Sailing routes in the Mediterranean for inexperienced skippers

Sailing routes in the Mediterranean for inexperienced skippers


In the previous article, we talked about how first-time skippers can get their first full experience and what should be considered in voyage planning. This article is about the routes in the Mediterranean Sea, particularly Turkey, Montenegro, Croatia, Spain and Greece, which are suitable for beginners.

Turkey for inexperienced skippers

Yachtsmen love this country for its beautiful sea and nature, calm atmosphere and friendly locals. Here you can always get help if necessary, that is why Turkey has become a true alma mater for many inexperienced skippers.

Turkey is very good for yachting because the sea here is remarkably clear and wind conditions are nice and predictable. You can monitor the wind in real time on live wind map. Here you have a chance to spend active and safe seaside holidays with your children. While sailing you can enjoy beautiful nature views, breathe wonderful piney air and explore the genuine history of the place by visiting the ruins of ancient cities.

Sailing in Turkey

Sailing in Turkey. Photo: Engin Yapici / Unsplash

How to get there. The Dalaman International Airport is the closest to the yacht resorts. It receives both regular and charter flights from a great number of countries.

Infrastructure. Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines are nicely developed for yachting holidays. Mugla is the most popular place for vacation. This province includes such famous yachting resorts as Fethiye, Gocek, Marmaris and Bodrum. Regattas are held here on a regular basis, there are several sailing schools, and here you can easily charter a yacht.

Besides fully-equipped modern marinas, Turkey offers a great range of wild coves and anchorages with restaurants, where any yachtsman is welcome and food is so toothsome so that you can barely leave a table afterward. It is enough to come for dinner with the whole crew to stay overnight in a nice sheltered place with all necessary conveniences. The passages along the coastline may be planned short, thus you will always have a place to shelter or spend the night.

Sailing routes in Turkey

Sailing routes in Turkey. Kaan Kosemen / Unsplash

Weather. May and October are the best months to have a yacht holiday in Turkey. The charter prices get lower, and the number of tourists considerably falls. September is an off-peak season; the sea is still warm, but the sweltering summer heat is already gone.

Routes. The routes may be different – a week and longer. For example, if you charter a yacht in Fethiye, Gecek or Marmaris, you can go for a trip to a welcoming town of Kas and visit the island of St. Nicholas (Gemiler) on the way, or you can choose the opposite direction and travel to the popular Marmaris resort, getting acquainted with a town of Bozukkale and its ancient fortress. And if you have enough time and desire, you can easily get to the Greek islands, for instance, Rhodes, Tilos or Symi.

Montenegro for new skippers

It has only 300 km of the coastline, and you can explore the whole country in a week.

Montenegro is one of the best yachting resorts in the world. It has excellent infrastructure, modern marinas and a great variety of yachts. Along with that Montenegro is one of the less expensive European countries with friendly visa requirements and obtaining procedures (you better check if you need a visa).

Sailing in Montenegro

Sailing in Montenegro. Photo: Olga Brajnovic / Unsplash

How to get there. Montenegro has two international airports – Tivat and Podgorica; from there you can easily get to the majority of marinas.

Infrastructure. The main charter fleet is situated in three cities on the coast – Tivat, Bar and Budva. There are several sailing schools where you can learn to handle a yacht. The folk here is very hospitable and willing to help. You will also enjoy simple and savoury local cuisine.

Weather. In June the sea gets pretty warm, and in September the weather is still rather comfy. However, the sea here so not so clear, especially in the height if the season.

Sailing routes in Montenegro

Montenegro sailing routes. Photo: Elena Mozhvilo / Unsplash

Routes. The coastline length of Montenegro is no more than 300 km, and you have only one route along the shoreline of the Adriatic Sea. It has well-protected bays, where you can expect no unpleasant surprises.

It is possible to visit all places of interest in a week’s voyage, including Kotor, Herceg Novi, Budva, Bar, Bigova Bay and Perast. The cities and towns of Montenegro are very atmospheric with plenty of historical and natural sights. For example, the Old Town of Kotor is basically an amazing labyrinth of craft workshops, old churches and houses and its infamous fortress protected by UNESCO.

Croatia for newbie skippers

It has a small water area where 1185 islands are located. The journey here may take a whole month.

