Do you want to go to Greece, but are freaked out by the accommodation prices in Mykonos and Santorini in August? Fear not – Greece doesn’t need to be expensive. Here are some tips for people looking for the cheapest time to go to Greece.
Cheapest time to go to Greece
Depending on your budget, Greece can be a very affordable country, yet many people will claim that it’s expensive.
These people are either used to travelling to cheaper countries, like in the Balkans and SE Asia, or have only visited the most expensive destinations in Greece, during high season.
If you do some research, you will realize that even the most expensive areas to visit in Greece can be very affordable in terms of accommodation if you visit during the less busy times of year, or what is known as off-season.
When is the peak season in Greece?
In general, the peak season for Greece is between June and September. The top two peak months are July and August, partly because this is when most people can take time off to travel, and partly because this is when the weather is warmer.
Another relatively expensive time of the year for some places is during Greek Easter. While many Greeks go back to their villages for Easter, some of us take advantage of the time off work to explore a little more of our country.
Places like Patmos and Corfu have very unique Easter traditions, and as a result are typically more expensive during Easter. Outside Easter though, spring is generally quite cheap in terms of accommodation.
You will also find that accommodation prices go up during Christmas and New Year’s, though not nearly as much as in other European countries.
When it comes to flights, prices vary a lot, depending on your destination and the time of the year. In general, flights tend to be more expensive in summer, but there are also many more routes, especially to the islands. You can often find low airfares if you checking low-cost companies a few months in advance of your trip.
Finally, ferry tickets have the same price year-round. If you book in advance, you may find some non-refundable, non-transferable tickets, primarily for the off-peak months.
Cheapest time to go to Athens
Athens isn’t really a seasonal destination, and Athens is worth visiting at any time of year. As such, you can always find affordable accommodation, though prices may fluctuate a little between summer and winter.
In terms of flights to Athens, you will generally find that flights within Europe tend to be a lot more expensive during summer. So if you only want to visit Athens for a short break, or perhaps Athens and some of the mainland, by all means look into off-season months, such as October, November, March or April.
If you want to visit the museums and ancient sites and monuments, you should know that some entrance tickets are cheaper from November until March. As an example, the combined ticket for the Acropolis and other archaeological sites costs 30 euro during summer, but the price decreases to 15 euro in winter.
We’ve also got a guide here to a list of free museums in Athens.
Visiting Athens off-season – are there any issues?
We’ll be honest – if you have a choice, skip Athens in July or August, as it can simply get too hot and the sites can get very crowded. Although September seems to be a very popular month these days, it’s nowhere near as crowded as summer. Along with May and June, it’s the best time to be in Athens.
If you’ve found a really cheap flight to Athens in January or February, go ahead and book it, but be prepared for some cold, rainy weather.
The Greek capital has all four seasons, though the winters are a lot milder than Northern European winters. That said, thunderstorms are not uncommon, and you don’t want to be walking around the slippery Acropolis marbles under pouring rain – trust us on this!
Cheapest time to go to the Greek islands
If you are going to beach destinations, and especially the islands, 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, and maybe even restaurants.
In fact, most visitors find the weather a lot more pleasant in June and September rather than in July and August. So, unless you have to take time off in August, by all means avoid it and visit Greece in September instead.
One of the best examples is Santorini. Accommodation prices in July and August can be exorbitant, especially in the western side of the island and the hotels that have 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. If you visit Santorini in September, however, you could easily find rooms for less than 40 euro, while prices drop further in December.
Visiting the Greek islands off-season – are there any issues?
“Where’s the catch?” you will ask, and rightly so. If your main plan when visiting the Greek islands is to go swimming, we wouldn’t suggest you come in late autumn, winter or early spring.
While some visitors still swim in November or December, most people will not find it pleasant. As a consequence, 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.
Greek Islands in Winter
Another issue with the Greek islands in winter is that there isn’t as much to do as in summer. Some islands are relatively lively in winter, but others pretty much close down. So if nightlife and a wide selection of tavernas are your top priority, avoid the off-season. The main exceptions are the bigger, more populated islands, like Rhodes and Crete.
Finally, you should also consider transportation to the islands. In summer, many charter and low-cost flights are available, while in winter they cease operation. As for ferries, many of them don’t run in winter – the ones running are the bigger, slower ferries that need a long time to get to the most remote islands.
Conclusion? Think what your priorities are when planning a trip to a Greek island. If you mostly want to swim and get some sunshine, the cheapest time to go to Greece in terms of accommodation is May and September – though some September flights to Greece can be quite expensive.
If you don’t really care about warm weather or swimming, but you are here to hike, see the archaeological sites or just to relax, come in late autumn or early spring. Accommodation will be cheap, you will avoid the scorching sun, and the locals will have more time and energy to talk with you. Note that some of the sites and museums may close in the late afternoon, so plan your visit accordingly.
Cheapest time to go on a roadtrip around Greece
A great 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. Much 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.
An off-season roadtrip around Greece – are there any issues?
With the Peloponnese in mind, if your main plan is to go swimming, try to 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 the area, go hiking and visit the sites, the off-season is probably better.
Be aware that places up on the mountains, can get really cold and damp over winter. If you are renting a car, you will need to have snow chains between November and February by law, so make sure you discuss this with the car rental company.
As for the Western coast of Greece, the temperatures won’t be as mild as in the Peloponnese. You will be fine if your only purpose is to explore, but again, if you were planning to go swimming, it’s best to plan your trip by October at the latest.
Cheapest time to go to Greece
We hope this article has shed some light on the cheapest time to go to Greece. Our best advice is to avoid July and August and to book your flights well in advance. You will have a great time, without the crowds!
More Greece Blogs
In the planning stages of your vacation in Greece? You might find these other Greece blog posts interesting:
- Greek Easter Traditions – Greek Orthodox Easter Food and Customs
- 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
- Athens Walking Tours With A Local – A Real Greek Experience!
- How to stay cool in Athens in the summer