The Lesser Known Greek Islands
Full Length Yachting Itinerary for all the Non Tourist Greek Islands
It’s difficult to organize a yacht itinerary to visit all the Greek islands in one trip. After all, you really want to enjoy the islands themselves and not necessarily be sailing more than 4 to 6 hours a day.
We have organized this into a detailed and annotated guide that you can download here.
Especially if you are in the Cyclades group of Islands which are plumb in the middle of the Aegean Sea and susceptible to the sometimes very strong winds of the Meltemi.
July and August can be quite windy in the Cyclades and this can be uncomfortable in a small motor or sailing yacht.
So, for convenience sake I will succinctly organize what you can comfortably do in a week. These are sample itineraries; we can customize an itinerary just for you. Let us know, this is our passion and livelihood.
As always, the captain of the ship should always be consulted since itineraries are weather-dependent and it’s the captains job to keep you safe.
The Ionian itinerary
The Ionian Islands are on the Western side of the Greek mainland. They face the Adriatic Sea and are more mountainous, so there is a different climate on this side that provides more rainfall, Therefore the Ionian Islands are generally greener than those in the Aegean.
There are many famous islands on this side including Skorpios the home of the Greek shipping magnate Aristoteles Onassis who married Jackie Kennedy; Kefalonia, where the iconic WWII movie “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” was filmed; and the famous island of Corfu which is so popular with European tourists. Here is a greek island yacht itinerary that basically shows what you could reasonably accomplish on a 7-day charter:
Day 1. Corfu to Paxos 30 nautical miles
Early in the afternoon you will reach Corfu Airport, one of the most beautiful and important islands of the Ionian group. Noted for its elegant Venetian architecture, the island’s cosmopolitan atmosphere includes British and French influences with neoclassical buildings and cafes, a replica of the rue de Rivoli in Paris, a cosmopolitan meeting place.
A luxuriantly green island (as all the islands of the Ionian), with trees reaching the waterfront on all its coasts, Corfu offers a sophisticated setting with a casino, luxury hotels, chic restaurants, palaces, mansions and villas.
On your first day, you will drop anchor in the beautiful Gaios Bay of Paxos Island. As you approach the port, the view from the bay is very impressive. You will enjoy a memorable meal in one of the pleasant tavernas in the main village.
Day 2: Paxos to Antipaxos – 5 nautical miles
You will dock in the bay of Antipaxos, an island south of Paxos. Only 100 people inhabit the island and most of the population lives in Agrapidia.
The island makes an excellent and very potent wine. In general, Antipaxos has little tourism. In summer, though, thousands of visitors from Paxos crowd its sandy beaches.
You can also visit the island of Mourtos, southwest of Corfu. In the afternoon, you will reach Sivota where you can swim and relax in a tranquil, wooded setting.
Day 3. Antipaxos to Zakinthos – 80 nautical miles
This is the longest sail on this trip. You will arrive at Kefalonia in the mainland, Assos is a traditional village on the west coast of the island. Across the isthmus from Assos, thre are ruins of a Venetian fortress, built in 1595, that dominate the peninsula. The fortress was occupied by the Venetians, French and Russians in the 19th century. South of Assos, Myrtos Bay is a lovely cove offering excellent swimming and the most beautiful beach on the island.
In the evening you will reach the island of Zakynthos, an attractive, green island with mountain villages, monasteries, fertile plains and beautiful views.
Zakynthos is famous the world famous Navagio Beach, for its blue caves on the northern tip of the island and for the Mediterranean green, loggerhead turtle, “caretta-caretta”.
Day 4. Kefalonia to Ithaka – 30 nautical miles
Going back north to Kefalonia in the morning, you will spend some leisure time in a bay on the east side of the island in the Ithaca channel. For lunch you may visit Fiscardo, a beautiful village which was left intact after the earthquake of 1953 that devastated the island. A cluster of 18th century Venetian homes painted in pastel surrounds the harbour. This is a safe port and a very popular berth for yachts. Despite the crowds and gift shops, Fiskardo retains its charm.
In the afternoon you will arrive at Ithaca, which is reputed to be the home of Odysseus. From Port Vathi, the main harbour, you may hire a taxi and visit Stavros at the site of Odysseus’s palace on a hill known as Pilikata.
Day 5. Ithaka to Kastos – 23 nautical miles
You have reached the fifth day of your tour. This day is specifically created for relaxing, sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling. It is a day to enjoy on the deserted island of Atoko. In the evening you will arrive at Kastos, a beautiful and tranquil setting with fantastic sunsets.
