Recent times have been tough on everyone, but now that summer is here and the world is opening up once again it’s time to reward yourself and the whole family with a family-friendly luxury yacht charter in the Mediterranean.
Whether your children are just learning to walk or preparing to fly the nest, the Mediterranean has myriad events and attractions to enchant and impress. Make memories that matter in historic settings such as Pompeii. And if all you want is some quality family time together on beautiful beaches, you can cruise away from the popular, packed hotspots to find your own little hideaway on Corsica or the archipelagos around Greece.
The Balearic Islands are a fantastic cruising ground for charter groups that want to do it all: Golden and white sand beaches along Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca and the Sierra de Tramuntana, the Menorca biosphere and stunning snorkelling and Scuba diving sites like the Posidonia meadows. There are spa treatments, boutique shopping, fine dining, and bars and clubs for the adults in your group, who can allay any indulgences with hiking, biking and yoga and Pilates from the burgeoning wellness scene. The unique museums and galleries will fill any rainy afternoons before you return to your luxury yacht to wind down with dinner and age-appropriate drinks under the setting sun.
Barcelona is often included in a Balearic Islands yacht charter for the convenience of the marina and international airport – but it’s the influential art and architecture that give this destination ‘bucket list’ status: View the lifetime works of Picasso in the artist’s namesake museum deep within the atmospherically dingy Gothic Quarter, then step out into the sunshine and walk the Block of Discord for spectacular early examples of Catalan modernisme. Add La Sagrada Familia and the whimsical Park Güell for some of the best sights in the city before you make your onward journey.
France & Monaco
The South of France together with Monaco is known collectively as the ‘French Riviera’, and come summer, families from across Europe – and farther afield – arrive to spend sunny days playing and resting on the beaches. The region is therefore well prepared for groups of all ages, with attractions designed for under 10s all the way into adulthood.
Marseille and the Calanques National Park make a perfect pair, combining numerous museums and galleries with breath-taking villas and gardens, plus indoor and outdoor theatres for concerts. Walking trails and cycling routes will keep you active on land, while the underwater museum in Marseille and the snorkelling sites in Calanques are both visual treats. More natural wonders await at Iles d’Hyeres and Cap Benat, where beautiful beaches and small seaside villages are the setting for quality family time.
Have your pick of even more golden-sand shores from Cap Benat all the way to Saint-Tropez and Pampelonne Beach, the latter destination offering a shallow incline into the sea for young paddlers, and plenty of choice in restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs for older holidaymakers.
Cannes keeps minds engaged with a blend of classic and contemporary culture, and right beside the marina is the Palace of Festivals and Congresses of Cannes, made famous for annually hosting the Cannes Film Festival. It hosts other events throughout the year, including festivals dedicated to board games, dance and fireworks. Update your wardrobe and get the latest gadgets along La Croisette and the surrounding streets, with harbour-side eateries, galleries and museums never far away. The Iles de Lerins are just a quick cruise south, and the islands offer walking tracks, anchorages for your water sports, a new underwater museum, fortresses and chapels within a serene natural setting all but forgotten by the digital age.
Farther along the coast, Antibes has several quirky museums – one dedicated to a local cartoon satirist, another to absinthe – in addition to a Picasso Museum marking the time that the famous artist spent in this seaside town. Nice is perhaps the greatest cultural centre along the Cote d’Azur: This sprawling metropolis will inspire budding artists, photographers and other creatives with the home-turned-museum of Renoir, the Marc Chagall National Museum, Fine Arts Museum of Nice and numerous scenic walkways and chateaus surrounding Castle Hill.
There’s something for all ages and interests in Monaco, but its greatest attraction is the Monaco Grand Prix in May. If you are lucky enough to secure a berth in Port Hercule, you’ll have a front-row seat of the action. Concerts, luxury shopping and Michelin star meals will create an opulent holiday experience, and for younger children there is a zoo, gardens and a dinosaur museum to capture their imaginations.
South of the French Riviera, Corsica is a favourite destination for chartered yachts with hundreds and hundreds of beaches and anchorages for quality family time away from the crowds.
The simple natural beauty of the Italian Riviera and Tuscany are coveted by yacht charterers, who can arrive at the hotspots before anyone else and cruise off when things get crowded. Portofino and Cinque Terre are the must-see destinations, while Genoa, La Spezia and Forte dei Marmi have more contemporary entertainments and shopping opportunities for local designers and international brands. In the Tuscan Archipelago, the winding coast around Elba provides plenty of anchorages for water sports, private celebrations and nights under clear starry skies.
