For many people, travelling is the ultimate escape — a giant lunge from their merry-go life, into the wild realms of the unexpected. And nothing says freedom, like a bright white sailing yacht cruising atop a crisp blue ocean.
For the sailing fraternity, Europe offers some of the world’s premier marinas, which attract the crème de la crème of the sport.
The upside of that for you and other travellers, is that it results in some fantastic opportunities to try your hand at sailing, in some spellbinding settings.
Whether you’re aiming for your Skipper licence, or simply want to catch some rays on the open ocean, we’re about to give you a run down of some of Europe’s most fantastic waters.
Europe’s Best Sailing Destinations
Are you ready to set sail for Europe’s most beautiful spots to go sailing? All aboard, folks… this could have a refreshing affect on your summer!
1. French Riviera
Arguably Europe’s most famous sailing destination, the French Riviera stretches along the Cote d’Azur, speckled by an all-star cast of sailing hubs, such as Cannes, Antibes, Saint Tropez and Monaco. This is the place to be seen, but remains surprisingly accessible to the hoi polloi of backpacker society.
Not only does Turkey offer some of the best backpacking trails on the planet, offshore, it delivers some incredible sailing on the Aegean Sea. Dip into Izmir, Alcati, or Kusadasi on your way along the coast, or cruise right up to the fabulous capital, Istanbul via the narrow Bosphorous.
Tiny Montenegro, sandwiched between Albania, Croatia and Bosnia, acts like a nautical beacon to sailing fans from around the world. The country boasts some 295km of dramatic coastline — including the Gulf of Kotor, the longest fjord in southern Europe — blessed with favourable winds, and friendly ports. Look out the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kotor’s Old Town.
Greece is a Mecca for sailing fans, with an incredible array of islands, and the lingering coastline of the mainland. Explore Mykonos, Santorini and Crete among others, while you combine the dazzle of the Mediterranean sunshine, with the feasts of delicious Greek cuisine. As a sailing destination, very few come close to Greece’s sublime selection.
Rolling off the southern Alps, and with easy access to the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is high on the hit list of yachts throughout the summer months. Visit the Slovenian Bay of Piran, or the towns of Portorož, Izola or Koper, to explore the beautiful ports and marinas.
With over 1000 islands floating among the crystal clear seas of the Adriatic, Croatia has long been a favourite for those looking to set sail in Europe’s most famous, and welcoming, waters. Spend your summer jumping from the deck of the boat, or exploring the myriad jewels of the Dalmatian coastline, such as Split, Dubrovnik, or Makarska. This is the perfect destination to party like a pirate!
Sail along the Tejo estuary, and into the bay of Lisbon, or along the coast to Cascais via the Berlengas Islands nature reserve, for an experience of untold magic. Look out for wild dolphins along the way! Elsewhere in Portugal, hoik the sails in the Algarve, or the subtropical islands of Madeira.
The traditional port of Galway is a great place to enjoy a spot of sailing this summer; with its rich history and hearty character, visitors can expect a warm welcome on land and sea. Galway Bay is busy with surfers, sailors, and swimmers, and from 3rd – 8th July, the city will host the finale to the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race.