Day 6. Kastos to Meganissi – 23 nautical miles
After a tour around Scorpios, a private island which belongs to the Onassis family, you will arrive at Meganissi, a utopia for yachts where pine trees shade the shore.
It is difficult to choose where to anchor for the night. If you prefer, you can anchor in port Atheni, known for its variety of sea food; or anchor in Vathi, the main harbor.
You can also visit the famous cave where during World War II, Greek submarines hid from enemy fire.
Day 7. Meganissi to Lefkada – 12 nautical miles
in the morning you will reach Nidri, the main resort on the east coast of Lefkada. On the way you have splendid views of the nearby smaller islands.
In the evening, you will anchor at Vasiliki bay in Lefkada. In the heat of summer this is a paradise with green, shady groves and trickling fresh water.
This is the closest secure anchorage to the white cliffs of Sappho’s leap. This is the site of the temple of Apollo where, in antiquity, the Pan-Hellenic games were held in honor of this important god.
You can finish your cruise with a swim at Port Vassiliki, a tranquil and enjoyable spot between the island and the mainland. The nearby airport at Preveza can whisk you home.
The Saronic Gulf Itinerary
Where real Greeks go to play: if you are Greek and live in Athens or Piraeus, these islands are the ones you would be visiting for a long weekend. If you are on a private yacht or catamaran, so much the better. This itinerary offers a great deal of cover from the summer winds since it is protected by the Peloponnesian Mountain Chain. It is an excellent alternative to the Cyclades Itinerary if the weather forecast is dodgy.
Day 1. Athens (Piraeus) to Poros – 30 nautical miles
Poros is the island of serene, charm and leisure. It is green with pine trees that reach its’ steepest shores and its’ sandy beaches. The area is offered for water sports and spear fishing.
The habitants, like all islanders are basically happy, decent and hospitable. At the center of the city lies the town hall, the Archaeological Museum, the Public Library and the Exhibitive and Cultural Hall.
Places worth to visit are, Kanali a beach with pretty beautiful sand and fine taverns onto the wave with attractive view to the open sea, Askeli one more lovely shore with bars, restaurants and taverns all around. Monastiri is peaceful, organized sand with limpid waters next to a pine clad forest at the hill where the Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi is located. You are allowed to visit the monastery if you are dressed appropriately. Best to explore on a motor scooter; they can be rented by the day or half day.
Day 2. Poros to Spetses – 28 nautical miles
Spetses, an upscale and cosmopolitan island is one of the most familiar destinations for weekend recreation as also for summer holidays. Spetses Island deeply impresses with large elegant houses, the pine-clad landscapes and the beautiful, crystal-clear waters.
The islands population counts 4.100 citizens living at the Spetses town. There are guides available who can guide visitors around the historical, cultural and natural beauties of the island and take them to sample fresh fish and other island delicacies. The island offers many beaches of natural beauty and limpid waters. Upscale and wealthy Porto Cheli is a hop skip and a jump away from Spetses i.e. this is the real Greek Riviera with a high concentration of wealthy people who have summer homes in Porto Cheli.
Day 3. Spetses to Nafplio – 25 nautical miles
The Enchanting town of Nafplio, possibly the most beautiful town in Greece, puts a spell on everyone who visits. It is a unique city, which combines the medieval atmosphere of the old town, great beaches in vicinity and easy access to important archeological sites, such as Mycenae and Epidaurus.
In this modern town that 10.000 people call home, the whole town is like a painted work of art. Nafplio was the first capital town of the younger Greece and of today of Nome Argolida. It is 147 Km. away from Athens. With the exit from Argos is beginning to form towards your eyes the unique in whole the world icon of the town with the castle – symbol to glass on the water of the Gulf.
Day 4. Nafplio to Hydra – 38 nautical miles
Hydra is the most famous island of the Saronic Gulf with its’ cosmopolitan character and national park-like status, can inspire unforgettable moments during all seasons. The city is built like an amphitheatre in stark contrast to the beautiful mansions and palaces. The effect is like a Greek painting.
Every summer various sailing groups gather its’ port while dozens of crafts and yachts arrive and tie-up. No cars are allowed, so Hydra is famous for its donkeys, better be prepared.
