Top 10 Mediterranean yacht charter destinations
Experience it all from quaint fishing ports to lively resort towns, pine-topped cliffs and rugged mountain scenery, terraced vineyards, sensual medieval architecture and deserted beaches & coves. The Med’s diverse range of landscapes, cultures, cuisine and history arouses!
Become explorers of the med and enjoy the ultimate feeling of freedom that comes with sailing! Sail around the Med, feel the sun on your face, and soak up the scent of sea in the air as you delight in ever changing scenery. Snorkel or dive off the back of your yacht in crystal clear waters, and take time to indulge in olives, herbs and lemons!
The word Mediterranean literally means middle of land. And true, land almost surrounds the Med with Europe to the north, Asia to the east and Africa to the south. And many early civilisations including those of Egypt, Greece, Phoenicia, and Rhome developed alongside its shores.
Please enjoy this insider’s Guide with destination highlights and tips for 10 most inspiring Mediterranean yacht charter destinations:
- Spain, the Balearics and Canary Islands
- From Marseille to Monaco – France
- ltalian Riviera
- Rome, Capri and the Amalfi Coast
- Sardinia, Sicily and the Aeolian Islands
- Croatia and Montenegro
SPAIN, THE BALEARICS AND CANARY ISLANDS
Barcelona is blossoming as a yachting hub, making this vibrant city an excellent starting point for a Mediterranean yacht charter.
And thanks to the yachting legislation, charter yachts of all sizes operating in Spain can claim an exemption from the infamous matriculations tax. And non-EU-flagged superyachts are allowed to charter within Balearic waters.
The Balearics are an ever popular charter destination, including beautiful Majorca (Mallorca), buzzing Ibiza and serene Menorca (Minorca).
Majorca has sheltered coves to discover, and honey-stone villages set amongst olive, cherry tree and almond plantations. And I love the Serra de Tramuntana Mountains, a World Heritage Site in the west that is an idyllic place to go hiking or mountain biking.
Ibiza is famous for its entertainment! However the island offers more than just a party-vibe with thriving markets, archaeological heritage and the natural beauty of the National Park of Ses Salinas and Es Vedrà nature reserve.
Near to Ibiza, on the southern coast of the island of Formentera, is one of the favourite stopovers for yacht charters, The Gecko Beach Club. This boutique hotel has a relaxed beach bar and the restaurant hosts regular themed open-air events such as their ‘espetada’ and garden barbecues in a pretty setting fringed by palm and juniper trees. (The coordinates are Lat 38º 41’08 – N Long 1º 27’38).
Menorca has picturesque beaches and archaeological sites but it’s more low-key than Majorca or Ibiza. The island is a perfect escape for nature lovers – it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993 and is home to a significant habitat for wetland birds, the Parc Natural de s’Albufera des Grau.
Offering a mix of cultures, the Canary Islands are a top destination with a diverse landscape and welcoming people. Relax on the pristine white sand beaches on Fuerteventura, marvel at Lanzarote’s lava flows and volcanic landscape or photograph Mt Teide at sunset on Tenerife.
FROM MARSEILLE TO MONACO – FRANCE
Marseille founded by the Greeks, is France’s second largest city and assaults the senses with a collision of cultures, maritime activity at the Vieux Port, and quirky arts scenes. Don’t miss the fish market at Vieux Port, trying bouillabaisse or visiting the cliffs of Calanques (natural wonder) and Cassis.
Heading east, spectacular beaches are found at the Îles de Porquerolles before reaching a top charter destination, Saint Tropez. A terribly crowded, hard to reach yet fashionable village with chic beach clubs and a charming port.
Cannes, is also used as a starting point for Mediterranean yacht charters and is famous for luxury shopping, the annual Film Festival and year round conferences.
Heading to Juan les Pins and Antibes, the Mediterranean sunlight dapples the Cap d’Antibes coastline. Charter guests are spoilt for fine dining ashore with options including La Passagère at the Hôtel Belles Rives, Eden-Roc Restaurant at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc and Le Figuier de Saint Esprit located on the Antibes Old Town ramparts near to the Picasso Museum. Both are popular, but very expensive resort towns!
The appeal of this stretch of Cote d’Azur coastline continues with pastel terrace houses lining the harbour at Villefranche-sur-Mer. I suggest making a day trip to Eze Village for a visit to the Jardin Exotique for spectacular panoramic views followed by lunch at La Chèvre d’Or.
For a taste of indulgence, Monaco is famous for the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, the Monte Carlo Casino, and the Palais Princier de Monaco nestled atop ‘the Rock’.
There is plenty of diversion here, especially in the spring, summer and early autumn months.
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A region of postcard-perfect towns along the Ligurian coastline, the Italian Riviera offers a broad range of charter experiences.
Genoa, the birth-place of Christopher Columbus, has a well-serviced Marina, Baroque architecture and holds many treasures such as the old stone entrance gate to the city, Porta Soprano.
Santa Margherita Ligure with a fairy-tale swimmer’s eye-view attracts visitors for various reasons! Heritage fans enjoy its 16th-century castle and fishing enthusiasts and sun-worshippers flock to nearby Paraggi beach (the only sandy beach near Portofino).
Portofino’s small harbour bordered by paintbox-hued buildings is deservedly the subject of many photographs. Visit Castello Brown for superb views over Portofino, or walk the trails in the Portofino Natural Park before dining on the best fish in town at Ristorante Puny.
The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beautiful coasts – for a pleasant and non-strenuous walk, follow the Via dell’Amore pathway between Riomaggiore and Manarola. Manarola is very photogenic with rainbow-coloured houses tumbling down to the fisherman’s cove, and hillsides of flowers, vineyards and olive groves.
And this is the Riviera, Italy’s answer to Cote de Azur!
Other things to see and do on the Italian Riviera : The Benedictine Monastery and Christ’s Abyss at San Fruttuoso, Palaentology Museum in Lerici and the bike path that follows a restored railway tunnel from Levanto through Bonassola to Framura.
ROME, CAPRI AND THE AMALFI COAST
An Italian itinerary should include the ‘Eternal City’ – Rome. Must-see attractions in Rome are the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, the Spanish Steps, the Imperial Forum, Trevi Fountain and the magnificent Piazzas Navona and del Popolo.
One of the most spectacular regions in Italy is the Amalfi Coast, and sailing here allows you to stop off at each town as you wish. Suggestions of ‘must-do’s’ for the Amalfi Coast:
- Sip limoncello at sunset in Sorrento.
- Enjoy the natural beauty of Amalfi tucked beneath craggy cliffs and ensure you visit the Cathedral to see the bronze statue of the town’s patron saint, Saint Andrew. It was crafted by a pupil of Michaelangelo.
- Stroll the cliffside gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo in Ravello.
- Go shopping in beautiful Positano for leather sandals, before dining at La Sponda Ristorante and finishing with a glass of champagne at Franco’s Bar.
Wagner, Nietzsche and Gorky spent some time here and Ibsen wrote The Ghosts while in Sorrento. And the town does possess a somewhat haunted quality by night with dimly but artistically lit ruins, just visible in the depths of its plunging forested gorges!
Capri, located just off the Amalfi Coast is popular with the jet-set and honeymooners and home to the famous Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto). Go snorkelling and swimming before heading to Anacapri at the top of the island for wide reaching views over the Bay of Sorrento. Other sites worthing seeing on the island include: the Villa Teberi, built as the Roman Emperor Tiberius’s retirement villa and notorious for the pursuit of various pleasures which took place inside its walls. Now reduced to rubble of stones, it does take some imagining, but the views are superb!
SARDINIA, SICILY AND THE AEOLIAN ISLANDS
Away from coastal regions, much of Sardinia is an almost lunar landscape of crags and chasms, and is largely uninhabited. There are numerous Bronze Age remains scattered throughout the islands. The best known being the nuraghi – circular stone dwellings.
Sicily, the largest of the Italian islands, is a fantastic Mediterranean yacht charter destination with outstanding natural beauty, archaeological sites such as Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples. The capital Palermo is a splendid city in a grand style, opulent, vital, and full of remarkable architecture, particularly Baroque and Norman. Visitors can also feast on island cuisine based on Greek, Roman and Arab influences.
Off the northern coast of Sicily, the Aeolian Islands present a unique cruising experience where you can enjoy views of Stromboli and its volcanic lava flows or join the jet-set at Panarea where you can go diving in turquoise waters or relax at aperitivo hour at the portside bars in San Pietro.
Malta’s geographic location in the heart of the Mediterranean, results in a yacht charter destination that draws on a cross-section of cultural influences from Europe, North Africa and beyond. It’s most surprising attribute, is that you won’t find forests or rivers here!
