The most colorful places of the Ionian Sea in two weeks. Beaches of Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Ithaki and Lefkada, Greek cities on the coast and other sights of the archipelago.
Day 1: Corfu - Paleokastritsa (35 NM)
On the first day, you’ll have a few important tasks: accept the yacht, settle on board, and check up the equipment. After that, you can enjoy some leisure time and take a walk in Corfu, enjoying its picturesque sights and stopping to try local cuisine.
Day 2: Paleokastritsa - Paxos (33 NM)
Of the seven Ionian islands, Paxos is the smallest. Its neighbour, Antipaxos, is certainly even smaller, but in Greece they’re considered an island complex, so no particular distinction is made. Paxos is related to nearby Corfu by a common legend: Poseidon and his wife, Amphitrite, needed a quiet, unassuming place to rest. The King of the Seas created such a place by chopping off part of Corfu with his trident. There are three main settlements on Paxos: Gaios, Lakka and Logos. The main port is considered to be the capital Gaios, although plenty of yachtsmen also call on the northwestern village of Lakka to serve their needs. The popular seas grottos of Ipapandi lie just two nautical miles from here.
Day 3: Paxos - Porto Katsiki - Vassiliki (58 NM)
The best beach on the island of Lefkada lies on its western shore. Porto Katsiki runs like a thin white strip along the blue seabed under a sheer mountain cliff. Leading to the beach is a staircase made of 300 steps, but few visitors are daredevilish enough to make that trip under the pounding sun. Most beachgoers arrive by sea. There are no tavernas, chaise-longues, or other amenities here – Porto Katsiki is a pretty wild spot. But that, along with the stunning color of the water and the small white pebbles on the shore, make Porto Katsiki so charming.
Day 4: Vassiliki - Myrtos (17 NM)
Every Greek island should have its own myth, architectural landmark, or beach of such beauty that a single glimpse of it would be enough to fill advertising brochures for the entire country. On Cephalonia, that beach is Myrtos. It’s located 30 km from the capital of Argostoli, surrounded by tall white cliffs, and sprinkled with pretty little pebbles. Myrtos’ calling card is its stunning aquamarine sea.
Day 5: Myrtos - Kefalonia (12 NM)
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands. According to one theory, its name derives from that of the mythological hero Kephala, a fearless hunter captured by the Goddess of the Dawn, Eos. Nature and history have been equally generous to the island resulting in magnificent beaches, lush green valleys, colorful villages with their centuries-long traditions, and splendid churches, temples, and castles. Kefalonia’s main attractions are as follows: the lake at Melissani Cave, the archaeological museum in Argostoli, the Monastery of St. Gerasimus of Kefalonia near Valsamati, the beautifully-preserved Venetian settlement in the village of Fiskardo, and the Manzavinos winery near Lixouri. The island’s most famous and popular beach is Myrtos; it’s earned the Blue Flag, an article in Forbes, and has dazzling seawater that swirls all shades of blue. No less popular is Xi beach with its strikingly deep orange sand and brilliant white cliffs.
Day 6: Kefalonia - Blue caves (Zakynthos) (36 NM)
Spoiled with the attention of tourists and a wealth of natural beauty, Zakynthos boasts yet another special attraction. On the island’s northern coast, 35 kilometers from capital-city Zakynthos, lie the Blue Caves – a unique natural grotto that’s partially filled with water and only accessible by sea. The penetrating rays of the sun are refracted and illuminate the cave in myriads of stunning flecks. The water here is startlingly clear, and the depth to the bottom reaches four meters. The Greeks recommend visiting the Blue Caves early in the morning or closer to sunset, when the interplay of light and water is particularly enchanting.
Day 7: Blue caves (Zakynthos) - Navagio Beach - Kampi (16 NM)
Navagio Cove is the record-holder for top rankings as one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world. Tall cliffs surround the thin strip of shoreline dressed with fine sand and the shipwrecked MV Panagiotis. There’s no footpath down, and the Greeks organize lots of sea excursions here, so coming by yacht is the best way to visit the famous cove in solitude.
Day 8: Kampi - Marathonisi (16 NM)
At the southernmost tip of Zakynthos, in the Bay of Laganas, lies the tiny little island of Marathonisi, also known as Turtle Island. For millions of years, the ancient caretta-caretta sea turtle has laid its eggs on this island. It’s worth stopping by Marathonisi just to have a look at these unique creatures. And don’t miss the chance to take a dip in the bay’s pristine waters . The island’s territory has been declared a conservation area so as not to disturb the turtles. Everything is immaculately clean here; you can visit, but you can’t even use umbrellas on the beach so as not to accidentally harm any turtle nests.
