The Mediterranean delivers a choice of yacht charter destinations to suit every taste. From quaint fishing ports to lively resort towns, from pine-topped cliffs and rugged mountain scenery to deserted beaches, there is no better region in the world where you can experience a diverse range of landscapes, cultures, cuisine and history.
Bespoke Yacht Charter has compiled this Insider’s Guide with destination highlights and tips for 10 of our most inspiring Mediterranean yacht charter destinations.
Spain, the Balearics and Canary Islands
Thanks to the new yachting legislation, where charter yachts of all sizes operating in Spain can claim an exemption from the infamous matriculations tax, and non-EU-flagged superyachts are allowed to charter within Balearic waters, yacht charters in 2015 will increase in Spanish waters.
Barcelona is blossoming as a yachting hub, making this vibrant city an excellent starting point for a Spanish yacht charter.
The Balearics are an ever popular Mediterranean yacht charter destination, including beautiful Majorca (Mallorca), buzzing Ibiza and serene Menorca (Minorca).
Majorca has sheltered coves to discover and honey-stone villages set amongst olive, cherry tree and almond plantations. Bespoke Yacht Charter loves the Serra de Tramuntana Mountains, a World Heritage Site in the west that is an idyllic place to go hiking or mountain biking.
Ibiza is famous for its entertainment, however the island offers more than just a party-vibe with thriving markets, archaeological heritage and the natural beauty of the National Park of Ses Salinas and Es Vedrà nature reserve. Near to Ibiza, on the southern coast of the island of Formentera, is one of Bespoke Yacht Charter’s favourite stopovers for yacht charters, The Gecko Beach Club. This boutique hotel has a relaxed beach bar and the restaurant hosts regular themed open-air events such as their ‘espetada’ and garden barbecues in a pretty setting fringed by palm and juniper trees. (The coordinates are Lat 38º 41’08 – N Long 1º 27’38).
Menorca has picturesque beaches and archaeological sites but it’s more low-key than Majorca or Ibiza. The island is a perfect escape for nature lovers – it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993 and is home to a significant habitat for wetland birds, the Parc Natural de s’Albufera des Grau.
Offering a mix of cultures, the Canary Islands are a top destination with a diverse landscape and welcoming people. Relax on the pristine white sand beaches on Fuerteventura, marvel at Lanzarote’s lava flows and volcanic landscape or photograph Mt Teide at sunset on Tenerife.
Marseille is France’s second largest city and assaults the senses with a collision of cultures, maritime activity at the Vieux Port, quirky arts scene and interesting museums. Don’t miss the fish market at Vieux Port, trying bouillabaisse or visiting the calanques and Cassis.
Heading east, spectacular beaches are found at the Île de Porquerolles before reaching perhaps the most famous Mediterranean yacht charter destination, Saint Tropez, with the legendary Plage de Pampelonne and a charming port.
Heading to Juan les Pins and Antibes, the Mediterranean sunlight dapples the Cap d’Antibes coastline. Yacht charter guests are spoilt for fine dining ashore with options including La Passagère at the Hôtel Belles Rives, Eden-Roc Restaurant at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc and Le Figuier de Saint Esprit located on the Antibes Old Town ramparts near to the Picasso Museum.
The appeal of this stretch of Cote d’Azur coastline continues with pastel terrace houses lining the harbour at Villefranche-sur-Mer. Bespoke Yacht Charter suggest making a day trip to Eze Village for a visit to the Jardin Exotique for spectacular panoramic views over the Mediterranean followed by lunch at La Chèvre d’Or.
For a taste of indulgence, Monaco is famous for the Monaco F1 GP, the Monte Carlo Casino, and the Palais Princier de Monaco nestled atop ‘the Rock’. Of course, you’ll naturally find Bespoke Yacht Charter busy during the annual Monaco Yacht Show.
Peppered with unspoilt beaches, mountain scenery and vibrant restaurants and bars, Corsica is one of the most visually appealing yacht charter destinations in the Mediterranean.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love Corsica with activities such as hiking on the Grande Randonnée 20, diving or snorkelling. Bonifacio, perched on top of a cliff looks stunning when approached from the sea!
Porto-Vecchio, is worth visiting for its historical Old Town, restaurants and boutiques. Most famous as the birth-place of Napoléon, Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica and the island’s largest city, has a gorgeous cathedral and narrow streets to explore scattered with statues and museums dedicated to Napoléon himself. For something special ashore, cruise to the Île de Cavallo and order fresh fish and a cocktail at the Hôtel and Spa des Pêcheurs.
A region of postcard-perfect towns along the Ligurian coastline, the Italian Riviera offers a broad range of yacht charter experiences.
Genoa, the birth-place of Christopher Columbus, has a well-serviced Marina, Baroque architecture and a splendid Aquarium. Santa Margherita Ligure attracts visitors for various reasons; heritage fans enjoy its 16th century castle and fishing enthusiasts and sun-worshippers flock to nearby Paraggi beach (the only sandy beach near Portofino).
Celebrity favourite Portofino and the picturesque fishing villages of the Cinque Terre are supremely popular yacht charter destinations. Portofino’s small harbour bordered by paintbox-hued buildings is deservedly the subject of many photographs. Visit Castello Brown for superb views over Portofino, or walk the trails in the Portofino Natural Park before dining on the best fish in town at Ristorante Puny. The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beautiful coasts – for a pleasant and non-strenuous walk, follow the Via dell’Amore pathway between Riomaggiore and Manarola. Manarola is very photogenic with rainbow-coloured houses tumbling down to the fisherman’s cove, and hillsides of flowers, vineyards and olive groves.
