Oh, Greece, the land of olives, feta, wine, and azure blue beaches. There’s no denying the simple beauty of this Mediterranean wonderland. And while most rave about Athens and Santorini, there’s much more to explore when sailing in Greece.
From the quaint Hydra Island in the Aegean Sea to the ever-popular Mykonos, there’s a wealth of opportunities calling your name.
But sailing in Greece isn’t simply hopping on a boat and away you go. Oh no. There are lots of things to consider, from the costs involved to the best islands to add to your itinerary.
So stick around to get all the ins and outs for a Greek sailing experience like no other.
The Best Ways to Go Island Hopping in Greece
A Greek sailing expedition doesn’t have to be a pricey affair. From cost-effective ferries to going all out on guided tours, here are the best ways to sail through Greece.
Private Chartered Yacht or Boat
Chartering a private yacht is hands down the best way to sail around Greece, as you can choose when and where you travel. But this luxury way of traveling comes at a price and a pretty hefty one at that.
You can expect to pay anywhere from €215 (230 USD) to €2,850 (3,058 USD) per day. Bear in mind that the cheaper options usually don’t include a skipper, so you’ll need to obtain your ICC license to drive these boats.
If this sounds like your ideal way of exploring Greece, you can find some great deals at Click & Boat.
It may not be the most lavish way to get around, but ferries sure are cost-effective. With tickets costing no more than €90 (96 USD) per trip, you can easily explore the Greek island on a budget.
Just remember that some destinations (especially remote islands) only have one ferry leaving per day. So, your time will have to work around the ferry schedule, which isn’t ideal, but it could be worse.
You can compare all the ferry prices you need on Ferries in Greece.
Join a Guided Sailing Tour
Another fantastic option is to join guided sailing tours throughout Greece. This travel method means you can explore your desired destinations without a worry in the world, as your entire itinerary will be pre-arranged.
Granted, this does mean you may miss some amazing sites and activities on a particular island. But these tours usually cover the best bits of each destination. The majority of the options are short-day tours, but some travel companies offer multi-day tours.
You can join a tour for as little as €25 (27 USD) to a mouthwatering €1531 (1644 USD) per person. The prices range due to what is included, so take a look at the offers on Get Your Guide and Viator to find your ideal sailing experience.
The Best Places to Visit When Sailing in Greece
With three stunning seas flowing around Greece, each offering unique island experiences, knowing where to visit isn’t easy. So, the best way to go about it is to look at each of the best places to visit in Greece for each region.
This way, you can sit back and relax as your island-hopping journey takes care of you.
Why would we include Mykonos over the splendid island of Crete? Well, for starters, Mykonos’ small size means it’s far more manageable to explore. So you won’t feel like you’ve missed out on anything.
It’s also a party island close to other magical spots, such as Santorini and Naxos. And sailing from Athens to Mykonos will take you no longer than three hours. That’s plenty of time to soak up the tranquil views of the Aegean Sea.
As for the island itself, well, there’s so much to see and do that it’s easily one of the best islands in Europe.
Things to Do in Mykonos
Rather than going on and on about each individual attraction, here’s a short summary of why you should visit Mykonos:
- Little Venice — Brimming with quaint restaurants, seaside views, and a romantic atmosphere, Little Venice is a must-visit spot in Mykonos Town.
- Chora Town — Discover some of the best examples of Cycladic architecture in the quintessentially Greek town of Chora.
- Mykonos’ Beaches — From the white sands of Paradise Beach to the luxury beach bars at Psarou Beach, Mykonos is a beach bum’s heaven on earth.
- Take a trip to Delos and Rhenia — You’re already on a sailing expedition, and Mykonos is the perfect starting point for a cruise to Delo and Rhenia, two idyllic islands.
- Go wine-tasting — Mykonos has some world-famous wineries despite its small size, so you can’t go wrong with a wine-tasting experience.
The Cycladic Islands resting within the baby blue waters of the Aegean Sea showcase Greece at its finest. From the traditional white-washed and blue-ceiling buildings to the rustic hillsides packed with herds of goats, it’s an authentic destination, that’s for sure.
With 220 islands to explore across 976 square miles, you’re not short of choice. The closest Cycladic island to Athens is Kea (only an hour away), but Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, and Naxos are the most popular to visit.
The Best Cycladic Islands to Visit
Aside from Mykonos, here’s the low down on the top islands to visit within the Aegean Sea and why:
- Santorini — This romantic island is also a fantastic spot to discover Greece’s history. Explore Akrotiri and the Ancient Thera before resting easy on Red Beach.
- Syros — From the quaint fishing village of Kini to the glorious sunset views from Apano Meria, Syros Island is the gift that keeps on giving.
- Serifos — With the hilltop town of Chora and the stunning monastery of Taxiarches to discover, Serifos Island is yet another destination worth visiting.
- Naxos — As the largest Cycladic Island, we couldn’t ignore Naxos for much longer. From the Temple of Apollo to Mikri Vigla Beach, your itinerary will be jam-packed.
Greece’s western destination also has its fair share of unforgettable islands to explore. There are seven main islands, each offering its quirks for all to enjoy.
These islands have an exciting blend of Venetian architecture and traditional Greek culture. The only downside is that the Ionian Islands are a bit further away from Athens than the Cycladic destinations. For example, a boat trip from Athens to Crete can last anywhere between six and eight hours.
The Best Ionian Islands to Visit
For an Ionian experience like no other, here are the top islands to visit:
- Crete — As the largest Greek Island, Crete has plenty to do, from exploring the Old Venetian Port of Chania to Knossos Palace.
