Sailing in Greece: Everything You Need to Know

Greece is perfect as a sailing destination! It has over 6,000 islands and over 15,000km of coastline spread out across the Aegean Sea and has numerous options for sailing. No matter what type of vacation you want, you can do it with a sailing vacation in Greece, from exploring the myths and legends or the history and heritage of Greece to the adventure and adrenaline activities like windsurfing, scuba diving, hiking, or swimming.

My friends and I rented a sailing boat from Kavas Yachting for three days, sailing around the Argosaronic islands. We visited Spetses, Hydra, Poros, and Aegina on a brand new Beneteau Oceanis 40.1 with four cabins. Find here everything you need to know about chartering a boat in Greece.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sailing

There are some advantages and disadvantages of sailing. The advantages include being able to pick your travel companions. Sailing with friends is fun and can be a great option for families as well. You also have the freedom to explore wherever you want to go. You can stop at beaches that only boats have access to, or sail to a small island for a day. 

The disadvantages are that sailing isn’t ideal for people who get motion sick! The rolling of a sailboat isn’t for everyone. And your plans are entirely weather dependent, so sailing is best for people who don’t need a concrete plan and can change on the fly. Yachts can be small, as well, and there’s limited space to hide away if you want solitude. Limitations abound, especially in water tanks, so you can’t take long hot showers. 

But despite those disadvantages, yachting remains a popular way to explore the Greek islands!

Sailing areas in Greece

Poros island sailing in Greece
Poros Island

With over 6,000 islands, Greece is perfect for a sailing vacation. Some of the most popular destinations include the Argo Saronic Islands, where my friends and I sailed, the Dodecanese, the Ionian Islands, and the Cyclades.

The Saronic Gulf is nearest to Athens and is a great place for a few days if you don’t want to go too far. Some of the islands here are Spetses, Hydra, Aegina, and Poros. These islands are covered with pine trees and boast quaint towns and a quiet atmosphere, which belies their rich heritage and decisive roles in the Greco-Turkish war.

Hydra is known for being car-free, while Spetses is home to beautiful mansions and museums. Along the way, you can also visit some of the mainland towns in the Peloponnese, or continue along the coastline to Monemvasia or Nafplio. 

The Dodecanese Islands are east of the mainland and lie at the crossroads of civilisation, along the famed Silk Road. The main islands here include Kos, Rhodes, Patmos, and Kalymnos, to name just a few. Many of the islands are quiet, but if you want to experience Greek nightlife, stop at Rhodes or Kos for an evening.

The Ionian Islands are famous for several things, including the stunning Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos, the mythical home of Odysseus, Ithaca, and for being home to some royal personalities like Empress Sisi, and Prince Philip. These western islands are popular for watersports, including scuba diving and windsurfing.

Poros island

The Cyclades, which has over 30 islands, lies south of the mainland and includes Santorini, Mykonos, Ios, Tinos, Delos, Milos, and others. Each island has its own history and charm, but many are considered the birthplace of gods or goddesses in Greek myth. There is great nightlife in Mykonos and Ios, rich religious heritage on Tinos, and great diving.

What to Pack for a Sailing Holiday

What you need for a sailing holiday isn’t much! Be sure to pack your bathing suit, shorts, t-shirts, sandals, and sunglasses. Ladies might want to pack some sundresses for going into town, and  guys might want a nice shirt for dinner out.

If you plan to hit a club in Mykonos or Rhodes, checking the dress code is always a good idea, and if you want to hike you’ll want some good shoes and clothes to get sweaty in. But you don’t need a whole lot! It’s not common to wear shoes on yachts, and you won’t need a lot of fancy clothes.

You also don’t need to bring any bedding, cooking supplies, or utensils. If you have any water toys that are easy to pack (blow-up rafts etc) you can bring those. And be sure to pack your personal toiletries and medications.

Should I rent a monohull or catamaran? 

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of yacht. A monohull is stable and is almost impossible to capsize since it can tack and heal quickly. These types of boats respond quickly to the master at the wheel. Monohull yachts also tend to be less expensive to charter, making them more affordable for younger travellers.

They offer an adrenaline-filled experience since when the boat rides the waves it can be very close to the sea. The disadvantages of a monohull yacht are that they tend to be smaller and a little more cramped. All living spaces are under the waterline, making ventilation an issue at times.

inside Beneteau Oceanis 40.1

Sailing on a catamaran, on the other hand, offer more space for larger groups, but for the same space are sometimes triple the price of a monohull. The boat is very stable and there is much less rocking and rolling – perfect for those with motion sickness or for young children or older people. Catamarans take up more space at the dock but are easy to manoeuvre and there’s little need for a bow thruster. 

All in all, it comes down to personal preference, group size, budget, and yacht availability.

Do you need a license to charter a boat?

Yes! When chartering a boat, at least one crew member must have a sailing licence or sailing course certificate, or a signed declaration by them stating their sailing abilities.

Sailing licences issued by European Union countries are automatically valid and accepted in Greece. Non-EU licences are accepted if they meet EU standards. Licences in languages other than English or Greek must be translated.

The services of a skipper on a boat will increase the cost by approximately €170 per person.

Sunset at the Sunset restaurant in Hydra

Cost of Chartering and Operating a Boat

The cost of chartering a yacht depends on its size. Smaller monohulls begin around €480/day while a large catamaran can be over €1000/day. 

The port costs, petrol, marina fees, and so on can be upwards of €400/week depending on where you are if you stay overnight at marinas, and how much water and fuel you use. Water is usually €10/cubic meter, or €5 to fill from a tank at a non-staffed port. Overnighting at a marina can be anything from €5 /night to €50/night depending on the marina. Luckily, sailboats by nature do not use a lot of fuel, since they are wind-powered!

A sailing vacation in Greece is ideal for families, groups of friends or even larger groups who want to charter multiple boats and travel as a flotilla. You have complete freedom to do what you want when you want it, and can do as much or as little as you like. A yachting holiday can be inexpensive as well, with minimal port fees and little fuel usage. My friends and I really enjoyed our sailing holiday with Kavas and can’t wait to do it again.

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