The cheapest time to go to Greece is outside summer, which is the peak tourist season. Here are some tips to travel to Greece if you are on a budget.
Cheapest time to travel to Greece and the Greek islands
Greece can be a very affordable country. Yet, some people return from their Greek holiday having spent much more than they expected.
I’m Greek and have been exploring my country for many decades. While I agree that there are cheaper countries to visit, I still believe that Greece can be very budget-friendly.
In fact, even the most expensive islands in Greece can be very affordable if you are able to visit outside the high season.
Here are some tips on how to explore more of Greece without breaking the bank.
When is the peak season in Greece?
The peak season for Greece is between June and September. Due to the warm weather and absence of rain, it’s the best season to go to the beach, and swimming is delightful.
The most expensive months in terms of accommodation prices are July and August. This is the time when most people, including Greeks, can take time off to travel. Even with the higher prices, many hotels around the country can be fully booked.
My suggestion: If you have a choice, skip Greece in August. It can get too hot, busy and overpriced, especially in the popular islands.
June and September are still warm, but they are typically less crowded and cheaper. Overall, it will be easier to find accommodation, even last minute.
Celebrating Greek Easter in Greece
Greek Easter is another relatively expensive time to visit Greece, as it’s our most important public holiday. While many Greeks go to their villages to celebrate the Easter Week, others take advantage to explore more of the country for a few days.
Note that Greek Easter is celebrated according to the Greek calendar. As a rule, it rarely coincides with the Catholic or Protestant Easter.
Outside Greek Orthodox Easter, spring is generally cheap in terms of accommodation. It’s a fantastic time to visit, as you will avoid crowds, and you will see tons of blooming flowers among the ancient ruins throughout the country.
Christmas and New Year’s in Greece
Accommodation prices in certain areas of Greece may go up during Christmas and New Year’s, though not nearly as much as in other European countries.
This is more likely to affect the main cities and some popular areas on the mountains, rather than the islands. As an example, Kalambaka town near the Meteora Monasteries is a popular place to visit in winter.
Have a look at these other Greek celebrations and festivals throughout the year.
Best time to travel to Greece – International and domestic flights
Greece has several dozens of airports. Many of them are international, which means that there are direct flights from abroad. In summer, there are hundreds of seasonal routes, many of them reaching the Greek islands.
Flight prices vary a lot, depending on the airlines and the time of the year. Generally speaking, flights tend to be more expensive in summer and around Christmas and Greek Easter.
You can often find low airfares if you check a few months in advance of your trip. Low-cost companies are often the cheapest, but make sure you check all airlines.
If you want to take a domestic flight within Greece, try to book your ticket as early as possible. Last minute tickets tend to be very expensive, especially for popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini.
This list of Greek islands with airport will help you when planning your trip. Many visitors book combinations of flights to arrive on one island, and return home from Athens, or from another island.
Ferry travel within Greece
Ferry travel is a common way to reach the Greek islands and travel between them. While certain islands have airports, in many cases it’s much more practical to take a ferry.
Ferry routes vary widely throughout the year. During peak season, there are more ferries running between the islands. There are different types of ferries – the fastest ones, which run on routes in the Aegean Sea, cost significantly more.
Ferry tickets have the same price year-round, even if you book them last minute. However, if you are travelling during peak season, it’s best to plan ahead and book them in advance, as certain ferries can get sold out.
I use Ferryscanner to compare ferry companies and book ferry tickets. It’s a popular search engine where you can book up to ten consecutive ferry journeys.
Sometimes, you might find discounted ferry tickets. These are mostly available for the off-peak months. They are often non-refundable and non-transferable, so make sure you are happy before you book them.
Cheapest time to go to Athens Greece
Athens is a year round destination. As such, you can always find affordable accommodation, though prices may fluctuate a little between summer and winter.
International flights to Athens tend to be more expensive during summer. If you only want to visit Athens for a short city break, look into off-season months.
You will generally get much better flight prices for October, often excluding the Oxi Day, November, March or April. Winter months will typically be even cheaper, apart from the time around Christmas and New Year’s.
Many people come to Athens to visit the museums and ancient sites. You will be delighted to know that entrance tickets to all public museums and monuments are reduced from November until March. In addition, entrance is free on the first Sunday of those months.
