sailing

What You Need to Know before Booking a Sailing Holiday in Greece

One of the best ways to explore the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea and hit some of the hidden spots among the Greek islands is by sailing. Greece has emerged as a premier yacht charter destination as a result of its more than 3,000 islands, each of which has a unique culture and heritage. By sailing, individuals can see the gradual changes in vegetation, climate, architecture, and customs as they explore these many islands. Some of the common destinations for sailors include the Cyclades, the Ionian Sea, the Dodecanese, and the Saronic Gulf. Both the Saronic Gulf and the Ionian Sea have gentle waters that are ideal for beginners, whereas areas such as the Cyclades are best left to the seasoned professionals.

 

What Is the Basic Breakdown of Sailing Regions?

The Ionian Sea has emerged as perhaps the most popular destination for a sailing holiday, although rough winds can peak at the end of summer. The destination offers a wide range of traditional foods, some of the best wines in the country, and countless gorgeous bays and harbors. South of the Ionian Sea is the Peloponnese, which is known for ruins that date back to some of the oldest cultures in all of Greece, as well as breathtaking mountains. Near the coast is Crete, the largest island in Greece. Crete has picturesque beaches and a rapidly changing landscape. From here, people can move into the Aegean Sea, which include the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, and the North Aegean.

The Cyclades are ideal for sailing and putting many miles on a boat each day. Visitors will find some islands that possess very few inhabitants and others renowned for their nightlife, such as Mykonos. The Dodecanese, which is located near the border with Turkey, features tiny bays and ancient cities that can be seen from the water because of their fortifications. North of all this is the Sporades, which is similar to the Ionian Sea with some wonderful conservation areas and numerous ruins. The Sporades is an ideal destination for a short sailing trip with crystal blue waters and sandy beaches.

yacht Greece

 

When Is the Best Time to Sail in Greece?

People who are thinking about taking a sailing trip throughout Greece should know that the typical boating season begins in April and ends in November, although the peak season is from late June to September. During the heart of summer, ports and marinas can get very busy, and sailboats may be forced to anchor rather than dock on the islands themselves. However, these months are also when the majority of charters happen. Sailors should understand that the Greek summer is extremely hot and dry. Winds, especially in the Cyclades, can reach very high speeds, which may then prevent chartered boats from leaving the harbor. Many people enjoy sailing most just before or just after the peak when prices are low and the weather is more moderate.

 

What Options Exist for Chartering a Sailboat?

Before embarking on a sailing adventure, individuals should figure out the islands that they hope to hit along the way. While it is fine to make some unexpected stops along the way, a basic itinerary is critical for understanding what kind of boat to rent and where. In Greece, experienced sailors can pursue a bareboat yacht charter, although those people with less or no experience can still enjoy a sailing vacation by getting a skippered yacht. A skipper will take full responsibility for the yacht, which includes undertaking all sailing maneuvers and handling itineraries. Individuals should seek out a skipper with knowledge of the islands that they wish to visit so that they can get recommendations and help in becoming familiar with local customs.

Another option is to rent a crewed yacht. The crew will consist of a professional skipper and a host, who sometimes also acts as a cook. The crew may include a dedicated cook apart from the host. Larger boats may also have a deckhand, who helps with ropes and sailing maneuvers. Great crews will offer some insight on local history and culture by giving tours of the island. One of the most common crewed yacht charters in Greece is known as a gulet, a large, wooden sailboat. These boats are wide for maximum comfort, even with a lot of people on board.

sailing in Greece

 

How Much Does a Sailing Adventure in Greece Cost?

The yacht charter industry in Greece has relatively low prices compared to many other countries. Marinas and ports charge by the length of the yacht, so larger boats will involve greater expense. Even so, a sailing trip in Greece is often a fraction of the cost that one would pay for a similar trip in other Mediterranean countries. However, marinas can quickly become crowded, so it is advised that boats have a good anchor setup, as well as a backup. Also, individuals are responsible for the well-being of their crew, so they must ensure that the skipper and any other employees receive meals.

