Since Coco Chanel made the suntan trendy in the 1920s after getting too much sun on a luxury Mediterranean cruise, visitors from across the world come to discover the regions rich culture and art all while soaking up the sunshine themselves beside crystal blue seas. The best way to fit in as many destinations and sights as possible is to choose a luxury yacht charter – with food and accommodation provided plus a collection of water toys and possible additions such as a sundeck Jacuzzi, your group is all set for a sensational time without any hours waiting in traffic.
Despite all the destinations to choose from, there are some places that luxury yacht charter guests return to year after year, and for good reason: Magnificent art and architecture from centuries past, delectable dining experiences, soft sand beaches, clear clean seas and an electric nightlife or complete quiet all factor in to make choices stand out above the alternatives. These Western Mediterranean destinations prove that no matter the changing fashions, some things just never go out of style.
This glamorous country is the place to indulge and pick up the very latest fashions before an elegant evening in the Michelin-quality restaurants followed by high-stakes thrills in the casinos. Not everything in Monaco is about spending money though: There are spectacular museums around Fontvieille Harbour and exotic botanical gardens. Visitors can also admire the city lights shimmering on the water at night, or catch the Monaco Grand Prix while dining alfresco aboard your luxury charter yacht.
This sprawling city has all the delights you could hope for on a holiday: Atmospheric ancient streets, ruined forts, delicious French cafes and boulangeries, unique local shops and interesting museums and art galleries to fill the daytime hours. Art lovers in particular will be thrilled by the exhibits on display, with museums dedicated to Matisse and Chagall as well as Musée Masséna containing artefacts from the belle époque.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is just a cruise around the corner and has a much more laid back atmosphere with plenty of coves and snorkelling and Scuba diving sites in clear blue waters.
The Cannes Film Festival signals the start of summer and charter season in the Mediterranean and this spectacular event brings the city to life with live music, galas and charity balls attended by the rich and famous.
Cannes keeps the entertainment going throughout the year at Palais des Festivals near Le Vieux Port, celebrating amongst other things games, fireworks and dance. The Old Quarter near the marina is perfect to absorb the city history in a short stroll and there are no end of cafes and high-end shops to tempt you inside.
For water sports, the pine covered Iles de Lerins offer privacy and an escape into nature for an afternoon reading or dining on board, savouring the sunshine and peace.
4. St. Tropez
Delight your senses with a day or two in Saint-Tropez, filled with modern artwork, luxury shopping opportunities and Michelin-quality restaurants to complement a day of wine tasting in the vineyards.
Pampelonne Beach is a paradise for hedonists, who have their choice of beach clubs along the shores to party from the afternoon long into the night. The kilometres-long beach and Plage de la Moutte to the north both have gentle inclines into the water, making this an ideal place for infants and young children to paddle.
Sicily is an excellent choice all on its own or as an addition to any itinerary taking in the Western Mediterranean and then heading to Croatia, Montenegro or Greece. The island capital of Palermo is a highlight of any visit, boasting nearly 3,000 years of history and filled with UNESCO World Heritage Sites from the past millennia. The royal palace Palazzo dei Normanni and the Byzantine mosaics of Cappella Palatina can all be found close to the bustling markets at the city centre. The Catacombe dei Cappuccini is a fascinating – if morbid – attraction dating back to the 16th Century, and in the evening guests can rest their feet and absorb the live entertainment at Teatro Massimo. Along the peninsula the nature reserves will entice your group to take out the kayaks and paddleboards to explore the beautiful coastal waters, while those wanting to stay high and dry have trails to follow for a relaxing walk.
The Aeolian Islands to the north have a far gentler pace in the towns, and on Panarea cars and streetlights have been banned to give pedestrians and bikers free reign of the streets during the day, followed by serene starry nights.
Lipari is divided between the luxuries of the town and untouched nature to satisfy the whims of everyone in the group: Shop, dine and savour spa treatments in the afternoon following a morning hike or play on the water toys near one of the stunning golden sand beaches. Vulcano to the south is a place of black sand beaches and fiery displays at the summit – be sure to bring your camera to capture glowing lava under darkening skies at sundown.
When you want to escape to the countryside without leaving civilisation behind, Corsica is where you want to be: More than 300 beaches are to be found along the coast and most of the gorgeous golden sands can only be accessed by boat. Taste the locally-produced wines at the cellar doors, host you own party on board, spend the whole day enjoying the water toys and then sunbathe or stargaze to your heart’s content.
Corsica is replete in natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the Gulf of Porto is one mesmerising example as you head into Ajaccio: Lonely lighthouses dot the red cliffs above deep blue water to create a dramatic backdrop to an ancient settlement inspired by French and Italian influences. As a favourite destination for luxury yacht holidays, there are no end of top quality spas, restaurants and boutiques before drinking and dancing the night away.
Sardinia is better known for Porto Cervo and its summer season of regattas but there is so much more to experience, having many beautiful beaches that compete with the collection on Sardinia and gastronomic delights in the towns along the coast. Spend an afternoon shopping and taking in the museums and art galleries in Cagliari, then cruise to your next destination while enjoying a freshly prepared lunch by your expert onboard chef.
La Maddalena Archipelago National Park between Corsica and Sardinia is bursting with rare flora and fauna, and guests should make the time to hike the trails and snorkel or Scuba dive in the clear and shallow lagoons perfect for young and inexperienced charter guests.
The array of towns and villages in such a small and historic area makes the Amalfi Coast experience of a lifetime. The narrow and winding coastal roads mean that this journey is best undertaken on the water and the advantages will be clear from the start: Relax on your sundeck and take note of the long lines of traffic stuck along the cliffs as you cruise unhindered from the romantic clifftop village of Ravello to the boutiques and cafes of Positano or the fine sand beaches around Sorrento. Take your time in Naples to savour pizza in its birthplace, attend a concert in the world’s oldest opera house and spend a day in Pompeii.
Capri is a part of the Amalfi Coast but this scenic Italian island has enough to fill a few days all by itself. Capri is to the east and it’s here that you will find the famed luxury shopping along Via Camarelle in Marina Grande, while galleries, cafes and restaurants give visitors a place to stop and have an authentic Italian coffee while admiring the views. Visit the Gardens of Augustus which overlook the renowned hairpin bends of Via Krupp, then cruise west to the enchanting Blue Grotto.
To the west, Anacapri has preserved much of its history and Majolica tiles colour the squares and give the region its unique charm. The San Michele church has a stunning mosaic floor depicting paradise on Earth, and the Villa San Michelle and the Museo Casa Rossa di Anacapri are visual delights for culture lovers.
10. The Balearics
The Balearic Islands are a sensational way to spend a week of summer in the Mediterranean. Famed for its nightlife in Ibiza, water sports lovers and culture seekers will find a wealth of landmarks above and below the water to pique their interest: Cave dives are common along the coast and there are wrecks such as the DON PEDRO, the largest wreck in the Mediterranean Sea.
Palma has old Roman ruins and UNESCO World Heritage Sites just waiting to be discovered in the labyrinthine streets, and to the south the Cabrera National Park is a destination few tourists reach, making it a haven of tranquillity for your group.
On Menorca, both the Ciutadella and Mahón will take you past picturesque castles and forts along the coast before you set foot in scenic streets filled with cafes, restaurants and bars for cosy evenings under the stars. North of Mahón there’s the chance to spot the rare Hermann’s Turtle at Parc Natural de s’Albufera des Grau before you cruise on to your next destination.