Yachting in Greece: places, impressions, life hacks

Since now we don't have lots of opportunities to travel the world and try yachting, I will tell you a bit about yachting in our beloved Greece!

If you don't know us yet: my husband and I have been traveling the world for five years on our sailing yacht and are happy to talk about our trips, share useful information about marinas, yacht shops and other life hacks for sailors.

The very first European country on our journey was Greece! It wins your heart from the first seconds, and you want to come back here again and again because there are still so many islands to explore and incredible ancient energy!

Many people who are just starting their acquaintance with the yachting world and have not yet acquired the proper experience and their own boats, rent yachts from charter companies or join already existing crews. In both cases, sailing in Greece is a pleasure!

There are more than 2000 islands in Greece, and all are unique in their own way. In this article, I will tell you about the most popular destination among beginner yachtsmen and give some useful tips on where to go and what to see.

If you decide to rent a yacht from a charter company, for example, in Athens (Alimos marina), then I suggest you go along this beautiful route: Athens — Aegina — Poros — Hydra — Poros (Russian bay) — Methana — Epidavros — Athens. The route is designed for a week and is suitable for beginners because there won't be strong wind, and even if it is, it is weaker in these areas than in the Cyclades. Of course, before planning your route, you need to study the weather forecast and possibly adjust the timing of visiting the islands. For example, instead of the center of Methana, you can go around the island and stay on the other side in the village of Vati, instead of Hydra — go to Ermioni, and instead of Epidavros, you can hide from the bad weather on the islet of Angistri. So, you can always adjust this route. My husband and I usually check the forecast in the app or on the Windy website.

And now I will tell you about where it is better to moor and what to see! You need to remember that many people want to sail in the summer, and all the mooring places are filled with yachts before lunch. Therefore, if you want to come to the pier with water and electricity, you need to do it no later than 2 p. m. It happened to us that we did not make it on time and had to stay at anchor for hours, and there is no anchorage near some islands, and we had to sail to another island.

Now, I'll tell you in detail about each island on our way.

The first island in our route is Aegina. This island is closest to Athens and is a very popular stopping point for many yachtsmen. Here, you can moor both in the main port and the village Perdika (translated from Greek as «partridge»). There are very few places for yachts in both places, and many yachtsmen want to moor there. If you did not manage to moor at the pier, then there is an anchorage near the port. It is quite good but in calm weather. You should know that all piers in Greece are municipal, so do not count on any special service. Usually, yachtsmen from neighboring boats help when mooring. By the way, if you paid for the mooring of the yacht on Aegina in the port or on Perdika, then if you are tired of it and you want to change the location, you can sale to the island of Angistri (it is opposite Aegina, 40 minutes sail on the yacht), show a receipt for payment and stay there for free. The same works in the opposite direction because they belong to the same port authority. The cost of mooring on all islands for charter yachts is two times cheaper than for private yachts and is about 5-7 euros per day for a 45-feet boat.

Now I'll tell you about the interesting things on this island:

First of all, people come to Aegina to buy pistachios. There is a great variety here: salty, sweet, and fried, and even in the form of jam, honey, and pastille. If you like sightseeing, here there is the ancient building «Kolonas» near the central port of Aegina. The monument is called so because of the only surviving column remaining from the ancient Greek temple of Apollo Dolphin. Another archaeological site is located on the opposite side of the island, closer to its northwestern part. This is the temple of the ancient goddess Athaea. Locals call this ancient sanctuary the temple of Athena Athaea. Of the 34 columns of the temple, 24 have survived to this day. Also, near the central port, there is a beautiful Church of the Holy Trinity. It was built in the 19th century in the Byzantine style and impresses with its unusual architecture. Another church is located right in the port, and it was built in honor of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of all sailors, on the donations of local fishermen and sailors. Another holy place is the church of St. Nectarios — a magnificent building.

Now, let's talk about another of my favorite places on Aegina — the fish market! Usually, it works until 5 p. m., but if you want to buy good fish or large shrimp, it is better to come before 3 p. m. After that, half of the fishermen already leave their stalls. There is a decent grocery store next to the market where you can buy everything you need for dinner. Do not buy fruits and vegetables from vendors on the promenade — at a market store, they are half the price.

