The Ionian Sea, sandwiched off mainland Greece and Italy, is famous for a group of islands featuring immense natural beauty, mountainous terrain, rich culture and picturesque towns and villages. The highlights of the Ionian islands, however, are beaches that regularly find their place among the top beaches of the world.
Upon arrival in Corfu Town, explore its paved streets lined with Venetian-style mansions and occasional Orthodox-Christian churches crowned with tall towers. Spend some time in Esplanade, one of the largest squares in Europe, and take photos of the Old Fortress that overshadows the enormous square and defines the city skyline.
DAY1-2 – CORFU – PAXOS – 29,8 miles
Canal of Love, Corfu
Cape Drastis, Corfu
Agios Gordios beach, Corfu
Ortholithos sea cave, Paxos
In the morning of the first day of our Ionian Islands, we sail north following the rugged coastline of Corfu, the Green Island. We sail by seaside villages and resorts, and after some time, we find the Canal of Love near Sidari. Canal d’Amour is a group of canyons connected by water passages. Its rock formations feature horizontal carvings sculpted by tides and water currents throughout countless millennia. Somewhat to the west, before directing the boat southwards, we sail around Cape Drastis, a white promontory flanked by verdant greenery.
Somewhat south along the western coast of Corfu, Paleokastritsa consists of two bays, one facing an open sea, while the other, sheltered in a bay, features calm waters. High cliffs and inland mountains flank Paleokastritsa. The namesake monastery, assuming a viewpoint of the nearby cliff and set in a lush environment, offers great views of the surroundings. Agios Gordios, a sandy beach located approximately halfway to the southern tip of Corfu, stands amidst green hills. The beach offers great water sports opportunities, such as banana boating and water skiing.
Paxos Island, located south of Corfu, features a rugged coastline dominated by hills. The west coast is famous for caves with stunningly turquoise waters. A tall rock marks Ortholithos, one of the most famous Paxos caves. Gaios is Paxos’s capital and main port. Located on the eastern side of the island, it abounds with bars and eateries.
DAY3-4 – PAXOS – ANTIPAXOS – LEFKADA – 48,8 miles
Voutoumi Beach, Antipaxos
Agios Nikitas, Lefkada
Kathisma Beach, Lefkada
Egremni Beach, Lefkada
Porto Katsiki Beach, Lefkada
Cape Lefkadas, Lefkada
The next morning, we set sail south to Voutoumi Beach on Antipaxos. Starting early allows us to beat the crowds arriving by tourist boats. Voutoumi, set in a lush environment and boasting blue waters transparent to perfection, is among the top beaches of the Ionian Sea. Shallow waters are ideal for families and snorkeling is exceptional. Afterward, we turn the bow of our yacht to Lefkada, an island that is technically a peninsula. The route leads along the west coast, which is full of Lefkada’s finest beaches.
The first great beach along the route is Agios Nikitas, set among green hills and a tall barren rock. The adjacent village has bars and taverns. Nearby Mylos, which is a long, sandy beach flanked by verdant, steep cliffs, is an amazing beach ideal for solitude seekers. For great windsurfing, we should anchor the vessel at Kathisma, a pebble beach at the base of sloping cliffs that faces the open sea.
Egremni, the next world-class beach, sits at the base of an imposing white cliff crowned with greenery. Boasting magnificent turquoise waters and white sand, it is among the most beloved beaches in Greece and Europe. Porto Katsiki, south of Egremni, is a pebble beach standing in the shadow of high white cliffs that contrast against turquoise waters. Access the nearby viewpoints via adjacent stairways.
Then, we set the sailing course toward Vassiliki, the main port in the south of Lefkada. To reach the village, we sail around Cape Lefkadas, where strong winds and underwater currents stage quite an adventure. If you like windsurfing, the area around Vassiliki is among the best windsurfing places in Europe.