 

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beer

9 of the Best Beers to Try in Greece

While many people may know that Greece produces some distinctive, flavorful varieties of wine, they may not be aware that it also has a rich beer heritage. Beer is particularly refreshing during the hottest summer months while people relax on the beach. Various regions of the country have their own go-to beers, and great examples of lagers, ales, and more are now brewed in Greece. The following are some must-try drinks for fans of beer who are traveling in Greece:

 

1. Nisos

In 2014, Nisos won the second prize at the European Beer Star competition, an impressive feat. Nisos is brewed on Tinos, a small island, by Cyclades Microbrewery. This beer is a pilsner that has several spices and herbal aromatics, adding to the complexity of the flavor. Several different flavor varieties are available, including a Beaufort edition that has heavy caramel notes and a high ABV (alcohol by volume), as well as one with the refreshing taste of green apple and lime. All Nisos beers are produced with organic ingredients and made in small quantities. These options are all designed as a great complement to a warm beach day.

 

2. Vergina

For more than two decades, Macedonian Thrace Brewery in Komotini, a small town near Thessaloniki, has produced truly distinctive brews. The brand has emerged as among the most popular in Greece and is definitely worth a try. The Red Vergina has a strong caramel taste, while the white variety offers much fruitier notes for those who want something lighter and sweeter.

 

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3. Septem

Two brothers, an economist and a chemist, founded Septem about a decade ago on the island of Evia in Orologio. The founders aimed to create a refined beer that would stand up to the distinctive wines of Greece. The duo applies many philosophies gleaned from the wine industry to the production of their beers, which include award-winning pilsners and pale ales, as well as seasonal varieties. Visitors who make their way to Evia are welcome to check out the brewery and try some of its great options, and travelers can simply look for beer options at different tavernas as they explore the country.

 

4. Corfu Beer

A family-run brewery, Corfu Beer is located in the small village of Arillas on the island of Corfu. Brewer Claudio Mouzakitis leads the operation and specializes in ales, along with some limited-edition runs. Corfu offers a wide range of different options, from a ginger beer to a fruity Weissbier. The brewery also offers some more bitter varieties, along with a red. The island of Corfu has demonstrated a strong affinity for ginger beer since the British brought the drink to the island in the 1800s, so it is something that travelers will find in several spots. However, this brewery’s version is one of the best.

 

5. Kirki

A microbrewery located in Halkida, Kirki is a newcomer and has operated only since 2015. Now, the brewery offers two celebrated options. One is the namesake Kirki, a cloudy pale ale that does not get filtered, and Pikri, a very light ale. Despite the young age of the brewery, Kirki has created quite a name for itself and will likely continue to grow rapidly in the future.

 

6. Piraiki

Pharmacist Alexander Koumantou launched Piraiki in Drapetsona, Piraeus, a part of Athens, in 2005. The brewery relocated to central Greece five years later so that it could increase production and change some of its methodologies. Piraiki maintains a commitment to authenticity and actually follows Reinheitsgebot, the German law for beer purity, in addition to using organic ingredients. These beers contain no additives or preservatives. Focused largely on German varieties of beer, the brewery produces pilsners, lagers, and pale ales.

 

7. Volkan

The name of this beer comes from the eruption that occurred in Santorini in 1600 BCE. Volkan produces beers with many of the most distinctive Greek flavors. For example, the Black beer highlights honey and citrus while the Gray beer has orange and bergamot notes. Travelers should find out if there have been any other unique additions to the Volkan lineup in the tavernas that they visit.

 

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8. Zeos

Produced under the claim of being the “beer of the gods,” Zeos has a distinctive blue label that visitors may quickly begin to recognize during their time in Greece. Individuals should try all of the different varieties to see which one is their favorite. One of the most unique options is the Black beer, which has the flavor of honey, brown sugar and grape. Another option combines orange and lemon for a very refreshing experience. Many Greeks enjoy the Weiss, a white beer that subtly combines the flavors of fruit and spices.

