Best time to visit the Greek Islands for an unforgettable vacation

The months between April and October are the best time to visit the Greek islands. Return travelers often prefer the months of June and September.

In this month by month guide, you will find information on when to go to the islands in Greece. Includes what weather to expect, when the peak season and shoulder seasons are, accommodation prices, and anything else you need to know to enjoy your Greek holidays.

When to visit Greece and the Greek islands

Greece, where I live, is a popular tourist destination. What many visitors don’t realize, however, is that Greece has four seasons! So, when is the best time to travel to the Greek islands?

While we get warm weather for most of spring, summer and autumn, winter weather can be surprisingly cold and wet. In fact, many Greek islands close down for winter, and start reopening after Greek Orthodox Easter.

Visit Mykonos Greece in summer

Generally speaking, the best time to visit most Greek islands if you want to enjoy some beach time is between May and early October. Of these, July and August are the busiest months, and you also get the hottest temperatures.

The best months to enjoy the Greek islands without the extreme temperatures and tourist crowds are late April, May, June, September and early October.

During these months, you will also find lower hotel prices, and it’s easier to book ferry tickets and do some Greek island hopping.

Let’s break this down further!

Spring on the Greek islands: April and May

April and May are the two last spring months in Greece. This means that you won’t get the extremely hot weather that you get in summer, and there will be the occasional rainy day.

Daytime temperatures generally range from 20 to 30 C (68-86 F), depending on the island and the exact time of year. Evenings are cooler, and most people will need some warm clothing at night.

Is spring a good time to visit the Greek islands?

Overall, spring is an ideal time to visit the Greek islands if your main aim is to go hiking, sightseeing around the ancient sites, or just to experience local life. You will also see nature at its best, with many colorful flowers all over the country.

However, the sea temperatures can be too low to swim properly, especially in April. We went kayaking in Rhodes in late April, and it was too cold for me to swim. The UK visitors seemed to enjoy it though 🙂

Spring in Rhodes island Greece

In terms of tourist facilities, not all businesses will be open in late spring. Larger islands will offer a better range of restaurants, tavernas, bars etc. So, destinations like Rhodes or Corfu are great to visit in April or May.

Spring is not the best time to visit Mykonos, Ios or Paros if you are after events and parties. These won’t kick off until later in the year. However, if you want to visit Santorini, spring is a fantastic time, as there will be significantly fewer crowds.

Celebrating Greek Easter on the islands

On some islands, the tourist season kicks off around Greek Orthodox Easter, which always falls in either April or May. Ιt’s a unique time to visit the Greek islands and observe the religious and cultural traditions.

Easter is a huge celebration in Greece. In fact, the whole Lent period, which starts with Clean Monday, is a fantastic time to be here if you are interested in local experiences.

During the whole Easter week, you can observe various church masses and ceremonies. The Easter weekend ends with huge feasts on Easter Sunday, mostly revolving around food and drink.

Easter is a special time to be on the Greek islands

It’s important to note that Easter in Greece is celebrated in accordance with the Greek calendar. Sometimes, it might coincide with the Catholic or Protestant Easter, but usually they are on different weekends.

Here is some more information: Greek Orthodox Easter.

June on the Greek islands

June is a lovely month to travel around the Greek islands. We get good weather with lovely sunny days and super long daylight hours.

Contrary to the shoulder season months, you should expect most businesses to be open from early June onwards. As it’s not peak season yet, there are fewer tourists than July and August.

June is a great time for the Greek islands

While accommodation prices are typically higher than in the shoulder months, it is still easy to find budget hotels and last-minute bargains.

A notable exception is the Monday of Holy Pentecost, which falls 50 days after Easter Sunday. As this is a public holiday, many Greeks visit the islands close to Athens for the long weekend. As a result, it can often be difficult to find last-minute accommodation and ferry tickets.

Is June a good time to visit the Greek islands?

Early summer is my favourite time of year to be on the Greek isles. I love the fact that days are long, and that it’s only the beginning of summer!

The sunny weather makes June an ideal month for a beach holiday. In fact, people with low heat tolerance might even find late June slightly too warm! Daytime temperature on some of the islands often exceeds 30 C (86 F), and evenings are lovely.

