Spend a week sailing in the north Ionian Sea when you start your yacht charter in Corfu. On this route, you will visit two very different islands, as well as mainland Greece. In the Ionian, the fertile olive groves, green cypress trees and abundance of wild flowers all contrast with the terracotta rooftops of the elegant houses.This is very different from the rocky islands of the Cyclades with their whitewashed buildings. In Corfu town you can readily see the influence of the island's history of occupation by other nations, with its mix of fine Venetian and French architecture. There are some beautiful parks and gardens, as well as one striking legacy of Corfu's brief British rule - a cricket pitch where ginger beer is served!
The weather in the Ionian is fairly predictable between May and September, with predominantly NW winds between force 2-5 making sailing conditions ideal, even for novice sailors. On this yacht charter from Corfu, you will cover approximately 100 nautical miles.
On joining your chartered yacht from Corfu, you will start at Gouvia marina where you will have a chance to buy provisions or enjoy a meal in one of the waterside tavernas. There is an ATM here, as well as laundry facilities and rubbish disposal. On setting sail from the marina, you will sail NE for approximately 8 miles, heading for the attractive bay of San Stefanos.
You will see some wonderful scenery on your port side as you sail along the coast of Corfu. In the distance you will see Mount Pantokrator, at 900 metres the highest point of the island. Before you reach San Stefanos, you will pass the pretty bays of Agni, Kalami and Koloura. You can call in at any of these bays and anchor for a swim or lunch stop. At Kalami, you can visit the White House taverna which was once the home of British authors Lawrence and Gerald Durrell.
Due to the natural beauty of Kalami bay with its white pebble beaches and sapphire blue waters edged by olive groves, it has featured in several films and TV programmes. Most recently, scenes for episodes of 'The Durrells' were filmed here for the 2016 British ITV series.
In the sheltered bay of San Stefanos there is plenty of room for boats to anchor, and the clear water makes it an excellent place to swim from the boat. You might also find space on the jetty in front of the restaurants. Kaparelli taverna is run by Kostas, who will help you to moor, or tie up your dinghy. In his taverna he offers genuine homemade Corfiot food such as roast lamb and moussaka. The Eucalyptus taverna nearby, also has a dinghy pontoon, and is in an enviable position right on the beach. There are two small supermarkets and a gift shop at San Stefanos.
The NE coast of Corfu is less than 1.5 nautical miles from Albania at its closest point. On your yacht charter from Corfu, your next destination is Saghiada, a 15 nautical mile sail SE from San Stefanos, is one of the closest Greek harbours to the Albanian border. There is a narrow entrance to the harbour, which is completely sheltered and has good holding, but is fairly shallow in parts. Be sure to check your depth carefully, especially on the approach. But don't worry - boats drawing over 2 metres visit this harbour regularly, even though they have little water under them as they enter.
The nearby hills behind the waterfront at Saghiada make this destination very atmospheric. The harbour is surrounded by shallow lagoons which attract many seabirds. This small fishing port, also known as Skaloma, has several excellent tavernas offering local seafood, such as 'Alekos', which claims to serve the best prawns in the Ionian. The main Saghiada village centre, with a mini-market and bakery, is about 1500m further up the main road. If you wish to stretch your legs, there is a pleasant walk going north of the town, along the beach.
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A sail of 14 nautical miles to the SW will bring you to the charming harbour of Petriti, closer to the southern tip of Corfu. On leaving Saghiada, there are some fairly shallow waters to the south, with depths of under 3 metres well offshore until you are clear of the mainland. Petriti, although small, is the largest working fishing harbour on Corfu, with space on the quay reserved for visiting yachts. Water is available here. The village is typically Greek, and retains its rural and authentic character, with a small mini-market and bakery, plus several tavernas along the beach front. At Taverna ‘Mythos’ the tables are on a terrace built over the water and the fresh seafood is not to be missed. The local people are friendly and welcoming.
For tips on what to order at a Greek taverna, click here.
In the evening, watch the big fishing boats leave harbour, or stroll along the far end of the beach, bringing you to a pine forest. By following the path through the trees you will reach the next village, Notos, which has some wonderfully verdant waterside tavernas with stunning views over the bay to the mainland beyond.
Today you will leave Petriti and sail south past the tip of Corfu and head towards the island of Paxos, a trip of about 19 nautical miles. As you approach the sheltered bay at Lakka, the water will turn a beautiful shade of turquoise blue as the seabed becomes sandy. This really is a stunning picture postcard destination on your yacht charter from Corfu. You may choose to anchor on the west side of the bay and take long lines ashore, or free-anchor in the middle of the bay. You will want to swim in the crystal clear waters and admire the beautiful scenery. Villas perch on the hillsides behind the pine trees. Alternatively, you can moor stern-to on the quay in front of the many bars and tavernas that Lakka has to offer. There is so much to see in this beautiful village that you may wish to spend an extra day here.
Mourtos, also known as Sivota, is on the Greek mainland, 12 nautical miles NNE from Lakka. The town itself nestles between surrounding islands. The most stunning sunsets in the Ionian can be seen from the numerous bars and tavernas on the waterfront. There are various options for mooring here – you may find a space on the busy quay, but there are also several anchorages close by if you prefer somewhere quieter. There is also a small marina which visiting yachts can use. One popular anchorage is known as Monastery bay, half a mile NW of the harbour. There is a leisure complex and tavernas here, which can get noisy at night. For a quieter anchorage, try one of the many coves surrounding the three Sivota islands. The eastern side of Sand Bar bay (also known as End bay) is particularly pretty. If you go ashore in your dinghy, you can then walk into the town, which takes about 20 minuted.
Mourtos is a well-equipped town with all facilities within easy reach. There is a large range of tavernas providing everything from fast food to fine dining.
You will sail 23 nautical miles NW back to Gouvia on your Corfu chartered yacht. If you have time to spare, you could call in as a visitor at the private marina of Mandraki, situated in a superb location under the steep walls of the fort. There is also the private harbour on the south side called NAOK which has berths for visiting yachts. From both places, it is a short walk into the beautiful old town of Corfu, with its narrow streets and tall Venetian buildings. Have a coffee or meal by the Liston and watch people promenading on the elegant marble covered square built in 1807 by the French, overlooking the British inspired cricket pitch which is still used for matches. There is a little road train which will take you round the major landmarks of Corfu town if time is short.
At the end of your Corfu yacht charter, you could find time to explore the village of Kontakali, just south of Gouvia. Despite the growing tourism, there are some authentic greek buildings here, a fine local church and some older ruins. Here you will also find a sandy beach, with lovely views of Lazaretto Island in the bay.
For more tips on sailing from Corfu check out our sailor's guide to yacht charter holidays in Corfu.
Have a coffee or meal by the Liston and watch people promenading on the elegant marble covered square
This sailing itinerary for yacht charter holidays in Corfu was created by Georgina Moon, a passionate writer, blogger and sailor. To learn more about sailing in Greece, check out Georgina's guest post in our Magazine.