Cyclades, the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean and centre of Aegean sea, contains some of Greece’s most beautiful islands. You can discover fascinating sites and ancient history while sailing between islands. The dramatic volcanic landscapes with their hilltop villages and whitewashed windmills typical of the Cycladic islands, as well as crystal clear waters and authentic food and atmosphere, make this a unique place to charter a yacht. We will tell you more in depth about this cruising area.
What makes the Aegean such a popular charter destination?
Saronic Gulf connects the Ionian Sea to the Aegean. The Saronic Gulf is part of Aegean sea and is located on the east side of Corinthian Gulf which has a length of 100km. The eastern entry and exit of the Corinth Canal is located here, as are the port and city of Athens, as well as the major islands Aegina and Poros. You can visit some of the most amazing archaeological sites, such as Delphi, Corinth and Mycenae. Athens is a great place to start an Aegean Yacht Charter, with its large airport and marina Kalamaki. This is located directly south of Athens. You can then head directly to the Saronic Gulf and its fascinating coastlines and islands. Lavrion is the ideal base to charter a yacht for Cyclades, located 37km south-west of Athens Airport.
Cyclades includes Amorgos Anafi Andros Antiparos Delos Eschati Kea Kimolos Kythnos Milos Mykonos Naxos Paros Folegandros Serifos Sifnos Sikinos Syros Tinos Thira Santorini and many other smaller islands. This is an enormous sailing area with many highlights. The distances between islands in the Mediterranean are larger than other archipelagos. This makes it a great place for experienced sailors.
Delos is a beautiful island. Delos was one of the major ancient Greek sites. There is also the volcanic island Milos. Or Santorini, with its huge volcano and steep cliffs that are one of the most popular natural attractions on the planet.
Santorini, Mykonos and Naxos all have large airports that offer charter flights from major European cities in the summer. Paros Naxos Syros Milos and Milos all have domestic airports. Ferry links are excellent between islands and the mainland.
You will also find charming villages painted in blue and white, as well as windmills thatch roofs. There are stunning landscapes with volcanic rocks and serene scenery. The Meltemi wind, which can occur at times, requires good sailing abilities.
A few useful tips for Aegean sailing boat charters:
Location: Mediterranean Sea, east of Peloponnese. South of Athens. North of Crete
Principal Charter Bases: Kalamaki, just outside Athens; Lavrion (37km south east of Athens); Paros
Main airports: Athens, Mykonos, Santorini
Country Code: +30
Climate: Mediterranean mild
What are the main charter destinations in the Saronic Gulf?
It is a great place for a family holiday as the Meltemi is unlikely to blow.
From Athens, a classic route in the Saronic Gulf takes you along the coast all the way to Cap Sounion. Epidaurus is located on the west coast of the Peloponnese, which has a mainly mountainous landscape. Methana Peninsula is an old volcano located about 6 NM to the north of Poros Island. Poros and the Peloponnese are separated by only a 300m-wide channel. The port is located on a small hill, and the main city has an impressive bell tower.
Salamis is the largest of the Saronic Gulf islands with a coastline that stretches 104km. It’s located only 2 km from Piraeus in Athens. The island is known for playing a major role in numerous sea battles. It also has some beautiful fine sandy beaches. Visit the vibrant port of Paloukia, located in the north-east of the island. Or Peristeria to the south – an idyllic small town that has a clean beach and a yacht harbor. Salamina’s main bay is also a great place to visit.
Charter yachts can be taken to Aegina. It is known as the ‘pistachio’ island due to the large amount of cultivated pistachios. The extinct volcanic island has a rugged coast and the two ports of Perdika Town and Aegina Town, with their taverns.
Hydra is one of the Saronic Islands and is popular among artists. You can moor in either the port protected by its town Hydra, or Ermioni’s quiet port with beautiful hills as a backdrop.
You can either anchor directly in the port or in the town at the northernmost tip of the Island.
When you cruise the Cyclades, Kea will be one of your first encounters. The island is typical Cycladic with an old, beautiful town. It’s located 12NM south of Cape Sounion.
Kythnos is just south of the island and has an indented coast that’s perfect for anchoring, or for mooring, in beautiful bays, such as Stefanos Bay on the East side, or the protected Loutra Port in the North East. The local cheese is famous. Merikha, on the western side of Malta is the main marina for a boat rental.
Seriphos is surrounded by high, rising hills. Livadhi is the port that lies at its end. You can enjoy a spectacular view from the Chora.
Sifnos is located 9 nautical miles south of Serifos. Kamares, on the north west side of the island is an excellently protected port located at the mouth of a wide bay.
Milos is a must-see island when you are on a Cyclades boat charter. The island of Milos is an ancient volcano that has a large caldera, surrounded by pumice-cliffs. Adhamas, located in the northern part of the caldera, is one of best-protected harbors on the Mediterranean.
Santorini is the final destination: entering the huge caldera and reaching the steep cliffs from the North West will be a memorable experience for any sailor.
You can use iOS from Santorini to steer your sailing yacht towards Amorgos. This bare, rocky island has kept its authenticity and is not overly touristed.
The Cyclades Archipelago is the largest. Paros and Antiparos are located only 4 NM to the west of Naxos. Many protected bays are available. Anchoring is possible in the channel that connects Paros to Antiparos, as well as protected bays near the town of Parikia and Naoussa.
