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The Best Time To Visit Greece [By Seasons and Interests]

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The Best Time To Visit Greece [By Seasons and Interests]

Table of Contents

Greece: at a glance, the best time to visit greece by season, the best time to visit greece by interest and island, final thoughts.

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Greece is a bucket-list destination for many travelers. This Mediterranean country offers incredible historical sites like the Acropolis, iconic views in places like Santorini, and lively nightlife in Mykonos, along with plenty of art, culture, and breathtaking scenery throughout the country.

A question many people ask is: “What’s the best time to visit Greece?” While there’s no definitive answer to this question, there are some guidelines you may want to follow based on what you’re looking for (great weather, no crowds, etc.).

In this post, we’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of visiting Greece in each season and look at the best times to visit based on your interests.

Map of Greece

Greece is located in southeastern Europe, boarded by Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Türkiye. While you may be familiar with some of the country’s more famous islands like Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos, there are actually thousands of islands scattered throughout the Ionian and Aegean Seas, giving the country one of the longest coastlines in the world.

Greece thrived in ancient times and is often called the cradle of Western civilization. Perhaps its most famous landmark is the Acropolis , which includes the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike. These sites have enormous architectural and historical significance and can draw 16,000 visitors in a single day .

Greece has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it’s hot and dry in the summer and cool and wet in the winter. During the summer, it can be very hot and there’s little rainfall. Summer heat in Greece is no joke — Athens is often cited as the hottest capital city in Europe. In the winter, northern and mountainous regions can see snow while southern islands remain mild.

Hot Tip: The currency in Greece is the euro, so be sure to have some handy. We also recommend using a credit card without foreign transaction fees whenever possible.

Greece in the spring

Spring (March, April, May)

If you’re looking for mild weather and smaller crowds, consider visiting Greece in the spring. April and May are great times to visit as long as the beach isn’t the first priority on your to-do list (it’s still a little chilly for the beach during these months). Average daytime temperatures range from about 60 degrees in March to about 77 degrees in May.

Most of the Greek Islands are fully open by May for the summer tourism season.

Holy Week and Easter (March or April, depending on the year) are important times in the country, so you may see prices increase during these events.

  • Apokries (February or March)
  • Orthodox Easter and Holy Week (March or April)
  • Salsa Spring Festival (May)

Summer (June, July, August)

Zakynthos Greece

It probably comes as no surprise that summer is the most popular time to visit Greece . Unfortunately, this also means it’s the most crowded time in Greece.

July and especially August are the hottest and busiest months in the country. If you’re planning on visiting historical sites in Athens or popular islands like Santorini or Mykonos, be prepared for extreme heat and huge crowds.

Average daily temperatures range from about 86 degrees to 90 degrees, but it’s not uncommon to see days that exceed 100 degrees.

  • Athens Epidaurus Festival (all summer)
  • Kalamata International Dance Festival  (July)
  • Rockwave Festival (July)
  • Olympus Festival  (July to August)
  • Sani Festival (July to August)
  • Vovousa Festival (July to August)
  • Molyvos International Music Festival (August)

Hot Tip: If you enjoy unique accommodations, check out these boutique hotels in Athens .

Fall (September, October, November)

Mykonos Greece

Early fall — especially September — can be a great time to visit Greece since it’s still warm but crowds start to thin once kids are back in school.

September has an average daily temperature of 83 degrees, but after that, cooler days start to appear. The average daily temperature in October is 73 degrees and it drops to 64 degrees in November.

While October might be a little too cool for swimming, it’s a wonderful time for sightseeing. The rainy season starts around the end of September, so keep that in mind when you’re visiting Greece in the fall. And don’t forget to pack a travel umbrella or rain poncho !

  • Athens International Film Festival (September to October)
  • Athens Marathon. The Authentic  (November)
  • Thessaloniki International Film Festival (November)

Winter (December, January, February)

Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens Greece

Winter is the low season in Greece , with crowds and costs at a minimum beginning in November all the way until March. Many tourist attractions have shorter hours and some islands can even close for the whole season.

Winter can actually be a decent time to visit Athens, though. While the weather can be chilly, it’s not frigid, with average daily temperatures hovering around 55 degrees. There are lots of Christmas festivities throughout the city in December, making it a fun time to visit the capital.

Popular attractions like the Acropolis will be less crowded during the winter and it can also be a great time for cheaper airfare and hotel prices. According to Google Travel , December is the least expensive month to visit Greece.

  • Christmas in Athens (December)

Greek flag in Mykonos

The Best Time To Visit the Greek Islands

Greece is known for its islands. The best times to visit the Greek Islands are the summer months of June and July . August is a popular month to visit but it can be incredibly crowded. Some islands are also great to visit as early as April or May and as late as September.

Generally, winter is not a great time to visit the Greek Islands. The weather can be cold and wet and many hotels, restaurants, and shops shut down for the season. This is especially true on the smaller islands. Ferry schedules are also reduced during winter, so travel between the islands can be more difficult.

Hot Tip: No matter what month you visit, you can use points and miles to fly to Greece .

The Best Time To Visit Mykonos

The best times to visit Mykonos are the late spring or early fall . During these times, temperatures are still warm, but it’s less crowded and hotel prices are lower.

Of course, if you’re after the iconic summer beach-party vibe the island is known for, you’ll need to brace yourself for heat and crowds if you visit during the popular summer months of June, July, and August. The summer weather is hot, dry, and windy with average temperatures peaking around 84 degrees in July and August. August also tends to be the most crowded month so try to avoid traveling then if you can.

It’s possible to visit Mykonos during the winter . The weather, while unpredictable, is relatively mild, with low temperatures only dipping into the upper 40s.

While you’ll avoid crowds and pay less for your trip, keep in mind that many restaurants, shops, and attractions may be closed and ferry service can be limited. However, if you’re interested in strolling the almost empty streets to take in all of the island’s beauty, winter can be a great time to visit Mykonos.

The Best Time To Visit Santorini

Santorini Greece blue domes

Santorini, also known as Thira, might be the most popular island to visit in Greece and is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable in all of Europe . Summer is the busiest time on the island, with most visitors coming in July and August. To avoid crowds, schedule your trip in the shoulder months of April, May, September, or October when crowds are thinner but the weather is still warm.

November through March are the coolest months with high temperatures between 57 and 60 degrees and lows ranging from 50 to 57 degrees. While winter is a good time to visit to avoid crowds, it’s also the wettest season in Santorini, so be sure to pack accordingly.

Hot Tip: Check out these boutique hotels in Santorini if you’re looking for a unique place to stay.

The Best Time To Visit Crete

Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands , and as the southernmost island in the country, it’s one that can be visited year-round.

Generally, May, June, and September are the best months to visit Crete for the perfect balance of great weather and fewer crowds. As with most of the Greek Islands, July and August are the hottest and most popular times to visit, so crowding can be an issue.

Hot Tip: Not sure where to stay? Check out these boutique hotels in Greece (including the Greek Islands) .

The Best Time To Visit Corfu

Corfu is a Greek Island in the Ionian Sea known for its beaches. If you want to soak up some sun on the beach, the best time to visit Corfu is in the summer (July and August specifically) when the weather is hot and dry. However, that’s the most crowded time on the island, as well. If you’d like to avoid crowds as much as possible, try to visit in the shoulder months of May, June, and September for a nice balance of good weather and reasonable crowds.

The Cheapest Time To Travel to Greece

The cheapest time to visit Greece is during the winter . This is a time when crowds are almost non-existent and prices for things like accommodations, flights, and even food are at their lowest. Keep in mind, though, that certain areas of Greece, especially the islands, will see many shops and restaurants close down for the season, so plan your trip accordingly.

Hot Tip: According to Kayak , February is the cheapest month to fly to Greece. To save money on flights, check out these booking websites .

Greece is an incredible country to visit and is high on many travelers’ bucket lists. In addition to famous ancient ruins like the Acropolis in Athens, there are thousands of islands to visit. You’ll find gorgeous beaches, delicious food, mountains for hiking, and plenty of small towns to explore.

The best time to visit Greece can vary based on what you’re looking for, but generally, you’ll want to shoot for the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall. These time periods offer a nice balance between weather that’s not too hot and crowds that aren’t too thick. Whenever you decide to go, Greece is definitely a country you’ll enjoy visiting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best season to travel to greece.

For the best balance of good weather and reasonable crowds, the best seasons to travel to Greece are spring and fall.

What is the best time to visit Greece to avoid crowds?

If you want to avoid crowds in Greece, visit in the winter. Tourists are few and far between during the winter months. However, if you’re visiting the Greek Islands it will be too cold for swimming and some shops, restaurants, and attractions may be closed for the season.

What is the best time to go to Greece for beaches?

If you’re going to Greece for the beaches, the best times to visit are July and August. The weather will be hot and dry — perfect for a day at the beach. June and September will also be warm enough for swimming, and these months have the benefit of slightly fewer visitors.

What is the off-season in Greece?

Winter is the off-season in Greece. From November to March, the weather can be chilly and wet, and many of the islands partially shut down since there are so few tourists.

Does Greece have a rainy season?

Yes, the rainy season in Greece lasts from the end of September until June. November and December are the rainiest months of the year. July and August are the driest months, with almost no rain.

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About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

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The best time to go to Greece

Helen Iatrou

Jul 3, 2023 • 6 min read

best off season time to visit greece

Greece’s most significant spiritual holiday, Orthodox Easter, takes place in either April or May ©Hector Christiaen/Shutterstock

Greece is famed for its crystalline seas, ancient attractions, and warm hospitality.

Summer is when most travelers choose to explore its countless islands , while spring and fall are the best times of year to marvel at the myriad of archeological sites dotted around the country.

Winter can be cool and occasionally rainy but for those conscious about budget or interested in seeing how the locals live, the vibrant capital of Athens still delivers history, culture, and good times in spades, even when the sunshine starts to fade.

Whether you’re dreaming of the southeast Mediterranean nation’s dreamy beaches , ancient allure, or buzzing city life, these are the best times to visit Greece.

Mother and daughter sailing together in Greece as the sunsets in the background

May to October is best for island-hopping

Orthodox Easter, Greece’s most significant spiritual holiday, lands in April or May and unofficially debuts in the island-hopping season. In the final month of spring, the seas only just start to lose their winter chill and are still too cool for swimming, at least by local standards. In May, the average daily high is a warm 77°F and days are normally sunny.

Keep in mind that the deep cobalt waters of the Aegean, in the north and south, take longer to warm up than the shallower, turquoise seas of the Ionian , west of mainland Greece. The further south you sail through the Aegean archipelago, the hotter it gets, at least on land, and so the longer the warm weather season. Islands such as Rhodes and Crete are ideal for a sunny shoulder season getaway in May, September, or October when beaches are empty of schoolkids (with the exception of UK mid-term holidays).

June affords the longest days of sunshine, peaking in the second fortnight. It’s also an opportune time for your first, refreshing dip of the summer. July and August are the busiest months of the year on the islands, so expect high airfares, peak season hotel rates, crowded beach bars, bustling main towns, and packed restaurants in popular destinations like Mykonos , Santorini , and Paros , among others. Southern Europeans, including Greeks retreating to their second homes, gravitate toward the islands at this time of year.

July and August are also the hottest and driest months in Greece, with average temperatures often exceeding 86°F, and there is the potential for stifling heatwaves. Thankfully, the Meltemi, a welcome north wind that makes its appearance mostly between June and September, tempers the heat. Still, if you’re intent on visiting during July and August, be sure to book a good six months or more in advance to secure slightly better airfares and hotel rates.

By September, Greece’s seas have thoroughly warmed through and school holidays are over, meaning that you’ll have more room to yourself at that idyllic beach and a peaceful night’s sleep. Airfares and hotel rates are also more affordable. As a result, it’s now one of the most popular months of travel for those who want to enjoy a more relaxing island or mainland holiday.

By about mid-October, Greece’s seas start to pick up swell, and air temperatures begin to fall, while the majority of hotels stay open until the end of the month. It’s still an excellent time of year to visit, as long as you come prepared, with warmer clothing for cooler evenings.

Asian woman looks out at view of three blue domes, Oia island, Greece

See the ancient sites in spring or fall

From the Vergina Royal Tombs Museum dating to the times of Alexander the Great in Macedonia to the Minoan-era Palace of Knossos in Crete , ancient marvels and historical monuments liberally dot the landscape, wherever you journey throughout Greece. Stonebuilt temples, palaces, and castles act like a magnet for sunlight, so the best times of the year to plan your history geek-out is March, April, or October. The weather is comfortably cool and the crowds are noticeably thinner. As an added bonus, you can expect to pay less for flights and accommodation .

Layers of clothing, such as short-sleeve shirts and a light fleece jacket, are vital to ward off the chill but also to peel off as you hike between ruins and landmarks. Pack a water-resistant jacket and hiking shoes because showers are a real possibility, while March also brings occasional snowfall in mountainous mainland areas such as Central Greece .

Scratch below the surface of Greece’s archaic attractions and museums by booking a small group or private tour, led by a state-licensed guide. Rather than wander around the sacred ancient temples of Delphi on your own, seek out an on-the-ground expert, many of whom are also qualified archeologists or historians. It’s not just about the specific details they impart but the fascinating anecdotes you would never find in a history book. The best guides are usually booked up in the height of summer, so take advantage of their availability and deep knowledge by scheduling a visit in March, October, or November.

A young woman smiles above Athens

Fall and winter are the best times to experience Athens like a local

Greeks, the majority of whom live in Athens, return to base no later than October to resume their normal routines. But that doesn’t mean the city goes quiet. Quite the contrary.

You’ll still be able to sit outdoors at cafes and restaurants and soak up the insouciant vibes of city life. At the same time, the queues to visit the Acropolis and other ancient sites around town disappear, Monastiraki’s flea markets are quieter, and it’s easier to snag a table at a rooftop restaurant for dinner with views of an illuminated Parthenon .

And November and December, with the exception of the Christmas and New Year period, offer some of the most tempting airfare and hotel deals to be had. Between November 1 and March 30, entrance fees at ancient sites and state-run museums, like the treasure-filled National Archaeological Museum , are significantly reduced, making a December vacation a more appealing option for families on a budget.

Temperatures are still comfortably warm in November, with average highs of around 65°F. In December, the mean temperature drops to about 58.46°F, and average monthly rainfall hovers around 65mm. As winter takes hold, Athenian night owls congregate indoors at bars and clubs in inner-city Gazi, Keramikos, and Metaxourgio , where they listen to alt-rock bands, notable jazz artists on tour, and electronic music.

Best of all, Athens regains its true identity. Whether you’re walking the cobblestoned streets of old town Plaka on a Sunday afternoon, checking out the bookshops in the intellectual Exarhia neighborhood or even scaling the verdant heights of Lycabettus Hill (the city’s best vantage point for views of the capital’s vast urban sprawl) you’ll find yourself among locals going about their day-to-day lives. Most Greeks, particularly younger generations, will take every opportunity to dust off their English skills, so don’t be shy to strike up a conversation and ask for insider tips.

This article was first published Apr 29, 2021 and updated Jul 3, 2023.

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The Best Time to Visit Greece for Good Weather, Fewer Crowds, and Affordable Prices

Greece is calling your name.

best off season time to visit greece

Greece has long beckoned travelers with its beauty. From the crystalline waters in the surrounding Mediterranean Sea and the rich historical sites that dot the nation's map to the divine cuisine and stellar hotels, the European country deserves a spot high on travelers' wish lists.

Travelers flock to Greece year-round, but some months are better to visit than others, especially if you're keen to explore beaches, avoid the masses, or score a deal on a hotel room. Here are the main tourist seasons to keep in mind:

  • High Season:  June to September
  • Shoulder Seasons:  April to May and October
  • Low Season:  November to March

Ready to plan your trip? Here are the best times to travel to Greece, whether you're after good weather, affordable prices, or fewer crowds.

Michela Buttignol/Travel+Leisure

Best Times to Visit Greece for Smaller Crowds

Unsurprisingly, the most popular times to visit Greece are the late spring, summer, and early fall months. This is when the weather is ideal, and all the venues open their doors, inviting guests to stay, eat, and drink.

According to CEIC Data , Greece received 3.64 million tourists in June 2022. In July of the same year, that number rose to 5.27 million, and in August, a whopping 5.86 million enjoyed a Greek getaway, making it by far its busiest month to visit. Numbers dropped in the fall, with 4.56 million visitors in September and 2.75 million in October.

If you don't plan on hitting the beaches, consider a trip to Greece during the winter. While the weather is cooler (the average temperatures hover around 50 degrees Fahrenheit), the crowds are much thinner. In 2023, around 635,000 people visited Greece in January, and a mere 572,500 came in February. In fact, the nation didn't crack one million visitors until April, making the winter much more manageable if you're trying to avoid crowds. However, many venues and hotels close for the winter, so search for accommodations in your intended destination to see what's available and when.

Alessandra Amodio

Best Times to Visit Greece for Good Weather

If you're after warm weather but want to avoid the sweltering heat, plan a trip in late spring or early fall (April through June or September through October). In May, the average temperature in Athens, the nation's capital, ranges from a high of 74.8 degrees Fahrenheit to a low of 61.5 degrees Fahrenheit. In June, things warm up to an average high of 82.6 degrees Fahrenheit — perfect for taking a dip in the ocean.

In September, the average temperatures drop a little in Athens to a high of 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 69.6 degrees Fahrenheit. October is even chillier, with an average high hitting 71.4 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low around 62.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, it's cool, but nowhere near cold enough to feel uninviting. Just remember, the country is relatively large, especially if you include the best islands in Greece , so check your exact destination for average temperatures before booking.

Best Times to Visit Greece for Lower Prices

Visiting Greece on a budget is possible. All you need to do is plan accordingly. According to Skyscanner , the cheapest months to book a flight to Greece are October, November, March, and April. The website notes that July tends to be the most expensive month to fly to Greece, so it's best to avoid the middle of the high season if you're trying to save money.

While April is a less expensive month to fly, it's worth noting that hotel prices increase slightly during Greek Orthodox Easter, which sometimes falls at the end of April. The end of December and the beginning of January see a similar spike. Hotels tend to be pricey during July and August, so avoid these busy months if you're looking for lower room rates.

Best Time to Visit the Greek Islands

Again, the best time to visit depends on what you're after, but generally speaking, for the most delightful weather, plan a trip to the Greek islands in the late spring, early summer, or beginning of fall. Yes, you can visit in midsummer if you don't mind the heat (and being shoulder-to-shoulder with other travelers).

For example, in Santorini, the average high in July hits 84 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low is 73 degrees Fahrenheit. The upside is the ultra-warm water at this time of year, with an average sea temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In July, the island typically only experiences one or two rainy days, making your chances of basking in the sun pretty good.

September is considered one of the best months to visit the Greek islands, as the weather is still sunny and warm, and the crowds have thinned out. However, you'll want to research the island you plan to visit since temperatures vary across the archipelagoes.

Worst Times to Visit Greece

There's no bad time to visit Greece. However, July and August can be uncomfortably hot and humid — especially in Athens — with temperatures often soaring above 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The capital city and Cycladic islands (including Mykonos and Santorini) are also at their most crowded and expensive during these months, so it's best to avoid midsummer if you're looking for more elbow room, lower prices, and a relaxed atmosphere.

On the flip side, January is the coldest month in Greece, with temperatures hovering around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. While the cool weather is ideal for exploring historical sites, shops, and art galleries in Athens , it will likely be too chilly to swim in the ocean. If your dream vacation in Greece includes beach time, avoid visiting during the winter months.

best off season time to visit greece

Related Articles

These Are the Best Times to Visit Greece

Anthony Grant

Finally ready for that dream trip to Greece ? With a coastline longer than the United Kingdom's and thousands of islands, the country is a great place to visit any time of year. But absent a last-minute flight deal (and they do come up, though nonstop options from the US are still limited), planning ahead is the way to go in order to make the most of your time in Greece.

The urban attractions of Athens thrum at full tilt all year long, while most Greek islands are at their best once winter has left the picture. Whether it's sultry Mediterranean breezes you seek or the cheapest time to book that hotel room with a sea view in Mykonos, consider this your essential guide to planning a perfect trip to Greece.

The Best Weather in Greece

best off season time to visit greece

Generally, the best weather in Greece is what you'll experience in May, June and September. Plenty of sunny days that aren't too hot make May an ideal time for long, leisurely walks in Athens. By June, the beaches of the Aegean islands are warm enough for swimming and popular islands like Mykonos aren't crowded yet.

July is when things get toasty and sometimes uncomfortably humid in Athens, and the city is crowded with tourists then, too. August, naturally, means great beach weather, and if you like your big cities to yourself then it's also a fine time for Athens, as most Athenians ditch the capital.

September has lots of advantages (namely: fewer tourists), but the days are still long and warm and better yet, it's less humid than in July and August. In Crete, the southernmost Greek island, you can go swimming well into October.

The Best Times to Visit Cities in Greece

The two biggest cities in Greece are the capital, Athens , and Thessaloniki. Both are destinations in their own right and for culture vultures there is really no bad time to go. In the peak summer season, major attractions in Athens such as the Acropolis Museum are more crowded than in wintertime, when on many days you'll have even iconic places like the Acropolis largely to yourself. Winter in Athens is also a great time to check out lesser-known museums, tune up your Instagram or warm up in a luxe Turkish bath .

best off season time to visit greece

Generally speaking, think of April to June as the ideal times to explore Athens and other Greek cities including historic Nafplio. Thessaloniki is a vibrant city with a wealth of cultural attractions, but in the height of summer it gets so humid they actually have public fans in places to keep the air circulating.

Choose shoulder season months like October and May for an optimal experience there. Most island towns are empty of tourists from November until around the time of Greek Easter, but the main town in Corfu and the Cretan cities like Heraklion are up and running all year long.

When to Visit Greece for Events

From religious holidays to cultural festivals, there are plenty of events worth attending throughout the year.

Spring Events

Greek Orthodox Easter is the most important holiday in the Greek calendar by far. In 2019, Greek Easter falls on Sunday, April 28, but festivities actually begin the week prior on the Saturday of Lazarus. Easter is celebrated in different ways throughout the country, with many variations on the candlelit processions of Good Friday and Easter Sunday celebrations themselves — but you can count on plenty of lamb roasts and fireworks. Easter in Corfu is one of the most famous, but wherever you are in Greece during this time you can expect to experience at least some of the country's very rich and colorful Easter traditions.

Summer Events

Summer is when most music and arts festivals are in full swing. The Athens and Epidaurus Festival is the country's most prestigious annual summer arts festival, with events taking place at the ancient stone Odeon of Herodes Atticus theater (the Herodion) below the Acropolis as well as south of Athens at the amphitheater of Epidaurus, the best-preserved theater of the ancient world. Events include a mix of classic and contemporary (last summer, Bill Murray recited poetry in the Herodion) and are usually scheduled from late June to early August.

The Athens Festival in Epidaurus, Greece. (Photo by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On the day of the August Full Moon Festival in Athens, museums and ancient sites are open in the evening free of charge until midnight.

Assumption is Aug. 15. It's a public holiday in Greece and considered the "Summer Easter." On this day, life in Athens pretty much grinds to a halt as Athenians dash off to the countryside or the islands. If you want to make sure you have a good place to stay anywhere outside of Athens on Aug. 15 or in the two weeks following, it's increasingly essential that you plan and reserve ahead of time.

Fall Events

The prestigious Thessaloniki International Film Festival is usually held during the first part of November. And while they're not exactly going to enrich anybody in cultural terms, Black Friday shopping events in November have recently taken Greeks by storm.

Winter Events

Christmas in Greece is nowhere near as big a deal as Greek Easter, but there are festive lights in the center of big cities like Athens. Also in Athens, New Year's Eve means festive fireworks over the Acropolis.

Fireworks explode over the Parthenon temple atop the Athens Acropolis hill during New Year's day celebrations, in Athens on January 1st, 2017. (Photo by Panayotis Tzamaros/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Best Times to Explore the Greek Islands

The best times to visit mykonos and santorini.

What ultimately draws visitors to Santorini is the views over the volcanic caldera and not the beaches, and that appeal has fueled the island's rise as a year-round destination. May and June are the best times to dodge the crowds but also enjoy some sun. Otherwise, it's probably better to wait until after mid-September.

Mykonos is a bit trickier: in May and June (and again in September) you'll have more elbow room at the island's many beaches and posh beach bars, but to get a taste of the international razzle dazzle for which the place is most famous, July and August do rock to that inimitable Mediterranean island vibe. But it's also a very expensive vibe. Unlike in Santorini, by the end of September it's already very quiet again in Mykonos.

Santorini, Greece. (Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler/Unsplash)

The Best Times to Visit Other Islands

Whether it's Corfu in the Ionian Islands, Rhodes and Patmos in the Dodecanese archipelago, Paros and the other islands that make up the Cyclades or Crete, the best time of year for an island visit is generally going to be in June, July or September. Prices are lower and hotel rooms are more readily available in June and September, and you can count on warm weather in those months, too.

Loads of Greeks and other Europeans on summer holiday can make island travel in August a real challenge — and sometimes a downright headache. And many islands have their off-season charms: For example, the Saronic Islands near Athens like Hydra and Aegina are easy and fun to visit any time of year (but beach time is mainly May through September).

When to Visit Greece to Avoid Crowds

The tourism season in Greece typically gets going after Greek Easter, with shoulder season ramping up in May and the peak season stretching from the latter part of June into July and all of August. Increasingly, in places like Athens and Crete, September is now considered a high season month.

If you want to avoid crowds in Athens, time your summer travel for June or August instead of July. In the Cycladic archipelago (which includes Mykonos and Santorini), avoid July and August unless you don't mind crowded ferries and higher prices.

In Crete, you can expect crowds at many beaches and in the cities of Heraklion and Chania from June right up until October, so consider June or early fall for Crete. By contrast, in Corfu where the beach season is not quite as long as in Crete, you'll have an easier time avoiding crowds in September.

Winter in Athens tends to be cold and damp, but there are still many sunny days and exploring museums and ancient ruins in the absence of crowds and big tour groups can be quite cool.

The Cheapest Times to Visit Greece

best off season time to visit greece

Traveling to Greece is usually priciest during peak season, so if you're looking to save, wait until the off-peak or shoulder seasons. The best hotel deals in Athens are going to be from early January through March, but weather is not at its best at that time. You can generally find good hotel deals in April, May, the first part of June and sometimes in September (but less so in Crete).

The shoulder seasons in Greece run from April through the first part of June, and then from about mid-September through mid-October.

Affordable Airfare

Unsurprisingly, airfare is at its most expensive during the summer. July, specifically, is the priciest month when, according to the farecasting app Hopper, long-haul flight prices are around $1,090 round-trip. In May, that dips to $930 round-trip. But during the shoulder seasons and in winter, prices plunge accordingly.

Currently, all American airlines offer only seasonal nonstop flights to Athens and they tend to be expensive, but there's often a workaround. Find a cheap ticket to either London Heathrow (LHR) or London Gatwick (LGW) and then find a flight that fits your schedule with Greek carrier Aegean : a Star Alliance member with several flights a day from London to Athens International Airport (ATH). Plus, you'll typically get better service than you would from the British low-cost carriers, plus meals are included.

Affordable Hotels

best off season time to visit greece

The most expensive time to book a hotel room in Athens is generally in the summer. The cheapest times are January (after the New Year holiday) and February. The most expensive time to book rooms in popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini is July and especially August.

According to Booking.com , based on bookings made between January 2018 and December 2018, hotels in Athens are 33% more affordable in February than compared to the most expensive month of the year, which (for Booking.com ) is June. Hotels in Santorini in January are 51% more affordable than they are in August, and for Mykonos, March is 73% more affordable than August.

If you're planning to visit Mykonos in the summer, you should plan ahead as much as possible and if you find a deal (paid or points), grab it. Expect hotels on many Greek islands — not just Mykonos and Santorini but also ones like Syros and Sifnos — to be completely sold out over the Aug. 15 Assumption holiday and do not assume you'll be able to find a deal, or anything really, on the spot during that extremely busy time.

In Crete's largest city of Heraklion as well as elsewhere on the island, the high season now effectively runs through the whole month of September, making it wise to book ahead in Crete even for early fall travel.

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Best Time to Visit

The Best Time to Visit Greece

best off season time to visit greece

 Glenn van der Knijff

The best times to visit Greece are in the spring and fall. From April to the beginning of June, the heat of summer has not yet set in and the cruise ships have not arrived with their thousands of tourists. From late September through October it's usually still warm enough for the beach but much less crowded. Whenever you choose to go, you'll find a lot to see and do, wonderful Mediterranean cuisine and lively, friendly people.

Weather in Greece

Summer is hot and dry. Unshaded beaches can be unbearable and unsafe for more than short periods. July and August are the hottest months. Average temperatures are between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit and can reach more than 100 F. A dry, strong seasonal wind, known as the Meltemi , blows from May to September and can bring relief from the heat. In recent years, it has also encouraged wildfires. The winter is relatively mild and seldom drops below freezing. December and January are rainy. There is little snow except in the mountains of Northern Greece and the Peloponnese.

