Are you wondering when is the best time to go to Greece and the Greek islands? Are you thinking of visiting Greece during the high season (July, August) but you are not sure if summer-crazy high temperatures (32C-42C) are suitable for you?
As Greece has four distinct seasons, you can choose the shoulder season (May, June, September, and October). During those months the temperature in southern Greek islands is considerably cooler and still quite warm to swim.
Or perhaps you would like to hike the Greek high mountains (Olympus, Taygetos, Menalon Trail) which are great all year round except during the hot months. Or you are looking for unique wintry experiences in one of the 19 organized ski resorts all around Greece (December-March)?
What I am trying to say is that the best time of the year to travel to Greece depends on what you want to do and expect from your vacation.
I will explain in this post which is the best season to go to Greece, what the weather is like in Greece during its four seasons and you can make up your mind when is the best time of the year to travel to Greece!
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Athens Quick Reference
What kind of Climate does Greece have?
The climate of Greece is typically Mediterranean: mild and wet winters, relatively hot and dry summers, and, in general, long periods of sunshine during most of the year.
Greece has four seasons but the year can roughly be divided into two main seasons: The cold/rainy/snowy winter period that lasts from mid-October to the end of March and the warm and dry season that lasts from April to October.
Monthly Temperature in Athens
Athens is a good base to measure average temperatures in Greece as it is roughly at the center of the country. The northern and mountainous areas can be much colder whereas the south (Peloponnese and south islands like Cyclades and Crete) can be warmer.
Best Time to Go to Greece for Swimming?
The sea starts getting warmer (still it will be on the chill side rather in the warm but can be swimmable!) mid to late May and is really perfect and warm until mid – October.
Best Time to Hike in Greece?
Any time of the year except Jun, July, and August, and especially avoid hiking in the bare islands such as the Cyclades. Hiking on the rugged terrain of islands in the summer is a guarantee for heatstroke.
If you would like to hike in the summer in Greece, choose the mainland and a forested mountain, like Mεnalon in the Peloponnese or Pelion.
Read here for detailed information on how best to travel and hike safely in Greece.
When do Local Businesses Close?
The very large resorts do close for winter on the islands. That doesn’t mean that the islands are closed too! Santorini has some 15.000 permanent residents, Mykonos more than 10.000, and so on.
If for instance, you go to Mykonos in April, not everything will be open but there will be open quite a few hotels/taverns and bars, probably more than you can make use of all of them. There are still restaurants and cafes that the locals go to and many of those are open year-round. Bigger or more popular islands like Santorini are nowadays an all-year-round destination.
When is the High Season in Greece?
July and August and if I were you, I wouldn’t go in those months to Santorini or Mykonos when it is excruciatingly hot, Europeans are on vacation, everything is super expensive and there are crowds everywhere. I would certainly avoid islands that have endless cruise ships dropping off thousands of tourists at a time unless the crowds are what you are looking for on your vacation.
The costs will also depend on which island/s you visit. Cheaper options (and more “real Greece”) would be the islands of the North Aegean eg Lesvos, Chios, or Ikaria. The most expensive options are the likes of Mykonos and Santorini.
Cheapest Time to Visit Greece
Visiting Greece on a budget is possible, you just have to plan everything early. You have to check the flights often and see when they will offer good discount seats. A good idea is to ask for their weekly newsletter with their deals.
Generally speaking, the cheapest months to book a flight to Greece are September, October, and November. Visiting during the shoulder season – March and April, late September and October – also offer good deals both on flight tickets and accommodation.
The most expensive time to book a hotel room is generally in the summer, especially on popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini. If you are planning to travel to popular destinations in Greece you should plan ahead as much as possible and if you find a deal, go ahead and book it.
According to Booking.com, hotels in Athens are 33% cheaper in February, and the hotels in Santorini are 51% cheaper than they are in August, and for Mykonos Hotels, March is 73% more affordable than August.
When to visit Greece for Weather and Activities
Find below when is the best time to travel to Greece for various activities and interests:
- Best time to go to Greece for the Weather: May and June, September and October
- Best time to do Greek Island Hopping: Between May and October
- Best time to go to Greece for Swimming: Between May and October
- Best time to go to Greece for Sightseeing: Throughout the year
- Best time to go to Greece for Hiking: Between September and May
- Best time to go to Greece on a Budget: Between October and April
- Best time to go to Greece for Skiing: Between December and March
What to Do in Greece for Every Season
Spring in Greece is gorgeous as everything has blossomed. The Cyclades become green with wildflowers, the mainland is a paradise of herbs and flowers. It is an ideal season for hiking although the high mountains will still have snow until May.