The sailing history of Hydra is also revealed by its’ mansions, the old port, the museum and the Nautical College
At Mandraki there is one of the most well-organized beaches of the island with water ski and wind surfing facilities. Of excellent beauty and ideal for swimming and fishing joy will also find the beaches of St. Nicolas, Klimaki, Limioniza and Molos
Day 5. Hydra to Epidavros – 32 nautical miles
New Epidavros is located 8 km off Ancient Epidavros. Its population, numbering 1500 permanent residents, triples in summer. The landscape here is varied, as the village is laid out on rocky slopes, amid the ruins of a Venetian castle. At the foot of the slope a gorge of unique beauty is formed, known as the Gorge of Vothila, one of the most beautiful ravines in Greece. In the opposite direction, another slope is covered by a wonderful pinewood.
Day 6. Epidavros to Aegina – 16 nautical miles
Aegina was the first capital of Greece after the Turkish dominion. It is a lordly, self ruling island, with big throng all the year because of its’ short distance from Piraeus port and it captures the visitor from the first moment. It is offered for lasting holidays also for restful weekends. Its’ capital city is Aigina and it counts 9.950 citizens.
Shortly after Agia Marina, at a coastal touristic hamlet, the visitor has the chance to marvel the famous Afaia Athena’s’ Temple, standing at very good condition as today.
Ideal for swimming is Faros Beach and Marathonas. At the picturesque beach of Faros the Water Park is operating, a paradise for the water sports votaries. After the park the visitor can delectate good coffee or drink, listening to music and having a bird’s eye view to one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
The Cyclades Itinerary
Day 1. Athens (Lavrion) to Kea – 16 nautical miles
Kea is an exceptionally picturesque island, On the south side of Nikolaos Bay – which was a pirate stronghold in the 13th c. – is the little port of Korissia, built on the side of ancient Korissia. There are remains of the ancient town walls and a Sanctuary of Apollo. The famous lion – carved from the native rock in the 6th c. BCE – can be seen just north-east of Kea town.
Another highlight is the beautiful anchorage of Poleis. Vourkari is a small bay with many traditional taverns, small shops and bars and is certainly worth a visit as you start your week in the historic
Day 2. Kea to Mykonos- 50 nautical miles
The most popular island of Cyclades Group, famous from the international jet set visitors and the party atmosphere which permeates the island. A very active nightlife in combination with beautiful beaches and excellent restaurants.
Day 3. Mykonos to Paros – 20 nautical miles
Considered to be one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades. Three bays cut deep inland – in the west the sheltered Paroikia Bay, with the island’s capital that serves as the main sailing port. In the north the bay which shelters the little town of Naoussa, which in Roman times was the island’s main port for the shipment of Lychnites marble; and in the east the flat Marmara bay.
Paros is also known in Greece for its ideal weather conditions for windsurfing.
Day 4. Paros to Ios – 33 nautical miles
A small island in the heart of the Cyclades. Ios is said to be the island of youth, where young people from all over the world meet and enjoy their summers. Ios is famous for its vivid nightlife with an uncountable number of bars, cafés, clubs and restaurants and for its beaches with crystal clear water. The little port of Ios, with the domed Church of Ayia Irini (17th c.) lies in a sheltered bay on the west coast of the island. One mile up the fertile Kato Kampos Valley, conspicuously and picturesquely situated on the hillside, is the chief place on the island, Ios.
Day 5. Ios to Santorini – 17 nautical miles
Many reasons have made this island famous worldwide. Its great wines, the international and local cuisine but most of all, the villages which are situated on cliffs and offer breathtaking view over the submerged volcano. The island also has impressive beaches with the sand of tour choice: black, red or white! Thira together with the smaller islands of Thirasia and Aspro are part of a volcanic crater, which has been engulfed by the sea. In the centre are the Kammeni islands, the cones of later volcanoes, which came into being in historical times. Hot springs and emissions of gas bear witness to continuing volcanic activity.
Day 6. Santorini to Sifnos – 48 nautical miles
The principal port on Sifnos is Kamares, which is very well sheltered. From there roads lead to the must-see places along the coasts and indeed these also proof beautiful anchorages and should really be visited by boat. The medieval village of Kastro – with remnants of its ancient walls – but also the bays of Faros, Vathi and Platis Gialos are absolutely worth exploring: translucent turquoise water, combined with great Tavernas. However, the best restaurants can be found in Apollonia.