Peak Season in Greece

From June through September, popular areas of Athens and Thessaloniki are crowded. Monastiraki Square in Athens and the adjoining market are chock-a-block, the buses and Metro are packed. Some islands have popular sunset-watching spots that become crowded at prime vantage points. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are when most cruise ships visit Santorini, and the crowds of day-trippers on the island's main road make ordinary bus and taxi travel almost impossible until after sunset.

Prices are highest from July to the end of August and during school holiday periods—when visitors compete for space and attractions with Greek families. Savvy travelers can score bargains April to May and mid-September to mid-October when vacation weather is still good.

Key Festivals and Events

The Greeks like to party and there's hardly a time of year when there isn't a festival, a celebration or an event going on somewhere. Some, however, are worth including in your trip planning.

  • Greek Easter: This is a huge family holiday with events happening throughout Holy Week. Special foods are served in the restaurants and tavernas. Highlights are candlelit processions after Mass on Good Friday. In Athens, the procession goes up Lycabettus Hill and can be seen all over the city.
  • Carnival: Also called Apokreas , this is the celebration before the beginning of Lent that culminates in wild celebrations, feasting, and Carnival processions in costumes (that have been known to be very rude). The Carnival in Patras is considered one of the world's top three.
  • The Athens and Epidaurus Festival: This festival changed its name from the Hellenic Festival because most of its key events take place at two ancient theaters - the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the slopes of the Acropolis, and the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus near Nafplio. It's a month-long festival of international performances, including drama, dance, and music with top artists from all over the world.

TripSavvy / Monica Farber

Tourist Attraction Availability

Most historic attractions are open year-round, though they may have limited hours or short weeks in the offseason. Some commercial attractions, beach bars, cafes and accommodations close from the end of October until the middle of March because business slows in cooler weather. On Santorini, for example, autumn and winter winds are unpleasant and most accommodations on the caldera close by mid-October.

January is one of the coldest, wettest months of the year. This is an excellent time to visit the cities of the mainland and the areas around them. You may find hotel rates at bottom-dollar prices, but those that cater to business people won't be a great deal cheaper.

Events to check out:

  • Patras Carnival : Depending upon when Greek Easter falls, this could be the month for one of the world's top three Carnivals.
  • Gynaikokratia Festival : If you know your classical language roots, you'll know this one is for women. Gynaikokratia means women rule. Each year on Jan. 8, in Kavala and the towns and villages of Thrace, women swap roles with men for the day.

The temperature rarely tops 59 degrees F in February. You won't find snow in most of Greece but there will be snow in the mountains and in the Greek ski areas (yes there are some). Try Mt. Parnassus Ski area or Kalavrita on Mt. Chelmos in the Peloponnese.

  • Tsiknopempti: The name of this holiday, 11 days before the start of Lent, means, literally, goodbye to meat. And it's a long goodbye: restaurants, tavernas, and private family homes indulge in an orgy of meat-eating, and the smell of grilling meats is everywhere.

Days are perceptibly longer and the temperature might rise a few degrees, but don't count on it. It will be windy and miserable most of the time. But this is also the month when spectacularly diverse wildflowers begin to bloom.

  • Carnivals continue until the start of Lent, so look for local events at the beginning of the month.
  • Greek Independence Day: March 25 is celebrated with parades fireworks, and mock naval battles all over Greece to mark the start of the War of Independence from the Ottomans.

April weather is iffy. It can be pleasant and mild or windy and wet. The wildflowers are in full bloom, but if you are heading for the islands, you may find that ferry and hydrofoil services are still limited.

  • Orthodox Easter: Holy Week is significant to the Greeks. On Good Friday, after mass, candlelight processions head out into the night from various churches.
  • Rocket War : The island of Chios explodes on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday as two churches in the town of Vrontados aim fireworks directly at each other. The square between them fills with smoke, and thousands of tourists cheer.

This is the first reliably warm month with temperatures averaging in the high sixties and low seventies, rising to a high of nearly 80 degrees F once in a while. Flowers bloom, people fly kites and go out in boats, but beware: the water is probably still a little too cold for swimming in most places.

  • May Day: The first of May is an optional legal holiday in Greece, but most businesses give workers the day off. May Day is also strongly connected to workers' rights, and it's a big day for slowdowns and wildcat strikes, that could impact your travel plans.

Hot weather and the start of the high season. Expect crowded resorts, higher prices, and temperatures. The average temperature is in the high 80s F and can rise much higher.

  • Athens and Epidaurus Festival runs from June to August in the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and ancient venues all over Athens.
  • Nafplion Festival : A classical music festival at the end of June or early July featuring international artists.
  • Summer Nostos : is a week-long, free festival of music, dance, sports and theatre, all of it free, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in the Athens suburb of Kallithea

Temperatures average in the high 80s F and easily reach the 90s F in most places. It is also very dry so camping is forbidden in most national parks and even hiking in some area. Be aware that there's a risk of wildfires.

  • Outdoor Cinema : Open-air cinema is a longstanding Athens tradition during the summer months. The city has eight, some with the Acropolis as the background, some in historic parks and settings.
  • Kastoria River Party : Camping, music and cooling off in the river in northern Greece.
  • Cretan Diet Festival: No, it's not a weird new way to lose weight; it's a celebration of Cretan cuisine in Rethymno, Crete.

The heatwave continues. So do the lines at the major attractions and the high, in-season prices. But on the plus side, the nights are balmy and pleasant for outdoor dining and nightlife.

Event to check out:

  • XLSIOR : A giant LGBTQ, Pride, and music festival on Mykonos.

The average temperature is 75 degrees F rising into the 80s at the beginning of the month with cool nights averaging 66 degrees F. Days are sunny with almost no chance of rain.

  • Reworks : Thessaloniki's massive international music festival, one of the top 10 for September worldwide, takes place over four days mid-month.
  • Armata , on the island of Spetses, near Athens, celebrates a famous naval victory in the Greek War of Independence. The week-long festival ends with fireworks and the burning of an effigy of an Ottoman ship in the harbor.

Temperatures drop into the 60s with the average daily temperature of about 68 degrees F. With little chance of rain, it's still mild enough for sightseeing, hiking, and touring.

  • Ochi Day : On Oct. 28, 1940, Mussolini demanded that the Axis powers be allowed to enter Greece. The ultimatum was delivered to the Greek Prime Minister at 3 a.m., and he said "Ochi" (no), bringing the country into World War II. This national holiday is celebrated with parades, concerts, and feasts.

Temperatures hover in the mid to low 60s. There are more cloudy days and a greater chance of rain.

  • Thessaloniki International Film Festival : Southern Europe's biggest film festival event, held on the first 10 days of the month.
  • Olive harvest: Throughout this month, ripening olives are gathered and pressed. Most farmers are too busy for olive festivals, but you may be able to witness or take part in a harvest in the smaller towns and villages.

Average temperatures are in the 50s F. It's usually cloudy and the rainy season is just beginning. The mountains of the Peloponnese, northern Greece, and Macedonian Greece have snow cover.

  • Christmas : Unlike other holidays that follow the Julian calendar, the Greek Church adopted the Gregorian calendar dates for Christmas, so it falls on Dec. 25.
  • Christmas in Athens gets going with the Feast of St Nicholas (the inspiration for Santa Claus, Dec. 6, and continues with festive events until Epiphany, Jan. 6. There are public displays of festive lights, fireworks, and special holiday baked treats in the shops.

With a famously busy summer season, spring and fall are the best times of year to visit Greece to avoid the hot weather and the largest crowds of tourists.

The high season in the extremely popular island Santorini lasts from June to September. May is the best month to visit because it is not too hot or cold and the peak season has not yet begun.

July and August are the hottest months with average temperatures hovering between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (29 and 35 degrees Celsius), sometimes reaching more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

Weather Spark. "Average Weather in Athens, Greece Year Round." Retrieved March 23, 2021

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The Best Time to Visit Greece: A Season-by-Season Guide

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See recent posts by Neil Gladstone

Timing a trip to Greece may seem like an easy choice. You can opt for the azure waters and fun-loving crowds of the high season or the big bargains and unreliable weather of the low season. Then, there are the shoulder months, which have some of the advantages of both. So, which should you choose? That depends on your budget and travel interests. Knowing both will help make the choice easier, so we broke each season down for you.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Nikola Totuhov

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Nikola Totuhov

While Greek vacations are often associated with breezy, sun-drenched beaches in the summer, winter, which lasts from December to March, also offers quite a bit for travelers — both indoors and out. During this time of year, temperatures are mostly in the 50s and the weather vacillates between dry and sunny and overcast and rainy. (March tends to be a little more damp than other months). However, if you’re not planning to lie on the beach or party by a bonfire, a few unpredictable clouds may be fine. For those who still want wild nightlife, the bars and nightclubs in Athens pulsate with the sounds of DJs and bouzoukis. 

Prefer to be outside? There are excellent hiking paths lined with lush greenery. The island of Kea features numerous ancient trails that connect the towns and cities. Ferry travel slows down during these months — sometimes running as infrequently as once a week — but islands closer to the mainland, such as Hydra and Aegina, still have daily options. Greece’s mainland also offers great hiking — the northern town of Zagorohoria features Vikos Gorge, the world’s deepest canyon in proportion to its width. The mountains of Greece also have a number of ski runs. In Delphi, you can even ski by historic ruins.

Appreciating history is also a lot easier in the winter. Historic sites such as Athens’ Acropolis and Agora can be viewed without gaggles of tourists and students. The Palace of Knossos on Crete , which is now a museum, was the setting for the ancient tale of the Minotaur.

Of course flights and hotels are significantly discounted in the off-season — as much as 50 percent off of high-season rates — so budget travelers should book well in advance. 

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Pedro

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Pedro

Springtime in Greece only lasts about two months — April and May. Days reach the mid-60s and nights hover around the low 50s. While the weather isn’t quite as wet as winter, Greece’s 5,000-plus flower varietals come out in bloom. Crete is particularly celebrated for its Jerusalem sage, yellow-horned poppy, and Bermuda buttercup flowers. Chania , the second-largest city on Crete, is located near several large fields of wildflowers, which make for a photogenic day trip. The city’s Old Town section shows traces of the island’s past under Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman rule. The charming architecture includes cathedrals and a romantic Venetian harbor. 

Those looking to do something a bit more active than strolling the byways and picking wildflowers can opt for horseback riding, kayaking, and white-water rafting.

Orthodox Easter also usually occurs during the spring months and Greece hosts numerous memorable celebrations. Athens has a procession in which the devout carry candles and torches up Lykavittos Hill, which boasts the highest point in the city. Numerous towns such as Agios Nikolaos have a firework display during the midnight service the Saturday before Easter. In Vrontados, on the island of Chios, two “rival” churches have a rocket war in which they try to ring the bell of the opposing church with homemade fireworks. Easter Sunday is celebrated with the loud clanging of bells and tossing of clay pots into the street. After all, what would a trip to Greece be without seeing a little broken dinnerware?

Spring tends to be a shoulder season and the prices rise from the deep discounts of winter as the days inch closer to the summer. On average, it’s reasonable to expect prices to be about 20 percent off the summer highs.

best off season time to visit greece

Courtesy of Flickr/Taver

For many, fall is the best time to go to Greece. The weather, which gets into the high 60s during the day, is still warm, but the crowds have dissipated, making it easier to enjoy the water and beaches. Like autumn in many parts of the world, the leaves change from green to red to gold, giving nature lovers plenty to admire. 

September is the grape harvest and many of the local wineries celebrate with demonstrations and tastings. Thessaloniki has the Anhiolos Wine Festival the first two weeks of month. Olive farms harvest their fruits in October and November. And the town of Kissamos on Crete holds a Chestnut Festival near the end of October. 

Plenty of historic sites, including the Meteora rock formation in the northern part of the country and the Acropolis Museum, can also be toured with relatively easy access and fewer crowds. 

Like Spring, autumn is a shoulder season for Greece and prices dip 20 percent or more as the days get closer to winter. On the other hand, the ferry schedule becomes more selective and flights can be harder to find. 

NOW WATCH: The 9 Best Greek Islands

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngcjOSgLKAg

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The best time to visit Greece: fewer crowds, great deals, and blissed-out weather

A woman relaxing in a private pool in Santorini, Greece

Thanks to the turquoise waters surrounding its coast, Greece is one of the best summer destinations in Europe. While the country does get way more crowded in the warmer months, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploring throughout the rest of the year.

Greece has far more to offer than its picturesque jagged shoreline. It’s been considered the birthplace of Western civilization for a reason: its millennia-old culture, reflected in the imposing ruins that dot its big cities and the countryside alike.

greece in spring

There are countless reasons to discover inland Greece during the off-peak season. Fall is wine season, when wineries are buzzing with the annual grape harvesting. Spring, on the other hand, has notoriously unpredictable weather. Yet the milder temperatures will tempt you to go hiking or maybe discover a historic village you’d otherwise skip in the summer.

And in case you’re down for some skiing or other snow sports, Greece won’t let you down. There are incredible ski resorts on Mount Olympus and Mount Parnassus , among others.

Peak season in Greece: June-August

greece in the summer

Best for: Exploring the coast, summer sales

From early June onwards, millions of tourists land in Greece to discover its countless islands, architectural wonders, and delicious food. Temperatures can reach the high 90s on the warmest days, and the water in the surrounding Aegean and Ionian seas heats up accordingly.

It’s swimming season, and in some regions, the Meltemi winds (which blow in from the north) should help you hone your windsurfing skills. The wind usually lasts for three to four days and may disrupt your day at the beach—especially in the afternoon, when it’s at its strongest. But locals should be able to tell you which beaches are sheltered from it.

This time of year is also ideal for visitors looking for the best shopping deals, since all shops in the country run their summer sales between July and August.

Summer in Greece

greece in the summer

August is hands down the busiest and hottest month of the year in Greece, so you can expect prices to be at their highest during this month. Large cities like Athens and Thessaloniki are the only exception; they empty out as locals set off for the coast. Although these cities are less crowded, most travelers would find them too humid to visit at the peak of summer.

Island-hopping is the quintessential summertime activity in Greece. The waters surrounding classic stopovers like Navagio (Shipwreck Beach) on the island of Zakynthos and Sarakiniko Beach in Milos display a light blue hue you’ll hardly find anywhere else. Meanwhile, the party scene in Mykonos is at full blast.

Shoulder season in Greece: April-May, September-October

greece ruins

Best for: Exploring the ruins, wine tasting, avoiding the crowds

The travel season in Greece traditionally starts at Easter, which is widely celebrated across the country. While it may still be a bit too chilly to hit the beach, this is a great time to explore the parts of Greece that are particularly rich with ancient ruins. One of them is the island of Corfu and its old town, which hosts one of the biggest Easter celebrations in Greece.

September is the best month to explore mainland Greece. The weather is still rather warm, most tourists have headed home, and hotels are more willing to offer discounts.

As the leaves begin to fall by early October, the islands empty out. But some folks usually linger a bit longer in Santorini , as the skies remain clear for the best views of the Santorini caldera.

Spring in Greece

Spring is the perfect season to tour the ruins and outdoor museums of Greece, out of the summer heat. What’s more, prices are lower compared to the July-August peak season as most destinations are still waiting for the big crowds to show up.

A few of the highlights for the season include all-time classics like the Acropolis of Athens, the Palace of Knossos in Heraklion (Crete) , the Temple of Apollo in Naxos , and the Monastery of St. John in Pátmos .

Fall in Greece

Attica, Athens, Greece

Greece has a winemaking tradition dating back over 6,000 years. If you’re there in the fall, book a wine tour when the grapes are being harvested. Some of the best wineries in the country are in the Attica region around Athens.

The Meteora rock formation is a feast for the eyes. In the fall, the lush vegetation—by now tinged with red and yellow—contrasts even more sharply with the dramatic boulders and the monasteries perched on top of them.

Nafplio

The Peloponnese peninsula, though known as a summer destination, has major landmarks worth visiting year-round, like the town of Nafplio and the Lion Gate in the neighboring Mycenae archaeological site .

Low season in Greece: November-March

Best for: Winter sports, winter sales

At this time of year, Greece welcomes about one-eighth the number of visitors that descend on the country at the height of summer.

On the islands, most businesses shut their doors until spring, and residents often spend winter in Athens or other big cities on the mainland. Still, the off-season in Greece should be the perfect occasion for those in search of shopping deals—the official winter sales run between January and February.

Unlike the coast, which has a Mediterranean climate and boasts consistently mild temperatures, the Greek countryside is temperate and gets a few days of snowfall every year.

Winter in Greece

delphi

Greece has countless options for an off-the-beaten-track winter vacation. The country has a predominantly mountainous terrain, which, though not particularly high in the European context, does feature prominent peaks like Mount Olympus and Mount Parnassus.

Each of these mountains has a wide offer of resorts where you’ll get to unwind after a day out skiing, climbing, or hiking. Mount Parnassus is a mere two hours away from Athens. It’s where you’ll find the ruins of Delphi , the number one oracle back in Ancient Greece.

Winter can be a great time to visit the Greek capital, too. Athens is far less crowded, so finding affordable accommodation and air tickets would be easy. Plus, there’s a wide range of top-notch attractions to pick from, including the National Archaeological Museum , Philopappos Hill for commanding views of the whole city, as well as a vast selection of Turkish baths where you can relax in between sightseeing.

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best off season time to visit greece

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best off season time to visit greece

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The Best Time to Visit Greece

From island-hopping in fall to sightseeing in spring, there’s plenty to see and do in greece year-round..

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People chatting at sidewalk café in Thessaloniki

While many flock to the Mediterranean country’s islands and coastal destinations during the summer, there’s plenty to do year-round.

Photo by Marco Argüello

So, you’re finally planning that dream vacation in Greece but can’t figure out the best time to visit? Many travelers consider the ideal time to visit Greece to be the hot, dry summer months of June, July, and August. But there’s plenty to do beyond this period (which is also the busiest time to holiday in the Mediterranean country).

In September and October, the beaches are quieter but it’s still warm enough to swim. And if you’re looking to tour the ancient sites, spring or fall is appealing because you can still expect mostly sunny days but with more comfortable temperatures.

Here’s the best time to visit Greece, whether you intend to island-hop, peruse archaeological wonders, or avoid the crowds.

Best time to visit the Greek islands

  • Best months: April–June, September–October

April through October is the best time to go island hopping in Greece. While it can occasionally rain in the spring or fall, the weather is generally sunny and warm. It’s slightly cooler up north, while it’s warmer the further south you go. As of June, Greece’s seas are warm enough for swimming and stay that way until around mid-October.

Prices, temperatures, and crowds peak in July and August, particularly in popular island groups like the Cyclades, Ionian, and Dodecanese. During these two months, average temperatures hover around the mid-80s Farenheit but frequently reach the mid-90s, plus the odds of a heatwave are high .

Once summer breaks end at the end of August, the islands become decidedly more serene, making September and October perfect months to wind down by the water. Average temperatures range in the early 80s and 70s, respectively.

Best time to visit Greece for sightseeing

  • Best months: April–May, September–November

Spring and fall make for superlative sightseeing. Exploring ancient hot spots like Delphi, ancient Epidaurus, and Olympia on foot is much more pleasant in spring temperatures averaging 60 to 70 degrees. Rainfall and cooler temperatures are a possibility—so you may need to layer up—but you can mostly get by with a T-shirt.

Visiting archaeological sites in early spring or late fall allows for more room to move, compared to summer when cruise ship passenger tour groups descend on them en masse. Ticket booth queues are shorter or even non-existent.

Aerial view of waterfront promenade, with cars and buildings at right.

Beyond the best-known destinations, you can find plenty of peace and space as the first month of fall kicks in.

Best time to visit Greece to avoid the crowds

  • Best months: October–May

Summer is Greece’s high season, so if you would rather dodge the crowds, time your trip accordingly. Even September now sees significant numbers of visitors, particularly among those not tied to school holiday periods.

By October, the beaches, towns, and tavernas of Naxos, Paros, and Kos are gloriously sedate. Blue skies on a November ramble through Rhodes’s medieval old town are almost guaranteed. This is the month when you’ll find some of the best rates for domestic flights and hotels.

With winter’s arrival, consider going to Greece’s northwestern mountain areas. Aside from the Christmas and New Year period, relatively few travelers venture to the Epirus region—where crackling fireplaces and a hearty welcome await guests of stone-built boutique lodgings. Some of the loveliest are scattered throughout the traditional villages of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Zagori, home to Vikos Gorge.

Winter is also the best time of year to capture Santorini ’s ethereal beauty without being sandwiched by selfie-snappers. Expect average temperatures of 55 degrees and a small number of hotels catering to an eclectic group of off-season travelers.

Best time to visit Athens

Rather than tacking a stay in Athens onto the start or end of a Greek island jaunt that would normally coincide with the busy summer period, consider dedicating a good week to digging into the nitty-gritty of this dynamic city.

The best time to schedule a visit to the Greek capital is during the fall, winter, or spring. This is when Athens is at its prime and, more notably, when Athenians are in town. So, you’ll gain a better perspective of what life is really like in this vibrant metropolis where the ancients coexist with their contemporaries.

Make no mistake—it can be chilly in winter. But if you’re willing to risk a rainy day or two, this is when you’ll capture the Acropolis and its monuments in golden afternoon light sans the tourist crush. You’ll have treasure troves like the National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art almost completely to yourself. And foodies can more easily enjoy Athens’s burgeoning collection of Michelin-starred restaurants along with established family-run mezze joints that never go out of style.

The silhouette of a visitor in front of purple, illustrated projections at ARTECHOUSE in Washington, D.C.

The Best Time to Visit Greece and the Greek Islands

Not sure what is the best time to visit Greece ? I used to live in Greece and visit frequently so I’ve put together a month by month guide to help you figure out the best time to go to Greece  depending on your interests and weather preferences.

I have broken down the best time of the year to visit Greece by season and even further by month.

Finally, I have a summary of the best time to visit depending on your interests and my overall top pick for most people.

Acropolis in Greece

What is the Best Season to Visit Greece

Not sure what season to go to Greece ? Here are some pros and cons about visiting Greece and the Greek islands in each of the four seasons. Once you have a general idea of what season you would like to visit, make sure to check out my month by month guide for more detailed information. Even in the same season, your experience in Greece will vary depending on the month you visit.

Visiting Greece in the Spring

Spring is generally a great time to explore Greece as temperatures start to warm up making it very pleasant to walk around and sightsee. Tourism starts to increase every month especially around Easter week when locals head to the Greek islands. In May, weather is warm enough to sunbathe but the sea might still feel too cool to swim.

Easter is a big holiday in Greece. The date changes every year – this year Orthodox Easter is May 5, 2024 which is fairly late in spring.

Visiting Greece in the Summer

greece packing list

Summer is the busiest and the most popular time to visit Greece. The summer months bring the iconic Greek summer experience, attracting sun-seekers from around the world. The Greek Islands become bustling with life, offering a perfect setting for beach lovers and party enthusiasts.

June offers warm to hot temperatures making it a great time to visit for those that want to enjoy beach time as well as sightsee. July and August are the hottest summer months (temperatures can reach ) so they are not the ideal months for hiking or sightseeing.

Keep in mind that popular destinations (such as Athens, Santorini and Mykonos) are very crowded during the summer, so book hotels and flights in advance.

If you would like to visit the Greek islands in the summer but avoid crowds, choose less well known Greek islands.

Visiting Greece in Autumn

Autumn is an excellent time to explore both the mainland and islands without the intense summer crowds.

Early Autumn is usually the best time to visit in terms of good weather – the weather is usually more pleasant (still relatively warm and less likely to rain).

During early autumn (September and early October), you can still enjoy the Greek summer experience (go to the beach and swim in the sea) with fewer crowds.

Late autumn (late October and November) is a bit more unpredictable-temperatures will start to cool and rainy season begins. The weather might still be warm outside but it might be too cold to go swimming. If you want to visit the Greek islands in late autumn, head to warmer southern Greek islands (including Crete and Rhodes).

Athens and the mainland will be pleasant for walking around, hiking and sightseeing.

Visiting Greece in the Winter (November to February)

While winter may not be the most popular time to visit Greece, it is not a bad time to visit Greece especially if you just want to sightsee. November offers a quieter experience, and you can still enjoy mild temperatures. December brings festive vibes, with Christmas markets and celebrations throughout the country.

The winter months are perfect for exploring historical sites without the crowds, although some islands and coastal areas may experience cooler and rainy weather.

While it can get cold and snowy in the mountains and northern Greece, the temperatures in most of Greece (including Athens) are usually not very cold so it is a good time to sightsee.

Winter is not the best time to visit the Greek islands and it is usually too cold for sunbathing and swimming. If you can only visit the Greek islands in the winter, choose warmer Greek islands in the South like Crete and Rhodes.

Winter is rainy season in Greece, so pack a travel umbrella .

Pros: Winter is low season in Greece so winter offers the fewest crowds and lowest prices.

Cons: Winter is too cold for swimming. It is more likely to rain that the rest of the year. Snow in Athens in rare but can happen. Many restaurants, hotels and shops in the Greek islands are closed for the season. Some attractions might have reduced hours.

What is the Best Month to Visit Greece

Hopefully you now have a general idea of the season you want to visit Greece. If you want to narrow it down further, here is a month by month guide.

Visiting Greece in January

January is the middle of winter and one the coldest and rainiest months in winter.

There are fewer tourists and lower prices on accommodations.

Visiting Greece in February

February is one of coldest months in Greece.  There are not a lot off tourists and you can expect lower prices.

Since most of Greece has mild weather in the winter, it is not a bad time to explore historical attractions.

Visiting Greece in March

March is a transitional month.  Spring blooms begin and temperatures are more moderate than January and February.  It is still more likely to rain in March than later in the spring.  It is a good month for walking around and exploring ancient ruins and historical sites

Visiting Greece in April

April is particularly delightful, with comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds, making it an ideal time to explore historic sites.

April is considered shoulder season. Tourism starts to increase but there are still lower tourist numbers compared to summer.

The weather starts to get warmer making it a good month for those that enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities. A Most places are still too cold for swimming, but some

April is is good time to visit Santorini and Mykonos before it gets crowded but it will still be too cold for swimming for most people.  If you are hoping to spend time at the beach, head to southern islands south such as Crete and Rhodes which are typically a bit warmer.

Visiting Greece in May

May tends to be one of the best months for good weather as temparatures are warm. It is a great time to visit Greece before schools go on summer break and the busy summer season starts.

May is a good month for island hopping and beach activities but some people might find the water a bit cold for swimming especially in the first half of the month.

Around mid to late May, tourism start to increase substantially as schools let out for summer.

Visiting Greece in June

Santorini Greece

June is the start of summer with rising temperatures.  It can start to feel very hot especially later in the month.

This is a good time to visit the Greek islands.  There is bustling nightlife on the islands and some crowds but less busy than later in the summer.

June is definitely hot enough to visit the beach although some people might still find the water a bit cold for swimming in early June. By late June, the sea has warmed up making it an ideal time for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts.

Visiting Greece in July

July is usually the hottest month in Greece and many places (including Athens) might feel too hot for sightseeing.

Greece is very crowded with tourists at this time as all students are on summer break.  Advance bookings are recommended for popular destinations.

The Cyclades (including Mykonos and Santorini) will be hot but the breeze makes it feel less hot than Athens and the mainland. If you want to visit the Greek islands in July but want to avoid crowds, head to less popular islands.

Visiting Greece in August

August is the peak of summer tourism with crowded beaches and nightclubs. It is perfect for those seeking a lively atmosphere.

August is one of the two hottest months in Greece in terms of temperature.  This is a great time for swimming as the sea will be the warmest.-

Many Europeans take their vacation in August, so Greece is very crowded especially the first half of the month. August 15 is a big national holiday in Greece.

Visiting Greece in September

As the summer rush subsides, September sees a gradual decrease in temperature and tourist numbers. The weather remains warm, and the sea is still inviting for a swim. This is an excellent time to explore both the mainland and islands without the large summer crowds.

I consider September to be the BEST time to visit Greece for warm weather with fewer crowds.  The temperature in early September is still hot and the water is warm enough to swim. Late September is usually still warm, but it starts to get a bit cooler especially at night.

Visiting Greece in October

October is the start of shoulder season. Attractions become less crowded and you can find lower accommodation prices.

October brings cooler but still pleasant temperatures. It is still a good time to visit, especially if you enjoy hiking and outdoor activities.

Early October is typically warm enough for swimming. Temperatures start to cool mid to late October with autumn temperatures but you might still be able to go swimming in some parts of Greece such as Crete.  Rainy season starts around mid to late October so it is more likely to rain than earlier in the month.

Visiting Greece in November

If you enjoy moderate temperatures, November is a great time to visit in Greece. Weather can be a bit unpredictable, and it does occasionally rain in November. Attractions are much less crowded, so this is a good time to visit Greece if you want to sightsee with fewer crowds.

Visiting Greece in December

December usually has mild winter temperatures so this is a good time to visit Greece if you want to sightsee with few crowds. Attractions are not  crowded at this time.  Flights will probably not be that cheap, as many Greeks that live abroad will be traveling back to visit family for the holidays.  You can enjoy festive Christmas markets and celebrations at this time, but Christmas is not as much of a big deal as it is in western Europe and the US.

