Sailing trips in Europe can feel a bit like you’ve stumbled into a Bridget Bardot movie: sleepy Italian hamlets perched on limestone cliffs, the sun-drenched glitz of the Cote d’Azur, lazing the day away on deck with a handful of Grecian olives. It’s one of the best ways to explore the continent, although you are faced with some tough decisions: spend the afternoon snorkelling that secluded cove, or sail Croatia’s favourite archipelago? Indulge in a family-run taverna banquet, or burn the calories on a bike ride through the hinterland? To take that evening cocktail before or after Santorini’s marmalade sunset? Ah, decisions, decisions…
Ah, Capri. The Romans knew a good island when they found it. Hence the giant Roman palace built on Monte Tiberio. These days Capri is known for royalty of a different kind, with celebs dropping in to do some boutique shopping or chill out in the aquamarine grottos nearby. A day or two exploring here and it might be hard to get you back on the boat…
Amorgos is a mountainous little island in the south-eastern corner of the Cyclades. As far as Greek Islands go, this one is more concerned with activities and archaeology than perfecting your tan. White washed streets, a burgeoning rock climbing scene, ancient ruins and one of the most spectacular monasteries in the Med – it’s a real gem.
France’s Cote d’Azur isn’t just good for celebrity spotting, shopping and mingling with the glitterati (although a little mingling couldn’t hurt) – it’s also the home of the Îles d’Hyères Archipelago. A little collection of shining, mica-rich islands with secluded coves around every headland. Finding an idyllic beach here isn’t hard. Picking your favourite could be.
We use classic monohull yachts for our European sailing adventures (it helps to get into that old-school Euro vibe). As a guide, a typical 50ft yacht for eight travellers is equipped with four twin/double cabins, two or three shared bathrooms and two showers. You’ll be lead by one of our experienced skippers who knows these waters like the back of their hand.
Life on the boat goes at your own pace: help out on deck as much as you wish, or just lie back and enjoy the ride. The choice is entirely up to you. Just keep in mind: cabin arrangements can be quite cosy so as to leave more room for onboard communal areas.
Meet your skipper
'I love the freedom of sailing. I learned to sail in a rubber dinghy with a small sail, and from there I became a sailing instructor in Corsica in 1975. I’ve sailed the Caribbean, but now I mostly sail the Mediterranean Sea. I like island hopping and exploring islands with their unique harbour villages and beautiful bays. I believe to really get the most out of your sailing adventure you must be flexible, forgiving, helpful and authentic.' – Kutte, Cyclades Islands
Best time to travel
Peak season for sailing holidays in the Mediterranean is between June and August, when the sun is hottest and many Europeans have their summer holidays. But if you want to beat the crowds while still enjoying that trademark Med sun, try travelling in Spring (mid-April to May) or Autumn (September to mid-October): temperatures will be a little more bearable, the waters are still calm, and you won’t have to fight for that beachside sunbed.
On this trip I fell in love the Greek islands. It's a good way to see the famous Cyclades islands like Mykonos and Santorini together with some smaller, lesser known islands which are beautiful and charming in their own ways because you have a sail boat and you're not having to work out the ferries. If boating and seeing the islands is the main goal, you will enjoy the trip. Probably best to go in summer. I went in October and it was cold and windy on the water. Also there is quite a lot of time spent on the water, which is great if sailing, not so much if by motor. The islands are not that close together by sail boat so it can take at least half a day to reach them and once you do, sometimes you don't have a lot of hours in the day to spend there like Syros or Folegandros which were a couple of the best islands. Still a good trip and worth doing to see the best of the Cyclades, it's just the weather can be unpredictable and makes a big difference to the trip.