- Corfu — This quaint little island is as picturesque as they come, with Spianada Square offering the perfect afternoon stroll.
- Zakynthos — From exploring the iconic Blue Caves to Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos has some of the best beaches and ocean views in the world.
- Kefalonia — Explore the stalactites of Drogarati Cave or the pristine waters of Antisamos Beach.
- Paxos — Also known as Paxi, this breathtaking island is memorable for its stunning villages, such as Gaios, Lakka, and Longos.
- Lefkada — From its small seaside towns like Agios Nikitas to the gorge of Nydri, Lefkada is brimming with natural beauty.
Saronic Gulf Route
The Saronic Gulf is technically a part of the Aegean Sea, but it honestly deserves an entry all to itself. Stretching between the peninsulas of Argolis and Attica, it’s also a really convenient route to travel due to how close it is to mainland Greece.
As such, you can get to every island within the Saronic Gulf quickly and easily. Heck, even a trip from Athens to Aegina is just a 40-minute boat ride. The Saronic Gulf is “the place” to visit, with pristine beaches and a cosmopolitan vibe.
The Best Saronic Gulf Islands to Visit
For a tantalizing taste of each island, here’s what you can expect to enjoy along this route:
- Hydra — Whether you’re looking for a horseback adventure through rolling hills or a history-filled getaway, Hydra Island offers it all and more.
- Poros — From the aptly-named Love Bay to the ancient ruins at the Temple of Poseidon, Poros Island is a hidden gem calling your name.
- Aegina — It’s museums and ancient landmarks galore at Aegina, from the Temple of Aphaia to the Archaeological Museum of Aegina.
- Salamis — As the home of the best Acropolis tours around Athens, a visit to Salamis is a no-brainer.
- Agistri — If it’s secluded beaches and turquoise lagoons you seek, look no further than Agistri. Its best beach to visit has to be Megalochori.
Our Recommended Greek Sailing Itineraries
Now that you know where to visit, let us take you through some hand-made itineraries that are sure to fire up your imagination.
Cycladic Islands Itinerary
Duration: 10 days
We recommend spending at least two days at each destination, so you can expect your trip to look something like this:
Day One: Athens to Syros – roughly two-and-a-half-hour trip.
Day Three: Syros to Mykonos – roughly a 35-minute trip.
Day Five: Mykonos to Naxos – roughly an hour-and-a-half trip.
Day Seven: Naxos to Santorini – roughly a four-hour and 45-minute trip.
Day Ten: Santorini to Athens – roughly a six to eight-hour trip.
Ionian Islands Itinerary
Duration: 12 Days
As the Ionian Islands are slightly larger, we recommend spending at least three nights at each destination. Your itinerary could look something like this:
Day One: Killini (nearest mainland port) to Zakynthos – roughly an hour and 15-minute trip.
Day Four: Zakynthos to Kefalonia – roughly an hour-and-a-half trip.
Day Six: Kefalonia to Lefkada – roughly a two-hour and 20-minute trip.
Day Eight: Lefkada to Corfu – roughly a five-hour and 45-minute trip.
Day Twelve: Corfu to Igoumenitsa (nearest mainland port) – roughly an hour and 10-minute trip.
Saronic Gulf Itinerary
Duration: 12 Days
As there’s so much to see in the Saronic Gulf, it’s best to give yourself plenty of time. Here’s what your itinerary could look like:
Day One: Athens to Poros – roughly a two-hour trip.
Day Three: Poros to Agistri – roughly an hour’s trip.
Day Five: Agistri to Hydra – roughly an hour-and-a-half trip.
Day Seven: Hydra to Ermioni – roughly a 25-minute trip.
Day Nine: Ermioni to Spetses – roughly a 25-minute trip.
Day Eleven: Spetses to Porto Heli – roughly a 10-minute trip.
Day Twelve: Porto Heli to Athens – roughly a three-hour trip.
FAQs About Sailing in Greece
You may have your itinerary all set, but sailing in Greece will also bring up more questions. Here are all the answers to the most pressing questions.
How Much Time Do You Need for Sailing in Greece?
One week is the ideal time if you’re looking to enjoy all the best bits of a particular region. That said, it really depends on how much time you can take — and how much money you have in the bank.
You could spend an entire month hopping from one island to the next and barely scratch the surface on the top island in Greece.
What Is the Best Time to Sail in Greece?
May to September offers undeniably good weather for sailing in Greece, with little rain and sunny skies. The peak sailing time is July to August, so if you’re looking to miss the crowds, consider the months just outside of these times.
How Much Does it Cost to Sail Around the Greek Islands?
A standard private yacht can cost you anywhere from €215 (230 USD) to €2,850 (3,058 USD) per day. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, a ferry can cost you anywhere from €40 to €90 per trip (43 USD to 96 USD).
Is Sailing in Greece Difficult?
Generally speaking, sailing in Greece is a relaxing and easy affair. Most of the time, if you’re hiring a private boat, then your captain will sort out all the nitty-gritty details.
If you’re looking to sail your own boat, try to avoid winter (November to February), as the seas can get choppy due to the Meltemi winds.
Do You Need a License to Sail in Greece?
The only time you would need a license to sail in Greece is when you’re chartering your personal boat. This is also the case if you’re hiring a yacht and are sailing it yourself.
You can find all the information you need to obtain an International Certificate of Competency here.
Final Thoughts on Sailing in Greece
So there you have it, a lovely trip through all the need-to-knows about sailing in Greece. There’s no denying that Greece is one of the best places to go island hopping, so it’s only a matter of time before you experience it for yourself.
Before you finish planning an epic Greek getaway, learn about the best time to visit Santorini.