When it comes to finding the best places for a sailing holiday in Europe, it can be hard to know where to start. Culture and heritage? Sparkling sea? Historic sights or reinvention?
Travel with us to uncover the best sailing destinations in Europe.
The Most Beautiful Places to go Sailing in Europe
I have many happy memories from sailing around Europe. Wild and rugged coastlines that inspired literary classics. Sparkling seas with turquoise waves. Hidden coves and celebrity-studded beachfront cafés. Whichever way you look at it, and you often will look at it all ways as the sea rides up and down, Europe has some stunning sailing spots.
Here are some of my favourites. The most beautiful places to go sailing in Europe.
Other Boating Holidays in Europe
Of course, sailing on the open sea isn't the only way to get around the waterways of Europe. Boating holidays can also take on canals and lakes, getting you even closer to the rich tapestry of hundreds of centuries of peace, love, war and architecture that makes Europe what it is.
Check out Locaboat, for example, for more boating holiday ideas in Europe. And don't miss the following articles:
Majorca and the Balearic Islands, Spain
The magnificent Balearic Islands sit in the Mediterranean Sea, far from mainland Spain, with a wealth of culture and heritage of their own. As well as well manicured marinas and clear waters, they have UNESCO world heritage from their music to their biosphere reserves.
The big four are Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera but you'll also find many smaller islands with secret coves and coastlines. The Balearics certainly form some of the best Mediterranean islands to visit and deserve their place on any list that covers the most beautiful sailing destinations in Europe.
- Trip idea: base yourself in a gorgeous holiday rental in Majorca like this and charter a yacht to enjoy the stunning coastline.
The French Riviera, France
From the glitzy film festival at Cannes to the fresh food markets of Nice, the French Riviera stretches along the south coast of France with elegance that few other places can manage.
From mooring here, you can be hiking through lavender fields in the morning and dining in some of the finest establishments on the coast by nightfall. Make a pit stop in Monte Carlo and enjoy a little James Bond casino glamour. Or swim in the serene blue of the Mediterranean all along the coast, surrounded by calm.
- Find out more about the best places to sail in France here.
The Dalmation Coast, Croatia
The word Dalmatian may famous for black and white spotty dogs, but there’s nothing spotty when it comes to the quality of sailing the Dalmation Coast.
This stunning stretch of islets and waterways runs through the Adriatic Sea along the coast of Croatia. Highlights include Zadar, Split and the fairytale city of Dubrovnik.
- Trip idea: within a short skip of the sea from Dubrovnik, you'll find the Elaphiti Islands, a calm sanctuary for the senses.
- Read more about the best Croatian islands for sailing trips here.
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
With vertiginous cliffs, pastel coloured houses and enough lemons to make the world’s supply of limoncello, the Amalfi coast is one of the most striking spots in Italy and certainly one of the most beautiful sailing destinations in Europe.
Look out for canary yellow houses clinging to the cliff tops and glamorous, stylish people splashing in the sea.
Shake off your sea legs with hiking routes that track through the olive groves and art galleries, stopping off in places like Sorrento, Positano and Ravello. Explore secret gardens and hidden coves and, let's face it, some of the best pizza around.
- Trip idea: sail around the Sirens from Greek mythology. Gallo Lungo, La Castelluccia, and La Rotonda are all islands in the archipelago from the original nautical legend.
- Read more about our Amalfi Coast itinerary here.
The Ionian Islands, Greece
If there's one thing that everyone knows about Greece, it's that she has some truly gorgeous islands.
My first sailing trip in Europe took place in Greece, island hopping beneath a brilliant blue sky and even bluer waves.
The Ionian Sea connects to the Adriatic and both form part of the Mediterranean. The most famous Greek islands here include Corfu, Kefalonia and Ithaca. All beautiful sailing destinations in Europe.
- Trip idea: drop anchor at Corfu and taste the peppery-sweet golden liquid that is fresh olive oil on a tasting tour.
- Top tip: don't miss out on the food! Check out our guide to eating in Greece here.
The Dodecanese Islands, Also Greece
The Greek islands that make up the Dodecanese float around in the Aegean Sea, flaunting their Byzantine churches, medieval castles and, well, yes, those gorgeous beaches that snuggle up to the true blue waters of the coastline.
Rhodes is probably the most famous of the Dodecanese, plus one of the most beautiful sailing destinations in Europe. You can island hop and hop and hop. And then you can hop some more. You will never run out of places to visit if you take a sailing trip through the Dodecanese.
- Trip idea: look out for one of the seven Ancient Wonders of the World, the Colossus of Rhodes, in, well, Rhodes.
- Top tip: don't be shy. Check out these more unusual things to do in Greece as well as part of your sailing adventure.
What to pack for Sailing in Europe
Don't forget to pack the following essentials:
- An international travel adapter
- Plenty of reef-safe sunscreen
- Swimwear, board shorts, rash vest and sun hat
- Waterproof shoes
- Travel insurance
- A waterproof bag for your day kit
- A sense of adventure
Enjoy your sailing holiday in Greece!