Sailing Greece and Turkey “combo”
The best of both worlds
Greece or Turkey, which is best? Both are fantastic sailing grounds, loads of local “colour” and culture, yet very different to each other. How to choose??
So – don’t choose, do the best of both worlds! Our “combo” trips give you a chance to explore both countries at a leisurely, cruising pace. No need to worry about the logistics of getting ferries from one country to the other, you simply stay on board your floating home and we take care of customs bureaucrasy, etc.
Our combo trips are usually 10 or 13 days; occasionally we’re able to do shorter customised trips for groups.
Come join us for a taste of both cultures; it’s the “real deal”, people and places you’ll never see on a cruise ship.
In Greece, our cruising grounds are the Dodecanese islands. In true SeaScape style, we stay away from the busier “touristy” spots. We visit islands like Patmos, where St John wrote the Book of Revelations; next-door neighbour, Lipsos, which boasts at least 52 blue-domed churches, whilst the tiny paradise-island of Marathi is home to just three families.
Our itineraries vary to avoid the crowds – when it’s busier up north, we head south, stopping off at “old island” Paleonissos, with it’s sheer, mountainous sides, echoing the sounds of goat bells at dawn and dusk; Pothia, the famous sponge divers port, and Niseros – the awesome “volcano island”.
Conveniently for us – Turkey’s most gorgeous cruising grounds are right opposite; the aptly named Turquoise Coast. Our favourite is the Datca peninsula, well away from “McDonalds Marmaris”. It’s a fascinating mix of ancient and modern; from Knidos, once a thriving trading port and home to thousands in 300BC; to Datca – modern-day Turkey, a lively waterfront of bars, restaurants and carpet shops.
Then tucked away in sheltered bays are our little “one taverna” anchorages. There’s no road access, it’s us boaties only. Most have been run by the same families for decades, we get the “visiting cousins” treatment here too (and fresh-baked bread in the mornings, yum!)
Sailing in Greece and Turkey
This is an example of a typical itinerary on one of our 10 days sailing trips in Greece & Turkey. Please keep in mind that no two trips are ever exactly the same; only the start and end points are fixed. Otherwise, we go with the flow of what Poseidon dictates, and the preferences of those on board!
Day One - We start the adventure on our Dodecanese home island of Leros. It's small airport has kept it off the main "package deal" tourist map; it still has a small island community feeling to it. We meet at the marina in Lakki (main harbour on Leros) at 11am. After boat briefing, unpacking, and generally getting comfortable with the yacht, we'll set sail for Lipsos - island of the 42 blue-domed churches. It is the perfect introduction to "traditional Greece"; a small, untouristy village, with an unruly array of whitewashed buildings scattered around the bay. The vivid streaks of traditional blue trim and the blazing bougainvillea pinks & purples make it a real photographers' dream!
Day Two - Sail to Paleonissos - "Old Island". Hidden away in a fjord-like nook of Kalymnos, this little anchorage really is "old Greece". The most predominent sound are the goat bells, echoing around the steep-sided hills either side.
There are just two tavernas (and one church); it's a chill-and-swim tranquility spot. By the time you've settled into sunset drinks & dinner at a little family taverna overlooking the bay, you'll have already forgotten what a "tube" or a "traffic jam" is!
Day Three - Sail to Pothia - the main harbour of Kalymnos. A bustling fishing port, this is very much a "Greek" town - you won't find too may package tourists with lobster-broiled skins and tattoos wandering around here! It's former claim-to-fame was as a major sponge-diving centre; there is a fascinating underwater archeological museum which charts their history. Of course, there are still lots of sponges to buy!
For those wishing to explore further afield on the island, the west coast is a rocky, wild collection of beaches and villages, well worth hiring a car and exploring for the afternoon. Or there is a little "town beach" for those would prefer to chill locally, to honour the local tradition of "siesta time"... till the town starts to wake up and the waterfront becomes a lively Mediterranean promenade.
Day Four - This is our long day's sail - up at the crack o' dawn to sail down to Niseros - the volcano island. It's a 5-6 hours sail, a lovely downwind cruise. Niseros is not on the main ferry routes, nor does it have an airport... which has happily kept it from any mass tourist influx. The traditional little harbour town is just gorgeous - a photographer's dream of postcard material around every corner.
The volcana is still officially active, though has not erupted since 1888. One can hike around the huge, lunar-like crater, the smell of sulphur still very much in the air.
Day Five morning - Another early start - today is when we check out of Greece, and begin our Turkish explorations. We'll be doing this at the island of Simi, the official port of entry/exit for the area. Simi harbour is a fascinating disarray of buildings, scattered down the steep slopes of the harbour, looking much more neo-classical Italian than Greek!
Sadly, it is becoming increasingly packed out with tourist boats; so it will be a brief couple of hours stop here to explore the harbourfront, do our paperwork.... and then it will be onto Datca - our first stop in Turkey!
Day Five - afternoon Datca - It's busy and bustling too, but in a much nicer sense, if we are a little "snotty-yachtie" about it (We, after all, are not tourists - we are yachties!). It has a lovely, open waterfront, recently redeveloped with some interesting statues and architecture; the older traditional shops, restaurants and bars still lining the backdrop. It's a great place to find local craft bargains; jewellery, carpets, antique-looking bits n' bobs.
The town also boasts a haman - 'Turkish Bath house', which is quite the cultural experience! Heated marble slabs to lie on, cool flowing water to douse oneself in to cool off; a masseur to give you a full-on exfoliation treatment (it's shocking how much dead skin we carry around with us!); and then a traditional oil massage and apple tea at the end to round off the experience.