You might want to check my guide to some free museums in Athens.
Is the off-season a good time of year to visit Athens?
If you’ve found a really cheap flight to Athens in January or February, go ahead and book it. Though winter is probably not the best time to visit Athens, you are likely to get pleasant weather on at least some days.
Generally speaking, winters in the Greek capital are a lot milder than Northern European winters. Still, we may have all four seasons. Thunderstorms are not uncommon, and you don’t want to be walking around the slippery Acropolis marbles under pouring rain – trust me on this!
October, November and December are better choices in terms of weather, and there is more going on.
Here is my article on the best time to visit Athens, including information on weather, festivals and special events for each month.
Cheapest time to go to the Greek islands
If you are going to the islands, or to any beach destinations in mainland Greece, the cheapest time to go to Greece is outside the summer season.
Generally speaking, spring, autumn and winter months are a lot cheaper in terms of accommodation. While some of the restaurants might be closed, the ones that are open will cater for locals, and will typically be very affordable.
Most visitors find the weather a lot more pleasant in June and September rather than in high season. So, unless the only time you can take a holiday is in August, visit Greece in September instead.
Let’s take, for example, Santorini. Accommodation prices in July and August can be exorbitant, especially if you want to stay in a hotel with a view to the volcano. The vast majority of rooms would be over 200 euros per night, and this is if you are booking well in advance.
By comparison, if you visit Santorini in September, you could easily find rooms for less than 50 euro. Prices drop further in October, November and winter, which is the off-season.
Is the off-season a good time of year to visit the Greek islands?
The Greek islands can be very interesting in the off-season. However, if your main plan is to go swimming and enjoy the beach, do not come between November and March.
While some visitors still swim in November or December, most people will not find it pleasant. In addition, there aren’t as many sailing tours in the off-season – you’d get a much wider selection in summer.
You should also consider daylight hours. Sunset in winter is around 17.30, while in summer it’s between 20.00 and 21.00, so there are more chances for daytime activities.
Another issue with the Greek islands in winter is that there isn’t as much to do as in summer. The main exceptions are the bigger, more populated islands, like Rhodes, Crete and Corfu. These are still lively in winter, and there’s a lot happening despite the relatively bad weather.
However, smaller islands pretty much close down. So if nightlife and a wide selection of tavernas are your top priority, avoid the off-season.
Finally, travelling to the islands in winter isn’t always straightforward. Many of the charter flights cease operation, and ferries are a lot less frequent.
Conclusion? Think what your priorities are when planning a trip to a Greek island. If you are budget-conscious, try late April, May or early / mid October.
These months are ideal for anyone who wants to hike, see the archaeological sites or just to relax. Accommodation will be cheap, you will avoid the scorching sun while still having good weather, and the locals will have more time and energy to talk to you!
Read more here: Hottest Greek islands to visit in October.
Cheapest time to go on a roadtrip around Greece
A fantastic way to explore more of Greece is to go on a roadtrip. The Peloponnese and the Western coast of Greece are fairly seasonal destinations in terms of accommodation costs.
Just like the islands, they are quite busy in summer, and prices tend to go up.
Depending on the area you are visiting, accommodation in these areas can be much cheaper if you are going between October and March.
During the off-season, you should be able to find rooms and apartments starting at 30-35 euro, while in summer the same apartments would cost a lot more, perhaps double the price.
Is the off-season a good time of the year to take a roadtrip around Greece?
Just like for the islands, if your main plan is to go swimming, avoid the winter months. That said, the climate in the Peloponnese is fairly mild, so many locals swim all year round.
If, on the other hand, you just want to explore, go hiking and visit the numerous ancient sites and villages, the off-season is probably better.
Be aware that places up on the mountains can get really cold and damp in winter. If you are renting a car, the law states that you will need to have snow chains in your car between October and April. Make sure you discuss this with your car rental company.
As for the Western coast of Greece, the average temperatures won’t be as mild as in the Peloponnese. Again, if swimming is a priority, it’s best to plan your trip by October at the latest.
FAQs about the cheapest time to visit Greece
Here are a few more tips about the cheapest times of year to visit Greece:
What is the best month to go to Greece?