Day 7. Sifnos to Serifos – 17 nautical miles
Serifos is an island renowned for its excellent food and relaxed atmosphere. Most of the anchorages in the south are now used by fish farms. Moreover, apart from Livadi and the Monastery of the Taxiarchs in the north, there is much to be seen. Its highest point is Mount Tourlos with 483 m. The island’s main sources of income are its modest agriculture and its open-cast iron mines, which have been worked since ancient times
Day 8, Serifos to Athens (Lavrion) – 40 miles
NOTE: Kythnos or Milos can be added to this itinerary as replacements for Mykonos or Santorini if desired. Depends on your vibe. Unspoiled islands, their coastlines deepley indented – with many beautiful anchorages and ports – and for the most part the cliffs falls steeply down to the sea. The two charming inland villages, Chora (Kythnos town) and the lively little Dryopis, can best be visited by scooter or bike. The two main ports are Mericha and Loutra. Mericha – only minutes sailing away from the oddly shaped Sandbar Bay – is the smaller of the two. Loutra on the north-east nowadays even has a new harbour with new breakwaters providing the best protection from the Meltemi on the islands.
The Dodecanese Itinerary
Start your yacht charter in Rhodes. There is a large airport on this island for commercial Jets and there are many direct flights from major European cities. You’ll need to set aside some time in Rhodes itself because it is a fascinating place – especially the Old town and the Fortress of the Knights of St. John which dates back to the Crusades. You much visit the exquisite beaches and the Palace of the Masters which is now a museum.
The Old Harbor itself is incredible, this is where the famous Colossus of Rhodes statue used to be located. There are plans afoot to build a “new and improved” statue that will span the Harbor entrance. We’ll see.
DAY 1. Rhodes to Symi – 28 nautical miles
Symi is a delightful little island with brightly colored houses and an attractive little harbor. It is definitely a must-see stopover place for your first night since it’s proximity to Rhodes, (28 NM) allows you to easily reach it, even if you start late from Rhodes harbor. It also has great beaches and a monastery that dates to the 1800’s that houses a Byzantine museum.
DAY 2. Symi to Kos – 50 nautical miles
The small island of Kos is famous for its beaches. There are beaches everywhere. And Ruins, both Roman and Greek. The 15th century Neratzia castle dominates the town. Just South of the castle, you will find the ancient Agora ruins that date back to 300 AD. Memo to file: AGORAS are public meeting places visible all over the ancient Greek city states which were the general meeting places for public and political events, sports and marketplaces. Think the birth of democracy as we know it.
Day 3. Kos to Kalymnos – 20 nautical miles
In Kalymnos think Sponges, fish and seafood and more ruins and fortresses. The clear waters and local sub—aquatic environment is ideal for sponges, so Kalymnos is the sponge-fishing capital of Greece. Delightful, laid back little island. Put your mind in PARK and enjoy.
Day 4. Kalymnos to Leros – 14 nautical miles
Leros is peaceful and quiet. Good diving and snorkeling. The usual castles, fortresses and a quaint downtown.
Day 5. Leros to Samos – 50 nautical miles
Samos is a Greek island that is close to Turkey (1.9 miles away) and has a lot of interesting stuff to see and experience. Samos was a powerful maritime and mercantile city-state 6 centuries before the birth of Christ. The town of Pythagorean was named after the Greek mathematician Pythagoras who was born here. (remember the “square of the hypotenuse on a right-angled triangle” …darn high school!)
It is also home to one of the most amazing subterranean aqueducts constructed in antiquity. They were built in the year 400 BC and are 1 kilometer long. Construction started at both ends simultaneously, and the builders met in the middle with only a couple of inches correction required to complete the channel. Not bad for the ancient architects and builders!
There is also the ruins of the Temple of Hera, queen of the gods and a quaint little monastery that dates back to the 1500’s.
Day 6 – Samos
There is so much to do here that it’s frankly worthwhile hanging out for an additional day. Since Samos has a major airport you can fly out of here for your return to Athens the following morning.
Shore excursion to Ephesus. If you may wish to take this, or an additional day, it is well-worth the effort to take the 1.9-mile Ferry ride from Samos across to Kusadasi in Turkey. From Kusadasi, you can take a tour to the ancient city of Ephesus one of the most sacred and revered Christian holy sites in the world. From Kusadasi, it’s a 30-minute taxi ride to Ephesus. Negotiate the price before you hire the cab.
You will need to check into Turkish Customs and Immigration and check out again when you leave but this is not normally a big deal depending on the time of day.