Worst Time to Visit Greece

If I had to pick the worst time to visit Greece, it would be August when it is the most crowded and also very hot. Many Europeans (including Greeks) take their annual vacation in August, so beach destinations will be very busy. Athens will not be as crowded as early in the summer (as many Athenians will be on beach vacations) but there are still many foreign tourists in the city.

Should you visit Greece if you can only go in August? Yes! I used to visit Greece every August when I was still a student and still enjoyed it.

If you want to visit the popular islands in August, book early and expect high prices.

If you want to avoid crowds in the Greek islands, skip the most popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini and head to less well known islands. The end of the August will be less crowded as the first half as some students are already back in school.

What is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Greece For…

Good Weather   –  The months with the most comfortable weather in Greece are typically May through June and September and October. During this time the weather is warm but usually not as painfully hot as the peak summer (July and August).

In April and November, temperatures are still very pleasant enough to sightsee comfortably but might not be warm enough for a beach vacation.

March and December are cooler but still mild but it is more likely to rain than summer season.

The months that typically have the worst weather (colder, rainier and occasional snow) are January and February.

Swimming –  The water in the sea is warmest and pleasant for swimming from mid-June through mid-September. May and October are usually warm enough to swim but some people might find the water too cold.  Most people will find late autumn, winter and early spring, too cold for sunbathing and swimming.

Keep in mind that the sea warms up as the weather gets hotter but there is a lag of a few weeks.  In late spring and early summer the weather can be hot outside, but the sea a bit cool for swimming.  In autumn, it can start to feel cooler outside, but the water can still be warm for swimming. You can find current and historical sea temperature data here .

Most locals and tourists start heading to the beach sometime in May and June but for some people the water in Greece gets comfortably warm for swimming around late June.  When I lived in Greece (in the Peloponnese), I would usually start swimming the second week of May.

Avoiding Crowds – The busiest time in terms of tourism is the summer (and Easter week). If you want to avoid fellow tourists at popular tourist attractions, visit in the low season (January through March). Shoulder season (April through mid-May and mid-September through October) is a good balance of fewer crowds but pleasant and warm weather .

Party Animals – If partying in the Greek islands is the reason for your trip, then you will want to visit in the summer. Lots of bars and clubs in the Greek islands (such as Ios) do not open until around Easter and close down around September.

Low Prices – You are most likely to find the biggest hotel and flight bargains in January and February because there are fewer tourists visiting Greece at this time. There will be slightly more visitors in March and November, but prices are still low at this time.

Best Time to Visit Greece – My Overall Recommendation

Most people would enjoy visiting Greece (including the Greek islands) in early autumn (September and early October) .  In early fall, the weather is still warm and you can enjoy beach time and outdoor activities with fewer crowds because kids and students are back in school.  If you enjoy hot weather, September is the best month to visit. If you prefer more mild and pleasant temperatures, October is a great month to visit and might still be warm enough to swim in the ocean. The reason I chose autumn over spring is that even if the outside temperature is the same, the ocean in autumn will be warmer for swimming versus in the spring when the water temperatures are still cold.

My second choice of the best time to visit Greece depends on your interests. If you are visiting Greece for a beach vacation or nightlife, my second choice for the best time to visit Greece is June (as there are fewer crowds than July and August).  If you are visiting Greece for sightseeing, my second choice for the best time to visit Greece is late spring (especially April and May) for warm and  pleasant temperatures and pretty spring flowers.

If you enjoy hot weather, beach time and a party atmosphere, then summer is a good time to visit but it will be crowded and more expensive. If you want to visit Greece on a budget and want to avoid crowds, then consider visiting in the winter but it might be rainy and somewhat cold.

Ultimately when to visit Greece depends on you so hopefully this guide has helped you make a decision on the best time to visit Greece . If you are still not sure, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.

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Home » Europe » Greece » Best Time to Visit Greece – MUST READ • 2024 Guide

Best Time to Visit Greece – MUST READ • 2024 Guide

Greece probably needs no introduction to you. It was the one-time centre of the ancient world, the cradle of western civilisation and in 2024 remains perhaps THE ultimate dream travel destination.

Indeed, intrepid travellers have been exploring the Ionian peninsula since antiquity and today, the nation welcomes some 30 million visitors each year. It’s easy to why – Greece packs in ancient wonders, classical cities, glorious weather, wine, food and siren song. Best of all, Greek visitors get to choose from hitting the mainland or hopping between the paradise of the Greek Islands.

But, in high season Greece can get seriously busy and pricey. High summers can be punishingly hot and winters unexpectedly frigid.

In this guide, we will not focus on the why or the where, but on the when. So read on to find out just when is the best time to visit Greece taking into account weather, crowds, expense and more!

Best Time To Visit Greece – The classic time to visit is May-Aug. My preference is March or September.

Best Time To Go To Athens – Spring (Mar & April)

Best Time For The Greek Islands – June-July if you like the action.

Best Time For The Beach – May-October

Best Time For Sightseeing – Mar, Apr & October

Cheapest Time To Visit Greece – Winter (Nov-Feb)

When is the Best Time to Go to Greece?

Where to stay in greece, when to visit greece – a month by month breakdown, final thoughts on the best time to visit greece.

Greece’s main tourist season runs from between May and September and heavily peaks in the high season of July and August. This is typically the best time to explore Europe . At this time, you can expect the idyllic Mediterranean summers you were always dreaming about with blue skies, hot days and scarcely a drop of rain.

Greek’s really do come to life during the summer months and the country is an infectious and fun place to be – expect long nights of ouzo fuelled Zorba dancing. Many a backpacker in Greece falls in love with the country during their summer trips.

best off season time to visit greece

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Of course, the flip side is that at this time Greece can get seriously busy. Popular islands like Crete and Rhodes tend to be thronged with package tourists during the summer holidays and you may struggle to find a spot of beach over which to cast your towel. Santorini can also get HORRIBLY crowded during the summer to the extent that you may find it impossible to enjoy it.

Also note that the heat in cities like Athens can be a bit stifling and oppressive during July and August. It can also make taking day trips from Athens a bit manic if there are heaps of other people with the same idea!

Accommodation and flight prices also tend to increase substantively in summer. To give you some context, I just did a quick skyscanner search and a return flight from London to Athens is $60 in April, but $150 in July.

My personal preference is to hit Greece during the shoulder seasons of April (you can maybe push to mid-may) and between late September and October. The weather is warm and pleasant but never unbearably hot.

Spring is a particularly great time to stay in Athens . You can also find decent bargains on flights and cheap accommodation in Greece at this time. Best of all though, the islands and tourist hot spots are a lot quieter – you may also get a decent photo of Santorini.

Of course, if you do visit in shoulder season some tourist resorts may not be fully operational and some hotels, restaurants and bars may still be boarded up.

Best Time to Go to Athens

The ancient, atmospheric and absolutely awesome city of Athens is often overlooked by visitors who often tend to head straight for the ferry terminal. This is a shame as Greek’s capital is one my top picks for Europe packing in a dizzying mixture of Grecian sites such as the Parthenon, some charming Byzantine churches’ and a raucous, youthful party scene.

The best time to visit Athens is between March and May or September and November. 

At this time the weather is very pleasant with typical daytime temperatures ranging between 15 to 20 degrees. The classical sites and museums are easily accessible with tourist numbers perfectly reasonable at this time. 

Crucially, this period also tends to be a sweet spot in terms of prices with flights from European cities starting as low as $25 and Athens hostel dorms hovering between $8 – $15 per night.

This is the perfect time to explore the real Athens and rub shoulders/exchange bodily fluids with the locals before the summer tourists show up. The city is very lively in the evenings with bars and clubs packing them in until daybreak. 

Best Time to Go to the Greek Islands

The most impressive thing about visiting the Greek Islands is the sheer number of options available. It is said that there is a Greek Island for every temperament. If you are seeking a youthful cocktail of booze and clubs, then try Zante. For a comfortable family-orientated experience, head to the resorts of Corfu or to itch your Instagram scratch, head for Mykonos and Santorini. My personal pick of the Greek islands is Hydra; a bohemian hotspot which is a short ferry ride from Athens.

cool things to do in greece visit rhodes

In many ways, the islands are best experienced in summer. The days are hot, the nights are long and the beaches buzzing. Some islands only fully open up during summer and are at half capacity the rest of the time.

That said, the busyness is not for everybody and some people do prefer the Greek islands in April or October when the weather is sweet, but the tourist crowds are back at home. However, it can sometimes be difficult to reach the Greek Islands during shoulder and lower season as flights are fewer, further between and more expensive. The ferries also tend to operate on a reduced schedule. Still, if you are willing to plan ahead and possibly spend a bit more on transport, you can make it happen.

Best Time to Go to Santorini

The picture-perfect Greek island of Santorini has exploded in recent years thanks in no small part to a flurry of tedious Instagrammers. The island is indeed a beautiful tapestry of white houses, orange skies and green stony hillsides.

sunsets on santorini

Because of this spike in popularity, Santorini can get very busy meaning that Santorini accommodation prices go into orbit, and also meaning the island can be too busy for comfort. 

Unless you are happy to pay $100+ per night for digs, and to have no personal space, avoid all summer especially from June – September.

Santorini is possibly best enjoyed in March, early May and between October and November. 

If you can get to Santorini in winter, then you will probably find it’s just you and the locals. This can be a lovely time to get under the skin of the island.

Best Time to Go to the Beaches in Greece

Greece is blessed with some of the most blissful and beautiful beaches in all of Europe. For azure seas and soft sands, head to Elafonsi in Crete and for beach-side club vibes, then trendy Mykonos is hard to beat. Note that the beaches of Santorini tend to be either dark sand or craggy, stone beaches and are not the main draw.

The beaches of the Greek islands are at their best between late May and October when the sea is perfect for swimming at the sands ideal for sunbathing. Many of the beaches are positively heaving between July and August and can get a bit too crowded for some sensibilities.

The winter is not exactly the ideal beach time as the sea can get a bit chilly and there is the chance of rain. Also, note that a lot of beach clubs and sea sidebars and restaurants tend to close during the winter.

Whether you’re looking to visit the absolutely breathtaking cliff monasteries of Meteora or the iconic white and blue mountain villages of Santorini, I am here to hold your hand and pour you a shot of ouzo and reveal the best places to stay in Greece!

Best Hostel in Greece –  Mosaikon

Mosaikon

Mosaikon is known for its crisp, clean dorm rooms and for its unbeatable location. They’re located just 800m away from Syntagma Square, which is buzzing with top-notch bars and restaurants. Another highlight of Mosaikon Hostel? It has a rooftop terrace with beautiful views of the Acropolis. As if this hostel wasn’t already the best!

best off season time to visit greece

Best Luxury Stay in Greece –  Ilio Maris – Mykonos

Take me back to my slice of paradise at Ilio Maris! This hotel drips luxury and is one of the best hotels in Greece. What’s better than taking a dip in the turquoise waters of the swimming pool while watching the sunset over the Aegean sea, with a cocktail in hand? This hotel is certainly worth the splurge!

Best Airbnb in Greece –  Urbanstudios Acropolis View

best off season time to visit greece

Go big or go home with this Athens apartment. Okay, it’s a small studio apartment that just fits two people, all cozy and snuggly. However, what I mean by big is that it offers a BIG view of the Acropolis from the private balcony!

This chic little urban studio apartment in the heart of the popular and touristy area of Monastiraki puts you at the heart of it all. While there’s no kitchen, there is a mini-fridge and a tea kettle, plus a private bathroom.

Best Time for Sightseeing in Greece

Greece’s cultural-historical roots stretch back into antiquity and remnants of this rich history are scattered throughout the mainland of islands alike. The headline sites are probably the Acropolis of Athens, the Parthenon and the epic, cliff monasteries in Meteora.

As for the best time for sightseeing in Greece, this is typically at shoulder seasons in Spring and Autumn.  The best time for sightseeing in Greece is generally April through about mid-May, or October and into early November. At these times there are far fewer tourists crowding the views and the weather is ‘just right’ for walking but a bit too cool for the beach.

best off season time to visit greece

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Best Time For Visiting the Acropolis

Perhaps the single most important antiquity site in Greece is the mighty Acropolis in Athens – an integral Athens itinerary stop . The ancient site occupies the hilltop overlooking the modern city and is visible for miles around. The Acropolis site consists of the Parthenon (Temple to Athena) some other sites and of course, the Acropolis Museum which must not be missed.

things to do when backpacking Greece: visit the Acropolis

The site is open all year round. However, note that it is substantially cheaper to visit during winter as the entry is half the price of the summer;

  • April to October: 20 Euro
  • November to March: 10 Euro

In terms of the best time of day to visit the Acropolis, are either 8 am (when it opens) as the site is quiet, and the sun is low making the heat less intense. Alternatively, another good time is 1-2 hours before closing. Again, the sun tends to be less intense and the twilight from the hill site over the city is incredible.

Cheapest Time to Go to Greece 

For European standards, Greece is a moderately priced destination . It is notably more expensive than the budget bonanza that is Eastern Europe, but a hell of a lot more affordable than visiting France or even parts of Spain. 

This does of course vary depending on where and when you go. Expensive Mykonos and Santorini tend to attract a monied crowd all year round. Crete and Rhodes offer budget package tours and Athens has plenty of budget hostels and dive bars.

Whilst Greece is an affordable country to visit at any time of year, the cheapest time to go to Greece is definitely during the off-season. The absolute best time of year to visit Greece on a budget is between the months of October and April. Accommodation is easy to find and often at a much-discounted rate and we also rented a car in Crete for much cheaper than in the high season.

The only catch can be the scarcity of flights going to certain Greek islands – but you can still usually get to Athens for a great price.

Busiest Time to Visit Greece

Greece is something of an ever-green destination and does attract visitors all year round. When I arrived in Athens during early March, my hostel dorm was pretty much full up with travellers.

However, the busiest time in Greece is most definitely between May and September with a long spike throughout July and August. At this time, the islands can get packed but even cities like Thessaloniki tend to attract backpackers spilling over from summer jaunts around the Balkans.

With increased visitor numbers comes price spikes too. In some places, accommodation prices can increase to 4 times what they would normally be.

Weather in Greece

The weather in Greece is classic Mediterranean – blissful summers followed by mild & wet winters. The weather in Greece is fairly consistent throughout the mainland and the Greek islands and there isn’t a mass of variation between them. 

best off season time to visit greece

The weather of the Aegean islands and the Ionian seas is milder. Some regions are also affected by “the Meltemi” – a summer wind which blows mostly over the islands of the Aegean and offers perfect wind conditions for sailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.

In general, in order to avoid high temperatures (up to 100°F/+40°C), the best time to visit Greece would be between mid-Apr to mid-June and between early September to mid-October. 

The closest the month to August, the hotter it will be.

Average Air Temperature in °C

Regional Differences in Greece

The Greek mainland stretches from the Southern precipice of the Balkan peninsula out into the med. The islands are dotted all around its’ extensive coastline and their locations range from a few kilometres from the mainland to several hundred from it. 

Despite these geographical and archipelagic differences, the weather remains mostly uniform across Greece – give or take a few degrees of Celsius or an extra inch of rainfall here or there.

Peak tourist and off seasons are also consistent throughout Greece. Therefore the only regional specific consideration for when to visit Greece is perhaps the occurrence of local festivals and events.  We will explore some of these next.

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Festivals in Greece

Did you know, some anthropologists hypothesise that contemporary festival culture has its roots in ancient, Hellenic Greece and their wine-flavoured orgies in celebration of Dionysus?

best monasteries to visit in meteora

These days, the Grecian festival season tends to centre around the Orthodox Christian calendar but fear not, it’s not all hymns and fasting and even pious occasions still permeate with a typical lust for life. Orthodox Christmas and Easter are the main two religious festivals. I stumbled across an Orthodox Easter Mass in Greece and found the sing liturgy very moving and the smouldering clouds of incense quite intoxicating – definitely check it out if you get the chance. 

Here are some important or simply cool festivals in Greece;

  • Orthodox Easter:

Once the Church going is out of the way, Orthodox Easter in Greece actually akin to the ancient spring rite festivals with epic feasting which leads into dancing, singing and fireworks. It’s a great time to get invited to a Greek home. 

If you’re planning a trip to Greece for Easter, remember: the date of Greek Orthodox Easter is tied to the Julian calendar, so it won’t necessarily match up with Catholic Easter, which is calculated using the Gregorian calendar.

  • Apokreas (Carnival season):

The carnival season begins 3 weeks prior to Lent and concludes after Easter. It represents quite a long window across which the various Apokreas take place.

Each region has its own version of Apokreas. Patra in the Peloponnese for the biggest and wildest celebrations, whereas Skyros in the Sporades sees entire towns dressed as goats. If you’re planning a trip, check the calendar. Each year the date of Apokreas is different.

  • August Moon Festival:

The August moon festival also takes place across the different towns of Greece. The loose concept is simply using the warm, moon-filled nights of August to host evening performances and parties. These range from all-night raves in the outskirts of Thessaloniki, to classical music performances inside the Acropolis in Athens. 

  • Thessaloniki International Film Festival:

10 days of independent film screenings are held in Thessaloniki in mid-November. Athens has it’s own open-air film festival in summer but this one is cooler.

  • Ejekt Festival – 26 June:

Athens premier rock and indie fest sees international guitar slingers descend on the Greek capital for a long day of barre chords and pentatonic riffs.

  • Free Earth Festival – 29 – 29 August:

Free Earth Festival is Greece’s premier Psytrance festival taking place on the island of Halkidiki (yep, home of the famous Olives) .

Worst Time to Visit Greece

So far in this post, we’ve focused on the positives (we’re glass half full people) seeking out the best times to visit Greece. Now let’s look at the negatives!

There isn’t any real bad time to visit Greece. The weather is better than pretty much anywhere else in Europe all year round, and there is enough going on to keep a visitor busy at any time of year.

However, do bear in mind that it does sometimes get cold during the winter and it has even been known to snow in the north around Thessaloniki. Personally, I would also avoid the summer holidays at pretty much all costs as the crowding is simply too much.

By this point, you’ve probably already picked your personal perfect time to visit Greece. However, if you are still wondering what the best time to visit Greece is, then this month-by-month breakdown might help your final decision a bit easier.

beautiful greek island caldera views

Greece in January

January is Greece’s coldest month. In Athens, daytime temperatures can dip to a chilly 7 degrees (which to be frank could be summer where I am from) so bring a jacket. The Greek Islands can be very wet.

Needless to say, tourists are scarce at this time of year so you take advantage of low prices.

Notable festivals in January are New Years Day (also St Basils Day), Orthodox Christmas,  Epiphany and The Patras Carnival .

Greece in February

As with January, February can see cool temperatures and damp rainfall in the islands. Tourists are still thin on the ground and prices low.

The Carnival Festival starts in February ahead of the Lent, as well as Clean Monday.

Greece in March

March in Greece may be your sweet spot where you can expect decent weather and still take advantage of quieter attractions and lower prices.

Notable festivals are Greek Independence Day which also coincides with Feast of Annunciation. 

An early easter can also fall in late March.

Greece in April

In April the weather is very nice throughout the land. Expect warm days that would rival a northern European summer and lesser and lesser rainfall.

From a tourism perspective, Greece does begin creaking into life around April and seasonal bars and hotels begin the deep clean.

Prices are still fairly low except for Greek holidays.

Orthdox Easter usually falls in April although the date does vary. The Athens International Film Festival and St Georges Day also take place in April.

Greece in May

May sees the start of the long summer so bring sun creams and head for the beach. May is when package tourists begin arriving in the Greek Islands so football becomes heavier, and beds more expensive.

Sometimes, a particularly late fall of Easter will mean it falls in the first few days of May. Other notable May festival are May DayWorkers Day and the Athens Jazz Festival is also worth checking out.

Greece in June

Visiting Greece in June can mean catching the magic of summer just before the prices spike and the unwashed masses arrive. Expect perfect days and lovely nights and merry-making.

There aren’t many outright bargains to be had, but you can still find hostels at fair prices. 

June sees the Ejekt Rock Festival in Athens, the Athens and Epidaeous Festival as well as Navy Week – a huge national festival where Greece celebrates it’s naval and sea faring heritage.

Fortezza

Greece in July

If you visit Greece in July you are stepping into high season. The days can be very hot and the beaches busy. Some islands get more hectic than others and the likes of Santorini can feel like floating sardine tins.

Big August festivals are the Hyrda Puppet Festival and Hippocratia Festival in Kos. Oh, and the Raki Festival in Amorgos is certainly a lively one.

Greece in August

Simply put, August in Greece can be bedlam which will either be your personal vision of heaven and hell. Zante & Kos are hopping with party toddlers, Mykonos is packed with Instagram characters, and Corfu can feel like a forgotten British colony.

Prices are at their highest in August and days are at their hottest – it can be difficult to sleep if you don’t have AC.

Festivals in August include the Olympus Festival on Mount Olympus , the Rock festival Chania in Crete , the festival of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, as well as the Free Earth Psytrance festival in Kalidaki.

Greece in September

September is when temperatures and prices begin to come down, but the hotspots remain busy. If you are looking for a package deal, there are some bargains to be had, especially if you can be flexible.

Late September can be a great time to visit Greece as it mixes the mellow vibes with some of the most pleasant weather.

There are also a couple of wonderful niche festivals such as Festival of Trades of Traditions in Rhodes, the Pistachio festival of Aegina.

Greece in October

October is another good time to visit Greece. The weather is pleasant but not uncomfortable and even popular spots tend to be quiet. The Acropolis ticket price slashes itself in half and there are plenty of bargain flights to Athens.

There are no top rate festivals happening in October but the Chestnut Festival in Crete is one for fans of Chestnuts.

Greece in November

This is definitely the low season. Some of the islands may feel like they are half asleep and hostels will have plenty of beds available. The weather is generally bright and cool but nights can get chilly and there is some rainfall.

The religious calendar keeps going with Feast of The Archangels and Saint Andreas Day in Patras .

Greece in December

In December, Greece is substantially warmer and dryer than much of Europe but can see plenty of rainfall on the islands and cold nights. Some tourist hotspots will be all but hibernating.

December Festivals are St Nicholas Day, Christmas Day (they respect the Western date and then Orthodox Christmas in January), as well as New Year’s Eve of course.

mockup of a person holding a smartphone in white background with Holafly logo

A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected the minute you land. It’s that easy.

Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and  ditch the plastic .

Don’t Forget your Greece Travel Insurance

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

best off season time to visit greece

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Still with me? Good. I do hope you found our best time to visit Greece guide to be useful and most of all, I hope it helps you to plan an epic trip to Greece. Wherever you intend to do a bit of island hopping in the summer, city breaking in spring, or simply heading to Crete for some winter sun, you’ll have an awesome time.

Make sure you are fully prepared for your trip (this can save a lot of money too). Find out  what you need to pack  for your vacation to Greece.

See you on the road!

yellow wall in Athens Greece

  • Check out our ultimate guide to backpacking around Greece . 
  • We’ve also got where to stay in Greece covered with our epic guide. 
  • You’ll also wanna stay in the best hostels in Greece too! 
  • Save yourself hassle and money and get an international sim card for Greece .  
  • Swing by our super epic backpacking packing list to prep for your trip. 
  • Our in-depth Europe backpacking guide will help you plan the rest of your adventure. 

best off season time to visit greece

Mathilde Magnier

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The best time to visit Greece: a season-by-season guide to planning your perfect trip

A Greek escape is always a good idea, but deciding on the best time of the year to visit Greece comes down to two things: what kind of weather you like and what you want to do when you get there. If you’re eager for Greece tours that focus on Athens and its museums and archaeological sites, then any time is the best time to visit Greece. If you’d rather spend your trip to Greece exploring picture-perfect islands, then schedule your adventure for summer. The best places in Greece only get better when you visit at the right time.

No matter when you want to take your Mediterranean holiday, our Greece tours are designed for travelers to maximize their visit through unforgettable experiences that highlight the best of the destination. Read on for our season-by-season guide to planning your perfect Greek getaway.

Weather in Greece by month

When is the best time to visit Greece? Any time—even winter! Given its location in the eastern half of the Mediterranean Sea, weather in Greece varies by season and region. The mountainous north gets snow in the winter—enough that there are, in fact, ski resorts in this part of the country. (It gets very cold in the Pindus Mountains near the border of Albania, for example.) Athens, however, enjoys mild winters with an average temperature of 50°F for most of the season. On the other end of the calendar, Greece’s capital city experiences very hot summers.

If you’re looking to get a tan while exploring the islands, the summer months are the best time to visit Greece. Yes, it may be very sunny and hot, but their coastal perch means cooling breezes come in from off the sea.

Want to travel in the spring or summer? The off-season is also a great time to plan a Greece tour . Weather in Greece, especially in Athens, will be more temperate and not as oppressively hot. Some of the islands will already be warm enough for midday swims. Plus, there will be fewer crowds during the shoulder season, which makes it the best time to visit Greece.

Winter in Greece

Go for seasonal cuisine and holiday celebrations.

Planning a trip to Greece for the winter will show you exactly why we love off-season travel. Our Greece tours that set off during the winter months are timed around the New Year holiday, which will add a celebratory flourish to your European adventure. Our New Year’s Eve in Rome: Italy & Greece tour features four glorious days in Greece. This is your chance to combine seasonal thrills with classic cultural experiences (like touring the Acropolis in Athens and the UNESCO-listed archaeological site of Mycenae in Nafplio).

Many of the Greek islands turn into sleepy villages when winter comes. Hotels shut down, restaurants and shops close earlier, and ferry and flight frequency drops. However, Athens and other mainland Greek destinations are ready to welcome you. Ring in the New Year with a trip to Greece , sample winter-only delicacies, and check out local Christmas markets like the brightly lit wonderland in Syntagma Square. Your itinerary will include plenty of free time to track down traditional Greek dishes, such as stuffed lahanodolmades (cabbage rolls), horta (wild greens), and fasolada (bean soup). For dessert, try kourabiedes (biscuits), diples (fried dough), and melomakarona (a type of honey biscuit typically served at Christmastime). Winter is the best time to visit Greece if you’re a foodie!

And let’s not forget: You’ll have more of this enthralling destination to yourself because there will be fewer visitors.

Weather in Greece in December, January, and February:

Average temperatures range between 15°F and 59°F

Spring in Greece

Go for blooming flowers, cultural events, and fantastic weather.

Whether you’re eyeing our brand-new Grand Tour of Greece: Athens, Corfu & Santorini or our A Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini tour , consider booking your Greece trip for the spring. While the best time to visit Greece is any time of the year, we might pick spring as the season with the best weather—especially if you set off on your Greece tour in May, when nearly every region of the country is glowing with bright sunshine and warm temperatures. Most importantly, the country isn’t too busy with visitors in the spring, making it a great time to experience all the bucket list things to do in Greece .

Nature lovers planning a trip to Greece will enjoy seeing destinations like Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini at their most fertile. With its wineries, olive groves, citrus orchards, and fields of wildflowers, Greece takes on an Eden-like quality during the spring months. If you prefer to time your trip around lively cultural events, the best time to go to Greece is spring. In May, use your free time to check out the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, a celebration of ancient Greek arts and culture. Greek Orthodox Easter is also a special time of the year when the country highlights age-old traditions you won’t see anywhere else, from midnight firework displays to candlelit processions.

Weather in Greece in March, April, and May:

Average temperatures range between 28°F and 77°F

Check out our Greece tours

Summer in greece, go for beaches, festivals, and hot weather.

If sunny days and swimming weather call to you, the best time of year to go to Greece is during the summer, when island life is even more appealing. You’ll definitely want to book The Greek Islands: Mykonos, Santorini & Crete tour , which brings you the classic Greek Island experience. If you’re looking for more under-the-radar locales, our brand-new Greece’s Ionian Islands: Athens, Kefalonia & Corfu tour is just the ticket. Whichever you pick, you’ll get to experience the best Greek islands that make for unforgettable summer escapes.

Love island hopping? Our Greece tours offer up plenty of seaside excursions. During a free day in Kefalonia, you can even sign up for an optional visit to Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos. There’s plenty of sightseeing, too, including visits to historic taverns and charming fishing villages from Athens to Crete. In your free time, maybe you’d want to partake in a local festival? Summer in Greece is busy with both modern and traditional happenings, from weekend dance parties in Athens to the August Moon Festival, an ancient celebration hosted all over the country. Embrace the summer buzz of it all, and then step away from the crowds to discover all the stunning Greek neighborhoods you can’t miss .

Weather in Greece in June, July, and August:

Average temperatures range between 68°F and 97°F

Fall in Greece

Go for archeological sites and outdoor adventure.

What makes an autumn trip to Greece so special is that it’s the perfect time to be outside. The weather in Greece is fantastic from September to November—just like it is in the spring. The most spectacular ancient Greek temples you can imagine are all outside and exploring them in the cooler fall temps is a lot more pleasant than under the intense heat of summer. You can actually linger and enjoy the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, as well as the site of the first Olympic Games.

If you take our A Week in Ancient Greece: Athens, Delphi & Olympia tour during the fall, your stay in Athens will be even more magical. You’ll have more space in the city’s museums, shops, and restaurants. Our Footsteps of Saint Paul in Greece: Thessaloniki to Athens tour offers an opportunity to hike in the rugged Meteora region, which is fabulous in autumn when the surroundings are lush and the climate is mild.

