Greece is typically thought of as a summer holiday destination – but you can visit various regions all year round. And you might even save some money and avoid crowds by choosing the best time of year to visit Greece.
So when would I recommend traveling to Greece? Let’s go through a guide to Greece weather by month, and the regions to visit or avoid at certain times of year. I live here (thanks to the new digital nomad permit) so I speak from experience – and I’m here to help you plan the perfect trip to Greece!
Greece Weather in January
Winter isn’t usually seen as the best time to visit Greece, but you if you know where to go, it can be great. It’s actually a great time to visit Athens, which typically doesn’t get too cold in the winter and stays lively and open. Bring a sweater though, as central heating here is pretty rare and hotels/apartments can be chilly!
Winter is also the cheapest time to visit Greece as tourist attractions are half-price until the end of March. Hotels are cheap, restaurants are uncrowded, and you’ll be pretty warm in Athens. It’s a great long weekend or cheap weeklong vacation spot in the winter.
However, if you want to explore outside of Athens, January isn’t a good time to travel to Greece. The bigger cities in Crete are pretty alive and open, and Crete does stay quite warm all year since it’s so far south. But smaller cities and the islands like Santorini and Mykonos are almost entirely closed up all winter – your options for dining, activities, and tours will be almost non-existent.
Greece Weather in February
The weather in February is pretty much the same as January in Greece – cold and very windy on the islands, warmer (but still cool) in Athens and Crete, and snowy in the mountains in the north. (Did you know you can ski in Greece?).
Stick to Athens, Thessaloniki, and Heraklion or Rethymno in Crete at this time of year unless you’re into cold weather and ok with almost everything begin shut down.
Greece Weather in March
In March, the weather in Greece begins to warm up and spring is everywhere. Nights are still cool and the islands are still fairly windy, but there are more sunny days and the sun is strong. There are some rainstorms, but they tend to pass quickly and help all the trees burst out into bright, bright green.
Athens is beautiful at this time of year – everything is open and inexpensive and uncrowded, and the weather is typically warm enough to spend your days drinking coffee in the sun and walking around without more than a light jacket at night.
Attractions and historical ruins in Greece are also half-price until April 1, so you can get some great deals if you plan to hit a lot of museums, historical sites, and things like that (which you absolutely should).
The flip side of those lower prices is shorter opening times for many attractions – I visited Tiryns, Mycenae, and Epidaurus in the shoulder season and loved it, but almost everything closed at 3 pm and the buses to those sites also run less frequently.
Greece Weather in April
April is one of my favorite months to visit Greece! The weather is temperate with only a bit of rain (more in Corfu), the winds lessen, and everything begins to open back up on the islands and tourist destinations.
Prices and crowds are both lower at this time everywhere as well. If you want to see Santorini and Mykonos when they’re lush and green, this is the time to visit! In the summer, they get quite brown and dry because of the lack of rain.
The only time to not visit Greece in the spring is the weekend of Greek Easter (they’re Orthodox, so check the dates before planning your trip). It’s a very family-focused holiday, so almost everything closes and everyone goes back to their villages.
Greece Weather in May
The weather in Greece in May is also lovely. Spring is ending but the days and nights are heating up, as is the sea, so you can swim and bask most days on the islands, the Athenian Riviera, and pretty much everywhere.
The tourist crowds are increasing a little but still pretty thin on the ground. And nearly everything is open! Plus while it’s warm, it’s not yet truly hot – and Greece can get really, really hot.
Greece Weather in June
June is when summer really arrives in Greece and most regions start to get pretty toasty. It’s not yet stifling, but with the very strong sun and few clouds, it’s hot most days. Corfu and the northern regions like Macedonia will be cooler, as well as the islands, but Athens is one huge concrete block that retains all the heat.
It’s also when peak season arrives and the tourist crowds begin to get thick. It’s not that I have anything against tourists – I am one, often! – it’s just that islands like Santorini and Mykonos have small towns that become overflowing with people and pretty overwhelming. Plus prices go up a lot.
Greece Weather in July
July is heading into high season for Greece traveler, and it’s also full-on summer. That means it is HOT. Athens is very, very hot in the summer and I don’t recommend traveling here then if you have other options.
Corfu is further north so it remains a bit cooler, but it gets a lot of tourists at this time, like anywhere in Greece. And the islands, especially the well-known ones like Santorini and Mykonos, are at pretty much full capacity.
Greece Weather in August
This is the worst time to visit Greece, to be honest. Athens is unbearably hot and all the locals have left to go to the islands. Santorini and Mykonos are jammed full of tourists and at their most expensive. Any chance you had of getting an authentic, relaxed experience anywhere but the most undiscovered islands is gone.
Greece Weather in September
September is a great time to travel to Greece. The summer crowds have mostly gone, prices start to go back down, and the weather is still summer-like (but not sweltering). Athens is still a bit hot since it’s got all that concrete, but you can go to the beach most days and the water is certainly warm enough for swimming.
The islands are getting less crowded and prices are starting to go back down, but you can still bask on the beach and go for a swim and get a tan if you need a warm and relaxing holiday.
Greece Weather in October
October is also possibly the best time of year to visit Greece, in my opinion. The islands are quiet but not totally shut down, and the weather is still mild most days all over the country. If you want warmth, Athens and Crete are going to be your best bets – you can still swim in Crete comfortably in October!
You’ll have most attractions to yourself at least some of the time depending on where in Greece you go, and more opportunities to connect with locals as well. This is the shoulder season in Greece, and it’s a great time to visit.
Greece Weather in November
At the beginning of November, Santorini and Mykonos really shut down most tourist-focused businesses and services for the winter. That means you won’t have many dining or entertainment options here. Also it gets quite windy on the islands in this season which can be quite chilly.
Athens is still temperate and since it’s a huge city, everything is still open, so it’s a good time to visit here. Corfu gets cooler and rather rainy, but it will be lush and green thanks to all that rain.
Greece Weather in December
December in Greece is much like November – cool and rainy and windy on the islands, but still a good time to visit Athens and other major cities if you want an urban mini-break.
Christmas isn’t a huge holiday in Greece (they’re more into Easter) but there are lights and decorations and cozy places to eat cookies and drink festive beverages in Athens if you’re around!.
The best time to visit Greece
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, and to save some money, the shoulder season or off-season is the way to go. May and October are definitely the best time of year to visit Greece – but you will enjoy the beauty and hospitality here in any season!
More posts to help you plan your trip to Greece:
- The best books to read before you travel to Greece
- Everything to know about traveling to and around Greece
- 10 things you need to know before coming to Greece
- How to spend 3 days in Athens like a local
- See Greece in 7 days – Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos
- How to love solo travel in Santorini