When is the best time to visit Greece? Greece gets a lot of attention in the summer. The sunshine during this time of year is something that makes the Greek scenery truly magical. But with all the tourists, the intense heat, and the increased costs, is it really the best time to visit Greece?
There are other times of the year that might appeal, obviously. You might want cooler weather, you may want fewer tourists, heck – you might like the rain. To help you make the best decision, we’ve broken it down for you from January to December and even given you a round-up of Greece’s year-round festivals.
When is the Best Time to Visit Greece?
Weather in Greece in January
Greece isn’t super cold in January, but it’s definitely not warm. Expect temperatures of around 10°C – and don’t be surprised if it dips below freezing in some places. Yikes.
It’s the coldest month of the year, but it’s still generally warmer (on average) than most European countries further north. You should bring a jacket and sweater, for sure.
That said, there’s not a lot of sunshine. During January you get an average of three hours of sunshine every month. The days can be pretty overcast, it can rain quite a lot, and the seas can be quite cold.
Since it’s not completely boiling, this time of year might be good for hiking in Greece. The average low is 7°C – cool, not cold, making it one of the cheapest times to visit Greece.
Weather in Greece in February
January is the coldest month Greece has to offer, but February is a close second place. Like its predecessor, February has its fair share of light rain and overcast days, and is still one of the coldest months of the year. That doesn’t mean it’s freezing though.
The sunshine levels are getting up there! There are, on average, around four hours of sunshine daily. The rest of the time, it will be pretty cloudy. Towards the end of the month, things start to get a bit warmer and a bit sunnier.
The average temperature is still around 10°C, but if you want some warmer weather, one of the Greek islands further south would be a good idea. Crete, for example, boasts daytime highs of 16°C during February.
Weather in Greece in March
Things warm up in March after a relatively mild winter (for Europe, that is). Spring is definitely on the way. Rainy days begin to be less of a thing; the arrangement of the mountain ranges on the Greek mainland means more rain in the west than in the east and south during March.
Average temperature, in Athens anyway, is 17°C, marking a stark improvement on February. Evenings can still be pretty cold though. We’re talking around 7°C, so you’ll still need to wrap up warm if you’re staying out all day. Six hours of sunshine a day throughout the month, though!
The end of March sees the start of much warmer, less rainy days. Forget swimming in the seas though; they’re still very cold.
Weather in Greece in April
April sees a definite increase in temperatures, with a sunny start to the month and only a few rainy days scattered here and there.
It’s a nice time of year to go to Greece. You beat the summer crowds, but you also miss the colder, wetter weather of winter. Athens’ average temperature is 20°C, but after dark, it still drops quite a bit to 10°C.
The sea is around 16°C, but you’ll still want some sunscreen because there’s more sun going on. You’ll see an average of nine hours of sunshine a day – more sunshine, fewer clouds, and less rain.
Daylight savings has kicked in, too; sunset is around 8 pm. And, as ever, if you want more heat, head to Crete. It’s one of the best times to visit the largest Greek Island.
Weather in Greece in May
Spring is definitely in full bloom during May, making it one of the best times to travel to Greece. Things are inching towards what we’d consider ‘warm,’ and you’ll see around ten hours of sunshine a day. Little rain, too, which is always lovely.
At the start of the month, average temperatures are about 20°C, increasing to 22-23°C by the end of the month. The sea begins to get more bearable at a not-freezing 19°C.
UV levels can be pretty high, what with all the sunshine, so do make sure you slather on that sunscreen. Don’t be fooled, though. Evenings are still around 14°C, so it’s still not shorts-and-t-shirt-after-dark weather yet.
Weather in Greece in June
In June, you start to realize just why Greece is such a popular vacation spot. This is the start of summer, and it’s sunny pretty much every single day. The month may kick off with temperatures of around 24°C, but it ends comfortably hitting the 30s daily.
June sees the highest daily average hours of sunshine, and it’s this time of year that beaches start to get busy. Sea temperatures are a not-too-bad 22°C. It’s also in June that the humidity levels aren’t too high yet, so you’re not feeling the heat as strongly.
Sunset? Around 8:45 pm. Even the night temperatures (around 19°C) mean that you may not have to wear a sweater to dinner anymore. June is popular, but still not PEAK summer, making it the best time of the year to visit Greece.
Weather in Greece in July
Hot, hot, hot. Greece in July is hot. In Athens, temperatures can easily hit highs of around 33°C, and it rarely drops below 24°C.
In the Greek islands, temperatures can be a bit cooler, with an average of about 24°C; though the south is much warmer, naturally, than the north. If you’re looking for a good time of year to island-hop around the Aegean, it’s July. It’s the best time to visit the Greek islands.
It’s hot and sunny throughout the month with practically no rain. Humidity is at its peak, but it’s never like uncomfortable Southeast Asian levels; only around 50%.
Beach-goers are out in full force. The water is around 24°C – perfect to cool off from the radiant heat of the sun.
Weather in Greece in August
A lot of countries feature a hotter August than July, but in Greece, July is hotter than August. That’s probably why (because of summer vacation, too) Greece is pretty popular with tourists and sun-seekers in August.