Aside from scuba diving at the many wrecks, reefs and caves throughout the Maltese archipelego, the top experiences for Maltese yacht charters start with a visit to Valletta, the capital city with a blend of modern caféterias, fine restaurants and Baroque architecture. The town was built at the end of the 16th century by the Knights of Saint John.
Within close proximity are the archeological sites of Tarxien, with its neolithic temple; Hypogeum, a complex of ancient underground burial chambers on 3 levels dating back 3000 years. There is also the “Dark Cave”, Ghar Dhalam where remains of now extinct birds and animals such as dwarf hippos have been found.
Add in a trip to the small island of Comino – car-free and undeveloped. Paths which wind through the unusual rock formations provide the only communication links, and therefore makes the island ideal for those seeking a quiet holiday. Famous for the “Blue Lagoon, the aquamarine waters are ideal for snorkelling or diving.
Don’t miss stopping by the natural Calypso cave, of Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ fame, and ensure you cross Gozo off your bucket list – the Ġgantija Temple ruins were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1980. Gozo’s landscape consists of steep valleys and rugged cliffs, and villas that nestle amidst peach, lemon, olive and orange groves. In spring the island comes ablaze with flowering hibiscus, oleander, mimosa and bougainvillea. Some of the local crafts (lace and knitwear) are sold from the doorways of houses and on the street.
Greece has been a media and financial news breaker for a while! However the country retains a strong influence on yacht charters with a pleasant climate, scenic islands with stunning beaches and white-washed villages and anchorages in sparkling seas attracting many visitors.
Head to the central Greek cluster of the Ionian Islands for magnificent rugged scenery and adventure. Highlights include Zakynthos sea caves and the Bay of Laganas National Park that is a nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles, and the beaches on Kefalonia.
The alluring Cyclades Islands are best known for Mykonos and Santorini. Mykonos is known for nightlife, while Santorini will charm you with picturesque white buildings with startling cobalt blue rooftops spilling down the hillsides to the caldera. And don’t miss catching the sunset from Oia Town! There are some interesting archeological remains in ancient Thira which has witnessed the passage of Phoenicians, Dorians, Romans and Byzantines. There are remains of a cluster of houses, a market place, baths, theatres, temples tombs, and early Christian relics.
Rhodes and Kos are two figurehead yacht charter stop-offs that are both part of the Dodecanese Islands. Rhodes has a wide range of beaches and numerous historical sites from temples to castle ruins, and Kos is scattered with Greek and Roman antiquities and glorious beaches. Kos is a fertile island with a mild climate. Places to visit include: fishing villages of Marmari and Mastihari, Kefalos with its pleasant beach and Palatia where ruins of Astipalaia, the ancient capital of Kos survive.
CROATIA AND MONTENEGRO
With more than a thousand unspoiled islands making up the Dalmatian Coast, sailing in Croatia introduces charter guests to a number of beautiful sites. These include Split, Trogir, Dubrovnik, Kotor and the island of Korkuva; many UNESCO World Heritage-listed. Hvar is also popular, where night owls can jump ashore in Hvar Town for nightlife or guests hoping to find some respite can relax at quieter Stari Grad on the north coast.
Croatian charters can be combined with other Mediterranean yacht charter such as Montenegro. The fjord-like Bay of Kotor (or simply Boka) is exceedingly beautiful. Porto Montenegro is attracting the superyacht crowd with a high-end marina, swish boutiques and restaurants and Luštica Bay developments continue to build Montenegro as a desirable charter destination.
As a Mediterranean yacht charter destination, Turkey is a country with a cultural mix of Eastern and Western traditions, tasty cuisine, and warm waters with hidden coves. Too also a lengthy history that has seamlessly juxtaposed remnants of ancient civilizations with modern cities fragrant with Far East spices and incense.
The infrastructure for sailing is increasing and opening up the cruising possibilities within Turkish waters.
Turkish charter highlights include Ölüdeniz beach resort with a protected lagoon and the Lycian Way walking trail, Marmaris, the Sunken City of Simena and Bodrum, the main hub of yachting in Turkey with easy access to the Gulf of Gokova points of interest.
Turkish handicrafts include a rich variety of textiles and embroideries, articles of copper, onyx and tile, mother of pearl, leather, jewellery and kilims. While Turkish food combines culinary traditions a pastoral people originating from central Asia, and influences of the Mediterranean. Aryan (refreshing yoghurt drink) and Turkish coffee are popular and widely available.
To discuss luxury yacht charter options at any of these destinations throughout the Mediterranean, please contact: Bespoke Yacht Charters