for those wanting a more comfortable and relaxing experience.
Whatever you want from a sailing holiday, you will find it in Greece!
Finding a Sailboat in Greece
Lefkada is home to a huge number of charter companies, so this is a great place to start looking if you are thinking of hiring a sailboat. My partner and I can thoroughly recommend the company Sail Ionian.
This English, family run company offers everything from bareboat charter options for regular sailors, to RYA courses if you want to learn to sail. If you can sail but are feeling a little rusty, then they offer a few days with an instructor to help re-build your confidence before you take the boat out alone.
We learnt to sail with them and had the most amazing experience. The instructor was personable and professional, and spoke highly of his long standing time with the company. We met several people there on holiday through Sail Ionian and they were all thrilled with the high quality sailboats and the level of service they had received.
If you own your own boat then you may well be starting your Greece sailing adventure near Lefkada, with Preveza’s highly recommended boat yards just up the coast.
With this in mind I have started the itinerary in well-sheltered Nidri.
Your One Week Greece Itinerary
Day 1: Nidri Bay
If you’ve just arrived here then you may well want to get settled in, unpack and get to know the boat. As Greek towns go, Nidri isn’t top of my list, but it’s the perfect bolthole for any bad weather and so it’s a place worth knowing of just in case.
That being said, Nidri does have some great redeeming features if you do end up spending your first day here.
It has easily accessible shops and supermarkets that are perfect for stocking up for your week’s sailing.
Many people won’t drink the water in Greece, so make sure you read up on this and provision accordingly. If you’ve already done your research then you may want to come armed with a bottle that filters out the nasties, saving you money and helping keep your plastics down!
There are numerous cafes and restaurants in town, and because of this they are competitively priced. Keep your eyes peeled for chalkboards outside offering different daily deals such as reduced three course meals or freebies.
If you want somewhere a little less crowded then I’d recommend you motor the boat a few minutes inland to Vliho.
This protected anchorage has great holding and is far less busy than the neighbouring town of Nidri (but there is no supermarket there so stock up before you leave). There is one main street with a petrol station at one end that will supply Camping Gaz and Vliho Yacht Club along the same road, offering delicious meals and friendly drinks (they are well set up for sailors, offering showering facilities, laundry facilities and the option to get post delivered here).
Day 2: Meganisi – Sailing Greek Islands
Now that you’re all settled in it’s time to explore. And first on the list is the beautiful island of Meganisi, literally meaning ‘Big Island’, so there is a lot to see here if you have the extra time to spare.
If pretty towns and nice restaurants make you tick then Vathy is the place for you. Vathy boasts one of the world’s largest natural harbours, making it a popular place for boats of all kinds, so you won’t find peace and quiet here. What you will find however is a cute but vibrant island town, full of tourist charm and a sprinkle of local culture. Getting a space on the harbour wall may be a bit of a challenge in high season so we would recommend calling restaurants ahead to see if they have space for you (the deal here being that you will eat at their restaurant).
A short uphill walk from here is Abelake bay where you can enjoy a swim in the sea. There is also a pretty taverna if the walk makes you thirsty! You can anchor out in this well protected bay, so if Vathy proves to be a little busy for your liking then this may be the perfect compromise.
Our favourite option for anchorages on Meganisi has to be Atherinos. Here you will find a free town quay that offers water and electricity for a small charge, and when we visited in high season the quay was rarely full. There are two very decent restaurants opposite, and a short walk past the restaurants takes you to a lovely little beach complete with reggae bar, that is a perfect spot to watch the sunset from.
Day 3: Kastos
You’re almost half way through your one week Greece itinerary but there’s still plenty to look forward to!
Today take a morning sail over to Kastos island, and keep an eye out for dolphins! You could stop for lunch at the bottom of Kalamos island and take a swim in its crystal clear waters. Kastos has become famous for its windmill bar with stunning views across the sea. It suffered badly in the 1953 earthquake but has retained its charm and beauty.
You can anchor in the town of Kastos itself, taking long lines to the harbour wall as the depths close in slope off quickly. It was very busy here in the summer months so if you don’t enjoy having neighbours you can high five then we recommend you anchor out in one of the quieter bays just around the corner. If you plan on spending your time on land exploring then Kastos is definitely the easier option as you will be within arms reach of the action!
Kastos town is well worth a potter around, with its pretty winding streets and artisan stores. There is a small shop that serves bread twice a day (it sells out quickly!) and other basic supplies. El.a bar boats the best views in the evening and serves the most delicious pizza and a wide range of cocktails (the owner is a huge music fan, ask him about the guitar on the wall). If you want something a little different then head to the windmill bar just outside of town. Drinks here at any time of day are pretty special, and there is even a masseur who works from the pop up tent just next to the windmill (we heard great things!)
