“When is the Best time to visit Greece?” is a loaded question. There is no universal “best”, so instead of making this decision ourselves, we are going to unfold the rhythm of the seasons so you can decide when the best time to visit Greece is for your needs and desires.
Summer is an excellent time to Greece, and millions of tourists seem to agree.
During early summer (May and June) weather in Greece is beautiful, the crowds are small, and accommodations plentiful.
As full season rolls in in July and August, the population almost doubles with visitors, heat weaves blanket the country with regularity, and accommodations in the most popular destinations evaporate. In high season prices also climb upward to adjust for the higher demand.
But July and August are popular times to visit for a reason. The chance of cloudy days are almost nil, raindrops become the stuff of legends, and the combination sun/sea become an irresistible combination.
Despite higher temperatures the sea all over Greece remains nice and cool so the joyous game of welcoming the sun rays on the skin only to erase them in the cool sea waters is a thought that brings a smile to all those who have played it.
Enjoying the sea & sun game will be a central part of your daily activities, but there is plenty in each destination to keep you happy on your off hours.
Archaeological sites, museums, excursions, sightseeing, and dinning options abound in every destination. If photographing is your hobby, The perpetual, crisp sunlight will keep you busy every hour of the day.
No matter where your plans take you, when in Greece do as the Greeks do.
Wake up late, enjoy a light breakfast and head for the beach. Once your muscles and mind relaxes enough, head for the nearest restaurant and indulge in a Greek salad, a light meal, a cold beer, or a chilled glass of wine. Then head for your room to read a book and take a long nap.
That’s right, in the summer everyone takes a nap in the afternoon and the entire country shuts down between 1:00 and 6:00 PM!
Then you’ll be off for more activities, for sightseeing, a drink by the water, a late dinner around 10:00 PM (that can last until midnight), and then party till the wee hours of the morning.
Human activity in Greece is inversely proportionate to the heat cycles of the day. The higher the temperature, the lower the activity. With the sun low or below the horizon Greece comes alive.
Unless you have experienced this life rhythm it’s hard to describe how rejuvenating it is, especially at the end of a hard and structured working year.
Most travel guides would list early fall as the best time to visit Greece. There is a good reason for that.
After mid-September, when schools open all over Europe, the majority of visitors head back home to their daily routine, leaving Greece to those who enjoy a less crowded existence.
We are not going to agree with all who think fall is the best time to visit.
From our experience, the early part of September is a beautiful time to enjoy a relaxing and less crowded holiday, but after mid-september the chilly nights, clouds, and frequent showers roll in with some regularity.
At the same time you will find the sea cool enough to make you think twice before entering, and after late September you won’t be able to swim for the sea temperature is way too cold.
The weather is not prohibitive, and the cold not too pervasive (especially if you come from northern Europe or US) but you won’t be able to enjoy the bright and sunny skies the way you can in the summer.
Keep in mind that in all the popular tourist destinations (and that includes all the islands) hotels and restaurants close down for the off-season.
There is no official date for when the hotels close, but after mid-October you’d be hard pressed to find open accommodations. If you travel to Greece in the fall, your best bet would be to stay on one of the larger towns (Athens, Corfu, Heraklion, Rhodes, Thessaloníki, etc.).
One major benefit of traveling in the off-season is that both flight and hotel prices would be almost half of what you would pay during high season.
Winter in Greece is short, but bitterly cold. The low temperatures in Greece feel even more uncomfortable given that the majority of homes an hotels are built to combat the summer heat.
But if you like cold-weather vacations, there are plenty of places in Greece you would feel at home. While the islands of the Aegean become wind-swept and bitterly cold, the mountainous interior villages enjoy frequent blankets of snow.
Snuggling cozily in the snow-covered mountain villages of Pindos, Macedonia, central Peoloponnese, and Pelion is a picture that hasn’t been sufficiently exploited by tour operators, so rarely you read that this is the best time to visit Greece.
But many Greeks know the beauty of the traditional, stone-built villages of the interior and flock to them throughout the winter to enjoy a bit of skiing and snuggling by the fireplace with a loved one, or simply with a book.
If you visit during the winter but still want to enjoy relative warmth and sunshine, the southern coast of Crete would be the best place to choose. It’s considerably warmer than the rest of the country, and you might even be able to put your feet in the water during sunny days.
Speaking of sunny days, southern Greece on average enjoys many more sunny days than your average European country.
As with late Fall, accommodations will be hard to find outside major metropolitan areas. Hotel owners close their shops and restaurants will be far and few in between outside big towns.
Having said that, the ones that stay open cater mostly to the local clientele, so the experience would be a lot more genuine.
But true winter in Greece lasts only a couple of months. December (which is actually considered high-season given the number of Greeks that travel) and January are the coldest months of the year.
After mid-February, most likely you would enjoy spring weather most of the time. And perhaps this might be the best time to visit Greece for you.
From mid-February to the end of May you’d be hard pressed to find more pleasant weather in the world.
The sea doesn’t become sufficiently warm to swim until mid-May, but there are plenty of other activities that you can enjoy in the warm, mostly sunny days.
Late spring is truly a wonderful time to be in Greece!
Those who’ve only seen Greece during the hot and dry months of summer would be very surprised to see a lush, green, an fresh-looking landscape devoid of the golden hues of the sun-burned vegetation of August.
During spring, an abundance of blooming flowers and wildlife punctuates the scenery in every turn, and the huge crowds are nowhere to be found. That’s one of the main reasons many travel guides insist this is the best time to visit Greece.
After March tourist accommodations begin to open again, and mid-April marks the beginning of “tourist season”.
That’s when airlines mark up their fares, migrating swallows and storks return to their nests to raise yet another generation, and the clouds begin their own migration away from the bright, sunny Greek skies.