I receive many questions from readers asking me what the best time of the year is to visit Greece!
The answer is always the same: It depends on the visitors’ needs and preferences!
In Greece, you can find beautiful islands with long beaches, high mountains, nature that takes your breath away, modern cities, traditional villages, and so many other things.
One thing is for sure: this place can steal your heart!
Best time of year to go to Greece
As I mentioned above, every time of the year is good for visiting Greece, but it depends on what you want to do! For example, if you prefer going to the Greek islands, you visit Greece when the weather is warmer.
If you like mountains, rivers, and forests, you should come during autumn or spring.
In this article, I give you all the tips on the best moments to visit Greece!
What is the weather in Greece?
Greece has a Mediterranean climate, which means that winters are mild and rainy, and summers are warm and dry. Even during winter, we enjoy the sunlight!
The coldest months are January and February, and the temperature usually goes down to 0-5 degrees of Celsius.
In general, we do not experience extreme cold, and if it happens, it only lasts a few days. Saying that I would add that there are a few ski resorts in Greece that you can visit during wintertime, especially between January and February. Admittedly, they are not as good and as large as the ones in Switzerland, France, Germany etc. but they can offer you some lovely moments as well!
On the other hand, in summer, the heat is around 35 degrees, but we get every year a few days that the temperature goes up to 40 degrees Celsius!
Admittedly the best, most mild weather is during spring and autumn, because there it is not cold or warm, and most usually not extremely rainy either.
When should you visit the large cities of Greece?
The biggest cities in Greece are Athens and Thessaloniki, but more cities are worth visiting like Ioannina, Kavala, Kalamata, etc.
Athens is the capital of Greece, a beautiful metropolitan city of 5 million people.
We have written a dedicated post about the best and worst time to visit this historical capital, Athens!
In Athens, you can visit the Acropolis (a miracle of ancient architecture) and its area. Athens was the centre of Ancient Greek civilization, and you can learn and experience many things. The nightlife of the city is also popping. As I like to say, Athens never sleeps; parties start around 20.00 and stop around 6-7 in the morning.
If Athens is the centre of Ancient Greek Civilization, Thessaloniki has Byzantine treasures. Thessaloniki has picturesque corners, where you can discover Greece’s old, original spirit. This city has everything you need and more: Places of historical interest, the best nightlife, delicious food, and the beaches of Chalkidiki within an hour’s drive.
There are smaller cities around Greece that are worth visiting. These cities are centres of culture and history, but they have a slower rhythm of life.
In my opinion, the cities are at their best from October to May because they are full of life, the weather is good, and the vibe is vibrating.
During summer, they are nice, but it can get hot, and it might be harder, especially for people not used to high temperatures.
Tip: Big cities like Athens have a unique character, and this is that during August, where it is the peak of tourism in Greece, both large cities appear to be less busy and even some shops are closed. This happens because the middle of August is a big celebration for Greeks and many are leaving the cities for holidays!
When should you visit the Greek islands?
Greece is famous worldwide for its islands, crystal-clear seawater, and gold-sanded beaches. There are 227 islands in Greece, and most of them are inhabited. What is the best moment to visit the Greek islands?
Visit Santorini and Mykonos
Almost all travellers spend at least one day in one of these Islands.
Santorini is known as the most romantic place in Greece. It is also famous because of its wild nature and typical Cycladic Architecture.
Mykonos is the meeting point of famous people, millionaires, and those who love partying. You can more about this special island on our mini travel guide about Mykonos!
Visit these islands preferably in May, June and September.
During winter, the activity in Mykonos and Santorini is low, many bars, hotels, and shops close, and many of the locals move to the big cities.
The high touristic season for these islands is in July and August, and the days 1-20 August are the busiest.
If you want to go there on those dates, you must book everything months earlier, because if you do it last moment, most probably everything will be full.
As for the weather, even though it can get very hot during summer, you can always find shelter in the cold sea waters. The waters are colder in spring, but as the sun gets hotter, they warm up, and in September, the temperature is perfect!
Crete is one of my favourite islands!
It is large and has so many choices and things to do that you never get bored!
It has high mountains, beaches, big cities, and small villages; it even has a palm forest!
Even though more people come to Crete during summer, the island is full of life throughout the year. It is at the south end of Greece, close to Africa and, the temperature is always a few degrees warmer than the rest of the country.
However, my personal preference is to travel there in autumn, when the hordes of tourists are gone, and I can experience the calm island life.
Especially the south part of Crete is warm enough during October and relatively peaceful and calm.
Visit the rest of the islands!
There are so many beautiful islands in Greece, less famous, less visited but very beautiful!
Koufonisi island! Learn more at our dedicated post here!
And here in SecretGreece, we have a special love for these islands, and you can find plenty of posts about remote and hidden treasures!
Symi island! Check our mini travel guide about Symi here!
The best time to visit the Greek islands is from June to September. At that time, all hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs are open and full of life. Ferries arrive at their ports almost daily, and there are frequent flight connections.
