Here's everything you need to know about the best time to visit Greece and the Greek islands. Includes the best time to travel to Greece for sun, sea, beaches, outdoor activities and more!
Choosing the best time to visit Greece
Planning your next vacation, and wondering when is the best time to visit Greece? Let me help!
After four 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 on the Greek islands, to the best time to visit Athens, here's what you need to know.
Best months to visit the Greek islands
Some of the Greek islands close down completely in low season during the winter months. Other islands get super busy at certain times of year, particularly in August.
Here are the best months to visit the Greek islands.
- Best time to visit Santorini: April, May, June, September, October, November
- Best time to visit Milos: June to September
- Best time to visit Mykonos: June, July, September
- Best time to visit Crete: June-September
- Best time to visit Zakynthos: June, July, September
- Best time to visit Naxos: June to September
- Best time to visit Kefalonia: June to September
- Best time to visit Patmos: June to September
When to visit Greece for weather and activities
Here's a condensed guide on the best time to travel to Greece for various activities and interests.
- Best time to visit Greece for the Weather: May and June, September and October.
- Best time to visit Greece for Swimming: Between April and October.
- Best time to visit Greece for Sightseeing: Between April and June, and September and October.
- Best time to visit Greece for Greek Island Hopping: Between May and October (avoid August!).
- Best time to visit Greece for Cycling: Between May and October (Avoid August!).
- Best time to visit Greece on a Budget: Between October and March.
- Best time to visit Greece for Skiing: Between December and April.
Let's take a look at the best time to go to Greece in more detail.
The best time to travel to Greece is…
There's no time like the present!
With that said, some months are definitely better than others depending on what your image of an ideal vacation is.
As an honorary local, let me introduce you to the best time to go to 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. For specific and practical information after you've decided when to go, take a look at my travel tips for Greece.
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.
The season for tourism traditionally starts after Greek Orthodox Easter, and finishes towards the end of September, mid-October.
During this time, you can be more or less guaranteed of good weather for your beach holiday, the sea is warm enough to swim in, and the tourist infrastructure is open for business.
In particular, late May to September is ideal.
There is one small problem though, and that's August. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE seems determined to visit Greece in August!
This is a real shame for a number of reasons.
Greece in August
Firstly, the weather can be insanely hot during August. Higher temperatures sound 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.
For this reason, when people ask me when is the best month to visit Greece, I always say to avoid August!
Secondly, it's peak season, and there are just too many tourists. These are 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 during this month of the year, 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.
Athens in 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.
Note: I've no direct experience with staying in Thessaloniki at this time, but I suspect it may be similar.
What If I Don't Have A Choice?
I totally understand that some people are restricted by their circumstances, and that high season in 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 Greece 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 mid-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!
Best time to travel to 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. Check out my recent Hercules Bike Tour of the Peloponnese!
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 it's very hot. With this in mind, the best months for sightseeing are probably May and June, along with September and October.
Check out this guide on things to do in Athens in October.
Best time to visit Greece for Swimming
Some hardy souls will tell you that you can swim in Greece all the year around. Winter swimming is not 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 sea temperatures quite lovely for swimming.
Best time to go to Greece for Island Hopping
Avoid the month of August and you'll find that any month between May and October is great to island hop..
Interested in Greek island hopping, or want to include a few Greek islands in your travel itinerary? Check out my Greek island hopping guide, with practical information and tips such 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.
Best time to visit Greece on a Budget
Greece is a very affordable country to visit at any time of year, but the cheapest time to go to Greece is during the off-season.
The absolute best time of year to visit Greece on a budget, is between the months of October and April. Accommodation is easy to find and often at a much discounted rate during this period.
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.
Budget minded travelers might want to check out this guide on the Greece currency, ATMs and using cash.
On reflection, I would say the best month to come to Greece is in September. The average temperatures are still nice and warm, there are few rainy days, and the crowds have gone home.
A runner up would be shoulder season month June, although the later in June you make it the better. It's more laid-back, and the crystal clear waters are warming up nicely. Read more here: Greece in June.
Greece Travel Planning Tips
If you've more or less decided when you want to take a vacation in Greece, you might be interested in these resources.
- Booking.com – Easily book hotels and accommodation online
- Get Your Guide – The tour booking website I use myself when traveling
- Ferryhopper – By far the best website to book Greek ferry tickets online.
Enjoyed this Greece Travel Guide? Why not pin this blog post about the best time of year to go to Greece for later?
The best time of year to visit Greece