Why You Should Choose Greek Ionian Islands For Your Sailing Holiday
Welcome to the Ionian Islands, the greenest and most lush islands in Greece. From sea caves and blue lagoons to centuries-old olive groves and mountains covered in cypress and pine. Explorers, wanderers, adventurers, history buffs and outdoors lovers alike — the Ionians are made for you!
MedSailors has recently launched the brand-spankin’ new Greece Ionian sailing route alongside our existing Greece Saronic route, and we are stoked to kick off the upcoming 2018 season and new exciting adventures with you.
One question remains — which one of our sailing routes in Greece is the perfect fit for you?
To answer this, we’ve put together an in-depth guide to the Ionian destinations our MedSailors fleet explore to help you decide if this route is a perfect fit.
- Greenest and most wooded islands of Greece
- Sea caves and blue lagoons
- Mix of white sand beaches and pebble beaches
- Secluded bays and hidden coves
- Diverse culture and cuisines
- Small, quiet seaside towns
- Greek, French, Italian, and British influenced cuisine
With a storied past, the Ionians are rich with history, myth, and diverse cultural influences from the many hands the islands passed through including the Venetians, British, and the French.
This has left each destination on the MedSailors Greece Ionian route with a cultural flavour of its own.
In Corfu, you’ll discover French arcades and winding medieval streets overshadowed by ancient Venetian fortresses. On Paxos, the Italian character is tangible and infused into their mouth-watering cuisine (don’t forget the world-famous olives). In the picturesque port of Parga, you’ll get your fill of traditional Greek experience sprinkled with Turkish tastes, along with numerous opportunities for excursions.
There is a bit to love about all of the Ionian islands, so here are some of the highlights on our route.
One of the most important islands in Greek history, Corfu is where we kick off the sailing adventure. The beautiful island is worth a wander before or after your MedSailors trip, with two imposing ancient Venetian fortresses in Corfu Town and a labyrinth of winding cobblestone alleyways to get lost in. There are endless day hikes around the island and unspoiled coves to claim as your own with soft sand beaches and mineral-rich muds.
Paxos is an island covered with ancient olive trees almost 500 years old that are still producing world famous oil! Small but perfect for a scooter excursion to discover your own small secluded bay and pop into local olive oil shops along the way.
Relax in the colorful town of Gaios sipping a cocktail overlooking the sparkling blue bay at sunset. In Lakka, spend the afternoon scuba diving and finish off the day at the numerous cocktail bars lining the waterfront.
With a permanent population of only around 20 people, Antipaxos is a largely uninhabited island and untainted from the impact of tourism on other Greek islands. Which means you’ll have no trouble finding a spot on the white sand beach of Vrika to call your own. Snorkel in the unbelievably clear turquoise water and relax with a cold drink at the remote taverna here nestled into the green pines covering the island.
Parga and its colourful old town are set into the rocky hillsides surrounded by pines with the ancient castle fortifications rising high atop the acropolis. Because of the rich vegetation and wildlife, densely wooded landscapes, and the famous Acheron River found in Greek mythology, Parga is perfect to spend the day exploring by scooter. Hit the bustling tavernas after dinner and dance into the late hours at the lively cocktail bars around town.
One of the lushest and greenest stops on the Ionian sailing route, Sivota is perfect for a day of relaxation soaking in the sun on a beach, or exploring the underwater beauty of the blue lagoon. Have a taste of traditional Ionian dishes in a quaint restaurant and watch the sunset over the bay.
Prepare to salivate. Since so many countries and cultures have influenced the Ionian islands, that means there are endless drool-worthy dishes to dive into.
In Corfu, it’s a must to try sofrito — slow cooked veal fried in flour, then cooked in a sauce of wine and garlic. Another local favorite is bourdeto, scorpion fish cooked in spicy tomato sauce and red pepper. For refreshment on a hot summer day, do as the locals do. Have a tsitsibirra which is homemade ginger beer unique to the Ionians from British influence, and finish a meal with a sweet shot of kumquat fruit liquor.
Music, music, music. Ionians, and especially Corfu, love anything to do with it. And it’s no wonder, music is a part of their DNA. You’ll find that music is a very large part of the traditions here, as the first opera in Greek history was established by the Venetians on Corfu, and the first modern Greek music university. Every hamlet has a marching band, so don’t be surprised to see brass bands marching through streets in the larger towns.
Small towns with big potential and no wait for a drink! Though most of the towns are smaller than party destinations like Mykonos or Ios, that doesn’t mean there is a lack nightlife. Intimate cocktail bars and hidden tavernas in secluded coves are the perfect places to dance the night away as a flotilla, and you won’t have to fight your way through throngs of people while trying to get a refreshment.
Breezy and beautiful! The sun is shining, the skies are blue, and the climate is temperate. The weather in the Ionian islands is considered some of the best in Greece for sailing. Here, the winds are consistent in the summer months picking up just enough in the mornings around 9 to get a good day of sailing in, and then die off after sunset for a pleasant sleep aboard the yacht. Though less challenging than the other routes, less of a chance for seasickness.
Chilled out but plenty of fun. The islands are dotted with smaller towns that offer plenty of opportunities to relax, but any quiet taverna can kick off into a big party. Get used to Greek time and let your life slow down, after all, you are on holiday remember? Though certain destinations in the Ionians, like Corfu Town, can be overrun by tourists in peak season, most of the ports and smaller villages will feel as though you have the island to yourself.
POST SAILING BLUES
Don’t want your Greek adventure to stop just yet? For the outdoors and adventurous types, you can spend up to 10 days hiking the Corfu Trail after your sailing adventure. And for the island hoppers and beach lovers, Navagio beach on Zakynthos island is a must, featuring one of the most beautiful and remote beaches in the world and only accessible by boat. Lefkada island and Kefalonia are worth a visit for their soft sandy beaches and sheer white cliffs. The rest of the Ionians are just a ferry ride away from Corfu and frequent during the summer.
The Ionians seem like a perfect choice for those looking for equal parts chilling, partying, and sailing all rolled into one adventure. With smaller towns and more secluded bays along the route, it’ll offer a great opportunity to come together as a flotilla and to experience Greek culture in an intimate setting. Without a doubt, the new Greece Ionian route with MedSailors will be chock full of adventure and create memories for a lifetime!
Does the MedSailors Greece Ionian route seem like the perfect fit for you? Don’t waste time, book with us today and start bragging to your friends!
Written by Ryan Brown, a MedSailors Photographer and author of Lost Boy Memoirs, a travel and adventure blog.