Best Time To Visit Greece

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Greece was arguably the cradle of civilisation. Sitting in the Eastern Mediterranean, its extensive empire had many remnants well beyond the modern country’s borders. The Greek mainland and its thousands of islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas are a hugely popular holiday destination in these days of cheap charter flights. They offer guaranteed summer sunshine and everything that families need.

The best time to visit Greece is dependent on individual interests. For families with children, the high season is school holiday time. However, on either side of those summer weeks, significant numbers head to Greece to relax and swim or sail the warm, clear waters. Others want to visit important historical or cultural sites. In times gone by, Greece was also a place of fable and legend.

Everyone visiting Greece can enjoy its wonderful Mediterranean cuisine based on olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables. That may be by visiting the local markets and self-catering. Local tavernas throughout Greece and its islands welcome travellers, providing the best of local food, usually out in the open air. There is much to recommend Greece, so it is worth delving into greater detail. Over 30 million tourists went to Greece annually pre-Covid, with tourism representing 25% of the national Gross Domestic Product.

Best Time To Visit Greece

Greece in Summer

best time visit greece voulisma beach istron crete
One of the best times to visit Greece is in summer because the weather is perfect for the beach.

Direct charter flights head to Greece and several of the Aegean Islands throughout the summer months.

Athens is very popular with some holidaymakers who head out to the islands by ferry, making the cruise part of the holiday because sailing on the Aegean is an experience in itself.

Some of the most popular island destinations such as Crete and Rhodes, are quite far from Athens, so if you’re short on time you can fly direct.

There are many hours of uninterrupted sunshine every day through this high season.

It means that you will always return home with a healthy suntan even without spending many hours lying out to capture the sun’s rays.

Indeed, it is important to limit those hours and have plenty of shade at hand.

The refreshing ocean is a place for cooling off, and in established resorts, there will always be activities relating to the sea.

Temperatures during the high season are not conducive to too much walking. So if you have little choice but to visit Greece during the high season, wear something on your head and carry water if you do walk out to explore.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • June (Sunrise 0600, Sunset 2050, Average Low Temperature 21C (69F), Average High Temperature Average High 28C (82F))
  • July (Sunrise 0615, Sunset 2050, Average Low Temperature 23C (73F), Average High Temperature 33C (92F)
  • August (Sunrise 0640, Sunset 2020, Average Low Temperature 23C (73F), Average High Temperature 31C (88F)

Five Things to Do in Greece in Summer

1- Relax In The Sun

It may seem obvious in a warm environment, but simply relaxing is the number one priority for many people going on holiday.

The pressures of everyday life are a world away when you sit looking at a clear blue sky and equally blue waters.

There are large, busy islands like Crete or Rhodes and small, quiet ones like Chios, where Homer was born, Ios, a quiet alternative to Santorini, or Samothraki, popular with locals.

2- Go Sailing
santorini greece best time to visit yacht near rocks
One of the best times to visit Greece if you’re keen on yachting around the Aegean Sea is in winter. Pictured here is Sarakiniko Beach on Milos Island.

Few countries have as much to offer for those loving to sail as Greece and experienced sailors can hire a boat to cruise the Greek Islands if they wish.

Alternatively, if you want to hire a boat, captain and crew, that is an extremely popular alternative so book early to avoid missing out.

3- Go On A Walking Tour Of Athens
what is the best time to visit greece Parthenon Temple at the Acropolis of Athens as seen from Philopappos Hill on sunset
The best time to visit Greece to see its famous landmarks without crowds, such as the Parthenon Temple at the Acropolis of Athens, is in winter.

Athens is an interesting city to explore and the Parthenon on the Acropolis is the image that is regularly used in promoting Greece as a whole.

It is just one of many important historical sites in the Greek capital.

It’s worth joining a walking tour to listen to commentary as you walk.

It will be hot when the sun is at its highest so carry water.