If you go for our A Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini tour , especially during the earlier half of fall, you can still enjoy bright, warm weather on the beaches of Mykonos and Santorini. Plus, if you decide to visit the volcanic vineyards of Santorini, you’re in luck: You’ll get to witness a busy harvest. Because it’s less busy in the fall, we also love recommending our autumn Greece tours to solo travelers. There’s something truly magical about traveling to Greece solo when you have more time and space to explore.

Weather in Greece in September, October, and November:

Average temperatures range between 54°F and 82°F

The best time of year to visit Greece is any time! Browse our Greece tours and you’ll be on your way.

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Best Time to Visit Greece and Greek Islands

Greece › Best Time To Visit Updated: February 28, 2024 By Santorini Dave

• Where to Stay in Athens • Where to Stay in Santorini • Where to Stay in Mykonos • Where to Stay in Naxos • Where to Stay in Paros • Where to Stay in Crete

Santorini hotel and swimming pool.

My favorite time to visit Greece is in June and September when the Greek islands are at their best. May and October are great if you’re less interested in beaches and more focused on sightseeing and historic attractions.

When’s the Best Time To Visit Greece and the Greek Islands? I recommend visiting Greece from late April to early November when there is lots of sunshine and little rain. The best months for swimming and sunbathing on the Greek Islands is from late May to early October . July and August are the busiest and most expensive months but are also the best for nightlife and beach parties. March to November is great for sightseeing (though July and August can be very hot when touring exposed historical sites, especially in Athens). My son and one of his friends during a summer visit to the Greek islands. May and June : During May and June, Greece experiences spring, with mild to warm temperatures, blooming flowers, and lush landscapes. The weather is typically sunny, with occasional rain showers. I love visiting in May and June for sightseeing, exploring archaeological sites, and outdoor activities like hiking and cycling. The islands and beaches are less crowded compared to the peak summer months, making it an ideal time for a more relaxed vacation. Accommodation prices are also more moderate. July and August : July and August (along with late June and early September) are the peak tourist season in Greece, with hot temperatures, sunny days, and large crowds at popular destinations. The islands, beaches, and coastal areas are bustling during this time, and accommodation prices are higher. While I love the summer months for beach and swimming, it can be overwhelming for those interested in sightseeing or looking for a more tranquil experience. September and October : September and October have warm temperatures, fewer crowds, and more affordable accommodations. The sea remains warm for swimming, and the weather is generally sunny and dry. I recommend this period for exploring the islands, visiting historical sites, and taking in the outdoors.

Beach in Greece.

The best time to visit the Greek Islands for beaches, swimming, and water sports is from late May to early October.

When I Like to Visit Greece Best Time to Visit Mykonos : June to September Best Time to Visit Santorini : April, May, June, September, October, early November Best Time to Visit Crete : June and September Best Time to Visit Rhodes : June and September Best Time to Visit Naxos : June to September Best Time to Visit Paros : June to September Best Time to Visit Ios : July and August Best Time to Visit Athens : April, May, October, and November Best Time to Visit Corfu : June, July and September Best Time to Visit Nafplio & Peloponnese : June and September Best Months for Greece and the Greek Islands?

Mykonos beach club.

The best beaches and beach clubs in Mykonos are at their best from June to September.

Best Time to Visit the Greek Islands : The Greek islands are at their best from late May to early October for swimming, suntanning, and beach weather; and from April to early November for sightseeing, hiking, and exploring. A good travel itinerary for Greece should consider the weather patterns of the Greek islands. Best Time to Visit Athens : Athens is a good year round destination. Moderate weather and fewer tourists makes winter a great time for seeing the real Athens. Summer is hot but the skies are always blue, there’s almost no rain, and bars and restaurants fill the sidewalks with tables and chairs. Spring and Fall are the best of both worlds: good weather, smaller crowds, and a fun active atmosphere. Best Time to Visit Greece for Good Weather : For first-time visitors, good weather is usually the most important factor and the warmest weather in Greece and the Greek islands is between late May and early October when it’s sunny, warm, and the water is good for swimming. Water temperature increases throughout the summer months. The sea will be cool for swimming in May (even though the weather can be beautiful). The water is warmest in August and early September. Swimming in early May and late October is often possible but can’t be guaranteed. Best Time for Greek Beaches : If you hope to enjoy hanging out on the best beaches in Greece and swimming in the sea, the best time to go to Greece is June, July, August, and September. Best Time for Sightseeing : The best time for sightseeing in Greece is generally April through about mid-May, or October and into early November, when there will be fewer tourists to interrupt the views and the weather is frequently quite mild; perfect for walking, but usually a bit too cool for swimming at the beach (with the exception of early October). Best Time For Mountain Hiking : April and May are wonderful months for hiking in the mountains, with the green landscape blanketed with colorful wildflowers and the weather often ideal for the trek. October is another good time, when summer’s sizzling temperatures begin to cool and the autumn foliage is at its peak, transforming the mountains with the vibrant hues of fall. Best Time for Saving Money : Hotels are much cheaper in the low season (December to March) and shoulder season (April, May, October and November) than in the summer months. Transportation, food, and drink prices tend to stay the same all year long so there’s little savings in that regard. If you want good weather but cheap hotels, then late May, early June, late September, and early October are the great times. There are no guarantees, but the first three weeks of October can often surprise visitors with great weather. Best Time for Nightlife and Parties : Mykonos, Paros, Ios, and Santorini have the best nightlife, and if you’re looking to party, dance, and listen to live DJs then July and August are the main months. On Mykonos, late June and early September are also good. On Santorini, there’s good nightlife from late May until early October. Best Time for a Honeymoon in Greece : If you want a beach holiday then June to September is best. If you’re more interested in quiet, solitude, sightseeing, and romance, then anytime from April to early November would be great. Is August a Good Time to go to Greece? : One of the most common questions I get relates to traveling in Greece in August. If you want nightlife, packed bars, and live DJs then this is the best time to visit Mykonos (and Ios, Santorini, and Rhodes to a lesser extent). Yes, August is busy but even at the peak of the tourist season on the busiest islands, if you want to escape the crowds it’s usually a short walk or bus ride to some very quiet and tourist-free spots. Greek Travel Guides Athens Travel Guide Crete Travel Guide Mykonos Travel Guide Naxos Travel Guide Paros Travel Guide Santorini Travel Guide Greece Travel Guide Greece Weather by Month

Top attractions in Athens, Greece.

Athens is filled with iconic historical sights that are easily enjoyed anytime of year. (Especially the indoor Acropolis Museum.)

Santorini Caldera in Greece.

Santorini is loaded with great tours and sightseeing so has a longer tourist season than other Greek islands. If you’re interested in non-beach activities then Santorini is great from April to early November. And if you can tolerate some rain and cloud then Santorini should be considered a year-round destination.

Greece Events and Festivals

Greece in january.

  • New Year’s Day/Saint Basil’s Day – January 1 is a national holiday, celebrating both New Year’s Day and Saint Basil’s Day in Greece. Saint Basil is the Greek equivalent of Santa Claus, therefore the day is similar to Christmas Day in North America, with gift giving. A special cake is often made with a coin in it as well, known as vasilopita, and whomever gets the piece with the coin is said to have good luck. The day in general is considered a lucky time, and there are often card games that go on for hours, mostly at home, but also in coffee shops and clubs.
  • Ephiphany – Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th in many places throughout Europe, including Greece, a time when the Blessing of the Waters takes place. A cross is tossed into a lake, river or the sea, and retrieved by swimmers who get good luck in return. There is usually a ceremony, and it’s particularly elaborate in the port of Piraeus.
  • Patras Carnival – The Patras Carnival is the biggest festival of the year in Greece, and one of the largest in Europe too. Purely of Italian origin, it includes elaborate festivities with parades, street music, dancing, balls, treasure hunts, and more. It begins in mid-January and runs through mid-February every year.

Greece in February

  • Carnival – In addition to the Patras Carnival, other Carnivals are hosted through Greece, mostly in February, typically three weeks before the beginning of Lent. Some of the best festivities can be enjoyed in Athens, Skyros, Chios, Lamia, Crete, Heraklio, Zante, and Naousa. Except to find lots of drinking and feasting, costumes, parades, dancing, marching bands, and more.
  • Clean Monday – One of the most important feasts throughout Greece, Clean Monday takes places on the first day of the seventh week before Easter Sunday, also marking the end of the Carnival celebrations. A public holiday, it includes outdoor excursions, consuming shellfish, and often building and flying kites.

Greece in March

  • Independence Day and the Feast of the Annunciation – These two holidays are celebrated simultaneously on March 25. The streets fill with all sorts of festivities and parades. Due to the holiday, some sites may be closed and streets are sometimes blocked as well.

Greece in April

  • Holy Week and Easter – Holy Week is celebrated from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, sometimes falling in late March, but most often it’s in April. In 2022, April 24 is Easter Sunday, and Holy Week is April 17 through April 23. For Greeks, Easter is the biggest religious holiday of the year. During Holy Week, many shops have special hours and there are church services every evening. Just before midnight on Saturday, many Greeks gather at church with Easter candles, and just before midnight the lights are switched off, representing Jesus’ death, just before the priest announces that “Christ Has Risen.” That’s followed by kisses, cheering and fireworks. On Easter, friends and family gather for a big feast.
  • Athens International Film and Video Festival – This festival in Athens brings some 250 films and video and includes experimental, narrative, short-form, feature length, and documentary films from around the world.
  • The Feast of Saint George – The Feast of Saint George (Agios Georgios Day) is an important rural celebration on April 23rd each year that includes feasting and dancing, with the festivities taking place where Saint George, the patron of the shepherds, is considered the patron saint. Some of the best are held in Skyros, Skiathos, and Arachova.

Greece in May

  • May Day/International Workers’ Day – May 1 is May Day and International Workers’ Day in Greece. Major strikes and/or protests as well as parades may be scheduled on this day, popularized by the Soviet Union as a holiday for workers. For May Day, flower festivals are common as it falls during the peak of flower season. Most monuments, museums, attractions, and some shops will be closed, though most restaurants will be open.
  • Salsa Spring Festival – One of Europe’s top dance events, the Salsa Spring Festival features some of the best dance instructors and performers from around the world along with top local artists in late May in Loutraki, Korinthia.
  • Athens Jazz Festival, Athens, Greece – The city of Athens hosts the annual Athens Jazz Festival, considered one of the best festivals of its kind in Europe. It takes place over five days in late May and showcases European as well as international artists; entrance is free.

Greece in June

  • Athens and Epidaurus Festival – The biggest summer festival of the year, this festival showcases dance, theater, music and opera at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus beneath the Acropolis, as well as music and drama at the Theater of Epidaurus. It runs from mid-June through early September.
  • European Music Day – European Music Day is a national event celebrated in some 50 cities across Greece for five days starting on summer solstice, June 21st. It includes 350 events that are hosted at over 200 venues, including parks, gardens, squares and archaeological sites, by music ensembles, philharmonic and symphony orchestras, choirs, and dance groups.
  • Miaoulia Festival, Hydra – This festival on Hydra commemorates the life of Admiral Miaoulis who played a key role in the Greek War of Independence. It features parades, art shows, circus acts, dance performances, and more.
  • Navy Week – Navy Week honors the country’s long relationship with the sea in late June. Ports and fishing villages throughout Greece host parties and historical re-enactments. Crete offers a big celebration with sailing, swimming, music and dancing.

Greece in July

  • Puppet Festival, Hydra – This annual puppet festival is hosted in Hydra in early July and draws puppeteers from around the world.
  • Sani Festival, Kassandra, Halkidiki – This festival based at Sani Resort begins in mid-July and runs through mid-August. It features film screenings, classical music concerts, and avant-garde theater acts.
  • Philippi Festival, Kavala – This event is hosted at the ancient theater of Philippi in Kavala, a northern Greece city, starting in mid-July and running through late August. It showcases music and theater presented by talented young artists.
  • Hippocratia Festival, Kos – Hippocratia is actually a number of cultural events that take place to honor the traditions and customs of the island of Kos starting in July and running through October. There are classical and traditional music concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, and more.

Greece in August

  • International Music Festival of Aegina – This annual event features music complemented by the sounds of the waves on Avra Beach, and other spots around the island of Aegina throughout most of the month of August.
  • Olympus Festival, Mount Olympus – The Olympus Festival includes plays that are performed at the restored ancient theater throughout August.
  • Chania Rock Festival – This festival, hosted in the old city of Chania on the island of Crete during the first half of August, showcases a variety of Greek and international performers, up-and-coming artists, and rock bands.
  • Houdetsi Music Festival – Held annually for four days in August in the village of Houdetsi on Crete, this festival features a mix of music from across the globe.
  • Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin – August 15th is an important day of religious pilgrimage, a feast that celebrates Mary’s ascent to heaven. As many Greeks return home to visit, travelers may have a difficult time finding a room. It’s especially elaborate in Tinos, when thousands arrive to participate in the all-night vigil at the cathedral of Panagia Evangelistria.

Greece in September

  • International Music Festival, Santorini – The International Music Festival of Santorini is held over the first three weeks of September in the heart of Fira village. It features top artists from around the world, including classical and tango music, solo recitals, orchestras, operatic music, and piano duets.
  • Pistachio Festival, Aegina – Hosted annually over four days in mid-September, the Pistachio Festival features all things pistachio, with a variety of pistachio products for sale as well as concerts, plays, exhibitions, and gastronomy nights.
  • Festival of Tastes and Traditions, Rhodes – Taking place annually over two days in mid-September in the village of Pefkos, this festival includes wine tasting, live cooking demonstrations, exhibitions of traditional products, traditional music and dancing, a parade, and more.

Greece in October

  • Chestnut Festival Elos, Crete – The Chestnut Festival is celebrated annually, typically over the last weekend of October in the village of Elos. It includes roasted chestnuts and other foods, traditional folk music, dancing, and drinking.
  • Dimitria Festival, Thessaloniki – Held on October 26th each year, this festival showcases music, ballet, and opera.
  • Oxi Day – This is a feast day party and a national holiday that includes military parades, folk dancing, folk music and parades on October 28th each year to celebrate the nation’s refusal to yield to the powers of the Axis in 1940.

Greece in November

  • Feast of the Archangels Gabriel and Michael – Churches throughout Greece named for these archangels will host ceremonies on November 8th.
  • Anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising, Athens – This November 17th holiday commemorates the anniversary of the student uprising in 1973 at Polytechnic University in Athens, which killed many students when tanks crashed into the university gates. There is a march and stoning of the American Embassy, making it best to avoid that area on that day.
  • Saint Andreas Name Day, Patras – As Saint Andreas is the patron saint of Patras, this city hosts a big celebration honoring the saint annually on November 25th. It begins the evening before with mass which continues into the morning, followed by a parade.

Greece in December

  • Feast of St. Nikolaos/St. Nicholas – This annual December 6th feast honors the patron saint of sailors through multiple processions which head to the sea, and to chapels that are dedicated to him.
  • Kladaries, Kozani – Annually on December 23, the Kladaries commemorates the shepherds who lit bonfires to announced the birth of Christ. In the village of Siatista, residents gather together to light fires and dance around them while enjoying the local wines.
  • Christmas Day – December 25th is a public holiday, and although it’s not considered as important as Easter in the Greek Orthodox religion, it’s celebrated with feasts and religious services, as well as gift giving, Christmas caroling, trees, and decorations.
  • New Year’s Eve – December 31st, New Year’s Eve, in Greece is traditionally celebrated by children singing carols outside while elders talk, play cards, eat, drink, and smoke. Today, most people celebrate the way the night is celebrated throughout the world, going to bars, attending parties, and watching fireworks displays that are hosted in the central squares of many cities throughout Greece.

About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio.

Hi Dave! Besides Crete, which other islands would you recommend visiting in May on a 10 day trip?

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With just 10 days I would not do more than one other island. Santorini is the closest island to Crete and has the most ferry connections with Crete. It’s also a great island – so that would be my first choice. Naxos and Paros would also be good reasonable choices.

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Holy Week in Greece

I am going to be in Greece (Athens & Santorini) during part of Holy Week (18 Apr to 24 Apr) and trying to sort out the best timing for my locations.

It will be a short trip and I need to fit in as much as I possibly can. Due to traffic and other holiday considerations (limited hours for museums, shops), do you recommend doing my relaxing in Santorini over Easter weekend and then my busy sightseeing in Athens afterward? Or vice versa? I would prefer to avoid big crowds wherever possible, but if there are things worth seeing in Athens that particular weekend, then I would definitely consider it.

Love your site! Thanks!

Greek Easter is usually a different date than western Easter. This year it’s April 28 for the Greek Orthodox, so you won’t be there during Easter at all.

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We are thinking of going to Crete in late November (in the next few weeks). We have never been to Greece and would like to experience some authentic island life. I understand that Crete is likely the warmest of all the islands at this time of year. We are in our late 50’s and fit. We love food, wine, music, scuba diving (thinking it would be too cold to dive now… yes?), history. Can you suggest some activities that we could do/ experience in Crete at this time of year? Thank you in advance. Cheers, Wendy

Yes, it will be too cool for swimming and diving but Crete is a great off-season destination. There are 3 medium sized cities (Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymnon) that have large local populations and lively cultures. November is usually perfect for sightseeing, hiking, food, wine, and local music. Knossos and the Archaeological museum in Heraklion are must-sees and much quieter and enjoyable outside of high season.

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Hey Dave! Me and my wife are booking our trip and we have two more nights we still need to book. We are leaving Santorini and then deciding between Mykonos, Naxos, Ios, Paros. Should we do two islands (one night each) or two nights on one island? And which islands? Thanks so much!

We love food and adventure and we don’t do any night drinking. Our first time in Greece! The trip is in late September.

Considering your interests, definitely Naxos. Great beaches, wonderful food, enchanting interior villages. And yes, spend two nights on the same island.

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Hi Dave! We are scheduled for April 2-11 in Greece, but am a little confused with Greek Easter. I am seeing it as April 8 this year, so am I correct to assume that the week leading up to the 8th is the Holy Week? I want to be sure I can get the most out of our trip, and am worried some places will be closed. (On websites it shows being closed on “Easter Sunday” so I imagine that means the 8th not the 1st.) Thanks!!

Yes, Orthodox (Greek) Easter Sunday falls on April 8 while regular (western) Easter Sunday falls a week earlier on April 1. Easter in Greece is a big thing and travel and accommodation in Greece can be a small challenge during this time (so do book in advance). The week preceding Easter is indeed Holy Week (it translates as ‘Big Week’ in Greek) and it is marked by a series of church events each evening prior to the midnight Resurrection on the Eve of Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday is a day of celebration and eating when the culinary austerity followed by the more pious Orthodox Greeks during the 40 days of Lent previously comes to an end. Lambs are roasted on spits and much food and drink is consumed in a family-oriented celebration.

This means a few things for the traveller. Food in general is commonly limited to ‘vegetarian food’ particularly during Holy Week. This means that restaurants will be limiting their food choices to ‘fasting foods’ (nistísima) though meat eaters may find some relief at places catering to the non-orthodox (which includes most restaurants on the islands). Because the tourist season has not yet officially kicked off, many summer tavernas and restaurants may not yet be open in touristy places. The tourist season usually gets into gear after Easter. Therefore, your days from 2-8 April may be marked by a level of paucity in food choices (think Ramadan in Muslim countries).

Travel and accommodation is in high demand as many Greeks go to their native villages and islands to spend Easter and you may have difficulty in securing flights on popular routes or even on ferries and catamarans (full sailings are rare but possible). The follow-on is that accommodation can be in high demand so you will need to book both travel and a place to stay well beforehand. Because the Easter Sunday celebration is a family affair on the whole, unless you have an invitation from a family to participate, you may find yourself on the outside on Easter Sunday with only a handful of places open for your Easter lunch (once again, in the most touristy spots this won’t be a problem).

You didn’t say where you are going, but Athens is probably a good bet to sit out the key days of Easter as many people will have left and things will be quiet AND you will have more choices for places to eat. If you want the ultimate Greek Easter experience and would like to participate in at least two of the church celebrations, then Corfu is popular with Greek Easter pilgrims where the Epitafios and the Anastasi are worth witnessing at the large church of Spyridon in Corfu’s Old Town. The village of Pyrgos on Santorini is also an Easter highlight.

In short, Greek Easter is generally for Greeks, though foreigners are more than welcome. Just don’t expect the normal touristy Greece that you might expect until at least some time after Easter.

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Hey Dave, This site is amazing! Greece has been on my bucket list for years and hoping to cross it off. Per your site, looks like late September/early October may be the best time for weather and reduced cost. I’m looking to plan a 7-10 day trip no kids, do you have a suggestion for itineraries? Such as where to stop, how long to stay, hotels? Any suggestions would be helpful… it’s a bit overwhelming to start planning with a little framework. Thanks!

Hopefully my page on Where To Go in Greece and Itineraries should help.

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Hi Dave, Loving your work and happy to be a Patron to support this great website. For my holiday, my partner and I are planning the following however I am having a few issues/queries.

Wed 20th June – fly into Chania from Dublin, arrive late. Stay at Casa Delfino.

Monday 25th – Drive to more eastern Crete and stay in Agios Nikolaos. I looked at Elounda but the hotels seem to all get mixed reviews. I would like to be able to walk into a village or town in the evening for a meal or drinks. Hence, I am looking at Agios Nikolaos, what do you think? I like the look of Sensimar Minos Palace. Would you recommend the Beach Art hotel over this hotel and why? I also thought of the Grecotel Caramel hotel which looks amazing but is it very isolated? Is there anything near it walkable in the evening? It gets fantastic reviews!

Friday 29th Ferry to Mykonos- Do you know if a ferry does indeed connect the two islands? Looking to stay 3 nights in Mykonos Bay Resort & Villas as this is within budget (1000€ max for 3 nights). Tharroe of Mykonos Boutique Hotel would be my choice but it’s a little outside the budget! Any other hotels you would recommend?

Then I am thinking 4 nights somewhere, I was looking at these apartments in Anemomilos Apartments on the island of Folegandros. What do you think, do you know this hotel?

Can I get from Mykonos to here easily in the summer? Conscious I need to get back to Athens to fly home and feel I’m heading in the wrong direction! Does Crete connect with Folegandros as I could do Crete – Folegandros – Mykonos? Or would you recommend another island near Mykonos? Really want to chill out, nice accommodation? Hire a car and get out and see an island! What is Folegandros famous for?

Thanks in advance, Stephen

Agios Nikolaos is a wonderful little town and likely just what you’re looking for. Sensimar is a nice resort but it’s a good 30 minute walk into town so you’re not walking out your door and wandering around Agios Nikolaos. The Minos Beach Art Hotel is much closer which is why I would choose it. Grecotel Caramel has some stuff within walking distance but not the main town. Stay here if you want the resort experience and not so much if you’re looking to hit the town for lunch/dinner/nightlife on a regular basis. Mykonos Bay Resort is on a decent beach about a 10 minute walk from Mykonos Town. Has a very nice pool (but I would still prefer to stay right in Mykonos Town). Anemomilos Apartments are very nice and in the main town (Chora) of Folegandros. Wonderful views. There will likely be a Crete to Mykonos ferry (with stops in Santorini, Paros, and Ios along the way). Mykonos to Folegandros (direct) is less certain but you’ll always be able to get there, you just might have to change ferries in a different island.

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Hi there! My husband and I wanted to visit Santorini in August/September but we like very hot weather. I saw on a few websites that it only gets to about 80 degrees? Is that true?

Joanna Condoluci

Santorini often has a nice breeze that keeps the temps moderate (somewhere in the 80s) even in the summer. Most people like this but if you’re after very hot then you might be disappointed. That said, there’s always a week or two each year when you get some scorching temperatures. August is usually the hottest month but peaks can come anytime from early June to late September.

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Hi Dave, great site!! Planning a trip to Greek islands and Athens for late September and October. Would you recommend travelling the islands on your own, or taking a small cruise to cover more territory by night and explore the islands by day. If so, which cruise do you recommend? Thanks So Much

I am not a big fan of cruises in the Greek Islands so would definitely recommend doing and planning it yourself. More info here: Should I Take A Santorini Cruise?

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Hi Dave, I have come across your site recently and it is a great resource. We are planning an 8-day trip from NYC to Greece Oct. 28 – Nov. 5. It seems like Santorini and Athens are definitive top choices. But we wanted to see 1 additional part of Greece. Where would you recommend at that time of year? We were thinking Crete, but where in Crete would you recommend? Would Naxos be a good option? Thanks so much. Amit

If you want a second island to visit then Naxos. (There won’t be any Santorini-Crete ferries in November so visiting Crete is much more difficult.) If you’re open to something on the mainland then do an overnight trip from Athens to Nafplio.

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My husband and I are thinking of taking a trip but would have to go in mid to late March. Would we still get ferries to the islands, Santorini and Mykonos in particular? Maria

There will be ferries to Santorini and to Mykonos but not ferries between Santorini and Mykonos. In the off-season you’re better to visit Santorini and Paros or Naxos as the ferry connections run all-year and there’s more to see and do in the quiet months on Paros/Naxos than on Mykonos.

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Kali mera! Thank you for your recommendations. We are exploring all your suggestions. One more question – where (town/village) on Crete, Mykonos, or Rhodes would you recommend we stay? 3 families with children ranging from 7-10 years old. Judy

On the assumption that the focus will be on your children rather than yourselves, you are probably wanting a family-friendly hotel in either Crete or Rhodes and there are plenty of options in a few select places where you’ll need to do the research to locate what suits your budget and individual needs.

The Agia Marina/Platanias strip west of Chania town is a good start for Crete. It’s touristy, but not overly so and there are many family hotels dotted along the coastline. There are lots of shops, restaurants, and car-hire places and the long beach is generally sandy and shelving. Most decent-sized hotels will have pools and the family-oriented hotels generally put on a special effort for children with activities, play centres, pools for kids and often child-minding. There is also an Aqua park not far from Chania. You will find similar possibilities on the tourist strip east of the town of Rethymnon though the hotels and the beach are divided by a road – unlike in Chania. At the upper end of the budget scale there are some pretty enticing family hotels in Elounda over to the east. Some of the hotels listed on this site have great kids’ facilities so have a browse here first.

Rhodes is similar, with the family-friendly hotels scattered down the east coast through Faliraki to Lindos. Some of the larger hotels near Rhodes New Town (on the west side of the island) cater well for children so have a look here too. It’s hard to recommend one over another as they do vary considerably in price, but there are the areas that you need to be looking at.

Mykonos has a reputation for partying and nightlife but as long as you avoid the clubs and bars (and a few of the party beaches) it has a surprisingly family-friendly vibe. The beaches of Platys Gialos and Ornos are best for kids and have a good mix of family hotels and good restaurants.

Other than large family hotels (which will inevitably cost more if they are all inclusive or even half-board deals) your only other option is DIY in self-catering appartments, but then you are going to have to entertain your group’s children in more imaginative ways. All three are good islands to find what you seem to be looking for, all you have to do is start looking for that best combination of accommodation and entertainment for your three families.

See Also: Crete Family Hotels , Rhodes Family Hotels , and Mykonos Family Hotels .

I’ll be traveling to Greece mid to late August with my husband and 10yr old daughter. We have two other families (similar composition) joining us. We will do 3-4 days in Athens then an island for 5-6 days. I looked into Naxos but it has limited airbnb options. I’ve been to Greece a number of times but the other 2 families have not. We want beach, good food, and a pool wherever we stay to keep kids busy before we head to beaches or sightseeing. What do you suggest?

Naxos is the best island for what you’re looking for (though Crete, Paros, Mykonos, Ios, and Rhodes are also good choices). Agree there are few Airbnb rentals but not sure why that’s a necessity. Lots of great family hotels on Naxos .

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Hi Dave We are a family of 5 (kids 15,11,6) and will likely be travelling with my almost 80 year old dad. My eldest daughter wants to see the Parthenon in Athens and the other two want to enjoy family beach and relaxation. Not caring as much about history just yet. I was thinking thinking Corfu for one of our destinations… we are thinking about last week of July for timing. If we had a week would you have a recommendation? Thanks, Sarah Luke

Corfu is a wonderful island but not great for island hopping – if you go there you probably won’t go anywhere else. Conversely, the Cyclades are close together and it’s easy (and lots of fun) to ferry from one to the next. You could see 2 islands or even 3 in a weeks time. All the Cycladic islands are worth a visit so don’t worry about making a bad choice but Naxos, Paros, and Antiparos are particularly good for kids. Mykonos, Ios, and Santorini have fewer families but all have a great family-friendly vibe as long as you avoid the night clubs and romantic restaurants.

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Hello Santorini Dave,

Thanks for all the Greece weather tips. My husband and I are planning a 2 week vacation in Greece with our little 18 month baby. Would you advise what are the best places to visit with a baby? The trip should be first 2 weeks of September. Thanks, Nihal

Naxos is a great island for families and staying in Naxos Town (and near St George’s beach) is a great combination of convenience, good hotels, and easy access to the beach.

