Greece is my favorite country in all of Europe and is a place I’ve traveled back to time and time again. From the turquoise waters of the Ionian islands, to the iconic white houses of the Cyclades, to the mountains of Meteora, and everything in between, Greece is a place that everyone needs to visit. Of course, let’s not also forget about the best cuisine Europe has to offer and world class hospitality.
Whether you’re coming for a week or a month, this post will help you decide on the best time of year to visit Greece. Not all months of the year are created equal and there are definitively better times of the year to visit Greece.
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Greece has many different regions
Greece is a very diverse country with many more landscapes and climates than people think. While the whole of Greece is in the south of Europe, the northern section of Greece with places like the Zagori Mountains and Thessaloniki enjoys a very different climate than say the island of Crete at Greece’s very south. You can expect the temperatures to increase accordingly the further south you go. Similarly, the water temperatures will also follow suit.
In general, the climates will follow the same seasonality and trends throughout Greece. As well, the main tourist seasons are also similar (summers are the peak). Depending on where you go in Greece, just prepare for colder weather the more north you go.
The Best Time To Visit Greece: Climate
Greece enjoys a pleasant climate year round. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular places for the wealthier Northern Europeans to flock to. The temperatures are never that cold and the warm temperatures are not overbearingly hot. Humidity is also not that big of a problem since Greece enjoys a Mediterranean climate as opposed to a tropical climate.
Greece Climate: November to March
Winters are generally cool but not cold in Greece. You can expect temperatures between 10-15 degrees during these months in the capital city of Athens. At times, you can expect the temperature to dip below 10 degrees but it’s not the norm.
Temperatures in the north of Greece will be colder with the mountain region regularly going below freezing.
The islands in the south will also be cold and rainy during this period. You can expect temperatures between 5 and 15 degrees with frequent rain and winds.
Greece Climate: April to June
The spring time is a great time to visit Greece. The temperatures start to warm up from April. Temperatures will be a pleasant 15-20 degrees in the early spring months going up to 30 degrees by June. The islands are very pleasant during this time with islands in the Cyclades and Ionian islands being a warm 20 to 25 degrees.
The water will be cold as it’s still warming up from the cold winter so don’t expect to swim in a warm sea until the end of May.
Crete during this time will already be very warm with temperatures going up to 30 degrees by May.
Greece Climate: July to August
July and August are the hottest months of the year. You will see temperatures regularly eclipse 30 degrees and often times approaching 40 degrees in inland destinations. Athens will be a very hot and sometimes unbearable 35+ degrees on many days making sight seeing a sweaty affair. Nevertheless, you are never too far away from a delicious glass of white wine to cool you down.
In the islands, temperatures are slightly cooler due to the entrancing ocean breeze. By slightly cooler, I mean something between 30-33 degrees on average. The water temperatures will warm quickly during these months and you will be skinny dipping in the waters of Folegrandros with 27 degree waters.
This time of the year sees the least amount of rain. In the islands, it’s normal to go a month without seeing rain which makes it the most popular time of year to visit.
Greece Climate: September to October
September and October are some of my favorite shoulder season months. The temperatures during this month are still very warm but not overbearing like in July and August. September is generally one of the most pleasant months of the year with temperatures still hovering around 30.
In October, the weather is still warm but you will encounter a more volatile weather system. Often times, you’ll come across thunderstorms that may last a few days before a week stretch of perfect weather. This happened to me while visiting the island of Corfu where I was rained out for half of my time there! Temperatures are still a very comfortable 25-30 degrees in the islands of the south, becoming a few degrees colder as you venture north.
While the main tourist season of the smaller islands is over by October, Crete is a very popular island during these moths.
The Best Time To Visit Greece: Crowds and Prices
Greece is one of the most popular destinations in Europe, and with good reason. It has seen a huge resurgence of tourism post COVID and welcome millions of people a year. If you’re worried about crowd sizes and your favorite attractions being super busy, then this section is for you.
Greece Crowds: November to March
Winters are the off season in Greece. You will see much smaller crowds in every part of Greece during the winter months from November to March. If you’re visiting Greece during these months, I would stick to the main cities like Athens and Thessaloniki. You can expect crowds in Athens to be much smaller than at other times of the year but as it’s a major city, there will still be plenty to do. You can expect the crowd in places like the Acropolis to be much smaller during these months.