That sun can be brutal, though. It’s probably a good idea to stay out of the rays when it’s at its hottest in the early afternoon. With 11 hours of sunshine, the average daytime high during August is 31°C.
The Greek islands are still cooler. Rhodes has an average high of 29°C.
Rain? What’s that? The country gets an average of 1mm throughout the month. Barely a drop. Leave that umbrella at home – unless it’s a sun parasol.
Weather in Greece in September
Pleasant. That’s what we’d call Greece in September. It’s still warm, but the ‘worst’ of the heat is over, with only the islands furthest south still being hot. The average temperature, countrywide, is 29°C. In my opinion, this is the best time to cruise the Greek islands.
It’s not just the non-stifling heat that makes it a pleasant time to visit – the tourists are mostly gone, making it a nice, almost crowdless time for a vacation.
Hours of sunshine go down pretty sharply in September. They go from around 11 in August to a mere 7 in September. Cloudy, overcast days are beginning to settle in for the fall towards the end of the month, but still there’s not a lot of rain.
Weather in Greece in October
Fall is on the way. Rain increases. This is Greece in October.
The temperatures are still pretty decent, however. Athens boasts an average temperature of 24°C, which is still – for many people – warm. Nighttime in the capital is more like 14°C though, so when it comes to how to dress, we’d suggest layering. Layers are key.
The average temperature of the sea is around 20°C, but there’s not much heat in the air to cool off from, so you probably won’t want to be venturing into it all that much. Daylight savings kicks in, in reverse, changing sunset from around 7 pm to 5:30 pm.
Humidity is on the rise, but at around 60%, it is fairly low.
Weather in Greece in November
The days get a lot colder in November. Like much of Europe this time of year, it’s not warm, but it’s still much warmer than northern Europe. Daytime temperatures are around 15°C – nighttime, 10°C on average.
The bright, sunny days of summer are starting to properly disappear now. Overcast skies bring increased chances of rain throughout the month. The end of November can be pretty rainy, and temperatures drop a little to around 14°C.
The most depressing part is the hours of sunshine, which fall to around three hours a day. Humidity also rises (~70%), and getting caught in a sudden downpour is not uncommon. Sea temperatures, if you love the sea, are still not ‘cold.’
Weather in Greece in December
December is one of the coldest months of the year: the average temperature is a mere 12°C. The start of the month is pretty cloudy, too, and overcast skies (and rain, of course) persist throughout the month.
Coastal areas can get pretty windy, with an average wind speed of around three mph blowing from across the sea.
The average hours of sunshine per day are still only about three, which isn’t very fun at all. Interestingly the sea temperatures throughout the month are, in general, pretty mild, at around 17°C.
The humidity in December is at the highest Greece sees all year: 75%.
Winter Festivals and Events in Greece
Just before Spring starts, from mid-January to late February (even around early March), is Greece’s pretty wild Carnival season. Known in Greek as Apokreas, this has its roots in Ancient Greek tradition, but today, everybody knows Carnival. It’s a time of merrymaking and excess the world over – and yes, in Greece, too.
People will be parading in colorful costumes, eating, drinking, and then on the first day of Lent, things get calmer (see below).
Winter is obviously also the time of Christmas. Not such a big deal as Easter in the Greek Orthodox tradition, it’s still a thing. There are carols (kalanta) on Christmas Eve, boats festooned with lights are erected in town squares and people’s homes (it’s a tradition), and naturally, the food is awesome.
Spring Festivals and Events in Greece
Being home to the Eastern Orthodox Church, the most important holiday is Easter. It falls in either April or May, which is later than the Western (Catholic and other Christian) churches.
Festivities begin with the first day of Lent, Kathara Deftera – or ‘Clean Monday.’ Picnics and kite-flying abound.
The Sunday before Palm Sunday is St Lazarus’ Day, marked by fireworks. On Good Friday, you’ll see dramatic processions of people carrying candles. Easter Sunday means big feasts. In Crete, there’s even a local tradition where people light bonfires to burn effigies of Judas.
May 1 is Labor Day (and the Feast of the Flowers) and is marked by a general shift from cities to countryside by the Greek population. Kids fly kites; people have picnics, it’s all very nice.
March 25, however, is Greek Independence Day. People take to the streets and wave flags.
Summer Festivals and Events in Greece
Though there are a lot of Christian festivals going on in Greece, it’s in summer that you might be able to catch the Hellenic Festival. This is a musical, dance, and drama extravaganza, with local and international performers taking the stage at crumbling, historic venues.
Navy Week celebrates Greece’s rich maritime tradition. Experience historical re-enactments and late-night parties in June. In the island of Hydra, the celebrations end with a light show and the burning of a boat. It gets pretty lively.
August means the Moon Festival. It celebrates the full moon, naturally, and people all over come out from their houses for parties in town squares. Athens is a good place for this, when people perform under moonlight in places like the Acropolis.