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HI Dave! My husband and I are planning last minute to visit Greece from the US and fly our 18 yr old son to meet us (he is currently doing a year in Germany). Planning to come April 8-15th approx. I have been researching some and I think we would love to do Athens for a short stay and then Santorini and Naxos. Santorini sounds the best to us and we arent into the party scene so sightseeing in Naxos sounds interesting. Will that be during Easter in Greece and if so how will that affect our trip? Any advice on logistics? Flying into Athens and then how best to do the itinerary from there? Likely want to fly into Santorino instead of Ferry. Thanks for all of the great info that you provide! Pam Wagner

The best plan: Buy tickets to London. Then fly directly to Santorini. Ferry to Naxos. Fly or ferry to Athens. Fly Athens to London. This saves time making two visits to Athens (when you only need one) and you don’t have to retrace your steps (also a time-waster). Use kayak.com to search for tickets.

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Hi Dave, really great and helpful your blog! I´m planning my honeymoon in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, between March 18th and March 26th. We´re not looking forward to beach weather, but is it nice for sightseeing? Or is it likely to be rainy or cloudy? Thanks a lot! Paula

Certainly be prepared for a little rain but you’ll likely get good sightseeing weather in Athens and Santorini. Mykonos doesn’t have a lot to see/experience outside of warm months so I would recommend Naxos instead.

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Dear Santorini Dave, After reading all of your many responses, I have to agree with all of the compliments going your way. Your advice is so relevant and tailored. Thanks in advance for helping me with my dilemma.

My wife and I are celebrating her 40th birthday. we are spending a day/night in Athens and then 4 nights/5 days in Santorini. I wanted to add one more island to our itinerary before heading back to Athens and on to home.

My original plan was to go to Crete for 2 days/nights. However, after reading your site, I have to admit it is not enough time to do it justice.

We want to minimize ferry/airport/getting to hotel time as much as possible and so that led me the other direction to Naxos or Paros.

Ideally, the location would give a good cultural taste of Greece, be scenic, not require hiring a car, have good food/drink, be somewhat romantic and have some nightlife (we won’t be up all night dancing, but do like to go out). Nice beaches are a plus, but subordinate to great local experience.

My original thought was Naxos, because it looked like we could take a ferry, settle in in a nearby place (e.g. nissaki) and walk to either town or beach. The portal was also an added plus. The only thing that put me off a little was a lot of the area seemed family friendly (and while I love kids – I have three youngish ones), we are traveling to be around adults. Not sure if you can weigh in on whether we will feel like we are having a romantic time if we stay in Naxos, but I’d appreciate your insight.

If we stay in Paros, my concern was it seemed a little less likely that we could get a compact experience, where we stay in a nice hotel (e.g. lily residence or astir of Paros), but still we walkable to town or water.

Our ideal would be waking up, hanging out pool or beachside, then walking in town and eating/drinking our way through different tavernas and restaurants, maybe heading back to beach or pool and then out again for dinner / nightlife. A short day trip is fine by bus or taxi, but would given the short time, that would be limited.

We are going in the first week of August next year so it will be right in the middle of busy season. Budget is not a constraint in terms of 2 days for the hotel.

Thank you for any advice on whether Naxos or Paros is best for us. Also, please confirm if it will be fairly easy to book a flight to Athens from either island.

Yes, Naxos Town and beach are very family friendly with lots of kids but I would be surprised if you found it overrun with children and couldn’t enjoy it as two adults. That said, Naoussa (on Paros) is more sophisticated with night clubs and trendy restaurants and definitely has a more adult feel (though you’ll still see plenty of kids). The beaches near Naoussa are not as nice as the beaches near Naxos Town but they’re still nice for a swim – for a sunbathing scene you’d probably need a rental car on Paros. And also, Naoussa is a bus/taxi/car ride from the port of Paros. In sum, the vibe of Naoussa is more of what you’re looking for, but Naxos is more convenient. Both are great. Flights from both islands to Athens are easy to get but do book them well in advance.

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Hi Dave, Awesome website. We are a family of 5 (kids ages 12,8,4). We are considering a trip 1st week of April for 8 days. We’d like to see some historic sites in Athens as well as visit Santorini. We are considering flying between Athens and Santorini. Would adding Mykonos be too hectic? What split in days you recommend? What sites in/near Athens do you recommend? Would we need to rent a car or local transport would be good? Thanks Lakshmi

There are direct ferries between Santorini and Mykonos in April so it wouldn’t be hard at all to add Mykonos. That said, it’s not beach time yet in April so Mykonos won’t have a lot to do for a family. Naxos or Paros are better off-season choices. Renting a car on all the islands is a good way to see more, so yes I would recommend that. In Athens the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, the historical sites in the Plaka, and the National Archaeological Museum are the highlights. Since it’s off-season I would do 3 days in Santorini, 3 days in Athens, and 2 days in Mykonos, Naxos, or Paros.

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Hi Dave, I’m glad I found your site. I’m planning a trip to Greece with my husband, 6 year old and 17 year old in mid April. Maybe 10th-18th. Hubby and teen are history and Greek mythology lovers. With 7 or 8 nights I’m thinking 2 locations. Athens and Santorini? Naxos sounds nice too. Do we need 3 nights in Athens for the sites or 4 nights? If we pick 1 island which one should it be? Looking for nice scenery, village culture, good food. I’m assuming weather would be similar on both islands. The 16th is Easter in case that changes anything. Also any advice on whether to explore Athens first or fly to an island first? thanks so much! Cynthia

3 nights (2 full days) should be enough for Athens but if you’re really keen on history then you could easily fill 3 days. If you can only visit one island then Santorini is definitely the highlight – especially in April when it’s not beach weather (Santorini’s views are great year-round). Travel during Easter week will be busy and you should book ferries in advance even though it is low season. If you’re ferrying to and from the islands then do Athens at the end of your trip (just in case ferries are cancelled you’ll have a few days to play with to get back to Athens for your flight home). If you’re flying it doesn’t really matter.

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Hi Dave – per your recommendation, I’m trying to buy ferry tickets from Mykonos to Santorini for July on the Hellenic highspeed 4, which you say is the best for people who are prone to sea sickness. I went to hellenicseaways.gr but can’t figure out which one is highspeed 4. Do you know the exact times? I would also like to check your 2nd recommendation on terajet, but again – do you know exact times? Thanks so much! your website has made my planning effortless.

Hellenic has 2 ferries running between Mykonos and Santorini this summer. The Hellenic Highspeed which leaves Mykonos at 10:15. And the Highspeed 7 which leaves Mykonos at 13:50. Both are good for stability and seasickness. Both take about 3 hours and cost the same. (I would probably take the earlier one, that way if it’s cancelled you have a second shot with the afternoon ferry).

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Hi Dave. I’ll be in Crete in May also on honeymoon, where would you recommend on the south of the island? Thanks, Marie Finn

Southern Crete covers a lot of territory and you’ve not really hinted at want you want to do or what kind of traveller you are. So here are a few tips for places that offer a mixture of creature comfort, beach, places to eat and offer accessibility.

Over on the far eastern side of Crete is the cosy little town of Ierapetra, nestled in among some of the richest agricultural territory in Crete. It wears its tourism monicker shyly, but needn’t fear as it is a very likeable town with a busy central promenade and a selection of fine seaside cafés and restaurants. The beach scene in the town centre – heading on out to the fortress – is actually pretty amenable and the water swimmable. You could hang around in Ierapetra for a few days and may move a little further west (15kms) and spend a few more days at a friendly and equally cosy seaside village called Myrtos. You could easily spot a relaxing week of your honeymoon in these two centres.

Considerably further west and in the middle section of the southern coast is the less-shy former hippy resort of Matala which wears its monicker rather retro-proudly. It has all the attractions of a holiday resort: sand, sun, ouzo-laced sunsets and plenty of places to stay. It was very trendy back in the 60s and 70s and still maintains its air of now post-hippy happiness, though people no longer make a home in the troglodyte-like caves that back the rather languid bay-wrapped beach. Better know the the other places and a bit more up-market.

On a similar note you have two more sizeable seaside villages of similar atmosphere that you may care to investigate. The first is Plakias (further west yet from Matala – 72kms) and while it never garnered a hippy heritage, it has stood the test of time as a popular traveller haunt, with yet enough creature comforts to make a honeymoon here an attractive option. Fine enough beach, the odd revved-up bar, good places to eat and a range of budget to honeymoon quality accommodation.

Keep going west and you will hit Paleochora (158kms from Plakias via a very circuitous route) the last of the four suggested locales for your honeymoon. Similar to the former, though a bit larger in size and offering two types of beaches to choose from (pebble and sand). Again it’s a ‘cozy’ village (for want of a better word) and similar in style to the previous two.

The south coast is not as well connected as the North coast inasmuch as there is no straight and direct road across the southern flank of the island. You will need to duck and weave and in the case of the Plakias to Paleochora stretch there is not even a road: transport here is by coastal ferry (or you have to go drive all the way to the north coast and then back down another road). A week is not a lot of time, so you may want to limit yourself geographically to one of the four places mentioned. Best tip for honeymooners? Try Matala!

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Hi Dave, I will be in Greece from the 22nd to 29th March of next year and was planning to visit Santorini and Athens. From what I’ve read from your blog so far (which has been super helpful so thankyou!) this is low low season and a lot less will be open and available on the islands. Is Santorini still worth a trip in late March for two 20-something girls looking to sight-see, explore, eat good food and a bit of partying? Not overly fussed about swimming. Thanks, Saskia

Yes, I think Santorini is nice in March and your best choice for what you’re looking for. No island has a robust nightlife in March but Santorini has the most and you should be able to find some fun in Fira (though nothing too crazy). Sightseeing is good in March.

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We, my husband and 2 college age daughters, are planning a trip in March(11-19th). We were hoping that we could plan on sun. Probably too cold to swim in the ocean, but sit by a pool and swim a little would be nice. We like scenery, food, a little slower pace than the big cities. After reading your info on Santorini I was sold, but I feel like I should plan on going to Crete to get better weather. We plan to fly in/out of Athens so I think both islands is too rushed. Santorini sounds great, but after landslides due to persistent rain on our last trip to Scotland, I’m trying to get the least clouds and rain possible but still great scenery. I need a compromise and hope you can help. Honeymoon atmosphere not needed, nor wild party scene. Can you help direct me? Great site! Thanks, Carla

I agree, Crete is great and should have nice-ish weather in mid-March but probably won’t be swimming as most pools are not heated. Chania is the highlight of Crete and has year-round population and visitors so will have some life to it even in March. Knossos (near Heraklion) is one of the top historical sites in Greece and worth a visit.

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We are planning a visit to Greece in early May. Where would you recommend to get the best and hottest weather for beach time? I know it’s early season but need to know where the best chance of good weather is.

Crete is the farthest south and gets the warmest weather early in the season (and late too). And within Crete, the south coast, usually gets warm weather a little before the rest of the island. Not a huge difference but enough to notice.

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The tour to Greece was a pleasant surprise for me! Perfect organisation, pleasant team, amazing landscapes and cultural sites!

Generally, the best time to visit Greece is outside the mid-July to end of August peak season, when soaring temperatures, plus crowds of foreigners and locals alike, can be overpowering. Top of the list of most people’s must haves is sunshine and warmth, which you’ll get in abundance from mid-April, and even during the autumn months.

Weather in Greece

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If anything is God-given to the Greeks, it is their Mediterranean climate. Pick any day on a weather chart, from spring to autumn, and it seems most of Greece is blessed with endless sunshine and clear skies. Even winter has many fine days, although it can be cold and rather wet, with snow in the mountains. The mildest winter climate is found on Rhodes , or in the southeastern parts of Crete .

Visiting Greece in March – May

Spring slowly warms up from March and, although April is still uncertain, it’s superb for wild flowers and green landscapes. By May the weather is more settled and predictable, and Crete, the Peloponnese , the Ionian islands , such as Cephalonia (Kefaloniá) and the Cyclades are perhaps at their best, even if the sea is still a little cool for swimming.

Comfortable temperatures make this the best time to go to Greece for sightseeing, such as in Athens , before the high heat of summer can make wandering archeological sites more of an ordeal. Delphi , too, 175km northwest of Athens, should be on your itinerary. Flanked by the towering peaks of Mount Parnassós it’s a stunning spectacle, especially with the wildflowers carpeting the valley. You’ll also meet fewer tourists on your hike around the ancient ruins at this time of year.

The Acropolis of Athens Greece

The Acropolis, Athens © Shutterrstock

Springtime (along with autumn) is the best time to visit Greece for hiking. There are no shortage of fantastic trails, for example, the Menalon trail, on the Peloponnese peninsula. If you’re northwest on the mainland, head for the Zagorohoria and the Viko Gorge in the Píndhos Mountains . The Meteora region, with its monasteries preposterously perched atop sheer rocky pinnacles, is a popular choice, as are the lovely wooded trails on the mountainous slopes of the Pelion Peninsula . Of the Greek Islands , Crete, in particular the Samaria Gorge , is probably the best known for hiking opportunities. It’s also great for bird watching in spring, along with the Eastern Aegean island of Lesvos and Tílos of the Dodecanese.

Easter is big news in Greece. It is an excellent time to be there, both for the beautiful and moving religious ceremonies and for the days of feasting and celebration which follow. If you make for a smallish village, you may well find yourself an honorary member for the period of the festival. Bear in mind that the Orthodox Easter can fall three weeks either side of the Western festival. Also, this is a busy time for Greek tourists as well as international ones, which means a hike in prices – and you’ll certainly need to book ahead.

If you’re in Greece on the May Day holiday (May 1st) do as the Greeks – pack up a picnic and head for the countryside. Families get together to fly kites and gather the pretty wildflowers, which they make into wreaths for their front doors. These mark the end of spring and welcome the first hints of summer.

By the end of May you’ll find most of the ferry companies gearing up for the summer and opening up their routes to the islands , after the reduced winter and spring services. So if you’re wondering when is the best time to go to Greece for that ideal combination of warm weather, relatively few visitors and the option to island hop, this ticks the boxes.

Visiting Greece in June – September

With temperatures soaring to an uncomfortable 30°C, you may want to give mid-summer a miss if you can, unless you’re always within plunging distance of the sea for regular cooling off sessions. Athens is difficult to take on in high heat and many restaurants shut up shop in August. That said, there is a trade off: with most people heading for the coast, there’s less traffic in the city and fewer people taking in the sites.

myrtos-beach-greece-shutterstock_1017255316

Myrtos beach, Cephalonia © Shutterstock

Also, if you’re in Athens during August, you can take advantage of the free Full Moon Festival events hosted at numerous archaeological sites and museums across the city. These include dance and theatrical performances, film screenings and concerts, with many cultural sites staying open until late. Seeing the Acropolis lit up from within, with the full moon as a backdrop, is particularly stunning. In fact, there are numerous festivals of music, theatre and dance happening in the summer months, across Greece. Read our festivals section for details.

The islands are busy during the summer months. For warm weather everywhere without the hordes, the best time to visit Greece is outside of July and August. The Meltemi winds can also affect your holiday. Being blasted by these seasonal winds that hit the Aegean during the summer can certainly take the shine off a day’s sunbathing. Islands of the Cyclades, such as Mykonos , Naxos and Santorini are affected, and Andhros and Tínos really bear the brunt of the gusts. However, the winds can take the edge off the scorching heat.

It’s worth mentioning too that service standards occasionally slip under peak season pressure and room prices on the islands can rocket. If you can only visit during midsummer, it is wise to reserve a package well in advance, buy any ferry tickets beforehand or plan your itinerary off the beaten track. You might choose, for instance, to explore the less obvious parts of the Peloponnese and the northern mainland, or island-hop with an eye for the more remote, or less popular places, such as Serifos and Sikinos in the Cyclades, Karpathos and Astypalea in the Dodecanese.

Karpathos-Island-Greece-shutterstock_680890168

Karpathos island © Shutterstock

If you’re looking to party, though, the nightlife on some of the islands, such as Skiathos ( the Sporades ) and Mykanos (The Cyclades), really kicks off in July and August. Clubs are buzzing, with top notch DJs taking to the decks.

Visiting Greece in September – November

Autumn in general is beautiful. The light is softer, the sea often balmier than the air and the colours subtler. It's also when towns and villages go back to their workaday states – a refreshing change from the gloss of summer tourism.

Come September it's already less busy and the sea is at its warmest, having had the whole summer to warm up. This is maybe the best month to visit Greece if you want a bit of everything from your trip. You can kick back on the beach (certainly no shortage of these), take a dip in the sea, go hiking – and pack in some sightseeing without breaking too much of a sweat. September is also ideal for climbing ‘home of the gods’, Mount Olympus . Pack your walking boots and set aside a few days for the trek, staying at one of the mountain refuges overnight. If that sounds too strenuous, you can take gentler rambles on the forested lower slopes.

Santorini, Greece © Shutterstock

Sunset on the island of Santorini © Shutterstock

In October you will almost certainly hit a stormy spell, especially in western Greece or in the mountains. But for most of that month the “little summer of Áyios Dhimítrios” (the Greek equivalent of Indian summer) prevails, and the southerly Dodecanese and Crete are extremely pleasant.

Fewer visitors in October makes this a good opportunity to explore cultural hotspots too, such as Athens and Thessaloniki . And November sees Thessaloniki hosting its outstanding annual film festival. So this is perhaps the best month to travel to Greece to catch some of the most innovative films from around the world.

Visiting Greece in December – February

December to March are the coldest and least reliably sunny months, though even then there are many crystal-clear, fine days. The more northern regions and areas at higher altitudes endure far colder and wetter conditions, with the mountains themselves often under snow from November to May. You’ll find the mildest temperatures in winter on the island of Rhodes and southeastern Crete. In fact, Crete , with its gorgeous beaches, archaeological sites and opportunities for hiking, makes a great winter getaway.

White Mountains in Crete © Shutterstock

Hiking in the White Mountains, or Lefka Ori, Crete © Shutterstock

Weather aside, out of season you will have to contend with reduced ferry and plane services to many of the islands, plus fairly skeletal facilities when you arrive. In fact, many of them go into hibernation during the winter. You will, however, find reasonable service on main routes and at least one hotel and taverna open in the port or main town of all but the tiniest isles. And larger islands, such as Crete, Corfu and Rhodes, are lively enough throughout the year. On the mainland, winter travel poses no special difficulties except, of course, in mountain villages either cut off by snow or (at weekends especially) monopolized by avid Greek skiers.

You might not expect to see the words ‘Greece’ and ‘skiing’ in the same sentence. Let’s face it, It isn’t exactly known as a premiere skiing destination. That said, Greece is a land with some mighty mountains, which, come winter, see plenty of snow and ample opportunities to ski. For example, Mt Parnassós (at Kelária and Fterólakka) draws in skiers from nearby Athens and around, while the Peloponnese offers downhill action and alpine-like beauty at Kalavryta on Mt Helmós. So, if you travel to Greece in the winter you could wander the ruins of the Acropolis in the morning, tuck into a bowl of Fasolatha at lunchtime, and be on the red runs by the afternoon.

If you’re keeping a close eye on cost, travelling off season (basically, outside the summer months) will save you money – on accommodation, eating out, even some entrance fees to museums and cultural sites. So, as long as you avoid the big national holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, this is the best time to travel to Greece for those on a budget.

Nothing brightens winter gloom like carnival ( apokries ). Kicking off before the first day of Lent, preceding Easter, celebrations in Patra on the Peloponnese are the most exuberant. The boúles, or masked dances, at Náoussa in Macedonia, and the outlandish goat dance on the island of Skýros are also worth seeing. The Ionian islands also do carnival well, and Athenians celebrate by going around hitting each other on the head with plastic hammers.

Whether you’re a newbie or a fully-fledged skipper, sailing the waters around Greece and its islands is a dream – and a great way to explore the myriad tucked away coves and beaches.

Unsurprisingly, if you avoid high summer, beaches and ports will be less busy, with fewer cruise ships to spoil your idyll. Seas tend to be calm around the Ionian Islands, Sporades and Halkidiki (Halkidhiki ), which is definitely an advantage if you’re new to sailing, or if you’re likely to get seasick. With the wild meltemi winds hitting the southern Aegean and the Cyclades during the summer months, sailing these waters is not for the novice sailor or the faint hearted.

So, if you want to sail and are wondering when is the best time to go to Greece, springtime showcases the islands at their greenest. But if you want to swim as well as sail, wait until September when the sea is warmer.

windsurfing-crete-greece-shutterstock_371369737

Windsurfing the waters of Crete © Shuttterstock

Most of the big Greek popular festivals have a religious basis, so they’re observed in line with the Orthodox calendar. This means that Easter, for example, the most important festival of the year, can fall as much as three weeks to either side of the Western festival. With its lavish feasts, celebrations and religious ceremonies, it's a fantastic time to be in Greece. It is busy, however, so book ahead.

On top of the main religious festivals, there are scores of local festivities, or paniyíria, celebrating the patron saint of the village church. With some 330-odd possible saints’ days you’re unlikely to travel round for long without stumbling on one of them.

More important than your actual birthday, is the “Name Day” of the saint who bears your name. The big name day celebrations (Iannis/Ianna on January 7 or Yioryios on April 23 for example) can involve thousands of people. If your name isn’t covered, no problem – your party is on All Saints’ Day, eight weeks after Easter.

Please note that the current coronavirus situation means some events may be postponed or cancelled. Check individual events before booking your trip.

Throughout the summer you’ll find festivals of music, dance and theatre at venues across Greece, with many of the events taking place at atmospheric outdoor venues. Some, in the resorts and islands, are unashamedly aimed at drawing tourists, others more seriously artistic. The granddaddy of them all is the Athens and Epiduarus Festival , which has been running every summer for over fifty years, incorporating everything from open-air performances of Classical drama in ancient theatres to jazz and contemporary art. Others include:

Iráklion Festival : July–Aug

Kalamáta Dance Festival : July

Olympus Festival : Dhíon, Mt Olympus; July–Aug

Pátra International Festival : July–Sept

Philippi Festival : Thássos; July–Aug

January – March

Jan 1: New Year’s Day (Protokhroniá) In Greece this is the feast day of Áyios Vassílios (St Basil).

Jan 6: Epiphany (Theofánia/Tón Fóton) Marks the baptism of Jesus as well as the end of the twelve days of Christmas.

Carnival (Apokriátika) Festivities span three weeks, climaxing during the seventh weekend before Easter. Pátra Carnival, with a chariot parade and costume parties, is one of the largest and most outrageous in the Mediterranean. Interesting, too, are the boúles or masked revels which take place around Macedonia (particularly at Náoussa), Thrace (Xánthi), and the outrageous Goat Dance on Skýros in the Sporades. The Ionian islands, especially Kefaloniá, are also good for carnival, as is Ayiássos on Lésvos.

Clean Monday (Kathará Dheftéra) The day after Carnival ends and the first day of Lent, 48 days before Easter, marks the start of fasting and is traditionally spent picnicking and flying kites.

March 25: Independence Day and the feast of the Annunciation (Evangelismós) Both a religious and a national holiday. Military parades and dancing celebrate the beginning of the revolt against Ottoman rule in 1821, and church services honour the news given to Mary that she was to become the Mother of Christ. There are major festivities on Tínos, Ýdhra and any locality with a monastery or church named Evangelístria or Evangelismós.

April – June

Easter (Páskha):The most important festival of the Greek year. The island of Ýdhra, with its alleged 360 churches and monasteries, is the prime Easter resort; other famous Easter celebrations are held at Corfu, Pyrgí on Híos, Ólymbos on Kárpathos and St John’s monastery on Pátmos. Good Friday and Easter Monday are also public holidays.

April 23: The feast of St George (Áyios Yeóryios) St George, the patron of shepherds, is honoured with a big rural celebration, with feasting and dancing at shrines and towns. If it falls during Lent, festivities are postponed until the Monday after Easter.

May 1: May Day (Protomayiá) The great urban holiday when townspeople traditionally make for the countryside to picnic and fly kites, returning with bunches of wild flowers. Wreaths are hung on their doorways or balconies. There are also large demonstrations by the Left for Labour Day.

Whit Monday (Áyio Pnévm a ) Fifty days after Easter, sees services to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit to the assembled disciples. Many young Greeks take advantage of the long weekend, marking the start of summer, to head for the islands.

June 29 & 30: SS Peter and Paul (Áyios Pétros and Áyios Pávlos) The joint feast of two of the more widely celebrated name days

July – August

July: Ippokrateia Festival ; Kos

July: Réthymnon Wine Festival

July 17: Feast of St Margaret (Ayía Marína) A big event in rural areas, as she’s an important protector of crops.

July 20: Feast of the Prophet Elijah (Profítis Ilías) Widely celebrated at the countless hilltop shrines of Profítis Ilías. The most famous is on Mount Taïyetos, near Spárti, with an overnight vigil.

July–Aug: Sáni Jazz Festival ; Halkidhikí

Aug: Lefkádha Arts and Folklore festivals

Aug 6: Transfiguration of the Saviour (Metamórfosis toú Sotíros) Another excuse for celebrations, particularly at Khristós Ráhon village on Ikaría, and at Plátanos on Léros. On Hálki the date is marked by messy food fights with flour, eggs and squid ink.

Aug 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Apokímisis tís Panayías) This is the day when people traditionally return to their home village, and the heart of the holiday season, so in many places there will be no accommodation available on any terms. Even some Greeks will resort to sleeping in the streets at the great pilgrimage to Tínos; also major festivities at Páros, at Ayiássos on Lésvos, and at Ólymbos on Kárpathos.

Aug 29: Beheading of John the Baptist (Apokefálisis toú Prodhrómou) Popular pilgrimages and celebrations at Vrykoúnda on Kárpathos.

September – December

Sept 14: Exaltation of the Cross (Ípsosis toú Stavroú) A last major summer festival, keenly observed on Hálki.

Sept 24: Feast of St John the Divine (Áyios Ioánnis Theológos) Observed on Níssyros and Pátmos, where at the saint’s monastery there are solemn, beautiful liturgies the night before and early in the morning.

Oct 28: Óhi Day A national holiday with parades, folk dancing and speeches to commemorate prime minister Metaxas’ one-word reply to Mussolini’s 1940 ultimatum: Ohi! (“No!”).

Dec 6: Feast of St Nicholas (Áyios Nikólaos)

Dec 25 & 26: Christmas (Khristoúyenna) If less all-encompassing than Greek Easter, Christmas is still an important religious feast, one that increasingly comes with all the usual commercial trappings: decorations, gifts and alarming outbreaks of plastic Santas on rooftops.

Dec 31: New Year’s Eve (Paramoní Protohroniá)

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updated 02.02.2024

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Best Time To Visit Greece In 2024 (And When To Avoid It)

Category Greece , Athens , Thessaloniki , Travel Updated on January 23, 2024

best off season time to visit greece

Are you trying to figure out the best time to visit Greece?

You must be smart to research this before heading there! Why?

Greece is a stunning travel destination for all kinds of travelers – history lovers, foodies, beachgoers, island lovers and so much more. Even a beautiful country like Greece has its moments of the absolute best times to visit and…

…times you should avoid visiting it.

Even as one of our favorite countries we’ve visited (after visiting 30+ countries), we will avoid touring Greece during certain months. And it may not be the months you’re thinking!

In this guide, we are going to share the best and worst times to visit Greece, the cheapest months, the crowded months and everything in between.

Quick Answer: When’s The Best Time to Visit Greece?

✅ The best time to visit Greece is May, June, September and October.

These months are considered the shoulder season where the average temperatures are around 73.4 ° F (23°C). These months have warm weather and much fewer crowds so you can enjoy exploring the stunning country. The attractions, restaurants and tours are still open but it will be much quieter than if you visit in the peak months (July, August).

❌ The worst time to visit Greece is December, January, July and August.

These are the coldest and hottest months of the year. When it’s cold in Greece, a lot of the islands’ restaurants, tours, and cafes are basically closed. When it’s the peak months (July, August), you will have to hot weather, pay more for accommodation and battle the crowds, especially on the islands.

Quick Stats On Greek Weather & Seasons

A lot of these stats vary based on where you are in Greece but we just want to give you a quick snapshot of what the weather in Greece can be like on average.

  • Hottest month in Greece: August (89°F/31°C)
  • Coldest month in Greece: January (50°F/10°C)
  • Rainiest month in Greece: December
  • Driest month in Greece: August
  • Most crowded months in Greece: July, August
  • Least crowded months in Greece: December, January

The summer months are from late June till the end of September which are considered the peak tourist months… The winter months are from November till the end of March which means the entire country slows down.

cost of living in athens

Everything in between is the spring and fall seasons which is the best time to visit Greece for fewer crowds, the weather is warm (but not too hot) and activities are still being offered to travelers.

Best Time To Visit Greece

“When is the best time to visit Greece?”

It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves when we planned on spending our honeymoon and a few months living in Greece over the years.

After our personal experience of visiting the mainland and the islands over different months in the year, we concluded:

There is a RIGHT and a WRONG time to visit Greece.

Here’s a few things to consider before visiting Greece and a general overview of what you can expect.

5x Things To Consider First Before Choosing

The weather can affect your experience in a place, especially as a traveler. In addition to that, there are so many other factors to consider when deciding the best time to visit a certain country.

