The lush Ionian Islands are one of the most popular yacht charter destinations in Europe, with an irresistible mix of dramatic beaches, whitewashed villages, and fascinating cities of Byzantine palaces and Greek myth. On an Ionian Islands yacht charter, you’ll float through a lush green landscape where emerald and turquoise seas lap against pale limestone cliffs, and ancient temples lay crumbling among quiet olive groves. There is an endless selection of highlights here, so the only problem might be finding time to visit them all. We’ve hand-selected some of the most enticing options for discerning seafarers.
Some of the best beaches of the Ionian archipelago can only be accessed by private yacht, including the spectacularly beautiful Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos, where a smuggler ship rusts into the sand, surrounded by a vast arc of sheer limestone cliffs and iridescent blue water. Possibly the most spectacular beach on the planet, and certainly the most photographed, this beach is a highlight of a Zakynthos yacht charter. The famous Blue Caves of Zakynthos are just a short cruise away, with the limestone coast riddled with ethereal blue grottos to kayak or snorkel through. Here, you’re bound to see loggerhead turtles floating through the incredibly blue water as you cruise along the coast to Marathonisi Island, also known as Turtle Island.
In Kefalonia you can attend an unforgettable classical concert in the Drogarati Cave among giant stalactites, or take the tender to Melissani Cave, a glimmering underground lake where legend tells of a nymph who drowned herself in sorrow after the God Pan did not return her love. Kefalonia is also the home of the spectacular cliff-lined Myrtos Beach, which features in the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The breathtakingly pretty villages of Assos, Sami, and Fiskardo are the perfect spots for lunch in a waterfront taverna. Hiking, horseriding, and diving are also highlights of Kefalonia, while the harbour at Argostoli is the place to see the local loggerhead turtles waiting for the fishermen to empty their nets.
Lefkada’s modern port in the ancient town of Lefkada Town is one of the best you’ll witness on a Greece yacht charter, and the island offers a natural paradise of stunning beaches, high coastal paths, and waterfalls. When it comes to beaches, Porto Katsiki and Egremni are outstanding, while the Nidri waterfalls are a peaceful oasis of shady trees and bubbling water. Wine enthusiasts will want to visit one of the island’s wineries, while history and literature fans will want to visit the Apollo Temple Lefkata, where the romantic poet Sappho was said to have flung herself from the cliffs because of a broken heart.
Ithaca is said to be the place where Homer chose for Odysseus to find peace and end his travels. You can see why: this place is even greener, quieter, and more pristine than the other Ionian Islands, with pine and cypress forests that edge crystal clear coves and rise up into the gentle hills. This is a place to walk through sunlit olive groves and visit ancient monasteries, before sitting down for a delicious lunch overlooking the colourful fishing boats anchored in the blue-green water.
The march of history is evident in beautiful Corfu, where the island’s Venetian, Roman, Byzantine and French rulers have all left their mark on this wild, romantic landscape. Stroll Parisian boulevards past Byzantine palaces and Venetian forts in UNESCO-listed Corfu Town, or escape into the mountains to hike the lovely 22km Corfu trail. The medieval village of Paleá Períthia is charming, and the clifftop castle ruins of Angelókastro make for stunning views. There are a multitude of excellent beaches and swimming spots along the coast, including the spectacular Canal d’Amour – a channel carved into the soft limestone cliffs by wind and sea.
A yacht charter in the Ionian Islands is one of the great yachting itineraries of the world. M/Y SEALYON is a superb charter yacht on which to experience the islands of Greece in the summer of 2017. This multi-award-winning 61.8m motoryacht from Viarregio Superyachts is packed with extraordinary features, including a split-level master suite with panoramic views, a dedicated media room, well-equipped gym, and split-level sun deck with cinema, rotating sunbeds, and misting systems for staying cool on hot summer days. M/Y SEALYON accommodates up to 12 guests in six extremely glamorous staterooms, and is available to charter in the Ionian Islands from EUR 325,000 per week.