Less well known than the Cyclades, the Ionian Islands in the west of mainland Greece are nevertheless a destination of great beauty, steeped in history and perfect for a private luxury yacht cruise. There are 5 good reasons to go there…5 islands to be exact, all of which are different from each other. From Corfu in the north to Zakynthos in the south, they are the undiscovered treasures of the Ionian Sea.
If you have ever experienced the austere waters of Greece, then the Ionian Islands are likely to enchant you. They are lush green with mountains forested with pines, cypresses and olive trees. Surrounded directly by the clarity of the turquoise and milky waters, the colours of the sea gradually decline towards deep azure waters. Between the magnificent scenery of beaches on a backdrop of cliffs and the bright colours of the flowery fields, these islands are a feast for the eyes. In terms of gastronomy, architecture and culture in general, the Ionian Islands have taken advantage of the rich and flamboyant passage of the Venetians, the French and the Anglo-Saxons. We recommend you to discover these five islands…
Corfu is an island with lush green vegetation and more than 200km of spectacular coastline. Mount Pantokrator in the north is the highest point dominating the beautiful valleys and wild fields in the south of the island. The historic centre of the city of Corfu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Capital of the island, this historical jewel is charged with a radiant and multicultural past. In spite of an important tourist development in certain areas, the island has preserved its natural and authentic charm on the whole.
During your luxury yacht passage in Corfu, you will not fail to stop in some seaside villages that deserve your attention. Kaloundra, to the north-west, has a unique tavern (and that’s it) overlooking the colourful fishermen’s boats in the small harbour. In Nissaki, the mountains plunge abruptly into the sea and the hilltop village cascades down to another charming little port. As for Kassiopi and its ruined castle, it has buildings in pastel colours and one of the best diving centres on the island.
This island dating from the 7th century BC, since a canal came between it and the mainland, is much less touristy than Corfu, but it has the best turquoise beaches in all Greece. The most beautiful are located on the west coast, such as Egremi and Porto Katsiki. They reveal impressive white cliffs and translucent aquamarine waters. While in the south, the beaches of Vassiliki and in the north, the beaches of Ai Yiannis and Mili, are the meeting places for kitesurfers and windsurfers.
Lefkada is a destination that has much more to offer than its beautiful beaches, spectacular mountain scenery, beautiful waterfalls, culture, old monasteries and traditional villages. It is surrounded by 9 small satellite islands (including Meganisi, Kalamos and Skorpios) to discover, which belong to the Onassis family.
Although Ithaca does not boast the beautiful beaches of the Ionian Islands, it can nevertheless be proud of its peaceful and enchanting setting. In addition to being preserved from mass tourism and living in slow motion, Ithaca has ancient ruins, small harbours and lush, wild and rugged coastal landscapes. You will find excellent hiking trails and beautiful secluded bays…perfect for a peaceful anchorage.
Who says Ithaca, automatically says Greek mythology, Homer’s Odyssey and Ulysses’ kingdom…which adds to this island an undeniable romantic side. The island is shaped like a butterfly: two peninsulas linked by a narrow isthmus. It is a place of wild and authentic beauty, with a strong maritime tradition, an interesting history, seaside villages perched on stone jetties and mountain villages with majestic views.
Opposite Ithaca, separated by a fine strait, lies the largest island in the Ionian Sea, Kefalonia. In spite of its recent development, the island has never known a large population. The story of the British novel “La Mandoline du capitaine Corelli” by Louis de Bernière takes place in Cephalonia (also the location of the filming of the adapted film). In spite of the infatuation for the book and the film, the island remains a calm and peaceful place.
There are some very beautiful beaches, such as the very photographed Myrtos beach. However, its main assets are its high mountains, its welcoming inhabitants and its rural charm frozen in time. There are wild meadows and wandering goats, charming villages, medieval fortresses and beautiful monasteries.
Zakynthos is another small wonder of the Ionian Sea and one of the most popular in Greece. Most tourism is concentrated on the east and south-east coast. However, there are other landscapes to discover: wooded mountains descending to sparkling turquoise waters, beautiful beaches and valleys full of flowers in spring and summer. Not surprisingly, the Italians call it the “Flower of the East”.
The bay of Laganas, on the island, is the nesting place of the Caretta-Caretta, the loggerhead turtle. The beaches here are protected in the hope that this endangered species can survive. If you are interested, your captain can arrange a guide to discover them.
The port city of Zakynthos is the capital and the center of animation of the island. It has wide boulevards, multicoloured bougainvilleas and a square with imposing buildings on the waterfront. The nightlife is particularly lively!
The Ionian Islands offer a different facet of Greece…wilder, lighter. Whatever your desires…landscapes, adventure, beaches, gastronomy, culture…everyone will find something to suit you.