DAY5-6 – LEFKADA – SKORPIOS – MEGANISI – KEFALONIA – 43,1 miles
Agiofili Beach, Lefkada
Poros Mikros Gialos Beach, Lefkada
Papanikolis Cave, Meganisi Island
From Vassiliki, you can either sail or walk (around 45 minutes) to Agiofili Beach, whose crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkeling. Views from above encompass whiteness of the pebble beach, surrounding greenery and several hues of blue in the waters. Agiofili is small and very popular, so rise early to beat the crowds. Poros Mikros Gialos is another must-visit beach. Located east of Agiofili by a short boat ride, it is an organized beach with parasols and taverns. The calm waters of the bay, reflecting the surrounding greenery, are ideal for children.
Nidri, located to the north and set in a bay beneath the verdant hills, is the main resort of Lefkada. If you like shopping, Nidri is just the place for you. From the resort’s marina, you can see Skorpios, a private island that once belonged to Aristotle Onassis, the second husband of Jacqueline Kennedy. Skorpios is a green oasis with rugged coastline, and you can take many great photos while sailing around.
West side of Meganisi, an island south of Skorpios, boasts two great beaches – Agios Ioannis and Barbarezou. Agios Ioannis is a narrow, but long pebble beach, flanked by verdant greenery. Waters of this mostly empty beach are sparkling and clear, and you can admire views of hilly and green Lefkada from there. Barbarezou, located in a cove, is a pebble beach flanked by trees, and you can enjoy swimming and diving in crystalline waters of this empty beach.
Before we steer the yacht to Fiskardo on Kefalonia, we could visit the nearby Papanikolis Cave. A Greek submarine, aided by local fishermen, operated from the cave in the Second World War, sinking many Italian and German ships before being discovered and destroyed. Papanikolis Cave is the second largest sea cave in Greece, and its size and karst formations will leave you in awe.
Fiskardo, named after a Viking sailor, is the northernmost village of Kefalonia. Walk its charming streets, relax at bars and taverns, and climb easily-accessible viewpoints for views of Ithaka.
Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia
Village of Assos
Come morning, we sail along the west coast of Kefalonia to admire the beauty of the Assos village and Myrtos Beach. Located in a small cove, Assos is a picturesque village with colorful houses and traditional taverns. Abounding with greenery, it features close proximity to the remains of a Venetian castle that overlooks the cove and the coastline of North Kefalonia. A bit south is Myrtos, the beach featured in the “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” film. Sitting at the base of an immense white cliff spotted with verdant greenery, this semi-circular pebble beach boasts crystalline waters.
While sailing south, we arrive at heavenly Fteri Beach, flanked with two enormous white cliffs at its sides and lush forest in the middle. Fteri is a wild, pebble beach without tourist facilities, with impeccably pure waters washing its shore. Further south, Petani Beach features big waves, turquoise waters, white sand, looming hills and several taverns. Family-friendly Xi Beach, located on the southern side of the Paliki peninsula, has brown sands edged by white cliffs. This organized beach features water sports.
Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia, is on the other side of the nearby bay. Surrounded by lush forests and high mountains, cosmopolitan Argostoli is the commercial center of the island. Walk cobbled Lithostroto Street for premium shopping and climb the Bell Tower in Kambana Square for panoramic views of the town. Fans of the antiquity should visit the Archaeological Museum of Kefalonia to examine artifacts from the ancient Greek and Roman times.
DAY7-8 – KEFALONIA – ZAKYNTHOS – 36,6 miles
Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach
When we leave Argostoli behind, we sail south to Zakynthos – the Flower of Levante. At Cape Skinari, the island’s northernmost point, we visit the Blue Caves, a series of photogenic sea caves. Take a dive in some of them to discover amazing underwater life in magnificent aquamarine waters. Then, we turn the yacht westward and sail along the west Zakynthos coast dominated by imposing white cliffs. Shortly, we find Navagio, one of the most photographed beaches in the world.
