There are several basic things you tend to look for when scouring Europe for the ideal marina. It needs to be multilingual and professionally managed, with a reliable climate and a nearby airport. It needs to be in a place that has the power to excite in its own right, alongside decent proximity to some interesting cruising grounds. And in terms of facilities, it’s always easier to enjoy your yacht if everything you need is available directly on site and backed up by the luxury of round-the-clock support. There are of course plenty of locations throughout Continental Europe that fit the bill but, if you’re looking for a marina that adds a little glamour to the mix, the following eight are among the most coveted you will find…
- Barcelona, OneOcean Port Vell
While it was originally built for the 1992 Olympics, the modern incarnation of Port Vell Marina is a fine embodiment of what the superyacht lifestyle is all about. With 151 berths at the heart of the city’s illustrious waterfront, Port Vell’s ability to accommodate yachts of up to 190m (623 feet) enables it to cater for even the world’s largest superyachts. Its proximity to Barcelona’s glorious Gothic Quarter makes this one of Europe’s most extraordinary city centre marinas and the innate allure of Barcelona’s vibrant nightlife, architectural colour and gastronomic renown is complemented by easy cruising access both to the Costa Brava and the Balearic Islands.
- Cannes, Vieux Port
Just a short hop from Nice airport, at the apex of two broad sandy beaches, Cannes Marina is a famous yachting hub at the heart of the Cote d’Azure. Situated between the fabled resorts of Monaco and St Tropez, the Vieux Port comes with easy access to the buzzing bars and eateries that wrap around its perimeter, alongside the glamour of the Promenade de la Croisette, the rustic charms of le Suquet’s winding maze of hilltop streets and the natural elegance of the Îles de Lérins. The town’s thriving events calendar includes the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the annual Cannes Yachting Festival and the harbour itself can accommodate yachts of up to 65 metres in length.
- Dubrovnik, ACI Marina Dubrovnik
While many enjoy the rustic intimacy of Marina Frapa or the Old Town Port at the historic heart of 7th century Dubrovnik, the ACI Marina near Komolac is a bigger, more modern and altogether more prestigious place for high-end yachts to congregate. Located less than four miles from the city and just 14 miles from the airport, in the ideal spot for exploring the nearby islands of Mljet, Korčula, Lastovo and Elaphiti, this multiple award-winning marina offers 380 berths of up to 60 metres in length. It also offers the full range of facilities, from fuel, repair and maintenance to a swimming pool, tennis courts, a football pitch, a golf range, a massage parlour, a restaurant, a beer hall, an internet café and a kids’ playground.
- Ibiza, Ibiza Magna
Ibiza seems to occupy a special place in people’s affections. While it has a heritage defined by the neon glamour of its club scene and the trend-defining allure of Café del Mar, Pacha and the Sunset Strip, the modern town is a fine fusion of the hedonistic and the chic. With nearly 3,000 years of history, allied to plenty of upmarket food and artisan shopping, the town’s marina offers 85 berths for yachts of up to 60m in length, plus easy access to the other islands in the Balearic chain (Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera), as well as to the mainland hotspots of Barcelona and Valencia.
- Sardinia, Marina di Porto Cervo
Owned and operated by global luxury marina operator, IGY Marinas, this 800-berth harbour on Sardinia’s famous Emerald Coast is distinctly high-end. Capable of accommodating yachts of up to 120m in length, it occupies a pastel-coloured village of the same name that was conjured into existence in the 1950s as an ultra-exclusive tourist resort. Today, it retains the exclusivity of a designer destination, while adding all the practical merits the cruising yachtsman could want. In addition to easy access to Corsica’s southern resorts, you get a landscape peppered with coves, bays and archipelagos, drenched with sun, lapped by crystal clear waters and blessed with a resolutely infectious party atmosphere.
- Monaco, Port Hercule
If Monaco is about wealth, prestige and the finer things in life, its harbour is the perfect embodiment of that. Port Hercule is a natural deep-water port, tucked tightly beneath the precipitous hills of this famously affluent principality – and while it’s been an active port since ancient times, its modern reputation is less about trade and more about stratospheric calibre. Its development since the 1970s as one of the world’s premium harbours has been closely tied to the care and patronage of Monaco’s Royal Family and, while its association with the like of Grace Kelly has added to its mystique, modern events like the Monaco Grand Prix in May and the Monaco Yacht Show in September keep this port at the very pinnacle of the world superyacht scene.
- Montenegro, Porto Montenegro
Montenegro’s mountainous coastline is strewn with deep-cut inlets, hidden bays and pristine islands, making this historical region of the Adriatic the perfect base for exploration by yacht – and despite its position in the glorious UNESCO-protected Bay of Kotor, Porto Montenegro is as modern a superyacht marina as you will find. It comes with the full range of restaurants, bars and designer shops, alongside a variety of luxury shoreside accommodation, an ‘Entertainment Village’ and a calendar of events tailor-made to satisfy the exalted tastes of its clientele. With its capacity to accommodate yachts of up to 250m (820 feet) in length, Porto Montenegro is well set for a bold new age of megayachts.
- Valletta, Grand Harbour Marina
After centuries of conflict and occupation, Malta’s compact capital city, Valletta, remains one of the world’s most astonishing maritime destinations. Perched out in the Mediterranean between Sicily and North Africa, in a position of strategic historical importance, the golden stone walls of this ancient fortress settlement seem like an incongruous home for the stark modernity of a superyacht marina – and yet, very few yachting destinations in the world can match this place for sheer drama. Grand Harbour provides berthing for yachts of up to 140m, alongside rapid access to the 16th century delights that saw this city named ‘2018 European Capital of Culture’. It may look like a pristine museum exhibit but with its vibrant street life and cosmopolitan café scene, Valletta is far more than just a pretty relic.