In the evening, the promenade is full of music, chariots with happy tourists, sellers of all kinds of balls, lollipops, and just passers-by who sit down to rest and eat ice cream. It becomes quite noisy, but by 12 p. m. everything calms down, and you can sleep soundly until the first ferry, which arrives at 7 in the morning. And then the first yachts start leaving, and it turns out that someone's anchor has hooked onto the next one, and if it's not yours, you are lucky, and you can enjoy your breakfast.

Further along the route is the island of Poros. This is one of our favorite islands because here we bought our second yacht. In Poros, mooring is much easier. Here, along the entire promenade, you can moor at the pier and go for a walk around the island. Don't moor at the wooden dock, do it at the concrete one. The waves here are smaller and less dangerous.

There is also a fish market at Poros, but it works from 7 a. m. to 2 p. m. Sometimes it can close earlier if fish is sold out, so it is better to go earlier.

If you want to eat something, I highly recommend the excellent family tavern, «Gia mas.» It is located near the mooring of large motor yachts. There is a Russian-speaking waiter Misha who will gladly tell you about the most delicious dishes of their cuisine. I advise you to try lamb stewed in the oven for several hours with vegetables (this dish is called «kleftiko»).

The main attraction of the island is the clock tower, which offers beautiful views of the entire island. In the center of the island, there are the ruins of Poseidon's temple, the patron saint of Poros. It is said that his statue was over 5 meters high, but now only a piece of the base 70 cm high is left, and it is in the Archaeological Museum of the island.

If you rent a quad bike, a motorbike or bicycle, you can drive to the beautiful Lemon Forest. The aromas of citrus in those places are wild, and the trees create an unusually beautiful landscape. In the depths of the forest, there is a waterfall.

And the island's most famous landmark is the Zoodochos Pigi Monastery, built in the early 18th century. It is located on a hill surrounded by lush green trees. Throughout its history, the monastery played an essential role in the life of Greek Orthodoxy. All those in need were hiding here, including the monks who, during the time of the Turkish occupation, hid valuable relics from Athos here. The monastery houses miraculous icons and an ancient carved iconostasis, and at the entrance, you can see the tombs of Greek admirals.

If you are a beach fan, go to Canali Beach or take a water taxi to Micro Neorio Bay Beach. Poros promenade is full of bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, and clothing stores. There is also a good supermarket Criticos, where you can buy some supplies.

The next island is Hydra. This is a charming island, where you can only walk or ride donkeys. There are no taxis and cars; there are only an ambulance and a garbage truck. You can moor at the port or the anchorage a mile from the port. Since the port area is tiny, you need to be here already at 8 in the morning. Usually, they moor in several rows. For Greece, this is standard practice, because there are few places in the ports for mooring and lots of people who want to come.

There is a beautiful hiking trail that runs along the entire island. Incredible views and stunning photos are guaranteed! You can take water and snack with you and have a small picnic on one of the benches looking at the sea ...

There is also a Historical Museum on the island and the mansion of Count Alexei Orlov, who helped the Greeks win the war, and now they honor him as a national hero. Now in this house, there is a restaurant.

There are six monasteries and 300 churches on the island. Visit the monastery of Elijah the Prophet, which is located 500 meters above sea level. Climbing there is not easy, but the view that opens is worth it. Just a few minutes' walk from it is the Convent of St. Eupraxia. We also recommend visiting the Convent of St. Nicholas, built in the XVII century in the Byzantine style, with a beautiful octagonal dome.

The nearest beach is on the rocks right next to the port. There are stairs to go down into the water and a cafe with comfortable chairs, which are often used instead of sun loungers. Right under the beach is a small grotto where you can swim and snorkel.

If you love movies, in the summer, the Gardenia open-air cinema works, where you can watch a good film in a romantic atmosphere. And on the Hydra island, they shot one of the episodes of the movie «The Fruit Is Ripe.»