The exhibition area closes at 3pm, so yachts can only anchor off the ancient Delos site. Fourni Bay, a bit to the South or the Southern Bay of the neighbouring islet Reneia can be used to anchor over night.
Mykonos is a main attraction for every Aegean Yacht Charter. The south has enough bays to seek shelter from Meltemi.
There are many smaller islands, as well, that offer the charterer of a yacht countless options.
Which weather system is most common for yacht charters in the Aegean islands?
In July and August, the northerly Meltemi can blow up to force 8, sometimes even 9. In this case, it can be unpredictable and blow continuously for five days. Meltemi may never happen at all. There have even been years without Meltemi. The well-protected Saronic Gulf is ideal for sailing holidays with family.
A summary of weather conditions in Santorini for a sailing yacht charter on the Aegean:
The months with the highest temperature average: July/August 26deg
The months with the lowest average temperatures are January/February (12deg).
The month with the highest monthly average rainfall is December at 167mm
The months with the lowest precipitation average: July/August, 0,0 mm
The month with the most sunshine per day is July (14 hours).
The month with the least sunshine daily hours is December: 6 hours
Wind speed average in the summer is 3-7 Bft.
The month with the highest water temperatures is August (25deg).
The lowest monthly average temperature of water: January 16deg
Main Season: May to October
What are the various charter options and how much does Aegean Yacht rental cost?
Renting a sailboat of 12m is possible from around 1,400 EUR per week. The price of a yacht increases with its size, equipment and model. There are no flotillas due to strong winds. There are two types of charters: skippered or bareboat. You can choose from catamaran, motor or sailboat hire. Choose between a luxury yacht or a catamaran charter that includes a host of additional features and crew.
Other than sailing, what else can you do in the Cyclades or the Saronic Gulf if you hire a boat?
Visit Epidaurus, an ancient healing centre and sanctuary, on a Peloponnese yacht rental. The ruins of Epidaurus include a 54-tiered theatre, which has amazing acoustics. A whisper from the stage can be heard on any seat in the stadium. Check out the museum to see what happened in the ancient sanctuary.
Cape Sounion is only 10km south of Lavrion. This temple is located on the steep slope of a cliff with a stunning view over the sea.
The Spetses Classic Regatta, which takes place in July, is a great opportunity to see some of the most beautiful sailing yachts and Aegean traditional schooners.
Ioulis is the main town of Kea. It’s very scenic. The town is built on a high plateau, like many Greek islands. This was done to protect them from pirates. Visit the Venetian medieval castle by mooring your sailboat. The famous 6th century BCE lion is located north east of Kea. Visit the ancient city of Vourkari, where the oldest temple in Greece was found (15th century BCE). Kea has a great underwater visibility, a rich fauna, and is a popular destination for scuba diving. One of the Titanic’s sister ships, the HMHS Britishnia, sank in Kea caverns and wrecks.
Sifnos hosts a traditional festival almost every month. The island boasts the most churches of all the Cyclades, with 360. You can, for example, witness a Greek wedding in the Church of the Seven Martyrs at Kastro. It is situated above the ocean and has a stunning view. Visit the capital, Apollonia. It is a beautiful example of architecture.
Milos is home to spectacular volcanoes, including the huge caldera and hot springs. Visit the medieval remains at Palaiokastro, the mountain’s highest point.
If the Meltemi is too strong to sail, you can visit the fascinating museum and archaeological site at Santorini. The stark volcanic landscape is also worth a look – no trees are present, only craters or pumice rocks. Fira is an area of beautiful whitewashed homes perched high on the tops of black rocks. At night, they are beautifully illuminated. From one of the bars or restaurants, you can watch the sun set over the crater. You can take a cable-car up to town, or ride on a donkey along the serpentine road. You can also try the wine produced locally, which has a special flavour from the volcanic soil.
Amorgos is the setting for Luc Besson’s The Big Blue. You can visit it yourself by hiring a sailing or motor yacht and enjoy the stunning colours of the Aegean sea. The charming Chora of Amorgos is located on a hill with windmills scattered around and a Venetian Castle. It offers a breathtaking view. Tholaria, Langada are also beautiful villages. The towering monastery Panagia Hozoviotissa on the cliff north of Chora should not be missed.
You could explore some of the many ruins on Naxos or hire some windsurfing/kitesurfing equipment at one of the many schools there.
Try out Mykonos’ world famous nightlife between sailing excursions on your charter yacht. Go to either the Scandinavian Bar or Cavo Paradiso Club in Paradise Bay, south. Next day, relax on one of the beautiful beaches. Wander through the charming town and its quirky shops to buy artwork or souvenirs.
Delos, the sacred island, was the center of Apollo’s cult. There were magnificent games and an architecturally rich sanctuary built. The archaeological museum and vast grounds of the ceremonial area, as well as the remains and temples are all open to visitors. Don’t pass up the chance to see these important historical mosaics when doing a yacht charter on the Aegean.
Visit one of Greece’s most beautiful churches, Panagia Ekatontapilyiani on Paros. It was built in the 7/8th Century by an architect of Hagia Sofia. Visit the Butterfly Valley, which is a nearby park that has tens and thousands of butterflies. Visit the old port in Naoussa, on the northern coast. Its whitewashed squares and houses are illuminated at night. This creates a romantic atmosphere for dining outside or inside one of its restaurants.