June is a lovely time to be on the Greek isles

June is also a great month for a family vacation. The beaches won’t be as crowded as in high season, and the sea has warmed up enough – even for me!) In addition, there’s much less chance of the strong meltemi winds than later in summer – more on this, right below.

The peak season on the Greek islands: July and August

The summer months of July and August are high season on the islands. Average temperatures during the day are usually over 30 C (86 F), which makes it ideal beach weather for most people. 

July is one of the warmest months in Greece

With that said, people visiting the islands in the Aegean, like Mykonos, Paros or Naxos, should be aware of the meltemi winds. These seasonal winds can make it hard to stay on a sandy beach for long, and it might even be dangerous to swim.

During this time, rain is extremely uncommon. August 2023 was an exception, as there were thunderstorms on some of the islands for a few days !

Yet, as July and August are popular holiday months, the Greek islands are more crowded then. The first three weeks of August are by far the busiest, as this is also when many Greeks take their time off work.

Finally, accommodation prices increase a lot. Unless you book your rooms way in advance, you might not be left with much choice.

Should I visit the Greek islands during the peak season?

It depends on what you want to do during your holidays. If your main interest are socializing, parties and cultural events, July and August are the best months to visit the islands. There’s a lot more going on then, including the famous Greek panigiria festivals.

One thing is certain: If you visit the Greek islands in August, you will see them at their liveliest! If you prefer quiet holidays, you will probably find August too busy, especially on the popular islands.

August on the Greek islands can get busy

Which brings us to the next question: What if you aren’t super keen on large crowds but you can only visit the Greek islands in August?

In this case, it’s best to visit larger and / or lesser known islands, or islands without an airport, which you can only reach by ferry.

Fortunately, Greece has over 100 inhabited islands, so you can find a reasonably quiet one. For example, you could try islands like Samos, Chios, Lesvos or Lemnos. Or just head to south Crete, which is never too crowded!

September on the Greek islands

For many repeat visitors, September is the best month to visit the Greek islands. The majority of the tourist crowds are gone, and we still get many sunny days, especially in early September. Plus, the sea temperature is actually higher than in early summer!

September is one of the best months to visit the islands in Greece

Early fall is a good time to go to the Greek islands if you want to enjoy them at a more relaxed pace. And if you are worried that they might be too quiet, don’t worry – there will be plenty to do!

Do you still get warm weather on the Greek islands in September?

Oh yeah! In fact, in many cases the weather doesn’t really resemble early autumn. Even though there may be the occasional rainy day, especially in the Ionian islands, the weather is still warm in September.

As an example, we did the hike to Kleftiko in Milos in late September, and I was struggling with the high temperature on the day!

Kleftiko Bay in Milos island Greece

With that said, it’s a good idea to bring a couple of warm clothes. If you want to attend any fall events on the islands, you might find that it’s a little chilly at night.

The Greek islands in October

October can be an interesting month to visit the Greek islands. With most of the visitors gone, you will enjoy island life the way few travelers get to see it. Yet, the weather can be quite unpredictable.

As a rule, while you won’t get the warm weather that you’d typically get in September, the sea will still be comfortable to swim in. Many of the umbrellas and loungers will be stored for winter, and you will have most of the beaches to yourself.

The Greek islands start closing down in October

If your main aim is to go hiking, or to see the archaeological sites and ancient ruins, you will love October’s cooler weather. Just make sure you check the weather forecast and avoid any rainy days.

Which are the best islands in Greece to visit in October?

Rhodes, Kos, Crete, Santorini and perhaps Mykonos are some of the best islands to visit in October. I would also love to go back to Nisyros, as its volcanic landscape keeps the temperatures high!

An island which is popular in October is Kalymnos, as there is a International Climbing Festival. Even if you are not a climber, you could enjoy the longer season and good selection of things to do.

Rhodes island Greece

You can easily take day trips from Athens to the nearby Saronic islands, like Hydra or Aegina. And if you are into hiking, why not go to Andros, which has some of the best hiking paths in the Cyclades.

As for the Ionian islands, like Corfu or Kefalonia? Generally speaking, they get more rain than the rest of the country, so October might not be the best time to go.

