There is no bad time to visit Greece.
There, we had to say that. Now let’s get real: not every month in Greece is for everyone, and they are definitely not all the same. While seasons often seem to blur together in this country, without clear-cut shoulder seasons and with plenty of warm winter days, there are defining factors linked to each month which can affect your holiday experience.
So which is the best month to visit Greece? For the sake of avoiding personal preferences (full disclosure, yours truly doesn’t particularly care for November) and staying impartial (my birthday is in April – you should all come then) when writing this article, we posed the question on Instagram.
Low and behold, there were tons of votes… for every single month. The months in the high-season were slightly more popular, unsurprisingly, and a lot of people favored spring, but we were surprised and glad to see that others named the months we never thought would be so popular. As a result, this will not be an article about the one best month to visit Greece, but a guide to the best month to visit, depending on your preferences.
Although it turns out, I was right about November.
The best month to visit Greece and get the beach to yourself: September
We lied before. While our poll did reflect hugely varied opinions, one month did win, and that was September.
At the tail end of summer, those looking for lazy days on the beach will be happy to find that while most of both foreign and Greek tourists have gone home, it’s still summer. The hottest period weather-wise is also over, so you might actually stay on the beach even as the sun reaches its zenith, while the sea that has been slowly cooking since spring, is as warm as it’ll ever be.
By the end of the month, when the first rains fall, many beach bars begin to pack up. If the weather still holds up, they might stay open, but will eventually quit restocking the draft beer and the mix for the soft serve ice cream.
As an alternative, we might add April through May as a good time to visit Greece and get the beach to yourself, if you don’t mind cold water or if you just want to be different, though most beach bars don’t open until June.
The best month to visit Greece for watersports: June-August
While many Greeks make the most of their access to relatively warm sea from early spring until November, especially for more chilled activities such as SUP paddle boarding and kayaking, surf clubs tend to open in May and close at the end of September, so if you need to rent your equipment, this is your window.
Surfers can count on the steadiest winds at the peak of summer, i.e., in June, July and August. Of course, this is also when the beaches will be more crowded, and it’s advisable to stick to beaches frequented by other surfers and not by swimmers. You can find our guide to Greece’s best windsurfing destinations here, and the top kitesurfing destinations here.
The famous Meltemi winds, which blow across the Aegean Sea from the north, are strongest in July and August, when they can sometimes reach up to 8 Beaufort, and especially powerful in the Cyclades. If they’re too strong, naturally, watersport centers will close.
The best month to visit Greece if you like crowds: August
In the hot month of August is when most Greeks take their time off from work and leave the cities for the islands and mainland seaside destinations. Sleepy villages and small islands come alive during this month, while the most famous tourist destinations become seriously packed.
Those looking to mingle and party the nights away can’t pick a better time – but do make sure to book accommodation and tables at restaurants ahead of time, or you run the risk of spending half your time in queues for souvlaki and sleeping on the beach. Also, remember, social distancing is still a thing.
The best month to visit Greece and experience unique traditions: February-April (in 2023)
You probably know that Greeks love their traditions. There are unique and eccentric celebrations taking place throughout the year and throughout the country, not to mention the local customs specific to every place.
Two moveable holidays in spring feature some of the most colorful events that anybody interested in Greek culture should experience at least once: Apokries (Greece’s carnival season), and Easter.
While it sometimes takes place in March, in 2023, the three weeks of Apokries will fall on February 5-26. Most of the celebrations take place during the last week, when you may watch or take part in everything from parades and costume parties, to street performances, flour wars, and local fertility-promoting rites with pagan roots. You can find our guide to the places with the most unique celebrations of carnival here.
Easter, the most important holiday in the Orthodox Christian calendar, is celebrated in Greece in a big way. The most important days, Friday-Sunday of the Holy Week, will take place on April 14-16 in 2023 (this moveable holiday sometimes also falls in May). You can find our “bluffer’s guide” to Greek Easter here.
If you’re planning on a long stay, you might combine Apokries or Easter with one of two more holidays happening in-between. That is, Clean Monday, which falls on the day after Apokries (February 27 in 2023) – the first day of the 40-day lent leading up to easter, and is celebrated with seafood and kite flying; and Greek Independence Day, which always falls on March 25, and is celebrated with parades and a meal of batter-fried cod and garlic dip (bakaliaros skordalia).
For more information about Greek holidays, find our Holiday Calendar here.
The best month to visit Greek cities: April & December
We can’t decide. April, depending on the weather, can provide some of the loveliest days for wandering around one of Greece’s big cities. Fragrant bitter orange trees, almond trees and jacarandas bloom, and the temperature allows both for endless strolls and dining at outdoor cafés and restaurants.
In December, meanwhile, it might be cold, but if it is the Christmas decorations will warm your soul – and if that’s not enough, there’s hot cocoas and oinomelo, Greece’s mulled wine, on the menus of bars and cafés. Being low-season for tourism, you’ll have plenty of space to roam at the popular sights, while if you’re looking for nightlife, this is also one of the best and busiest times in the cities. You can find a guide to Christmas in Athens here.
There are also good things to be said about August. While the heat can be unpleasant in the city, that prompts a large portion of locals to leave on vacation, resulting in less traffic and fewer people around the sights.
The best month to visit Greece on a budget: October-May
Okay, naming the entire low-season is not the same as naming a month, we know that, but here’s the thing: As Greece attempts to grow its tourism season, more and more destinations are becoming accessible and pleasant throughout the year, while still being a lot more affordable during these months. What we would suggest is to avoid visiting during a Greek holiday, when hotels will raise their prices in anticipation of a higher domestic tourism flow. Specifically:
In October, avoid the long weekend created by Ochi Day, on the 28th, if it falls on a Friday or Monday, creating a long weekend (as it will this year).
In December, avoid the Holiday period, from December 24th through the end of the year.
In January, avoid the first week of the year, especially January 6th, Epiphany, if it falls on a Friday or Monday, creating a long holiday (as it will in 2023).
In February/ March, avoid the long weekend created by Clean Monday (February 25-27 in 2023), as well as that created by Greek Independence Day if it falls on a Friday or Monday (not the case in 2023).
In April/May, avoid Easter, and May Day, if it falls on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday (if it falls on a weekend, the public holiday is moved up, therefore creating a long weekend).