Croatia is a challenging place both for novices and experienced skippers. It has good wind conditions due to its topographic features, but also it offers many ways to shelter.

Croatia is popular for family vacations and regattas. Many charter companies are based here, they have a wide range of yachts to choose from, including monofleets – a small fleet for regattas consisting of identical types of yachts.

It is a beautiful neat European country with good national cuisine. Many yachtsmen tend to return here again to hit new routes.

Sailing in Croatia Cody Black

Sailing in Croatia. Photo: Cody Black / Unsplash

How to get there. The most convenient place to come is the Split International Airport, you can easily get to the most popular marines from there. In North Croatia the most suitable spots are Pula, Rijeka and Zagreb airports.

Infrastructure. The main yacht charter bases are situated in Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Sibenik, Pula and Krk. Croatia has one of the biggest charter fleets in Europe. It has a large variety of boats including monohulls and catamarans. These companies make good offers, especially when you book a boat in advance.

The water area is rather secluded, it has a great number of well-equipped marinas which allows for timely shelter and a possibility to avoid long tedious transits.

Weather. June and September are the best time, but in May the sea is still not warm enough, besides the weather is rather hard to predict. In Croatia skippers have to check the forecast and navigate their boats more attentively. But still there is plenty of wind due to the terrain features, and sailing becomes a very pleasant process.

Sailing routes in Croatia Anna Church

Sailing routes in Croatia. Photo: Anna Church / Unsplash

Routes. The coast of the Adriatic Sea stretches for almost 1800 km, and its water area contains 1185 islands! Only 47 of them are inhabited, the rest is a range of wild rocks of reefs. You can voyage here for a month, and the route points will never repeat.

It is possible to develop over 40 routes across Croatia water area for one, two or three weeks. Start and finish points may not coincide, thus you will be able to see even more interesting places, for example, those where the epic series «Game of Thrones» was filmed. For example:

  • If you charter a yacht in Zadar, you should include the Veli Rat lighthouse in Dugi Otok to your plan, as well as islands Silba and Olib.
  • If you set off from Šibenik, you can map your route through the Kornati archipelago and the Telasčice National Park. Or you can sail towards the Krk National Park which is famous for its postcard-perfect waterfalls.
  • From Dubrovnik you may have a trip to the Mlet National Park where you find two lakes to boot - Veliko and Malo Jezero. From here a picturesque island of Korcula – Marco Polo’s motherland - is at stone throw, as well as Lastovo and Sipan with their popular sandy beaches.
  • If you start from Pula you should visit the city itself and its ancient Roman amphitheatre. Besides it is worth travelling to the island where the Brioni National Park is located. You may also find interesting the islands of Susak, Ilovik, Losinj and Cres. Istria and Kvarner will become a real treat for connoisseurs of nature and tranquility.

The coastal regions of Croatia include Istria, Kvarner, Dalmatia (South, Central and North).

Spain for novice skippers

Spain is a once major sea power with a great past and hundreds of marinas for yachtsmen.

Yachting is a Spanish national hobby; this tradition goes back right to the past when Spain was a recognized mighty sea power. It hosts prestigious sailing competitions, including the Copa Del Rey (King’s Cup) regatta.

Sailing in Spain Tanja Cotoaga

Sailing in Spain, Photo: Tanja Cotoaga / Unsplash

How to get there. The logistics of your voyage depends on a chosen route and a marina where the yacht is located. For instance, you can go by a direct flight to Tenerife Airport of the Canary Islands. The majority of European capitals provide flight services to the Balearic Islands; the three main airports here are Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza. Local airlines and ferries also function well. If you decide to take a vacation on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, it will be better to arrive to Barcelona or Valencia.

Infrastructure. Spain provides fairly well-developed infrastructure for yachting, there are hundreds of fully equipped marinas, and that helps you avoid hard night passages. However, there is a vast amount of private yachts in Spanish marinas, that is why you will have to check if it is possible to moor there. Along with that there is a considerably smaller number of wild anchorages.

Weather. Spanish climate varies greatly from region to region. In this respect the Canaries are sometimes called “Islands of Eternal Spring”: in winter the temperature there does not drop below +22°C, so sailing here is comfortable even in February. The climate of the Balearic Islands is subtropical, it is possible to enjoy yachting for the whole year around. The Mediterranean climate prevails along the whole Mediterranean coast, hot summers are typical for such a kind of climate, so it is much more comfortable to go here in spring or autumn.