In my opinion, the best month to go to Greece is late May, June and September. The weather is milder with many sunny days, there are fewer tourist crowds, and accommodation prices are reasonable.
I know that many people visit in July and August, but this is often because it’s the only time they can go on a vacation! I personally avoid August as much as I can!
If swimming is not a top priority, you will also love April, October and November. I find it too cold to go swimming in April, but I blame my Greek genes 🙂
How much does it cost to go to Greece for a week?
This reminds me of the question “how long is a piece of string”! Regardless, here is some insight, based on my summer trips in Greece in the past five years.
From the above, you may have guessed that we travel outside the peak season of July and August. As such, we can easily find accommodation for under 50 euro / night for a couple. We’ve even had self-catering studios for 25 euro!
A meal at a regular taverna for two people can cost anywhere from 15 to 40 euro. I’d say an average price is around 30-35. Obviously, this would not apply for gourmet restaurants in Mykonos or Santorini.
Ferry ticket prices vary a lot. We tend to use the larger, slower ferries, as they are not only cheaper, but also better to travel on if the weather is windy. A passenger ticket from Piraeus port to one of the islands generally costs around 40 euro upwards.
All in all, we normally spend about 50 euro per person per day travelling in Greece. It is definitely possible to bring this number down if you stay at campsites or avoid tavernas.
So, to answer the question, you could easily spend a week in Greece for under 500 euro, excluding your airfare. All it takes is some research and a bit of careful planning!
How much does an average trip to Greece cost?
In my opinion, there is no average trip to Greece, as every visitor has their own itinerary.
Mykonos and Santorini, which are often included in Greek vacations, are among the most expensive destinations in Greece, so they will increase the cost. If you are budget-conscious, we have many other islands that are a lot cheaper.
In addition, activities like private tours or sailing trips are likely to be pricey. As an example, a day trip from Mykonos to Ancient Delos can cost over 50 euro. A winery tour in Santorini can be over 100 euro.
Still, if you can only visit Greece once in your life, all of these are worth booking. After all, the memories will last forever!
What is the cheapest Greek island to visit?
I have not been to all Greek islands yet! But I’m working towards it 🙂
Two of the islands that I’ve found to be the most budget-friendly are Crete and Naxos, in the Cyclades. I can absolutely recommend both islands for beaches, sightseeing, culture, people, and the fantastic Greek food!
You can reach Chania or Heraklion airports in Crete from many European countries. Naxos has a small local airport. You can either take a domestic flight from Athens, or use one of the numerous ferries.
Can I explore Greece on a budget?
Based on our experience travelling around Greece as a couple, it is possible to see Greece with a budget of about 40-45 euro per person per day, even beyond the shoulder seasons.
Have a look at this article where I broke down our costs for one month of travelling in June 2021: Is Greece expensive. Fuel, accommodation and food prices have gone up since, but we somehow managed to stick to the same budget more or less in 2022.
Cheapest time to go to Greece – Conclusions
I hope this article has shed some light on the cheapest time to go to Greece! If I could sum up my best advice, here’s what I would suggest:
- Avoid July and August, which is also the time when the meltemi winds blow in the Aegean. Visit Greece in April, May, June, September, October or even November. The shoulder season is the best time to come, and you will have all the best beaches to yourself!
- Skip the most popular destinations. Do not visit Mykonos and Santorini – go to less famous islands instead. Or go to the mainland, and include Peloponnese in your trip to Greece.
- Book your flights, accommodation and tickets well in advance.
Whatever you decide, have a great time!
More Greece travel guides
I hope this article has shed some light on the best time of the year to visit Greece, and what to expect in Athens, Santorini and other popular destinations. You might find these other Greece blog posts interesting:
- Tips on planning a vacation in Greece
- Greek Customs and Habits That Make Greeks Who They Are
- How to experience Greece from A to Z
- Greek drinks you need to try during your vacation in Greece
- How to stay cool in Athens in the summer
- Facts about the Greek flag
- Greek islands close to Athens
- Warmest Greek islands in October
Hi! I am Vanessa from Athens. I love exploring Greece, especially outside the peak months of July and August. My favourite times of year are late spring / early summer (from mid May to late June) and around mid September, when I can have some quiet beach time. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!