Other things to see and do on the Italian Riviera : The Benedictine Monastery and Christ’s Abyss at San Fruttuoso, Palaentology Museum in Lerici and the bike path that follows a restored railway tunnel from Levanto through Bonassola to Framura.
Rome, Capri and the Amalfi Coast
Any Italian yacht charter itinerary should include the ‘Eternal City’ – Rome. Must-see attractions in Rome are the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, the Spanish Steps, the Imperial Forum, Trevi Fountain and the magnificent Piazzas Navona and del Popolo.
One of the most spectacular regions in Italy is the Amalfi Coast, and we truly believe that the best way to visit the coastline is on your own private luxury yacht charter. Cruising the Amalfi Coast will allow you to stop off at each town as you wish. Bespoke Yacht Charter’s suggestions of ‘must-do’s’ for the Amalfi Coast:
- Sip limoncello at sunset in Sorrento
- Enjoy the natural beauty of Amalfi tucked beneath craggy cliffs and ensure you visit the Cathedral to see the bronze statue of the town’s patron saint, Saint Andrew, that was crafted by a pupil of Michaelangelo
- Stroll the cliffside gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo in Ravello
- Go shopping in beautiful Positano for leather sandals, before dining at La Sponda Ristorante and finishing with a glass of champagne at Franco’s Bar, newly opened in July with a breathtaking yellow ceramic fountain and ocean views.
Capri, located just off the Amalfi Coast is popular with the jet-set and honeymooners and home to the famous Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto). Go snorkelling and swimming before heading to Anacapri at the top of the island for wide reaching views over the Bay of Sorrento.
Sardinia, Sicily and the Aeolian Islands
Sardinia tempts yacht charter guests with gorgeous beaches, emerald-green waters, exclusive restaurants and top golf clubs and resorts. The Costa Smeralda is the epicenter of maritime activity with main resort Porto Cervo jam packed with chic boutiques, spa hotels, and gourmet restaurants.
Sicily, the largest of the Italian islands, is a fantastic Mediterranean yacht charter destination with outstanding natural beauty, archaeological sites such as Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples and amazing island cuisine based on Greek, Roman and Arab influences. Off the northern coast of Sicily, the Aeolian Islands present a unique cruising experience where you can enjoy views of Stromboli and its volcanic lava flows or join the jet-set at Panarea where you can go diving in the turquoise Mediterranean waters or relax at aperitivo hour at the portside bars in San Pietro.
Malta’s geographic location in the heart of the Mediterranean, results in a yacht charter destination that draws on a cross-section of cultural influences from Europe, North Africa and beyond.
Aside from scuba diving at the many wrecks, reefs and caves throughout the Maltese archipelego, our top experiences for Maltese yacht charters start with a visit to Valletta, the capital city with a blend of modern caféterias, fine restaurants and Baroque architecture. Add in a trip to the small island of Comino – car-free and undeveloped, the aquamarine waters of the Blue Lagoon are ideal for snorkelling.
Don’t miss stopping by the natural Calypso cave, of Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ fame, and ensure you cross Gozo off your bucket list – the Ġgantija Temple ruins were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1980.
Greece has been a media and financial news breaker for a while, however the country retains a strong influence on yacht charters with a pleasant climate, scenic islands with stunning beaches and white-washed villages and anchorages in sparkling seas attracting many visitors.
Head to the central Greek cluster of the Ionian Islands for magnificent rugged scenery and adventure – highlights include Zakynthos sea caves and the Bay of Laganas National Park that is a nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles, and the beaches on Kefalonia. The alluring Cyclades Islands are best known for Mykonos and Santorini. Mykonos is known for nightlife, while Santorini will charm you with picturesque white buildings with startling cobalt blue rooftops spilling down the hillsides to the caldera – don’t miss catching the sunset from Oia Town.
Rhodes and Kos are two figurehead yacht charter stop-offs that are both part of the Dodecanese Islands. Rhodes has a wide range of beaches and numerous historical sites from temples to castle ruins, and Kos is scattered with Greek and Roman antiquities and glorious beaches.
Croatia and Montenegro
With more than a thousand unspoiled islands making up the Dalmatian Coast, embarking on a luxury yacht charter in Croatia introduces charter guests to a number of beautiful sites including Split, Trogir, Dubrovnik, Kotor and the island of Korcula; many UNESCO World Heritage-listed. Hvar is also popular, where night owls can jump ashore in Hvar Town for nightlife or guests hoping to find some respite can relax at quieter Stari Grad on the north coast.
Croatian yacht charters can be combined with Montenegro. The fjord-like Bay of Kotor (or simply Boka) is exceedingly beautiful. Porto Montenegro is attracting the superyacht crowd with a high-end marina, swish boutiques, beach clubs and restaurants and Luštica Bay developments continue to build Montenegro as a desirable yacht charter destination.
As a yacht charter destination, Turkey is a country with a cultural mix of Eastern and Western traditions, tasty cuisine, warm waters with hidden coves and a lengthy history that has seamlessly juxtaposed remnants of ancient civilizations with modern cities fragrant with Far East spices and incense.
The infrastructure for visiting luxury yachts is increasing and opening up the cruising possibilities within Turkish waters.
Turkish yacht charter highlights include Ölüdeniz beach resort with a protected lagoon and the Lycian Way walking trail, Marmaris, the Sunken City of Simena and Bodrum, the main hub of yachting in Turkey with easy access to the Gulf of Gokova points of interest.
This article was written by Rebecca Whitlocke, who with over 10 years travel industry experience loves to share ‘must-do’ destination tips and hidden spots to discover in Europe and beyond.
To discuss luxury yacht charter options at any of these destinations throughout the Mediterranean, please contact: