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West Med

Sailing Sicily, Malta and South Italy

Sicily, Malta and S Italy are normally visited in transit between the eastern and western Mediterranean. Take it slow through Sicily, though. Aim to spend at least two weeks cruising the north and east coasts to see the volcanoes and ancient sites. Include the Aeolian islands, crowded in high season, but not to be missed. Marinas in S Sicily offer wintering bargains.

Malta (EU) provides excellent wintering and yacht service facilities, and nearby Tunisia (outside EU) is good value for wintering and fuelling.

Sailing West Italy

The 600nm coast of Italy rom the French border to the toe spans a range of cultures; from the monied and smart Riviera, through historic Tuscany, past wealthy Roma and scruffy Napoli,  to the relative poverty of Calabria. The list of inland 'must visit' places is long, including Florence, Siena, Pisa, Roma, and Napoli. Add Pompeii, the crater of Vesuvius and Herculaneum to the list.


Stir in the long string of small offshore islands (from Elba to Capri). Season with Italian food, and it's easy to see why many motor cruisers choose to cruise this coast, crowding it in peak season (Mid July to late August). Marina costs vary widely, but most are expensive; €100 per night for 12m is common. There are enough anchorages to keep overall mooring costs low.  Rather light summer winds are a drawback for sailboats. Live-aboards have wintered near Roma.

Sailing Sardinia

The whole of Sardinia provides good cruising, with miles of pristine white beaches. North Sardinia is the most popular area, rich with anchorages, while South Sardinia is useful for cruisers travelling east or west through the Mediterranean. The western and eastern coasts have their attractions but are largely seen as a means of travel from N to S. They offer quiet cruising, especially on the east side, with few other yachts. Alghero and Cagliari are good destinations and good wintering spots.


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Sailing around Corsica

French Corsica, including Elba and the Bonifacio straits, offers excellent cruising. The west coast includes some of the most dramatic scenery of the Mediterranean.  Add hundreds of coves with brilliant white beaches, many islets, little intrusive development, plenty of anchorages, good marinas, attractive old town centres, and you'll need much more than four weeks for a thorough exploration. Or allow two weeks to circumnavigate visiting just the highlights.

Sailing Mediterranean France

The whole of Mediterranean France is plentifully supplied with marinas, and offers excellent repair facilities for all sorts of boats of all sizes.  It's crowded cruising, especially in high season, and finding a berth may not be easy, particularly for vessels over 15m. Once past the Pyrenees the area divides naturally into three parts; the relatively low lying (and sometimes very windy) coasts of the Golfe de Lion, the more craggy and attractive coastlines just east of Marseilles to Toulon, then the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) where the super-rich display in summer. Marina prices vary from very high to very modest . This coastline offers historical towns, an outdoor café culture, good wines and a superb cuisine. Connections with northern Europe are good, by air or by rail. It is also a popular gateway to the Mediterranean via the French Waterways

Sailing the Balearics; Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera

The Balearics are well developed Spanish holiday islands with lots of (fairly light wind) summer cruising and many lovely anchorages. If you're on passage, two weeks will skim the area; four weeks allows a more thorough cruise. There is very good yacht support in Palma, and there are many wintering possibilites.

This is a good (if expensive) area to base a yacht. In high season it's dense with yachts, berths are in short supply, and sheltered anchorages crowded. For a summer pause, leaving the yacht ashore is often good value.

There's a big difference between summer and winter facilities in all except the principal towns. Winter cruising is feasible, though Minorca suffers strong northerlies. There are frequent cheap flights from all islands to most European destinations in summer, and year round from Mallorca

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Sailing Mediterranean Spain - Mainland Coasts

Mainland Spain is a coast of passage, or a coast for wintering, rather than a cruising ground, with some interesting cities to visit, and superb seafood to enjoy.


From Gibraltar to Dénia (opposite the Balearics) is about 500 nm of sunny sailing along a coast faced with some of the most over-developed beach resorts of Europe. The coast is easily navigated with day hops from marina to marina. These include some of the sunniest and good value winter live-aboard marinas in the Mediterranean. But anchoring is exposed, and rarely free of swell.


The northern 500nm to the French border has lower lying coastlines, frequent marinas and a better choice of anchorages, especially in the Costa Brava. The magnificent cities of Cartagena, Valencia and Barcelona are "Must Sees".

Sailing in West Mediterranean

This page compares West Europe cruising regions between the Straits of Gibraltar and the Heel of Italy.  Developed coastlines, sophistication, seasonal crowds (and expense!) and a lively café culture summarise the area. And throughout there are excellent fresh food markets and good yacht support.

This contrasts markedly with the undeveloped North Africa coastline, and the lower cost, but less developed economies of Greece and Turkey - with the Adriatic a half way compromise.

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