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Last Updated on September 6, 2023 by Nellie Huang
Dreaming of sailing in Greece? Here’s our Greece island hopping itinerary to help you plan your epic summer!
We’ve just returned from spending all summer in Europe — and the highlight of our summer was island-hopping around Greece with Yacht Getaways. It was the dreamiest trip we’ve taken in years, with a perfect balance of activity and relaxation.
Our days onboard the catamaran were spent swimming in turquoise waters, napping under the sail with the wind in our face, hiking up to spectacular viewpoints, wandering around beautiful little villages eating the freshest seafood and sipping the most delicious wine.
In my previous post, I showed you what to expect from a Greece sailing holiday. Now I’m sharing our 1-week Greece island-hopping itinerary and the idyllic islands, towns and sights we visited each day.
Greece Island-Hopping Itinerary
Why Sail on a Chartered Yacht?
Without a doubt, sailing on a yacht is the best way to go island-hopping around Greece. Greece has thousands of islands, many of which are small and less frequented by tourists. Sailing allows you to reach these remote and less crowded destinations. You get to escape the crowd and have a more authentic experience, visiting smaller fishing villages, dining at local taverns and experiencing Greek island life up close.
Besides, there are countless secret coves and beaches that are only accessible by boat. When you sail on a yacht, you can anchor in secluded coves, swim in private bays, and enjoy intimate moments away from crowded beaches. And when you go on a chartered yacht, you’ll have a skipper and host taking care of everything and all you need to do is kick back and enjoy beautiful Greece.
About Our Greece Sailing Trip
We sailed around the Ionian Islands of Greece with Yacht Getaways onboard a Lagoon 42 catamaran. Our catamaran had four double cabins (with capacity for 8 passengers), all with en suite showers and toilets, plus there were two single cabins for the crew. It was the perfect size; anything bigger would be less personal and intimate.
There was plenty of space to lounge around, including the cushioned seating area at the back, the lounger on the top deck, and the trampoline in the front. The boat had two paddle boards and we were free to use them at swim stops. Snorkels were also provided. We also had a tender boat that brings us into town if we’re not docked to the marina. Click to see photos of the interior.
The Ionian Explorer Route
Yacht Getaways runs a few routes in Greece (as well as Montenegro, Turkey, Italy and Croatia), and we chose the Corfu Explorer route as we wanted to explore Greece, off the beaten trail. We have been to popular islands like Santorini and Mykonos, and we were curious to see how the Ionian Islands were like.
The Ionian Explorer route turned out to be exactly what we were looking for — it took us away from the crowd to less-visited islands like Paxos and Antipaxos. Every town we stopped at has its unique personality and culture. Lakka was ridiculously cute with its white alleys and stone houses clad with bougainvillea; Longos had a charming fishing village feel; Parga felt like a flamboyant, fun beach town while Sivota was its sophisticated and low-key cousin.
Here’s a detailed day-to-day breakdown of our Greece island-hopping itinerary.
Greece Island Hopping Itinerary
Itinerary Day 1: Set off from Corfu
Our sailing trip started at the Gouvia Marina, one of the biggest marinas in Greece. It was a quick 15-minute drive from Old Town Corfu where we’d spent the day. There were hundreds of yachts anchored there, so it wasn’t particularly easy to find our yacht. But I dropped a quick message to our skipper, and he was quick to respond and help us find our way.
At 4pm, Alberto and I boarded our Lagoon 42 catamaran, aptly named ‘Fantasea’ and were warmly welcomed with a bottle of Prosecco. We got to meet our host Lauren, our skipper Levi, and other travel mates. Our group of travelers were from all over the world; there was a young Kiwi and Czech couple, an older Australian couple and a solo female traveler from the UK. Everyone was very friendly and excited to embark on this journey together.
Lauren and Levi gave us a quick briefing to let us know what to expect over the week and then they showed us to our rooms and gave us instructions on how to operate the toilet, windows and cabinets. Our cabin was pretty comfortable and decent-sized. We had a double bed with lots of compartments on both sides of the bed and storage underneath. The bathroom was spacious and there was actually a proper shower with a glass sliding door.
