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.

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.

Photo by Marco Argüello

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

  • Best months: October–May

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.

Helen Iatrou is a Greek Australian freelance journalist and guidebook author based in Athens since 1996. An avid sailor who enjoys cruising as much as racing, she writes about islands, sailing, small ship cruising, sustainable travel, food, and fitness, among other topics. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Travel, Lonely Planet, Condé Nast Traveller, CNN Travel, and CNBC Travel.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR