The cool Northern Europeans tend to go into raptures about sun, bathing and good food when they plan a holiday in the Mediterranean. Of course this is a quite normal reaction when regional differences come into play. Here we will just try to give you some guidance in finding the best sailing area for you and your crew!

Mediterranean sailing area

Mediterranean sailing area

Climate conditions in the Mediterranean

In everyday parlance the words "Mediterranean climate" generally convey the idea of a very fine summer, a mild winter and not much precipitation. A commonly-used classification system indeed designates the Mediterranean as "Csa", which means a warm temperate climate with dry summers and summer temperatures of more than 22 degrees Celsius for at least a month.

Our observations agree with this description - there are very hot summers, pleasant springs and winters that are mostly "bearable", admittedly with periods of cold and rain. This is certainly just a general picture, and there are some very marked geographical variations. For example, winters in the Adriatic near the Alps are distinctly frosty.

Of course there are seasonal variations and anomalies in the region too. Thus short periods of rain do occur during the summer months in the northern Mediterranean, but they are not very frequent and only in exceptional years.

The winds in the Mediterranean

When the wind in the Mediterranean is under discussion, sailors often refer to the "Mistral" and the "Bora", according to region. It is these stronger winds that catch people's attention, not the normal local winds. If you are sailing in the summer you will hardly experience these famed and rather scary powerful wind phenomena. Their time is the autumn and winter.

The unloved strong winds:

  1. Mistral
    Cold and stormy wind out of the Rhone valley, affects the Côte d´Azur as far as Corsica and Sardinia
  2. Bora
    Cold and stormy katabatic or fall wind on the east coast of the northern Adriatic
  3. Tramontana
    Cold and gusty wind out of the mountains (Italy, France, Spain)

 Other well-known winds of the Mediterranean:

  1. Meltemi
    Pleasant north wind in the Aegean, a summer wind that makes the temperature agreeable and means good weather. Normally at wind force 4-5, but can blow quite hard in the narrows
  2. Scirocco
    A warm wind from the desert, steady and sometimes unpleasantly hot (up to 35 degreees Celsius at night and 40 degrees Celsius in the day is not uncommon)

On hearing all this, sailors who are new to the Mediterranean automatically ask whether there are actually ever "normal" wind conditions. Of course there are! The vast majority of the time the winds are quite moderate, depending on the general situation. In summer there is frequently a pleasant thermal wind that dies away in the evening. The strong winds we have mentioned are the exception, not the rule. Otherwise hardly anyone would want to sail in the Mediterranean, if the air was always whistling through the shrouds!

Pleasant sailing periods in the Mediterranean

In the Mediterranean the sailing season is longer than in the Baltic. Depending on the particular region you can have very pleasant sailing right through into November. The best months are definitely May, June and September, since the harbours will not be full then and the weather is usually magnificent. In some parts it can be very hot in July and August, and the harbours are very busy. The further south you go the longer the season lasts. Thus Turkey and Majorca are popular destinations for sailors in the autumn holidays.

Sea areas for charter yachts

Die Segelreviere im Mittelmeer

If you look at the map of the Mediterranean it is clear that the sailing areas are very different. After all, a good thousand kilometres separate the northern Adriatic from Malta.

We divide our sailing areas up as follows:

Northern Adriatic

The northern Adriatic sailing area can easily be reached by car. The heartland for charter yachts is the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. This is the home of many charter boats, and the sailing infrastructure is excellent. The largest fleet of sailboats lies in Marina Veruda at Pula. Usually the wind is moderate, but the Bora may blow in the autumn and spring. However it never comes as a surprise and can always be forecast. Then it is better to stay in port!

On the Italian side there are very few charter bases, but then there are all the more charter yachts in Slovenia and Croatia.
Charter bases in the Adriatic
Our assessment of the sailing area:  Beautiful landscape, a lot of cultural interest, good Italian cooking

Dalmatia and the island world of the Kornati

When you see pictures of sailing in Croatia they inevitably include scenes from Dalmatia. The archipelago world of the Kornati, more than 1000 islands, is a very impressive experience. Even in the plane on the Split landing approach it is difficult not to be astounded. Very beautiful. No wonder this is a favourite sailing area. The wind conditions are moderate, the Bora is less serious here, the water is warm and the food is generally good.