The day of the Panagia (August 15) is the second biggest day, only after Easter, in Greece. Particularly notable in the island of Tinos, where people literally crawl up steps to see the holy icon in the church, it’s observed across the country.
Fall Festivals and Events in Greece
With all the festivals throughout the year, it’s almost like fall is the time for Greeks to take a breather. There are nevertheless lots of wine festivals in September!
Thessaloniki has a two-week wine festival, for example, Corinth has a lively grape festival, and there are lots of local wine festivals in villages such as Ambelona. All to do with the grape harvest.
Santorini boasts an International Music Festival during this time of year, making it the best time of the year to visit Santorini. Here there are orchestras from all over the world performing at venues in Thera.
Ochi Day, on October 28th, celebrates Greece’s refusal to ‘let’ fascist Italy occupy it during WWII. Military parades in towns and cities, as well as a lot of flag-waving, are par for the course.
When is the Best Season to Travel Greece?
High season (June-September): Like most places in Europe, Greece’s high season runs from June to mid September. This is when you will find the best sunny weather as noted above, but also crowds, especially on the popular islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete. Days are longer, the weather is HOT, so you’ll want to be close to a pool or ocean. Hotel and car rental prices are at their highest.
Shoulder Season (April -May and October-November): The weather in Greece is cooler during these months, some would consider it much more comfortable than prime summertime weather. It’s not as busy as the summertime, but you’ll still see lots of travelers lingering about. Prices on accommodation and car rentals will drop during this time. The shoulder season is typically a fantastic time to visit Greece.
Low Season (Late November- early April): The temperatures are cooler during the low season in Greece. You’ll still see plenty of sunny days but also overcast days and little to no sunbathing. It’s too cold to take a dip in the water, but you can still enjoy the beaches with some clothes on to keep warm in the breeze. The upside is you’ll find low prices and low numbers of tourists.
When is the Cheapest Time to Visit Greece?
The cheapest time to visit Greece is in the low season. That would be from November to April when the weather is cooler and sun is more sporadic than in the summer. It’s now that tourism is low so prices will be slashed around Greece.
Best Time to Visit Greek Islands?
Because the Greek islands get so incredibly busy (and hot) during peak season I think the shoulder season is the best time to visit the Greek islands. May, early June, September, and October will provide pleasant temperatures and fewer people.
Best Time to Visit Greece for Honeymoon?
The best time to visit Greece for a honeymoon is May, June, and September and October. Spring and Autumn are warm, but not too warm, so it’s great for couples who want to do outdoor activities.
Best Time to Visit Santorini?
Santorini is one of the most popular islands in Greece. Like mentioned above the Greek islands get so incredibly busy during peak season. This means that the shoulder season is the best time to visit Santorini. Santorini is expensive, especially the area of Oia and if you go in the shoulder season you’ll finder fewer people and cheaper prices.
Best Time to Visit Greece for Nightlife?
Mykonos, Ios, and Zakynthos are by far the most popular party islands in Greece. During the summer the clubs on these islands bring in world class DJ’s and party the whole night away. If you are going to Greece to party you will want to visit between June and early September.
Quick Greek Travel Tips
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Greek: “Yasou” and “Efharisto”
- Currency: Euro – (EUR) – €
- Visa: Schengen visa. Which is 90 days in the European Union out of 180. Many nationalities are granted this on arrival for free. Check with your embassy to see if that is you.
- Weather: The weather in Greece is a Mediterranean climate. This means winters are mild and rainy, while summers are warm and dry with plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
- What to Pack: Warm weather clothes and a swimsuit, don’t forget a good pair of clothes to go and a jacket for cool nights. Read about what to wear in Greece.
What to Pack for Greece?
Seriously, bring a pair of comfortable flip-flops to wander around the Greek islands. The key word here is comfortable as there will be a lot of walking involved. Yes, you could wear tennis shoes everywhere for optimal support, but Greece is a laid-back place with a lot of sunshine. So you don’t want to seem too uptight or get those ugly tennis shoes and sock tan lines around your feet.
I have sung praises about my Rainbow sandals for years. Since I bought them in 2009, I have only had to get a new pair once and that was only because my first pair got stolen in Thailand. They have arch support, are comfortable, and look great. Check out more of our favorite travel shoes here (for men and for women).
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun since you’ll likely spend a lot of time outside. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses; however, we love ours and will never buy cheap ones again. Of course, there are always more affordable options!
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Greece so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps here is perfectly safe to drink. We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well. However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
You will absolutely need sunscreen for your trip to the Mediterranean. You can purchase it when you get there, but then you’ll be searching around for it and may pay a premium for a generic brand. Please consider spending a few extra dollars for reef safe sunscreen. The typical sunscreens like Coppertone, No Ad, and Banana Boat have many chemicals in them that will run off your body while swimming damaging the precious coral and marine life. We have this reef safe sunscreen for our ocean adventures.
Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.
These were great to have! You’ll do a lot of walking around Greece in the extremely hot sun. Hiking sandals allow for your feet to breathe and they do not collect sand when trudging through the desert. You bet we’ve reviewed the best hiking sandals for travelers!
We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage.
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