4- Visit The Peloponnese
the best time to visit greece
One of the best times to visit Greece, if you’re keen on historic sites is in summer. Pictured here is the ancient Navarino Castle looking over Pylos Bay in Gialova, Peloponnese.

Visit the Peloponnese, a peninsula southwest of Athens with the famous Corinth Canal running through the isthmus separating it from the mainland.

Several historically important sites here include Corinth, Olympia, Mycenae and Sparta, a mighty city-state in ancient times.

5- Explore Thessaloniki
best time to visit santorini greece historic pastel buildings flanking a pedestrian street
The best time to explore the streets of Thessaloniki is in summer. Pictured here is Aristotelous Street.

Why not head to Thessaloniki in the north? It is a city of real historical and cultural significance.

It combines Byzantine architecture with Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish gems.

Its cuisine is truly famous, and the beaches will satisfy any sun-worshipper.

Top tips:

  • Be prepared for hot weather by carrying water and wearing something on your head. The sun is strong and you need suitable protection from its rays.
  • If you are sailing, the breeze adds to the impact of the sun, so be warned.
  • Forget international cuisine. Greek cuisine is wonderful and you should take advantage of what is on offer at every opportunity.

Greece in Autumn

best time of the year to visit greece aerial view of Melissani lake with autumn foliage around it
For an incredible palette of colours, the best time to visit Greece is autumn. Pictured here is Melissani Cave and lake on Kefalonia Island in Karavomylos village.

Temperatures begin to fall slowly through autumn time, yet they remain moderate.

This is a good season for outdoor land-based activities where the sun’s heat is not too debilitating, and sailing the seas is still very popular, although families have probably returned home to school.

There will be rainfall starting in October, but it is still warm.

Intense colour is a feature of autumn, harvest time and its resultant festivals.

There are smaller crowds at the major landmarks throughout the country making it easy to enjoy the historical sites in autumn.

The photographs you may have seen of Greece rarely show any crowds, and once you are into autumn, those crowds will not fill your photograph.

Crete is a favourite with the added bonus of its wine and cuisine.

You still need a hat, comfortable footwear and water, but the pace of life is coming back to normal after the weeks of high season.

Athens has its history but also modern activities and good shopping.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • September (Sunrise 0705, Sunset 1935, Average Low Temperature 18C (63F), Average High Temperature Average High 31C (88F))
  • October (Sunrise 0730, Sunset 1850, Average Low Temperature 13C (55F), Average High Temperature 20C (68F)
  • November (Sunrise 0705, Sunset 1715, Average Low Temperature 12C (54F), Average High Temperature 18C (64F)

Five Things to do in Greece in Autumn

when is best time to visit greece sunset on Mandraki Harbour
Autumn is a wonderful season to visit Greece for festivals and lovely weather. This is the Agios Nikolaos fortress in Mandraki Harbour in Rhodes.
1- Enjoy Famous Greek Landmarks

Plan an itinerary to include the Greek landmarks you’ve always wanted to see.

Athens is an obvious choice for major landmarks, but there are many other places to investigate.

Ferry services continue to run regularly if Athens is your base. You can take a ferry for the day to visit three or four islands close by before returning to base in the evening.

2- Attend a Film Festival

There are international film festivals in both Athens and Thessaloniki in the autumntime.

Film may not be important to you, but other events inevitably occur around the significant event itself and both cities also host wine festivals.

3- Attend A Wine Or Beer Festival
best time to visit greece Back view of young traveler woman walking along promenade with old windmills of Rhodes, Europe. Sunset.
With a Mediterranean climate, the best time to visit Rhodes is from June to September.

This is winemaking season.

Rhodes has a festival for wine with dancing and feasting features of the celebrations.

Rhodes still has direct charter flights, so getting there is no real problem.

Alternatively, Corfu, equally accessible, has a beer festival.

4- Enjoy Cretan Cuisine

Cretan cuisine is famous well beyond the borders of Greece.