Charter bases in Dalmatia
Our opinion: Bathing holiday, beautiful bays, good for families

Ionian Sea

As regards winds Greece is divided into two distinct regions - the windy Aegean and the moderate Ionian Sea with the well-known islands of Corfu, Lefkada and Cephalonia. The Ionian Sea, i.e. the part of the ocean as you come out of the Adriatic, west of Greece and east of Italy, is considered one of the best sailing areas for families. Here there are hardly any strong winds, the mean air temperatures are higher than in the north Adriatic and the water very rapidly reaches a pleasant temperature for bathing.

Charter yachts in the Ionian Sea
Our opinion of this area: Bathing holiday, danger of sunburn, very good for families

Aegean

They say that this is an area with a guaranteed wind. Depending on the route followed you could have challenging sailing or a relaxed cruise with lots of bathing stops in the bays. The Saronic Gulf is generally moderate, while the Cyclades lie in the Meltemi corridor where you can expect it to blow stronger.

The sea around the Peloponnese is mostly considered calm, especially as you go further into the Ionian Sea. The Saronic Gulf south-west of Athens tends to have moderate winds and good sailing conditions.

Charter yachts in the Aegean
Our opinion: A lot of fun sailing! You can put on quite some speed or just relax and enjoy. And on top of that it is warm.

Turkish Riviera

The call of Troy! A pure holiday paradise. If only it wasn't so far away! On the Turkish Aegean coast there are many fine harbours to start from, each with their particular charm. Crews of all standards will find what they want here - the further south you go, the more moderate the wind. But in the north of the Aegean it can really blow, there are surfing paradises on the coast with steady wind forces of 6-7. Round here the Meltemi that is responsible for this is known as the Etesian wind. 

So if you prefer to bathe, wander and lie cosily at anchor, choose the sea area south of Bodrum. Besides Marmaris and Bodrum, the favourite harbours are Fethiye and Göcek in the Gulf of Fethiye. Dalaman airport is favourably placed for reaching these, and all the charter bases offer a favourable transfer service.

As for the harbours, almost all who have chartered a yacht in Turkey tell us of the incredible friendliness of the people, the helpful service crews and the perfect condition of the boats. The standard of the charter ports in Turkey is generally among the best in the Mediterranean.

Charter yachts in Turkey
Our opinion: Super service, excellent for families, very good food and a great area

Tuscany, Elba, the Amalfi coast

From Munich you can be there in 8 hours. Just cross the Alps and you are already in la bella Italia! You would think that the Italian boot might have the largest number of harbours and charter bases, but that is not so. Almost all of the Italian Adriatic coast is "no man's land" for sailors. Rimini is an example of the typical coastal scene: beach, railway, road, strip of sun cream shops, hotels. On this side of the country harbours are in short supply and so there are no charter yachts there.

The other side, that of Tuscany, is all the better. There are any amount of fine harbours and marinas, a great landscape and a whole variety of destinations. The wind is not very strong in the summer months, when it is blowing, the water is warm and the food is just Italian - unbelievably delicious.

The main area is the Tuscan archipelago with Elba and then the chain of islands off the coast, finishing with Giglio, unfortunately known for the cruise ship that was wrecked there. The average sailor will have no trouble in finding the harbour or sailing by the islands, navigationally the sea area is not too challenging. As said, you can get here easily by car, 8 hours from Munich. And the holiday starts once you are through the Brenner Pass.

Charter yachts in Tuscany
Our view of the sailing area: Good food, simple navigation, scarcely any strong wind, bathing holiday

Southern Italy and Sicily

Calabria, Sicily ... interesting things happen there, don't they? True. But as a tourist you won't see any of this. The author once left his wallet lying on the seat of his motorbike in Palermo and went into a café. Half an hour later the wallet was still there. In the middle of Palermo!

