The second part of Click&Boat‘s Guide to Sailing in Greece takes you to the western part of the country and the stunning Ionian Islands. As the Sporades islands, presented in the first part of our sailing guide, they come in all sizes and shapes, from large and popular Corfu to tiny Paxos. Sailing lovers who hire a yacht in Greece will enjoy the opportunity to hop from one island to another and explore unspoilt coves and beaches.
Sailing in the Ionian Islands with Ulysses
A boating trip in the Ionian Islands inevitably has to start from Corfu, the island where Ulysses encountered Nausicaa, the Princess of Phaeacia. The island has many marinas to dock your boat; we recommend the old harbour of Corfu town, Port Mandraki (managed by Corfu Sailing Club), or Gouvia on the north of the island. In Corfu town you can admire the Venetian arsenal, dating back to 1716. Hiking buffs will enjoy climbing Mount Pantokrator for a unique view of the Ionian sea, continental Greece and the Albanian coast.
A trip around this cosmopolitan island can take you to the sheltered bays of Sagiada and Kassopi, facing the Albanian coast, and then to Agios Stefanos and the picturesque town of Paleokastritsa on the northwest. Around 25 miles from the latter is the southernmost edge of the island, Kavos, a town popular among young Brits for its vibrant nightlife. For a one-day trip, we recommend a visit to Petriti, a traditional fishing village a few miles from Corfu town on the southeast where you can taste some of the island’s local specialties.
If you sail in the Ionian Islands you will have the opportunity to follow a somehow unusual zig-zag route and hop a couple of times from one of the islands to continental Greece. For example, just five miles from Kavos is located the small town of Sivota and farther south Parga, a gem not many travel guides bother to cover.
Sivota, an up-and-coming sailing destination, has a modern quay to dock, as well as a small marina nearby. The beach here is sandy and its crystal clear waters will take your breath away. However, it can be extremely crowded during the busy summer season.
Back to the Ionian islands, your first stop is Lefkada, an idiosyncratic island separated from continental Greece by a narrow channel. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy climbing the summit of Mount Stavrotas (1158 m). And if you have a day or two to explore this beautiful island, it’s worth visiting the small towns of Nidri and Vlikho where you can dock at night.
Five miles south of Lefkada you will find yourself onUlysses’ home island, the famed Ithaca, separated from nearby Kefalonia by a narrow channel, the Steno Ithakis. Small and beautiful, it offers to the sailing enthusiast plenty of opportunities to explore remote coves, although you may have to battle strong NW winds in the summer. The capital, Vathi, is perfect for a quick stopover and also has a small harbour to dock at night. Other options for anchorage include the smaller villages of Kioni and Frikes on the northeast.
Kefalonia, a dreamy destination to hire a yacht in the Ionian Islands
Kefalonia, the largest Ionian island and Ithaca’s big sister, is an island in its own league. Suffice to say that it’s home to several mountain ranges, Mount Enos (1,626 metres) being the highest one and world-famous beaches such as Myrtos on the northwest of the island. Parts of it are green and fertile, hosting vineyards that producing the famous Robola wine. As for anchorages, on the east you can dock in Fiskardo, Sami, Poros on the eastern part of the island or Assos on the north. Your best option however would be the sheltered bay of Argostoli, home to the island’s biggest towns: Argostoli (the capital) and Lixouri, both little gems worth visiting to try the island’s most famous delicacy: caramelised almonds known as ‘mandoles‘.
After exploring the breadth and depth of Kefalonia you have two options: head to Zakynthos (Zante) farther south or return to Corfu. If you opt for the former, don’t miss the opportunity to stop for a few hours on the small island of Paxos, around 50 miles from Kefalonia and another 30 from Corfu town. It’s a paradise on earth, encapsulating the beauty of the Ionian islands and Greece itself.