The Islands, like the Argosaronic close to Athens, are quiet from tourists but in early May in Greece, everything is more or less open.
Easter celebrations (check out Easter Tinos island) are glorious in Greece and a truly unique experience that you should definitely see up close. Easter is on the 16th of April 2023
Summer is the peak season for Greece as everyone wants to enjoy those warm welcoming Aegean Sea waters. The sky is almost always a beautiful Mediterranean blue, the sea is azure or blue or green colored, golden beaches and rugged landscapes.
You are looking for luxury and nightlife? Then Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, and Ios are hard to beat. Do you want a quieter island in the Cyclades? Visit Sifnos, Folegandros, Anafi.
You are a history buff but also love the diversity of the landscape. Go to the Peloponnese!
Fall in Greece can be warm enough to swim until mid-October so go to any of your favorite islands such as Crete and enjoy low prices and the much more quiet atmosphere.
Fall is a fantastic month for any outdoor activity you can imagine and especially in October, there are many outdoor festivals all around Greece.
Go to Nemea in September for the grape harvesting, ask to participate if possible, and enjoy wine tasting in one of the many wineries there.
I love winter in Greece. There are so many things to do: 19 ski resorts, and hundreds of local groups organizing hiking events, Christmas in Athens is just magical.
The north of Greece is covered in snow and there is nothing better than spending a week in traditional Zagorochoria or Makrinitsa in Pelion.
As for the archaeological sites, everywhere in Greece, they are half-price from November to March!
You may also enjoy: 30 Best Places to Go to Greece
How to Get to Greece
Like most visitors to Greece, you will probably have to fly to Athens or Thessaloniki International Airport to get to your final destinations.
If you prefer to avoid the hassle of public transport and wish for some luxury pampering, you should book a private transfer with an English-speaking driver from Athens International Airport to Piraeus Ferries. Check availability and prices on Viator here.
How to Get to Athens Port (Piraeus) from Athens Airport
- Bus: If you are arriving at Athens International Airport you can travel straight to the port by taking the X96 express bus (€5.5, children <6 yo, free entrance), which departs every 40 minutes and the average trip lasts 1 hour – runs 24/7.
- Metro: (€9 ) is easily found across airport arrivals (blue line – M3) going directly to Piraeus port. The average trip to Piraeus lasts 1 hour.
- Taxis are available in front of the airport (around €40 to Athens, €55-60 to Piraeus (depending on the traffic in Kifisos), and take up to 3 or 4 people with small luggage)
- Rent a car with Discover cars to rent reliable new cars at affordable prices
- You don’t like driving but love hassle-free solutions? Book a Private transfer with an English-speaking driver from Athens International Airport to Piraeus Ferries, or anywhere else in Greece
- Check out here a full post on Lavrio Port in Athens
Some of my Favorite Travel Resources for Greece
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Greek: “Ya sou” and “Efharisto”
- All-Inclusive Resorts in Greece
- FerryScanner to book ferries to the Greek Islands
- Rent an Affordable Car in Greece
- Athens Metro Website (timetables and tickets info)
- Map of Athens Metro
- Trains (Hellenic Train)
- Public Buses KTEL
- Booking.com: I use Booking.com because I can get the best deals on both hotels and apartments, free cancellations, and great prices!
- Get Your Guide: For all your day or multi-day tours and city guide needs, I use Get Your Guide
- COVID Info for Greece: Ministry of Tourism Official Website
- Emergency Numbers Anywhere in Greece: AMBULANCE 166 – FIRE 199 – POLICE 100– EMERGENCY NUMBER 112
Hi my daughter is getting married on Mykonos next April.
I’m 77 and have some mobility issues ( cannot walk long distances)
Of course I’d like to be there but I’m not confident I can do it.
I’d be flying from New York . Other than just getting there I thought I’d spend a day in Athens.
Any help would be appreciated
Thank you for your message and congratulations on your daughter’s future wedding 🙂
I believe that you should hire a personal driver for the day so that not only will he drive you to the best sites but also to suggest where to dine and all the details that locals know. If you decide to go by yourself, going to Acropolis involves some uphill and slippery marble points. Perhaps you would be interested in using the lift and skipping the uphill? Please do read my dedicated post ‘ how best to visit Greece for mobility-impaired people ‘and if you need anything else in the between, I am more than happy to help. 🙂