Day 4 Sailing Greek Islands: Atokos
The small island of Atokos is only a few hours sail away, and is an absolute must visit on your sailing holiday in Greece. It is a private island that remains uninhabited for most of the year (except for the goats that roam freely here) What it lacks in the form of tavernas and nightlife, it more than makes up for in natural beauty, and it has remained a firm favourite for us out of all the many places we have visited in Greece this summer.
The most popular anchorage on Atokos is ‘One house bay’, aptly named after the one house found behind the bay. We can only think that it is so popular because of the easy access to land, making it possible to explore the little island by foot. Because of its popularity you may have to jostle a bit for a space, and will definitely need to take long lines to shore in high season.
Day 5: Vathy
It’s on to Ithaki today where you’ll spend the final few days of your one week Greece itinerary. Set in another superbly sheltered natural harbour this is Ithaki’s main town and its most lively.
That being said, it is still relatively quiet and untouched by the tourism here and you will still find the place buzzing with local activity as the fishing boats come and go and the tavernas do their evening business.
You can come stern to on the town quay here (but be careful not to take the charter company spaces), or you can anchor out in the bay. Many people find the holding here excellent, but we had trouble, so make sure your hook is dug in well before the afternoon winds pick up!
The town has a well stocked supermarket (I’m guessing you ran out of beer on your night in Atokos!) and numerous tavernas all competing for business. Visit the fish tavern Poseidon and you will find lots of fresh local fish at really reasonable prices along with traditional and local Greek dishes, traditional pies, many ouzo meze dishes and grilled meat on the grill.
If you want somewhere you can swim then anchor out nearer the harbour entrance, in Skhoinos Bay. This bay is much quieter and wilder than the town, but is still well protected and sheltered.
Is there a better way to spend your time whilst Sailing Greek islands?
One Week Greece Itinerary Day 6: Kioni
Depending on which charter company you booked through, this may well be the last full day of your Sailing Greek islands holiday, and there is no better place to spend it than in the pretty seaside town of Kioni.
Kioni is just North of Vathy, still on the island of Ithaki. This is one of the most picturesque towns we have come across in Greece and we immediately fell in love with the tiled roofed houses and white washed buildings, emphasising the bright pinks of the Bourgainvillea growing against them.
You can anchor on the town quay (there is a truck that brings water for a fee) or tie lines to shore just outside of the town itself. It is easy to dinghy into town from there.
The other option you have is to anchor just off Katina Beach near the entrance to the bay. It is less well protected here (though you will still find adequate shelter), the holding is good and you may well have the whole bay to yourself. There is a path through the woods that leads to the town (about 10 minutes away), take a torch if you’re returning in the dark!
Kioni town itself has all the usual amenities, including a supermarket and a well stocked bakery. There are also numerous independent jewellery stores selling pretty handmade crafts. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. We ate at Mills taverna and the mushroom risotto was to die for! Spavento Bar near the bakery doesn’t look that much by day, but come the evening, when it is lit up by candle light, it is the perfect place to enjoy an evening cocktail (ask for a decaf espresso martini for the best nights sleep you’ve ever had!)
If you’re worried about how much feta and calamari you’ve been eating then why not burn off some calories with a walk to the three windmills. It is about 40 minutes walk from the centre of town and the path winds through the woods, offering periodic views out to sea. The windmills themselves are not in use, but you can explore the area around them and imagine what an incredible sight they must have been in their day. Check out the map of walking routes in town for an even wider choice of treks, leading to historic monuments and offering spectacular views.
Day 7: Back to Nidri (with a Lunch Stop) – The Last Stop Whilst Sailing Greek Islands
Sadly, if you’re chartering a sailboat for your sailing holiday in Greece, then it is probably time to head back to Nidri to return it. If you have time then you could make a lunchtime stop at Pananikolis Cave and explore it by dinghy. It’s a popular tourist attraction often frequented by day boats so take care if you go for a swim!
Yes, your one week Greece itinerary is over, but you’ll have memories to last a lifetime!
With Your One Week Greece Itinerary Behind You, What’s Next?
After seven days of sailing the Ionian islands you should have an idea of the beauty and diversity Greece has on offer. From fishing villages to vibrant towns, crystal clear waters to towering cliffs and golden sunrises to skies full of endless stars, I challenge you to find something that Greece is missing!
If you’re lucky enough to be continuing your sailing holiday in Greece, or keen to do something a little different next year, then Kephalonia is the perfect next destination. Spot turtles in Argostoli, swim and snorkel surrounded by gigantic, green mountains in Antisamos, dine with class in the boutique town of Fiskardo or soak up the local Greek culture in the pretty little town of Lixouri.
Got questions about anywhere on the itinerary? Feel free to get in contact on our website or facebook page and I will be more than happy to answer them!
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