Praised for the mild, sunny climate, the archipelago of the Dodecanese Islands makes for a perfect yachting route that allows smooth sailing all year round.
The stunningly clear waters that encompass leave so much to be enjoyed in the sunniest corner of Greece. Dodecanese means 12 islands if literally translated, but there are actually 16 inhabited and another 11 uninhabited ones to explore as you sail the glittering seas.
Karpathos, Patmos, Kasos, Astipalaia, Lipsoi, Leros, Kalimnos, Nisuros, Tilos, Chalki, Symi, Rhodes, Cos, Kastellorizo all have their unique charm.
With some of the islands being beautifully developed, the true gems of the area are mercifully spared from overwhelming tourism - there are more secret azure beaches in the Dodecanese than one can fully explore in a lifetime.
The influence of numerous rulers has resulted in an impressive mix of architecture - Ottomans, Venetians and Italians have all left their mark, and the medieval landmarks give a peculiar charm to these wildly underestimated sailing routes. Each island has a different quality to offer - from rock climbing, lazy days spent sun bathing, exploring the cultural heritage and even soul searching.
Comfortable marinas are found along the coast - Rhodes and Kos offer the biggest selection, but you'll find anchorages and buoys throughout the archipelago.
Aside from Kos, perhaps the most popular island of the Dodocanese family is Rhodes. The largest island of the archipelago is known for its organized and secluded blue-green beaches, medieval Old town, and wonderful climate. On land, walking through the cobblestone streets gives a feel of time travel. The heritage of Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem that ruled the island from 1310 to 1522 is very preserved - the Kastello in the Old Town, also known as the Palace of the Grand Master is one of few examples of gothic architecture in Greece. Here you can see Byzantine mosaics or enjoy the views.
Archeological sites are scattered along the coast. While Rhodes was historically famous for the giant bronze statue of Kollos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it still homes numerous historical monuments and buildings. Various rulers and inhabitants gave this island a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Tsambika, Saint Paul's bay, Ladiko, Kallithea are some of the well-known beaches of this island, but make sure to visit Tsambika beach. Named after the monastery - that you can visit if you don't mind climbing some steps, this beach offers beautiful, clear waters and is spared from tourist crowds. Agathi is also one of Rhodos' hidden gems - the golden sand and pristine offer make for a scenic view.
To experience spectacular Greek cuisine, head to the Tris Village and dine at Ta Kioupa restaurant, named one of the 10 best restaurants in the world by The Guardian.
Cutting deep into the coast of Asia minor, this gorgeous island is admired for both its creamy-sandy beaches and its rich cultural heritage.
Ancient Asklepieon dating back to 3 century BC is a wonderful example of Doric architecture, built to honor the god of health and medicine.
To see where Hippocrates once studied and practiced medicine, visit Asklepios. The ruins of what was once the greatest hospital of ancient Greece and sanctuary for the god of healing Asclepius offer insight into the hellenic civilization as well as astonishing views of the Gulf of Karamos and Anatolia.
Therma beach is the place to swim in volcanic heated hot springs where water temperature reaches 50 degrees. Due to high mineral content of sulfur, magnesium, potassium, it offers many therapeutic benefits to those suffering from arthritis, rheumatism, as well as liver, pharmacological and even blood disorders.
Sail to the Kastri islet to enjoy both history and relaxation at once. This barren islet is situated right across the Kefalos beach. The peculiar rock formation hides the small, picturesque chappel of Agios Nikolaos, built on the former temple of Poseidon, gleaming white and blue from the uniform beige palette. It's so close to Kefalos you can actually swim from one place to the other - if you find yourself craving some beachside dining in an upscale setting, visit the Ouzo restaurant.
If you find yourself in the mood for some watersports such as windsurfing, visit the Mastichari Beach. Sandy, gorgeous and windy, this really is the perfect place to enjoy adventure in a Eden-like environment.
Often called the most beautiful of the Dodecanese, Karpathos is simply a symphony in blue. The endless sea horizons and rocky cliffs hide some of worlds most incredible beaches. Due to the somewhat remote location, the island was spared from over overdevelopment of tourism and has kept pristine nature, as well as unique culture and even dialect, similar to that of Crete and Cyprus.
The island offers beaches to suit everyone's tastes - the smaller ones that offer better wind protection are found on the east coast, south you'll come across the finest white sand, and west you'll find the very windy, but perfect for surfing due to the strong, dry Meltemi wind, and the north is the place to explore hidden jewels only accessible by boat.
Christou Pigadi is a gorgeous secluded beach, offering fine white sand and pristine sands. Apella, Damatria and Lefkos are the most popular choices, while Michaliou Kipos Beach is a scenic and quiet oasis of completely translucent waters and white rocks covered in seashells and corals.
While the bountiful, yet quiet beaches are truly the main attraction, this island is famous for it's peculiar and special customs. Sail north to see the most private sea sights, but also to discover vestiges of a matriarchy in Olympos, a village resembling Cinque Terre where coloful houses clash on rocky cliffs.
The village was founded 1,000 years ago when pillaging pirates dropped off future inhabitants in the highly isolated mountains. Only discovered in the 70s, the people that live here speak a dialect that is over 2 millenia old and live in a matiarchal system.
Hurry up to explore the best kept secret of the Dodecanse before others discover it - officially known as Megisti, this gorgeous island served as the set of Oscar-winning film Mediterraneo and hides some of the most picturesque and authentic scenery in all of Greece.
Little fishing boats bring their daily catch of fish to the small tavernas and eateries that surround the harbor, brightly colored facades are dimly lit and mirror in the sea - Kastellorizo is a remarkable spot to visit and enjoy fiercely genuine Greek hospitality.
While it doesn't offer spectacular beaches like Kos or Rhodos to explore by foot, while sailing you'll discover many bays that you can selfishly enjoy alone, with crystal clear waters and unspoilt nature.
Colorful neoclassical houses, historical monasteries, spectacular beaches and tempting dishes can all be found in the stunning Symi island.
Ai Giorgis Dyssalonas astounds visitors with the 300 metres high cliff surrounding the azure waters. Agia Marina is known for the really incredible turquoise seas. Marathounda on the other hand is famous for its visitors. The freeroaming goats - yes, you read that right, often come to enjoy a beach day on this laid-back sea oasis.
If you decide to stroll a little, make sure to buy some natural sponges. The Symiots were known as masterful divers who sold their sponges to Italians, English and French - all that remains of what was once the island's main industry are picturesque souvenir shops. Restaurant Tholos is the go to option when looking to enjoy some upscale cuisine, but make sure to explore the local eateries that serve simple, yet fresh and authentic Greek specialties.