The islands during the winter months are completely dead. Literally, there might be one or two restaurants open on an island like SIfnos. Ferries that run multiple times a day in the high season months will only run a few times a week. Hotels will mostly close since no one comes to the islands during this time.
Super touristy islands like Santorini will still be available for year round visits and if you can catch a weekend with good weather, this would be a great time to go without the crowds.
Greece Crowds: April to June
The spring months are a great time to visit Greece in my opinion. Most of the islands open to tourists over the Easter weekend with more popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini open year round.
These months are great for avoiding big crowds but there will still be enough people to make it feel alive. Restaurants and hotels will all be open at this point as well. Prices are higher than the winter months but still much lower than what they would be in July and August.
I’ve traveled to a lot of Greece during these months and absolutely loved it. Having the beaches in Lefkada to myself was incredible.
Greece Crowds: July to August
July and August are the busiest times of year to visit Greece. This is the prime tourist season and where the crowds will be the heaviest. Everywhere from Thessaloniki to Crete will see crowds coming from all over the world. Summer is the vacation season after all and you’ll see Europeans, Americans, Asians and everywhere in between crowding into the Greek islands and cities.
As the weather is the warmest, you can expect to see the biggest crowds on the beaches and on the streets so plan accordingly. If you don’t like huge crowds, I would avoid traveling to Greece altogether in the month of August. If you really want to visit, I would stick to lesser known islands like Amorgos, Naxos, Astypalaia etc. to avoid the crazy crowds. Islands like Mykonos, Santorini, or even Paros will be completely packed to the point you’ll be shoulder to shoulder in the Chora.
As you can expect, prices will be the highest during these months. This is when a lot of hospitality businesses make the majority of their income for the year. Remember that most of these places close during the winter months. Expect prices to be 2-3x what they would be during the off season.
Greece Crowds: September to October
September and October are similar to the Apr to June period. The peak crowds of the summer have passed but the weather is still plenty good enough to have a great trip to Greece.
September will still be relatively busy in hotspots like Athens, and most of the Cyclades islands. As September winds down, you’ll see restaurants and hotels slowly close down for the season and many of the places will be closed by the beginning of October. Nevertheless, October is still a great time to visit the country. The islands are less busy but still beautiful. Prices will be much cheaper as well.
So what is the best time to visit Greece?
So with that all said, what is the actual best time to visit Greece?
For me, it is in the months of September and October. The main tourist season has ended but many of the shops and restaurants are still open. The weather is perfect especially in mid to late September if not even better than the summer months given it will be a few degrees cooler.
The water is also the warmest during these months as it’s had the whole summer to warm up. Beachgoers with families will mostly be gone as school restarts leaving you with beautiful beaches to yourself.
May and June are a close second because of the extra long days, amazing weather, and smaller crowds. The water in these months are not as warm however so if swimming in warm Mediterranean waters is important, maybe think twice.
In the end, there is a Greece for everyone and for every time of the year!
Best Time to Visit Athens
To visit the Greek capital, I think most of the year is a good time. Athens enjoys a warm and steady climate throughout the year. The only period I would avoid visiting is January and February. This period will see cold weather (5 to 10 degrees is normal) and you’ll often have days of cloud and rain. The tourists will be far and few between so if you do find a nice weekend with good weather, it could be worth visiting (if you have the ability to plan last minute).
August in Athens is a bit of a dead period. Much of the city shuts down as the Athenians go on their summer holidays to the Greek islands. The week around the Assumption of the Virgin Mary holiday is especially dead. Lots of restaurants and bars will be closed during this time.
Best Time to Visit The Greek Islands
As stated above, I think the best time to visit the Greek islands is in the shoulder seasons. However, this really depends on the island you’re visiting.
For the more popular islands like Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, etc, then visiting during the shoulder seasons is a must. If you’re talking about a lesser known island like Amorgos, Sifnos, or Astypalaia then I would consider July for a visit. August is generally the busiest and most expensive time of the year so I would steer clear. Keep in mind lesser known islands generally shut down their tourism from October and onward. Some islands like Astypalaia for example shuts down from the middle of September even though the weather is perfectly fine.
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