When sailing in Europe, the scenery surrounding you can get a little surreal. Just picture yourself lying on a warm deck, with the waves of the Mediterranean lapping against the hull while you watch the blue sky drift past the starboard bow. Europe is home to some of the world’s most enchanting and glamorous sailing destinations. Here are the top 4 of Europe’s best sailing destinations, plus valuable insights on what makes them so irresistible.
With a dazzling mix of clear blue waters, fabulous island-hopping and vivid remnants of the Greek history, it’s no wonder sailing in Greece is considered by many to be the adventure of a lifetime. But there’s more to this famous archipelago than just beauty. Head to Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades for steep cobbled lanes, endless olive groves and some seriously good local wine.
If you’re feeling adventurous, stop at Amorgos on the southern arc of the Cyclades. You’ll find an island covered with high mountain ridges and spectacular cliff-top monasteries. Give yourself enough time to explore the ancient Greek ruins scattered though the valleys and mountain passes.
If you are ready to relax, there are plenty of deserted strips of sand throughout the Greek Islands. Kick back on deck with some ouzo or a handful of Grecian olives while watching the sun dip below the waves is the perfect ending to day.
Famous worldwide for its postcard-perfect villages, the iconic Amalfi Coast is a haven for fresh seafood, endless views and easy relaxation. And when you sail the Italian coast line, you get the best views of the stunning landscape, picturesque coastlines, ancient volcanoes and scenic islands.
The Amalfi Coast makes for a legendary sailing experience, whether you’re looking for culture, history, superb Italian cuisine or sensational scenery. Of course, Capri is on the top of every Bay of Naples traveler’s list because of its beach side restaurants, quaint shops selling leather sandals, the beautiful Blue Grotto, and views of the Faraglioni (famous rocks in the James Bond movie) from the top of the mountain. Pro tip: Ride to the top of Capri in a ‘seggiovia’ (chair lift) for the best views of the mountains and ocean.
Sailors love the cliff-top views and understated charm of Sorrento, which is just a short jaunt from the dazzling island of Capri. For some great beach days, sunset espressos and a fraction of the crowds, stop by the smaller islands of Ischia and Procida, off the coast of Naples. In Ischia, explore the medieval fortress, Castello Aragonese, and bathe in hidden ocean hot springs. Before heading back to your boat, find a hidden lemon grove or stroll through the pastel-hued in Procida.
Experience the old-world charm of Croatia on a sailing odyssey and spend your days cruising around impressive coastlines, exploring lush national parks, wandering through medieval towns or rolling off the boat into warm, turquoise waters for a swim. Croatia is no doubt one of the most captivating European countries. And there’s clearly no better way to explore its glory, beauty and treasures than by sea, on a small ship sailing adventure.
Looking for a place to dock and relax? There are more than 1,000 islands waiting to be explored, each with its distinct allure and character. Island hotspots like Hvar, Korcula and Vis are favorites, while the mainland has an old world charm all of its own. Walk through the ancient city walls and marble streets of Dubrovnik, old sea caves and 100 year old pine forests on the Elafiti Islands and the palm-lined harbor framed by towering coastal mountains of Split.
The sailing season in Croatia runs from May to October, with the smoothest waters during July and August. Spring is known for moderate winds while September and October are perfect for experienced sailors who are skillful at sailing with some pretty strong winds, a rough sea and lots of excitement.
Cote d’Azur/ French Riviera
Running from Nice to Marseille, Cote d’Azur is one of the world’s most popular summer cruising destinations. In a nutshell, Cote d’Azur is a legendary mix of sun, sparkling blue sea, glamour and rustic charm. And of course, the striking mountainous background, the gentle summer breeze and the dazzling array of anchorages, historic harbors and topnotch marinas will only add to your sailing experience.
Go from one celebrated port to the next and uncover beautiful islands that are a wealth of unspoiled beaches. In Marseille, France’s oldest and second-largest city, don’t leave without slurping down a bowl of bouillabaisse, the local fish stew. Cannes is full natural beauty and just waiting to be explores. Hop on a bike and head inland and watch the locals play petanque (French lawn game) as you sip on a pastis in the village’s Place d’Armes, a quintessential island experience. The galleries and museums of Nice provide the perfect pit stop on your sumptuous sailing adventure.
There are countless scenic islands, posh marinas and precious little towns lining the coast of Europe to make them dream sailing destination. Explore the natural wonders of this brilliant part of the world the best way possible, cruising on a small ship!