European countries have a very long maritime tradition, from traditional merchant vessels to modern-day sailing yachts. Famous explorers have sailed around the globe to discover the New World. They paved the way for new trade routes and thus connected the world. Later on, sailing became a sporting activity, first in the 17th century in Holland. From there, sailing holidays were introduced to England and later to the colonial world, the rest is history.
Croatian and Greek coastlines are some of the most indented coastlines in the world, making them a great choice for European sailing holidays. All the Mediterranean countries have a very rich history, and a long tourism tradition, and are famous for their hospitality, good food, and natural beauty. These countries have invested in yacht charter sailing tourism and yacht racing, which both turned out to be effective and profitable. The Mediterranean area has a mild climate, so you can spend your holidays sailing there from late March to mid-October. The most popular periods are July and August. However, if you are looking for less crowded beaches, but nice air and sea temperature, post-season sailing would also be a good choice. We are bringing you our top destinations for sailing holidays in Europe.
Greece – 3,000 islands of pure sailing holidays sensation
Greece is one of the most popular European vacation spots and worldly known for its numerous islands. It is probably the most commonplace that crosses people’s minds when mentioning yacht charter destinations. Ancient Greece is the origin of arts, language, philosophy, politics, and sports in western society. It is also one of Europe’s first urban civilizations. There are five main sailing regions: the Ionian Islands, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Sporades, and the Athens region. You can explore the centuries-old Acropolis and the Parthenon of Athens, walk through the olive groves of green Corfu, and visit the birthplace of Aphrodite – Lefkas/Lefkada. Get an adrenaline rush from windsurfing or water skiing in Kos, visit the city of Rhodes, a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and party on Santorini or Mykonos island.
There’s so much that Greece has to offer! With its longest Mediterranean coastline, it also hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Furthermore, Greece has one of the biggest yacht charter fleets in the world. Hence, you will have plenty of choices to spend your sailing holidays on a perfect boat. You can’t go wrong with either a sailing yacht or a catamaran. But if you’re feeling more luxurious, opt for a motor yacht.
Croatia – more than 1,200 mesmerising islands
A paradise for both recreational and professional sailors and one of Mediterranean hidden gems. Croatia has more than a thousand islands so close together that you will be able to visit many unique locations within days. Croatian coast is the most indent coast in the Mediterranean, providing excellent sailing conditions. Experience sailing in the four major regions: Istria & Kvarner, North Dalmatia, Central Dalmatia, and South Dalmatia. Explore Istria with a magnificent view of a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre in Pula. Be a part of health tourism on the island of Lošinj. Listen to mellow sounds sitting on the sea organ in Zadar. Sail in Croatia while island-hopping in the Kornati National Park – Croatian nautical paradise. Enjoy the bustling life in the biggest Croatian coastal city – Split – or visit the Walls of the hottest film set – Dubrovnik.
Your sailing holidays in Croatia will be a perfect combination of hot sun, deep blue sea, and soft sand or white pebbles. Many sailors come back each year to explore this sailing gem, due to its breath-taking beauty, spectacular food, and rich history. There are even five national parks in the coastal part of the country, each very much worth visiting. There’s plenty to choose from regarding the boat type as well. You can opt for a sailing yacht, catamaran, or motor yacht, but gulets are quite popular as well. Dare yourself to try something different!
Italy – sailor’s playground
Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world and one of the best choices for a European sailing holiday. It was the centre of the Roman Empire and the birthplace of the Renaissance, leaving a profound mark on the world’s history. Italy is also home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, counting even 58 locations. The West coast is most popular with sailors, well known for the biggest islands in the Mediterranean, Sicily and Sardinia. Also, one of the trendy destinations in Tuscany, with worldly famous Cinque Terre and its characteristic scenery.
The Italian coast hides the most beautiful beaches, with a lot of secluded anchorages and picturesque fishing villages. Sailing around Sicily provides a unique experience of breath-taking views of Europe’s tallest and most active volcano, Mount Etna. Emerald Coast, Naples and famous Pompeii, Amalfi – Europe’s most beautiful stretch of coast, and the Tuscan Archipelago each have some unique features to offer. You surely won’t be disappointed with choosing either one of the areas. Make sure you try famous Italian cuisine, gelato, pizza (the true Italian one), and pasta, flavoured with a glass of fine wine.
Since sailing in Italy is very popular, there are a lot of charters to choose from. Thus surely, you’ll be able to find the boat that meets your needs.