For more information, have a look at this article about the hottest Greek islands to visit in October.

The off-season on the Greek islands: Winter

Few people choose to visit the Greek islands in winter, and there’s a good reason for this. The weather gets much colder, there is frequent rainfall, and it might even snow sometimes!

While Athens is a year round destination, as there is lots to do, many of the islands are very quiet. Most of the restaurants and bars shut down during the winter months, and there aren’t many options for accommodation.

In addition, getting to the islands in winter can be a little tricky. There are very few (if any) direct international flights, so you’d typically have to fly through Athens, or take a ferry from Piraeus.

Note that ferry connections are limited, and you won’t find any of the high-speed ferries that run in summer.

What if I can only visit the islands in winter?

So, what if the low season is the only time in your life that you can visit Athens and Greece? Should you avoid the islands altogether?

In this case, you could consider visiting bigger islands, which offer plenty of cultural things to do, such as Crete, Rhodes, Corfu or Kos.

Knossos palace Crete

Even if the weather is rainy and cold, you will still enjoy visiting the historical sites and museums, and observing any winter events – Christmas, New Year’s or the Epiphany.

On the contrary, islands like Mykonos, Ios or Zakynthos are probably best avoided during the winter months. You won’t be able to enjoy their stunning beaches, or their famous nightlife.

Finally, there are island cruises from Athens that run year-round. It’s a great way to visit three of the Saronic islands, Hydra, Poros and Aegina in one day, and experience island life in the low season.

Should I visit Santorini in winter?

I really loved visiting the famous island Santorini in early winter. It was incredible to see the iconic volcanic landscapes with so few other tourists. Walking on the volcano itself was an unforgettable experience, as was the hike from Fira to Oia!

Winter in Santorini Greece

BUT, we were extremely lucky with the weather, as it was unusually warm for that time of year. Some people were even swimming – not me, hah!

Here are my impressions: Santorini in winter.

Other winter itineraries in Greece

Another option for winter is to explore mainland Greece. As an example, you can take a road trip around the Peloponnese. You could visit cities like Nafplio or Kalamata, and see ancient sites like Ancient Mycenae and Ancient Epidaurus.

Or you can travel around central Greece and Thessaly, and visit Ancient Delphi and the amazing Meteora monasteries. The options are endless!

Conclusion: Best time to see the Greek islands

In a nutshell, the best time to visit the Greek islands is anywhere between late spring and mid fall.

Summer is the most popular time to visit, and the best time to enjoy the lively island atmosphere and various events. However, some people will find the weather too warm, and the islands too crowded.

A church in Tinos Greece

Many people prefer to visit the Greek islands in spring or autumn. The weather is milder, there are fewer tourists, and accommodation is cheaper. If you are flexible with your time off, the shoulder season is a great time to experience the Greek islands.

FAQ about the best time to visit Greece and the Greek islands

Here are a few more questions visitors often ask about the Greek islands:

How long should you spend in the Greek islands?

Many visitors spend one or two weeks on the Greek islands. However, Greece has well over a hundred inhabited islands, so you could easily spend several months!

Which Greek island has the best weather?

Rhodes and Crete are among the Greek islands with the best weather. Generally speaking, the islands in the Aegean Sea tend to be windier, while the Ionian islands are more humid.

Which is the prettiest of the Greek islands?

Some of the prettiest Greek islands are Santorini, Milos, Symi, Corfu, Rhodes, Naxos, Hydra and Crete.

Which Greek island should I visit first?

Santorini is most people’s choice the first time they visit Greece. Other nearby islands that you could visit in the same trip include Milos, Naxos, Paros and Crete.

When should you not go to Greece?

Weather-wise, the best time to visit Greece is from April to October. Many people prefer to visit in June or early / mid September, as July and August can get very busy and hot, and accommodation prices rise. Overall, winter is the least preferred time to go to Greece – but if that’s the only time you can visit, don’t hesitate!

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Vanessa from Real Greek ExperiencesHi! I’m Vanessa from Athens and I’ve been to about 60 of our islands, at various times of the year. I love visiting in June, when the days are long, and September, when the sea temperature is the highest. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more information and photos about Greece!

 

 

 

 

 

When is the best time of year to visit the Greek islands

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