Day 9: Marathonisi - Alykes (21 NM)
Alykes is a popular resort village on the northeastern coast of the island of Zakynthos. It doesn’t boast a rich history, since its early inhabitants preferred to settle further inland, fearful of pirate invasions. Now that this danger has passed, the village has started to develop in the tourist direction. The local beach may not be as picturesque as the one in Navagio bay, but it still has its popularity. The environs of Alykes even have a few sights of their own: the 16th-century monastery of St. John the Baptist, the Vertzagio ethnographic museum, and the church of St. Pantaleon.
Day 10: Alykes - Ithaca (38 NM)
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Ithaca is one of the most famous of the Greek isles. The name is familiar to virtually everyone who’s ever heard of the works of the ancient Greek poet Homer, for Ithaca is the birthplace of the legendary hero king, Odysseus. But archaeologists hold differing opinions regarding his exact place of residence, with possible versions ranging from Alalcomenes to Stavros. Today’s attractions include an archaeological museum, a bust of Odysseus, the ruins of the ancient settlement of Pilikata, and numerous caves also mentioned in myths, such as Marmarospilia, the cave of nymphs. In 2010, the archaeologist Thanasis Papadopoulos announced that he had found the ruins of a three-story building in Ithaca Odysseus’ palace with a staircase set deep in a cliff. The palace is located not far from the village of Eksogi and forms part of the School of Homer archaeological park. The island’s present-day capital is Vathi. It spreads out along the shores of a convenient, welcoming cove and naturally began to attract the attention of yachtsmen. The venetians built this stunning city and left a distinct imprint on its architectural style. You’ll see it clearly in the charming two-story houses with tiled roofs and narrow balconies as they ring the cove like an amphitheater. All tourist life is centered in Vathi, with the rest of Ithaca left in tranquility and peace.
Day 11: Ithaca - Kalamos (14 NM)
In the winter, Kalamos is home to no more than six hundred inhabitants, but in the summer that number swells to include bright-eyed tourists – proving that there’s still demand for Greece’s authentic and tranquil towns. In the sunny months, yachts sail in a steady stream into the port, and the island’s guests languidly dine on shoreline cafes. The main – and virtually only – attraction on Kalamos is its eponymous city on the east coast. Kalamos doesn’t have an infrastructure quite as developed as the neighbouring islands do, so if you wind up with more than a few hours to spend on Kalamos, you could make the side trip to the village of Kefali – or what’s left of it anyway. In 1953, an earthquake destroyed this Venetian settlement, once called Porto Leone. Only its church survived, which continues to function to this day.
Day 12: Kalamos - Meganisi (14 NM)
Meganisi is situated in the Ionian Sea, between the islands of Lefkada and Kalamos. Meganisi’s coastline delights yachtsmen with its beautiful diversity; the jagged shoreline with its many coves in the north contrasts the south’s smooth shoreline with its numerous caves. The island’s harbours are vast enough to provide all comers with peace and seclusion. For those who want a bit more action, there’s always the popular mooring berths in Meganisi’s population centers such as Porto Spilia in the Village of Spartochori, the Odysseus marina in Vafi, and the anchoring berths in Kapali, Abelike and Porto Athene. The best thing to enjoy would be the typical architecture of its miniature Greek villages. Cobbled roads and stone houses, lush vegetation and turquoise water, you’re sure to find your peace in Meganisi.
Day 13: Meganisi - Nidri (8 NM)
The village of Nydri, located on the eastern coast of the island of Lefkada, is a large and sought-after tourist center of Greece. The village earned its popularity thanks to its entrancing view of the nearby islands Skorpios and Madouri, as well as its local waterfalls – the most popular of which is Dimossari. Nydri is also the sailing center for the whole island; its shoreline is always dotted with numerous mooring yachts, and it’s the scene of the Ionian regatta at the end of September.
Day 14: Nidri - Lefkada (12 NM)
Sailing to Lefkada will be the last stage of the cruise. Here you’ll have to address all formalities in the port and return the yacht to the manager. After that, you may explore the city and take pictures with the city’s main sights as a background to remember the trip.