Its Gastronomy Festival is popular, while the cooler temperatures mean that visiting its historical and cultural sites is more comfortable than in summer.

5- Watch The Athens Marathon

In November, Greece celebrates the story of a warrior, Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce victory over the Persians.

Athletes from around the globe descend on Athens to compete over the distance, while shorter runs, 5km and 10 km, attract casual runners.

If you prefer just to be a spectator, head to the Stadium in Athens to enjoy the finish.

Top tips:

  • Carry something light with you in case of rain.
  • Especially in September, remember the sun’s rays are still strong.
  • If you are going hiking in desolate areas, tell someone where you are going.

Greece in Winter

best time to visit greece weather blue sky and white mountains
Winter is the best time to visit Greece if you’re looking for winter sports. Pictured here is the ski lift at Parnassos ski resort.

Winter in Greece is much quieter.

The charter flights that head to Athens and across the Aegean to the islands largely disappear, yet life goes on.

Scheduled flights to Athens remain regular, and ferries cross the Aegean to maintain contact between the mainland and its islands, but it is important to check timetables if you are planning time in Greece.

Greece still has plenty of sunny days in the winter months, and the temperature is fairly mild, especially in the southern regions.

While some of the popular islands are closed for winter, there are still places open to enjoy the local cuisine.

It is also more comfortable to visit the many landmarks throughout Greece without encountering tourist crowds.

Greece is not an obvious place for a skiing holiday, but there are opportunities such as at Mount Olympus, where you can get to close to 5,000 ft (1,450 m) and find ski trails.

You can absorb the daily life of Greek islanders away from the peak periods, come away with a good understanding of the country, and have the opportunity to go to local festivals as well.

You would be better to pick larger islands for a winter visit, such as Crete or Corfu.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • December (Sunrise 0730, Sunset 1710, Average Low Temperature 6C (43F), Average High Temperature Average High 14C (57F))
  • January (Sunrise 0740, Sunset 1730, Average Low Temperature 6C (43F), Average High Temperature 11C (51F)
  • February (Sunrise 0715, Sunset 1800, Average Low Temperature 6C (43F), Average High Temperature 11C (51F)

Five Things to do in Greece in Winter

when is the best time to visit greece snow covered village and blue sky
One of the best times to visit Greece for picturebook views is in winter, when villages like Arahova village are sprinkled with snow.
1- Explore The Cultural And Historical Sites In Athens

Choose an itinerary in Athens to take in its major cultural and historical sites.

The temperatures by day are usually comfortable but take light shower protection with you and something warmer if you intend to be out all day.

If there is rain around, you can always plan to spend time in Athens’ many fine museums.

2- Enjoy The Greek Islands

Summer holidays usually mean the beach, but winter conditions are conducive to exploring the islands’ interior.

The Greek Islands are not hugely mountainous, but there are still plenty of good walking and hiking trails to enjoy.

On the mainland, with a bit of research, you can find some true challenges if you are an experienced hiker.

3- Eat Hearty Winter Meals In The Tavernas

Greek winter cuisine is different to the lighter meals of summer.

Sit down in a local taverna to enjoy winter’s more substantial cuisine, which will include hearty soups, stuffed cabbage leaves, meatballs or roasts, and a range of desserts.

4- Go Skiing
best time to visit greece for weather Parnassos mountain with snow and people on the slopes in a sunny day
If you’re into skiing, the best time to visit Greece is in winter.

You can combine a little skiing with other activities in the wintertime.

Do not expect Greece to match famous European ski resorts, but for a multi-activity holiday, it deserves your research.

5- See The Changing of the Guard

The spectacle of the Changing of the Guard at the Athens Presidential Palace is worth seeing both for the guards’ uniforms and their exaggerated marching steps.

The Palace is close to the city’s main shopping area, so combine the two.

