The Sporades, an idyllic island group off the coast of Greece in the northwest Aegean Sea, consists of four main islands - Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, and Skyros. Each island has its own unique personality that makes a cruise here truly special.
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The Sporades receive the most tourists in July and August. If you are planning a holiday to the Sporades, we recommend that you visit in May/June and September/October as the weather is still pleasant and the islands will not be as busy. During these months, there will also be more available boats and lower prices.
Sail around the Sporades, and definitely try to visit as many of the 24 islands as possible. Then, relax on the multitude of different beaches and discover the national marine park of Alonissos. Some of the best beaches to visit include Lalaria Beach, Panormos Beach, and Agios Ioannis Beach but there are also plenty of lesser known ones that are just waiting to be discovered.
A sailing holiday in the Sporades promises to be full of excitement and adventure, with a range of captivating coves and idyllic islands at your disposal. There are 24 islands in total, although only four (Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos, and Skyros) are inhabited. Each of them has their own unique character that will make for an interesting and varied cruise in a sailboat or catamaran if you choose to go island hopping. No matter who you’re going with and which islands you’re visiting, this trip is certainly one that you can’t miss.
Greece is generally considered to be one of the best sailing destinations, with a plethora of island groups just off the coast. One such island group is the Sporades. There are many ways in which you can ensure a memorable trip here. The first is to carefully plan your cruise in a catamaran or sailboat in the Sporades. With 24 different islands, it is unlikely that you will have time to visit every single one. With this in mind, you must plan your itinerary carefully to ensure that you see everything you want during your voyage.
You should also take advantage of the resources available to add water sports equipment to your boat hire. Depending on the boat, you can add a variety of different things, such as surfboards, water skis, scuba diving and snorkelling equipment, and even jet skis if you are renting a larger boat. For younger kids, you can add inflatable water toys that will keep them amused for hours.
If you are setting off on a crewed cruise in a sailboat or catamaran with your significant other, you could also take advantage of the gorgeous coastal backdrops to enjoy a romantic dinner on board, catered by your own crew, while taking in the beauty of a sensational sunset.
The options available for your sailing holiday in the Sporades are endless and we are certain you will have a fantastic time, whether you’re setting sail with friends, family, or a mixture of the two.
The price of a sailing holiday in the Sporades varies depending on a number of different factors. A few of these include the season when you want to go on your cruise in a catamaran or sailboat, the number of people going and therefore the size of the boat you wish to hire, the intended duration of your cruise in a sailboat or catamaran, as well as the amenities on board the boat.
The cheapest time for your cruise in a sailboat falls in the low season, between November and April when prices start at £645 per week. In the high season, you will pay anything from around £1031 per week. The cheapest moment for your cruise in a catamaran falls in the shorter period of October to December, when prices start at £1804 per week. In high season, you should expect to pay anything from around £3179 per week.
Typically, the base price of the holiday only includes the rental of the boat and often the mooring price in the port or harbour you are setting off from. It’s imperative that you check before booking your boat which additional costs you may have to pay and you can do this by checking directly with the owner of the boat. Some examples of mandatory extras are services such as the charter package and Overnight Stay Tax. The Overnight Stay Tax is a compulsory tax for tourists that varies depending on their accommodation and has been in place since 2018. The charter package, meanwhile, usually includes the boat’s final cleaning, necessities such as bed linen, cutlery and crockery, administrative expenses, and a diving inspection of the boat to ensure it has not been damaged.
Other extras which are sometimes not included in the charter package, but which can be booked for an extra charge are things such as WiFi and towels. Some boats, especially sailboats and catamarans, will also offer the opportunity to partake in such water sports as paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkelling and diving, but these will almost always cost extra. Larger crew charters such as gulets and yachts may even offer jet skis, wakeboards and water skis and these are even sometimes included in the charter price.
There are many things that you simply must do during a sailing holiday in the Sporades and even though the possibilities are endless, we have compiled a 7-day itinerary to ensure that you spend the time as efficiently as possible.
We recommend that you start your cruise at Volos Port where we not only have a lot of boats but also all the services necessary to start your luxury sailing holiday in style. From Volos port, you should sail south to Trikeri Island, a small island just off the coast which is full of lush green vegetation and some relatively deserted beaches that are perfect for those searching for some peace and quiet. On your second day, you should head over to Skopelos, an island lacking in museums and art galleries, but rich in monasteries and untouched natural beauty. We recommend sailing to Neo Clima, which is not just full of beautiful beaches but also has a wide range of local eateries where you can try all the best local dishes, including the traditional cheese pie that is a firm favourite of the locals.
On day 3 of your sailing holiday in the Sporades you will make a brief stop at Milia on Skopelos, a beautiful beach just north of Panormos where you will stop later in the trip, before heading on to Tzortzi Bay on the southeast coast of Alonissos island. On day 4 of your catamaran or sailboat cruise, you will stay on Alonissos Island and visit Patitri. You can also spend a glorious day swimming with Mediterranean Monk seals, a real treat for those fascinated by wildlife.
