Hiring a boat is the best way to explore the Ionian Sea which is bordered by Southern Italy to the west and Albania to the north along with the west coast of Greece including the Peloponnese. The Ionian islands are part of the Mediterranean Sea and are a great yachting destination for many travelers, the large number of beaches and marinas make it easy to depart from the mainland where you can find the ideal catamaran, sailboat or motor yacht of your choice. You can directly contact the owners or allow a BednBlue travel expert to guide you with some suggestions.
You have plenty of available options:
You can hire a sailboat or a speedboat with a skipper or without if you have a license, and explore the Ionian islands which have some of the calmest winds and open seas in Greece. If you have a limited amount of time and want to visit many places at once, renting a motor yacht is the ideal type of boat for you since it offers a fast cruising speed. If you rent a motorboat in Corfu you can make a stop to Igoumenitsa, explore the Paxi islands and head further to Preveza on a one-day cruise. Similarly, from Lefkada you can access Meganisi, Kalamos and Kastos for a day charter or access the port of Patras in the coast of Epirus. For longer excursions, you can rent a sailboat and explore the islands between Lefkada and Zakynthos, these include the beautiful green islands of Ithaca and Cephalonia that are perfect for families with children.
The Ionian islands are also called the ‘Eptanisa’ (Heptanese) that is derived from the Greek number seven, due to the 7 primary islands that form the archipelago on the western coast of Greece. The islands consist of Corfu and Paxos that dominate the North Ionian part, and Lefkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos that make up the South Ionian part. The last primary Ionian island is Kythira which is the furthest and is close to the south Peloponnese. The Heptanese faced a long history of transitory rule over the centuries. From the early Roman and Byzantine rule to being under Venetian influence all the way till the 18th century, the islands were ceded by the French during the Napoleonic era which were later defeated by the British who granted the islands a new constitution. Today those major changes in land ownership have scarred the islands with a unique architectural beauty worldwide. A significant difference with the Aegean island complex is that the Ionian islands have turquoise waters with lush green vegetation and rich natural wealth.
The islands are all hammered in myths and interesting history. As far as the legend goes, Corfu was broken off by the God of the Sea Poseidon who separated Paxos at the southern tip. Not far from Corfu, Lefkada brings thousands of yachting enthusiasts who want to explore the sea that was inspired by the adventures of Odysseus who traveled to the underworld and even battled a Cyclops. Both of these large islands have towns which bring thousands of travelers from all over the world who want to educate themselves of the Greek culture and history, some of them include the Venetian Fortress and the Achilleion Palace of Corfu and the Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni in Lefkada which serves as the most important religious center in the Ionian. Due to their geographical position and top marinas, the two large islands also offer the best Ionian sailing routes for one to begin their journey.
On the North side of the Ionian Sea, you can rent a yacht in Corfu and visit the islands of Othoni, Erikoussa and Manthraki which are less touristy places and are great for snorkeling and swimming. Do not miss the chance to dock into the beautiful beaches of Paleokastritsa and Sidari which are known to have top quality waters and are some of the best beaches that can be explored by boat in Greece. You can also hire a boat in Corfu and discover the beautiful bays of Plataria, Sivota, Parga and the town of Preveza. Given that they are closer to the mainland, you can stop by the shops, restaurants and taverns ashore for a sailing break.
On the Southern side of the Ionian Sea, you can hire a sailboat in Lefkada which has the largest entry point for sailing yachts in the main marina Lefkas. Popular daily charters from Lefkada that offer the best relaxing getaway include visiting the islands of Meganisi, Kalamos and Kastos. They all have unspoilt nature and emerald waters that are perfect for swimming, anchoring and even having lunch as you stroll around the harbours. Other great options include Skorpios which has been greatly admired by many rich and famous people since the mid 90’s. If you have decided to book a yacht from Lefkada for just a few days, you cannot miss the chance to also visit the beaches of Porto Katsiki and Egremni which are ideal for windsurfing and entertainment by the sea.
If you want to go island hopping, you have the opportunity to visit the island of Ithaca which can only be reached by boat and has an impressive harbor in Vathi village, the capital of Ithaca. On the way you can make stops to Atokos part of the Echinades islands which is simply a heaven on earth with turquoise waters and no anchoring restrictions. Feel free to dock your catamaran or sailboat here and enjoy the beauty of the island.
If we head a little further, you will come across the largest island of the Ionian complex which is Cephalonia/ Kefalonia. Because there is so much to do in this mountainous island, we recommend you to explore the magnificent Melissani Cave which is 30m deep and can only be accessed by boat, you can also head into the village of Fiskardo which has traditional Venetian buildings and is a popular spot among many sailors.
Heading south from Kefalonia, you can cruise into the famous island of Zakynthos. Here you cannot miss the chance for a Zakynthos shipwreck tour in the famous Navagio Beach. You will also have the opportunity to go a little further and visit the blue caves which have colorful corals and swim inside the turquoise waters. The island also has a turtle beach on the southern side where you can spot caretta caretta turtles in Laganas bay, a few charterers offer this kind of trip so you may want to rent a boat with a professional skipper who knows best for this unique experience. Boat rentals in Zakynthos also offer an interesting sailing route where you can begin your journey from the port, head to Kefalonia, Ithaca, Lefkada and then Corfu.