Top tips:

  • Prepare for cool weather, especially as the sun starts to go down
  • Always check timetables and do not assume a ferry will always be available. In general, plan well in advance.
  • Some of the hiking trails are remote, so go properly equipped and tell someone where you are going.

Greece in Spring

best time to visit greece oia village
There’s no best time to visit Greece’s islands as they are beautiful at any time of the year. Pictured here is Oia Village.

Temperatures begin to rise as Greece anticipates the arrival of the tourist season and charter flights generally begin to cater for the Easter holidays, which can range from the second half of March to mid-April.

It is not until May that you will find evening temperatures sufficient to be comfortable outdoors without a jumper or jacket yet open-air dining is fine.

Springtime is an excellent season in most European countries as the countryside seems to come alive and Greece is no exception.

It is generally warm by day, so in the spring you can enjoy all the things that may be less attractive than the hot days of summer.

The sea is gradually warming, but you will feel a chill until you get used to it and if you are sheltered from any breezes, the sun’s rays are worth taking in.

You will get a decent tan, although it takes longer than in the summer.

Days get longer and significant crowds have yet to appear, although regular visitors to Greece often pick May and September for their visits.

It is warm without being uncomfortably steamy during the day, with cooler nights, and all of Greece’s many attractions are there to enjoy.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • March (Sunrise 0630, Sunset 1830, Average Low Temperature 8C (46F), Average High Temperature Average High 16C (61F))
  • April (Sunrise 0650, Sunset 2000, Average Low Temperature 12C (54F), Average High Temperature 22C (71F)
  • May (Sunrise 0615, Sunset 2030, Average Low Temperature 17C (63F), Average High Temperature 26C (78F)

Five Things to do in Greece in Spring

1- Go Island Hopping
best time of year to visit greece starry sky above the Greek Islands
There’s really no best time to visit the Greek Islands, from summer to winter, you’ll find the islands a splendid place to explore.

You will find that ferry frequency increases, so plan some island hopping, either day trips or itineraries covering a few days.

2- Admire The Colours Of Spring

The spring colours in Greece are lovely before the hot sun can dry the land.

After deciding where you want to make your base, look at the routes you can take, walking, cycling or even motoring, to see the best of this colour.

3- Visit Crete
best time of year to visit italy and greece Crete, Greece. In the foreground - sea and pier of Heraklion port, loading equipment, cruise liners, yachts, in the background.
If you’re keen on going to Crete in Greece, the best time to visit is autumn or spring.

Crete is exceptional all year round, but spring takes some beating.

In May, head to Samaria Gorge, the longest in Europe and some would say the prettiest in springtime.

There is a national park, a wildlife haven, and plenty of walks and hikes to enjoy that would be too hot to tackle in summer.

4- Explore The Peloponnese
best time to visit italy and greece
Nafplio or Nafplion is a small town in the Peloponnese, with a famous castle and small harbour.

The Peloponnese is a place to see in the spring as it’s beautiful and also has significant sites to visit.

Ancient Byzantine churches are just one of the things to visit in a region that was Sparta in ancient times.

5- Celebrate A Greek Easter

Easter in Athens is an experience, with activities based on Easter and the chance to visit a flower festival, with other celebrations on specific days.

Check the calendar to decide on when to go for planned events.

Top tips:

  • Check the weather forecast and go out prepared for cooler weather or rain.
  • Even though crowds will not be huge if you intend to visit numerous museums, get a pass to save money and avoid the lines.
  • Go to a local market to see the array of fruit and vegetables. It will give you ideas about what to order at your local restaurant.

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Steve Smith is a widely travelled man who has lived on the South West Coast of Turkey since 2008. He hails from North East England where he lived most of his life but has been to every continent of the world, with a particular love for Southern Africa and its wildlife. He lists Argentina, India, and Vietnam as other favourite places that he enjoyed greatly while sport is also a passion, cricket and golf as a participant, rugby union and soccer as a spectator.