Sailing the Peloponnese is one of Greece’s real highlights. This quiet but beautiful cruising ground is every sailors dream, with secluded beauty spots, free town quays and tonnes of history, this really is one of the best places to sail in Greece.
The Peloponnese is located in southern Greece, mostly along the mainland with some scattered islands along the way. You can reach it through the Corinth canal to the north or by crossing from Zakynthos. It’s full of history, natural beauty and charming towns and was probably our favourite cruising ground in all of Greece. Sailing the Peloponnese should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Weather When Sailing The Peloponnese
Sailing the Peloponnese can be a little tricky due to some unpredictable weather patterns. We found that on the whole the winds during the summer months were northerlies and generally not too strong until we reached the east side of the Peloponnese, when we started to get the tail end of the Meltemi winds that would sometimes extend into the mainland coast.
One of the trickier aspects of sailing this coastline is the mountainous peninsulas that create their own wind systems. Cape Malia in particular is known for it’s unpredictable winds, so care is needed when rounding this cape!
Later on in the season towards October onwards and into the Spring months there were frequent thunderstorms that bought rain and high winds.
The weather also starts getting cooler around October time. We found that during October we had many days where we were still in our swim wear, but the nights were much colder. Apparently during the winter months it’s not uncommon to experience violent winds and frequent storms, so we decided to stop our season for the winter months at the end of October. That bring said, we met plenty of people who sail here the whole season round – you just have to be confident in your abilities and your ground tackle!
Luckily there are plenty of well protected and safe harbours along the coast, so as long as you’re checking the weather regularly you can always find somewhere safe to duck into.
Sailing The Peloponnese Route
We’ve put together a route starting in Katakolo on the coast opposite Zakynthos and ending just before you reach Athens. This route takes in some of the real highlights, along with some of the places recommended to us by other cruisers that we haven’t had a chance to explore yet.
As always, there are countless other places along the way that are just as specular, so if you’re lucky and you have the time to stop at numerous places along the way then you won’t be disappointed!
Explore Ancient Olympia
The western coast of the Peloponnese is full of long sandy beaches. If you’re crossing from Zakythos then it’s worth stopping at Katakolo just to visit Olympia. You can take a train to the famous historical site from here.
Katakolo isn’t the prettiest of stops, with HUGE cruise ships going in and out constantly and a large industrial town. There’s a harbour you can moor up in that’s well protected, or you can anchor out opposite the beach (sand and good depths).
If you aren’t bothered about visiting Olympia or need to provision then it probably isn’t worth stopping here.
Head To Kyparissia When Sailing The Peloponnese
We absolutely loved this local, working town and stayed much longer than we had planned. The town itself isn’t anything amazing (though it has a busy kind of charm), but the castle and old town on top of the hill is just lovely, with awesome views over the town below.
There is space for about 5 or 6 boats to anchor stern to on the quay to the north, or if you aren’t too constrained by your depth then you can come alongside on the quay opposite. You can also anchor in the middle of the harbour.
Find out all about the best things to do in Kyparissia.
Be Wowed By The Views At Pylos
Probably our favourite place ever in our two years of sailing Greece. If you can only stop once then stop here!
This massive, protected bay (the Gulf of Navarino) has two main areas. The actual town and Navarino bay. The town itself is pretty, with a nice town square lined with cafes and a pretty stretch of restaurants that all look out to sea. It also has an amazing chandlery near the harbour side with a super helpful owner!
The town itself has a (slightly run down) harbour that you anchor stern to inside. Be aware that it’s pretty tight in there. Or you can anchor just outside.
Navarino bay was our favourite. Anchor off the beach with good protection from most directions. There is a lovely stretch of sandy beach with shallow water to cool off in. An hours walk up the mountain brings you to a castle ruin with the most incredibly views from all directions. If you cross over the beach you reach pretty sand dunes and a horseshoe bay surrounded by cliffs. You can anchor here if the weather is favourable.
Wander Castles At Methoni And Koroni
These two castle towns are similar in style but both worth a stop. Methoni has impressive castle ruins to explore and the monastery in the castle walls of Koroni is just beautiful. Both have a lot of charm and are perfect places to spend a day exploring.
Koroni and Methoni both have pretty protected harbours you can anchor in and are two of the busier places we anchored in when sailing the Peloponnese.
Relax On Elafonisis When Sailing The Peloponnese
Sadly we didn’t get a weather window to stop here but we’ve been told it’s the Caribbean of Greece, with shallow crystal clear water over a beautiful sandbank. We will certainly be stopping here when we get the chance!
Explore Pretty Villages In Kythira
This island is a must see. We came here to shelter from some high winds and fell in love with the scenery and village vibe. You can walk to an impressive hilltop fort with views out to sea or just spend hours wandering the pretty little streets of one of the many little villages dotted around.
There are several places to anchor, or a free town quay on the southern tip with water and electricity available.
Take In The Stunning Monemvasia
This is a must-see destination for anyone sailing the Peloponnese. There are several places to anchor out and a free town quay too. It’s an impressive place with a huge rock and castle towering above the anchorage and a medieval town to explore. There are tonnes of great places to eat and drink so stay a few days of you can!
Don’t Sail Past Kyparissi
This tiny village would be so easy to miss out but we think it’s a definite must see for sailing the Peloponnese. As you approach the bay you’re greeted with green, towering mountains. It almost feels as though you’ve stepping into the Swiss alps. Combine that with a ridiculously pretty village and you’re onto a winner.
You can anchor in several places in this large, protected bay. We preferred the anchorage to the south where there is space to anchor in the bay (it’s quite deep though) or come stern to on the little fisherman’s quay opposite the chapel.
Climb Castle Walls In Nafplio
Nafplio is one of the biggest built up areas in this finger of the Peloponnese and is a great place to stop and explore for a few days while sailing the Peloponnese. Climb the steep steps up to the castle, wander the side streets with an ice cream or sit beside the harbour and enjoy a cold beer. There is also a lovely sea view walk among the pines and if you’re a climber then there’s some interesting looking routes marked out in the area too.
We anchored a little east of the actual town because of the weather in a sheltered bay by the beach. From there it was about an hours walk into town. You can anchor much closer if the weather permits or go into the protected harbour and anchor stern to in the marina.
There are numerous other great stops when sailing the Peloponnese. If you have the time then consider stopping at Porto Heli (a great bolt hole for any bad weather), Spetses island with it’s classy, upmarket town and Hydra with it’s natural beauty.
Do you have a favourite place for sailing in the Peloponnese? Let us know below!