Made up from a dozen different seas, hundreds of gorgeous beaches and thousands of picturesque towns, Europe offers some of the most exquisite sailing in the world, especially in summer. From May to October, holidaymakers take to the high seas to enjoy the continent’s incredibly diverse scenery, some of the most spectacular of which is only visible from the water. Whether you’re debating between yachting along the dramatic coastline of Mallorca, boating around the sun-drenched Greek Isles, touring lesser-known gems of the French Atlantic shores or docking in at the colorful towns of the Amalfi Coast, we can sail off into the sunset together thanks to these great insider tips on where to go, where to stay and which yachts to take.
Balearic Islands – Spain
Spain’s Balearic Islands provide some of the Mediterranean’s best sailing. Mary Vaira of El Sol Villas recommends using the island of Mallorca as your base. For centuries, it has been the maritime crossroads of civilizations from the Greeks and Romans to the crusading French knights and the conquering Moors. The island features gorgeous crystal waters and scores of beautiful beaches that are only accessible by sea. Sail along its western coast to discover secluded bays, peaceful coves and quite possibly the island’s most stunning landscape.
El Sol Villas has access to this incredible yacht that sails out of Mallorca. A Mangusta 108, the stylish 33.50m (109′ 10″) yacht is both sleek and powerful. It accommodates six to eight guests in three en-suite double cabins, plus a fold-out double bed in a day cabin ideally suited to children/nanny. Each cabin is equipped with TV, DVD player and sound system, the master cabin offering large flat screen TV. The main salon has a comfortable seating area equipped with a flat screen Sky TV and DVD player and leads to a further dining area with removable roof section. The large aft deck is perfect for sunbathing or outdoor dining.
The Greek Isles – Greece
One of the most breathtaking places to sail the European waters is touring around some of Greece’s thousands of islands. Many popular sailing routes circle the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Sporades, the Saronic Islands and the Ionian Islands. Cruising the Aegean’s deep blue waters, you’ll pass phenomenal rocky cliffs, hilltop monasteries, olive groves and ancient Greek temples. Coming into port you’ll find yourself wandering through charming fishing villages with their whitewashed houses, narrow cobbled streets, and tiny churches. At the end of the day take in the awe-inspiring sunsets on the deck of your yacht or villa with a glass of local wine or ouzo.
If you want to cruise the Greek Isles in the utmost style and comfort, Ileana von Hirsh of Five Star Greece has several yachts in her repertoire; one of the newest is the fabulous O’Leanna. The 44m (144’ 3”) craft which sleeps 12 is run by a ferocious manager who controls every last detail to sheer perfection. Its huge, bright salon is large enough for an elegant lounge and dining area decorated in classy beige tones and sophisticated furnishings. It offers the ultimate in relaxation with a massage room, spa shower and a Jacuzzi on the sundeck. But what is Ileana’s favorite feature? The design of the master cabin with sliding walls that open onto its own private deck, making fluid indoor/outdoor living that is a rare find on a yacht.
For an alternative “on the waters” experience in Greece, Elena Fotiadi of White Key Villas suggests combining a villa rental with a rib boat (pictured above). Spending your summer holiday in a luxury villa allows you to unwind and enjoy life at your own pace and schedule. Due to Greece’s endless coastlines and islands, adding a luxury rib to your villa rental actually allows you to have your own private summer realm, as well as the option to privately explore the myriad coves and neighboring islands.
Should you choose to holiday in a beautiful villa in Mykonos, Elena recommends spending time cruising the southern coast of the island which will allow you to visit the most popular, fun beaches and end up on the uninhabited island of Dragonisi for your own castaway experience. For a calmer ambiance, she suggests exploring the mystical island of Delos, which you can first tour with a professional guide then spend the afternoon snorkeling in the nearby coves of Rhenia island. For the more adventurous, embark on your own private “island safari” by visiting Syros and Tinos or Heraklia, Schinoussa, and Koufonissia or Paros and Antiparos.
The Atlantic Coast – France
While the French Riviera on France’s Mediterranean coast usually attracts most holidayers in search of the beach or for sailing, Annie Flogaus of Just France suggests the country’s west coast as a unique alternative. The area combines pristine sandy beaches, charming towns, lovely scenery and fabulous seafood; the best way to take all of these in is by sailing along the Atlantic coast and stopping in at its dozens of islands and picturesque ports. Dock in at Ile de Ré for some fresh oysters, tour the dramatic coastline of Belle-Ile or moor off of Ile d’Yeu to sunbathe in a secret cove.
Just France has the ideal base for exploring the region. Located in the refined seaside resort of Biarritz, their luxury Atlantique apartment is right above the Miramar beach and a two minutes walk from the famous Hotel du Palais. The elegant and bright four bedroom duplex is part of a private villa. It is decorated in a fresh contemporary way with marine tones and has spectacular ocean views from every room as well as a spacious terrace to enjoy a meal en plein air.
For further information on this apartment or their many other apartments and villas close to the French coast, contact Just France here.
The Amalfi Coast – Italy
With its hidden coves, small islands and colorful towns clinging to the hillsides, Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a splendid jewel of the Mediterranean and best appreciated from the sea.
A sail along the coast will take in the beautiful cities of Sorrento and Salerno, however, you can enjoy a great few days at sea visiting the neighboring islands. The most famous is undoubtedly Capri, a holiday destination dating back to Roman times; today it attracts a star-studded crowd of Hollywood actors and billionaire businessmen. The smallest island in the Bay of Naples, Procida has remained relatively untouched by mass tourism. Here you’ll be seduced by its pink, blue and lime green houses, quaint villages and fragrant lemon groves. Circle around the volcanic outcrop of Ischia to admire its graceful vineyards, chestnut forests and rocky hills, then lower your anchor to spend the day picking through ancient necropolises or merely relaxing at its thermal hot springs.
You can take one-day or multi-day sailing trips while having a longer stay in one of the exceptional villas along the Amalfi Coast. View some of the options from our Italy experts on this page.