 

9. Bios 5

Featuring Demeter, the goddess of earth, nature, an agriculture, on the label, Bios 5 is a brew that attempts to replicate what the first beers produced would have tasted like. The brewery behind the drink uses only five ingredients, which is what inspired the “5” in the beer’s name. These ingredients are rice, corn, rice, wheat, and barley.

island Paros

8 Wonderful Destinations off the Beaten Track in Greece

When people think about exploring Greece, they usually plot out itineraries that include popular destinations such as Athens, Mykonos, Thessaloniki, and major archaeological sites such as Delphi. However, there is much more to Greece than these commonly visited sites. People who wander off the beaten track will get a much better sense of what Greek life looks like and discover some of the real charm of the country. For this reason, tourists should consider including some of the lesser-known destinations in Greece in their itineraries. Some of these excellent options include:

 

1. Evia

A common weekend destination for Athenians, Evia remains relatively unexplored by foreigners. Evia is the second-largest island in Greece and easily accessed by two bridges that connect it to the mainland. While on Evia, individuals should check out Edipsos, which has healing thermal baths. In addition to this attraction, visitors will find some charming beaches with a much milder climate than many of the other islands. In addition, Evia offers great local cuisine and various landmarks for visitors to explore.

 

evia

 

2. Ioannina

The capital of Epirus, Ioannina is located right on Lake Pamvotida, and visitors will catch a wonderful glimpse of the water throughout the town. What makes Ioannina truly unique among Greek cities is its blend of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian influences in its architecture and design. Some of the top attractions include the Veli Pasha Mosque and the House Matei Hussein. In addition, travelers will come across a number of gorgeous Byzantine churches as they explore the town.

 

3. Kavala

Located in Macedonia, Kavala has a unique amphitheater-like shape. Situated at the base of Mount Simvolo, the town boasts several great attractions, such as Suleyman the Magnificent’s aqueduct, the church of Virgin Mary’s Assumption, and the Mohamed Ali Pasha Square. The oldest part of Kavala is known as Panagia. People have consistently lived in Panagia since the 7th century BCE. As a result, the whole area has a very unique culture influenced by the many different peoples who have called it home. Moreover, Kavala offers tourists some very relaxing and quiet beaches.

 

4. Kastellorizo

An island that located is near the southern coast of Turkey, Kastellorizo also goes by the name of Megisti. Visitors will initially notice the beautiful harbor dotted with colorful mansions lining the coast and climbing up the hills. Despite the crowded appearance of the port, the island has some great wildlife and dense flora to be explored on hikes. While there, individuals should not miss the Old Mosque, which the Turks built when they occupied the island. As with many of the Greek islands, Kastellorizo also has breathtaking beaches.

 

5. Lemnos

Most tourists stick to islands in the southern part of Greece, but Lemnos is located in the Northern Aegean, which makes it much more quiet than other options. At the same time, Lemnos has very exciting attractions, including the Castle of Myrina, which is located on a hilltop above the main town. Lemnos remains a great place to learn how to kite surf due to the lessons offered at Keros Beach. Tourists should also check out Varos Village, a town that was once quite dilapidated, but which has since been rejuvenated as a luxury resort spot with breathtaking views of the surrounding water.

 

6. Paxi

Because Paxi is located so close to Italy, the island provides visitors with a unique amalgamation of Italian and Greek cultures. Paxi is the smallest island in the archipelago that includes Corfu. On Paxi, visitors will find gentle hills, pristine beaches, and underwater caves. The island has several cute villages nestled among olive groves with many hiking trails. While there, individuals should sample the local black wine made from local vineyards and explore Orkos Beach, which is one of the most beautiful among all the Ionian islands. Paxi also hosts several music festivals throughout the summer.

 

Paxi

Image by Dom Crossley | Flickr

 

7. Folegandros

A small island situated on the southern side of the Cyclades, Folegandros is a rocky isle with a main village called Chora that has been consistently recognized for its beauty. Many people think that Chora is more charming than even Santorini. While on Folegandros, tourists will need to charter boats to take them to various caves, coves, and beaches since they usually cannot be accessed by land. However, this makes for a very unique experience. For a bit of luxury, individuals can check out Anemi Hotel, which has large suites and a wonderful infinity pool overlooking the water with a nearby pebbly beach.