The next day, you will sail further north to Kira Panagia Island, where you can visit Kira Panagia Bay and Planet Bay, two breathtaking beaches at opposite ends of the island. On day 6, you will start sailing back in the direction of your starting point, stopping back off at Skopelos. This time, you will go to the paradisiacal Panormos Bay though, known for its beautiful pebble beach and border of lush green vegetation. The last day of your sailing holiday in the Sporades is also the busiest. On day 7, you will start off by travelling west to the tiny yet terrific Tsougkria islet for a quick stopover. After this, you should sail southwest to Agia Kiriaki Bay on the coast of the mainland. From here, you have the choice of either making a quick stopover at Trikeri Island again or heading straight back to Volos Port. You should make the decision based on how much time before you have to check out.
If you are going for longer than 7 days or simply have some extra time along the way, here are some other things that you must do and see. If you like the musical Mamma Mia, you should definitely go to the chapel of Aϊ Yannis at Kastri, the very same chapel from the musical’s wedding scene. You should also set sail for Skiathos, where you can visit Lalaria Beach and take advantage of the swinging nightlife, and all of the islands in this charming island group are full of nature trails if you like to trek.
When you set off on a cruise in a catamaran or sailboat, there are many different things you can do to ensure you make the most out of your holiday. Of course, no sailing holiday in the Sporades would be complete without hopping from island to island, visiting a wide array of breathtaking beaches and cosy, little coves. You should also try out all the water sports you’ve always wanted to but never had the opportunity. Paddleboarding is a particular favourite of people going on a cruise in a sailboat or catamaran, but you can also take out a sea kayak to reach places that may be in waters too shallow for your boat to reach. Furthermore, the snorkelling opportunities in the Sporades are plentiful, offering up the perfect amount of marine life for you to observe from a whole new perspective.
If you want your cruise in a catamaran or sailboat to be as stress-free as possible, you should definitely hire with a full crew. A captain can take you to all the best places in the Sporades while you sit back and relax with nothing more to worry about than working on your tan and taking in the gorgeous views. Depending on the boat you choose, you may even have the option to travel with an entire crew on board, which usually consists of between four and six members, including a captain, a cook, one or two hostesses and a couple of deckhands. Depending on the boat you choose, there are various options regarding the size of the crew.
Some of the boats available in the Sporades for a luxury cruise include gulets, sailboats, and catamarans.
On a gulet, you will always travel with a crew, given that they usually have up to eight cabins and can accommodate around 20 guests. This means that they are perfect for large groups and a particular favourite for families in search of a traditional sailing holiday. The crew usually consists of between four and twelve people, depending on the size of the boat and the party travelling.
Sailboats are ideal for parties of slightly more experienced sailors who have already found their sea legs, as their monohull structure is a little less stable than the multihull structure of a catamaran for example. They are also perfect for people who are travelling with a lot of luggage as they aren’t likely to be affected by heavy loads. You can either hire sailboats with just a skipper, or a crew of up to around five people depending on the size of the boat.
Catamarans are the perfect boat for families, as well as less experienced sailors due to their increased stability which reduces the risk of seasickness. They are also perfect if you want to visit a lot of beaches as they are able to enter shallower waters than monohull boats. Catamarans also usually require a much smaller crew, giving the passengers more privacy.
Although conditions in the Sporades are great throughout the year for a luxury cruise in a sailboat or catamaran, you should carefully consider what sort of a holiday you’re looking for when deciding the best time of the year to go. If you want a beach holiday, you should go between June and September, when the air temperature is consistently between 22°C and 25°C and the water temperatures are around the same. If you want to avoid the crowds, however, we recommend going either at the very beginning or the very end of this period as in the height of the summer, the beaches fill up with tourists.
If you want a holiday where you explore the mainland, it might be better to go either from March to May or in October or November, when the temperatures are a little cooler. You will get more rain in these months but provided you take a suitable raincoat, this shouldn’t be a problem. You will also see far fewer people in these months, meaning that queues for popular attractions will be much shorter making for a more enjoyable holiday for everyone. The beauty of the Sporades is that even when the Meltemi wind is at its strongest, the waves are low and the wind speeds manageable for sailors of all levels, staying consistently between force 3 and 6 on the Beaufort scale. This means that whether you’re a beginner or experienced sailor, the sailing conditions will be enjoyable.
Both styles of sailing holidays in the Sporades have a number of advantages and disadvantages and which is better really depends on the sort of voyage you want, as well as your level of sailing experience. A cruise in a sailboat is ideal for those who already know a little bit about sailing and want a more authentic experience, where they can feel the rhythm of the waves. Sailboats are also usually cheaper than their double hull alternatives. However, there is also usually less space on board and they are typically less stable, meaning that there is more risk of seasickness.
A cruise in a catamaran, however, is synonymous with luxury, with ample space on board for the whole party and also offers a more stable voyage, hence reducing the risk of seasickness. The double hull structure also allows the boat to enter shallower waters, meaning you will have access to coves that would otherwise have been inaccessible.