If Athens is just a short stop on your way to another destination or island, don’t sweat it. Your time in Athens will be memorable at any season. But if you plan just for a visit to Athens, you might want to avoid the most touristy months.
Athens by Season
Visiting in the Summer
Let’s start with when it’s not the best time to visit Athens. Late June and July are the hottest months in Greece, and all the concrete that is Athens tends to retain and amplify both heat and humidity even at night. Combined with the smog from all the traffic they can make your days in Athens feel kind of “sticky”.
August is equally hot and humid, but the city is practically empty because most Athenians go on holiday back to their ancestral villages. During this time, Athens becomes a ghost town and a very comfortable place to move about and enjoy both the city and the sunshine. Between June and August rainy days are very rare in Athens.
If you find yourself there in the middle of the summer heat, avoid being outdoors between 11 AM and 7 PM. At this time, its best to be in the cool rooms of a museum, or do as all Athenians do and retreat to your room for a long afternoon nap.
It’s important that you adjust to the local rhythm of activity. Stores close between 1 and 6 PM (except the museums and tourist shops), the city comes alive after the sun has gone down, around 9 PM. It stays that way until the wee hours of the morning since there is no “closing time” for bars and night clubs.
Spring is the Best Time to Plan Your Visit
If you plan to spend a week or more in Athens, and you have the luxury of picking the best time, April and May would be best in terms of weather and prices.
April and May are beautiful in Greece. You will still get the occasional rain showers, but most of the time the sun is shining, and the temperatures remain comfortable day and night. September and October are also a good time to visit in terms of temperature, but rain showers can be persistent after mid-September so plan and pack accordingly.
Winter Might be a Bit Too Cold
Between November and late February you can expect bitterly cold weather. Most who have visited Greece only in the summer have a hard time understanding how cold Greece can get in the winter.
But such is the beauty of the Mediterranean climate that you get to experience each season in its distinct beauty: very hot summers, very cold winters, amazingly pleasant springs, and wet fall seasons.
Don’t expect to see much snow around Athens in any seasons, but do plan for the temperatures to hover a few degrees above freezing most of the winter days. Even through the cold days the sun is usually shining in the sky so you won’t get the depressing gray cloud cover customary in north America and Europe.