Image courtesy of G Adventures

Europe’s many rivers, oceans and waterways offer some of the best sailing adventures in the world. From historic ruins to natural beauty, beaches, bars and culture, these are five bucket list boat trips around Europe that will change your life for the better.  

  1. France

The historic wine-making region of Burgundy is is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and ancient canals, so what better way to explore the region than on a river cruise?

Step off the boat at Beaune, the capital of Burgundy’s wine country, and journey through its vast number of underground wine cellars and quaint laneways, taking in the centuries of Roman and Gallic history. You can learn all about some of Burgundy’s best vineyards and taste the region’s famous Côte de Nuits reds and Côte d’Or whites.

Vibrant and bustling with locals, the Marché d’Aligre is the best example of a local neighbourhood market. If you’re looking to get out of the tourist spots and into the true culture of the region, a walk through the Marché d’Aligre, where Parisians shop for food, will help you learn all you can about French cuisine – from cheese to charcuteries.

The Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune is a former charitable almshouse in Burgundy. It was founded in 1443 as a hospital for the poor. This stunning site can be toured with a docent, where you can hear all about the success of this hospital and its history. With all these amazing sites to visit, and so many rivers running through the area, a boat tour is a great way to get around and make sure you don’t miss anything.

  1. Greece

Vistas from a thousand postcards can’t prepare you for the true experience of sailing the Greek Isles. Ancient history and philosophy, art and mythology all coalesce to render whitewashed villages and ports into the stuff of romance and adventure.

Dive deep into coral reefs and cool waters as you snorkel off some of the world’s most pristine waters. Lunch on local seafood before exploring hidden bays and walking tracks.

As you sail you’ll discover the unique charm of each island and port, from ancient ruins and natural beauty to restaurants, bars and hotspots. Greece truly is a sailing destination with something for everyone.

You’ll experience sunsets like you’ve never seen before, each one more remarkable than the next. And when the stars come out, the people of the Greek Isles come alive – dancing through the evening as music echoes across harbours and wine and food flow freely.

Sailing Greece aboard a small ship offers access to the best bars and hotspots, along with a personal guide so you’re never without something to see. From Mykonos, to Santorini, to Athens, the history, mythology and beauty of Greece is unmatched.

  1. Croatia

With pristine beaches matched by charming villages nestled between dizzying alps, Croatia is best explored by boat.

With a long and storied history and design, Croatia is an architectural delight. Highlights include the stunning and wistful Dubrovnik (used as the set for King’s Landing in the television series, Game of Thrones), the Roman Palace of Diocletian in Split, and for nature lovers, the Mljet National Park.

Squeezed between cliffs and hidden along secret goat tracks, some of Europe’s best beaches can be found along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Highlights include Bacvice in Split, Zlatni Rat in Braç and Stiniva in Bis, which you’ll find populated with beautiful cafes. If you’re after Instagram-worthy watering holes to wet your toes in, sailing Croatia by boat is the way to do it.

Croatia is well known for its nightclubs and party atmosphere, so when you’re done exploring the coastline, it’s time to shake off those sea legs and dance with the locals.

If you prefer a quiet evening, lay out on the deck of your yacht and admire the starry stillness of the night sky as the Dalmatian Coast slides idly by and you drift off to sleep, only to rise happy, refreshed and ready to do it all again.

  1. Norway

Those after something a little different will find Norway blends the exotic and the familiar in a spectacularly poetic sea adventure.

Charting some of the farthest flung destinations on the planet, Nordic explorers will pass fjords, mysterious forests and dizzying ice-capped mountains. Discover the UNESCO heritage site, Geirangerfjord, and snap photos of polar bears, all from the safety of your cruiseship.

Norway’s Arctic evenings frequently paint themselves in vivid greens as the northern lights play across the night sky. Reaching the North Cape by boat was described by Conde Nast Traveller as ‘the most satisfying way’ to see the this spectacular natural wonder.

While much of the world’s natural fisheries are depleted, Norway has preserved many of its waterways for line and pole fishing. You may also stumble across ancient fishing villages where Vikings once carved longboats on the shore.

Stop on at Vågen Harbour and discover historic Bryggen, Bergen’s oldest quarter. With buildings dating back to the 1700s and stories dating back many more centuries, the old quarter is a testament to the hardy, stoic beauty of life in Norway.

Travelling by small watercraft offers the best opportunity for adventures while minimising your environmental impact and forging a more personal journey. Sailing adventures through Norway aren’t just holidays. You’ll become immersed in this far-flung world and emerge shaped by its winsome and hardy culture.

  1. Montenegro

After your Croatian sailing adventure why not continue on to Montenegro on a sailing tour starting in Dubrovnik?

For a relaxing holiday experience, kick back the beaches of Herceg Novi, or check out the local mud therapy spas nearby. Montenegro plays host to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so while sailing down the Budva Riviera, check out the stunning beaches nestled beneath the cliffs of Spas Hill.

Budva is well-known for its nightlife and there’s no shortage of clubs in the area. After a day of enjoying the sunshine and the historic monuments of the Old Town, choose from a number of bars and restaurants to spend the evening drinking and enjoying the view out over the Riviera.

From Budva you’ll move on to Bigovo, where you can enjoy some time in the water, swimming and snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters. The ancient fishing village has a tranquil and secluded atmosphere about it, a nice change of pace from the party capital of Budva.

Sail Europe

Choosing to get around Europe by boat allows you to experience the continent from a truly unique perspective. With so many rivers and canals running through, you’re taken directly to all the major tourists hotspots easily and can even experience hidden local gems along the way.

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