The best time to visit Greece depends on what type of trip you're looking for. In this post, I break down the best time to visit based on weather, price, and things to do!
Whether you're more interested in sightseeing, beaches, island hopping, or local experiences, there's an optimal season for you.
You might think that the best time to visit Greece is anytime of the year. And that's true, to an extent. But that's probably because you think of Greece as an ‘endless summer’ destination.
It makes sense.
The country is known to have some of the best beaches in the world, and most of photos you’ll find in travel guides and on Instagram show off blue skies and glistening aquamarine waters around the islands.
Greece is blessed to have beautiful weather, long summers, and a temperate climate year around, but there are still plenty of rainy days in spring and cooler weather in the winter that brings snow to a few select areas around the country.
The weather might not be quite as diverse as the 6,000 islands and islets you’ll find in Greece, and you usually won't find distinct changes in the seasons like you do in other parts of the world, but you should still be prepared for different weather depending on the season and area you’re traveling to.
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What’s my favorite time of the year to visit Greece?
I’m probably in the minority but I love visiting Greece in the summer. Yes, the crowds can be crazy on some islands, but if you mix up your trip with both popular and not-as-heavily-trafficked spots, it can be an amazing time to visit the country.
The beaches are at their most stunning, the water is perfect for swimming, and I bask in really hot weather like a lizard. Sightseeing ancient ruins and active things like hiking can be a bit hot, but I usually remedy that by going as early in the day as I can, which helps to avoid the heat and the crowds.
If you know how to use the summer season to your advantage, it can easily be the best time of the year to visit Greece.
But, that’s just my opinion. Let’s break it down depending on where you want to go, what type of trip you’re looking for, and the experiences you want to have.
It goes without saying, but if you’re not a fan of really hot weather like me - the summer is probably not the best time to travel to Greece for you!
Greece by the Season
With so many options for islands to visit, as well as a variety of cities and attractions on the mainland, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy on your Greece vacation.
Because of this, I would recommend planning a visit to Greece based off weather preference, travel style, and the type of activities you’ll probably want to do the most.
That’s not to say that you can’t create a Greece trip of your dreams if want to go island hopping, but only have time off in the winter. You just might have to make certain compromises, such as being okay with imperfect weather, and visiting the bigger islands that still have somewhat of a tourist infrastructure in the low season.
Expect a lot of rainy days in the months of December, January, and February, moderate rainy days in March, April, and November, and little to no rain in May, June, July, August, September, and October.
The winter is usually pretty grey and cool, with the spring, summer and fall having a decent amount of sun. Summer will have the most sunshine with very few overcast days.
Related: 12 Reasons Why I Love Crete, Greece
June - August
For those who want the best beach weather, don’t mind hot weather, and want the most options in terms of tourist activities, island hopping, and partying.
- Most options for ferries, tours, and amenities for tourists
- Great time to go swimming and island hopping
- Tons of festivals and events in various parts of the country
- Best parties and DJs on the islands of Ios and Mykonos
- Very hot weather. It's not the best time to tick off a bunch of the most popular things to see in Greece (i.e. ancient ruins that are outside and have no shade), unless you time your visits as early in the morning as possible.
- Most expensive time to visit
- You'll have to deal with crowds in most places
- Accommodation on the more popular islands, like Santorini and Mykonos sell out months in advance for the summer
- Not an ideal time to go sightseeing to ancient ruins since it's so hot
- Navy Week (end of June)
- Hellenic Festival (June-August)
- Athens Open Air Film Festival (June-September)
- Athens-Epidaurus Festival (June-October)
- Kalamata International Dance Festival (July)
- Rockwave Festival (July)
- Dekapentavgoustos/Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15th)
- August Moon Festival (August)
Best Places to visit in Greece during summer: Any of the islands. At this time of the year, most of the best Greek islands to visit are at their peak in terms of things to do and gorgeous beach weather.
If you want to avoid crowds, I'd bypass Santorini, Corfu, Rhodes, Ios, and Mykonos. Crete also gets busy but it's such a huge island that it's much easier to avoid the crowds if you want to. Some great alternatives to the most popular islands in the summer include: Paros, Antiparos, Naxos, Milos, Hydra, Skyros, Koufonissia, Folegandros, Kos, and Ikaria.
In general, it's best to focus on the islands during the summer as the cities in Greece can be overwhelmingly hot.
