Best Time to Visit Athens
The Greek capital is sure to provide an unforgettable experience, with a visit anytime of the year bringing an opportunity to marvel at ancient sites you’ve seen only in textbooks, online or in the movies. It also offers outstanding shopping, dining, nightlife, and plenty of modern attractions as well.
While many people feel the best time to visit Athens is mid to late spring or early fall, with the weather warm but not too hot and the tourist crowds more management than they are in the summer, it really depends on your own interests and comfort level.
To help you choose the optimal time, we’ve provided a break down of the best time to come based on what you hope to experience, along with a brief overview of the seasons.
Best Time for Sightseeing
If your primary focus is to see the iconic sites like Acropolis hill and the Parthenon, the best time to visit Athens is when the weather is mild, and the tourist crowds aren’t at their peak. That generally means mid-April through about mid-May or in autumn, particularly the month of October or even into early November. Those periods tend to be the best when you’ll be doing lots of walking and you want to be able to capture photos without having to elbow your way through a big group of people. No matter when you come, but especially during the tourist season from April through October, when visiting the Acropolis, you’ll want to arrive a few minutes before it opens at 8 a.m. to beat the crowds.
The average temperature in May is 25°C/ 77°F and there is plenty of sunshine, with little chance for rain. If you want to enjoy swimming off the beaches in the Athenian Riviera, the water will be warm enough to be comfortable now too. October is similar if slightly cooler and during the first half of the month swimming is still enjoyable.
Best Time to Visit for Ideal Weather
May through October is the sunniest, warmest time to visit Athens. In July and August, the peak of summer, it can be miserably hot with average high temperatures reaching 34°C/ 93°F. If you visit during this time, you’ll want to bring plenty of protection from the sun, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen. Planning to spend some time in the water at the beach or a hotel pool is a good idea, with sightseeing done during the early morning hours or closer to dusk.
While some people enjoy the heat, most will find the weather the most comfortable during the month of May, until about mid-June, or from late September through early November. Most days will be sunny, but not too hot with average temperatures ranging from 20° to 25°C/68° to 77°F.
Best Time for the Beaches
Athens is lapped by the Aegean, which means there are beaches just a short drive/taxi or bus/tram ride away. In fact, the greater area has the longest coastline of any capital city and is home to 16 Blue Flag beaches. There are many stunning paradises to discover and all the stops for swimming have outstanding water quality.
While they provide the perfect place to enjoy time in crystal-clear blue waters during the summer, many feel they’re best experienced during the month of September. While there will still be tourists here, the biggest crowds will be gone while the water has had time to warm up throughout the summer, with the sea temperature typically about 24°C/75°F.
Best Time to Visit for Nightlife
Winter is the time to visit Athens for nightlife. While most of continental Europe will be cold and snowy, in Athens it will be relatively comfortable at around 13°C/55°F during the day, thanks to the Mediterranean climate. Plus, the locals will be here, having returned from their summer vacations, which means you can mingle with them in late-night bars, cozy cafes, and clubs. This season is the best when it comes to getting a glimpse of the real culture.
(mid-June through early September)
Throughout Greece, the summertime is the peak season of the year with lots of sunshine and warm to hot temperatures that range from around 30°C/86°F to 34°C/ 93°F, and sometimes higher. The city will be at its busiest now as it’s when the majority of tourists come to visit. As such, lines can be long and crowds thick while hotels charge their highest rates and airfare is usually higher too.
On the plus side, everything will be open, transport will be running frequently, and you can usually find a festival, play or concert to attend too. If you like art, Art Athina, an international contemporary art fair, takes place for four days around June 21st (the summer solstice). July brings one of the hottest events to Athens, the Rockwave Festival, held over two weeks featuring big-name artists.
(April through mid-June + mid-September and October)
Many feel the shoulder season is the time to visit Athens, with the weather typically quite pleasant, ranging from about 20° to 25°C/68° to 77°F. Do keep in mind that if you visit around Easter that it’s the biggest holiday of the year in Greece, with shops often limiting their hours. Generally, if you visit during this time, there will be fewer other visitors which not only makes it more enjoyable to explore the attractions, but you’re likely to find better deals for both flights and accommodation.
(November through mid-March)
Snow is relatively rare in Athens although the mountains surrounding the city do tend to get at least a dusting a few times during the winter. The lowest average high throughout this season is 13°C/55°C so it’s unlikely to be too chilly, and often ideal for seeing the sights without the crowds. Simply bundle up a bit and enjoy. While the transport options are more limited, especially if you hope to visit the islands too, you’re likely to score bargain accommodation rates and discounted airfare.
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