Surrounded from all sides with towering white walls and with a shipwreck as its centerpiece, Navagio is a pebble beach with a steep descent into deep turquoise waters. Around midday, many holiday-makers arrive at the beach by cruisers. Still, there are similar beaches a short way south, just without a wreck decorating them. The next must-see attraction along the rocky coastline is the Keri Caves, at the southern tip of Zakynthos. Just before reaching this spot, we will see the largest Greek flag flapping from the top of the nearby cliff. Take a swim in the dim Keri Caves or sunbath on the nearby beach or rocks.
Laganas, in the Laganas Bay, is the party capital of the party island of Zakynthos. This nightlife spot faces Marathonisi Island, which resembles a turtle. If nighttime entertainment isn’t really your thing, we may stay overnight in a nearby Agios Sostis or sail to Zante Town on the east coast of the island.
DAY9-10 – ZAKYNTHOS – KEFALONIA – ITHAKA – 40,9 miles
Dafni Beach, Zakynthos
Gerakas Beach, Zakynthos
Bochali, Zante Town
Skala Beach, Kefalonia
Vasilikos Peninsula, east of Laganas and south of Zante Town, features the highest concentration of exceptional beaches on Zakynthos. Dafni is a wild beach sitting at the base of a hill in the Laganas Bay. Gerakas, edged with colorful rocks and low vegetation, is ideal for kids since it features calm, shallow waters. If you yearn for water sports, Banana Beach on the east coast of Vasilikos is where we should direct the sailing yacht.
Zante Town is the capital of the island of Zakynthos, abounding with shops and taverns. For exceptional views of the town, Vasilikos Peninsula and Laganas Bay, climb the Bochali neighborhood and have a drink at one of its cafes. They are next to the remains of a Venetian castle. Next, we sail north along the east coast of Zakynthos, which, featuring resorts, beaches, hills and forests, is much different from the west.
Skala Beach, in the southeast of Kefalonia, is a long and organized beach, boasting clear waters, soft sand and water sports. By sailing north, we start discovering Ithaka, a verdant island with charming villages. Vathy, the island’s capital, and Kioni are the most picturesque settlements, both set in bays and encircled with hills. A busy Filiatro and tranquil Mprosta Aetos, both near Vathy, are among the top beaches of Ithaka. Secluded in green bays, both beaches feature calm waters. Beach bars of Filiatro frequently stage beach parties.
DAY11-12 – ITHAKA – LEFKADA – PARGA – 60 miles
Cape Lefkadas, Lefkada
Valtos Beach, Parga
We spend the seventh day of our Ionian Islands in a relaxed sailing. Starting from Ithaka, we sail along the west coast of Lefkada and anchor by its fantastic beaches to recapitulate old or have new experiences. While sailing around Cape Lefkadas, pay attention to the on-site sea cave – it’s a mythological entrance to the home of Hades, a Greek god of the underworld.
Once we leave Lefkada behind, we head to Parga, a lovely port in the Epirus province near Corfu Island. Parga is a favorite holiday destination, especially among the Scandinavians. Taverns, bars, and souvenir, cosmetic, jewelry and other stores line its seaside promenade and narrow streets. An old Venetian castle assumes the adjacent promontory, offering exceptional photo opportunities of the rugged coastline. You can visit three beaches with calm waters in Parga. Valtos and Krioneri have small pebbles, while Piso Krioneri features large pebbles.
DAY13-14 – PARGA – CORFU – 32 miles
Old Fortress, Corfu Town
Next morning, we sail to Corfu Town and conclude the Ionian Islands itinerary. Plan a few hours to visit the Old Fortress, the top attraction and most dominant landmark in the city. The town has many museums, and the Archeological Museum, Byzantine Museum and the Museum of Asiatic Arts are among the most-noteworthy ones.
If you are up for a day trip, visit the Achilleio Palace, named after Achilles, a Trojan War hero. Located just south of Corfu Town, the palace highlights a stylish interior and gardens brimming with flowers, cypress trees and sculptures. Or head west toward Glyfada Beach, and climb the viewpoint known as Kaizer’s Throne. Named after German Kaizer (Emperor) Wilhelm II, who liked to watch the sunset from this spot, the viewpoint offers fantastic views of Corfu Island and the Ionian Sea in all directions.