Yachting in Greece: tips for sailing in the Sporades islands

Beautiful scenery, turquoise waters, sandy beaches and picturesque villages dotted with houses aglow in white, blue and pink. We invite you on a route full of the most beautiful places!


Do you know where you can find a true sailing paradise? In the Aegean Sea, hidden from the swarms of tourists and still unknown to many sailors, is the Sporades archipelago. We invite you on a voyage through the most stunning locations places, which will satisfy lovers of ancient Greek history and the summer hit musical Mamma Mia!. Plus, there's great sailing, low prices, friendly locals and delicious food

Where are the Sporades?

The Sporades are a charming group of islands scattered in the Aegean Sea (this name is generally used for the northern group of islands). It consists of about 135 mostly uninhabited islands and islets, which lie along the coast of Thessaly, north of the island of Euboea. The most important of these are Skyros, Skopelos and Skiathos. And perhaps you realised — these islands give us the word sporadic (meaning scattered or infrequent).


Sporades GreeceThe Sporades, Greece 


Sailing routes around the Sporades

Our route plan takes you through a glimmering ocean, lined with the most beautiful destinations. The distances between the islands are short and the southern coast of the islands is well protected from the Meltemi winds and its waves.

 

You can try out our 7-day route which will take you on a journey of about 150 NM but if you want to enjoy a larger slice of Greek tranquillity, go for our 14-day route.


 


You can start your cruise from the island of Skiathos or from the port of Milina east of the Pagasetic Gulf. The bay is shallow and has plenty of picturesque fishing harbours. And, according to myth, it is from here that Jason and the Argonauts set sail on their quest for the Golden Fleece.



Cove at Sporades GreeceBay in the Sporades, Greece 


Sporades — 7-day route — 150 NM

Skiathos — Arkos Island — Skopelos Panormos — Patitiri, Alonissos Island — Kokkinokastro, Alonnisos Island — Kira Island Panagia (Paigniou Bay) — Kira Island Panagia (Pelagos, Monastery Bay) — Skyros Linaria — Skantzoura Island (Skantzoura Bay with its sandy beaches in the south) — Skopelos Loutraki (trip to the Mamma Mia Chapel) — Skiathos

 
Sporades — 14-day route — 250 NM

Skiathos — Arkos Island — Skopelos Panormos — Alonissos Patitiri — Alonissos Kokkinokastro — Kira Panagia bay Paigniou — Kira Panagia bay Monastery — Kera Panagia bay Planitis — Gioura (a small bay with a pebble beach in the middle of the west coast) — Gioura sandy bay at Cape Kavos Pnigmenou — Psathoura island (a sandy bay in the south) — sailing around Piperi island with the opportunity to see Mediterranean seals — Skyros Linaria — Skiropoula islet in the southeast — Skatzoura (a mysterious beach in the south) — Skopelos Loutraki (a trip to the chapel of Mamma Mia) — Skiathos


More sailing tips for yachting in Greece


Unmissable stops on your tour of the Sporades 

Skopelos Island

Skopelos is the largest and greenest island with shores awash with clear, turquoise waters. This incredibly fertile island is covered by pine forests and the orchards and groves full of the pears, almonds, citrus, and plums between have made the island famous. Of course, there are also olives and vineyards. Be sure to try the local specialties — olives, feta cheese, the local cheese cake, honey and plums.


Cove and Panormos beachPanormos cove and beach 



The first stop on the island (only 15 NM from Skiathos) will be the bay and the white pebble beach of Panormos. Near Panormos, on a hill above the town, lies the beautiful St. Panteleimon monastery with its stone church. Skopelos is indeed a "city of churches". There are one hundred and twenty-three of them, and among these, the 9th century Agios Athanasios, with its beautiful 16th-century frescoes, is certainly not to be missed. It is protected by the walls of the Venetian Fortress and was built on the ruins of the ancient temple of Athena.

 

From the town, there are countless hiking trails and one of them will take you along the olive groves to the highest peak of the island, Mount Delphi (680 m). One of these paths will also lead you to the Sedoukia Pirate Graves, which are carved into the rock. Finally, in the hills east of the city, you will happen upon the several scattered monasteries and nunneries.


Agios Athanasios Church on SkopelosAgios Athanasios Church on Skopelos 



YACHTING.COM TIP: Skopelos gained its fame thanks to the musical Mamma Mia! with songs from Abba. If you want to see the spot where Pierce Brosnan married a surprised Meryl Streep, be sure to stop here at the end of your trip before returning to Skiathos. The chapel on the steep cliff is located on the east coast. You can get to it by taxi from any port on the island or, if the seas are calm, anchor right beneath the cliff itself, which has a small beach below. Be warned — you can only anchor here if there is no Meltemi. After climbing the steep steps, you'll be rewarded with a charming and romantic view.


Chapel from Mamma mia! on the reef of SkopelosChapel from Mamma mia! on the cliff of Skopelos 


Where to anchor?

  • Skopelos harbour — From the east side, you will see the harbour at the entrance to the dock. You can also anchor bow- or stern-to at the north pier. About 30 metres from the pier, there is a large mooring chain on the bottom, to which you can attach your anchor. The seabed is muddy, so the anchor holds well. In strong Meltemi winds, this can be a trick spot so you need to loosen the lines and pull away from the pier. The port offers all regular services and fuel can be delivered by mini-tanker.

