Discover some of the best cultural destinations in Europe

Published 01 November 2023

A yacht charter is the best possible way to experience the sea and a great escape from the stress of life ashore, but it can also be a voyage of discovery. Many of the top cultural destinations in Europe are scattered around the Mediterranean Sea and the ideal way to visit them – with the best accommodation and the most scenic location in almost every port of call – is to go there by yacht.

Athens, Greece

Athens is the ideal starting point for an island-hopping charter cruise in Greece and its cultural significance cannot be overstated. We have all seen pictures of the Acropolis of Athens, crowned with the Parthenon, but to see them for real is a mind-blowing experience. Much more than just a magnificent sight, it is the most important ancient site in the western world and the amazing museum at the foot of the Acropolis is where you will find most of its treasures.  

Visit the Acropolis of Athens and explore the surrounding area

The smart way to visit – enjoying the highlights of the Greek capital while avoiding its edgy, gritty character and air pollution – is an Athens yacht charter, taking day trips into the city from one of its marinas, which are just five miles (9km) from the centre with balmy sea breezes and a relaxing ambience. And here’s an insider’s tip: in the best berths at Athens Marina, you’ll get a spectacular view of the city from your sundeck, especially at night when the Acropolis and Parthenon are bathed in light.  

Mykonos and Naxos, Greece

The Aegean Sea has a wealth of cultural destinations and a near guarantee of perfect weather for months on end, with clear blue sky and a cooling breeze. Pick a route for your own personal Odyssey with hundreds of landfalls to choose from, most of them rich in history and legend. To help you choose, we have compiled a guide.

Be sure to spend some time in Mykonos. It’s the epicentre of contemporary culture in the Eastern Med. Here you’ll find amazing fine-dining experiences, a vibrant club culture that attracts many of the world’s top DJs and, perhaps the island’s greatest asset, its uniquely relaxed and inclusive, cosmopolitan vibe.  

Walk down the cobbled streets of Mykonos and admire the beautiful architecture 

Naxos is another gem, just a few hours’ sail to the south. A cultural hub back in classical Greek and Byzantine times, Naxos Old Town today is a lively and lovely place with neat, whitewashed houses and Venetian fortified mansions, steep cobbled streets winding up to the hilltop castle and a gorgeous waterfront. It is well worth venturing out of town too, with ancient sites and mountain villages to discover in the island’s lush interior and isolated beaches along the coast. 

Amalfi Coast, Italy

For an Italy yacht charter that combines a classical culture trip with amazing coastal scenery and exquisite fine dining, there’s nowhere better than the Amalfi Coast. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site twice over, for its historic cultural importance as well as its unique landscape and there are no fewer than 30 Michelin-starred restaurants along this 34-mile stretch of coast.  

Walk in the golden sandy beaches along the coast

Highlights include Positano, a gorgeous small fishing port and exclusive beach resort where you can literally live La Dolce Vita, and ancient Amalfi, renowned for its rich architectural heritage and especially the Duomo di Sant’ Andrea, a remarkable Roman-Moorish cathedral set in a pretty piazza. 

Soak in the picturesque landscapes and roam around the terraced gardens of Ravello

Perched on a hilltop high above the Tyrhennian Sea, Ravello is famous for its two historic terraced gardens that inspired both DH Lawrence and Richard Wagner – who set part of his opera Parsifal here – and which now play host to an annual midsummer music festival.  

An Amalfi Coast yacht charter can easily include the fabled isle of Capri, which lies just ten miles offshore, the enthralling city of Naples and the key ancient Roman sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum with their nemesis, the volcano Vesuvius, looming overhead.  

Rome, Italy

No grand tour of Europe by yacht would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum in Rome. While it’s not on the coast, the Eternal City is closer to the sea than most people think.

There’s a handy marina, Porto Turistico di Roma. at the mouth of the River Tiber, just 19 miles (30km) from Rome’s city centre. Outside of rush hour it’s only a 35-minute drive from there to the Colosseum and the host of other classical sites that surround it, like the Forum, the Pantheon and the Temple of Saturn. 

