Planning your next vacation, and wondering when is the best time to visit Greece? Let me help! After three years of living in and writing about Greece, I've got some great travel advice to share. From when to visit Greece for tourist free summer sun, to the best time to take a ski vacation near Athens, here's what you need to know.
When to visit Greece – The Quick Guide
Here's the condensed guide on the best time to visit Greece.
- The best time to visit Greece for the Weather: May and June, September and October.
- The best time to visit Greece for Swimming: Between April and October.
- The best time to visit Greece for Sightseeing: Between April and June, and September and October.
- The best time to visit Greece for Greek Island Hopping: Between May and October (avoid August!).
- The best time to visit Greece for Cycling: Between May and October (Avoid August!).
- The best time to visit Greece on a Budget: Between October and March.
- The best time to visit Greece for Skiing: Between December and April.
Let's take a look at all that in more detail.
There's no time like the present!
Whenever people ask me “When is the best time to visit Greece?”, I reply “Right now!”. Greece is a fantastic country to visit all the year through no matter what the season. With that said, some months are definitely better than others depending on what your image of an ideal vacation is. As an honoury local, let me introduce you to the best time to visit Greece based on as many different holiday types as I can think of. I've also included some of my own travel experiences in Greece where I think they might help.
When to go to Greece
If we are talking about general summer type vacations, the standard answer on when is the best time to visit Greece, is between the months of April and October. During this time, you can be more or less guaranteed of good weather, the sea is warm enough to swim in, and the tourist infrastructure is open for business.
There is one small problem though. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE seems determined to visit Greece in August! This is a real shame for a number of reasons. Firstly, the weather can be insanely hot during August. That sounds great in theory, especially if you are coming from colder climes, but in practice it can really sap the energy from you, making sightseeing a bit of a drag. Secondly, there are just too many tourists, and these are only added to by the Greeks themselves who also decide to take their own summer vacations at this time en masse. Thirdly, prices shoot up for accommodation, and it can become harder to find rooms by the coast. In short, if you do have a choice on when to visit Greece, maybe you might want to avoid August.
The Exception to the Rule
There's always an exception to the rule however, and so it is in this case when it comes to visiting Greece in August. You see, whilst everyone makes a mad dash to visit the coast in August, Athens is left virtually deserted. August in Athens is actually my favourite time of year in the city. There's minimal traffic, at least 75% fewer people, and you can even find car parking spaces. Crazy right?! So, if you want to visit Athens during a quieter period, maybe August isn't so bad after all.
What If I Don't Have A Choice?
I totally understand that some people are restricted by their circumstances, and that August may be the only month they can take a holiday in Greece. If you are in this position, it pays to plan ahead. My advice is to book your flights and accommodation well in advance, especially when it comes to those super-popular Greek islands such as Santorini and Mykonos. Make sure you get a room with air-con as well, as you might need it!
Best times to visit Greece
If you do have some choice over what time of year to visit Greece though, this following quick guide might help. I've put down a bunch of different Greek vacation ideas based on activity as well as by month. If you don't quite fall into any of these categories or want to ask a question, please leave a comment on the guide at the end. I'm always happy to help people with their Greek vacation plans! Please note – I'm including August in the lists, but I hope my message about trying to avoid it got through!!
Best time to visit Greece for weather
There's lots of sunny weather between May and October, with July and August being the very hottest months. If you see rain during these months, you should consider yourself witnessing something of a rare miracle, especially on the more southerly islands! Talking of which, there is one small issue to keep in mind. The ‘Meltemi winds' can occur from mid-May to mid-September. These are dry, surprisingly strong winds that come in from the north Aegean Sea. There's no real predicting when they will happen, as they just arrive and last for 3 or 4 days before dying down.
The Meltemi winds have the bonus of being great if you are into windsurfing and want to cool down from the heat. They are not so good if you want to relax on a beach, and the wind happens to be blowing in the wrong direction! If they do happen when you are on holiday on a Greek island, ask the locals if they know of any beaches which might be sheltered from them.
Best time to visit Greece for Cycling
I'm on something of a mission to encourage people to cycle more in Greece! What it lacks in cycling infrastructure it makes up for in varied landscapes. If you are planning to cycle in Greece, the best months are May and June, along with September and October. These months will provide warm weather with less chance of rain. Last year I cycled in Greece during August for a week, which was pretty hot. It reached above 36 degrees for most days. Don't be like me!
Best time to visit Greece for Sightseeing
Personally, I find it a lot easier to wander around some of the excellent Greek archaeological sites in cooler weather than when its very hot. With this in mind, the best months for sightseeing are probably May and June, along with September and October. You still get the benefits of the ‘summer hours' for archaeological sites then as well. During the winter months, the opening hours are reduced, with many main sites closing at 3 in the afternoon.
Best time to visit Greece for Swimming
Some hardy souls will tell you that you can swim in Greece all the year around. It's not quite for me, and the latest I've braved the waters has been November, getting in again in late March. The rest of the year you are going to find the waters quite lovely for swimming.
Best time to visit Greece for Island Hopping
Avoid the month of August and you'll find that any month between May and October is great for Greek island hopping. I've not written a guide to Greek island hopping yet, but I'm sure when I do, I will be mentioning how you should allow for possible ferry delays and strike action. Don't plan your timetable too tight! You might find this guide on the best time to visit Santorini useful. There is a little information inside about other Greek islands to visit from Santorini as well.
Best time to visit Greece for Skiing
What – Skiing in Greece? I hear you ask. Yes, you read it right. Greece has a couple of excellent ski resorts, with perhaps the most popular being Mount Parnassus near Arachova. It's just a few hours drive from Athens, and is also quite close to Delphi. The ski season in Greece starts in December, with January being the most solid month. The ski season can go on until May depending on the snow that has fallen. If you were visiting Delphi on a day trip from Athens in April, you might perhaps consider staying longer if you hear that the slopes are still open.
Best time to visit Greece on a Budget
Greece is a very affordable country to visit at any time of year, but particularly during the off-season. Between the months of October and April, accommodation is easy to find and often at a much discounted rate. This is a great time to visit Greece in terms of value for money, although some of the tourist infrastructure does close down. I loved visiting Santorini in November for example, as the temperature was still pretty good but there were virtually no tourists. Counterbalancing this though, was a reduced selection of places to eat and drink at night. Still, I enjoyed my time on Santorini in November, and found it the ideal time to hike from Fira to Oia.
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