There’s never a bad time to visit Europe but when is the best time to visit Greece?

Greece has had significant influence across the planet on arts, philosophy, politics, science, and sports. It’s also home to stunning beaches, over 226 inhabited islands, ancient ruins, spectacular mountains and has a vibrant food and nightlife scene.

These things have made Greece a major tourist destination for travellers around the world who are visiting in record numbers each year. But when is the best time to visit Greece? We think there’s never a bad time but there are distinct seasons and a number of things to take into consideration.

Greece in Summer: July & August

Summer is by far the busiest time of year for Greek tourism. August, in particular, is very busy as that’s when most Europeans and indeed Greeks, will take their annual holiday. Many places will be crowded and, as a result, most things will also be a lot more expensive than they are at other times of the year.

Summer in Greece can also be very hot and dry (heat waves are not uncommon). The weather in southern Europe can be quite oppressive in the summer so its no surprise that most people head to the islands or the beaches of the mainland.

June can be relatively mild weather-wise and the crowds don’t really pick up until mid-July.

 

Pros of summer

    • The most popular islands are, well, popular! Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete in particular will be heaving with all the beautiful people and there is a constant energy and vibe that is a lot of fun.

All of the shops, hotels and businesses are open for business and in some places it feels like they never close. This is also when the nightlife kicks in in some towns and people are up until sun up all summer choosing to sleep through the hottest parts of the day.

 

  • The ocean is warmest in the summer months making it ideal for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. The Mediterranean can be very cold at other times of the year so this is when you can really make the most of it.
  • Transport is running at full steam with the most amount of flights and ferry routes for the year, giving you lots of options.
  • Summer arts and music festivals are underway with many outdoor events held including at the Acropolis.
  • next to no rain and blue skies every day
  • great water visibility for snorkelling and diving

Cons of summer

  • the afore-mentioned crowds. Make sure you book flights and ferry tickets in advance as well as accommodation particularly in August.
  • prices are more expensive
  • the heat can be quite brutal especially reflecting off all those white surfaces
  • wildfires can be common especially on the mainland

Average Temperatures

July 92F / 33C

August 92F / 33C

 

best time to visit greece

Major holidays and festivals in Summer in Greece

 

August 15th – Dormition of the Virgin Mary 

This is a BIG one and the second biggest religious holiday after Easter. People all over Greece flock back to their family homes/islands to celebrate, and being in the middle of summer school holidays and peak tourist season it means this day can be complete mayhem in many places!

On the island of Tinos there is an especially unique custom where pilgrims crawl on their hands and knees up the steps of the beautiful Panagia Evangelistria Church. 

best time to visit greece

Panagia Evangelistria Church, Tinos

Easter in Greece

Easter in Greece takes place at different times each year depending on the Julian calendar.

Generally, the date for Easter is set on the first full moon after both the Spring Equinox and Passover, which usually occurs around the middle to the end of March. This means every year Orthodox Easter takes place between one and four weeks after Catholic (Western) Easter.

Celebrations for Easter is an entire week called Holy Week and starts with processions and much candle lighting on Good Friday. Santorini in particular lights up all along the caldera and is quite a spectacle.

On Saturday the Ceremony of the Resurrection takes place in churches all over the country and the bells are rung for extended times. This is the pinnacle of Greek Easter and fireworks go off after a very important Midnight Mass. On this day it is traditional to eat a soup called Magaritsa and make eggs with red-dyed shells. you crack together with another person for good luck.

Easter Sunday is the biggest religious holiday of the year.

After Church, there is a huge feast where fasting is broken. People splurge on lamb and goat and cook them on open spitroasts in their homes and villages and the red eggs are cracked together with other people for good luck.

Crete, Chios and Paros seem to go the extra mile with Easter Sunday with Crete even burning bonfires and effigies of the traitor, Judas.

In Naoussa, Paros there is a huge party around the fishing harbour with people dancing on rooftops until dawn. In Chios, there is a famous ‘rocket war’ where rockets fire is exchanged between two castles just after midnight.

All museums and archaeological sites are closed.

santorini easter lights

Spring in Greece :  April/May/June

 

Spring and fall are generally considered to be the best times to go to Greece.

It’s shoulder season so prices are much cheaper and its not as crowded.

The weather is generally quite lovely with wildflowers blooming during the spring, and Autumn leaves in the Fall. It’s the best time to travel to Greece if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, especially if you want to visit lots of ruins and enjoy some hiking.

September is especially good as the sea has been warmed up all summer and is still great for swimming. This is also when grapes in Greece are harvested and visits to the many excellent wineries can be really interesting.

April is also a great month to visit and you get an extra bonus if it coincides with Greek Easter (see above) which has an amazing series of events to witness. 