One thing I love during the summer months is island hopping!
Greek islands are close to each other. Getting to the next island can take 45 minutes to an hour, so you can easily reach the next island with the ferry.
I like island-hopping is because it gives me a feeling of freedom. I like the experience of seeing new places and meeting new people when I am ready for that.
Summer is the best time of the year to sail around Greece. There are private companies that offer cruises around the islands. You can also come with a private yacht. The weather is good in the summer, and most of the days, you sail safely from one island to the next.
I need to highlight that there is very little activity on Greek islands during winter. Many places are open only during summer.
In winter, the picture is different.
You see a few people walking in the quiet streets, and the weather is moist and rainy.
Hike in Greek mountains
The Greek mountains can offer you incredible experiences all year round. You can enjoy hiking, trekking, or climbing throughout the year.
Many visitors want to climb Mount Olympus, which, according to Greek mythology, is the dwelling of Gods. It is the highest mountain in Greece.
There is snow in the mountains in the winter months, and you need the right equipment and clothing. In summer, you need to make sure you wear a hat and have enough water with you.
In winter, apart from hiking and trekking, you can also ski. Greece has 21 ski resorts in different parts. They are usually close to picturesque mountainous villages.
In summer, you can enjoy water sports in the rivers, like canoe-kayak and rafting, or you can swim in the freshwaters.
You can also do mountain bike or motocross as there are specific tracks for these sports on Greek mountains.
The climate on the higher mountains is always colder than in lower parts. Even in summer, you rarely experience extreme heat. In winter, the mountain tops have low temperatures and snow.
Romantic holidays in Greece
If you plan to visit Greece for your honeymoon, or just for a romantic trip with your partner, then this is for you! I think that you can find romantic destinations in Greece throughout the year.
The most romantic places in Greece for the winter holidays are in the mountains of Greece. Northern Greece has very romantic places like the Pelion or Zagorochoria. You can find luxurious hotels or traditional guesthouses, where you can enjoy quality time with your partner next to the fireplace or take long walks in the forest. The mountainous villages have excellent architecture, different from the one you see on the islands.
The best places for couples in Greece are the islands, but it is better to visit them during summer because they are livelier and more fun.
Santorini is considered one of the most romantic places in the world, but I think it would be wise to avoid July and August as it gets very crowded!
You can enjoy the romantic sunsets of the Aegean, cruise around the islands with a catamaran, and wake up to the sounds of the sea waves!
Find your ideal and luxurious hotel (here is our recommendation about where to stay!) and enjoy the exotic beauty of Santorini!
There are also wineries on many islands, where you can do a wine tasting with your partner!
Experience Greek Traditions
If you are interested in understanding the Greek culture, you can come to Greece at specific moments of the year and experience the Greek Traditions.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve
Like many countries worldwide, Greeks celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. On these days the streets are decorated with lights, there are Christmas trees in the main squares of the cities and towns. Restaurants and cafés serve typical food and sweets of the season.
Commercial streets are full of people buying presents for their beloved ones, and everyone is in a good mood. On the 24th and 31st of December, you can see kids around the streets singing carols. Carols are traditional songs with lyrics about Christ’s birth and the new year’s coming. Traditionally we give some coins and sweets to the kids that sing carols to us.
Carnival in Greece is celebrated every year around February or March. It is the time of the year when people party dressed in costumes. It is related to the ancient traditions of the celebration of Dionysus, the god of wine. People in costumes party, drink and play games.
The biggest carnival is in Patra, where the famous carnival parade is led by its queen or king. There are also traditional carnival celebrations in other parts of Greece like Naousa town and Skyros Island.
Easter is the most spiritual celebration in Greece. Every spring, Greeks celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ and, symbolically, the resurrection of nature that was ‘sleeping’ during winter.
I like going to church during the holy week because the chanting is lovely and the atmosphere spiritual. On Saturday, at 24.00, we celebrate the resurrection, typically followed by firework shows.
There are also traditional recipes that you can only try on those days, so if you like trying new tastes, easter is probably the best moment to visit Greece.
Greek Local Festivals – Panigyria
Panigyri is the Greek word for the feast. In Greece, we love feasts in which we eat, drink, and dance the traditional Greek dances!
These feasts are held in summer around Greece, and they are connected to the celebration of local saints. Most of them are in July and August, but you can find a few around the year!
Panegyries have different music, food, and dances in each part of Greece.
Locals play light, and happy melodies on the islands with violins and people dance in pairs or circles! The local alcohol served warms up the atmosphere, and people keep dancing until early morning.
On the mainland, the feasts are also grand. The music is different, slower, and heavier, and people dance in circles. They usually cook food in huge cauldrons and serve typical alcohol from the area.
So, what is the best time of the year to visit Greece?
In my opinion, Greece has things to offer all year round.
It depends on what you like and what you want to do.
If you plan to visit Greece, read this article and choose what you consider the best time of the year for you!