The sailing area between Tropea/Calabria, Sicily and the Aeolian or Lipari Isles is one of the hottest. Not because of the air and water temperatures, which are certainly high, no - there are lots of active volcanoes there, which provide a strange and beautiful show. If you watch the sun setting from Tropea you see something extraordinary - the sun goes down directly behind Stromboli with its plume of smoke! A rare and beautiful sight.

The typical sailing routes run from Sicily and Calabria through the Lipari archipelago, a truly astounding island world of volcanoes. In Lipari harbour, moreover, you can get very good grilled fish, together with a cool white wine, and in the evening air temperatures of 25 degrees C. If it isn't a dream!

Charter yachts in southern Italy
Our opinion: Hot sailing area, bathing and good food!

Sardinia

Among the sailing areas, Sardinia is in a different league. Once St Tropez and its neighbours in France were the places where the rich and beautified went, but now the Costa Smeralda plays that role. This is why Porto Cervo charges berthing fees of up to EUR 380 per day for a 40-footer in the high season. A bargain, in other words!

But these exaggerated prices do not represent all of Sardinia! They are just a tiny part of the reality. If you sail along the Costa Smeralda into the Maddalena group and over to Bonifacio, you can take a look at Porto Cervo on the way and wonder at how it is so expensive, but you are not obliged to tie up there. The area is characterized by many little bays and turquoise blue water, very Caribbean!

In the summer months there are moderate wind conditions round Sardinia, but in the early and late season it can well blow. Sardinia and Corsica lie in the area of influence of the cold, unpleasant Mistral from the Rhone valley. The only good thing about the Mistral is the clarity it brings to the air, and the resulting purity of colours. Otherwise it is an unwanted companion. But, as said, it usually only blows in winter and late autumn.

As a rule Sardinia has a very kind climate that is pleasant for sailors.

Charter bases on Sardinia
Our conclusion: Good for families, impressive nature, high VIP percentage in some harbours (but you can easily avoid them...)

Southern France

The Côte d´Azur - just the name sets a film going in my head. Starring Grace Kelly, both as the princess of Monaco and in her role as an actress in "To catch a thief". Crazy. The French Mediterranean coast symbolizes the fashionable summer holiday - here you are somebody, here you will be seen and will see people who are somebody. But this sophisticated glamour, or for many horror, in fact only takes up a very small part of the coast. Here there is also a very considerable "normal" world

From St Tropez to the border with Liguria you can find this sophisticated chic, but there are also calm bays and beautiful beaches. Shortly before Marseille is the fascinating coast of the "Calanques", narrow bays between splintered cliffs with glass-clear water. The harbour towns have of course adapted to cater for tourists, that goes without saying, but it does not have to be negative. You can find very good restaurants and many little cafés, and some crew members may be very happy to look in the boutiques. We are all tourists too, after all! 

Charter yachts in southern France
Conclusion: Very good food, beautiful landscape, bathing holiday

Balearics

Since most people have already  been to Majorca at least once, the charter firm need not explain much for you. It's quite simple. You fly there from the cold north. You are already sweating as you take over your boat, it feels so hot on the first day. Either you sail round the island in six days or you take pot luck from bay to bay. The second day you get a bit sunburnt, then it gets better. In the high season the anchorages are full, but you quickly find the perfect spot for yourselves. You use your dinghy to get to the beach and the restaurant. In the morning you bathe, then sail off to find another bay and restaurant. Life can be so easy!

Ibiza is somewhat different. It is rather flatter, but nevertheless its bays are just as pretty. And there are a lot more discos on the beach. But otherwise the rythm is the same - morning swims, sailing, anchoring in a bay and the restaurant. But then perhaps dancing too, if you feel like it.

Charter yachts on Majorca
Conclusion: Good food, beautiful islands, bathing, good for families

PCO-Yachting
Teplitzer Allee 16-18
24146 Kiel 
Tel.: +49 (0)431 - 71 97 97 0
Fax: +49 (0)431 - 71 97 97 3
info@pco-yachting.com

See our Baltic Sea charters at www.pc-ostsee.de

Büro Kiel

PCO Yachting
Teplitzer Allee 16-18
24146 Kiel
Telefon: 0431-7197970
Fax:     0431-7197973