Sail away: The top Mediterranean yachting destinations for 2023

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A week yachting around the Mediterranean, but where to go? With charter holidays opening up endless whitewashed fishing villages, pebbly coves and remote islands to explore, the choice can be a little overwhelming. Time, then, to turn to the experts who spend their lives planning the ultimate yacht charter holidays for first-timers and avid sailors alike. Bobby Bigio, a charter broker with Camper and Nicholsons International in Monaco, advises thinking about the experiences you want to have before deciding on a destination: “Do you want spend your days in glitzy beach bars and Michelin-starred restaurants, or does it sound better to sit in a local taverna or trattoria for an authentic local meal under the stars?”

“While there are always people wanting to cruise in France, Italy and the Balearics, the Eastern Mediterranean is rapidly growing in popularity. The focus is shifting towards Greece, Turkey and Croatia. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to cruise there, it’s easy to understand why!”

The summer season lasts from May to September, with July and August the busiest months around popular hotspots. “We’ve seen an incredible appetite for charter this summer, with demand far outweighing supply,” Bigio warns. “Still, with a skipper on board who knows the area inside out, it’s not hard to find your own secluded beach for the day.”

Here is an insider glimpse into the Mediterranean‘s top summer yachting locations – and the yacht to pick while you’re at it.

Portofino, Italy

“Arriving in Portofino by sea can take you quite by surprise, as you round the sheer cliffs, with impressive villas blending into the background as if they were born from the rock itself,” enthuses Heidi Briscoe, a charter broker for the International Yacht Register (IYR) based in Monaco. Portofino’s exclusive harbour only has space for a handful of visiting yachts, so most charterers stay in nearby Santa Margherita and pootle the headland round for dinner. En route, you’ll pass Paraggi beach, with its iconic green-blue water and prime snorkelling, and secluded Baia Cannone, overlooked by pink and yellow houses.

In the evening, Briscoe recommends a short hike or taxi up to the top of the cliff for a scenic dinner at Hotel Splendido, serenaded by mellow piano chords as you gaze out over the bay. Portofino’s annual Regatta di Primavera takes place each April, while in July you’ll catch cinema nights in the Piazzetta just metres from the sea.

The yacht: 41.5m Satori, from €110,000 per week plus VAT,

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia’s famously beautiful Adriatic coastline has hundreds of sandy islands, walled citadels, and some of the most spectacular turquoise waters in the Mediterranean. A pilgrimage for Game of Thrones fans, Dubrovnik is an excellent stopping-off point for both culture and cruising; the UNESCO World Heritage city’s terracotta rooftops contrasting against the lush green of olive groves and vineyards behind as you approach the marina.

Stop off for a couple of days, and you’ll be rewarded with baroque palaces and limestone boulevards by day, shifting into chic rooftop bars and vibrant nightlife. Just an hour from Dubrovnik by boat, the island of Lopud is a must-visit for its beautifully restored 15th-century monastery, recently turned into a tiny yet ultra-luxurious hotel. Nearby, you can sail to the hidden coves of the Elaphiti islands and discover secluded beaches on the many uninhabited islands on the coast.

The yacht: 39m One Blue, from €89,000 per week plus VAT,

Amalfi, Italy

The Amalfi Coast stretches from the Gulf of Naples to the Gulf of Salerno, encompassing one of the most picturesque coastlines in the world. Approaching the town of Amalfi by water, dramatic cliffs reveal pastel-hued houses and hilltop churches until the last moment, leading on to steep vineyards and lemon groves. Couple this magic with southern Italy’s joyous dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) and give in to languid days spent sipping spritzes, eating spaghetti and diving into turquoise waters.

For those who fancy some ancient history, the epic ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum are close by, as are the haunting catacombs of Naples. A short drive into the hills above Amalfi, you’ll find the sleepy town of Ravello, a welcome break from the busy seafront. Wander undisturbed around the Villa Cimbrone Gardens, or treat yourself to sundowners at Caruso Hotel with panoramic views across the whole bay.