Discover the Roman ruins and visit the famous landmarks along the way

While in Rome, you must also see the iconic Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, both of which you’ll recognise from classic films. There’s the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, of course, and the Borghese Museum with Baroque sculptures and paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian. And don’t miss the stunning panoramic view from Palatine Hill, where Romulus founded the city almost 3,000 years ago.  

When you’ve had your fill of culture in the capital, it’s only a day’s sail from Rome to some of Italy’s finest yachting destinations like Elba, Sardinia or the Amalfi Coast. 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

‘If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik,’ wrote George Bernard Shaw. It’s a must on any Croatian yacht charter and by far the best way to arrive is to approach the city by sea. Only that way will your first impression capture the full, breathtaking beauty of the Old Town with its core of baroque buildings topped with steepled towers and terracotta tiled roofs, encircled by crenellated walls with mountains beyond. Drop anchor and land by dinghy in the historic harbour, right in the city centre.  

Visit one of Dubrovnik's many cafes on or outside the city walls, sip on a coffee or cold drink as you enjoy the dreamy sunset

A stroll around the famous Dubrovnik city walls is the stand-out attraction but there is no shortage of treasures within. A rich heritage of Greek, Byzantine, Venetian and Croatian culture gives this UNESCO World Heritage Site a unique character and the annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival, from 10 June to 25 July, is a contemporary highlight.  

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

A few hours south of Dubrovnik by yacht, a spectacular fjord opens up, almost as dramatic as the west coast of Norway. Welcome to the Bay of Kotor, a stand-out highlight of any Adriatic yacht charter cruise.

Admire the breathtaking views as you walk along the Old Kotor hiking trail 

Sailing deep inland from the superyacht hub of Porto Montenegro, between sheer mountain slopes and towering limestone cliffs on a waterway dotted with ancient monasteries on tiny islands, you’ll discover the medieval walled city of Kotor. This is a double UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can stroll around streets full of Byzantine and Venetian history. Brave the steep climb up the ninth century walls behind the city and you’ll be rewarded with truly breathtaking views.  

Venice, Italy

It’s an easy detour from a Croatian yacht charter – just a half day’s sail from Pula at the north end of the archipelago – and yet many of the yachts cruising the Adriatic don’t venture into Venice despite its romantic beauty, its immense historic importance and its wealth of world-class cultural events and attractions. 

They’re missing a treat. Even the largest yachts can go right into the heart of the ancient city and moor up in spectacular surroundings – in front of the Piazza San Marco, for example – with remarkable views and complete privacy. It’s like sailing into the middle of a Canaletto painting.  

Take a gentle romantic boat ride along the landmarks of Venice

While all other visitors make do with a hotel room, a visit by yacht provides your own luxurious private haven the size of a whole hotel and your pick of the very best locations. For the ultimate culture trip, plan your charter to coincide with one of the city’s world-famous events like Carnival, the Bienniale or the Venice International Film Festival.  

The Balearic Islands

Head this way for a surprisingly harmonious blend of hedonism and history. Bustling Palma, Mallorca is the cultural capital of the archipelago with its enormous Gothic cathedral, quaint cobbled lanes, and many landmark medieval buildings. It’s also a world-class destination for food culture with dazzling markets, traditional tapas bars, a range of Michelin-starred restaurants and a whole lot more.

Ibiza meanwhile has a lovely historic quarter, Dalt Vila, at the top of the town with a maze of ancient, cobbled lanes rising steeply up to the Castell de Eivissa – a 12th century former Moorish fortress that once controlled the island, which was then known as Yebisah. The view from the top, looking down on the harbour, is spellbinding.  

Visit the Faro de Punta Grossa in Ibiza  

Ibiza is also the cradle and undisputed epicentre of modern global dance music culture. This is where it all started in the early 1980s at three iconic superclubs, two of which are still going strong with a roster of the world’s top DJs. The beat goes on at Pacha, on the waterfront facing Ibiza Town, and Amnesia, in the small village of San Rafael, and their VIP areas are often packed with celebrities. The insider’s tip for a clubbing experience with true Balearic spirit is the smaller, more intimate Underground, also in San Rafael.  


