When to go to Greece
There are reasons to visit Greece in every season, with the best time to go dependent on the type of getaway that you’re looking for. If you want to enjoy famous beach parties, nightlife, and swimming, July and August are ideal with some of the warmest temperatures of the year and plenty of action. For a good mix of sightseeing, time on the beach, and in the water without the biggest crowds, consider the second half of September. April/May and September/October can both be ideal for activities like exploring the historic sites, hiking, and small-ship cruises without the masses.
April - May
April marks the start of the tourist season in Greece, with temperatures warming and plenty of sunshine and few tourist crowds. Spring brings some of the most pleasant weather of the year along with the opportunity to take advantage of discounted hotel rates (outside of the busier Easter holiday), while most attractions will be open, ferry services and flights readily available. In Athens, afternoon temperatures average in the upper 70s Fahrenheit, making it ideal for sightseeing. If you’re planning a trip to the islands, the sea is likely to be too cool for swimming, but you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of sunny days for relaxing on the beaches, along with idyllic weather for hikes.
If you visit during the Easter festivities you can expect plenty of dancing and drinking, and on the Greek island of Chios, the great annual fireworks battle, a long-running tradition takes place between two rival churches, lighting up the sky with over 50,000 fireworks. For five days in late May, Athens hosts the annual Athens Jazz Festival, one of Europe’s best.
June - August
Summer is the peak of the tourist season in Greece. It’s one of the best times for a beach holiday with warm and sometimes sweltering heat making it ideal for swimming in the clear blue waters, although you’ll be sharing those stretches with many. In fact, it’s the time to come for partying on islands like Mykonos, a place to see and be seen. While the high season brings the biggest crowds and the highest prices of the year, visitors can enjoy bustling nightlife, all the attractions and resorts will be open, and public transport is convenient, including frequent ferries. With temperatures soaring – in Athens the mercury may climb to 100 degrees or above, sightseeing is best done in the early morning or evening hours now.
There are some fantastic festivals to enjoy in the summer, like the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, the biggest of the year with music, dance, theatre and opera hosted from mid-June through early September. Throughout the month of August, the Olympus Festival at Mount Olympics offers plays performed at the restored ancient theatre.
September - October
The second “shoulder season” of the year, autumn can be a wonder time to visit Greece, with temperatures much more comfortable after summer’s oppressive heat. The crowds will be thinning and while beaches will still be sun soaked, it’s still possible to swim with water temperatures remaining warm enough through at least early October. Just keep in mind that the later you visit during this season, the higher the chances for cooler, wet weather. In Athens, average temperatures range from highs in the mid-80s in September to the low- to mid-70s in October. While transportation options start to be reduced now, most attractions and hotels will still be open, and you may be able to score some bargain rates too.
If you visit Santorini during the early part of the Season, you can enjoy the International Music Festival hosted in the heart of Fira village. Taking place over the first three weeks of September, it features some of the world’s top artists, piano duets, operatic and classical music, and solo recital orchestras.
November - March
While winter isn’t the time to come to enjoy the beaches and swimming, the weather is fairly mild, so you won’t have to worry about frigid temperatures. It’s an ideal season for sightseeing without the crowds by bundling up just a bit, and enjoying an even more budget-friendly trip with airfares and room rates often significantly discounted. In the mountains there will be snow, attracting skiers to zoom down the slopes.
While you won’t find big parties on the islands now, Thessaloniki’s nightlife is going at full throttle. Just be sure to expect plenty of cool, wet and often dreary days, and be aware that many attractions, restaurants and hotels will be closed, while flights and ferry services will be limited. Some islands can’t be visited at all due to lack of transport.
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