10 of the best sailing holidays in Europe

Yachting, Amalfi coast

First-time sailors can explore the Amalfi coast on this four-day yachting trip from Amalfi to Procida via Capri. There are opportunities for swimming and snorkelling, including a dip beside the Blue Grotto on Capri, plus time on land for exploring. Living conditions are fairly cramped – eight people share four small cabins and two bathrooms – but far more time is spent on deck or out and about. No sailing experience is necessary, but there will be a chance to pitch in, especially when coming in to or leaving port. The trip is suitable for ages 15 and above. Intrepid Travel also runs a week-long version, with extra nights in Ischia and Sorrento and a visit to Pompeii.
Four days, including selected meals and activities, from £737, intrepidtravel.com

Day tripping, Cornwall

Sailing on the Mascotte from Charlestown’s historic harbour in Cornwall
Sailing on the Mascotte from Charlestown

Those who aren’t sure if sailing is for them can dip a toe in the water on a day trip aboard the largest surviving Bristol Channel pilot cutter, departing from Charlestown’s harbour in Cornwall, which featured in the Poldark TV series. A morning sailing on Mascotte starts from £60pp (classic-sailing.com). And if you like the idea of a boat but not the sailing itself, the renovated Pen Glas fishing boat offers bunks for the night from £25,

Seafood feast, Scotland

Danish gaff cutter Eda Frandsen
Danish gaff cutter Eda Frandsen. Photograph: Eda Frandsen Sailing

Originally a fishing trawler working in the North Sea, the Danish gaff cutter Eda Frandsen divides her time between the west coast of Scotland, exploring quiet anchorages around the Western Isles, and the waters of Cornwall. At 18 metres long, she takes up to eight guests. Locally sourced and sustainable food is a highlight, so expect wild crab, langoustine, mackerel and scallops as you explore the waters of St Kilda, the Small Isles, the Inner Hebrides or Skye.
A three-night voyage on Eda Frandsen costs £550, six nights from £1,100, eda-frandsen.co.uk

Foodie tour, Croatia

Sail Croatia has launched a new island-hopping foodie route Food2
Sail Croatia’s foodie route takes in Split, Havar, Vis, the Palkeni islands and Makarska

Sail Croatia has launched a new island-hopping foodie route, sailing on six- to 10-people yachts and mooring up at restaurants for dinner. The trip starts and finishes in Split and calls at three ports on Hvar, plus Vis, the Pakleni islands and Makarska on the mainland. The suggested venues range from traditional Dalmatian konobas and family-run fish restaurants to modern waterfront dining. One standout is Hora, a restaurant on an organic farm and winery on the island of Hvar, which offers olive oil, cheese and wine tastings, and specialises in lamb peka, cooked over an open fire. The skipper makes the reservations and can personalise your itinerary.
Seven days, including transfers, excluding restaurant bills, from £332, sail-croatia.com

Smart sailing, UK coast

Sail Britain Sail Britain Secret Harbour
Conservation and marine biology are the focus of Sail Britain’s trips, along with memorable sailing

The aim of Sail Britain is not only to provide a memorable sailing experience but to inspire positive change for the oceans. Trips aboard the 12-metre offshore cruiser Merlin are a blend of sailing and education, with titles such as “creative leadership”, “ocean optimism” and “wild food and sailing”. A qualified skipper is joined by a specialist in conservation, art, marine biology or wild food among other disciplines, for a week’s journey around parts of the UK coast.
The seven-day Our Living Ocean trip, sailing between Mallaig and Oban in September, is £750, sailbritain.org

Gentle sailing, Greece

Saronic islands, Greece Sailing trip on 50ft Zorba
The Zorba in the Saronic Islands. Photograph: Paul Terry

If you like your weather hot, a trip on the 15-metre Zorba might be the answer: a Greek sailing holiday away from the crowds. With five private cabins on this modern yacht, the focus on this holiday is relaxation, island-hopping, swimming and snorkelling as much as sailing.
An eight-day voyage around the Saronic islands in Greece from £895, venturesailholidays.com

Island adventure, Spain

Hiking on La Gomera.
Hiking on La Gomera. Photograph: Westend61 GmbH/Alamy

This week-long sailing trip, starting and finishing in Tenerife, is a chance to visit two lesser-known Canary Islands: La Gomera and La Palma. Passengers can hike on La Gomera, explore its capital, San Sebastián, laze on the beach and swim off the boat. There is a free day on La Palma, which can be spent in the capital, Santa Cruz, or touring the island. The 17-metre yacht has five twin/double cabins, three bathrooms, deck space for sleeping under the stars, outside shower and bathing platform. Minimum age is 16 and no experience is required.
Seven days from £949, gadventures.com

Swim and snorkel, Turkey

Sedir island, Gokova Bay.
Sedir island, Gokova Bay. Photograph: Alamy

This eight-day trip on a traditional gulet sails the Gulf of Gokova, with its remote bays backed by sweeping forests and plenty of opportunities to swim and snorkel in the sparkling Aegean. The round trip from Bodrum visits Sedir Island, also known as Cleopatra Island, the secret meeting place of the Egyptian queen and Mark Anthony, and Oren, which has Roman ruins and Byzantine churches. Guests stay in en suite cabins and all meals are included, as is paddleboarding and fishing equipment.
Eight days from £875pp, responsibletravel.com

Flotilla sailing, Greece

This flotilla holiday is ideal for beginners who want to sail their own yacht: a group of 10-12 boats is guided by a lead yacht with a skipper, engineer and host. The Ionian islands are ideal for novices, particularly Paxos and the southern archipelago. A one-week holiday starts in Lefkas, calling at Kefalonia, Ithaca, Kalamos, Kastos and Meganisi. Over two weeks, the flotilla sails from Corfu to Kefalonia. Most sailing days are just 12-15 miles, with a couple of longer days, and there are swim stops en route. Social events with the other boats, such as picnics and drinks parties, are also a highlight.
One week, including flights, from £575; two weeks from £655, sailingholidays.com

Whale watching, Portugal

A 1930s cod fishing tall ship is now a spacious holiday vessel for island-hopping in the Azores. This trip starts and ends in Terceira, dropping anchor in quiet spots around the central islands and whale-watching up the São Jorge Channel. Stops include Graciosa, the most northerly island, which has a 40-metre-high volcanic cave and sulphurous lake, and the capital of Faial, Horta, a lively sailors’ hangout. Passengers can join a night watch and climb the rigging, or just enjoy the kayaks, paddleboards and dive rib. There are 16 double cabins and onboard meals are included.
Eight days from £1,050, sailwiz.com

Wyl Menmuir is author of The Draw of The Sea (Aurum, £16.99), winner of the Roger Deakin Award for nature writing

The Guardian