The Ionian Islands are certainly one of the most popular Greek destinations, thanks to the beauty of thee uncontaminated sea between rocks and white beaches, in a unique natural setting, with dense forests and Mediterranean vegetation, uncommon among the Aegean islands, usually rather arid.
The Ionian Islands can be described as the absolute negation of the typical stereotype of Greece. When we think about the Greek islands, we immediately imagine landscapes of white houses and blue roofs, close to barren mountains and with the background of a turquoise and crystal clear sea. On the other hand, the Ionian Islands present a totally different scenario from that of the Cyclades or the Dodecanese. Never forget also that, while in the Aegean culture still bears the obvious traces of influences of the East and the rule of the Ottoman Empire, here you can breathe the air of the West. Just think that in ancient times these islands were an integral part of the Maritime Republic of Venice for over 500 years.
In this seven day itinerary, we sail along the Ionian Greece staring off from Corfu, with its blue flag awarded beaches, to sail then to Parga, with its labyrinth of alleys, orthodox churches and white houses, Kefalonia and its famous beach of Myrtos and Meganissi with its natural wild coves.
By the end of this itinerary we also interview Petros, base manager at Lefkas Marina. Lefkas is the fourth largest of the Ionian Islands, famous for the extraordinary beauty of its beaches and lies between the islands of Corfu and Kefalonia. Lefkas Marina is situated on the eastern side of the island. Petros will share some sailing itinerary tips and give us some recommendations on where to dine around Lefkas.
Sailing in Ionian Greece: Our 7 Day Itinerary
Day 1. Corfu.
A sailing holiday in Corfu is perfect for anyone who wants to dive into crystal clear waters, explore hidden beaches and coves and, at the same time, discover a past, studded with different dominations, such as the Angevin, that of the Venetian Republic, but also the English and French.
In the city, you can discover the elegant Venetian-style palaces, squares and paved alleys, Byzantine fortresses and white monasteries, without sacrificing the beauty of the sea and sun.
Many of Corfu’s beaches have been awarded with Blue Flag status (an award attributed to the level of cleanliness and facilities). With over 50 beaches, Corfu most certainly boasts some of the most wonderful bays in Ionian Greece. Starting with Dassia Bay, a long stretch of beach with calm shallow waters. Since being awarded with a blue flag status, Dassia Bay is particularly appealing for families with plenty of water sports, such as water-skiing and wakeboarding. Not far from Corfu Town, Kontokali Bay is another great option for families. Kontokali is a traditional village with many residents which makes this village quiet and a perfect stop for a stroll for a typical Greek dine. North of Corfu Town, you'll find another wonderful bay, Barbati, a beautiful stretch of beach is surrounded by lush greenery at the foot of Mount Pantokrator. South of Barbati beach, Ipsos Beach is slightly livelier with many tavernas and bustling nightlife.
Tourists on Ipsos Beach in Corfu a Greek island in the Ionian sea
Day 2. Parga.
Along the coast of Epirus, there is Parga, a labyrinth of alleys, orthodox churches and white houses, among souvenir shops where traditional Greek products are sold. Near the port, right on the seafront, you will find the main restaurants and taverns in the city where you can enjoy delicious fish dishes.
Not to be missed is a visit to the Castle, which overlooks the city from a hilltop offering splendid views of both the sea and the city centre. You'll find numerous beaches, bays and small islands. Parga is a great destination for family trips, the bays here have that typical Greek Ionian crystal water and green surroundings.
The pastel-coloured houses in the coastal town of Parga
Day 3. Paxi.
The first place you land to when you arrive on the island of Paxi is the port city of Gaios, the main tourist centre of the island, where there are restaurants and bars. Not to be missed is Lakka, the best starting point for some of the most fascinating caves and coves on the island, such as the beautiful cave of Ipapanti. One of the most beautiful villages of Paxos is Porto Longos, east of Lakka, a group of small houses gathered around a cobbled bay. Just some local greek cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Day 4. Antipaxi.
Antipaxi is an uninhabited island, without a real city or residents, the human presence is limited to a few houses where inhabitants of nearby Paxi live, who here have crops or fishing activities. As you approach, you will have a view of beaches with white sand and a sea of Caribbean colours.
On the island, there are few trattorias where you can enjoy fresh fish and local delicacies. You can walk around Antipaxi, among the olive and lemon trees.
Tropical paradise turquoise tranquil sandy beach of Mesovrika with sail boats docked in the Island of Antipaxos
Day 5. Kefalonia.
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian islands. Here you can visit the famous beach of Myrtos, included among the thirty most beautiful in the world.
On the island, there are also many caves and inlets such as the Cave of the Nymphs in Lake Melissani, an underground freshwater lake, easily accessible by boat. Here you can admire a unique phenomenon, a mix of fresh and salt water inside the cave of the lake. Not to be missed Fiskardo with its colourful houses in Venetian style.
Day 6. Ithaki.
Ithaki is the perfect destination for those who love relaxation and tranquillity, rich in culture and history, with breath-taking beaches and crystal clear waters, perfect for diving. Famous for being the birthplace of Ulysses, here are two sites dedicated to him: The Fountain of Arethusa and the Cave of the Nymphs. Vathy is the vital centre of the island with clubs and restaurants, characterized by beautiful Venetian-style houses and its natural bay is home to dozens of sailing boats and yachts.
Day 7. Meganissi.
From the top, Meganissi looks like a floating crescent moon in the blue of the Ionian Sea, with a jagged coastline that creates natural caves and numerous coves and makes it even wilder. Famous is the bay Spilla, from which you can climb up to the village of Spartachori. From here you will enjoy a splendid view of the breathtaking coastal landscape. Spartachori is the largest village on the island, a set of winding roads that intersect with white and blue houses.
Aerial view of the harbour
Meeting Petros Antonopoulos, supervisor of all-inclusive charters at Lefkas Marina
"Starting from Lefkada Marina you can sail south with the first stop in Skorpios private island, one of the most popular places where you can stop for a swim. Further south, you can find Meganissi, a large island in between mainland Greece and Lefkada in one of its numerous bays. You can drop your anchor, grab a mooring line and stop at a local restaurant. Further south with Atokos, Kalamos, Arkuthi all of these are sailing paradises, where you can explore the bays, drop your anchor and sail around the area and swim of course. Ithaka, the island of Odysseus, is a favourite stop for many of our sailors with Kioni, one of the most popular ports in the area."
"You can then sail west to the Island of Kefalonia, one of the most picturesque area, the harbour of Fiskardo small village with mooring lines docking spots and a safe anchoring place to spend the night.
Fiskardo village and harbor on Kefalonia Ionian Island
Any challenges in sailing around Lefkas?
"When sailing the central Ionian the most common wind comes from north west, usually blows from 3 o'clock onwards in the afternoon. You don't need to worry about the southern wind or storms. The waves reaching 3 meter high and the wind speed reaching 25 knots sometimes may cause a bit of movement of your boat but apart from this you should not experience any main challenges sailing around here. As you sail closer to the mainland of Greece, the northwesterly breeze that usually that blows in the western part of th eisland. just to be aware the breeze may continue
Watch the rest of this interview with Petros here.