We can also arrange a visit to "Old Datca" up in the hills - formerly a Greek village, before the WW2 "population swap". En route is an active olive oil farm, which looks like an old stately home; their demo tours of the oil-making process are quite fascinating.
Day Six - A late departure (after lunch) from Datca, to give everyone time to explore in the morning. It's a 2 hour, leisurely sail to our next destination of Dirsek - a very pretty and quiet little bay, with just one taverna nestled in a corner. Wonderful swimming, great chillout spot.
A goat-track hike of about 30mins takes you to the top of an amazing panoramic vista over the entire bay. The taverna is run by an extended family of brothers, cousins and assorted other relatives - one of our little home-from-home spots which is usually very tranquil and calm. Unless, that is, our group happen to be in a party mood - in which case the group of young brothers are more than happy throw themselves into the spirit too!
The family usually give us a present of home-made bread in the morning, fresh from their wood-fired oven - with local honey, mmmmm!!
Day Seven - Sail to Ova Buku - a horseshoe-shaped bay with a lovely sandy beach; a little village and farmland as the backdrop. The key feature here is "Ogun's" - an off-beat little establishment, right on the beachfront. It's a restaurant, bar, hangout spot all rolled into one. We're welcome to use their beachbeds, wifi, showers and generally feel like visiting family (we pretty much are, after all these years)
The main character is Ogun himself - the larger-than-life, exuberant proprietor. He bounces around from table to table with his characteristic Ogun laugh; smiles are always infectious, and Ogun's Place reflects his contagiously positive energy.
Ogun's sister, Semra is responsible for the very unusual array of home-cooked home which they are also famous for. Married to a French guy, imagine the combo of French and Turkish cuisine.... yum!!!
Day Eight - Bozburun to Bozuk Buku, a gentle, relaxing downwind leg of around 2-3hrs. Bozuk Buku is scenically a total contrast to the other places we visit - the softer, pine-forested hills suddenly change into dramatically towering cliffs, arid and desolate as any desert. The ancient city of Lorimer used to be situated here, and the fortress walls which surrounded the entire bay can still be seen. We moor up on a rickety wooden dock right underneath the castle walls; it's a half hour scramble up to the castle, for stunning views over the bay. There's always lots of friendly "yachtie chat" around the dock, and everyone slowly winds up in the little, idiosyncratic taverna overlooking the water.
Day Nine - Sail to Bozburun. Formerly a traditional boat-building village, there are still a few boatyards there which craft the old style wooden "gulets". One wonders why on earth there is any need for more, as the waterfront of Bozburun is packed with dozens already ! - but they are very pretty craft to adorn the old village. Still happily off the main tourist tracks, the little village of Bozburun is very traditional Turkish, with a statue of Ataturk dominating the main square. A small mosque is welcoming to visitors; and for our guys in need of a little sprucing up after being salty yachties, there is a traditional barber who will give you the closest shave you've had ever!. Ears, nose, head massage, it's the full works.
Our home-from-home here is a little family pension, where we are also welcome to use their sunbeds, showers, hammocks... and join their feast of a buffet for our farewell dinner ! They have lovely little rooms overlooking the water, should anyone feel in need of a little last night luxury. Disembark 9am. Our skippers can help organise transfers to Mamaris (for ferry connections to Rhodes, Greece), or to Dalaman airport.
Sailing in Greece & Turkey – Local Info
What is the sailing season in the Med?
The best time to sail in Greece and Turkey is between late May and late Oct.
Earlier in the season is possible, but those glorious sunny-all-day Med conditions are not guaranteed; we can still get some dodgy weather early in May. The Turkish season tends to extend a little later than Greece; it stays warm and calm longer, the “lights-off” time for most tourist businesses in Turkey is Oct 30. In Greece, conditions can be a little unpredictable late in Oct (but it can still be a great time to sail, for those who hate crowds!)
Winds – the typical meltemi pattern of summer winds tends to follow the temperature. It blows the strongest in mid-summer, and is calmer in early and late season. In some parts of Greece (notably the Ionian), it’s a nice, predictable afternoon breeze; anywhere mid-Aegean or further east, forget any such reliability – the meltemi will blow when it feels like it!
Do I need a visa for Greece or Turkey?
For Greece, most nationalities do not need a visa. One notable exception is South Africa, where you must apply in advance. If you at all in doubt, pls check with your local Greek embassy. Most non-EU residents get an automatic 3 month visa-on-entry.
Turkey – most nationalities do need a visa, but it is a very simple online process. The cost varies according which nationality you are, usually from around 15 euros to sometimes up to 50 euros. The most common is around 20 euros.
Please note, your passport must be valid for 6 months AFTER your overseas travel is completed.
One of our reasons for choosing the Dodecanese as our home base is that we get Turkey as our next door neighbour. So we get to sail in both countries, a wonderful variety!
However, just because we are so geographically close does not mean that we can simply zig-zag between countries (if only!). One still has to go through customs procedures, and this can only be done at certain Ports of Entry. Still, it’s a whole lot easier to take our own floating home between countries, rather than messing around with bags, queues and customs officials, as you would on a ferry.
However, it still takes our skippers time to deal with paperwork, hence our usual suggestion of 10 days or so as an ideal timeframe. (Two weeks is even nicer, if you have the vacation time !).
Most of our “combo” trips start and end in Greece, cruising the Turkish coastline in the middle of the itinerary.
For answers to a lot more questions, check out our FAQ page