Pros of spring in Greece

  • not as crowded as Summer
  • not as expensive
  • mild weather but still generally sunny much of the time
  • spring flowers are everywhere and the islands can be quite colourful
  • Greek Easter is like a religious Carnivale in some places

Cons of spring in Greece

  • Some things may be closed, especially on the smaller islands.
  • it may be too cool to enjoy the beach especially in the North
  • things can be very quiet in some places, perhaps too much for some people.

 

Average Temperatures

April 69F / 21C

May 80F / 27C

June 88F / 31C

 

Major religious festivals and holidays in Greece in Spring

 

April 23rd – The Feast of St George

This day celebrates the famous knight who killed the Dragon. Festivities occur across many parts of Greece that have the name ‘George’ – there are many, and especially in Corfu, Arachova, Skiathos and Rhodes.

 

May 1st – Labor Day.

The Acropolis and all museums and archaeological sites are closed.

 

June 21 – Holy Spirit Monday (day can vary along with Easter) 

 

best time to visit greece
best time to visit greece

Autumn in Greece : Sept/Oct/November

 

Like Spring many people consider Autumn to be the best time to visit Greece. The weather is still warm in September and early October particularly in the southern Aegean & Dodecanese islands and Crete.

The prices are ‘shoulder’ and the crowds really start to thin out by the end of September.

By the end of October ‘fall’ begins and there are many parts of Greece, especially on the Mainland in Central and Northern Greece where the autumn leaves can be quite spectacular.

 Pros of autumn in Greece

    • not very crowded, especially November
    • ‘shoulder’ prices until mid October and then even cheaper in November
    • mild weather but still generally sunny a lot of the time
    • the autumn leaves are very beautiful especially on the mainland

Cons of autumn in Greece

  • Some things may be closed, especially on the smaller islands after Mid-September. Places like Mykonos & Milos that rely heavily on beach activities will no longer run them.
  • it may be too cool to enjoy the beach especially in the North
  • things can be very quiet in some places, perhaps too much for some people.

Average Temperatures

Sept 83F / 28C

Oct 72F / 22C

Nov 64F / 18C

diving in greece

Major religious festivals and holidays in Greece in Autumn

 

In September there are several major festivals and events in Greece including the International Music Festival in Santorini and the International Trade Fair and the Song and Film Festival in Thessaloniki.

October 28 – Oxi Day

This day commemorates the day the Prime Minister of Greece at the time, Ioannis Metaxas, said ‘Oxi’ (No) to an ultimatum made by the Italian Prime Minister, Benito Mussolini, in 1940.

People see this day as symbolizing bravery and solidarity for the Greek people all over the world and there are many parades and celebrations in Greek Communities worldwide.

Winter in Greece – December to March

 

The weather during winter, like many places, can be cold and wet but certainly not as freezing as some parts of Europe.

While much of winter can be very cold there is actually a period between mid-December and mid- February (but mostly in the last two weeks of January) that is known as the Halcyon Days ( or Alkyonides Days), which translates to ‘calm, peaceful days’. On these days the skies are clear and sunny and, while it is still cool the temperature is very pleasant and it’s many people favourite time of the year.

One of the main attractions in winter is that is uncrowded and quiet. It’s a great time to explore the many museums and take in much of the history.

On the islands, most of the hotels, shops, and restaurants will be closed and transport options to them are minimal. Certainly beaches activities and boat tours will not be available.

If you do want to spend time on an island you’re best choosing those in the South such as Crete or Rhodes although they too can get cold, especially in the mountains.

Most people don’t realise that Greece does have a ski season and there is good snowfall in the ski fields in the North. Parnassos is a mountainous ski-resort area only 2 hours north of Athens and is very popular with domestic tourists in Winter. It is also very close to Delphi and Arachova so there is a lot to do and see in the area even off-peak.

There are a number of small cosy hotels in the mountains and it’s a beautiful time to see the monasteries of Meteora with the snow on their roofs.

Pros of Winter in Greece

  • not crowded
  • quite inexpensive
  • islands will only be inhabited by locals
  • many winter dishes like casseroles and stews are readily available
  • good snow fall on the ski fields
  • ‘Halcyon Days’ can be crisp but beautiful
  • Christmas can be a lot of fun

Cons of winter in Greece

  • most of the islands will be closed for tourism activities
  • the islands will only be inhabited by locals
  • too cold to swim or go to the beach
  • limited transport routes open
  • temperatures can get very cold and big storms can occur

Average Temperatures

Dec 72F / 22C

Jan 53F / 11C

Feb 55F / 13C

March 62F / 17C

 

best time to visit greece
best time to visit Greece

As you can see Greece can actually be a year round destination. Whilst most people might think of summer on the Islands it is possible to visit in the colder months for a different type of experience.

There really is no right or wrong answer when trying to work out when to visit Greece and it will largely get down to your own preferences, availability and budget. Whatever the time of year you choose to visit I guarantee it will still be wonderful.

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