Of all the Italian charter grounds, the Amalfi Coast has the greatest contrasts, all ideally situated within a short cruising distance of one another. Capri and Anacapri are blessed with natural beauty, including a few grottoes where the afternoon light reflects off the sea floor to colour the white walls in dancing light. Visit the ruins of a Roman Emperor’s palace, the Gardens of Augustus and Villa San Michele, then update your wardrobe with the latest trends at Via Camerelle before dancing the night away.
Ischia and Procida across the Bay of Naples have more cultural attractions and tempting bays, while Naples itself is a bustling hub where there will be something to satisfy all interests in your group. Take a day trip to Pompeii, then cruise the coast between Positano, Amalfi and Ravello to see the region that has inspired poets, artists and writers over the centuries.
Sardinia, Sicily & the Aeolian Islands live life at a slower pace than mainland Italy yet have plenty of luxuries and attractions to keep you busy the whole week through. La Maddalena Archipelago between Corsica and Sardinia is a scenic stop for paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkelling and Scuba diving, followed by a rest in the sunshine and an authentic Italian coffee. Porto Cervo is a renowned gathering spot for yachting enthusiasts and several regattas take place from here throughout the summer.
Both Sardinia and Sicily have marvellous beaches, historic sites and majestic manor houses complete with gardens, while the volcanic activity amongst the Aeolian Islands produces fertile vineyards. Sip on locally produced wine after a hike to the volcano summit to watch the fiery sparks and commanding views at sunset.
Add Venice and Trieste into an Adriatic yacht charter to discover yet more great Italian architecture, museums, galleries and unique shopping opportunities before cruising on to the magnificent snorkelling and Scuba diving grounds in Croatia.
Croatia & Montenegro
Forts, castles, churches and monasteries cover Croatia’s coastline, and because of the fresh seafood, produce and wines in Istria, the location is a prime location for sun-seekers who also crave culture and cuisine in equal measure. If cruising from Venice, make your first stop in Umag to see the old town and its museum, then on to Novigrad for more culture and its soft and beaches.
Picturesque Poreč has the impressive Euphrasian Basilica complex, a Roman Temple and stately houses spanning the different centuries. Pula is best known for its Roman amphitheatre and undergrounds exhibitions; however, the harbour offers a richly rewarding stroll with a hilltop fortress, the temple of Augustus, galleries and mosaics from antiquity. Beaches can be found amongst the headlands, and Brijuni National Park is just a short cruise away.
There is no better way to see the Dalmatian Coast than by water. This summer paradise has incredible Scuba diving sites including reefs, caves and wrecks at various depths to suit all skill levels. The Kornati National Park is the perfect place to start, with nearly 90 islands for hiking, watersports, sunbathing and getting to know the local flora and fauna. Nearby Zadar is abounding with Roman and Venetian landmarks for a satisfying day in town combined with shopping, drinking and dining at your leisure.
Split is the largest city in Dalmatia and the location of UNESCO World Heritage Site the Diocletian’s Palace. Yet more museums and galleries are packed together to easily fill a rainy day, and when the sun is high in the sky it’s time to explore Brac, Hvar, Vis and Biševo. Dance festivals are held around these islands in the summer months, however there is plenty of opportunity to find a quiet beach to host your own party or to savour the natural hush of the night.
Whales, dolphins and many more sea creatures can be seen in and around the Lastovo Archipelago Nature Park, where yacht charterers can destress and detox from the modern world. By contrast, Dubrovnik is filled with enticements from sunup to the early hours: Stroll through old town and taste gelato, hand-crafted coffee and chocolates between your tour of the fortress walls, Franciscan friary and Rector’s Palace. Browse the shops and galleries late into the afternoon, then soak up the summer night ambiance in the restaurants, clubs and bars.
Montenegro may be a small country, but its winding coast has created an adventurer’s playground, lined with beaches and seaside settlements that each have unique attractions for you to find. Wander through the museums and galleries in Tivat, view Roman mosaics in Risan, and the palaces and castles at Kotor in picture-perfect settings.
There are so many islands in the Greece charter grounds that many choose to focus on one archipelago and return year after year to see the rest, securing the same stellar yacht and crew or chartering a range of vessels (open yachts, catamarans, sailing yachts etc.) that each have their own desirable amenities.
The Ionian Islands is so beautiful that Greek gods and goddesses and creatures from myths and legends were either born here or made their home between the clear sapphire waters and the forested peaks. In modern times visitors choose Corfu for its historic buildings, each a remnant of a different distant era, delicious dishes complemented by locally made wines, and plenty of sandy beaches, many accessible only by water.
