Dreaming of floating through quaint waterways or exploring tropical wetlands? These are the best destinations for sailing according to global travellers.*
Cowes in Isle of Wight, UK
Colourful spinnakers are a frequent sight on racing yachts
The founding of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1815 saw the seaside village of Cowes establish itself as this island nation’s number one sailing destination. Cowes has held onto its crown, with the Cowes Week drawing 100,000 spectators every year as the largest sailing regatta in the world. Whether you prefer yachting, rowing or watersports, there are always plenty of options and family friendly events from May to August, making Cowes a great spot for both beginners and more confident sailors. Stay at North House, a townhouse built in the 1850s that has been stylishly renovated and offers picture-perfect seaviews.
Iława in Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Poland
Watch the Jeziorak water jet sprinkle the boats from the shoreline
Iława is a jewel-hued lakeside town in Poland’s Great Lake District. Here you’ll find white and terracotta tier-houses, decked out in wooden verandas and hanging baskets of flowers pretty enough to be the work of a Hollywood set designer. The sailing season in Poland starts in early May and lasts until the end of September, during which time you can embark on a course or training session in any of the Great Lake sailing schools. Iława overlooks Lake Jeziorak, the country's longest body of water and one that's popular for sailing and canoeing. In Poland, you will require a licence to sail a yacht (depending on the size of the hull) but you could also hire a yacht with a qualified skipper to join you on board. Give yourself easy access to Lake Jeziorak and an epic breakfast to start your day by checking into the Hotel Port 110.
Göcek in Aegean Region, Turkey
You'll be sure to spot any number of luxurious yachts docked in the harbour
Göcek has been in use as a harbour since the Ottoman era, and today the small Turkish town has six established and bustling marinas. First-time visitors to the area are recommended to charter a catamaran with a skipper over to the Twelve Islands for clear seas, endless horizons, and a chance to dine among the olive orchards on Domuz Island. There are also numerous companies offering bareboat charters for more experienced sailors or those who are after a more relaxing trip of reading and sunbathing on the front deck. There are so many beautiful anchorages in this part of the world but when eventually return to dry land, stay at a beachfront resort hotel such as D-Resort Gocek. Here you’ll find a private beach, boat and bike hire.
Sneek in Friesland, Netherlands
Sneak a peek at De Sneeker Waterpoort while you're visiting
As the watersport capital of the Netherlands – a country literally built on water – and the home to SneekWeek, the largest inland water event in Europe, Sneek is an idyllic destination lovers of sailing. Many accommodations and hotels in the area offer free boat rental, a good option during the summer when competition for boat hire can become fierce. Try the Sneek Vakantiehuis Verhuur in the centre of Sneek, and make use of their private motorboat to explore the area and to reach the Sneeker Jachthaven, Sneek’s most popular marina.
Annapolis in Maryland, United States of America
Annapolis Harbour is surrounded by a fleet of boutiques and restaurants
Nicknamed ‘America’s Sailing Capital’, Annapolis’ location on the Atlantic coast saw it quickly become a centre of sea-based industries (such as sail making) and today this Maryland town is the most popular sailing destination in the USA. The Annapolis harbour is lined with historical buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries, making it easy to imagine centuries of Marylanders bustling through the pretty marina on Dock Street. Here you’ll find plenty of restaurants to grab a bite to eat and watch the ships, before setting off on your own voyage. The Gibson's Lodgings of Annapolis is a 2-minute walk from the harbour and a 5-minute drive from the Annapolis Maritime Museum.
**These destinations were picked based on endorsements for sailing, according to global travellers.