The start and end point for many yacht charters in the western Med, Barcelona is a world-class cultural destination with so much to offer. It makes sense to extend your holiday by at least a couple of days if you’re beginning your charter here at the impressive Port Vell marina. And if you’re cruising the Balearic Islands it’s a very worthwhile detour, just a day’s sail from anywhere in the archipelago.  

Discover the architectural beauty of Barcelona and the mouthwatering cuisine  

The architectural gems of the Catalan capital include Gaudi's world famous unfinished masterpiece, the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia, the enthralling Gaudi House Museum and the ancient streets of the Gothic Quarter. But it’s not just about the past; Barcelona combines plenty of that with some breathtaking modern architecture by the likes of Mies van Der Rohe and Santiago Calatrava.  

The other major draw, of course, is the city’s unrivalled food culture which ranges from tapas bars, both traditional and avant-garde, to amazing seafood restaurants and, with a grand total of 22 Michelin stars, some of the foremost elite fine-dining places on the planet.  

Antibes, French Riviera

It’s often called the most spectacular yacht marina in Europe and that’s no exaggeration. Port Vauban in Antibes is the epicentre of yachting on the French Riviera and its colourful history goes way back via Ligurians, Crusaders and Romans to the fourth century BCE when the Greek city of Antipolis was built around its harbour.  

Antibes in more recent times was a muse for Pablo Picasso who in 1946 moved into the Château Grimaldi, a 14th-century castle built on the foundations of ancient Antipolis. While living there he painted and drew, made tapestries and ceramics, and donated many of those works to the town at the end of his stay. The château is now the Musée Picasso with 245 of his original works on display – a remarkable collection.  

Visit the food markets of Antibes and treat your senses to the wonderful aroma of fresh herbs and spices 

Cultural highlights of an Antibes yacht charter also include a relaxing day of lunching and lounging on Plage Keller, the social hub of the literary scene in the 1920s, and fine dining at Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc, the Mecca of the belle-époque and perhaps the most historically significant luxury resort in the world, followed by a stroll through its famous gardens.  

Istanbul, Turkey

The most important melting pot of eastern and western civilisations for thousands of years, Istanbul’s convoluted history and culture riches are the equal of almost any other place on earth. The astonishing view across the Bosporus Strait alone is well worth the trip, with the core of Byzantine Constantinople on the European side facing the gigantic Blue Mosque that looms large over the Asian half of the city.  

The voyage from the Turkish Aegean sailing through the Sea of Marmara, has its own fascinations but Istanbul itself offers up an astonishing variety of unmissable attractions, from palaces and minarets to museums, markets and much more. Despite its colossal size, the city has a compact historic core that’s easy and pleasant to explore on foot.  

Istanbul has an abundance of beautiful landscapes and landmarks to offer, make sure to visit the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque

Don’t miss the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, an astonishing relic from the Byzantine era that has stood here for 1,500 years, or the fabled Topkapi Palace, the opulent nerve centre of the Ottoman Empire. For sheer beauty nothing beats the 11th Century Chora Church, now an excellent Museum – except perhaps the Süleymaniye Mosque with its dramatic location. For a deep dive into the unique, timeless character of Istanbul, dive into the multicolour chaos of the 600-year-old Grand Bazaar.  


The Maltese capital Valletta is a 15th-century walled city built by the Knights of St John, with major architectural merit. Here you’ll find many fine Baroque buildings and a masterpiece painted by Michelangelo inside the cathedral.  

Take a lovely afternoon stroll down the streets of Valletta and soak in the beauty of cobbled stone and architecture 

The top tip for a culture trip on a Malta yacht charter, however, is to take a stroll through prehistory at Ggantija Temples on the island of Gozo. Dating all the way back to the middle of the stone age, this 5,000-year-old complex of remarkably well-preserved limestone temples is one of the world’s oldest monuments, built well before the pyramids of Egypt. It’s a genuinely unique experience.  

Speak to us today about your next European yacht charter. Enquire now.

To find out more about Burgess’ yachts for sale and yachts for charter, please contact a Burgess broker. Alternatively, get in touch with one of our offices directly: London, Monaco, New York, Miami, Singapore or all other locations.

- Yachts, prices and availability are correct at the time of publication.

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