The Essential Guide to Ionian Yacht Charter

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An Essential Guide to an Ionian Yacht Charter

With a history dating back to 1,000BC, the Ionian Islands have a story that’s long and peppered with surprises on an Ionian yacht charter. Coupled with its postcard-perfect harbour villages, turquoise-hued waters, lush vineyards, and soaring mountains,  you’ll see why an Ionian yacht charter is everything it’s cracked up to be.

Even if you’ve been on an Ionian yacht charter before, you’re sure to find something new amongst these diverse islands, each with its own distinct history and landscape. The wide variety of architectural styles, temples, and castles are a testament to the islands’ Western European leaders that so different from the Ottoman reign evident on the mainland.

Whether you’re after a historical adventure, a beach vacation, or a brand new cultural experience, an Ionian yacht charter has something for everyone. Short sailing legs, light winds, and ample anchorages mean you can make it up as you go along or follow one of our suggested itineraries to make sure you pack in as much as possible on your Ionian yacht charter.

In this guide, you’ll find everything you’ll need to know from booking your next Ionian yacht charter to setting sail.

An Essential Guide to an Ionian Yacht Charter

1. Where are the Ionian Islands?

Located West off Greece’s Mainland is This Eccentric Chain of Islands.

The Ionian Islands are found off the west coast of Greece in a line from Corfu in the north to Zakynthos in the south. They are traditionally called the Heptanese islands after the seven largest islands in the chain: Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Paxos and Kythira.

Antikythira, Antipaxi, Ereikousa, Mathraki, Othonoi, Meganisi, and Strofades are lesser-known smaller islands found in the group, which also have a lot going for themselves.

2. Best Time to Go on an Ionian Yacht Charter

Aim for Summer, Spring, and Fall for the Best Sailing Weather.

The best summer sailing can be enjoyed from May to September when you’ll find long, sunny days with little rain. The weather is consistently warm during the day and night during summer.

For swimming, snorkelling and other water activities, stick to July, August and September when the sea temperature sits at around 25°C (77°F). June and October are bearable for the hardy sailor at an average sea temperature of 22°C (72°F).

May is a great month to go when the islands are still quiet and wildflowers are in bloom while September experiences the leaves changing colour and the robola grape harvest in Kefalonia.

3. Wind Conditions on an Ionian Yacht Charter

A Calm and Safe Sailing Holiday Destination.

The Ionian Islands enjoy a Mediterranean climate with long, warm summers and are known for its perfect sailing conditions. The north-westerly prevailing winds are fairly consistent, ideal for sailors of all abilities.

A usual day sees winds build up around midday and drop again at sunset. You can spend the morning gently exploring until you find your ideal stop for lunch coupled with a swim or snorkel before enjoying a sail to your night-time destination.

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4. North Vs South Ionian Yacht Charter

Either Way, You’re in for a Great Time.

Ionian Island itineraries are usually split into the north and south and you can sail either or both depending on how much time you have. We recommend at least one week for either leg.

A South Ionian Sailing Itinerary is often recommended for new sailors and families because of the gentle winds, a greater number of anchorages and shorter sailing distances between islands. This itinerary starts in Lefkas with the opportunity to visit Meganisi, Kefalonia, and Ithaca.

A North Ionian Sailing Itinerary is great for experienced sailors or if you want a bit more of a challenge. The route is usually less busy with longer sailing distances to look forward to. Starting in Corfu, you’ll get to stop in at Paxos, Parga, Sivota, and Preveza.

5. Greek Island Itineraries

Take the Time to Explore More of What Greece Has to Offer.

If you’ve got the time, combine your Ionian yacht charter with one of our other suggested regions around Greece for the ultimate Greek island-hopping adventure.

6. Places Not to Miss on an Ionian Yacht Charter

From Quaint Harbour Towns to Bustling Capital Cities — the Ionian Islands Has Something for Everyone.

The numerous islands within close proximity to each other make the Ionian an easy place to plan a visit. You could really pick a destination at random and wouldn’t go wrong but here are some of the top destinations for you to include on your Ionian yacht charter.