The sunshine shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind, here are 5 things to think about:

  • Price Fluctuations
  • Activities/Tours
  • On vs Off Season

Okay, that’s 6 things but they are all equally important when it comes to choosing a time to visit Greece. Ultimately, it’s up to you and the way you like to travel. Some things will bother other people but they might not affect you.

Matthew and I love visiting digital nomad destinations during the shoulder seasons, for example. When we did our 8-month stint across Europe, we avoided Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona during the peak months. Instead, we went to lesser-known cities like Zagreb and Belgrade for July and August. That’s our personal preference because there are fewer crowds, it’s a calm vibe and that’s how WE like to travel!

restaurants in athens

After our honeymoon in Greece, we knew we wanted to be digital nomads in Athens for a few months but we needed to pick our timing. We arrived in mid-September till early November! The weather was just fantastic and there were much fewer people around (up until it hit November then we got cold lol).

Maybe you aren’t like us and you don’t mind the crowds if it means you catch all the sunshine! The best time to visit Greece might be in the peak season because you just want the peace of mind that all activities and dining options will be open.

Struggling to know which is the best time? Ask yourself these questions to help decide:

  • Which parts of the country do I want to visit (mainland vs islands)?
  • How many activities do I want to do?
  • Do crowds of tourists truly bother me?
  • What kind of activities do I want to do?
  • Does the humidity affect me?
  • Are there any events I can’t miss?

The answer to these questions can help share when the best time to visit Greece is for you. Make sure you think of the kinds of activities you want to do and how you want to spend your time in Greece.

The Best Time To Visit Greece

If you want good weather, fewer crowds and affordable prices – the best time to visit Greece is May, June, September and October. The temperature during these months can range from 73°F (23°C) to 82°F (28°C). “It’s not too hot and not too cold. All you need is a light jacket!” as Ms. Rhode Island from Miss Congeniality puts it.

Visiting in the early fall (September, October), you could still jump in the ocean for a swim! Matthew and I visited the Greek islands in mid-October and we went for a couple of dips ourselves.

matt ashley in crete greece

More than that, visiting Greece in the shoulder months also means you get better deals on accommodation and lower prices for activities. Most tourists visit Greece during July and August which is one of the most expensive times to visit! If you want to get good deals and value for money – this is going to be the best time for you too!

The downside to visiting Greece during the shoulder months is that a lot of the islands actually close during the low season.

acropolis from a distance

If you want to do all the activities and ensure all the bars, restaurants are open when you visit, the safest bet is to visit during peak season (July, August). However, the crowds can get very VERY overwhelming!

We visited Santorini in mid-October and the crowds were still pretty big at that time. If you visit during high season, you will be shoulder to shoulder with crowds of people, constantly fighting to reserve spots at bars and restaurants.

The Worst Time To Visit Greece

You could say, there’s never a bad time to visit Greece…

…but we aren’t so sure about that.

The worst time to visit Greece is July, August, December and January. During the peak summer months (July, August), you’ll have to constantly battle the crowds, line up for every restaurant and pay more for things. During the coldest winter months (December, January), there aren’t many tours or activities available during the lowest season in Greece. The temperatures also drop to 50°F (10°C). Most islands also tend to close during the winter!

Matthew and I visited Santorini near the end of October, we were lucky enough to book the very last Catamaran sunset tour of the season! We missed out on a couple of restaurants in Paros because they closed a tad earlier than low season. That’s going to happen if you visit but the tradeoff is that you don’t have to deal with huge crowds.

crowds of athens

Greece attracts tourists from all over the world and it’s such an iconic travel destination – you have to expect big crowds. But we didn’t truly understand ‘big crowds’ till we saw it first-hand and it quickly becomes not-so-fun anymore.

However, it might just be worth it because you get great weather during your whole trip. Summers in Greece are pretty beautiful as everything comes to life that is until you continuously bump into people navigating the narrow streets of Athens, Santorini or other islands.

Temperature Year-Round In Greece

What’s the temperature like in Greece on average? The chart below shows the average temperature for each month of the year. The annual average temperature in Greece is around 68°F to 73°F (20°C to 23°C).

average temperature greece

The reason Greece is such a popular destination (other than the food, history and stunning islands) is that the weather year-round is pretty great compared to other European countries like the Netherlands or France.

Precipitation Year-Round In Greece

The rainiest months in Greece are November and December. As the weather changes from fall to winter, it can start to get pretty wet having about 2-2.5 inches of rainfall.

average rainfall greece

We were in Athens in early November and there wasn’t much rainfall for us. It obviously depends but the rain seems to start around late November. The months with the least rainfall are the peak summer months, July and August!

Weather Seasons In Greece

Greece is an amazing country with diverse landscapes, delicious Mediterranean food and so many cool things to do. There’s a reason why nearly 30 million visitors to Greece every year (pre-pandemic). That’s a whole lot of people!

Greece has the full 4 seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Every season in Greece is beautiful in its own way. Here’s what Greek weather is like throughout the year and the best things to do for each season!

Spring in Greece (April – June)

The flowers are booming, the cities are emptier than usual and the days are getting longer. Spring is one of the best times to visit Greece to enjoy the outdoors, go on picnics and wander the city admiring the pink bougainvillea flowers all around.

spring in greece

We suggest trying to visit later in the spring season for higher chance of things opening up. The islands tend to close in the low season so if you visit you might not get to do all the things on your bucket list!

Springtime in Greece also means that accommodation prices are going to cost less and more tourist activities are available at this time. If you want to save some money and have fewer crowds, the best time to visit Greece is going to be spring for you.

Summer in Greece (July – mid-September)

The sun is shining every day, there’s a buzz in the atmosphere and it’s the best time to jump in the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Summer in Greece attracts the most amount of visitors (nearly 10 million total people) during July and August alone!

With huge crowds of tourists wanting to visit the same landmarks, it can get pretty overwhelming standing in line for the Acropolis for 30+ minutes. Prices also increase during the summer months for things like accommodation, tours and activities.

crowds on greek ferries

Summer in Greece can get very hot and steamy with temperatures rising to as high as 104°F (40°C). During these months, you’ll barely get any rain which means you can definitely plan all your activities without worrying about the rain ruining your day/

Autumn in Greece (mid-September – November)

Fall is one of my favorite seasons because the leaves begin to change, the huge crowds start to leave and still some of the best weather. Greece is no exception to having a great fall season!

The autumn season in Greece is part of the shoulder months that we suggest visiting. The skies are clear, there are fewer crowds, accommodation prices begin to drop and it feels like you can breathe again.

autumn in greece

The weather in Greece during fall is around 77°F (25°C), isn’t that just perfect?! The only downside of visiting Greece in autumn is that things are starting to close down for the low season. You might not get all the opportunity to do the things you want but there are fewer crowds of people you’ll have to stand in line with for the Acropolis.

Winter in Greece (December – March)

Oh, winter…

…Some love it and some hate it! The cold is freezing, the sun is barely shining and it’s just a season to get through. Matthew and I literally chase the sun as digital nomads fleeing countries that get just a bit too cold.

matthew ashley in thessaloniki

Temperatures reach as low as 50°F (10°C) which isn’t actually too bad for a European winter. However, if you’re thinking you are going to jump in the blue waters – you might have to think again!

December is also the rainiest month in Greece. If you don’t like the cold or the rain can negatively affect your time, don’t visit Greece during the winter. On the other hand, it’s also the least crowded period season which means you won’t have to battle the crowds for any of the landmarks or activities.

FAQs – The Best Time To Visit Greece

Got some more questions about the best time to visit Greece? I would too 😉!

Here’s some quick frequently asked questions to help guide your decision on when is the best time for you to visit.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Mainland Greece?

The best time to visit mainland Greece is any time of the year. Lots of the major attractions don’t close as they do on the islands. Restaurants, cafes and bars will stay open throughout the year, too! It’s up to you whether you want warm weather or cold weather.

rooftop views athens

The top destinations on the mainland are Athens, Thessaloniki and Meteora. If you’re trying to decide between the 2 cities, we’ve written a guide on choosing between Athens vs. Thessaloniki !

These cities have similar weather throughout the year. We visited Thessaloniki in mid-October and it was already pretty cold compared to when we were in Athens in mid-October, the year before! In our experience, Thessaloniki got colder much earlier in the year.

Best Time to Visit the Greek Islands?

One of the best ways to figure out the best time to visit the Greek islands is actually to figure out the kind of activities you want to do. A popular reason to visit the picturesque islands is to swim in the clear, blue glimmering waters.

crete goat beach

The best time to visit the Greek islands is the summer season. You can’t beat getting into the refreshing water when it’s super hot and steamy out!

If it’s 50°F (10°C), the chances are pretty low you are going to be laying down your beach towel and jumping in the water. If you want to visit the Greek islands, don’t go in the early spring, winter and late fall seasons.

Most Popular Time to Visit Greece?

The most popular time to visit Greece is during the summer season, specifically the month of August. Lots of Europeans have vacation days in August, making it one of the top destinations for a week or weekend getaway. We would avoid Greece in August due to the massive crowds but it’s also the hottest month of the year!

Least Crowded Time to Visit Greece?

Hate crowds? Us too! The least crowded time to visit Greece is the low season (December, January, February). You won’t be shoulder to shoulder with other tourists and the lines for major attractions will be much less in the winter. But that means it’s cold so there’s that too.

Cheapest Time to Visit Greece?

Looking to visit Greece on a budget? We have seen some insane price cuts if you visit during the low season in Athens, Thessaloniki and even the islands. The cheapest time to travel to Greece is the winter season (December, January, February).

Best Time to Visit Greece For A Honeymoon?

You’re honeymooning in Greece? What a dream!

Matthew and I also spent our honeymoon across Greece in Athens, Paros and Santorini! We went during the shoulder month of October which we loved for several reasons – fewer crowds and more value for money. But we did miss out on some restaurants that closed early for low season. So if we had to choose again?

matthew ashley santorini view

The best time to visit Greece on your honeymoon is September. The huge summer crowds have left and it’s a lot quieter in the city/islands. The sunny weather is still going strong in September and a lot of the tourist activities (restaurants, bars and tours) are still available to book.

Bottom Line: When Is The Best Time To Visit Greece?

The best time to visit Greece is during the shoulder season months of May, June, September and October. You still get to enjoy beautiful weather, have fewer tourist crowds around and it’s going to be much more affordable!

We love visiting Greece – I mean we have been 3 times in the last 4 years! But…we will avoid Greece in the peak season months of July and August because we do not want to deal with such huge crowds of people.

Greece is a stunning travel destination for any kind of travel experience you could be looking for. The most important thing is that you just visit Greece whenever you have the opportunity!

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Home > Best Time To Visit Greece – Greek Seasons & When To Go

Best Time To Visit Greece – Greek Seasons & When To Go

Post author Nick

Written by our local expert Nick

Nick is is digital nomad originally from Athens, Greece. You will now find him exploring the Greek islands, Bulgaria and beyond.

When’s the best time to visit Greece? Well, there’s no such thing as a bad time, but your perfect moment depends on your preferences.

For me, the best season in Greece means embracing the shoulder seasons to avoid the large crowds. However, my friends can’t resist the allure of Greece’s sunny weather in summer despite the bustling masses.

In my guide, I dive into the Greek seasons, helping you find your ideal time to explore my captivating country!

Greece Travel Blog_Best Season To Visit Greece Guide

When you think of Greece, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? Probably a postcard-perfect beach with crystal-clear waters, right? Well, you’re not alone in that! Greece is famous for its stunning beaches, and the mental image of sun, sea, and sand is practically ingrained in our minds.

But here’s the inside scoop: Greece isn’t all about sweltering summers and sandy shores. In fact, if you want to avoid the scorching heat and overwhelming crowds, you might want to consider a trip during the late spring or autumn months.

Trust me; it’s a game-changer.

And while we’re at it, let’s clear up another misconception. Yes, we all know about the big shots like Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos – they’re like the rock stars of Greek islands. But hold on to your souvlaki because Greece has so much more to offer. Beyond those famous beachy hotspots, there’s a whole mainland waiting to be explored.

Charming cities, quaint villages, and landscapes that are more mountainous than a ski resort brochure. Yup, you heard me right – Greece is a hidden gem for winter enthusiasts. If you’re into skiing or snowboarding, this place has you covered.

So, here’s the deal: I have whipped up a handy season-by-season guide to Greece. It’s not just for beach bums – it’s for anyone who’s up for an adventure in this incredible country. Whether you’re chasing waves or carving down slopes, I have you covered.

Stick around, and I’ll show you how to make the most of Greece, no matter if it is the low season or high season.

Skip Ahead To My Advice Here!

Weather & Seasons In Greece

Superb beach Navagio in Zakynthos, Greece

Located in the south of Europe, most of Greece faces the mild waters of the Mediterranean Sea . This allows the country to enjoy long, pleasant summer months, often dry and very high temperatures in July and August, and mild winters with some rain.

The Mediterranean climate is not the same all over the area, and certainly not in every part of the country. Although the Mediterranean Sea features higher temperatures than other seas in the region, other elements, such as the elevation of the terrain, play a crucial role when talking about the weather in Greece.

Weather In Greece With Average Temperatures

Of course the average daily temperature change, but this table gives you a good idea as to what to pack and when to go to Greece, depending on your preferences.

Best Time To Travel To Greece

Figuring out when is the best month to visit Greece is a personal choice. It very much depends on the type of weather you like. So let’s break them down so you can decide when is the best time of the year to visit Greece.

Greece Seasons – Summer In Greece

When is summer in Greece? The end of May is when early summer begins in the country, starting much earlier in some of Greece’s southern islands.

From June to August, Greece sees the hottest temperatures almost in every corner of the country. The weather is generally stable in this period, and there are virtually no rainy days – hello, dry summers. However, when showers do appear in the peak season, they tend to last for just a few hours.

Summers in Greece are scorching, with long periods of drought. However, the climate remains pleasant thanks to the several winds blowing in the Aegean Sea . The most famous is the Meltemi, a northern wind that brings relief to the sweltering summer days .

If you’re looking to spend time during the hottest days , then definitely book your trip for the last week of July and the first week of August. These have always been the warmest weeks of the year in Greece.

Summer is a great month to visit the Cycladic Islands as well as the islands in the Ionian. If rain is something that you do not enjoy, choose places such as Corfu or Zakynthos . These islands see a lot of rainy days in the wet winter months but can be dry yet lush and green during the summer.

In summary, Summer is 100 percent the best time to visit the Greek islands!

Greece Seasons – Spring In Greece

Traditional greek door on Sifnos island close to Athens

Spring is a fantastic season to visit any area of Greece; with longer and warmer days, the landscape naturally blossoms with colorful flowers and fragrant herbs.

The mountains in northern Greece are a perfect destination since the weather is mild and pleasant, allowing visitors to enjoy long hikes in nature.

Another excellent spring destination is Crete , Greece’s biggest island, the country’s southern territory, quite close to the coasts of Africa.

Summers here are arid and hot, mainly on the southern coast, so visiting during spring makes the trip more enjoyable while still allowing visitors to swim in the sea, which is sometimes much cooler on other islands.

Greece Seasons -Winter In Greece

Best Time To Visit Greece - Aerial view of Falakro ski center, Greece. The ski resort of Falakro ski center

Winter begins between late October and November. In northern Greece, the landscape changes slowly, and high peaks can see snow quite early during the season.

Southern Greece, instead, sees the first days of cold at the beginning of December. Although many coastal settlements and islands do not have freezing temperatures, the weather is grey and rainy, which helps maintain warmer temperatures.

Greece sees its coldest days during January and February; if you plan to ski, head to Olympos, Veria, or Parnassos. If you prefer milder weather, reach the Aegean Islands, the Ionian, the Dodecanese , and Crete, where winters are much warmer.

Greece Seasons – Autumn In Greece

Agios Kirikos village on Ikaria island in Greece

Autumn In Greece is probably the most beautiful season. It is sometimes even warmer than in spring (2 to 4 degrees Celcius higher – 50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit).

The early weeks of the fall season are the best months to visit the islands . The seawater temperatures can be even higher than they were in the middle of summer after months of sun exposure.

Fall can be very hot in the country’s south, on some islands, even until the end of November. Typical characteristics are the clear skies and calm days, with little to no wind on some islands, including Karpathos or Crete.

A holiday at the end of September benefits visitors with fantastic weather, still little rain, warm sea, and other perks such as emptier cities and beaches and cheaper accommodation!

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Best time of the year to visit greece.

Sarakiniko Beach Milos island

This might be one of the tourists’ top questions before visiting the country. It all depends, of course, on the kind of traveler you are and the type of holidays you and your family enjoy the most, but in general, it is fair to say that traveling to Greece in autumn can be the best bet to find good weather and little to no rainy days.

On the other hand, those keen on skiing and several different winter sports will find winter a magnificent moment to travel around the country. Perfect for exploring those areas of Greece that are lesser-known to mass tourism. And, even if winters are cold and snowy in some regions, “cold winters” in Greece are not as rigid as in the north of Europe.

This makes the country much more pleasant for those who do not count wet winters among their favorite moments of the year!

The Warmer Months: Spring, Summer, And Fall

Meteora Monasteries_Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, the largest_Greece

Best Things To Do In Greece And Places To Visit

Right after Easter is the moment when Greece officially begins its extended summer season. Greek Easter takes place at a different date every year, but usually around the end of April and the end of May.

On most islands, the end of Easter weekend marks the official start of tourist activities. This is when most seasonal hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops , resorts, and even entire villages open up again to the public.

Prices are still very affordable, even on luxurious and exclusive islands. For instance, accommodation on Santorini or Mykonos , traditionally very expensive for 5-star hotels, can be much more affordable and easier to book during the months of April and May.

Schools usually close during the second week of June in Greece; this enhances the hot summer atmosphere with families and kids visiting local beaches even during weekdays.

This is the time of the year when regular and charter flights start arriving on the islands with a higher frequency, and many festivals and artistic activities are going on all over the country.

The weather is certainly warmer, and it is easy to find foreign tourists all over Greece.

Athens  also receives more travelers who spend a few days visiting the capital to reach some of the Cycladic Islands then. At the same time, every Greek port starts increasing the ferry routes to almost every Greek destination.

July and August are often the craziest and busiest months on every island. Prices go up, sometimes even doubled, and finding last-minute accommodation, car rental , and even a spot in a restaurant without a reservation can be mission impossible!

Cities are full of tourists and traffic. Every tourist attraction is crowded, and there are queues everywhere: museums, archaeological sites, open cinemas, and even the shower at the beach !

Traveling during the Greek sunny summers requires a calm philosophy and unique doses of patience that not every tourist has.

As a general piece of advice, avoid the Greek summer months of July and August if:

  • You are on a budget
  • You do not love crowds
  • You can’t stand scorching weather
  • You are not patient

The Cold Season In Greece: Winter

Best Time To Visit Greece - Aerial view of famous snowy Aristotelous Square in Thessaloniki

The period between December and March is the coldest moment to visit Greece. Several structures are closed or working with reduced hours; everything is quieter and even cheaper!

Suppose you do not suffer from cold temperatures. In that case, this is the right time to enjoy long walks in nature, visit museums and archaeological sites , explore exhibitions and art galleries, mingle with the locals, and spend extended periods in the country.

Some islands see very clear days, sometimes with warm temperatures that allow you to wear short sleeves and enjoy long walks by the sea, Rhodes is one of them, but as a general rule, winter is not the best moment to enjoy beach time in Greece.

There are tons of other things to do instead everywhere in the country. The Northern regions of the country are the ones that see the coldest days, with abundant snow on the mountains and ski runs open to the public, sometimes starting as early as in November and always until at least mid-February.

At lower altitudes, it’s common to experience rain, fog, and humidity, making you feel cold temperatures more intensely. If you’re traveling to Greece in winter , do some research and pack wisely. Choose layers and warm materials, and pack a jacket , along with winter basics such as hats, gloves, and scarves; you will need them!

If you prefer warmer temperatures, choose regions such as the Peloponnese or islands like Rhodes or Crete , enjoying several sunny days during the winter season with temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (35.6 to 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

Avid skiers and winter enthusiasts will find a wide choice of destinations to explore and discover. Some of them are loved by locals who can be more passionate about winter landscapes and cold weather than you might think.

The country is home to many fantastic ski resorts that often get crowded during Christmas and winter .

Places to practice winter sports include the Velouxi Ski Resort in Karpenisi , a town in Evrytania. The resort is about five hours from Athens and is a magnificent destination for snowboarding, with its one-of-a-kind snowboard park. Greeks also love to ski in Mount Parnassos, Volos, and Kalavryta, to mention a few.

Another popular place that often receives the nickname of winter Mykonos is Kaimaktsalan Ski Center, on Mount Voras, about 40 kilometers from Thessaloniki , a great city to visit in winter too.

Thessaloniki is the second most important city in Greece. It’s a young and pretty much alive destination, where thousands of students all over Greece come to study at the most important university in the country. For this reason, the city is a vibrant destination all year round, and it does not close its doors during winter.

When deciding which destinations to visit in Greece during winter, do not forget to keep the following details in mind:

  • Prices are more convenient for hotels and accommodation in general, but the offer tends to be reduced, especially on the island
  • The routes for ferries to the islands are very reduced; some small islands count with only one or two ferries per week
  • Some islands heavily depend on the mainland to get provisions during winter; when the winds are so strong that the ferry services are suspended, it can be difficult to find basic supplies even in the biggest supermarkets; the same goes for fuel.
  • Mountain roads can be snowy, slippery, and even closed on some days; always keep chains for the snow in your car when venturing into the mountains during winter. Some villages can be cut off by heavy snow; always check the weather forecast before getting on the road!

As you can see, the country is truly a year-round destination, with experiences and unique things to do all year round, beaches, mountains, villages… you name it, Greece will probably have it ready for you.

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When To Go To Greece FAQs

When is the best time to visit greece to explore ancient sites.

Ancient sites in Greece are best explored during the mild weather of late spring (late May) or early fall (late September) when the temperatures are pleasant and there are fewer crowds.

What’s the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities in Greece?

For outdoor enthusiasts, early November offers cooler days that are perfect for hiking, biking, and other outdoor adventures, especially in the mountainous areas.

When can I experience the Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations?

The Greek Orthodox Easter, known for its unique traditions, falls in the spring. Holy Week culminates in a grand celebration, making late April a wonderful time to witness this cultural event.

When is the Carnival season in Greece?

Carnival season in Greece typically occurs in February, leading up to Lent. It’s a lively and colorful time, with various festivities and parades.

What’s the shoulder season in Greece, and why is it a good time to visit?

The shoulder season months in Greece, which include early May and early September, offer mild weather, fewer tourists, and lower hotel prices, making them a great time to visit for those who prefer smaller crowds and lower costs.

What’s the hottest capital city in Greece, and when should I visit it?

Athens, the capital city of Greece, experiences hot weather during the summer months, particularly in July and August. If you enjoy warm weather, this is the time to go.

Which months have the warmest water for beachgoers?

The Ionian Sea , with its warm and inviting waters, is perfect for beach lovers from late June through August when the sea temperature is at its highest.

When is the cheapest time to visit Greece for budget-conscious travelers?

To save on expenses, consider visiting Greece in the coldest months of January and February, when prices for hotels and flights tend to be lower.

What are the best months to explore the mainland of Greece?

The mainland of Greece, rich in historical sites and cultural attractions, can be best explored during the cooler days of early fall or late spring, ensuring a more comfortable experience.

What’s the weather like on the smaller Greek islands during late September?

Smaller islands in Greece enjoy mild and pleasant weather in late September. It’s an excellent time for a quieter island getaway with beautiful beaches and smaller crowds.

So, have you made up your mind already? What season will you be visiting Greece? And where are you planning to go?

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Best Time to Visit Greece 2022

TravelRaval » Blog » Best Time to Visit Greece 2022

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G reece has it all, historic monuments, clear blue skies, the warm Mediterranean, and a rich heritage filled with delicious food and passionate music.

Your travel senses will be on high alert whether you’re sailing into a vibrant harbor in April, or relaxing on a sun-drenched deck while listening to the crashing waves in the height of July, or visiting the Acropolis museum in November.

No matter what, there’s always a best time to visit Greece. Here’s our picks for the best time to enjoy this Hedonists rejoice!

High Season: June. July, and August

Shoulder season: april, may, september and october, low season: november, december, january, february, and march, 1. most islands go into hibernation in january, 2. witness lesser crowd in february, 3. in march, the islands are still sleepy but the weather is gearing up, 4. the scent of orange blossom heavy in the air in april, 5. may is a great time to hot greece’s trails, 6. june sets the stage for festival-goers and international performers, 7. crowds flock to island’s beaches in july , 8. respect the high heat of august, 9. the crowd begins to thin in september, so does the weather, 10. most of the island starts to quieten down in october, 11. it’s a temperature drop in november, thus heralds the off-season, 12. expect cooler temps in december.

Greece experiences its highest tourist traffic and sweltering summer temperatures, with some days exceeding 86°F . There are plenty of sights, tours, and ferries available, and hotels are charging top dollar. Beaches are crowded, but there is a terrific summer vacation vibe in the air, and is the best time to travel to Greece.

Best Time to Visit Greece, Greek culture

Visit in late spring or early autumn if you can, when the weather is milder and there are less tourists. 

Make sure to stop by a few remote communities where you may still experience traditional culture. 

Explore by renting a car. Stop for lunch, browse the neighborhood stores, and indulge in some local pursuits. A local “kafeneio,” a seafood taverna adjacent to a port, and a traditional live-music venue should all be visited. Here, you’ll encounter Greek culture at its most vibrant, and is the best time of the year to go to Greece.

On the first Sunday of every month, barring July and August, the historic sites in Athens provide free admission. Outside of the summer season, domestic flights and island ferries have limited timetables.

Many hotels, attractions, and restaurants close and the country is devoid of tourists, particularly on the islands. If you don’t want to battle the crowds, this is the best season to visit Greece.

However, you might strike it fortunate and find an Airbnb or rental for a small fraction of the summertime cost. The ferry schedules are erratic, and temperatures plummet, with snowfall possible in Crete and Athens.

Here’s the month by month breakdown of key events and attractions, Greece weather by month, and more. 

Travel to Greece this time of the year is a bliss as there would be less crowds. During the winter, most islands go to sleep. However, the capital and surrounding mainland welcome guests with non-tourist festivities. Count on hospitality to provide local knowledge and warmth.

Even snow is visible from Delphi and Meteora . However, key attractions are delightfully uncrowded in towns like Athens , which is still open for business. Without the crowds of tourists that accompany nice weather, you’ll have the ancient remains to yourself. Just come prepared with the appropriate travel supplies!

Key events & festivals – The day of Christ’s baptism by St. John is observed as a national holiday in Greece on January 6. The main ritual, which is held in Piraeus, blesses rivers, lakes, and the seas.

January contains a few entertaining events, such as Epiphany, where a cross is thrown into a body of water and swimmers are supposed to retrieve it. 

The Patras Carnival is considered as the most spectacular festival of the year. People take to the streets during this time to parade, dance to loud music, and mingle with everyone who has traveled from afar to celebrate the New Year.

The best time to visit Greece is in February if you want to have the nation to yourself.  Even though it’s still rather cold outside, there are less raindrops, allowing you to spend more time outside.

Best Time to Visit Greece, visiting Santorini

If you’re traveling to Greece in February, consider visiting Santorini , where you might be able to enjoy some winter sun without the crowds, or Athens, where you can explore the country’s rich history. 

In every location, you’ll discover costs that are significantly lower than they were during the busiest time of year.

Greece has a great time in February because it is Carnival month, which is observed all around the country.

The finest parties, however, are held in and around Athens and Crete, where citizens throng the streets to eat, drink, dance, and march.

people spend time outside flying kites

To mark the end of Carnival, there is Clean Monday , a public holiday in which people spend time outside flying kites .

Key events & festivals – Expect a riot of traditional dance, eating, and costume parades over the course of the Carnival weekends. There are regional variations: The main carnival takes place in Patra, while on Skyros, men and their male “brides” are decked out in goatskins.

Best Time to Visit Greece, historic sites in the mainland

Greece’s weather begins to warm up a little in March, though it’s still a bit chilly, especially as you travel south. On the islands, temperatures can get as high as 70 °F , which is pleasant enough to spend some time at the beach and explore comfortably.

You can also take in some island tranquility without interruption because the tourist crowds haven’t yet arrived.

March is the best time to go to Greece to tour the historic sites in the mainland . Visit Athens and Delphi without long lines or crowds of tourists.

The biggest event in March is Greece’s Independence Day, when there are celebrations of every kind taking place around the nation.

Key events & festivals – March 25, Independence Day. An annual procession and dance are held to commemorate the day that pro-independence demonstrators raised the Greek flag at Moni Agias Lavras.

March normally falls almost entirely within Lent. The Orthodox Greeks customarily observe this time by abstaining from meat, fish, dairy, and eggs beginning with Clean Monday at the end of February or beginning of March.

Rhodes

One of the best seasons to visit Greece is in April, when things really start to shine there.

Temperatures are gradually rising across the nation as the sun begins to burst through the winter’s gloom. While it’s still a little too chilly to go swimming, April is when the water surrounding Greece begins to warm up. It is enticing for any beachgoers visiting during this month.