Sailing North to Kalami Bay
Shortly after, it was time to set sail! The sail flapped in the wind as we cruised north along the eastern coast of Corfu towards Kalami Bay. With beers in hand, we all sat out at the front end of the boat to watch the view as we left the busy marina behind and head out into the indigo sea.
Within a couple of hours, we arrived at Kalami Bay, a perfectly-shaped cove with a gorgeous beach and hilltop houses overlooking the bay. A few of us plunged into the water and had a refreshing dip while others lay around reading a book. That evening, our host Lauren had booked a table at her favorite restaurant in town, Dimitri’s Restaurant.
Perched on a hilltop, the traditional tavern had glorious views of the bay, especially at sunset. The menu was classic Greek, featuring fresh seafood and grilled meat. Alberto and I ordered a mixed grill for two, but it was so huge we could barely finish it. The owner Dimitri even graced us with his appearance and made sure we were all happy with our meals. We clinked glasses, gulped down amazing homemade wine, and tucked into the hearty dinner with our new friends, as the last rays of the sun disappeared over the horizon.
Itinerary Day 2: Wander around Lakka, Paxos
The next morning, we rose bright and early after being lulled to sleep by the gentle waves. There was no set wake up time, we simply got up whenever we wanted and enjoyed a cup of coffee while staring out to sea. There was a big plate of nicely-cut fresh fruit laid out for us, as well as yogurt and oats.
By 9am, Lauren had prepared a spread of hot breakfast: scrambled eggs, toasts, and bacon. Soon enough, it was time to start sailing. Our group of travelers spread out, some lounged on the upper deck to get a tan, some napped on the trampoline, and others read in the shade.
Sailing to Paxos Island
It was quite a long sailing day as we had to cover quite a lot of distance today, crossing the length of Corfu down south to Paxos island. After 2 hours of sailing, we had our first swim stop in Skala Potamou, a quiet cove with crystal clear, spearmint waters. A few of us took the paddle-board out while the rest of us plunged in and just had fun jumping into the big outdoor “pool”.
By 2pm, we reached our destination for the day, Lakka, and dropped anchor at the far end of the bay. Lunch was served onboard — we had fresh oven-baked sea bass with grilled potatoes and pita bread, along with white wine. This was just the first of many amazing meals we would have on the boat, thanks to our amazing cook, Lauren.
Exploring Lakka’s Secret Beach
It was way too hot in the day to go off and explore, so we took a nap (as you would on a Greece sailing holiday!) before heading out. Levi took us out on the tender and dropped us off at the “Secret Beach” where we went on a short hike to a quiet, empty beach. Then we walked over to the lighthouse and wandered into Lakka town. Lakka is a small, but incredibly charming fishing village with stoned walkways and little houses covered in vines and bougainvilleas.
A Traditional Greek Dinner
That night, we met up with our group for dinner at Nio Nio’s Taverna, a family-run tavern known for their wholesome atmosphere and comfort food. The owner and chef, Nio Nio, even invited us in what the kitchen had for the day and it was a huge and inviting spread. We ended up choosing the beef pastisada (a rich beef stew) and shrimps cooked in ouzo (a Greek liquor). It was such an authentic experience dining in this traditional tavern in a little village!
Itinerary Day 3: A Slow Day in Longos, Paxos
It was a lazy morning on the catamaran, as we’d all gotten into the slow rhythm and pace of life out at sea. We had a hearty breakfast of French toasts with maple syrup, before setting sail only around 10+am. It was going to be a very short sailing day, so we were in no rush.
At our first stop, Alberto and I swam over to Orkos beach, strewn with white pebbles and the occasional sea urchins (that’s why you need water shoes!). The beach was empty, so we pretty much had it all to ourselves. We walked to the far end of the beach and climbed a few steps to reach a viewpoint. It was the perfect way to start our morning.
