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Boating is becoming one of the most popular ways to experience Europe – and we can totally understand the appeal!

I mean, why fight for elbow space to watch the sunset in Santorini, when you can enjoy your own exclusive sunset from the water?!

Europe has a stunning coastline which stretches for more than 68,000 km – that’s three times longer than the USA for context! And from boat rental in Corfu, to Croatia’s seaside fortresses from Game of Thrones, this is a unique continent to experience from the water.

European countries offer a huge range of boating options, from hiring motorboats, sailboats, catamarans, or yachts. Anyone can hire a boat, for any occasion, and nowadays it’s very accessible even for beginners to do so.

Perhaps you’ve already got your heart set on island hopping in the Greek Islands, Cyprus, or sailing down the Seine past the Eiffel Tower, before some time in the French Riviera.

But even if you’ve already planned your next boating holiday, here’s a list for the one after that!

France, Croatia & Boat Rental Corfu: Best Countries to Rent a Boat in Europe

Greece: Casual Island Hopping

Yacht water sailing RF

Greece is a country known for its islands, and island hopping is part of the culture here; there are 6,000 islands and islets (only 227 are inhabited) scattered throughout the Greek Seas, so renting a boat is an ideal way to travel.

Boating means you can choose your islands, and enjoy an unlimited number of beaches, bays, quaint villages, and fascinating archaeological sites.

The closest islands to Athens are the Argosaronic: Salamina, Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, and Spetses. The most famous however are the Cyclades: Ios, Mykonos, Santorini, Naxos, Paros (most famous for its traditional blue and white architecture).

The Ionian islands are off the western coastline and include favorites like Corfu, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. And then there’s obviously also Crete – the largest island in Greece.

In terms of boat rental, SamBoat is an online platform for renting boats and connecting with private boat owners and sailors. They’re a great way to rent boats throughout Europe (with or without a skipper), and have an especially large fleet throughout the Greek Islands.

Boat rentals in Corfu, and throughout the rest of Greece, start from 50€ per day, so SamBoat is a great way for both experts and beginners to book any boat in a few clicks, making it an accessible option for everyone.

France: Glamorous Riviera

French Riviera Menton RF

When you think of France you might think of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, and drinking wine in Bordeaux, but the French Riviera (or Cote d’Azur), offers a glitzy and glamorous sailing vacation!

Rent a boat to sail through the Mediterranean with a cocktail in hand, docking in iconic cities like Monaco and Cannes. The experience sailing the Riviera is a mix of medieval villages, sun drenched beach life, and rubbing shoulders with Hollywood in places like Saint Tropez.

Popular destinations you can consider include Monaco, Cannes, Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, Saint-Tropez, and Nice (here you’ll find France’s most famous beaches).

Croatia: For Medieval Marinas

Dubrovnik Croatia RF

Croatia was a hidden gem before the Game of Thrones fandom hit, and a great way to escape the crazy crowds during summer is to rent a boat and head out on the water.

Croatia has more than 1,000 islands to explore, and the Adriatic Sea is one of the most dazzling bodies of water in all of Europe, and you’ll need sunglasses for how intensely it sparkles!

There’s 4,000 km of coast to explore when you rent a boat; head to Zlatni Rat for beaches, Hvar Island for UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Croatia’s oldest town, Stari Grad), and boat marinas in cities like Pula, Zadar, Split, and of course, Dubrovnik.

There’s a huge range of water activities on offer in Croatia, so when you rent a boat you can also enjoy water skiing, diving, snorkeling, fishing, swimming, jet skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and stand up paddleboarding.

When you’re searching SamBoat for a boat rental, you’ll find cheap deals between May and June, which is shoulder season before summer tourism kicks in, and likewise, from September to October just after the summer crowds have left (expect temps of around 22°C).

When selecting yachts for sailing along Croatia’s breathtaking coastline, it’s also essential to consider the size of your group. For larger groups, opting for bigger boats offers ample space and amenities for everyone to enjoy the journey comfortably. However, for more intimate gatherings or smaller parties, smaller yachts like the Lagoon 50 Croatia or Lagoon 55 Croatia provide a cozy and personalized experience.

These smaller yachts are for families or small groups of friends looking to explore the Adriatic at their own pace. Still, regardless of size, yachting experience will give an ideal look at Adriatic’s beauty, from secluded coves to bustling port towns, ensuring an unforgettable adventure for all aboard.

Unlimited Options

Yacht boat sailing friends RF

Greece, France, and Croatia are our three favorites, for best destinations in Europe to rent a boat, but you really have an unlimited number of options.

There’s also Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands, Spain, Italy (hit Amalfi), Malta, Turkey (the Turquoise Coast), and Scandinavia (we love the Lofoten Islands).

And that’s before even having mentioned the river systems which weave their way through the inland borders, allowing you to experience iconic sites along the Danube, Rhine, and Seine.

Renting a boat is an amazing experience, and a great way to see Europe, even if you’re a complete sailing novice. So pick your destination, hit up for a boat, and pack your swimsuit.

Tell your friends and family you’ll be sipping cocktails on a yacht this year in Europe!

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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