 

8. Methoni

Mythology buffs may recognize Methoni as one of the seven cities that Agamemnon offered to Achilles. The city is on the southernmost tip of the Peloponnese. The top attraction is Kastro, a fortress and castle that dates back to the 15th century and offers a perfect example of Venetian architecture. Visitors will also find a number of great tavernas serving traditional food and a beautiful beach located very close to Kastro. This beach offers an ideal place to cool off during the hotter summer months.

athens

6 of the Best Adventures Off the Beaten Path in Athens

Athens has a lot to offer tourists, from incredible archaeological sites like the Acropolis to world-class dining. In Athens, it’s easy to get caught up in the most famous attractions and miss out on the more interesting spots off the beaten path. Taking the time to explore some of these local, lesser-known attractions can give you a better sense of Greek culture and show you what it’s like to live as a modern Athenian. Some of the best options for getting off the normal tourist track include:

 

  1. Visiting a bouzoukia

Located throughout Athens, bouzoukias are a bit like Greek music halls where people come to drink and dance until late in the evening. During performances, musicians ply the bouzouki, an instrument that gives these buildings their name. The instrument is accompanied by people singing traditional Greek ballads and music. Here, the most popular drink is oinomelo, a sweet wine. You may want to check out some of the bouzoukias in Plaka or Anafiotika, which are smaller and tend to attract mostly locals. Alternatively, try one of the larger clubs, such as Gazi Live or Posidonio. These larger clubs are also popular among locals, but visitors may also encounter some other tourists who want to check out the scene.

 

  1. Exploring a laeki agora

Many neighborhoods in Athens host a laeki agora, similar to a local farmers’ market, at least once a week. During these times, local authorities close the streets to car traffic so vendors can set up their stalls. At the markets, you can find everything from locally grown oranges to handmade jams and cheeses. Often, the events also function as flea markets with people selling their household items and clothes. The laeki are important events for locals and can give visitors a deeper look at everyday life in Athens. Since the days and times change, it’s wise to check in with your hotel’s concierge or your hosts about the best options.

 

laeki agora

 

  1. Enjoying Coffee in Koukaki or Pagrati

While people may not immediately associate Greece with coffee, Athens has a strong coffee culture fostered by the many cozy, eclectic cafés scattered throughout the city. Often, these cafés are located on small side streets and alleys, so they can be a bit difficult to find. Two Athenian neighborhoods with some of the best cafés are Koukaki and Pagrati. Both of these neighborhoods have themed coffee shops interspersed among great bars and tavernas. Exploring these shops and connecting with some of the locals is an excellent way to experience authentic Athens.

 

  1. Climbing up Mount Lycabettus

The tallest point in Athens, Mount Lycabettus sits 277 meters above sea level, covered in a thick forest. The mountain rises just opposite the Acropolis, so hikers will get a great view of the archaeological site, as well as the rest of the city in the background. The hike is not too strenuous, since the route follows a steady, circular path rather than straight up the side of the peak. At the top of the mountain is a quaint church and a massive flagpole with the Greek flag. The best time to climb Lycabettus is sunrise or sunset because of the way the sun illuminates the horizon. However, the views are excellent at any time of day. Just be sure to bring sun protection if you make the hike in the middle of the day.

 

  1. Attending an open-air cinema

People visiting Athens between April and October should definitely try to catch an outdoor movie. Very popular in Athens, open-air cinemas have become a big part of local culture and are intimately tied to food: many people choose where to go less by the movie playing and more by the food available. That’s because the options go way beyond soda, popcorn, candy, and the typical snacks people associate with movie theaters. One open-air cinema, for example, specializes in sushi, and another in souvlaki. There’s even one that offers a range of different baked pies. Some open-air cinemas also offer great views, such as Cine-Thisio, which provides a great view of the lit-up Acropolis behind and to the side of the projection screen.

 

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  1. Walking along the Athenian Riviera

Visitors are often surprised by the many parks and green spaces in Athens and its suburbs. For example, within a 30-minute drive from the city center are beautiful beaches that line the Mediterranean Sea. This “Athenian Riviera” is home to several beach clubs, as well as excellent tavernas and beautiful walking routes. One of the best ways to take in the sights is by walking the path that extends along Flisvos Marina to Alimos, running parallel to Poseidonos Avenue. Along the route, you’ll catch glimpses of charming neighborhoods, neoclassical mansions, and small beaches. The trail ends at a small church in Alimos, but other paths lead to Voula and Vouliagmeni.