France – pure luxury
The most popular sailing areas in France are the ones in the Mediterranean. The French Riviera manages to combine unspoiled islands, rugged inlets, and fine beaches with the large cosmopolitan resorts of Cannes, Nice, and Saint Tropez. It is the most luxurious and famous coast in the world. Experience being a part of a jet-set community in Saint-Tropez, Antibes, and Cannes that are synonymous with excellent beach clubs, beautiful architecture and nature, and different kinds of art. You must have heard of the Cannes film festival, that “A” list celebrities from around the world attend. Don’t miss out on visiting Monaco, the second smallest country in the world. Enjoy the casinos, nightclubs, and Michelin star restaurants. Or just relax on one of the many sandy beaches in the area.
The other popular sailing area is the island of Corsica, the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean. You will surely be surrounded by amazing views while sailing around the island. Bonifacio, with a Citadel built on a 70 meters high cliff; Ajaccio, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte; the ancient city of Propriano, Calvi, and Bastia are some of the incredible places you can explore while sailing the French coast.
The biggest yacht show in Europe is held in Monaco. You can see the world’s best super and mega yachts presented. Considering the popularity of sailing in France, you’ll have no trouble finding the best fit for your sailing holiday in France.
Turkey – East vs. West
Turkey is a popular sailing holiday destination at the crossroads of the East and the West, European and Oriental ways of life. It is often described as an open-air museum. So if you are sailing along the Turkish coast, you’ll have plenty to do and see. Turkey has over 8,300 kilometres of coastline along with the Black, Aegean, and Mediterranean Seas. There are a multitude of eye-catching coves, inlets, bays, and beaches, as well as a large number of quality marinas.
The southwest area of the country is most popular with sailors. There you can explore four sailing regions: Göcek, Fethiye, Bodrum, and Marmaris. Experience clear blue waters surrounding the twelve islands facing Göcek, and feast your eyes on Ölüdeniz, a blue lagoon in Fethiye. The ancient city, Bodrum, and its medieval castle will take you back into Turkish history. Luxuriate on sandy beaches and shop until you drop on the popular bazaars in Marmaris.
Sailing in Turkey is a great way to explore the coast, as well as to get to know the history and culture and experience the legendary hospitality and friendliness of the locals. Turkey is home to the gulet, a large wooden sailing ship with two or three masts. The impressive and distinguished look of a gulet is known worldwide! Sailing aboard a gulet is a perfect opportunity to capture the essence of Turkey.
Montenegro – superyachts!
Let yourself indulge in the idyllic atmosphere of Montenegro. Its rich history combines Venetian walls, Illyrian castles, Orthodox monasteries, Catholic churches, Roman mosaics, UNESCO protected sites, and modern-day sailing. Sail Montenegro coast along the magnificent mountain range and swim in the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea. Porto Montenegro in Tivat, a premier superyacht destination, is a must-see for its amenities, and maritime heritage. The Bay of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a perfect sailing area due to very good wind protection. The Budva Riviera is a match made in heaven for those looking for getting tanned under the warm sun while relaxing on numerous Montenegro beaches. What makes this Adriatic country special and very yacht-friendly, is that it offers tax and duty-free fuel and wines.
Enjoy the luxury on the motor yacht or switch to more traditional options. Either way, you can’t go wrong when choosing this small, but the spectacular destination for your sailing holiday in Europe.
Spain – siesta & fiesta
One of the most visited countries in the world, Spain boasts its rich history, friendly people, and excellent food. It’s also the third in the world in the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with some of the most famous being Alhambra, the historic centre of Cordoba, Santiago de Compostela (Old Town), Sagrada Familia, and many more. Spain is well known for its artists; Pablo Picasso, Antoni Gaudí, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dalí so make sure you soak up the culture while sailing the coast of this Mediterranean paradise.
There are a few sailing regions; the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Catalonia, and Costa Blanca. The Balearic Islands are one of the perfect sailing destinations, with four bigger islands and many small islets. Mallorca with turquoise water and vineyards, Ibiza – the famous party destination with the best nightlife, Menorca – the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and the smallest of the main islands – Formentera, famous for its sand beaches and nature. With over 300 sunny days, the Spanish coast is an excellent choice for sailing holidays in Europe. The Mediterranean coast offers perfect conditions for an enjoyable vacation, with its sandy beaches and big cosmopolitan cities like Barcelona and Valencia. See for yourself why Spain has been on the top for so long, taste paella while drinking sangria, and party in the hottest summer destination.