Sailing holidays Greece
The Greek islands make up 20% of the total area of Greece, an ideal yachting area, creating a coastline of more than 15000 kilometres.
The climate along this coastline is Mediterranean in character: mild moist winters and dry hot summers.
The long charter season starts as early as March when air temperatures rise above the seawater temperatures, which has a stabilizing effect.
Around mid-May the Azores High gradually becomes more dominant and the Euro-Asian High loses its influence, resulting in very stable weather.
July and August peak in high temperatures and sun hours – the high season for chartering!
In Oct/Nov the Azores High becomes less dominant and frontal systems – followed by cool air masses – start entering the East Mediterranean from the north. The contact with the relative warmer seawater will subsequently lead to an unstable atmosphere and showers
- Yacht charter guide: in 8 steps towards a successful sailing holiday.
- Sailing in Greece : Greek toponyms and nautical chart terms plus various tips to find the ideal yacht charter bases and safely navigate the Greek islands.
- Meltemi / Etesians page  : a local phenomenon called the Meltemi is a dry katabatic wind, which occasionally blows from the north between May and September, and although rare: forecasting showers and raindrops.
- Forecast page: Information about how to obtain (sailing) weather forecasts as well as today's weather (synoptic charts, water temperatures, maps etc etc).
- Greek climate page: Temperatures increase from west to east, while precipitation increases from east to west. Specific climate data and maps like: sun hours, water temperatures, humidity and wind directions and speeds.
- Wind roses page: Statistics on wind directions, Beaufort wind forces and percent occurances of calms in the Ionian and Aegean Seas.
- Seawater surface temperatures page: surface temperatures for swimming and snorkeling.
- Combining the Ionian and the Aegean in 3 months.
- Sailing the Aegean one month and longer.
If you wish to charter a yacht and would like independent advice on reliable yacht charter fleets in Greece, please go to my yacht charter page .
Sailing regions of Greece
- Alonnisos • Peristera
- Pelagos/Kira Panayia
- Northern Greece: Thasos
Note, that the charts and the descriptions should not be used for navigational purposes, please also see the disclaimer.
The best bases for yacht charters are Athens, Kos, Paros, Corfu, Lefkas, Rhodes, Skiathos, Mykonos and sometimes Lavrion.
See my guide to yacht charters in Greece, the Adriatic coasts and Turkey!
The whales and dolphins of Greece.
The logbook Athens to Milos via Santorini - 1, 2, 3, 4.
Logbooks Greece: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 1, 2, 3.
The ancient Diolkos and the Corinth Canal.
Top 10 of Greek islands.
This page is also available in Dutch, Spanish, German, Polish, Italian, Arabic, French and Hebrew.
Orographic rain and clouds
are caused by an air mass being pushed up a mountain slope, where it quickly cools down adiabatically, creating clouds or even precipitation.
From “oros” + “graphia” (Greek: “όρος”, mountain + “γραφία”, to write).
Greece and its islands are exceptionally mountainous, so clouds are widely used to forecast winds and meltemi storms… →
Bareboat, flotilla or crewed charters
There are several ways to charter a yacht in Greece and explore the Greek coasts and islands. First of all, there is self-sail, bare boating or bareboat chartering, which means that you will have to skipper the yacht yourself and no hired skipper, cook or hostess will be onboard.
Note that you require at least one Competent Crew plus one International Certificate of Compentence before the Port Police allows you to sail bareboat.
When in doubt of your capabilities or just a little rusty, a flotilla might be a nice compromise. This way you sail along with other boats, yet you are still the captain of your own boat but can turn to an “admiral” for advice if you want to. Though, you have to go where the rest goes. Most flotillas take place in the Saronic, Argolic and the Ionian.
A little niche are the assisted bareboat charters, which are a blend between the standard bareboats and flotillas.
You get more freedom of course – though with a stranger on board – with a crewed charter or the comfortable gulet charters. These fine yacht charters vary from just one skipper/instructor onboard to additional cooks, hostesses etc. On the larger yachts you can also opt for a cabin charter, effectively like a cruise, in which you rent just your own cabin.
- The Tower of the winds on the Roman Agora in Athens beneath the Athens' Acropolis.
- The Greek history comprises different archaeological eras as well as interesting topics and this site deals with the everyday live of the old Greeks, their economics and religions.
- On many islands significant archaeological sites can be found; use the interactive chart.
- The Perseus Project features a history atlas and a compilation of famous Greek writings with translations.
One way charters
The most effective way to explore the Greek Islands is to choose a one way charter: by sailing from one charter base to another you will be able to see much more. Also, a one way cruise downwind gives you a longer range and is usually a lot more comfortable than a windward beat.
Yet, with a dubious charter company, you might have to accept an inferior yacht when starting from a smaller base. Two other good reasons to start your holiday in Athens are the logistics involved and – more importantly – you and the owner of the charter company will be able to meet each other.
Best to sail with the reliable companies of course, but many of these are not very keen on their yachts ending up downwind of Athens or other larger bases. Therefore, a one way charter comes with an additional one way fee which is usually well worth your money.
During the sailing season the prevailing winds blow from the north-west or the north-east in most areas: Corfu to Lefkas, Athens to Mykonos, Athens to Paros, Kos to Rhodes, etc. are some examples of downwind one-way itineraries.
Finally, the small Lavrion port (on the mainland at the south-east tip of Attica) is often overlooked as a perfect start into the Cyclades, although limited quality catamarans and yachts from this minor base.
Again, it is always better to start at a major yacht charter base like Athens (Alimos marina) and sometimes Lavrion, since the owners of the yacht charter company would very much like to meet you and help you with the additional requests you might have.
The requirements & licenses to charter bareboat.
Selecting your charter yacht.
Catamarans vs monohulls.
How to prevent seasickness.
Itineraries in the Dodecanese.
Itineraries in the Ionian.
Itineraries in the Argolic and Saronic Gulfs.
Itineraries in the Cyclades.
Oneway itineraries in the Aegean Sea.
The Greek sailing areas.
Onboard weather (forecasts).
Indispensable books about (sailing in) Greece.