Wandering around Longos
Our destination for the day, Longos, was just a 30-minute sail away. By 12pm, we’d dropped our anchor at the small harbor, just steps from the waterfront restaurants and cafes. We all headed off for a wander in town and stocked up on snacks and wine (we had finished the six bottles of wine that were on the boat!).
Longos is similar to Lakka, a tiny fishing village with small boutiques, cute cafes, taverns and narrow stoned alleys. As with other towns, it only gets lively in the evening when the sun sets and temperatures drop.
Embracing the Greek Experience
By the time we got back to the boat, Lauren had whipped up a colorful and inviting meal of baked peppers stuffed with orzo along with freshly-baked olive bread and salad. We love the Mediterranean cuisine (we lived in Spain for over 7 years!) and the food on this sailing trip was perfect for our tastebuds.
After lunch, a few of us walked over to the beach just next to the harbor, Paralia Levrechio, for a swim. There was a bar right next to the beach, and we ended up having a great time there chatting and drinking beers with our travel mates.
A Lovely Evening with Seafood and Cocktails
In the evening, we had an outstanding dinner at Restaurant Kohili right by the water. The grilled octopus, steamed mussels and squid ink risotto were some of the best I’ve had on this trip. Like most towns, Longos only truly comes alive at night. Tables are laid out by the harbor, locals are drinking wine and having seafood outdoors, and waterfront bars are lit up in candlelight.
Itinerary Day 4: A Day of Adventure at Gaios, Paxos
This was the busiest day in this Greece island-hopping itinerary! We started the day with breakfast and a swim stop at Paralia Kipadi or James Bond Bay, aptly named for the few million-dollar beachfront villas that dot the shoreline. The water of course was sparkling and a sublime shade of turquoise.
It didn’t take long to sail to Gaios, the capital and largest town on Paxos island. Lauren and Levi had shared some recommendations on what to do and we were pumped to head out and explore! After a quick and yummy lunch of grilled sausages and shakshuka (Middle eastern poached eggs in tomato sauce), Alberto and I dashed off for our day of adventure on Paxos.
Exploring the Island on a Scooter
Our first stop was the car rental shop. We hired a scooter from Fougaros Travel for €35/day, with the plan of driving a whole loop around the loop in one day. Alberto used to own a scooter so he had no problems riding around the island. Heading south, we first made a stop at Mongonissi Beach and did a short hike to see the view of Antipaxos in the distance. The stone ridges in the area resembled basalt columns, jutting out like stone fingers.
Hiking to Tripito Arch
Then we rounded the southern reaches of the island and continued onto Tripito Arch, the icon of Paxos. It wasn’t easy to find the start of the hiking trail amidst the maze of farmlands, but we did eventually find ourselves on the cliff’s edge, with ferocious azure waters tumbling against the rocky shore beneath us.
While I hung onto the safety of the cliff, Alberto traipsed forward, onto the natural stone arch that hung precariously onto the cliff. It seemed scary from my end, but Alberto came back reporting that it wasn’t quite as hair-raising as it looked.
Discovering the Best Beach on Paxos
Hopping back onto our scooter, we continued cruising along the western coast of Paxos in search of what we’d heard was the best beach on the island. Navigating the winding road that zigzagged its way down the steep slopes, we could see Erimitis Beach from the distance: chalky baby blue water lapping up against sheer white cliffs that seemed to just plunge vertiginously down to the water edge.
It was as glorious as I’d imagined. And there was just a handful of people on the beach! We spent the next few hours frolicking in the beach here, soaking up paradise.
A Fun Evening in Lively Gaios
After doing a loop around the island, we returned the scooter and headed back to the yacht for a fun evening with the group. Lauren and Levi had prepared a delicious round of Aperol Spritz for us along with some dips and breadsticks. We then headed to the upscale Taka Taka restaurant for dinner; once again the seafood here was to-die-for — the shrimp saganaki was drenched in an insanely rich sauce and the seafood linguine was dripping with flavors. We ended the night playing pool and sipping cocktails at the lively Faros Cafe/Bar, just a few steps from our floating home.