Paxi and Antipaxos are even more beautiful than Corfu, the latter offering a rustic setting for groups who want to reconnect with the natural world, spending blissful days playing on the water toys and resting under the summer sun.
Kefalonia by contrast has lively night-time entertainment and plenty of seaside villages to visit as you explore the coast, discovering ancient landmarks, limestone caves and golden sand beaches along the way. Inquisitive monk seals and turtles might join you as you snorkel and scuba dive around reefs, wrecks and other enticing underwater attractions you encounter.
Kythira is the southernmost Ionian Island and is often overlooked compared to better known islands. Ancient Greek poet Hesiod named Kythira as the birthplace of Aphrodite, and you will be enchanted by the gorges, waterfalls, castles and coastal walks during your stay. To the south is Crete, a magnificent destination for Scuba divers and a worthy addition to any itinerary.
The Cyclades is the most famous archipelago in the Greece charter grounds, location of white-washed buildings and iconic blue roofs, windmills and coloured volcanic sands. Mykonos has always enjoyed a reputation for an electric nightlife, and its summer glamour has attracted celebrities and students alike from across the world. Shopping, spa services, beaches, culture and tradition create a playground for visitors who want to do it all without travelling too far.
Santorini enjoys a similar reputation, but its main attraction (outside of its Capital of Thera) is the ancient ruins of Thira on land, and underwater the collapsed caldera has created stunning Scuba diving grounds. Access the best sites for your group using the freedom your luxury yacht grants you, and an experienced guide to show you the best secrets.
Amongst the Dodecanese, Rhodes is a highlight for its medieval old town. Within, there is the Palace of the Grand Master, the Archaeological Museum within the Hospital of the Knights and the Byzantine Museum within Panagia tis Nikis Church. Walk through the Acropolis of Rhodes on the western side of town, then cruise along the coast and over to Chalki to find scenic seaside villages and secluded anchorages for snorkelling and sunbathing in peace.
Kos is another great choice for a variety of activities, while nearby Nisyros and Tilos are an escape from modern distractions to live in pace with nature.
The Turquoise Coast is a marvel of nature and ancient architectural achievements, and there are plenty of places where the two come together to make young and old alike feel as though they have stumbled into another world. Begin at Kuşadası or Pamucak Beach to the north and head inland to the Ancient City of Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with Greek and Roman ruins, including the Temple of Artemis.
The beautiful Buyuk Menderes National Park is on the way as you head south to Bodrum: Hike along the coastal trail and meet your yacht at the other side, or swim and snorkel at the various remote beaches along the way. Walk the ancient temple complex of Didyma at modern day Didim, where guests can rest and recharge after with hammam and spa massage services.
Visit Bodrum Castle, walk through the scenic streets, go shopping at the bazaar and discover more of the past through the museums and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Marmaris is a favourite amongst holidaymakers for its beauty and bustling nightlife. Wander the harbourside old town, visiting its highlights of the Grand Bazaar and Marmaris Castle.
Göcek, Fethiye and Ölüdeniz are fantastic adventure playgrounds both on land and in the water: go horse riding, paraglide, Scuba dive and snorkel with turtles or relax on the beaches and watch the world go by. The Lycian Way and its tombs are one of the most iconic sights of the Turkish Riviera, and it’s possible to walk between Fethiye and Ölüdeniz to take in the cliff-carved tombs and commanding views of the surrounding coastal scenery.
Wake to the white shores of Patara Beach and view the nearby ancient Roman ruins before any other beachgoers arrive at this critically acclaimed site. Head to the stunning Sunken City of Kekova at its namesake island and stay as long as you desire, admiring the verdant ruins and the marine life flitting through the glassy blue-green waters.
For lovers of nature, culture and an active outdoor lifestyle, the various ancient settlements and anchorages on the way to Antalya will each prove a rewarding treat. Once you arrive at this sprawling city, indulge in shopping, hammam and spa services, and taste authentic Turkish coffee at one of the harbourside cafes. Escape the hottest hours of the day in one of the many galleries and museums, and view the impressive remnants of the Roman empire in the Antalya Archaeology Museum.
Alanya is the easternmost stop along the Turkish Riviera: The town has a castle, tower and museums along the cape as well as Damlataş Cave, reputed to have healing properties. South towards Cyprus, even more magnificent natural sights of the Turkish Riviera are waiting to be discovered.