  • Lefkas Town – Small waterside villages and soft sands surrounded by white stone cliffs.
  • Meganisi – Start with the quaint streets, houses and cafes in Katomeri, followed by a snorkel over a sunken plane and end the day with sunset views from the summit of Spartochori.
  • Fiskardo – A swim in Foki Beach and some good eats are on the agenda.
  • Kalamos – Opt for a hillside trek to the ruins of an old monastery. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins off the northern shore.
  • Ithaca – The mythical home of Homeric hero Odysseus is now a sleepy island known for its museums dedicated to its culture, archaeology and folklore. Indulge in a long lunch in the traditional port town of Kioni.
  • Corfu Town – Cobblestoned streets and Venetian architecture, this capital city is packed filled with fine restaurants, high-class museums and lively bars.
  • Sivota Mourtos – Drop anchor at Sand Bar Bay and spend a day getting stuck into some watersports and the night checking out the local party scene. 
  • Preveza – The gulf here provides an ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming and those keen to learn more about the history of the ancient Greeks should explore the ruins of Nikopolis.
  • Paxos – Once fought over by many, the aesthetically pleasing blue dome and white walls of the Panagia monastery is a clear symbol of peace over this tiny island.
  • Milos Beach – Time your visit well and you could be up for a day of kite or windsurfing.

7. How Does a Yacht Charter Work?

Easier to Book than You Imagine (with Our Help, of Course).

If this is your first time booking a yacht charter, the good news is, we do most of the hard stuff for you. You really just need to tell us what you would like and then we do all the groundwork.

Chartering a yacht is very much like hiring a car and it comes down to choosing the right experience for you. You can pick the size, age and manufacturer of the yacht or let us guide you with our years of combined knowledge both chartering yachts and being out on the water.

For more information on the different types of yacht charter and how they work, head to our full guide here.

8. How Much Does an Ionian Yacht Charter Cost?

Not Just for the Rich and Famous, Yacht Charters Can Be Surprisingly Affordable.

If you’ve never chartered a yacht before, don’t worry. It can seem like a complicated process but really, it’s all about figuring out what you need for your holiday and then adding on any nice-to-have extras.

Your starting cost is what’s referred to as the bareboat charter cost and this is the price before mandatory and any optional extras are included. Things like insurance and crew should be considered and will vary depending on how much you’d like to include. For example, a skipper might seem like an essential crew but you might be happy to pass on having a cook or hostess.

Some optional extras enhance the overall sailing experience and could include an outboard engine and a safety net. Then you have the fun extras such as windsurfs, SUP and kayaks.

For more information on the Cost to Charter a Yacht, check out our full guide here.

9. What’s the Best Time to Book an Ionian Yacht Charter?

You can start your Ionian yacht charter enquiry as soon as you’re ready to start planning. Our knowledgeable advisors can guide you through the process from working out the costs, choosing the perfect boat and the best time to go to fit into your travel plans.

Once you’ve booked we’ll follow through with recommendations on the best areas to visit, itineraries you can follow and tips to make your sailing trip the best one yet.

10. Ionian Yacht Charter Frequently Asked Questions

Where Will I Be Able to Get Food and Provisioning?

You’ll likely start your trip on the bigger islands of Corfu or Lefkas with the option to stock up at big-name supermarkets. You’ll find mini markets and kiosks in almost every island along the way where you can purchase water, snacks and other drinks.

What Should I Pack for an Ionian Yacht Charter?

If you decide to sail in the cooler months of April, May, September or October, you should bring along some warmer clothes and wet-weather gear. The summer months in between are much sunnier with less chance of rain so definitely include the sunscreen. Check out our full packing guide here.

Can I Do a One-way Charter?

The Ionian Islands are almost perfectly designed for a one-way journey and you might even find some operators offering a discount to help relocate their yachts from one base to another, especially at the start or end of the season.

What Qualifications Do I Need for an Ionian yacht charter?

Greek maritime law states that you will need one recognised sailing certificate (which can be held by your skipper) and one Signed Sailing Experience Declaration Form. If possible, two sailing certificates on board will often mean a more relaxed and stress-free week. Read our full guide on sailing qualifications here.

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