Sailing routes in Spain Andreas Gücklhorn

Sailing routes in Spain. Photo: Andreas Gücklhorn / Unsplash

Routes. The Spanish water area is informally divided into 4 parts:

  • The Canary Islands. These are seven islands in the Atlantic Ocean; the most popular are Gran Canaria, Hierro and Tenerife. It is a heaven on earth and it has a heavenly climate: the temperature here does not go below +17°C, and nature shares its splendor at any time of year.
  • The Strait of Gibraltar. This passage is of strategical importance as it connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The coast of Spain. It stretches from Gibraltar to Barcelona and has plenty of beautiful cities along the way, such as Valencia or Malaga.
  • The Balearic Islands. These include Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera. This archipelago is the best point for inexperienced skippers to start. You may visit Balearics from April to November. Moreover, here they have a local airport – Palma de Mallorca – so you do not have to arrive to the mainland and search for means to get to the islands. The island life is full of events, parties, fashionable and active people. Here you can find many charter companies to rent a yacht.

Greece for beginner skippers

Greece has a beautifully clean sea, a large variety of yachts to choose from, but much more difficult conditions for beginners.

Greece is another country which is suitable for novice yachtsmen, but it offers the most complex conditions of all our list: it has over 2000 islands, plenty of wind and heavy ferry traffic between the mainland and islands. But nevertheless, the sea here is clear and truly beautiful, and Greeks are calm and amiable.

Sailing in Greece Chris Karidis

Sailing in Greece. Photo: Chris Karidis / Unsplash

How to get there. Athens is the capital and the largest port of Greece where you should start your voyage. It has an international airport operating many flights from Europe and other countries.

Infrastructure. Athens has the widest range of yachts for charter. It is easy to get here by plane – the airport receives many direct flights from Europe. Ferries run among the islands is case you need to come to a particular island to commence your trip.

However, the yachting infrastructure is not so developed as in other countries from this review. The number of marines that can offer hot shower, food stores and other things is much less than in other places. But prices here are considerably lower.

Weather. The weather conditions in Greece tend to change rather quickly; winds may be strong, and passages between safe anchorages happen to become very long. An unexperienced skipper should carefully plan the route in advance taking all possible hardships into account.

Routes. The Ionian Sea is calmer than Aegean, and Saronic Islands would probably be the best choice for novice yachtsmen (you set off from Athens), as well as Ionian Islands (you set sail in Corfu or Lefkada). Here you find marvelous beaches and authentic island life containing the remains of ancient temples and old houses.

The routes may be different, planned for one or two weeks:

  • One of the simplest and shortest routes is along the islands of Corfu, Paxos, Antipaxos and the mainland coast of Greece.
  • It is worth to observe the islands of Matrakion, Otona and Erikusa but anchorages there are less protected, and a skipper needs to stay alert all the time.
  • A slightly more complicated but very interesting route lies south towards the islands of Leukas, Kefalonia, Zakynthos. Navigation near Leukas is rather difficult, and one of the passages takes at least 60 nautical miles.


Novice yachtsmen may choose among the five Mediterranean countries:

  • Turkey has a remarkably clear sea as well as nice and predictable wind conditions. It is regarded as the alma mater of inexperienced skippers.
  • Montenegro has excellent infrastructure, modern marinas and a wide range of yachts to choose from. Along with that, it is one of the less expensive countries in Europe.
  • In Croatia, you can spend the whole month on the sea with your family and friends. A great number of regattas is regularly held here. Besides, here you can find the routes based on the series “Game of Thrones”!
  • In Spain, yachting is a national hobby that goes back to the times when this country was a recognized sea power. It offers you great marinas with well-developed infrastructure.
  • Greece challenges novice skippers with the most difficult sailing conditions. It has over 2000 islands and highly changeable wind conditions. But the Greek sea is clear and genuinely beautiful.


Text: Alyona Shkarupeta, professional sailing writer and specialist from Turkey. Ivan Kuzentsov contributed to this gudie

Cover photo: Unsplash.

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