A trip to Greece is being considered for April. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit if you plan on visiting Greek islands like Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, and Naxos ! 

The weather will be pleasant with sunny days that are ideal for lazing on the beach without being overheated, even though it won’t be overly hot.

You’ll experience a little peace and quiet as you travel across the nation because the tourist crowds haven’t really arrived yet.

Key events & festivals – Easter, which is observed by the majority of Greeks nationwide, falls in April. There is a Holy Week that takes place before Easter, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. This is regarded as Greece’s holiest season of the year. You’ll notice that during this week, a lot of stores are closed and churches are packed, providing you a look into the religious life of many Greeks.

Best Time to Visit Greece, Greece’s Trails

Before the summer season’s influx of tourists, May is your last chance to visit Greece.

Greece in May is when the affordable lodging starts to make place for the pricey resorts and hotels that reopen for the summer. Nevertheless, the beginning of the month still offers a few decent bargains as the weather begins to warm up.

No matter where you are in the nation, the weather in Greece in May is extremely warm. 

Greek islands are a great place to travel during this month because you may start swimming in the sea and actually sunbathe on the beaches.

May is a beautiful month throughout most of mainland Greece, making it a great time to go sightseeing and have good meals outside.

Key events & festivals – On May Day, the first day of the month, people flock to the countryside for picnics. To beautify homes, wildflowers are picked and put into wreaths. This day is dedicated to protecting the rights of employees.

You must attend the Salsa Spring Festival in Korinthia if you are traveling to Greece in May. It is a premier dance festival in Europe that attracts both nationals and visitors. There are dancing courses, performances, and loads of exciting fun, so don’t miss out if you’re in Greece during the time!

The Athens Jazz Festival, which runs for five days in May and features free jazz performances for guests, is another event. How incredible is that?

Best Time to Visit Greece, Naxos

The summer season in Greece officially begins in June. There is a sizable influx of tourists from all over the world. 

The weather is perfect , with high temperatures and lengthy sunny days. People travel from all over the world to Greece in June—it makes sense, really!

It turns out that this is the best time of year to visit Greece ’ less well-known locations like Naxos and Paros as well as major destinations like Mykonos and Santorini. Corfu, Rhodes, and Crete are all fantastic places to go at this time of year to enjoy the seaside.

Key events & festivals – Be sure to book your hotel early to lock in a good deal because lodging costs frequently increase in June.

June brings plenty of entertaining festivals and events to Greece alongside the flux of tourists. The biggest of these occasions is the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, which features opera, theater, and dance acts. It starts in June and continues until early September, offering enjoyment to all.

sees the celebration of European Music Day

The month of June also sees the celebration of European Music Day in Greece and around the continent. A historical reenactment festival called Navy Week takes place in late June in port communities and along the coast.

If you happen to be in Crete, you’ll discover that there is a great celebration for Navy Week that includes lots of boating, swimming, and music.

Best Time to Visit Greece, Corfu

Hello July and welcome to sweltering temperatures, throngs of travelers, and beaches lined with umbrellas!

With sultry days, warm sea, and no clouds in the sky, July in Greece is the beginning of summer at its hottest. July is a very attractive time to visit the Greek islands , but costs associated with travel and lodging make it too expensive.

With typical high temperatures pushing beyond 90°F in July on the mainland of Greece, sightseeing may be uncomfortable and sticky. 

Get away from the crowds by visiting destinations like Corfu , where you can enjoy the beach, or the less-traveled Greek islands.

Key events & festivals – Greece hosts a huge number of artistic and cultural events throughout the rest of the summer, starting in July. You have the Athens Festival, which has Greek music performances in historic theaters. The Festival of the Aegean on Syros Island, and the Sani Festival in Halkidiki, which is replete with jazz musicians and a lively environment.

The River Party in Nestorio, a festival with a tonne of DJs and live bands where you can tent, swim, and take in the magnificent Greek landscape, is undoubtedly a highlight. 

Best Time to Visit Greece, Olympus Festival

You may anticipate a visitor influx throughout the entire country in Greece in August, which is the height of peak season. 

Prices are at an all-time high, beaches are overrun with people, and you can prepare for lengthy delays wherever you go.

All of August is beautiful in Greece, with long days of sunshine and no sign of precipitation. 

If you decide to visit Greece in August , bring all of your swimsuits to enjoy the warm waters that have been heating up all summer.

Key events & festivals – August in Greece is jam-packed with entertaining activities and celebrations. Check out the August Moon Festival in Athens when all the city’s important historic monuments are open all night for entertaining musical events. 

Visitors love to partake in the Olympus Festival where you may watch plays in an old theater.

When it comes to live acts and concerts, August is one of the best months to visit Greece . To name a few, the International Music Festival of Aegina, the Houdetsi Music Festival, and the Chania Rock Festival in Crete all feature musical artists from Greece and other countries.

Best Time to Visit Greece, September in Greece

When the weather starts to cool off in September, Greece is like a breath of fresh air. Tourists are still in abundance throughout the first half of the month. 

But as the month winds down, fewer people are present, giving place to a more sedate end-of-summer holiday.

September in Greece is still a beautiful month, from the islands to Athens. 

You’ll actually find it more delightful than the height of summer because you can take in the sights without sweating and yet get a tan on the beach.

Anywhere in Greece in September is a great time to visit, regardless of your travel preferences.

Key events & festivals – Genesis Tis Panagias On September 8, religious services and feasting are held across the nation to commemorate the Virgin Mary’s birth.

At the end of the month of September, Greece hosts the 12-day Athens International Film Festival. 

Other major September events in Greece include the Reworks Festival, which features acts from all over the world. 

The Epidaurus Festival features Greek tragedies performed in the old amphitheater.

Greece finally embraces autumn in October

After a long, sweltering summer, Greece finally embraces autumn in October . By the end of the month, the nation is largely empty when the last of the summer visitors return home. 

Seasonal establishments begin to close, but the ones that remain open are seriously discounted.

October on the smaller islands will be quite calm, although Santorini and Mykonos still have a lot going on when you travel to Greece.

On the Greek mainland, October is a fantastic month for sightseeing because the weather is perfect for exploring historic monuments and ancient cities.

Key events & festivals – Even though October is a relatively sedate month in terms of festivities, there are still a few festivals to take in in Greece.  Each year, the Chestnut Festival takes place in Crete, and the Dimitria Festival takes place in Thessaloniki.

Ohi Day. When Mussolini asked for an unfettered passage through Greece for his soldiers on October 28, 1940, Prime Minister Metaxas’ renowned reply was a straightforward “no” (ohi in Greek). Now a significant national holiday, the day is marked by ceremonies of remembering, parades, feasting, and dancing.

 Best Time to Visit Greece, Crete

November is your best option if you want to travel to Greece off-season. You’ll have the place to yourself because there are so few travelers in the country!

Despite being cool, the November weather in Greece isn’t too bad. There are days when it is incredibly sunny, and there are days when it is dreary and cloudy. 

The season for collecting olives is in full swing in areas like Crete , and feta production increases, allowing you to sample some very fresh cheese.

In Greece, November can see a fair lot of rain, but with pleasant days and few tourists, it’s worth the hassle of packing an umbrella.

November is the best time to visit Greece for sightseeing because it’s a little too chilly for the beach, and without the crowds. You  can take beautiful shots of historic landmarks without having visitors in the background.

Key events & festivals – November in Greece is a very low season, so there isn’t much going on in terms of events. In contrast, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which takes place all month long, features some of the best recent European productions.

Check Out: Best Time to Visit Australia 2022

Go skiing in the mountains

Winter arrives in Greece in December, with chilly, overcast days that occasionally pour rain. As the nation prepares for the holiday season, there is snow in the mountains that is perfect for skiers of all skill levels.

It may be fun, despite the fact that it is undoubtedly not the best time to travel to Greece.

Wrap up and visit the Athens area’s historical attractions. Warm yourself in one of the many museums across the nation. Go skiing in the mountains , or even better, travel to Meteora, where the fresh snow at this time of year makes the place simply spectacular.

Key events & festivals – There are many festivities leading up to Christmas Day, making it one of the most joyous seasons of the year in Greece. 

When the holidays do arrive, the streets will be adorned with festive lights, thronged with carolers, and full of people with pink cheeks. 

Enjoy this enchanting vacation by taking in the bustling atmosphere in Greece!

After Christmas comes New Year’s Eve, which is widely celebrated in Greece with packed taverns and fireworks marking the end of the year.

If you’re planning a trip to Greece, there’s no need to worry about the weather. The good news is there’s always the perfect time to visit Greece! No matter which season you choose, you’ll be sure to have a great time. Just make sure to add this list of best times to visit Greece on your travel itinerary for next year.

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When is the best time to visit Greece

Best months to travel to the mainland and the greek islands.

We’re often asked “When is the best time to go on vacation in Greece?”, and the answer is often complex. It will depend on many things including your interests, exactly where you want to visit and why you’re travelling. One person’s best time can be another’s worst! However, often a concern about the weather underlies the question of “the best time to go”.

April to October (Spring to Autumn)

The vacation season for most of the Greek islands starts in April (spring season) and end in late October (autumn season). The peak holiday season in Greece is from early July to the end of August, when temperatures are higher, and crowds of foreigners and locals alike travel to the Greek islands. You won’t miss out on warm weather if you come in June or September , excellent times almost everywhere but particularly in the islands. An exception to this pattern, however, is the north-mainland coast – notably the Halkidiki peninsula – and the islands of Samothrαki and Thαssos, which only really cater to visitors during July and August. In October, for most of that month the “summer of Αgios Dimitrios” prevails, and the Aegean islands, the southerly Dodecanese and Crete are extremely pleasant. Autumn in general is beautiful; the light is softer, the sea often balmier than the air, and the colors subtler.

December to March (winter season)

December to March are the coldest and least reliable months, though even then there are many crystal-clear, fine days, and the glorious lowland flowers begin to bloom very early in spring. The more northerly latitudes and high altitudes of course endure far colder and wetter conditions, with the mountains themselves under snow from November to May. The mildest winter climate is to be found on Rhodes, or in the southeastern parts of Crete. As spring slowly warms up, April is still uncertain, though superb for wild flowers, green landscapes and photography; by May the weather is more generally predictable, and Crete, the Peloponnese, the Ionian islands and the Cyclades are perhaps at their best, even if the sea is still a little cool for swimming. Note, however, that these are the historical patterns as observed until the early 1990s; thanks to global warming, recent years have seen erratic climate, with unusually cold Mays, warm Octobers, little (and late) rain, plus very early spring flowering.

Other factors that affect the timing of your Greek travels have to do with the level of tourism and the amenities provided. Service standards, particularly in tavernas, slip under peak-season pressure, and room rates top out from July to September (as well as during Easter or Christmas week). If you can only visit during midsummer, reserve a package well in advance, or plan your itinerary off the beaten track: you might for example explore the less obvious parts of the Peloponnese or the northern mainland, or island-hop with an eye for the remoter places.

Out of season , especially between late October and late April, you have to contend with reduced ferry services to the islands (and nonexistent hydrofoils or catamarans), plus fairly skeletal facilities when you arrive. You will, however, find reasonable service on all main routes and at least one hotel and taverna open in the port or main town of all but the tiniest isles. On the mainland of Greece, winter travel poses no special difficulties except, of course, in mountain villages either cut off by snow or (at weekends especially) monopolized by avid Greek skiers.

Learn more and start planning your vacation in Greece!

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The Best Time to Travel to Greece: Weather, Seasons, and Festivals

last Updated: January 19, 2022 greece

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Planning a trip to Europe and wondering the best time to travel to Greece? Read on to learn all about the different seasons in Greece as well as what months to avoid if you hate the heat and crowds!

Overview of When to Visit Greece:

The short answer: The shoulder seasons of May and September. Everything is open but the hordes have either not yet arrived (May) or have just all gone home (September).

Greece is widely regarded to be the cradle of Western civilization. This is due to the country’s enormous influence on our arts, philosophy, politics, and sports. That’s not to mention the country’s gorgeous beaches and thriving nightlife.

These things have made Greece a major tourist destination for travelers around the world. But you might be wondering when the best time to visit Greece is. Like many other countries, you can have a very different experience depending on when you decide to go.

Let’s take a closer look at the best time to travel to Greece.

One day in Meteora Greece >> how to make the most of it!

Almost everyone suggests that the best time to visit Greece is spring and early summer (mid-April to mid-June) or autumn (September to mid-October).

By visiting Greece during this time, you’ll avoid the summer high season and it’s inflated prices, over-crowded tourist attractions, and super high summer temperatures with heat waves of 100°F/40°C.

Read on for more in depth information about each season and get your Greece travel planning on!

Sailing to THREE Greek islands in One Day from Athens >> By far a favorite day trip of mine! Learn about the logistics here!

Greece Weather and Travel Seasons

Summer: june – august.

Summer is easily the busiest time of year for Greek tourism.

It’s when most people decide to visit the country, and because of this, most places you visit will be crowded with people. As a result, accommodation will also be a lot more expensive.

Furthermore, the summers in Greece are known to be scorchingly hot and dry (heat waves of 100°F/40°C are pretty common). The weather in Greece can be quite oppressive in the summer- don’t forget your sunscreen!

Heading to Greece soon? Make sure to spend at least three days in Santorini! This tiny island has so many things to do in Santorini! >> Best things to do, see, eat, and enjoy!

For these reasons, most do not consider the summer months to be the best time to go to Greece. However, if these months work best for you, I strongly urge you to keep your Greek summer plans.

I’ve visited three times in the hot and crowded summer months, and have never been disappointed (Greece is gorgeous – it’s hard to have a bad time there no matter what). Just be prepared and drink lots of water, plan a bunch of water activities, go swimming at your resort, and wear a hat.  🙂

Sailing to THREE Greek islands in One Day from Athens >> By far a favorite day trip of mine! Learn about the logistics here!

Benefits to visiting Greece in the summer:

  • If you want to experience life on the islands in particular, summer is by far the best time to do it (with Santorini , Mykonos , and Crete being the most popular ones, and for good reason)!  All of the shops and hotels will be open for business, so you’ll have much more shopping and accommodation variety if you chose to visit Greece in the summer.
  • The waters are warmest in the summer months, making this the optimal time to go swimming. And what is a Greek vacation without some swim time in the Aegean Sea?!
  • Looking to party? You’re in luck, because the nightlife also kicks into high gear during this time of the year.

Spring/Fall: Mid-April to late-May / September and October

The seasons of spring and fall are widely considered to be the best time to go to Greece. Since this is considered to be Greece’s off season, you’ll find that prices are much cheaper during this time.

Because of this, you’ll find that a rather affordable vacation in Greece is possible, compared to the expensive summer months. You also won’t have to fight as many crowds as you would during the summertime.

You’ll be able to go anywhere and feel like you more or less have the country to yourself. Beaches in particular are much easier to enjoy during the spring and fall months because of the lack of crowds.

One day in Meteora Greece >> how to make the most of it!

Another major benefit to visiting Greece in the Spring and Fall? The weather is absolutely amazing during these seasons!  Wildflowers bloom during the spring, and come autumn, everything changes to beautiful colors of gold and brown.

These are the ideal times to be outside while you’re on a Greek vacation, since the temperatures are comfortable and not ridiculously hot. 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 Athens and it’s ruins without sweating profusely.

One day in Meteora Greece >> how to make the most of it!

In addition, September is definitely the best time for the beach and swimming in general as the water has spent all summer warming up – meaning the sea will feel like a bath tub at a warm 75 degrees F.

It’s also worth noting that the grapes in Greece are harvested in September. This makes it the best time to go to Greece if you’d like to sample their delicious wine while you’re on vacation! Yes!

The winter months in Greece definitely have some drawbacks, but it’s not all that horrible (it’s Greece we’re talking about).

Although the weather during the winter can be rather chilly and wet, it’s usually fairly reasonable. You’re even likely to see a few bright and sunny days during this time, although that’s typically not the norm.

There’s even a chance you might see some snow while you’re in Greece. This happens from time to time, but it’s rare enough that it’s treated as a special occasion when it does happen! Maybe you’ll get to be one of the lucky ones to experience snow in Greece!

Top tips for visiting the beautiful Delphi, Greece! A great day trip from Athens! So much history here!

One of the main attractions in the winter, possibly making it the best time to go to Greece if you aren’t looking for a beach vacation, is the fact that the country is the least crowded during this time and is fairly quiet.

However, because of this, bear in mind that many shops and accommodation options will be closed for the season.  Most of the islands’ infrastructures are closed between October-April (hotels, many restaurants, etc.) so in all likelihood there will not be much to do on the islands in the winter months.

You won’t be fighting through massive crowds though!

Sailing to THREE Greek islands in One Day from Athens >> By far a favorite day trip of mine! Learn about the logistics here!

If you really want to spend some time on the islands during the winter, be sure to choose an island that is as far south as you can go (Crete) or as far east (Rhodes) as they hang on to the better weather for longer. Warm, sunny days are never a guarantee, but they have better weather than other islands nearby.

Of course, skiing is also a popular pastime in Greece. This is to be expected from a mostly mountainous country. In fact, so many people go to Greece for skiing that many resorts have to be booked in advance. If you love to ski, then winter is definitely the best time to visit Greece.

Festivals and Events in Greece:

The Greeks love to party, so it should be no surprise that there are celebrations happening nearly every month of the year! You are likely to find something spectacular happening almost anytime you visit, but a few of these events stand out from the others.

Of all these celebrations, none are more important to the Greeks than Easter. Devout Christians spend an entire week celebrating the holiday, known as Holy Week. During this time, you’ll see fireworks, bells, candlelit processions, and many incredible feasts.

It really is an experience you have to see for yourself, and is possibly the best time to visit Greece if you don’t mind some crowds and are looking for a more local experience.

Sailing to THREE Greek islands in One Day from Athens >> By far a favorite day trip of mine! Learn about the logistics here!

However, if you’re going to Greece for the partying, you might want to visit during Apokreas, or Carnival Season, instead.

Usually held in February, Apokreas is a three week long celebration that’s held in the time leading up to Greece’s fasting period. Partying is a normal thing in Greece, but it’s taken to another level during this time.

There are parades, colorful costumes, plays, feasts, and plenty of over the top celebrating in general. It could be considered the Greek version of Mardi Gras, and is the best time to go to Greece if you really want to blow off some steam and have some wild fun.

Sailing to THREE Greek islands in One Day from Athens >> By far a favorite day trip of mine! Learn about the logistics here!

If you’re more interested in the art and culture scene, then the best time to travel to Greece is during its Hellenic Festival. The Hellenic Festival is an arts festival held in Athens and Epidaurus during the summer months.

You can take your pick between visiting the ancient sites of Odeon of Herodes or the Theater of Epidaurus. Both are in terrific condition and feature everything from theater, dancing, music, opera, and everything in between.

Many famous stars have performed in these theaters during the Hellenic Festival. It’s something you absolutely have to see if you’re interested in Greece’s cultural contributions.

So there you have it, the best time to travel to Greece! Are you visiting soon? What are you most looking forward to?!

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  • Best and Worst Times to Visit Greece 2024/2025

Greece is famous for its stunning islands, deep history, and warm hospitality, which makes it a popular destination for summer vacations, honeymoons, and anniversaries.

The most popular time to visit Greece is during the summer months from July to August. With the sunniest weather of the year and the warmest temperatures average highs above 35°C (95°F), this period is ideal for enjoying the beautiful islands and beaches. 

But for outdoor activities and sightseeing, the best time to visit Greece is during the spring (April to early June) or autumn (September to October) seasons. These periods offer pleasant weather at around 24°C (75°F), without swarming crowds and the highest prices.

While planning a trip to Greece , read on to find out more detailed information about visiting Greece for different purposes and travel guides by month.

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  • 1. Best Times to Do Greek Island-Hopping

2. Best Times for the Cheapest Prices and Fewest Crowds

3. worst times to visit greece, 4. greece travel guide by month, 1. best times to do greek island-hopping.

Greek islands make up most of its stunning scenery, not limited to the Cyclades and Dodecanese.

The best time to do Greek island hopping is between late May and early October as there are more sunny days and the weather is warm enough to swim — the seawater's temperature exceeds 22°C (72°F).

During this period, the Aegean Sea shows its full beauty with crystal-clear seawater and stunning beaches as well as warm breezes bringing salty and fresh smells, making for a perfect summer vacation. Ferries and flights are also more frequent than at other times, so you can maximize your schedule. 

But you would not be alone to enjoy this perfect time. Expect big crowds during the peak season from July to August , along with rising temperatures and prices.

To get the best prices and avoid crowds, late May to mid-June and late September to mid-October would be your best choices. Most hotels and venues on the islands are already/still open and you could save at least 50% on costs without waiting in long queues and hot weather, with average highs exceeding 35°C (95°F).

To plan a perfect family summer vacation during this period,  you may interested in  How to Plan a Perfect Family Trip to Greece with Kids >>>

While spring and autumn are the shoulder seasons in Greece, winter (November to March) is considered to be the low season to go to Greece with the cheapest prices and fewest crowds. This is because of occasional rain or snow and cool weather averaging 12°C (54°F).

Most hotels and venues on the islands are closed during this period and it might be too cold to swim. But on the bright side, it won't make a significant difference to visiting historic sites and ancient ruins with a weather-smart schedule, and you won't encounter large crowds and long queues.

If you're planning to travel during festivals , such as Christmas and New Year, these are exceptions, with a sudden rise in prices of accommodation and flights from 40%. Making reservations 3–6 months prior to your trip would be helpful to get a better deal for your trip and avoid unreasonable costs.

Looking for a hassle-free vacation? Simply reach out to us at Global Highlights. Your needs would be taken care of in every respect by your professional consultant, and we would personalize a smooth and stress-free private tour just for you.

More detailed information about budget breakdown:  How Much Does a Trip to Greece Cost >>>

Generally speaking, Greece is a year-round destination and could offer something whenever you pay a visit, with the worst time depending on where your interests lie.

If your itinerary includes a lot of outdoor sightseeing and hiking, then you should avoid July and August because of the uncomfortably hot weather with average highs exceeding 35°C (95°F), along with the highest prices and biggest crowds of the year.

However, if islands and beaches are a must for you, then November to March would be your worst time to visit Greece. During this period, most businesses on the islands close and the weather tends to be gloomy with occasional rain/snow, making it uncomfortable to engage in water activities. 

Are you having trouble balancing island beach time with outdoor sightseeing? Late May, June, and October would be your best times to go to Greece when the crowds and prices are relatively lower and you could participate in everything you want to make the most of your vacation in Greece.

Need more advice to plan a perfect trip to Greece? Contact us now at Global Highlights and together we would customize a hassle-free private tour for you.

Click the link for each month to check out detailed travel guide information.

  • Jan. and Feb.
  • Jul. and Aug.

Greece in January and February

Weather in Greece in January and February is similar, with gloomy days and chilly air averaging 10°C (50°F). 

Despite the fact that it might be uncomfortably cold/wet to spend a long time on outdoor sightseeing, these months offer distinct advantages, such as fewer tourists and lower prices. Imagine having renowned attractions, such as the Acropolis in Athens and the White Tower of Thessaloniki, all to yourself.

Besides visiting ski resorts, such as Metsovo and Arachova, for winter leisure, January and February also offer festivals that let you experience warm hospitality and local culture.

You could celebrate the New Year holiday and enjoy fireworks at Athens' Syntagma Square, witness the inspiring cross retrieval ceremony during Epiphany for blessings, and join in the joyful Patras Carnival. With an array of exciting events, you would not lack interesting things to do.

Greece in March

While most island destinations remain closed, weather in March in Greece brings cool yet sunnier, with temperatures averaging about 15°C (59°F). 

Santorini offers tranquil moments in the warmth of the sun and the Meteora region offers awe-inspiring spring landscapes during a weather-smart itinerary.

Moreover, Greece celebrates its Independence Day on March 25th , a time when people gather to cherish hard-won victories. Join in the parades, dances, and toasts — foreign travelers can easily blend into the joyful atmosphere.

Greece in April

April is considered to be the start of the best times to visit Greece, with sunny days and warm temperatures of about 19°C (66°F), which is great weather for outdoor sightseeing or hiking but may still be too cold for water activities.

Since April also signals the start of the shoulder season, you won't encounter hordes of tourists in most regions. The exception is during Greek Orthodox Easter , which falls on May 5th in 2024. 

Tourists from all over the world travel to Greece and gather in Athens to celebrate Easter, resulting in a brief surge in travel activity and prices.

Greece in May

May marks the month for the full opening of island destinations before the summer season. With warm temperatures averaging 23°C (73°F), it could be a great weather for sunbathing and swimming on one of these sun-soaked paradises. Furthermore, this is the last opportunity to seize low-season discounts on popular islands, such as Santorini, Naxos, and Paros.

Not limited to islands alone, mainland Greece also shines in May. Gorgeous wildflowers blanket the mountains and plains, painting an idyllic scene that would captivate your eyes.

Greece in June

June brings about an increase in temperatures, rising to about 28°C (82°F), alongside the increasing crowds and prices. As the coolest month of the summer season, June offers sunny weathers and perfect conditions for visiting your desired destinations. 

Hike in the Parnassos National Park in Delphi , explore the charming streets of the old town in Nafplio , or unwind on the captivating pink sands of Elafonisi Beach in Crete . Greece in June gives a warm welcome wherever you want to visit.

Greece in July and August

July and August in Greece form the peak of summer, both with scorching daily high temperatures averaging about 32°C (90°F) and swarms of holiday-makers from all over the world. Islands like Mykonos and Santorini beckon with their crystal-clear waters and lively atmosphere, inviting you to relax on stunning beaches and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.

If you prefer history and culture, explore the indoor sites to escape the heat. The Acropolis Museum or the National Archaeological Museum in Athens could be great options. To avoid crowds and the summer heat, visiting at less popular times of the day would be helpful, such as in the morning before 8am or at lunchtime between 11am and 1pm.

Greece in September

September in Greece brings milder weather, with temperatures averaging about 27°C (81°F). It's an ideal time for exploring Greece without the intense summer heat or the large crowds of tourists.

Enjoy pleasant seaside temperatures on the Greek islands, embark on boat trips to explore the volcano and hot springs in Santorini, or indulge in water sports, such as snorkeling and windsurfing, in Crete.

On the mainland, consider attending one of the local wine festivals that take place in September, such as the Anhiolos Wine Festival in Thessaloniki. It would add extra fun to your journey and you could experience the rich wine culture of Greece.

Greece in October

The weather tends to be mild in October in Greece, with high temperatures averaging about 22°C (72°F) and sunny days, making it an ideal month to explore Greece.

The Greek islands have a quieter ambiance without crowds and such high prices. Most facilities would still be operating, allowing you more space to savor their beauty and tranquility.

With such good weather, October is also an opportune time to delve deeper into Greece's cultural heritage. Marvel at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete or explore the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Greece in November

November is the start of the low season for visiting Greece, bringing cooler temperatures averaging about 17°C (63°F). Most islands close from this month until May since it is too cool for most to relax on the beaches.

While visiting islands may not be a good choice, you could explore mainland Greece during this month as it offers a different kind of charm. Take leisurely walks to explore the bustling cities and towns, appreciate the changing of the guard at Syntagma Square, and enjoy the opportunity to connect with the locals on a more personal level.

Greece in December

December in Greece is considered to be the festive month of the low season and temperatures average about 14°C (57°F). 

While the weather may be cooler than other months, Greece is still warmer than most countries in Europe. The cities come alive with enchanting decorations and a joyful atmosphere, attracting people there to celebrate Christmas.

Explore the Christmas markets in Athens or Thessaloniki, where you could enjoy the dazzling lights, festive music, the warmth of Greek hospitality, and even find unique gifts for your loved ones.

Keep in mind to reserve your accommodation and flights 3–6 months before your trip for a better deal. Or you could simply reach out to us now at Global Highlights and we would personalize the perfect private tour for you.

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10 of the best places in Greece for couples

With its nightlife, beaches, spectacular sunsets and hotels perfect for romantic breaks, greece delivers every kind of holiday for two you can think of.

The beach at Firopotamos on Milos island

F rom sunset cocktails and strolls on the sand to long, lazy lunches in beachfront tavernas, Greece has all the elements of the ideal holiday just for the two of you. Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape, wall-to-wall sunshine, something active or a city break, you’ll find it here in the mainland, mountains or any of the inhabited islands, of which there are 227 to choose from.

If romance is on your mind, prepare to be spoiled for choice. Santorini is arguably the honeymoon capital of the world, but there are plenty of other islands ideal for sharing with that special someone — not least Kythira, the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Her most famous representation, the marble Venus de Milo statue, hails from Milos, while the glorious beaches of Skiathos are almost a love poem in their own right.

Beyond the islands, there are experiences for two to enjoy in mountainous Zagori, monument-filled Athens or amid the urban buzz of Thessaloniki. So whatever kind of holiday the pair of you might seek, you’ll find all the inspiration you need somewhere in this, our pick of the best places for couples in Greece.