The yacht: 45.6m Aquarius, from €220,000 per week plus VAT,

Bonifacio, Corsica

At the southern tip of Corsica, and a short sail from Sardinia, the medieval citadel of Bonifacio is one of the most beautiful destinations on the island. Deeply inspired by both France and Italy, you’ll want at least a couple of nights here. The quayside is lined with cafes and colourful boutiques, providing a sheltered harbour concealed by a dramatic gap in the cliffs as you approach by sea.

Once moored, a little train takes you into the picturesque old town for a dose of art and culture. Throughout the summer months, you’ll find various jazz events, gastronomy festivals and any excuse for fireworks, set against the panoramic backdrop of Sardinia and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The yacht: 49.8m Silencio, from €165,000 per week plus VAT,

Bodrum and Fethiye, Turkey

The so-called Turkish Riviera is fast becoming one of the most talked about yachting destinations in the Mediterranean – and for good reason. Here, while away the hours while moored off Kissebükü, a beautiful ruined village abandoned a century ago, or paddle boarding in the clear shallows of Orak Island just off the mainland of Bodrum. Further along the coastline, the lively city of Fethiye is known for its incredibly turquoise waters, vibrant outdoor markets, and rich ancient history.

Many of the region’s ports are only accessible by boat, making them all the more exclusive. Spend a morning haggling for fresh fish in the bazaars for your chef to cook on board that evening before kayaking or swimming around the remains of Cleopatra’s baths. Further afield you’ll find unspoiled anchorages of the Gulf of Hisarönü and where you can stop beneath a ruined castle on the Datça or Bozburun peninsulas. 

The yacht: 26m Ulu Cinar, from £21,000 per week plus VAT,

Ionian Islands, Greece

“For me, the best place in the Mediterranean to charter a yacht is Greece,” says Charles Carveles, a charter broker at leading superyacht company Edmiston. “You have over 3,000 islands to choose from, and can almost always find a private bay or cove to have to yourself. Each island has its own charm, clear waters and usually amazing food. It’s the perfect location to get the most out of a superyacht.”

Choosing between all these islands can be a challenge, however. Charlotte Hanlon, another charter broker at Edmiston, favours the pebbly Ionian Islands over the classic sandy beaches elsewhere. “Unlike the southern Greek islands, this island group boasts crystal clear waters and jewel green landscapes, peppered with cypress trees, and towns steeped in Italian architecture.”

The yacht: 20m Lunous, from £13,760 per week,

Costa Nord, Mallorca

port soller mallorca mediterranean yachting

Port Soller, Mallorca

Linda Revill, of the IYR charter department, waxes lyrical about the chartering potential in and around Mallorca. Above all, it’s delightfully easy, she explains, “with short transfers from the Son Sant Joan airport to Palma, you can be stepping on board your luxury yacht within 30 minutes of collecting your luggage.”

Once there, Revill suggests cruising up the Costa Nord, where you’ll soak up the majesty of the Tramuntana mountain range (a UNESCO world heritage site), stopping off in the charming fishing villages that litter the coastline and provide sheltered anchorages for a comfortable overnight stay. “Porto Colom on the east coast is a wide and secluded bay where local restaurants spill out onto the waterside pathways,” she advises, while you’ll find “super-smart restaurants in marinas like Puerto Portals and Port Adriano.” Last but not least, make time to stop off in Port Soller to sample its famous red prawns.

The yacht: 36m Delta One, from €145,000 per week plus VAT,

Saint Tropez, France

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Image: Shutterstock

Sure, the Cote d’Azur is one of the most famous yachting destinations of all time, but the area around Saint Tropez has been undergoing a welcome revival over the last few years. Newest on the scene is Byblos Beach, about halfway along infamous Pampelonne, where wooden decking and hessian umbrellas belie an impressive no-plastic policy and outstanding local produce.

Nearby, spend a few days sailing around Cap Taillat, sheltered from the winds between the bay of Briande and Bonporteau, before heading to the mythical ‘Golden Isles’ of Hyères for snorkelling around coral reefs.

The yacht: 88m Maltese Falcon, from €480,000 per week,

Read more: Cruise collection: What to wear on holiday this summer

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