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Chartering a yacht among the Ionian islands of Greece is a splendid way to enjoy a vacation in the Greek islands. Unlike the other island chains in the Aegean Sea such as the Cyclades, Dodecanese, Argo-Saronic and Sporades, the Ionian islands offer the most crystal white sandy beaches on turquoise waters and are surrounded by lush rolling hills.  The legendary mythological quest of Homer is set among this archipelago of these islands.  Located on the western coast of Greece, they are heavily influenced by their neighboring Italy.  It is clearly seen in their local food and in the architecture of their buildings and the abundance of Venetian fortresses. The seas are tranquil and breezes light; the coastline is dotted with islets and quiet bays tucked around each curve; the seas are a bright azure blue; trees and olive groves caress the beach-line and there is a myriad of safe protected harbors and anchorages for motor and sailing yachts alike.  It truly is a magical place to charter a yacht.

Ionian Islands Yacht Charters
Summer vacation in Greece on Ithaka island.

The seven most famous and known islands of the Ionian Island chain are: Corfu, Paxi, Lefkada, Ithaki, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Kythira.  Distances between these islands are relatively small and make it easy to cruise from one to the next aboard a chartered yacht. There are many smaller islands within the chain waiting to be explored as well.


Probably the best known of the Ionian Islands is the northern island of Corfu (Kerkyra).  Pull into the harbor and immerse yourself back in history as you are at the foot of the old fort and entrance to Corfu Town with its Renaissance, baroque, and classical architecture, and windy streets alive with quaint restaurants and shops.

The largest island in the chain is Kefalonia which maybe best known for being the location for the shooting of the 2001 movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.” The island is often described as having the most alluring sparkling azure waters surrounded by emerald-green mountains.  One of the most dazzling beaches of all is here, Myrtos Beach, which lies between two mountains with towering white limestone cliffs, is on the North-west side of the island. If you are looking for a more cosmopolitan touch, then Makri Gialos will offer beach bars and music to rock the day and night away. A ruined Venetian castle looms above one of the most picturesque of towns, Assos. The Venetian-era homes nestle within tall tresses and olive groves.  Sailors and yachtsman all stop-over at Fiskardo port to dine in the many excellent fish tavernas, many housed in its 18th-century buildings. It has been said that Fiskardo is a living postcard.

Zakynthos is home to the world-famous Shipwreck Beach (Navagio) which is an exotic beach embracing an old shipwreck boat called Panayiotis on its shore.  This locale is one of the most photographed in all of Greece; its delightfully soft white sand, sheer white cliffs, bright blue waters and of course the rusting wreckage on the shore lend to being pictured thousands and thousands of times.  One can only arrive here by sea making it even more mystical.

Ithaca, the mythological island of Odysseus and his birthplace, offers has a treasure trove of secluded beaches with Filiatro, Sarakiniko and Agios Ioannis being some of the best organized beaches to come and discover by your own private charter yacht. Venture inland and visit the Medieval Greek Monastery, Moni Taxiarchon or the Monastery of Panagia Kathariotissa at the top of a mount with breathtaking views.


Read more about Ithaca in a Captain’s interview here.


Lefkada island, another of the seven major Ionian islands, has nine satellite islands surrounding it.  One of these is the island of Aristotle Onassis family. It boasts 117 kilometers of coastline.  Two of it’s most popular beaches, Porto Katsiki and Egremni Beach are surrounded by cliffs but easily accessed by yacht. The capital, Lefkada, which surrounded by a canal and lagoon, is full of alleys, paved pedestrian zones and lovely squares dotted with cafes.  The island has monasteries, churches, water-falls and pristine beaches to come and explore.

Don’t forget to snap pictures when coming into Paxi and Anti-Paxi.  It offers a fairytale view of its small villages abounding with bright colors.   Both islands, 3 nautical miles apart, are rich and full of vegetation and has been declared a protected area of fauna and flora.  These islands are two magnificent little gems not to be missed.

Kythira, off the southern tip of the Peloponnese and full of Cycladic-style architecture is actually a part of the Ionian island chain. She is the rumored birthplace of Aphrodite.  Above the main Chora of Kythira on the hill is a Medieval Castle dating to the Venetian era that offers incredible views of the Aegean Sea. Sunsets are not to be missed on this lookout spot. The waterfalls of Fonissa are stunning.  Kapsali , Agia Pelagia and Diakofti are the most popular beaches and there are so many secluded ones which your yacht’s captain can easily find.

The majority of charter yachts are based out of Greece’s capital city, Athens but for a small extra fee the yachts can be relocated to meet the charterers in the Ionian islands or cruise from Athens direct with them aboard.  Recently many bases of Catamarans have popped up in the Ionian to especially take advantage of the calmer weather in July and August, when winds blow harder in the Cyclades.  This cruising area is known for its mild and soft breezes and the close proximity of the islands and the mainland.

Since the days of Odysseus sailors and yachtsman have been drawn to these magical isles.  Whether you desire to explore a desert beach, peruse caves, explore quiet local villages, partake in the excellent local cuisine or hit some of the nightlife and jet set clubs and casino, the Ionian has it all for the choosing by just chartering a luxury yacht. These islands are captivating and an enticing destination for the yacht charterer. Their natural beauty with an abundance of wild flowers, green lush hillsides and pristine white beaches lapped by the blue Aegean Sea waters are intoxicating to all.