Itinerary Day 5: Exploring Antipaxos and Parga
The next day, I woke up to find we’d already started sailing. After a quick breakfast, I took a dip at Blue Lagoon and frolicked around the indigo waters, wishing this was something I could do every morning!
With our sails up, we made our way south to Antipaxos, Paxos’ sister island. Measuring just five square kilometers, Antipaxos is a wild and pristine island largely covered in vineyards. The tiny, unspoiled island has no shortage of secret beaches and tiny coves to explore.
We cruised toward the western bay of Antipaxos, where we dropped anchor and spent a few hours paddling into the tiny caves and lagoons. It was insanely cool to swim through the caves and snorkel in the water — this was definitely one of my favorite spots on this sailing trip. We felt so privileged to be able to explore an area so pristine and unvisited that only those who sail here will get to see.
Sailing across to Mainland Greece
Lunch was served right at this gorgeous spot, surrounded by the turquoise waters and limestone cliffs. We tucked into a healthy meal of chicken souvlaki (skewers), caesar salad and my favorite tzatziki (yogurt dip) before preparing to set sail. It took close to 3 hours to cross the Ionian Sea and reach the mainland where we would drop anchor for the night.
In the late afternoon, we arrived at the picturesque beach town of Parga where a large fleet of sailboats had docked. It was clear we were on mainland Greece — highways weaved across the coastline, colorful houses stacked up on hilltops and tall mountains loomed behind them.
Sunset Views in Parga
As our yacht couldn’t park in the marina, we caught a water taxi into town and boy were we surprised by how busy it was in the evening! We jostled the crowd to head up the steep narrow walkway that weave its way through the town. The walkway was flanked by souvenir shops, gelato stalls and cafes — it was a lot more touristy than the islands we’d docked at on our previous nights. But the minute we veered away from the main walkway, we found quiet little cafes, cute pink houses covered in bougainvillea and charming little blue-and-white taverns that serve surprisingly cheap food.
Eventually, we made it to the Avocado Cocktail Bar to catch sunset views. Spread over three levels, the bar overlooked the Parga Bay and beyond. Drinks were pretty pricey here but the view was worth it! Dinner was a simple affair of streetside filo pastry and gyros (wrap) and we ended the night with some beers at the Antico Rock Bar.
Itinerary Day 6: Sailing to Sivota
That morning, I finally rose early enough to catch sunrise. Sitting out on the top deck, I watched the sun slowly poke its head above the clouds before splashing its rays across the horizon, washing everything in a blinding shade of gold. It was truly spectacular and definitely worth setting an alarm for!
Hiking to Parga Castle
As we had the morning to explore more of Parga, Alberto and I took off after breakfast to hike up to Parga Castle. Perched on top of a hill overlooking the town, the Venetian castle has been an important landmark of Parga since the 15th century. It forms part of the strong fortifications used to protect the town from invasions from land and sea. The walk up there was steep, but it only took around 15 minutes to reach the castle and drink in the panorama from there.
On our way down to the beach, we stopped by Mike’s Bar for a juice and drank in the views. From here, you could see the new town of Parga in its full glory.
Sailing to Sivota
Around noon, we set sail northwards along the coast of mainland Greece. We made a few swim stops along the way. All of us took turns taking the SUP (stand-up paddleboard) out and we had great fun jumping off the deck and snorkeling in the clear sea. There were a lot of fish at this spot.
Our lunch that day was particularly impressive — Lauren prepared a beautiful charcuterie board with all kinds of cheese, ham, fruit, dips and pita bread. It looked so photogenic I didn’t bear to eat anything. It definitely felt like we were having a sophisticated lunch party!
Sundowners and Fireworks
It was almost evening time when we dropped anchor in Sivota. We headed out for a wander and found the lovely marina town to be much calmer than Parga. As I found out from Lauren, Sivota is mostly popular with Greeks rather than European tourists. Despite being less touristy, Sivota is more modern without much of a historical center to it.
As the sun set, we went for a leisure stroll along the pedestrianized shopping street, popping into indie boutiques with gelato in hand. We then met up with the group for jumbo cocktails at Acanthus Cocktail Bar and watched the last ebb of the sun disappear beyond the horizon. The party continued at Mama Mia, where we tucked into massive pizzas with wine, as fireworks exploded in the night skies.
Itinerary Day 7: Back to Corfu
Our last day on the sailboat came too soon! We spent the morning sailing towards Corfu and making several swim stops along the way. By noon we were cruising near Old Town Corfu — the old fortress looked even more regal from the water. That afternoon, we docked at Gouvia Marina and had our last dinner together as a group before leaving the yacht the next morning.
Greece Island Hopping Guide
Best Time for Island Hopping in Greece
The sailing season in Greece typically spans from April to October. July and August are the busiest months, offering warm weather but crowded ports. May, June, September, and October are ideal for quieter seas and pleasant weather. We sailed in the first week of August and the weather was perfect! Our route took us to less-visited places that weren’t crowded even in the height of summer.
If you are sailing in the Aegean, check the wind conditions before your trip. The meltemi is a strong, dry wind that can affect sailing conditions, especially in the Aegean Sea.
How Long for a Greece Island Hopping Trip?
Greece has thousands of islands, it will take a lifetime (or more!) to see them all. Most chartered Greece sailing holidays last for a week and do a round-trip loop starting/ending at the same island. One week is a good amount to spend on a yacht. On this trip we spent five days in Corfu before sailing for a week with Yacht Getaways.
If it’s your first time in Greece, I would recommend setting aside at least 2 weeks so you can combine a week on land and a week island-hopping around Greece.
What to Pack for this Greece Island Hopping Itinerary
Packing light is key if you’re planning on sailing in Greece, as yachts don’t usually have a lot of storage space. You’ll be spending most of your time in the water, so definitely get lots of sun-proof gear. Also pack entertainment like a book or iPad as you’ll have a lot of downtime while sailing.
I recommend bringing sun-proof rashguards that can protect your skin while snorkeling. KEEN footwear or normal sandals are really useful for water activities. Snorkel mask and fins are usually provided by the yacht.
Packing List for a Greece Sailing Trip
Greece Island-Hopping Tips
The Ionian Sea is very calm and rarely windy, but the Aegean Sea can get rough sometimes. If you do suffer from sea sickness, be sure to bring sea-sickness bracelets or medications. Stay above deck and keep your eye on the horizon line.
You don’t need any sailing experience to go on a chartered sailing trip. The skipper and host take care of everything. But you can help with getting the fenders overboard, holding the ropes or lowering the anchor. In general, you can take part in the sailing of the yacht as much or as little as you like.
There was no WiFi on our boat (it depends on which vessel you’re sailing with), so we bought eSIMs from Airalo beforehand. I recommend buying an eSIM so you can have 5G internet on your phone.
Try to pack light (carry-on only if you can) because a gigantic suitcase won’t fit in a yacht cabin.
Use only biodegradable sunscreen (or reef-friendly sunscreen) when sailing in Greece.
Overall View of the Sailing Trip
Alberto and I had a blast and honestly loved every minute of our Greece sailing holiday with Yacht Getaways. We particularly liked this Greece island-hopping itinerary; It showed us a side of Greece we didn’t know existed — secret coves, empty beaches and ridiculously charming fishing villages that only Greeks visit. [Read my full review.]
It was also the right amount of activity and relaxation — I hadn’t felt this relaxed in years! I’m not someone who can sit by the pool or lie on the beach all day, but I easily spent hours gazing out to the sea while we were sailing. It was absolutely hypnotizing. I also loved our itinerary, taking us away from the crowded spots and into the less-visited areas.
The catamaran was very comfortable, our crew was fantastic and meals were amazing. This trip made me want to do more sailing holidays; maybe even learn to sail and charter our own boat next time! Perhaps to Montenegro or Croatia next year? Who knows!
Disclaimer: Our trip was hosted by Yacht Getaways, but as always, all opinions expressed above are our own.
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