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The view from the Areopagus, northwest of the Acropolis

Best for a city break Vast, sprawling Athens can easily overwhelm; but plan it right and the capital offers epic experiences for two. A central stay is essential. Stroll hand in hand through the backstreets of Syntagma and Monastiraki, soaking up their character, buzz and bar scenes; then descend into Plaka for its lively (though more touristy) streetscapes. For a romantic moment, skip the crowds (and admission fee) at the temple-topped Acropolis and instead ascend Areopagus, the adjacent rock outcrop, to watch the sun sink behind surrounding hills.

Make it happen

Stay at Gatsby, a boutique hotel whose hanging plant-shaded restaurant spills into a Syntagma alleyway.

Or combine your visit to Athens with a tour of Greece’s most romantic islands. Intrepid’s eight-day tour through the Aegean Sea starts in the Greek capital before visiting Syros, Mykonos and Santorini, with its unbeatable Instagrammable sunsets.

• Best things to do in Athens • Best hotels in Athens

2. Skiathos

Koukounaries beach, Skiathos

Best for beach breaks For those whose expectation of Greece is one of barren, sun-scorched landscapes, Skiathos offers a pleasant surprise. This island in the Sporades group is renowned for its covering of bottle-green pines that reach down to the water’s edge. Find your perfect hideaway for two at pine-fringed Koukounaries, whose main beach has waters in emerald shades thanks to the trees’ reflections. It’s without doubt one of Greece’s finest beaches.

Stay within steps of Koukounaries at exquisite Elivi Skiathos, a luxuriously romantic hotel with four sandy shores to walk to, each with Elivi-run beach clubs.

• Best hotels in Skiathos

Traditional Greek windmills in Mykonos

Best for living it up Sophisticated, jet-set vibes draw ritzy couples that like a night out to Mykonos , the eastern Med’s party capital. The island is known for its high-end daytime beach clubs and a late-night scene in Mykonos Town. Although peak season here is supremely expensive, visiting early or later in summer gets you way more bang for your buck. And if you’re not keen on a spendy night out? Watch the sunset free at Mykonos Town’s iconic windmills.

How to do it

Make the most of the nightlife by staying within stumbling distance at Mykonos Theoxenia: a retro retreat right next to the windmills.

Or, for a comprehensive introduction to the Cyclades, embark on Intrepid’s 10-day sailing adventure. You and your partner will sail with your small group from Santorini and around some of Greece’s prettiest islands — including Naxos, Sifnos, and Folegandros — before returning back to Santorini’s port.

• Best hotels in Mykonos • Santorini vs Mykonos: which is best?

The cathedral in Chora, Ios

Best for affordable luxury Sitting halfway between Santorini and Mykonos (with easy ferry connections between), this Cycladic isle has a much lower profile than its more celebrated neighbours — but that also translates to a more attractive price-point for couples keen on not breaking the bank. Charming Ios Town is a joy to wander for its hilltop churches, sunset views and tiny lanes packed with boutiques and restaurants (among which Katogi’s Greek tapas is a highlight). For beaches, you can’t go wrong with a lazy day at Mylopotas.

Enjoy sweeping Mylopotas views from luxurious Hideout Suites, which have an elevated position, great design, in-suite breakfasts and good-sized private pools.

• Guide to the lesser-known Greek islands

5. Thessaloniki

Bars and restaurants in the popular Ladadika district of Thessaloniki

Best for nightlife It’s thanks to its large population of students that Greece’s second city scores so highly for bars and restaurants. All along the waterfront and a block or two behind, the streets of Ladadika are packed with an energy that builds all day. The two of you can happily throw yourselves into the throng, or simply stroll along the water’s edge with Mount Olympus rising in the distance when conditions are clear.

For the best Thermaic Gulf views, book a sea-facing room at super-stylish ON Residence; or better still, go for cocktails on its fabulous, guests-only roof deck.

Or disembark on some of Greece’s romantic shores during Celestyal’s seven-night Idyllic Aegean cruise, which starts and ends in historic Thessaloniki.

• Where to stay and eat in Thessaloniki on a budget

Vikos National Park, in the Zagori region of Greece

Best for mountain highs Inland from Thessaloniki (and a world away from the typical sandy beach images of Greece) lie the Pindus mountains and their unchanged-by-time Zagori region. Grab your partner and explore this landscape of limestone peaks and canyons carved by whitewater rivers, following age-old pathways and stone bridges to reach the magical Zagorochoria villages. Protected as the Zagori world heritage site, it’s staggeringly beautiful and perfect for immersive getaways.

Hide away in extraordinary style at Aristi Mountain Resort, where luxurious suites and an indoor/outdoor spa overlook Vikos Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of Greece”.

For couples looking for a more active trip, G Adventures offers a memorable seven-day hiking tour of Northern Greece, with three days spent exploring Zagori.

• The world’s greatest hikes, with stylish stays

Golden beach at Chryssi, Crete

Best for beating the crowds Being Greece’s largest island, Crete is enormously diverse and offers just about every activity you might think of (plus the longest summer season in Greece). All that appeal draws serious crowds, though, especially to the north and east coasts’ big resorts: so if you don’t want your romantic break being shared with the masses, head south. The beach town of Ierapetra lies genuinely off the beaten path and is handy for boat trips (you can also hire your own) to castaway Chryssi islet.

Be even more sure of a chilled-out stay by booking into adults-only Numo Ierapetra: a design-forward, boho-chic retreat with a laid-back beach-club vibes.

Or make memories together on Explore!’s eight-day walking tour. You’ll discover empty beaches, the majestic Samaria Gorge, less-trodden coastal paths and some of the best food that Crete has to offer.

• Best villas in Crete • Best hotels in Crete

A bell tower on a church in Kythira

Best for lovestruck mythology Cyprus doesn’t have a monopoly on tales of Aphrodite. Legend has it that the goddess of love rose from the sea on the isle of Kythira. Keep the feeling alive by taking a trip to this overlooked island. As well as being known for Aphrodite’s qualities of beauty, love and romance, Kythira has ruined castles, caves packed with stalagmites and some gorgeous beaches such as stunning Kaladi or white-sand Diakofti.

Enhance your Kythira holiday’s feelgood factor by staying at Hidden Retreats: a small-scale, sustainable luxury resort whose five units all have private Jacuzzis.

• Best quiet Greek islands

Volcanic rock formations on Sarakiniko beach, Milos

Best for a villa break She may now reside at the Louvre in Paris, but the priceless Venus de Milo statue was actually found on this Cycladic island. Its other, still in-situ treasures include more than 65 beaches, among which the insanely blue waters and lunar-like landscape of Sarakiniko stand out. Milos is one of the Cyclades that’s booming in popularity as stablemate Mykonos gets ever more expensive: visit soon before everyone else cottons on.

Make it a real retreat at Skinopi Lodge, whose nine utterly romantic villas (with Aegean views from their beds plus outdoor showers for starlit bathing) feel remarkably private.

Alternatively, you could embark on APT’s coastal cruise, which features an in-depth tour of Milos —with visits to Sarakiniko Beach and the Romas Theatre — among several other stops.

• Best places to visit in Greece

10. Santorini

The town of Oia, Santorini

Best for romance It may be a bit of a cliché with its honeymoon suites and bride-and-groom photoshoots, but Santorini captures the imagination of loved-up couples like nowhere else. It’s the one-of-a-kind views that do it. The perfectly circular, sea-filled volcanic crater that dominates the island gives it a sea-view perspective that you and your paramour can gaze upon for hours over dinner at one of the restaurant terraces carved into the cliffs.

Santorini has some of the most expensive hotels in all of Greece. Avoid high rates by visiting on a cruise — this 12-night extravaganza will take you from Rhodes to some of the Eastern Mediterranean’s loveliest destinations, including Santorini.

• Best cave hotels in Santorini • Best villas in Santorini

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Eurovision 2024 semifinal highlights: Ten countries move on to Saturday's finals

eurovision sweden music awards show

Eurovision Song Contest 2024: What you missed at the first semi-final

  • The extravagant, glitter-dusted pop song contest kicked off in Malmö, Sweden, on Tuesday. Malin Åkerman and Petra Mede serve as co-hosts.
  • Night one of semifinals featured performances from 15 artists, including Marcus & Martinus, representing the host nation, Sweden, and fan favorite Baby Lasagna, from Croatia. Ten countries will move on to Saturday's final.
  • In the U.S., the competition streamed on Peacock at 3 p.m. ET. Semifinals will continue with a second round on Thursday.

10 countries move on to Saturday's final

best off season time to visit greece

Kaetlyn Liddy

  • Serbia - TEYA DORA
  • Portugal - iolanda
  • Slovenia - Raiven
  • Ukraine - alyona alyona & Jerry Heil
  • Lithuania - Silvester Belt
  • Finland - Windows95man
  • Cyprus - Silia Kapsis
  • Croatia - Baby Lasagna
  • Ireland - Bambie Thug
  • Luxembourg - TALI

Benjamin Ingrosso performs

Andrew Jones

Benjamin Ingrosso, known as Benjy to his fans, just performed.

The artist represented Sweden in 2018 with “Dance You Off.” His 7th place finish was seen as a disappointment for Sweden.

He’s also got music in his blood. He’s the son of Pernilla Wahlgren, a popular Swedish singer in the 80s who took part in Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s national selection for Eurovision in 1985, but came up short.

Two-time winner Johnny Logan performs

Two time Irish winner Johnny Logan performed Loreen’s 2012 winning song “Euphoria,” a tribute to the Swedish singer who tied his record when she triumphed last year with “Tattoo.”

Voting is underway!

The performances are complete and voting is now open on the Eurovision website .

Luxembourg is back after 31 years

Luxembourg made their return to Eurovision for the first time in 31 years tonight with "Fighter" by TALI.

The artist has never been alive to see her country perform in the contest. "Fighter" blended French and English lyrics to create a universally catchy pop song.

Portugal's iolanda gives soulful performance

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Saba Hamedy

Dressed in all white, iolanda took the stage to perfrom "Grito." She was the penultimate act to perform.

Australia honors Aboriginal history

Electric Fields, the first duo to represent Australia at Eurovision , synthesized modern pop music with the nation's indigenous history.

Their song, "One Milkali (One Blood)" incorporated the Aboriginal language of Yankunytjatjara, spoken by the Anangu people.

Azerbaijan made use of visuals in their performance

Azerbaijan won Eurovision in 2011 – their only victory to date.

This year, FAHREE feat. Ilkin Dovlatov performed "Özünlə Apar." The immersive use of screens in the arena compensated for a stripped down approach onstage.

Sweden's time to shine on stage

As this year’s host country, Sweden is one of the countries that automatically qualifies for the final, but along with the UK and Germany, they’re performing their song “Unforgettable” tonight so that fans can see their performance before the final.

Marcus and Martinus Gunnarsen are twins from Norway–there’s no rule that you have to be from the country you represent–who were child stars in Scandinavia.

Now 22, Martinus told NBC News in a Zoom interview that the brothers wanted a spectacular production for their staging, working with choreographers Sacha Jean-Baptiste and Keisha Von Arnold to create a dizzying club-inspired performance.

“I remember the first word we said when they asked us how do you want the show to be and we said ‘Super Bowl’. Think big, you know?”

Moldova brings the vocals

Natalia Barbu of Moldova is back on the Eurovision stage after representing the country previously in 2007. Her performance of "In The Middle" might be the most impressive belting we've seen all night.

Did you hear those whistle tones?

Instruments can't be played live during Eurovision

Fun fact: While lead vocals must be live, you can’t play instruments live.

Fans of Finland's Windows95man rocking themed swag

Many Eurovision attendees who are supporting Finland's Windows95man wore T-shirts with the Windows95 logo on them. Some blurred the logo, but most didn't.

The artist performed "No Rules!" wearing denim on stage. A ball that was covered in jeans also lit up as the group danced.

230 people helping bring Eurovision to life

This year's hosts said the Eurovision stage has more than 2,000 moving lights and took 16 days to build.

About 230 people are working to make the event come to life.

Slovenia makes a moody splash

Raiven of Slovenia performed "Veronika," a moody pop ballad. She was accompanied by five backup dancers in nude costumes and an abundance of strobe lights.

Germany's ISAAK is on fire

Fires burned on stage as Isaak sang "Always On The Run," making the performance even more lit.

Germany is among the "big five" countries that have already qualified for the final.

Iceland makes hitmakers

Iceland may only be 20-25% habitable, but the country has produced its fair share of international artists.

Laufey, Björk and Of Monsters and Men all hail from the country. Tonight, Hera Björk returned to Eurovision for a second time after 14 years, performing "Scared of Heights."

Croatia's Baby Lasagna is a favorite

Nick Duffy Nick Duffy is a platforms editor for NBC News.

Baby Lasagna's humorous techno-rock song “Rim Tim Tagi Dim” is among the most unusual of this year’s entries.

It's also a betting favorite .

The high-energy song about leaving the countryside for city life is a buzzy way of putting a spotlight on the issue of Croatia’s brain drain.

Poland has a lot going on

LUNA of Poland gave a catchy performance of her song, "The Tower." Her act was a maximalist production, featuring chess pieces and masks.

Ukraine's song 'Teresa & Maria' has a mission

Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil of Ukraine capitalized on this international stage to make a statement on the resilience of Ukrainian women.

“Our song has a mission," the duo told Billboard ahead of the competition. "We want you to feel something for us because our culture goes so deep in history."

They ended their Tuesday performance by thanking viewers for supporting Ukraine.

In a recent interview with the Guardian , Ukraine’s former Eurovision winner Jamala said the country “cannot afford” to boycott the song contest "in a time of war."

Olly Alexander takes stage for U.K.

Olly Alexander, representing the U.K., performed "Dizzy" onstage. The U.K. has already qualified for the final, so viewers can’t vote for the country tonight.

The boppy performance featured a group of men in red boxing shorts doing choreography alongside Alexander.

Alexander's performance comes after he was called out for choosing to remain in Eurovision amid boycott calls over Israel's participation in the competition.

Alexander was among the artists who issued a statement in March after a group called group,  Queers for Palestine signed an open letter asking the pop singer to withdraw.

“We firmly believe in the unifying power of music, enabling people to transcend differences and foster meaningful conversations and connections," Alexander and other participating artist said in response.

Will the Irish be lucky this year?

2018 was the last time Ireland made it to the Grand Final, and it has been 28 years since they last won Eurovision.

Their hopes lie with 31 year-old, Bambie Thug, who received roaring applause during the performance.

The arena is lit

Attendees were given bracelets that light up at certain points during the show. Right after the postcard introducing the artist, the colors change to represent the national flag of the next performer.

With Lithuania's performance, in which Silvester Belt performed "Luktelk," the colors flashed yellow, green and red.

A history of the Eurovision Song Contest

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Yuliya Talmazan

Known for its glitz, glamor and eccentricity, the Eurovision Song Contest will attract millions of viewers from across the globe when the grand final begins Saturday in Malmö, Sweden.   

But a show that has become compulsory annual viewing for many has more humble beginnings as an attempt to heal the wounds of post-World War II Europe, while also achieving the technological marvel of beaming live television pictures into countries across the Continent. 

“This was really an experiment in the nascent technology of television,” historian Dean Vuletic told NBC News last month about the competition, which was first held in the picturesque Swiss city of Lugano in 1956 — as TV sets first became a fixture in people’s homes. 

Read the full story here.

Serbia serenades with 'RAMONDA'

Teya Dora performed "RAMONDA," marking the second performance of the evening.

Cyprus' Silia Kapsis first up

The first competitor of Eurovision 2024 was Silia Kapsis of Cyprus, who performed "Liar." Her song is reminiscent of a Shakira anthem and her dancing isn't far off either.

Kapsis, who is 17, is of Cypriot and Greek descent, and was born and raised in Sydney, Australia.

Eurovision royalty opens the show

Previous Eurovision all-stars, Eleni Foureira (2018), Eric Saade (2011) and Chanel (2022) kicked off today's performances.

Saade, who is Swedish, criticized Eurovision for their ban on Palestinian symbols. He appeared to be wearing a keffiyeh on his wrist.

Malin Åkerman and Petra Mede greeted by cheers

Hosts Malin Åkerman and Petra Mede welcomed Eurofans back to Sweden.

"Mamma Mia, here we go again!" Åkerman joked, a nod to the Swedish group ABBA (who won the competition 50 years ago).

Fun fact: It's Mede's third time hosting Eurovision.

Expect to hear the hosts speak French throughout contest

MALMÖ, Sweden — At several points throughout the evening, hosts Petra Mede and Malin Åkerman will switch from English to French. It will mainly be to explain the voting rules or to read out the votes. 

Viewers in French-speaking countries will have their own commentators speaking over some of the event, but since French is one of the official languages of the European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision, this tradition has stuck around.

The use of French in the voting portion of the final has also given fans the phrase “douze points,” the most a country can receive.

We're live!

Eurovision Semifinals have begun in Malmö. It kicked off with a montage featuring snippets of last year's competition, which was held in Liverpool.

Eurovision organizers are prepared to remove Palestinian flags

MALMÖ, Sweden — Amid the controversy over Israel’s participation in Eurovision, organizers are taking steps to minimize the chance of political statements from making it on TV, saying they reserve the right to remove Palestinian flags.

“As in Liverpool last year, ticket buyers are only allowed to bring and display flags representing the participating countries and the rainbow/Pride flags," a spokesperson for European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs the competition, said in a statement. "We reserve the right to remove any other flags or symbols, clothing, items and banners being used for the likely purpose of instrumentalizing the TV shows.”

In the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv, Icelandic band Hatari held up a Palestinian flag in the green room, and interval act Madonna had two of her dancers appear with Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs in a move the EBU later said was unauthorized.

Upon entering the arena, I only spotted one Palestinian flag near security. The person didn't appear to be entering the venue.

Five minutes to go!

Eurovision 2024 officially kicks off in five minutes.

What are Eurovision’s rules?

Performances at Eurovision must obey a strict set of rules: Their songs must be originals unreleased prior to the contest, at most three minutes long, artists must be 16 or over, and a maximum of six performers are permitted on stage.

While the Eurovision stage has seen unusual sights from giant hamster wheels to bread-baking ovens over the years, there are limits to what performances may include: no live animals, adult content or commercial messages.

The Eurovision rules also ban political content in songs, though the deployment of this rule has been contentious. While many songs include references to peace, unity or even specific historical events, Georgia’s 2009 entry “We Don’t Wanna Put In” was disqualified over perceived references to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, while Israeli broadcaster KAN this year said it was required to make “necessary adjustments” to its entry “Hurricane” over apparent references to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

How are Eurovision songs introduced?

MALMÖ, Sweden — Because there’s such a tight turnaround between acts in Eurovision, the contest has traditionally played a little video before each act’s performance. They’re known as “postcards,” and oftentimes highlight locations in the host country.

This year each artists appears in a vertical video — the style popular on social media but normally eschewed by traditional broadcast media — and several do TikTok-style transitions between videos, a sign of the importance the app plays in the modern music industry.

Eurovision fans love to party

MALMÖ, Sweden — While many of the viewers watching tonight’s semifinal will be seeing the songs performed for the first time, a dedicated fandom will have had the chance to see most of tonight’s artists live over the past several months.

Thousands of fans flocked to parties in Madrid, Barcelona, London, Amsterdam and other cities to get their first glimpse at this year’s songs. And these events are crucial for new artists trying to get early buzz.

Martinus Gunnarsen, who along with his twin brother is competing for Sweden this year, said he noticed the excitement at the pre-parties.

“When we were performing and you could feel like every person in the crowd was such a Eurovision fan," he told NBC News. "And it was crazy. You know? The passion is so strong, but that’s what makes it fun.”

How security is gearing up for a controversial Eurovision

MALMÖ, Sweden — With Israel’s participation in Eurovision the source of boycott calls and protests, security in Malmö is tight. There’s a heavy police presence around the venue and at the hotels that artists are staying in. Last week Israel warned its citizens headed to Malmö to “consider the necessity of the trip.”

“We will have police officers from all over Sweden, coming to Malmö and also our Nordic police colleagues from Norway and Denmark will assist us during this week," police spokesperson Jimmy Modin told NBC News in a phone interview last week.

Malmö has seen several demonstrations against Israel since Oct. 7, but they have been peaceful, Modin said. “Nothing points to the demonstrations during Eurovision week to get violent either," he said.

Today, at the arena, security was not doing flag checks on people as they entered.

Can I vote in Eurovision?

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Patrick Smith

You can. Even if your country isn’t participating, you can still vote for your favorite song. Starting from the semifinals, Eurovision allows anyone to vote here , for a small fee of just under 1 Euro ($1.08). In fact you have up to 20 votes you can allocate to whomever you like, and you can allocate multiple votes to a single artist. But each vote costs an additional fee. 

For the grand final, you can start voting just before the first song until about 25 to 40 minutes after the last song. For the semifinals, you can vote after the last song for about 15 to 25 minutes, so act fast.

Malmö, Sweden, is home to Eurovision this year

The host city this year is Malmö, Sweden. The winner of the previous year’s contest (normally) gets to host the next one, so it’s Sweden’s turn because it won in 2023 with Tattoo by Loreen.

It’s the seventh time Sweden has hosted Eurovision — the country is tied with Ireland for the most wins — and this is the third time it’s taken place in Malmö.

Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city after Stockholm and Gothenberg, is on the south-western coast of Sweden. The city is at the eastern end of the famous Øresund Bridge that connects the country with Denmark, which acted as the backdrop to a popular crime drama series, “The Bridge.”

What to expect from the first round of semifinals 

Today’s semifinal kicks off at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT live from Sweden’s Malmö Arena, with the show opening with performances from three past Eurovision stars, before the contest itself kicks off.

Artists representing 15 countries are set to perform during tonight’s first semifinal for a chance to qualify for Saturday’s grand final, with another 16 set to compete in the second semifinal on Thursday. The top 10 acts from each semifinal qualify for the grand final, meaning five countries will be eliminated tonight.

Each of the 15 artists gets a maximum of three minutes to perform under Eurovision’s rules, which also restrict acts to six performers. The staging is entirely down to the competing countries, though — with competitors past using elaborate props, outlandish outfits, pyrotechnics or video graphics to stand apart from the pack. 

After all 15 competing artists perform, there is an interval for the public vote to take place, with the audience treated to special performances from two familiar Eurovision faces: Irish musician Johnny Logan, one of only two people to have won the contest multiple times, and Benjamin Ingrosso, a pop star from host nation Sweden who took part in 2018.

Viewers will also get to see a sneak peek at the artists competing this year for the host nation as well as Germany and the United Kingdom, who get an automatic pass to Saturday’s grand final as the biggest financial contributors.

The interval is followed by the results. Eurovision voting during the grand final can be an infamously lengthy process, but it’s much speedier tonight, as the 10 qualifiers are announced all in one go.

What countries have been buying the most tickets?

Fans from over 80 countries will flock to Malmö Arena for Eurovision this year, with locals occupying the most seats. Swedes have purchased a third of available tickets, while British fans accounted for a fifth of total sales. Denmark, Germany, the United States and the Netherlands rounded out the top five.

“Malmö welcoming Eurovision fans and visitors from such large and diverse parts of the world is truly fantastic," said Karin Karlsson, managing director of Eurovision. "It clearly demonstrates the event’s appeal and its ability to unite people through music, culture, and diversity."

Malin Åkerman and Petra Mede tapped as co-hosts

MALMÖ, Sweden — Eurovision can be a long and drawn-out event, so having strong hosts is crucial. This year, Swedish broadcaster SVT turned to a familiar face for Eurovision fans: Petra Mede.

She hosted in 2013 by herself, and co-hosted in 2016 with the previous year’s winning Swedish contestant Måns Zelmerlöw. Joining her this year is Malin Åkerman, a Swedish-American actress, who has appeared in “The Comeback” and “Entourage.”

“There is no scene that I love more than the Eurovision because, you know, everyone has already decided that this is going to be a good night," Mede told NBC News in a Zoom interview. "You don’t have to convince anyone. There are no snobs in there. And so therefore, you know, once you get out on stage, my experience is that you’re just filled with love from the beginning.”

What countries are competing today?

The full list of performers tonight are:

  • Cyprus — Silia Kapsis — “Liar”
  • Serbia — Teya Dora — “Ramonda”
  • Lithuania — Silvester Belt — “Luktelk”
  • Ireland — Bambie Thug — “Doomsday Blue”
  • Ukraine — Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil — “Teresa & Maria”
  • Poland — Luna — “The Tower”
  • Croatia — Baby Lasagna — “Rim Tim Tagi Dim”
  • Iceland — Hera Björk — “Scared of Heights”
  • Slovenia — Raiven — “Veronika”
  • Finland — Windows95man — “No Rules!”
  • Moldova — Natalia Barbu — “In the Middle”
  • Azerbaijan — Fahree feat. Ilkin Dovlatov — “Özünlə apar”
  • Australia — Electric Fields — “One Milkali (One Blood)”
  • Portugal — Iolanda — “Grito”
  • Luxembourg — Tali — “Fighter”

Also, for the first time, Eurovision said this year the artists from the "big 5" countries — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom — and host nation Sweden will each perform their entries in full live during the semifinals. But you can’t vote for them during semifinals.

Read the full set list here .

When does Eurovision start?

The grand final is on Saturday, May 11, in Malmö, Sweden, and it starts at 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET). This is the big event where the eventual winner will be crowned and it traditionally generates one of the biggest TV audiences in the world.

Get comfortable: The final will last four hours, as long as the Super Bowl. 

But before that, there are two semifinals: the first today and the second on Thursday, both starting at 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET).

Each semifinal will feature 16 countries hoping to make their way to the final, as well as the “big 5” nations of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, who have already qualified for the final but will perform at the semis anyway.

How to watch Eurovision 2024

The best place to watch in the U.S. is Peacock , which is streaming the semifinals and the final itself. Each event will be available to replay afterward, too. (Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of both NBC News and NBCUniversal, which runs Peacock.)

Eurovision is shown across Europe and beyond on an array of publicly owned broadcasters who are members of the European Broadcasting Union, including the BBC in Britain.

How does Eurovision work?

Eurovision is one of the world’s biggest annual televised events, with an estimated 160 million people tuning in across Europe to cheer on their country in a contest of music, performance and pure spectacle. Thirty-seven countries are taking part in this year’s contest, with one artist for each country — put forward by the national broadcaster in each competing nation — having just three minutes to showcase an original song.

Across two live semifinals, taking place tonight and Thursday, the number of competitors is whittled down to 26, with those remaining going forward to compete in Saturday’s grand final. The qualifiers from each semifinal, and the ultimate winner on Saturday, are decided by combining the results of a public vote with points given out by international juries in each country. 

While most commonly associated with power ballads and “schlager” pop music, Eurovision has seen a diverse range of entrants try everything from rap and heavy metal to opera and yodeling in a bid to stand out, while the event has also become associated with the often elaborate staging and costumes picked by the artists.

ABBA-mania going strong 50 years after group's Eurovision win

Even if you haven't heard of Eurovision, chances are you've heard of ABBA.

The iconic group, whose music inspired the stage musical "Mamma Mia!" and film franchise starring Meryl Streep, skyrocketed to fame after their Eurovision Song Contest win in 1974 with their song "Waterloo."

The Swedish foursome had previously vied for a win at Eurovision 1973 in Luxembourg, but their song "Ring Ring" ended up finishing third at Sweden’s pre-selection Melodifestivalen.

In the 50 years since their 1974 win, the band has cemented themselves as icons in music history with nine studio albums.

"It’s difficult to comprehend that 50 years have gone by since the four of us waited backstage for the verdicts of all the juries around Europe at the Dome in Brighton," the band wrote in a letter to fans on their website in April . "So what were our dreams during those suspenseful moments or in the chaos in the aftermath of the victory we had secured with the smallest margin in Eurovision history? Four different dreams, no doubt, but whatever they were, however grand, reality has surpassed them, that’s for sure."

This year, in honor of the group's golden Eurovision anniversary, King Carl XVI Gustaf honored band members Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Reuss with the royal Order of Vasa .

We, the fans, say to ABBA: Thank you for the music.

Eurovision: A look back at past winners

The reigning champion of Eurovision is Sweden’s Loreen , who took home her second trophy in 2023 for the song “Tattoo," more than a decade after she won the 2012 contest with “Euphoria."

Some of the biggest names in music are among Eurovision’s pantheon of past winners, with this year’s contest also marking 50 years since ABBA won the contest with “Waterloo.” Céline Dion claimed a Eurovision trophy for Switzerland in 1988 with her song “Ne partez pas sans moi," while Ireland’s Johnny Logan and the U.K.’s Lulu are among the celebrated artists in their home countries to have brought home trophies.

Recent winners of Eurovision include Duncan Laurence, whose 2019 winning track “Arcade” grew into a viral hit with more than a billion Spotify streams, and the rock band Måneskin, who won Eurovision in 2021 for Italy with “Zitti e buoni," have become global stars and earned a Grammy nomination last year.

Most Eurovision winners do not find global fame — but some go on to distinguish themselves in other ways outside the contest. Ruslana, who won for Ukraine in 2004 with “Wild Dances," later became an MP and a leading voice in the country’s pro-European movement, while Russia was reported to have declared Ukraine’s 2016 winner Jamala a wanted woman last year over her advocacy during the war in Ukraine.

Andrew Jones is a senior desk editor.

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

Nick Duffy is a platforms editor for NBC News.

is culture and trends editor for NBC News Digital.

IMAGES

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