The affordable and convenient choice for navigating the Greek Islands
Those uninitiated in a Greece luxury yacht charter might imagine one of the massive millionaires’ superyachts sitting on the horizon – and the lofty price tag for a week-long vacation on board – but for an affordable all-inclusive rate there are many brand new luxury catamarans, classic motor yachts and everything in between that will let you cruise through the busiest hot spots at your leisure.
Whether your group intends to visit the Saronic Islands, the Cyclades, the peaceful Ionian Islands or travel even farther afield, most luxury yachts have a home berth in Athens for convenient embarkation from the airport. Stay a day to explore the history and culture of one of ancient civilisation’s most well-known cities, then unwind the moment you step aboard with drinks and a meal from a highly qualified chef aware of all your dietary requirements and preferences. Savour the sunshine and the breeze from your sundeck as your captain cruises through shimmering waters past colossal white cliffs to charming beaches and villages off the main tourism route that are largely untouched by time.
Highly experienced luxury yacht charter broker Amanda Brilliante of CharterWorld gives her advice on the Greece cruising grounds and which island archipelagos to visit for partying, culture, family-friendly holidays and immersing yourselves in nature:
“There are three main cruising areas of Greece which are most easily reached from [Athens], and the most popular areas that my clients visit time and again: The Argo-Saronic Gulf, Cyclades, and Ionian Islands. All are easily reached from the mainland and perfect for a week (or longer!) charter in Greece. As all offer something a little bit different, my recommendation will vary based on the type of charter group and when you plan to travel. Here’s a brief rundown on each so you can start planning your Greek getaway.”
The Saronic Gulf
The closest of the luxury yacht charter grounds to Athens, the Saronic Gulf is “perfect for a round-trip charter and offering excellent protection from the Meltemi winds which can affect the nearby Cyclades, so is always a good ‘fall-back’ plan for luxury yacht charters in July and August”. Tours usually include the largest four islands of Aegina, Spetses, Poros and Hyrda, where guests can go on an indoor and outdoor history tour including the Temple of Aphaia, the Aegina Heritage Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Aegina and the nearby Temple of Apollo.
There are also beautiful cathedrals and galleries to admire before your group takes the weight off their feet at one of the harbour-side cafes or tavernas.
“Only about an hour from Athens, these charming and picturesque islands are a world away from the city and sheltered from the winds by the surrounding mainland. They are ideal for low key cruising and island hopping, offering short passages and a nice mix of cosmopolitan ports with shopping, dining and nightlife as well as more naturalistic ‘get away from it all’ anchorages.”
Cruise around the coast with east to discover such beautiful secluded treasures as Monastery Mirtiotissas and its nearby beach, which is great for watersports and other similar sites have great hiking trails along the beaches and clifftops.
Some Hot tips:
• Don’t miss a donkey ride (the only transportation) up the narrow and steep passageways on Hydra before hitting one of its seaside bars or restaurants in the evening!
• Enjoy some fresh-made loukoumades (local, honey-dipped dough balls) on Poros, where donuts were born!
• Aegina is the home of pistachios and is known to have the best in the world – visit in September when their yearly Pistachio Festival occurs.
The Cyclades Islands
Mykonos and Santorini are quite possibly two of the most well-known Greek islands as holiday destinations for their windmills, blue and white houses and vineyards, and among them is a wealth of islands for partying, food tours and water sports.
“Home of the native Greek-bred Aegean cat, these are probably the best-known islands in Greece: Cyclades meaning ‘circular’ and the islands forming a circle around the sacred island of Delos. I actually think of the main islands as lying within a triangle made up of Athens-Mykonos-Santorini (roughly 100 nautical miles on each side) and including Naxos, Paros, Milos, Serifos and Kythnos.”
The clear warm waters are great for all ages to learn new skills such as jet skiing or Scuba diving at the numerous sites, where colourful corals and deep caves have a host of sea life to admire.
“The Cyclades can be strongly affected by the Meltemi, which may make passage difficult during July and August when these winds typically blow, and passages are generally a bit longer than in the Saronic Gulf. I usually recommend a one-way trip for a more leisurely pace, for instance between Athens and Mykonos, Mykonos and Santorini, or Santorini and Athens.”
Some Hot tips:
• The white-washed / blue-roofed architecture which is our image of Greece abounds on Santorini. With villages situated high on cliffs with breath-taking views – it’s a can’t-miss!
• Originally known as ‘Thermia’, enjoy a spa day at the thermal baths of Therma and Loutra on Kythnos
• Enjoy the excellent wines and thyme honey that have made Serifos famous (and bring some home for later!).
• Jetset Mykonos is a glam hotspot with gorgeous beaches (and bodies), amazing restaurants and nightlife, and a ‘who’s-who’ of visiting models, singers, and movie stars.
The Ionian Islands
“These are the islands on the West Coast of mainland Greece, on the Ionian Sea, and generally, unaffected the Meltemi winds so a great destination all summer long. Also known as the Heptanese or ‘The Seven Islands’, they include Corfu, Kefalonia, Paxos, Lefkada Zakynthos and Kefalonia, as well as some smaller islands in the group.”
The Romans and Venetians left their mark in the architecture of the Ionian Islands, of which locals are very proud and tourists from all over come to admire. With Italy just across the Ionian Sea, the culinary influence is also felt and visitors will find international cuisine as well as local delights. Corfu is by far the most famous, however many will recognise the shipwreck and the beach named after it on Zakynthos. Corfu and Kefalonia are the places to be for a day of boutique shopping before hitting the clubs at sundown, although there are plenty of cultural sites to fill the daytime hours as well.
The Ionian Islands also have a more calming ambiance than the Cyclades, and you won’t have to travel far to leave behind night clubs and bars for a romantic candlelit dinner under the stars.
“[The Seven Islands are} perfect for those that have already ‘done’ the Cyclades and Saronic Gulf and are looking for a more laid-back experience. A one-way charter between Athens and Corfu is more recommended and offers a chance to cruise through the spectacular sheer walls of the Corinth Canal.”
Some Hot tips:
• Lefkada offers Porto Katsiki, one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece and a ‘must see’. Or visit Sappho’s Leap, where, ancient legend has it, unrequited love could be best served by throwing oneself over the 71.6m/235ft drop into the Ionian below.
• Cliff-lined beaches abound on Kefalonia, including Myrtos, Plateia Ammos and Petanoi, and of course Koutsoupia which is only reached by yacht! Also on offer for history buffs is a wealth of Venetian buildings (Fiscardo), Byzantine churches and Mycenaen.
For more information on luxury yacht charters for holidays and events and to see what options would suit your group in the Greece yacht charter grounds, contact CharterWorld obligation free.