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The relative proximity to one another of countries in Europe means that a sailing holiday can be a great way to explore different regions and cultures. Whether you’re looking to plan a long week, or have a little more time on your hands, we’ve partnered with Intrepid Travel to show you where to head for a European sailing holiday.
If the idea of island hopping has always appealed, the Cyclades islands in Greece are certainly worth visiting. There are over 200 islands in the Cyclades, of which the biggest and most well known are Mykonos, Naxos and picture-perfect Santorini with its stunning whitewashed houses. These Greek islands are steeped in ancient history and there will be plenty of opportunities to brush up on your mythology along the way. However, there’s also a more modern side waiting to be discovered, with trendy beach bars and late-night clubs drawing international crowds to Mykonos.
One of the most classic and historic sailing routes, the French Riviera remains one of the most popular places to set sail for those who have a taste for luxury and high-end travel. The ports of Cannes, Monaco and Saint-Tropez continue to attract the world’s rich and famous, so you can expect to be sharing the waters with some of the world’s largest super-yachts. On land, enjoy the grand casinos and top-end restaurants, but don’t forget to take a moment to relax and soak up the Provençal way of life, rich in art and culture.
With its sheer cliffs, rugged coastline and cobalt-blue waters, the Amalfi coast is like something out of a movie – and indeed, you probably have seen it on the big screen countless times. But it’s not just the film directors who have fallen for the Amalfi Coast’s charm, as UNESCO have awarded its unique landscapes World Heritage Status. Admire the pastel-hued houses of Amalfi, Procida or Positano before heading inland to sample the local fare, which is rich in both meat and seafood dishes. History fans should leave time for exploring the ancient city of Pompeii, famous for being buried under tons of volcanic ash.
In recent years, Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast has developed a reputation for its jaw-dropping scenery, charming old port towns and glamorous nightlife. So much so that it has been nicknamed ‘the next Riviera’ by those who have discovered what was until not too long ago one of the Mediterranean’s best-kept secrets. Dubrovnik‘s World Heritage Site walled city is also rich in Gothic and baroque palaces. Hvar has both a historic old town and vibrant nightlife that attracts luxury yacht owners and the local glitterati. Along the way, make sure to explore Mljet, Korcula or Vis for lush natural parks, historic monuments and centuries-old vineyards and olive groves.
Corsica and Sardinia may belong to France and Italy respectively, but the first thing that will strike you about both these islands is their unique culture and character. Between the two, the Maddalena Archipelago is a group of some seven main islands notable for their rich wildlife and crystalline waters ideal for snorkelling. To the north, Bonifacio appears as if it’s about to drop into the water as it perches on sheer cliffs dangling above the sea. Explore its historic monuments, fishing and leisure ports, its fantastic beaches and of course its traditional restaurants for some typical Corsican cuisine.
Located off the east coast of mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands are synonymous with the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle. If Ibiza has got a reputation for crazy parties and mega-clubs, there’s also a more historic, relaxed side to the island waiting to be explored in Ibiza town, while just south of there, Formentera is renowned for its white-sand beaches, shallow turquoise waters and secluded coves, perfect for smaller boats.
Also known as the Turkish Riviera, the Turquoise Coast is located to the southwest of Turkey, around the provinces of Muğla and Antalya. The coast is mostly surrounded by epic mountain ranges which have helped preserve the relatively undeveloped nature of the area. Yet the Turquoise Coast is steeped in history, with important archaeological sites such as the Mausoleum of Maussollos and the Temple of Artemis contributing to their appeal. The rugged cliffs alternate with tranquil inlets and sandy beaches, offering plenty of options for hiking as well as sunbathing when on land.
For more coastal adventures, check out Intrepid Travel.