Best time to visit if you're looking for: island hopping, hot weather, parties, local festivals, beaches, sailing
Pro tip: If you’re visiting Greece in the high season plan to book accommodation months in advance. For popular islands such as Santorini and Mykonos 4-6 months is recommended. This is a good 7-day itinerary to get you started with planning your trip to the more popular spots in Greece.
SHOULDER SEASON - SPRING
April - May
For those who want a mix of fewer crowds, active sightseeing, wildflowers, and sailing opportunities.
- Slightly cheaper prices for accommodation compared to summer
- Great time to go hiking and see wildflowers
- Less crowds
- Mild climate (although expect some rainy days)
- Ideal time to go sailing
- Hit-or-miss weather
- The water is still pretty cold to swim in
- Greek Easter can be both a pro and con - con if you dislike large crowds and a pro if you want to experience one of the most important holidays in Greece. However, during Holy Week/Greek Easter, expect expensive rates for anything tourism related and that most sights will be closed
- Not all hotels will be open yet on the islands
- Holy Week/Greek Easter (April)
- Feast of St George (late April)
- Athens International Film Festival (April)
- Athens Jazz Festival (usually in May)
Best Places to Visit in Greece during spring: Santorini, Corfu, Rhodes, Chios, Patmos, Athens, Crete, Peloponnese, Delphi, Milos
In general, it's best to still stick around the mainland or islands closest to the mainland for the most active spots in early spring (Greek Easter aside). The exceptions are Crete and Santorini which have tourism year round (and to a lesser extent Corfu), as well as Chios, Patmos, and Rhodes which can be beautiful in the spring. Milos is stunning as well, especially in May.
This is the best time to travel in Europe in general, so the spring is a good option if you're planning on doing a larger Europe trip as well.
Best time to visit if you're looking for: hiking, sailing opportunities, wildflowers, mild weather, good beach weather without too many crowds (although expect some rainy days).
Pro tip: even if the weather is nice, the water can still be quite cold to swim in during April and May.
SHOULDER SEASON - FALL
September - October
For those who want a mix of fewer crowds, active sightseeing, some of the best beach weather (after summer), and to experience fresh wine and olive tasting.
- The best time to go to Greece for the mix of less crowds, good weather, and tourist infrastructure
- Great time to swim in the ocean and go island hopping without as many crowds.
- It's harvesting season, so there are plenty of opportunities for wine and olive tasting
- Prices are cheaper for accommodation compared to summer
- Weather is still hot, but usually not scorching like it is in August
- There aren't many cons to visiting Greece in the fall, besides less of a party scene on certain islands compared to summer, and slightly less options for tourists in terms of tours and fast ferries.
- Armata Festival (September)
- Corfu Beer Festival (September)
- Santorini International Music Festival (September)
- Anhiolos Wine Festival (September)
Best Places to Visit in Greece during fall: Santorini, Peloponnese, Crete, Hydra, Kefalonia, Corfu, Rhodes, Milos, Athens, Thessaloniki, Karpathos, Symi, and Kos.
Focus on exploring a couple of big cities or the southernmost islands to find the best weather at this time of the year.
Best time to visit if you're looking for: hiking, mild weather, wine and olive tasting (September), slightly cheaper prices, less crowds, and a good balance of locals and tourists.
November - March
For those who don't mind colder weather and want the most affordable prices and more interaction with locals.
- Most affordable time of the year to visit Greece
- Little to no crowds
- The chance to have more interactions with locals
- Great time to go sightseeing to famous ancient ruins because it's cool and there aren't as many crowds. Just make sure to check opening times since they're usually reduced in the winter.
- Expect cold and overcast skies and a decent amount of rainy weather
- A lot of smaller islands shut down completely in the winter
- Fewer ferry services and options to get around
- Not a good time of the year to do island hopping, except to a few larger islands, such as Santorini and Crete.
- Thessaloniki International Film Festival (November)
- Apokreas/Carnival Season (February)
Best Places to Visit in Greece in Winter: Crete, Santorini, Corfu, Rhodes, Athens, Thessaloniki, Meteora, Delphi, Kea
In general, it's best to focus on the more popular islands and cities for more touristic options in the winter.
Best time to visit if you're looking for: quiet cities, less crowds, cooler weather, budget-friendly accommodation
As you can see from this post, Greece is a wonderful country to visit at any time of the year. However, it's important to keep your expectations in check depending on what you're looking for and what time of the year you'll be in the country.
Ideally, you'll be able to travel to Greece multiple times during the different seasons so you can experience the many sides that this Mediterranean country has to offer.
Happy travels and enjoy one of my favorite countries in the world!
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