The popular yacht charter destinations in the Mediterranean are loved for a reason; they are usually sun-soaked, scenic and full of compelling cultural attractions. However, for those seeking a more authentic experience minus hoards of other yachts and tourists, some hidden gems can also be found on European shores. We’ve hand-picked a selection of lesser-explored destinations to help you plan your ultimate Mediterranean yacht charter.
The coastline of Mediterranean Turkey is one of the most breathtaking in the world. Yachts that venture further east from the Greek islands are rewarded with dramatic mountains, cosmopolitan towns, pristine beaches and quaint fishing villages. Fans of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast will love the Turkish Riviera’s pine-dotted, rugged coastline, which plunges into warm inviting waters. Aptly named ‘The Turquoise Coast’, the colours, sights and cuisine of this beautiful area are a sensory delight. This was once home to ancient empires and the ruins of these dynasties punctuate the towns and countryside from Izmir to Mersin.
The most scenic stretch of coast is between the Datca Peninsula and Antalya, which offers unlimited adventures and sightseeing opportunities in both the sea and on dry land. The long, narrow Datca Peninsula juts almost 100 km into the Mediterranean Sea and provides a mesmerising vista of pine clad mountains and small coves that shelter endangered loggerhead turtles. It is home to the ancient Greek settlement of Knidos, which boasts spectacular views from its rocky promontory. The charming fishing town of Datca remains largely undisturbed by mainstream tourism and it’s a great place to wander cobbled streets and have a meal by the water. Further along the coast, the more upmarket town of Gocek is the place where well-heeled and cosmopolitan charterers drop anchor. The marina is attractive and offers some wonderful dining options and access to unspoilt islands. Nearby, you can enjoy a host of activities like water sports, paragliding and shopping.
Montenegro is a real pleasure to sail, but with the development of Porto Montenegro and the country’s constantly improving yacht infrastructure, it will only become more popular. That’s why we recommend a Montenegro yacht charter this summer while it still remains relatively low-key. A Montenegro yacht charter is a perfect extension to a Croatia yacht charter since it offers a fascinating combination of history, interesting traditions and striking natural beauty that complements that of the other Balkan countries. The Gulf of Kotor is the largest bay in the Adriatic and the Eastern Mediterranean’s answer to a Norwegian fjord. It attracts visitors with its string of well-preserved towns that enjoy UNESCO World Heritage status. The mountains that form the backdrop to Kotor comprise a national park that is ideal for onshore hiking.
Another Montenegrin hotspot is the Sveti Stefan peninsula, which has two beautiful beaches of reddish colour on either side of the sandy isthmus connecting the island with the shore. The former fishing village, located just 6 kilometres from Budva, has transformed itself into an upmarket resort, but has not compromised its charisma. It has all the characteristics of a quaint Mediterranean getaway with a church and piazza and a number of summer festivals, such as the Sea Dance Festival. The subtropical temperatures and lack of crowds make Montenegro’s coast a wonderful charter destination.
There was a time when a luxury yacht charter found itself facing a big gap between Croatia and Greece. Montenegro filled some of the gap with it’s beautiful Bay of Kotor, but Albania was largely overlooked since it lacked the facilities or infrastructure to cater to charterers. However, today Albania is thriving as a relatively new marketplace. Porto Albania, the country’s first international standard marina, is under construction and will feature over 720 berths, including moorings for superyachts measuring up to 75m in length. At over €200 million, it is the largest investment in Albania’s tourism industry to date and will include hotels, residential villas, shops, restaurants, a spa and sports facilities. The marina is expected to change the face of travel between Greece and the Balkans.
Until the marina opens, there are limited options for yachts but some beautiful places to visit for short stays. The Albanian Riviera is enviably located at the mouth of the Adriatic and blissfully undiscovered with a string of soft-sand beaches backed by towering mountains. Saranda is a picturesque town set between high mountains and the Ionian Sea that attracts rich locals and Italians. Nearby Butrint is full of history as one of the most important maritime centres of the ancient world and now assigned UNESCO World Heritage status. Taking in the views from Lekursi Castle’s hilltop views is an essential diversion. Albania has all the ingredients for a low-key Mediterranean summer charter with a difference, and it’s a great place to try before it becomes developed.
4. Northern Greece
Northern Greece is much less travelled than its popular islands, but it has so much to offer in terms of scenery, hospitality and culture. Famous as Aristotle’s birthplace, the area is awash with mythology; but it also benefits from beech, chestnut, willow and pine forests and golden sand beaches that make it a dream to sail. Halkidiki’s peninsula is immediately recognisable by its “three fingers” that stretch into the North Aegean Sea and with a 500km-long coast, it presents a magnificent charter destination. It has it all: bays, beaches, villages, a vibrant nightlife and the cleanest and purest waters in Greece.
A new marina recently opened alongside a luxury five-star hotel on the east coast of Kassandra, Halkidiki, last May. The marina at Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort can accommodate superyachts up to 40 metres across 50,000sqm and offers 24-hour security. The technologically advanced marina has been designed to have minimal impact on sea flora and fauna and it encourages maximum physical water circulation, in order to avoid bacteria development that may damage a yacht’s hull. The site also has a restaurant, café and helipad, while the hotel’s thermal spa is one of the best luxury spas in the Mediterranean. Use it as a base to sail to the fishing villages of Nea Skioni, Possidi and Siviri, which offer inviting beaches and the freshest seafood and local wine at their small seaside taverns. Sani beach is another beautiful stretch of sand enclosed by a dense pinewood.
If you are interested in a luxury yacht charter to any of these lesser-travelled destinations, please contact us for more information on the ideal yacht for your requirements.