There are lots of shops and cafes along the promenade, but prices here are much higher than on other islands. In the evening, traffic stops at the port, the last ferry leaves, and there is silence ...

Next, we suggest stopping in the Russian bay on the island of Poros. This place was named after Admiral Ushakov, who also helped the Greeks during the war. A lone wall remained on the shore that reminds of a once large and solid house. There is also a beach equipped with sunbeds at the cafe, the owner of which is a very cheerful and kind woman named Maria. Friendly atmosphere, delicious food, and pine forest give this place a unique charm. Opposite the bay, there is a small island on which there is only one church, and locals often come here to get married.

You can stay here for the night, or you can go to the neighboring island Methana. We fell in love with this island because it is quiet and peaceful. There are no crowds of tourists, and you can always find a secluded place to be alone with nature.

You can moor at the port. There are always a lot of places, except when the regatta is held here. There are electricity and water.

Methana used to be a famous international health resort, but when the crisis happened, the island stopped to be such a popular place among tourists. Here you can see many abandoned hotels and houses. But there is something fascinating about this place ...

On Methana, you can bathe in hydrogen sulfide and radon baths. They are natural and, therefore, free. The hydrogen sulfide bath is located right behind the small yacht club. You need to go along the road past the pool with hydrogen sulfide and go down the path to the sea. You will see the white color of the water and feel the characteristic smell of «rotten eggs.» It is recommended to swim in hydrogen sulfide water for no more than 40 minutes. And I advise you to take a radon bath before bedtime because it has a very relaxing effect, and after it, you immediately want to lie down. It is located on the opposite side of the beach. From the port, turn right and go past all taverns and hotels. Near a small church, under a tree, you will see a small bath of natural origin. The water there is hot (about 40-45 degrees), and it is recommended to stay in it no more than 20 minutes. It is not advisable for children under 14 to bathe in it.

Another popular place is the volcano. According to the legend, from one of the volcano's eruptions, the neighboring island of Poros was formed. The volcano is high and far away, so it's better to take a quad bike or bike to get there or take a taxi. And if you like to sunbathe, you can walk to the beach with black sand and small pebbles. There are sunbeds and umbrellas, but they are about 5 euros per set. Also on the beach, there is a bar with refreshments. By the way, the water in the sea here is always 1-2 degrees warmer, apparently due to the active volcano.

In the evening, the island comes to life. On the promenade, traffic is blocked, and the whole city goes for a walk. Taverns are filled with cheerful laughter, music, and songs, children run around, old people buy lottery tickets, play cards and dominoes, and a few young people drink homemade wine and eat ice cream.

The next stop is on the mainland in a beautiful place called Epidavros. You will like this place from the first minutes. Archaeological excavations are still underway here, and there is a small amphitheater near the port. And at the bottom of the sea, near the beaches, you can find fragments of old amphoras and some foundations of houses left from the old city. You can moor at the port. There is not much space there, but if you come before lunch, you can find one. Also nearby, there is an anchorage.

Epidavros is also famous for its orange orchards. Coming there, we always take a bag or backpack with us, since it is impossible to pass by juicy oranges hanging on a tree, and they smell divine. There are abandoned gardens where no one collects them. There we pick citrus fruits for freshly squeezed juices or sangria.

I advise you to go to the amphitheater in the old Epidavros, which is 20 minutes away by car. There are often concerts in the evenings, and you can feel the power of the building and its incredible acoustics. During the day, you can just walk around the complex. Tickets cost 12 euros per adult and 6 euros per child.

Depending on the month of your visit, you can get to the local manufacturers' fair, which is organized at the port, and you can buy delicious jams, honey, home tinctures, handmade jewelry, and medical cosmetics almost without leaving the boat.

In the taverns here, they all cook deliciously, so I cannot even advise you one. Go where you want and enjoy the excellent local cuisine. There is also a grocery store with a good choice of products.

And the next day, it's time for you to go to the home marina of Alimos in Athens and get ready to hand over the boat.

If you liked my story, I will continue to introduce you to Greek islands and talk about yachting in this beautiful country in the other articles.