Warning: During strong north-easterly winds, the sea can be difficult as a result of the shallow entrance to the harbour, which sometimes completely prevents entry. Under these conditions, there is a ferry that goes to Agnondi on the west side of the island.


Arkos Island

Arkos is a 15-minute cruise from Skiathos harbour and there is a fabulous sandy beach with a bar on the west coast. From the beach, you can climb a steep sandy dune which is especially fun for children. Moor in front of the beach, ideally anchoring from the bow with a long rope to the stern.


Alonissos Island

This wild island, with its magnificent mountainous landscape, flowering meadows, and pine and olive groves, is not particularly popular with tourists, but this is what will make it all the more seductive to sailors. In addition to the more rugged inland, you can enjoy pristine secluded beaches, superb swimming in the most immaculate sea, as well as safe anchorage. Be sure to try the local almonds, grapes, figs, olives and wine, as well as their cheese and the delicious walnut cake.

 

The establishment of the Alonissos Marine Park for the protection of the Mediterranean seal has also contributed to the preservation of the island. To date, barely 800 of these creatures have survived and 30 of them live on the islands. The reservation includes other interesting islands — Pelagos (Kira Panagia), Yioura, and Piperi.


Church on the Island of AlónissosAnchorChurch on the island of Alonissos


Where to anchor?

  • Patiri harbour — From the sea, you can recognise it by the old village of Alonnisos on the hill behind the harbour. Anchor at the NE pier, stern- or bow-to. The bed is sandy and muddy, so the anchor holds well. There is very little space for mooring in the harbour, but you can find moorings on the south side. The space is well protected against the Meltemi winds, although mild swelling may occur. You can rely on a full range of services, including shops, taverns and bars. The water tap is immediately at the pier.
  • Beaches — The most beautiful beach is Agios Dimitrios with its white sand. Other pristine, tranquil beaches where you have the choice of mooring include Megalos Mourtias, Steni Vala, Chrisi Milia, Marpounta and Spartines. 


Kyra Panagia (also known as Pelagos or Kira Panagia) 

Kyra Panagia is also part of Alonnisos Marine Park. On the east coast, at about the midpoint, there is a small bay with a pier and a monastery on the rock above the bay, whose history dates back to the turn of the first millennium. There you can admire 6th-century relics, 18th-century icons, and also a beautiful star-shaped mosaic in the courtyard.

 

There’s an old monk who until recently was the only inhabitant of the island. He lives at the monastery and is extremely hospitable and sociable. Speaking perfect English, he makes you feel that you are genuinely in the presence of a holy man, and you will long to be as calm and serene as him.

 

Mooring is possible in the bay (anchoring bow-to and using ropes to tie the stern to the concrete pier or the rocks). There is also a nice little beach and excellent opportunities for fishing. 


Kyra Panagia BayKyra Panagia Bay 



YACHTING.COM TIP: If you like snorkelling, don't miss the north of the northernmost island of Psatoura, where, according to myths, lies the sunken ancient city of Halonnesos. But what looks like the remains of walls and streets on the seabed are most likely just rocks stacked in regular forms. The best time to snorkel is in the morning and early afternoon before the afternoon winds blow and the sea swells. A good anchorage is in the south of the island, where there is a nice sandy beach.

Skyros Island 

It was Skyros where Achilles was sent by his mother to avoid becoming involved in the Trojan Wars. Skyros, with its handful of white, cube-like houses, speaks of ancient times. In the side streets, you have the chance to marvel at beautiful ceramics, wood carvings and coppwork.


In pride of place, above the city where the acropolis once stood, there now stand the towers of the Castle of Lycomedes, named after the king of the same name. You can get there by using the mysterious tunnel under the monastery of Moní Agíou Georgíou, where you can admire the magnificent fresco of St. George slaying the dragon.


Skyros with a handful of white cube-like houses speaking of old timesSkyros with a handful of white cube-like houses speaks of ancient times 


Skiathos Island 

Your journey will begin and end on the island of Skiathos. Be sure to make a stop at Lalaria Beach. Legend has it that when you sail under the naturally created stone gate, you will be blessed with eternal youth. Lalaria Beach is only accessible by boat, but you will be rewarded with views of the magnificent rocks and white sands awash with turquoise waters.


You can secure your youth at Lalaria Beach on Skiathos IslandFind eternal youth at Lalaria Beach on Skiathos 


Where to anchor?

  • Skiathos harbour — You will recognise it by the lighthouse on the island of Repi and by the cluster of surrounding islets. Many places are booked well in advance, so it is advisable to make a booking as soon as possible. There are stern- or bow-to moorings and you'll find a few moorings at the pier. The old harbour in the south of the city is reserved for cruise ships. The eastern part of the harbour is well protected against the Meltemi winds; just be careful of crosswinds when manoeuvring. The harbour offers all necessary facilities, though the water is reportedly not drinkable. Be aware that at night, it becomes somewhat busier.

What to expect of the weather and winds in the Sporades?

The Meltemi winds are not as strong here as they are to the south. The prevailing wind is NNE, but the exact direction is influenced by the islands and the channels between them. On the southern side of the archipelago, there are few waves. The combination of the Meltemi winds on one side of the island, and calm seas on the other is very attractive for sailors and flotillas are frequent here.

 

Has Greece won you over yet? No wonder. The diversity of its beaches and bays means that you could spend a lifetime exploring it by boat and still have more to discover. The Sporades are the perfect place to start and we have boats available and waiting for you!

 

  


Where is the Sporades archipelago and how many islands do they include?