Lastly, for those committed to renting a yacht in Greece for over a week you also have the option to reach Kythera and Antikythera which is 10 nautical miles from the Peloponnese and offers picturesque villages and a great waterfront with restaurants that have great views of the serene bays.
Marina Gouvia, Corfu: has a large berthing capacity for 1400 yachts. Very well-maintained sowers, toilets and provisioning for all kinds of yachts with expert staff.
Port Lakka- Paxos: a beautiful village but the bay can get very busy during the high season since lots of yachts cross from Corfu to Lefkada. Shelter is good in most conditions but anchorage is perfect. Lots of great tavernas and restaurants with typical Greek cuisine.
Port Gaios- Paxos: the main harbor of the island of Paxos, during the high season is gets crammed with day trippers from Corfu. Shelter in the harbor is excellent in most conditions, the S part of the harbor can get a little uncomfortable due to strong winds however.
Nidri Port, Lefkas: Situated on the east coast of Lefkas and is good for boat trips in any direction. From here many ferries and yachts go for day excursions to Kefalonia and Ithaca or for a simple cruise towards the beaches of Lefkada.
Marina Lefkas: Holds a berthing capacity for 620 yachts. A well organized marina with great services, some restaurants may be a bit expensive but overall the marina is well-equipped and ideal for boat rentals in the Ionian Sea.
Vliho marina, Lefkas: lies on the east coast of Lefkas in a large gulf known as Vliho bay. Accessing the bay may be difficult in the high season due to the large amount of yachts and ferries coming in and out. There are several yacht clubs and quays for extra anchoring and provisioning. The Vliho Yacht Club is an excellent place for anchoring in winter, great shelter, staff, food and showers.
Sivota Marina, Lefkas: Siovta is one of the main resorts of north-western Greece, and within one-hour reach from the airport of Coru. It is a very beautiful and preserved marina with a capacity of 90 berths. Apart from the great number of shops and restaurants, makes a great stop for an Ionian sailing route from Corfu as it offers great services for all types of yachts and sailors.
Marina vathi, Meganisi: offers berths 72 yachts and overall it is an excellent mooring spot for yachts who go for day trips to Ithaca or Meganissi from Lefkada. Offers both water and electricity and has a few shops, restaurants and bars close to the town quay.
Spiglia, Meganisi: excellent choice for yachts of all types with safe anchorage. Free berthing with all kinds of supplies and a very good restaurant above the bay. The village of Spartochori is perched above the Spiglia Bay and offers spectacular views of the ionian Sea from the mountains.
Vathi Port, Ithaca: a picturesque long and narrow port that is great for mooring. The small road network in the village of vathi makes this port very useful for all kinds of sailors and visitors who want to visit the wonderful capital of Ithaca.
Kioni marina, Ithaca: 24km from Vathy port of Ithaca, allows yachts with a max length of 60m and a depth of 2.5m. A medium sized marina with two quays that offer an immediate escape to the Ionian Sea and a relaxing vacation.
Assos Marina, Kefalonia: The small quaint village of Assos is very popular for boat hire as one can explore the coastline of Kefalonia. Parking is not so common in Assos because of the narrow streets so is ideal for hikers, sailors and other nature lovers who want to spend time by the small beaches by the port.
Port Fiskardo, Kefalonia: One of the cleanest ports of the Ionian islands offering rich restaurants, shops and easy access to the beaches of Kefalonia. Many boats tend to go from Fiskardo to Assos for a pleasant day tour.
Zakynthos Marina: offers a capacity of 150 berths and provides good shelter from the prevailing NW winds. From fishing boats to large yachts mooring in the marina with great services. Not so overcrowded with tourists and offers great leisure opportunities such as swimming and fishing.
Porto Vromi Maries, Zakynthos: The nearest port to the Shipwreck beach, Navagio. Lots of speedboats and boat rentals in Zakynthos depart from here to explore the sea caves at Porto Vromi which has incredible water and views. The port offers facilities, restaurants and a very nice pebbly beach in the small bay.
Ferry routes: Ferries to the Ionian islands are operated from ports in western Greece. Ferries from Patra go to Kefalonia and Ithaca. Ferries from Igoumenitsa go to Corfu and Paxi. Ferries from Killini go to Kefalonia and Zakynthos. Unfortunately the island group cannot be accessed by ferry route from Athens but you can fly from Athens Airport.
Ferry routes from Italy to the ionian islands is possible (ferries leave from Bari and Brindisi ports along the Adriatic coast) and reach Corfu, Sami (kefalonia) and Zakynthos. ( these routes are limited and mainly available during the summer months.
Ferry routes from the town of Igoumenitsa take roughly 45 minutes a day and are quite frequent throughout the day.
Ferry routes from Saranda, Albania are also available taking just half an hour.
Airports: from Athens airport you can fly directly to Kefalonia, Zakynthos or Corfu which takes approximately 1 hour. To get to Paxos or Ithaca then you would need to fly to the nearest largest island, for example Corfu for Paxos and Kefalonia to Ithaca.
From Patras: Patras Araxos Airport flight to Corfu takes 40 minutes ( 1 flight per week)
From Italy: 6 hours duration on average.
Booking Advisor Form
Fill in the form below and you will soon receive suggestions with the ideal yachts for your trip.